Australia’s role on the global vaccine stage

Last Thursday evening The University of Melbourne’s Spot Theatre hosted a unique and impressive event.

Australia’s Role In The World is an initiative of UN Youth Australia, the Australian Institute of International Affairs and the University of Melbourne. It’s purpose is to “engage young people, academia and the wider public in debate
about major global issues”. The official launch of the initiative was a forum entitled Vaccines To Change The World and made for a perfect Live @ Melbourne event.

The panelists were Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance (formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccination and Immunisation), Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision Australia, Sir Gustav Nossal, University of Melbourne and Dr Kate Taylor from the Nossal Institute for Global Health. ABC Correspondent, Ben Knight having just returned from the Middle East made for an appropriate and excellent moderator.

When it comes to funding vaccination in developing nations and contributing to vaccine research and development, “Australia punches way above it’s weight”, Seth Berkley informed a large audience shortly into his address. Given the global challenge, and the positive impact of these programmes, this is something to feel good about.

Presently one child dies every 20 seconds from VPD. 270,000 women die annually from HPV related cancer with 85% in developing nations. More so, the percentage of mortality to cervical cancer incidence is disproportionally high in low to middle income nations. HPV vaccine coverage is least in these nations – something GAVI is working to address.

Lower income nations experience higher incidence and mortality from HPV related cancer

With pneumonia and diarrhea the top killers it’s satisfying to know Aussies contribute significantly to the “huge task” of rolling out of Pnuemococcal and Rotavirus vaccines. Along with Hepatitis B, DTP3 and Hib, GAVI has slashed the cost of access. In the case of the Pneumococcal vaccine market GAVI fund 97% of cost as compared to the USA market.

Pneumococcal and Rotavirus vaccines directly target two major child killers

However with 19 million children still missing out on immunisation and 15.4 million of those in GAVI eligible nations, one can appreciate the significance of GAVI’s mission and goals. Along with the mission to save lives and improve health via access to immunisation, GAVI seek to accelerate the uptake and use of underused and new vaccines. Helping strengthen the capacity of integrated health systems will be crucial in achieving this.

One child dies every 20 seconds from a VPD. Of 19 million missing out, 15.4 million are GAVI eligible

Increasing the predictability of global financing and improving the sustainability of national financing for immunisation, along with shaping the vaccine market are GAVI’s final two goals. GAVI also aim to drive equity in vaccine access across the globe. An impressive example of this is the uptake of the Hepatitis B vaccine in the decade from 2000.

High income nations increased uptake from 60% to around 77%. Low income nations shot from just over 5% to 98%. The impact of the consequential lowering of liver cancer incidence, particularly in China which experienced epidemic levels, cannot be understated.

“Only good for junkies and hookers” – anti-vaccination slurs of the HBV vaccine reflect pop culture mentality

This brings into focus how important immunisation is not only in preventing disease but in sustaining economies, and earning potential in adults. Immunised children maintain the health to attend and complete school. Reaching adulthood they have the potential to earn a competitive wage and thus contribute significantly to family income.

Parents need not produce large families to combat childhood sickness and death, or to meet the need for labour and their own care in old age. The cost of a disabled child or adult added to the tragedy of a deceased parent is a reality for many in developing nations. It’s estimated a one year increase in life expectancy equates to increased labour productivity of 4%. In this light it’s been estimated immunisation programmes have a rate of return between 12.4 – 18%.

One study cited by Seth Berkley noted that a fully immunised 11 year old would present with increased IQ, language skills and math testing results. Over time the “democratic dividend” is to invest more in fewer children. Thus we can see that by ensuring healthier children and smaller populations immunisation can pull families, villages, districts and  entire nations from poverty. According to Dr. Kate Taylor 100 million people per year are driven back into poverty due to illness.

Hib meningitis in Kenya’s Kilifi region fell 88% in three years following vaccine introduction

Results from immunisation are undeniable. With a 54% increase in population from 1980 – 2010 came a 95% reduction in diptheria and tetanus cases, a 92% reduction in measles and pertussis and a 97% reduction in polio. $1.3 billion per year is saved due to the absence of smallpox, which is over ten times the cost of the 1979 eradication programme.

