Be Afraid of the Many, Many Vaccines

Dr. Bob Sears wants you to believe he is a vaccine supporter. He so supports vaccines that once, while in the midst of lobbying against the elimination of vaccine exemptions in California, he asserted:

I give vaccines every single day in my office. I am pro-vaccine and understand that vaccines work and have reduced and eliminated many serious diseases. And that’s not just spouting a party line – I firmly believe that, and that’s why I give them in my office.

After all, you cannot be against vaccines if you give them in your office–every day! To be fair, it is possible to believe that vaccines should not be mandatory for school entry and still be a proponent of immunization. But don’t tell that to his fans and followers. One complained on his Facebook page:

Dr’s at Dr. Bill’s office should be made aware of this. I was bullied by a dr there, and won’t be back. She said they were completely safe and that the disease was worse than any side effects from vaccines.

Oh hey! Wait just a minute there! Vaccines are safe and the diseases they prevent are a bigger risk? Surely, pro-vaccine Dr. Sears would respond in a way that assured this parent that, yes, vaccines are safe. The diseases they prevent are worse than any side effects from vaccines. After all, that’s what someone who believes that”vaccines work and have reduced and eliminated many serious diseases” would say.

That’s not what happened.

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Admittedly, this comment is still treading the line. He wants to be liked by the anti-vax moms and he wants to be liked by the other 99% of the people in the world, too.

But please watch Dr. Bob carefully. He is constantly and eagerly disseminating the misinformation created by the anti-vaccine movement, as he did today on his Immunity Education Group page. This page is geoblocked and available only in the U.S., so here is a screen capture for the rest of the world.

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I asked the eminent Dr. Cox what he thought of this poster, and he told me it is filled with wrong.

  1. Number of injections: Any parent who follows the CDC schedule would look at this and think, “I really do not remember my child receiving 50 injections.” And that parent would probably be right. I checked my own child’s immunization records and noted that the DTaP, IPV, and Hib vaccines were combined into one injection. There are several combination vaccines that minimize the number of pokes a child receives.
  2. 1983 schedule: I was born, ahem, a couple of years before 1983, and my complete immunization record is longer than the list above. Why? Because I didn’t receive all my vaccines in 1983. I did receive a second dose of the MMR before I went to college (and I am fine). I also received (and continue to receive) influenza vaccines.
  3. Liability: If a pharmaceutical company manufactures a vaccine in a way that is negligent, they can be held liable, and you can sue them in civil court. The possibility of this happening is pretty remote, given the amount of FDA oversight vaccine manufacturing goes through.
  4. The doses red herring: If your child receives four pneumococcal vaccines months apart, what is the possible harm? I honestly do not understand the hand wringing over boosters. Such worrying is like letting your child sneeze on your face once and shrugging it off, but then become concerned when he sneezes again because…what? You are going to become extra sick then? Since the ingredients in vaccines are present in such minuscule amounts, booster shots are not really a concern there, either. The fear-mongering about that number, though, is itself boosted when Dr. Bob adds together doses.
  5. Forgetting the diseases: I mentioned above that I was born a tiny, little bit before 1983. I did not have to suffer measles or fear polio because of vaccines. However, a meningococcal outbreak swept through my school, and I am grateful for the vaccine. I know a young man who died from chickenpox, and I am grateful for that vaccine. I have heard absolute horror stories about Hib epiglottis, and I am grateful for that vaccine. I was hospitalized with pneumonia as a toddler, and I am grateful for that vaccine. Rather than saying, “Look at all those vaccines,” I say, “Look at all those diseases we can prevent.”

So why would Dr. Bob post such an inaccurate and terrible graphic–one that misrepresents the CDC schedule, rewrites history, misrepresents the law, and makes no mention of actual disease prevention? If he gives vaccines in his office every day, doesn’t he realize that vaccines can be combined and that we are grateful we can prevent all these diseases?

I honestly don’t know why Dr. Bob gives vaccines in his office every day. He just doesn’t seem to like them very much.

 

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3 thoughts on “Be Afraid of the Many, Many Vaccines

  1. The problem with info graphics like this is they oversimplify topics. This graphic in particular is guilty of lies by omission.

    Where are the counts of the babies that died annually of roatavirus before the vaccine was introduced? What about the numbers of children and elderly that suffered hospitalizations or deaths due to pneumococcal infections? I don’t see any mention of about the drop in the number of meningococcal infections, amputations and deaths that occurred following the MCV vaccine’s use? Then there’s cancer prevention. The hepatitis B vaccine prevents liver cancer, and HPV prevents cancers associated with HPV infections!! It is likely too early to quantify the data, as the vaccines are so new, but this generation of children will suffer far fewer deaths due to all these illnesses than the generations preceding them. All thanks to vaccines.

    The issue is a lot like automobiles. Are drivers similarly upset that there are now 8x as many airbags in new vehicles as we had in the early 90’s?

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  2. I’m never sure why someone thinks preventing more diseases is a worse thing than preventing less.

    And Dr. Bob’s willingness to put his name on this is disturbing.

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  3. Minor nitpick on your first point: He is accurate on the number of doses and injections. In fact, he’s short by one injection. He actually lists 51 injections and 3 oral doses, which matches the most recent CDC recommendations. Now this does assume that the 3-dose Rotavirus series and 4-dose Hib series are used, when there are 2-dose and 3-dose series available. In addition, he ignores the new MMRV vaccine and the new DTaP + IPV vaccine (which AIUI, can only be used for the final dose of each). Crunching all the numbers together means that the current recommended schedule requires 47-51 injections and 2-3 oral doses. This does not include the optional Men B vaccine (which everyone should get) or additional vaccinations for high-risk individuals.

    Of course, as you point out, he plays fast and loose with the truth in other ways. In addition to the points you’ve made, he also assumes that all vaccines are given at the earliest possible age except for the second HepB injection. He does this to bunch them up as much as possible, even though many vaccines have a fairly large recommended range (for example, the third IPV shot has a range of 6-18 months). So if parents are concerned about giving a lot of injections at once, there is some flexibility to spread them out. Personally, I’ve had my children immunized as early as possible–why delay protection?

    He also ignores the fact that the modern DTaP/Tdap and IPV vaccines are much safer than their 1983 counterparts (though possibly somewhat less effective) and that modern vaccines contain fewer antigens than earlier vaccines. In addition, to elaborate on your third point, the CVIA makes it EASIER to receive compensation for vaccine injuries (sometimes even if they weren’t caused by the vaccine) while also providing security to manufacturers to ensure continued production.

    But, as you point out, the most aggravating aspect is he ignores the tremendous benefits to vaccines. 47 shots is a lot–I don’t know any parent who enjoys seeing their young child being subjected to pain. But the benefits vastly outweigh the drawbacks–including the small risk of serious adverse reactions. But I am all for reducing the required number of vaccines, so let’s hurry up and start eradicating some of these diseases so the next generation doesn’t have to get as many shots.

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