The World Chiropractic Alliance (WCA) have a “journal”, available for free subscription. It doesn’t actually have any peer reviewed studies, but is more a collection of industry positive, competitor negative and hokery pokery articles that deny credibility. Such as Energy Medicine: Futuristic Healing with ancient roots, by Dana Ullman. We know Dana from Twitter as @homeopathicdana
Today I had an article brought to my attention by New Zealand skeptic and critic of anti-vaccination nonsense, @SkepticalSkotty. He’d had the article brought to his attention by a friend. Like many in the developed world outside Sth. Korea, where it’s illegal to practice the scam, the friend had given chiropractic credence. Quite understandable. Unless one’s in a clinical setting or prone to keep an eye on non evidence based trends, chiropractors are the other “doctors” who work on backs and necks and are subsidised by insurance companies and governments.
The September 2010 article Several nations banning flu shots for babies, provides unique insight into bias, deceptiveness and unprofessional standards. Supposedly having no position on vaccination I was intrigued at the effort to mislead readers into forming a negative view of both seasonal influenza and H1N1 vaccination. The article opens with an accurate observation of a QLD infant death following influenza vaccination, but almost immediately begins to blur the lines. Let’s do some housekeeping, remembering that fifteen children in QLD had an adverse reaction to the vaccine.
In WA where babies were given Fluvax – a combination H1N1 and seasonal ‘flu vaccine – febrile convulsions effected 60 and another 200 presented with higher than normal temperatures post vaccination. Well tolerated in teens and adults Fluvax was certainly not tolerated in babies and small children. One small child, Saba Button, fell into a coma and is now struggling with brain damage. It is the type of tragedy health authorities dread. Soon after the reactions WA suspended administering the vaccine to children under 5 and this was also taken up nationally. The TGA had made some noises toward CSL who manufactured Fluvax. However it wasn’t until FDA officials from the USA turned up investigate CSL’s standards of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) this year, that one could realistically defend Australian influenza vaccination regimes against quite justified criticism.
These two events were tragic and widespread fevers in vaccinated babies is a huge blow to public confidence. However suggesting that health authorities intend to suppress the truth at the expense of public health is a frequent unsubstantiated claim. Worse is the use of these tragedies by groups like the Australian Vaccination Network – the anti-vax darling of Australian chiropractors – to smear their critics. The day The Australian published Natasha Bita’s article on young Saba Button (May 28th), Meryl Dorey exploited this family to muster anti-vaccination support and to also make false claims about skeptics and Stop the AVN.
Dorey published an “Action Alert” on Twitter, Facebook and Yahoo! claiming supporters of vaccination were “mobilising” and “organising their forces” to write letters of complaint to The Australian, and thus writing in support was vital. “They do NOT want newspapers or any media outlets to be covering this from a freeedom of choice point of view”, she lied on Yahoo!
Freedom of choice point of view? Since when are facts or a parent’s choice to speak to the media linked to whacky anti-vax lingo’? Dorey was seizing ownership of Saba’s tragedy and using it to engender disgust toward those who criticise her already extensive dossier of lies and deceit. Little wonder many believe she manufactures stories of personal threats.
Not only is this offensive to Saba, her parent’s and those maligned but one must surely question her grasp on reality, not to mention the ethical issues surrounding vaccination, to see a grown woman manipulate her members as pawns in her own delusional neocon’ fantasy. I wrote to Natasha Bita and her colleagues seeking confirmation and on June 21st she confirmed that whilst she had been on holidays no “complaints” had been received, or could be found.
Back to the WCA journal. They failed to stress the vaccine was “suspended” not banned or that other strains would be considered. Onto the second paragraph;
A short time later, Finland also suspended the H1N1 vaccines due to six reports of narcolepsy in children and teens immediately following vaccination. According to The Helsinki Times, “Medical reports suggest that over 750 of those who have been vaccinated have experienced harmful effects.”
Firstly, QLD ADR’s were due to seasonal influenza vaccine. WA’s ADR’s were due to a combination of seasonal and H1N1 vaccines. The vaccine used in Finland was GSK’s H1N1 vaccine Pandemrix. No Australians have been administered Pandemrix and Australia has had no reports of narcolepsy. This distinction wasn’t made by the WCA article. What about those “750 harmful effects” that they quoted. If we read the Helsinki Times piece we see that 2.5 million doses were given. That’s a 0.003% ADR rate. I do rush to add this is not to be dismissed as trivial, but does indicate the risk/benefit ratio. The WCA seems to think that’s an excessively high level for narcolepsy – falling asleep unexpectedly. More so, as we’ll see there are unique Finnish genetic components to this problem that are related to the vaccine.
Yet if we’re talking about removal of insurance coverage for cervical manipulation by chiropractors because of the risk of vertebral/carotid artery tears, stroke and traumatic death – as in the case of Jeremy Youngblood – then an incidence rate of up to 0.005% is a trivial matter. WCA were upset that this brought “…applause from critics who still maintain that chiropractic is linked to strokes”. Chiropractors maintain it’s “a myth”. I hope you got that. Vaccine induced narcolepsy due to genetic predisposition: bad. Higher risk of tearing of the vertebral artery and dying slowly, whilst well documented: is a myth. They write with mind blowing arrogance;
The World Chiropractic Alliance responded by sending the company a copy of its position paper on chiropractic and strokes, and a vast amount of scientifically documented information that dispels the notion that chiropractic is in any way linked to carotid and vertebral artery dissection. “The WCA has been distributing this information ever since the myth about chiropractic and stroke began, and we’ll continue to make sure we counter this campaign of misinformation,” stated WCA founder and CEO Terry A. Rondberg, DC.
