Why don’t the so-called “vaccine safety” orgs talk about vaccine safety?

30 Oct

I really do plan to get back to real autism related subjects. I do. This subject just came up yesterday and it really bugs me so I decided to write something quick.

One of the most common statements from the groups (Generation Rescue, Think About Curing Autism (TACA), the National Autism Association, SafeMinds….) who promote the vaccines-caused-autism-epidemic idea is that they are “vaccine safety” groups, not “anti-vaccine”. The self-named “National Vaccine Information Center” is, I would think, supposed to have vaccine information.

One vaccine these groups love to hate is Rotateq, a vaccine against rotavirus infection. Why? Because it was invented by a team including Dr. Paul Offit, who just so happens to be one of the most vocal critics of the vaccine-caused-autism-epidemic.

Take, for example, this comment by SafeMinds member, and Age Of Autism blogger Mark Blaxill:

“Paul has saved hundreds of thousands of lives (granted mostly in underdeveloped countries, but rotovirus still kills a small few in the US).”

That’s quite an extravagant assertion, and almost certainly false. What evidence do you have that Rotateq (Offit’s invention) has been adminstered in sufficient quantities to prevent death in developing countries from complications of diarrhea? Rotateq is deployed in only one country besides the US. Here in the US we know Rotateq (and Rotashield before it) has CAUSED death and have little information that it has prevented any.

The consistent hyping of the benefits of marginally beneficial vaccines is one of the most disturbing features of a vaccine development industry run amok. Rotateq is perhaps the most egregious example of a vaccine product that provides next to zero benefit in the markets in which it has been deployed.

Let me be clear. In the markets in which it might have value, Rotateq is far too expensive to be widely deployed and is therefore rarely used. In the markets in which it is not needed, it is mandated at high prices and used widely with little benefit and documented (and almost certainly underestimated) serious risk. Those mandates and high prices are justified by a marketing non sequitor that Josh perpetuates here: pointing to deaths outside the geography in question as justification for a vaccine blockbuster that can have no impact whatever on those deaths.

Orwell never dreamed of doublespeak as bad as this.

What made this comment stick in my mind is the unsupported claim that Rotateq “CAUSED” death (nice use of all caps, there, by the way).

I am also drawn to the common belief (not directly expressed in the above quote) that there is no or only minimal safety research done.

This week, the CDC put out an MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) on the effects of Rotateq. The cliniical trial showed that Rotateq works. The surveillance shows Rotateq works–the number of submitted samples that tested postive went down after Rotateq was introduced.

The big point I’d like to bring to light was a recent talk given at the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting. They are monitoring intussusception in children given Rotateq. Intussusception is an intestinal problem, potentially fatal, that was linked to the previous rotavirus vaccine. It is why that vaccine, Rotashield, was pulled from the market. As such, it is good an proper that they monitor intussusception with Rotateq.

The results?

Results provide no evidence that RotaTeq®receipt is associated with an increased risk for IS [intussusception] 1-30 days or 1-7 days following vaccination.

Typically those trying to claim that Rotateq is dangerous use the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). Any event reported to VAERS is taken to be caused by the vaccine. VAERS is a “passive” system. People report into VAERS and no one checks that the diagnoses are accurate. Also, intussusception happens even without vaccines. So you really can’t take every VAERS report as a causal event–i.e. just because someone reports to VAERS that a child had intussusception sometime after Rotateq, that doesn’t mean Rotateq caused it.

Do I expect people like Mr. Blaxill to stop claiming that Rotateq is dangerous? No. But I put this out there to take away any last shred of “plausible deniability”. They, the self-styled “vaccine safety” groups, don’t report on actual vaccine safety studies. That doesn’t mean they don’t read them and know about them.

13 Responses to “Why don’t the so-called “vaccine safety” orgs talk about vaccine safety?”

  1. David N. Brown October 30, 2009 at 10:27 #

    As far as the relative interest of “anti-vax” activism vs. actual vaccine safety, I made a chart a while ago using Google News comparing coverage of MMR and Rotashield from 1998-2005. I came up with 8,153 stories for MMR compared to 337 for Rotashield. Thus, the vaccine that high-pressure lobbyists alleged to be unsafe received more than 20 times the coverage of a vaccine actually proven unsafe (to scientists’ satisfaction) at approximately the same time.
    Incidentally, I’m not clear why a rotavirus vaccine would cause intussusspection. is intussusspection a result of internal blockage? If so, I wonder if the people getting it after rotavirus vaccination are those for whom such an obstruction would be “cleared” by diarrea.

  2. storkdok October 30, 2009 at 11:03 #

    What they conveniently ignore is the money it costs (as well as time and energy and emotions for the family) to hospitalize a child with rotavirus. As a medical student, we admitted a lot of children for dehydration from rotavirus. It also is devastating in the NICU, as I recall an outbreak that required isolation within the NICU and caused several deaths of premature infants on my rotation in the NICU as a resident. With monitoring for intussusseption for a months after the vaccine, Rotateq makes a huge difference in the lives of children in developing and undeveloped countries.

    The vaccine is used in developing countries, don’t know where Blaxill gets his info, but developing countries do have vaccination programs. That was one of our duties in Papua New Guinea when I did a rotation as a medical student. We traveled to villages and administered vaccines.