When the Global Polio Eradication Programme was launched in 1988, 125 countries were endemic and 350,000 children were paralysed annually. Today only three countries remain endemic. India is an example of strong political will and determination in that two years ago it had the largest number of cases, yet today has been free of polio for a full year.

Rolling out new vaccines to close the immunisation gap is a major GAVI priority

Future challenges for GAVI will be expanding it’s reach and overcoming political apathy to make the most of emerging new vaccines and to roll out those yet to hit the market. The newer the vaccine the higher the percentage of those unimmunised. Poor political will is an obstacle. Part of the answer is to get the public and the global community to care, without placing excessive reliance on ministries of health by also including financial and planning ministries.

Australia is presently the sixth largest supporter of GAVI. Recently, thanks to Kevin Rudd, our commitment rose from $6 million to $250 million in the lead up to 2015. Kate Taylor underscored that private individuals with enormous wealth had dramatically also changed the landscape in securing funding dollars.

As competition drives down vaccine prices quality control in emerging markets is vital

Focusing on two research initiatives Sir Gus Nossal declared, “The future is bright”. Australia is contributing strongly to the “second generation” malaria vaccine, which given that the RTS,S is 56% effective in toddlers, is an essential avenue of pursuit.

Closer to home he mentioned emerging research into a vaccine for Group A Streptococcus. This disease has given Australia the unenviable status of having the highest incidence of rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease in remote indigenous communities.

Tim Costello reinforced that Australia and AusAID is committed to 0.5% of Gross National Income. Presently Australia has no billionaire analogues to the Bill Gates’ of this world. Letting no-one off the hook, Tim pointed out that, per capita, W.A. also donate the least to charity despite their expanding wealth. Aussies donate 35 cents per $100 of tax payer monies to global charity.

Over 90 or so minutes a fascinating account of Australia’s role in the World was presented by some rather heavy hitters in global charity and health.

Aussies can be proud that an unmistakable message is that when it comes to global vaccine equity, our nation is an accomplished heavy hitter also.

How can anyone doubt? Vaccination Saves Lives.

All slides © GAVI

Judy Wilyman’s Vaccine Woo

Coincidence is not science – Judy Wilyman, June 30th 2010

According to conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine lobbyist Judy Wilyman, it is a “scientific fact” that “the chemicals” in vaccines and vaccines themselves have “synergistic, cumulative and latent effects”.

Most of us are familiar with the latent effect/s of vaccines. Prevention of disease and death spring to mind. Combined? Prevention of multiple diseases, passing them on to tiny babies or those who cannot be vaccinated. Yet Judy is pushing a barrow of malignancy. Cumulative effects are the cause of many ills, Judy claims. With vaccines widely used for 80 years, her evidence then, must be compelling. She states:

There is no measure of delayed responses of vaccines or long term health studies of children monitoring the combined effects of vaccines. That’s the hard evidence that we would need to say this programme is safe

Oh. Perhaps not.

Download MP3 from W.A. July 30th, 2010 or listen (quote at 21min 30s):

Wilyman claims diseases were reduced before vaccination and health department records show a rarity of adverse reactions. But of course, “often this link is denied”. Her evidence then, must be compelling. Nah – just kidding.

I previously wrote a little on the W.A. Woo Fest that Professor Fiona Stanley described as “bizarre” and ”so misinformed that it is scary”. I stuck to question one of the two that Judy reckons define “the context and the ethics” of immunisation programmes.

  1. Did vaccines play a significant role in controlling and reducing infectious diseases?
  2. What is in a vaccine?

No doubt the ghastly constituents of vaccines will be equally misrepresented. “This generation of children is the unhealthiest yet”, Judy intones failing to offer a definition of chronic illness or any insight into the massive leaps in diagnostic technology and paediatric medicine.

Obesity is a major chronic health problem in today’s children and it alone ushers in many more complications. Poor diet and restricted activity have a permanent effect upon the development of the endocrine system, in turn effecting fat and sugar metabolism. Unsurprisingly diabetes is more common.

Prolonged periods of sitting (including recreational choices) can lead to problems from chronic constipation to poor perfusion and oxygenation of peripheral tissues to the rare but steadily increasing incidence of childhood thromboses. Increases in long distance travel have brought an awareness of the importance of regular leg movement in adults. There is a delicate balance between haemodynamic pressure, lymphatic function and venous flow related to movement. Vaccination is not to blame.