Kaiser Permanente, whom I now admire greatly wrote;
Chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine is associated with vertebral artery dissection and stroke. The incidence is estimated at 1.3-5 events per 100,000 manipulations. Given the paucity of data related to beneficial effects of chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine and the real potential for catastrophic adverse events, it was decided to exclude chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine from coverage.
“Paucity of data related to beneficial effects of chiropractic manipulation of the cervical spine and the real potential for catastrophic adverse events”. Damn that reads well. Are chiropractors going to suspend this potentially lethal practice? Hell no – they’ll call it a myth and back that claim with bad science. Are they worried about patient health or patient access to a manipulation that takes seconds? No, they’re upset that they can’t get the big bucks.
Think of how many people around the world would get a cervical manipulation on any one day. At a rate of up to 5 per 100,000 catastrophic injuries and stroke, for no benefit, not to mention all the minor cervical vertebral insults and/or soft tissue injuries you have my permission to feel a little ill dear reader. So, it’s compelling how selective this group of pseudoscientific profiteers can be when it comes to understanding not only risk/benefit ratios but the size of the risk vs the evidence for any benefit.
The WCA article also mentions narcolepsy in Sweden. That also was a rate of 0.003% – a figure they seem intent on not publishing. According to the WHO last April 21st;
The only pandemic influenza vaccine used in Finland and Sweden was Pandemrix, an adjuvanted influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccine manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
Narcolepsy is a condition that has a strong genetic linkage, being almost uniquely seen in persons who have the (HLA) DQB1*0602 genotype. Of the cases of narcolepsy tested so far in Finland (n=29), diagnosed during 2009-2010, all have that genotype. The National Institute for Health and Welfare of Finland considers it probable that the Pandemrix vaccine was a contributing factor to this observed increase, and has called for further investigation of other co-factors that may be associated with the increased risk. They consider it most likely that the vaccine increased the risk of narcolepsy in a joint effect in those genetically disposed with some other, still unknown, genetic and/or environmental factors. The final report from the Finnish National Narcolepsy Task Force is expected by 31 August 2011.
Apparently 30% of Finnish have this gene whist 15% of Europeans have it. This wasn’t dismissed as a genetic issue either. There is a nine fold risk in those vaccinated vs unvaccinated. So, GSK aren’t getting any special treatment. Nor does hysteria get to reign. As in Australia it is mainstream medical monitoring and national health responses that ultimately serve to protect the public. But it’ll be late August this year before final European reports are released.
The article goes on to quote a now missing article from the Bharat Chronicle;
The vaccines appear to be causing a pattern of neurological disorders affecting children and teens across the planet
Most facepalmingly, if you pop that sentence into your chosen search facility dear reader, you get over 2,000 hits ranging from Bible prophecy, to natural woo, to wellness, to infant chiropractic to… well you get the idea. Our WCA “journal” is running a junk piece that they probably scavenged from the depths of conspiracy central.
The piece finishes off claiming “Australian authorities” knew of the problem for “several weeks” but withheld the information whilst continuing to encourage vaccination. One assumes they’re referring to WA where ADR’s were reported for two weeks before Saba Button was injured which was around the time the number of ADR’s demanded state wide action. Far better for WCA to publish the insinuation that authorities remained silent about a free vaccine with perhaps the only motivation being to harm the public.
Then it’s back up to QLD for accusatory lies followed by some special pleading;
Health officials at first tried to convince the public that there was no “causal” relationship between the vaccine and the side effects but even the Australian coroner had to admit he couldn’t rule out that the flu shot was responsible for the death of two-year-old Brisbane toddler Ashley Jade Epapara.
Gosh. “Even” the coroner couldn’t rule it out. Appeal to authority also. The truth is no-one can rule it out or rule it in. Period.
Then back to WA with nonsense about attempting to “blame” a bad batch. In fact the possibility of a bad batch must be investigated just as the possibility of the vaccine ingredients and combination was investigated. “This is not a long-term safety issue with vaccines,” University of Western Australia School of Paediatrics and Child Health Associate Professor Peter Richmond told WA today, they add. Quite right. This is most certainly not a problem with vaccines as a long term safety issue. The only long term issue is the capitalisation by anti-vaccination groups.
All in all this is an appalling piece of junk writing that aims only to create the illusion of widespread – or “across the planet” – trends that somehow show vaccines are a health risk. They cant even manage to keep different Australian reports on two very different scenarios straight. Already this year in QLD influenza is back at six times the annual rate. Febrile convulsions and brain damage from vaccine preventable disease are constant realities. It is for this very reason the risk/benefit of vaccination is actually incredibly safe.
No doubt Australia had some serious issues with vaccine manufacture and management of ADR reporting in 2010. This is being dealt with by the proper authorities. The very last thing the present vaccine controversy needs is this band of chiropractic cowboys defending futile and dangerous treatments, whilst attacking sound evidence backed public health measures.
Ultimately there are not any nations “banning” flu shots for babies. Chiropractors have lied again.