    With the antivaxxer hate-on to Gardasil, my answer is that it will save thousands of lives in developing countries where cervical cancer is the largest gynecologic cancer that kills women, because they have little surveillance.

  3. Transcend October 30, 2009 at 14:03 #

    The horn the ‘Anti’ people toot for ‘clean the vaccines’ is a relevant one as injections are full of many crappy ingredients. There are to many stories of people living the nightmare where symptoms were TRIGGERED after injections (autism or anything else), not that they necessarily CAUSED them. There’s truth to both sides so it’s really not worth arguing over. If you think you are ‘protecting’ yourself from a ‘possible’ sickness, then go ahead, inject yourself with some laboratory made crud from some money-machine corporation, no one else will give a flying rip, certainly not the company making them, because they just got your $24.99….
    The fact that there is an opposition being openly talked about is GOOD, as all you hear in the mainstream news is the Corporation’s side which is all fear and hoo-rah for how great they all are and how everyone needs them, and if you don’t think so, you’re crazy…

  4. Mary Ann October 30, 2009 at 14:27 #

    Vaccines are among the safest tools of modern medicine and they have saved the lives of thousands and thousands from crippling disease and death. Of course it’s been such a long time since we’ve seen many of the diseases that vaccines protect us from, we don’t realize just how dangerous these diseases really are.

    For example in the 1920s there were an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 cases of diphtheria a year in the US, causing 13,000 to 15,000 deaths a year, most of those where children.

    If vaccines don’t work, if they are full of crappy ingredients, if they are nothing more then “laboratory made crud” then where did all the diseases go?

  5. Joseph October 30, 2009 at 16:19 #

    @Transcend: You’re not necessarily “crazy,” but you are misinformed and clearly paranoid.

  6. Transcend October 30, 2009 at 19:49 #

    Surely you know that there is no need for any of that crud if you take care of yourself naturally…

    I never said that they didn’t save lives,
    it’s merely the crud they mix it with
    THAT’S the problem…

  7. Sullivan October 30, 2009 at 21:52 #


    the idea that we will all be just fine with natural remedies is just nonsense. Even in the developed world, these diseases are very nasty. Elderberry, vitamin D and the rest are just not going to stop measles or Hib or any of the rest from killing and harming people.

    The vaccine proponents are honest about the fact that there is a risk in vaccines. Why can’t the vaccine skeptics be as honest?

  8. Dawn October 30, 2009 at 22:55 #

    @David: Intussusseception is a “telescoping” of the bowel into itself. There are several risk factors, prematurity is one. I don’t think they ever figured out why Rotashield increased the risk. I’ve seen it once. Actually, IIRC (and I haven’t dealt with the subject in nearly 15 years), one treatment is giving an bowel stimulent so that peristalsis can push the telescoped bowel back out. So, yeah, in this case, diarrhea could be helpful.

  9. Mike Stanton October 31, 2009 at 00:20 #

    I think Mark Blaxill is referring to Nicaragua. Merck have donated the vaccine for a feasibility study there that is proving positive. The last time I looked over 1 million doses had been administered. The plan is to follow up by providing Rotateq at cost to developing countries and recoup their investment with differential pricing in Europe and America.

  10. Science Mom October 31, 2009 at 15:39 #

    Surely you know that there is no need for any of that crud if you take care of yourself naturally…

    I never said that they didn’t save lives,
    it’s merely the crud they mix it with
    THAT’S the problem…

    You know transcend, it would help considerably if you would care to actually identify what ‘crud’ is. The naturalistic fallacy is, well, a fallacy.

  11. Kelly March 22, 2013 at 03:54 #

    I am not anti-vaccine by any means. I am a Registered Nurse, and I do get my children vaccinated. However, I am currently researching the adverse event of intussusception after RotaTeq administration. I do believe there is a connection. There are no family members whom have had serious gastrointestinal disorders. My son, now age 3, received RotaTeq at age 4 months. Exactly 7 days later, he was lifeflighted to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh due to intussusecption. Coinicidence? I don’t know for sure, because I am not God. But, he was fine prior to that terrible day. He got sick really quickly, he was absolutely fine the night prior. He awoke that morning fine, but quickly declined, and required surgery to repair the bowel after an attempt to repair by air enema was unsuccessful. I never put the vaccine and intussusception together until the day he was discharged from the hospital. An attending doctor was actually the one who said that I needed to report this to VAERS. Like I said, I am not an anti-vaccine nut, but I do feel that parents need to know more about possible adverse events prior to administering vaccines. And drug companies need to keep doing better research on the vaccines that they produce. A final note, or actually a question: the studies that say that there is no significant increase in intussuception after RotaTeq administration, as compared to how many cases of intussusception that is to be expected, my question is this — how do you know for sure that all cases are reported? You don’t. Thanks.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 22, 2013 at 22:07 #

      I am sorry you had to go through that.

      ” how do you know for sure that all cases are reported?”

      As you described, intussusecption is a very serious condition. I somehow doubt that it goes unreported much.


  1. Why don’t the so-called “vaccine safety” orgs talk about vaccine safety? | Left Brain Right Brain – International Badass Activists - August 26, 2020

    […] Source: Why don’t the so-called “vaccine safety” orgs talk about vaccine safety? | Left Brain Right Br… […]

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