Judy would have fun explaining why Vaccine Preventable Diseases make the list of childhood diseases on the increase in developed nations, following reduction in immunisation. Or the success of the Hib vaccine in controlling that disease in just 12 years. Rotavirus is not linked to intestinal problems in infants. Despite telling her audience in W.A. that the influenza vaccine may be more dangerous than influenza itself, last September 115 deaths from ‘flu were reported in the USA. Wilyman:

In epidemics where there is only a small risks to individuals from the disease then the risk of the vaccine may be greater. Particularly if multiple vaccines are being used – and this is the case with influenza. Influenza is not a serious risk for the majority of children

Judy goes on to misrepresent thimerosal and other preservatives (formaldehyde) “which are known to cause neurological and immunological diseases”. Thimerosal is in only two childhood vaccines. Bemoaning formaldehyde exposure is as outrageous as it is ridiculous. A backyard BBQ burning old wood off-cuts or timber fixtures would produce many thousands of times that of a lifetime of vaccination. It’s typical misrepresentation of how much dose makes a poison.

Antibiotics which “we know are linked with allergies and anaphylaxis” are other terrible ingredients. The same with aluminium which is also “linked to auto-immune diseases”. Judy omits telling the audience that breast feeding over a 6 month period exposes an infant to 2.5 times the amount of Al from vaccination. Formula delivers 10 times the amount whilst Soy formula introduces 40 times the amount of aluminium.

Exactly how an infant can deal with ingesting 40 times the aluminium as via vaccination over the same period without being poisoned, is of no moment to antivaccine lobbyists. Presumably they imagine the hanky panky “natural” approach via digestion is a fail safe. Yet ingested Al certainly makes it to the blood stream and is excreted the same way as any source of Al – the third most abundant element and most abundant metal in nature. We excrete all but 1% that we’re exposed to over a lifetime.

Judy goes on to link “autoimmune diseases” such as diabetes, autism, arthritis, M.S., lupus and thyroidism to pathogens in vaccines. You see, the hanky panky digestion caper means pathogen proteins would naturally enter the stomach as amino acids. But injected these whole proteins produce auto-antibodies and cause autoimmune disease.

In case you missed it Judy has seemingly discovered that autism is an autoimmune disease, whilst the rest of the world’s researchers claim it has no known etiology. Which is also at odds to Dorey’s claim of acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis and other instances of encephalitis being the cause. Their unique impact is graphed below.

Source: Theoretically Speaking

Judy also blames allergies and anaphylaxis on vaccination. Yet incidence of anaphylaxis is documented at 0.65 cases per million vaccinations. Larger studies have also found less than one case per million vaccines and no deaths attributed to the immunizing agent. However 500 cases per one million are attributed to eggs, tree nuts, cows milk, wheat, soybean, fish, shell fish, sesame, peanuts, latex, insect stings and anesthesia.

Allergies are also blamed on vaccines by Judy, despite greater intensity, duration and frequency already being linked to climate change. In fact everything is blamed on vaccines – even speech delay regardless of diagnostic criteria changing markedly in recent years. Other developmental delays include ADHD. Despite very few viable candidates for asthma, but many well known triggers that’s also squeezed into her discovery portfolio. All down to vaccine ingredients that parents are not warned about, according to Judy Wilyman.

Wilyman loves to quote government sources when it suits her but omits that The Australian Immunisation Handbook notes:

Research has constantly replicated no link in the following:

  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and any vaccine.
  • autism and MMR vaccine.
  • multiple sclerosis and hepatitis B vaccine.
  • inflammatory bowel disease and MMR vaccine.
  • diabetes and Hib vaccine.
  • asthma and any vaccine.

Being “an independent researcher” and fond of her “PhD researcher” title Judy would be aware of the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety’s position on Hepatitis B vaccination and Multiple Sclerosis:

The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) has concluded that there is no association between administration of the hepatitis B vaccine and multiple sclerosis (MS). Since 1982, hepatitis B vaccine has been given to over 500 million people around the world. The hepatitis B vaccine is the first and only vaccine that prevents liver cancer by preventing hepatitis B infection.

It would seem Judy consciously rejects accepted material for that which is clearly baseless. Despite this mad scramble to blame almost every childhood ailment on vaccination, Wilyman has forgotten her hypocritical quote above. “Coincidence is not science”. In an evidence vacuum, her “synergistic, cumulative and latent effects” simply do not exist.

Despite the coincidences and claimed conspiracies, Judy Wilyman is yet to produce the science.

Dr. Rachie slays the Nine Vaccine Ringwraiths with Science

Five Vaccine Myths in Futile Flight From Evidence

It’s official! Reports that have been coming in from Middle Earth for the last couple of days are indeed accurate. Dr. Rachie (aka Dr. Rachael Dunlop) has unleashed the power of science on the undead corpses of nine vaccination myths, expunging their essence for all time.

All good fiction-fantasies have their mythical characters and the best mythical characters are those that keep returning time and again despite being killed off. So it is with these nine. Although long dead these myths have been constantly exhumed. Script writers of the antivaccination movement, faced with oblivion, have kept writing them into the story time and again.

Known as ring-wraiths because the argument that sustains the myth is circular nonsense they have been led by the most powerful and most often killed myth, Vaccines Cause Autism. Lured to Mount Mama Mia by rumours of untapped Quantum nearby, the nine never stood a chance. Autism was the first to fall as Rachie recounted the disgrace to befall Andrew Wakefield and his fraudulent caper. It was cut down with a double reminder that, as a result of this fraud, he was now unlicensed and the work withdrawn from publication. Retracted!

Before it could summon any more lies or buy the blood of any more children, Dr. Rachie finished Autism off with the weight of 20 years research and a brand new comprehensive review. She wrote in the ancient, powerful, yet sacred runes of science:

The largest study was done in Denmark and covered all children born from January 1991 through December 1998. A total of 537,303 children of which eighty-two percent were vaccinated for MMR were examined and there was no association between vaccination and the development of autistic disorder.

Further, in August 2011, an exhaustive review of the scientific literature by the Institute of Medicine in the US concluded that overall “few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines”. …12,000 peer-reviewed articles, covering eight different vaccines were pored over by a committee of 18 experts in the largest review of adverse events associated with vaccines since 1994… there is no causal relationship between vaccines and autism.

It was predictable who would fall next. Vaccines Cause Autism’s trusted side kick Vaccines Contain Mercury shrank back from the power of Science. Witnesses claim the air crackled with electricity as Dr. Rachie intoned confidently from The Book Of Evidence. She reminded the ghastly creature:

Mercury has not been present in routine childhood vaccines in Australia since 2000 and it was never in the MMR vaccine. Prior to 2000, thimerosal, an organomercury compound, was used in the manufacturing process of vaccines as a preservative.

Writhing and shrieking in despair it was finished off with more reminders that methyl mercury and bio-accumulation apply to sea foods. Then it suffered the same fate as ethyl mercury (the erstwhile preservative) does on entering the body, if it is used in adult vaccines. Total elimination.

This immediately got the attention of  journalists assembled nearby. Vaccines Contain Mercury and Vaccines Cause Autism had stopped off mere days earlier at the Magical Homeopathy Well as they travelled, they thought, in search of Quantum. It was there they spoke to a small gathering of journalists, admitting they intended to mix the magic water with the Quantum to concoct The Elixir of Everything.

“We’ve never felt more alive, more invigorated than right now”, said the King of vaccine myths – Vaccines Cause Autism

Posing for Fountain Of Beauty photo’s (left) outside the Magical Well, the pair cut a sadder spectacle than Fran Sheffield and Isaac Golden in a medical library.

Asked if they knew they were in fact, long dead and to all intents and purposes had never really existed, Vaccines Cause Autism responded confidently:

“Quite the contrary my dear fellow. We’ve never felt more alive, more invigorated than right now and both look forward to another summer of terrifying innocent parents and driving up vaccine preventable disease. We have promotional tours planned with Meryl Dorey who’s been awfully suppressed of late, poor thing… free speech and what. But with some grossly inflated figures on the number of shots kids receive before school – it’s 12 but we’re saying something like 35 – and appearances with our friend and colleague “Vaccines have never been tested”, we should have a splendid time of it. Besides chaps we don’t have a lot of say in the matter. It’s the Power of the Burning Stupid that keeps us going and with this interweb business today there’s no shortage of that, what?”

Such confidence was clearly best suited to behind the silicon battlements of his home fortress on Mount McCarthy. Against the power of science the wraiths stood not a chance. The next to fall was Vaccines Contain Toxic Ingredients. A particularly irrational creature this one takes advantage of general ignorance. Eg, few know that whilst infants receive about 4 milligrams of aluminium from vaccines in the first 6 months of life, they receive 10 milligrams from breast milk and 40 mg from formula over the same time. Yet aluminium is essential as an adjuvant and actually allows less antigen per dose. Adjuvants work to aid the immune response making the vaccine more effective.

Dr. Rachie looks at some more myths about toxic ingredients from those exploiting ignorance to outright lies. She noted wisely that the dose makes the poison, throwing this at the creature in a blazing ball of pure, lethal fact. You may hear of how carcinogenic formaldehyde is and that it’s in vaccines. What scaremongers omit to tell you is that it’s only carcinogenic at certain concentrations. Whilst these concentrations aren’t found in vaccines they are found in particle board and other building materials. So, throw out your furniture and rebuild your house if you have an issue with formaldehyde.

Vaccines Have Never Been Tested suffers a gruesome fate. With her lab coat glowing incandescently Dr. Rachie held The Book of Evidence aloft enveloping this long dead beast in the pure light of reason:

When people claim that vaccines have “never been tested” they usually mean that they have not undergone randomized placebo controlled trials (RCTs). To do an RCT of a vaccine you would need to take two groups of kids, give one group the vaccine, and the other a placebo, then expose both groups to the disease to see which ones survive. Raise your hand if you can see the problem here…

In fact other vaccines have been tested. Remember the 2 million children who parents shoved them forward to receive the polio vaccine in a trial? Or the extensive HPV vaccination trials just finished to great success in Australia?

Vaccines Don’t Work Because Vaccinated Kids Get The Disease crumpled under the weight of evidence that crushed boulders to dust and left craters in the ground. Including the harsh reality that fatalities occur in the unvaccinated. Put simply, vaccines may not be magical or transcend the laws of reality as do vaccine myths but they prepare the immune system to fight viral infections. And in the main, some diseases making a comeback, like measles, only effect the unvaccinated. Using this argument on immunity that wanes or is specific to strains (such as whooping cough and influenza) is a darstardly trick of this myth. Keep an eye out for this ghoul. Don’t be fooled and get yourself a booster for pertussis.

Improved Living Standards Not Vaccination Reduced Disease A truly heinous beast indeed. We dealt with this one here copiously when Viera Scheibner tried it on recently, if you wish to check the video. But Dr. Rachie uses the sure fire Powerful Evidence Kill Shot to dispense with this Being from beyond. Gazes were quickly averted as sounds of cracking bones and squishing innards mixed with Mia’s cheering.

Hib incidence 1993 to 2005Since 1993 when the Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) vaccine was introduced into the Aussie schedule there’s been a >90% drop. In fact it’s now so rare epiglottitis once a sign of Hib can’t be assumed to be so. When isolated today, lab’ tests may reveal Haemophilus influenzae not to be Type b. This is a powerful impact from a single vaccine over a time when public sanitation, access to clean water and living conditions have not changed.

Infectious Diseases Are Harmless – Children are meant to get them never saw it coming. Wearing earplugs to block out ridicule and mocking laughter, this foul demonic entity was slayed with a barrage of Truth. Amongst other great points Dr. Rachie destroyed this “right of passage” wraith – dead before it hit the ground – with a devastating:

If you still think infectious diseases are harmless, wander through your local cemetery one day and note how many children died from diseases that we no longer see in society today – stamped out largely due to mass vaccination.

Vaccines Cause or Spread The Disease They Are Meant To Prevent has always been completely mad, so this was a mercy killing in truth. Leaping and frothing about uncontrollably it’s hard to comprehend it’s intent. You may have read some annoying anti-vax blurb or Facebook post about “my sister’s, neighbour’s, butcher’s, dog’s, vet’s, accountant was off for weeks with the flu after having the vaccine”. Bollocks. Only a large scale production failure could lead to “disease by vaccine”.

Before it vanished in a puff of smoke Dr. Rachie marched up to the wretched odourous thing, and inscribed on it’s forehead magical runes using the Quill Of Logical Legend:

Experiencing a slight temperature and/or a sore arm after getting a vaccine is actually a good thing. While some people misinterpret this as “getting the flu after the flu vaccine” it simply indicates that your immune system is responding…. This means next time you come across the disease in the environment your body is ready with an arsenal of antibodies to attack it before it can make you really sick.

My Child’s Immune System Will Be Overwhelmed is a rather pathetic little myth with low self esteem and a profound lack of confidence. And you can see why. With a mighty heave it was tossed into the Glare Of Truth under the rays of which it crackled and sizzled and finally shrivelled to a blackened crisp:

The amount of immune challenges that children fight every day (2,000 — 6,000) is significantly greater than the number of antigens in any combination of vaccines (about 150 for the entire vaccination schedule).

Well, that’s nine dead ringwraiths. All thanks to Dr. Rachael Dunlop, using nothing but Science. But like any good story they can be revived with another telling. So do be on the lookout. There are more goodies over in the article which is one I highly recommend following up on. There’s some great links and if you reckon there’s more myths (and there are) you can dig up some evidence based answers there to strike down these ghoulish zombies when they stagger into view.

For those aware of anti-vax tactics, there’s a jolly good comment from Mia who has no time for them or their deceptive ways. Striding across the drawbridge from her castle she cast a withering eye upon the Anti-vax Orcs, cowering below mumbling the same spells over and over. Undeterred by their putrid breath or horrid ugliness Mia spoke:

NOTE: looking through the hundreds of comments in the backend of the site, I can see the Anti-Vaccination people are up to their usual dirty tricks of linking to bogus crap research and commenting many many times under different names to try and make their cause seem better supported than it is.
People? VACCINATE your babies. Give your children boosters. And get a booster yourself.
And no, I don’t respect other people’s choices to not immunise their kids when they have the potential to kill other people’s babies.
It’s like respecting other people’s ‘right’ to drink and drive.
Bollocks to that.

Now if only we could work that into a public service announcement….

Nine Vaccination Myths Killed Off Once Again

Measles Vaccination: make an informed choice

Recently in Melbourne Australia, the wanderings of a baby infected with measles prompted Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester to name certain venues and alert the public. The 11 month old had, while infectious, visited four major shopping complexes, two restaurants, a cafe, a children’s play centre, a church and a chemist. Dr. Lester stressed those who attended these venues should ensure they pay extra attention to symptoms such as;

…common cold symptoms such as fever, sore throat, red eyes and a cough. The characteristic measles rash usually begins 2-5 days after the first symptoms, she said, generally starting on the face and then spreading to the rest of the body.

A bit of a rash, sore throat and temperature then. I’ve heard groups who insist vaccines don’t work or aren’t needed pass measles off as nothing to worry about. Yet the article also included this from Dr. Lester;

“Anyone developing these symptoms is advised to ring ahead to their GP or hospital and alert them that they have fever and a rash,” Dr Lester said. “If you know you have been in contact with a measles case please alert your GP or hospital emergency department. The GP or hospital will then be able to provide treatment in a way that minimises transmission.”

Hmmm. Maybe hospitals in Victoria are running drills this month. Practising for something serious with this little rashy-coughy thing. After all a Slovakian micro-palaeontologist had described it as a simple “right of passage”. And if anyone would know about infectious disease in Australia it is a Slovakian micro-palaeontologist, not a mere Chief Health Officer of a state holding around six million people. But then the piece by the paper’s Health Editor went on to state measles is highly infectious. It is particularly dangerous for young children and young adults.

Those most at risk of getting the disease are people who have not been vaccinated, particularly adults between 33 and 47 years because many in this age group did not receive measles vaccine, and people whose immune systems have been compromised because of cancer treatment, for example.

Perhaps, as they say, this is not a drill. I remember reading material from those against vaccination. They spend a lot of time and caps lock justifying why vaccines are dangerous, or useless, or part of a conspiracy. The claim that vaccines are useless is backed by graphs which plot disease induced mortality against time and contend X vaccine was introduced well after mortality reached zero. Clean water, nutrition and better living standards stopped these infectious diseases they insist, not vaccines. So I decided to check the measles graphs drawn up by renowned antivaccinationist Greg Beattie.

Beattie_measles1Greg Beattie’s “Figure 1” from Fooling Ourselves

The above graph is from Beattie’s Fooling Ourselves. The Australian Vaccination-sceptics Network is littered with this and many others from Beattie. Material published by the AV-sN has been independently examined and discredited in the preparation of a public statement and warning by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. It appears then, Beattie’s graphs have been examined and discredited in an official capacity. There is no mistake as to why the HCCC warned the public to exercise caution in viewing “misleading” material. It is important to focus on Beattie’s intent here. Namely that vaccines had no impact or an irrelevant impact on the control of infectious disease. In part this post challenges the intent of Beattie’s graphs by presenting independent data that show vaccines most certainly had a powerful effect in controlling the spread of vaccine preventable disease. Thus Beattie’s cunning use of mortality rate above, is met with absolute and predicted numbers. Greg Beattie cites the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Commonwealth Year Books and “data published by the Commonwealth” in Cumpston’s 1927 The History of Diptheria, Scarlet Fever, Measles and Whooping Cough in Australia. One notes the first problem is his reliance on mortality and not morbidity. Death as a consequence of a vaccine preventable disease is a limited indicator of how effective vaccination has been in reducing infection. Overall morbidity (infection) offers a more realistic picture. Indeed the anti-vaccine lobby are today only too quick to point to the number of pertussis notifications in those vaccinated, when launching attacks on the efficacy of the vaccine or the need to be vacccinated. They concomitantly avoid noting pertussis mortality in Australia hits the unvaccinated. The vaccinated cop a less dangerous, and to date, non-lethal infection. [Update] Children not vaccinated against pertussis are 24 times more likely to be infected with the wild strain, than those who are vaccinated. Below is another graph from Communicable Diseases Intelligence. I’ve boxed in measles in red and used coloured horizontal lines to link mortality to years pre and post introduction of the measles vaccine. It’s clear that the greatest gap – or in fact drop – in mortality follows the introduction of measles immunisation. Thereafter reductions are smaller and more evenly spaced. Diptheria tetanus polio measles highlight Could there be more important facts left out by Beattie? Clearly his graph is designed to visually convince the reader that the measles vaccine was introduced when measles was all but eradicated. Thus Beattie contends vaccination had no impact on its control. So what of Beattie? Do we afford him the benefit of the doubt? You be the judge. Immediately after the graph he writes in Fooling Ourselves.

The graph for measles (Figure 1) shows us that the five-yearly death rate, 100 years before the vaccine was introduced, was around 170. One hundred years later, and immediately prior to introducing the vaccine, it was less than one. That’s a reduction of 99.5%—before the vaccine arrived. The remainder of less than 1% is therefore the only portion of the decline to which the vaccine can possibly lay claim, because it simply was not around for the first 99.5%. […]
Let’s check that again: One hundred years later, and immediately prior to introducing the vaccine, it (the five year mortality rate from measles) was less than one. Looking at the CDI graph above, and countless others that can be wheeled out from developed nations around the world he is simply misinforming his readers. Less than one for five years? Whilst the CDI graph plots 150 from 1966 – 1975. An excellent way to further debunk Beattie’s “vaccines-didn’t-save-us” mess is through statistical estimation of the deaths that would have occurred without immunisation. Cost effectiveness and the money saved through improved health is vital. Love it or loathe it the cost of running a vaccine-conspiracy would be monumental. The savings to be made in controlling infectious disease are also wonderfully impressive and much time and energy goes into ensuring we invest in what pays for itself. The figure loving, graph scribing, number crunching chaps at Applied Economics are deft hands at such dark arts. In a semantic flick of the bird to antivaccinationists they write;

The trend in measles deaths since 1940 reveals a secular decline. This reflects a reduction in case fatality associated with a general improvement in health status as well as the introduction of antibiotics in the late 1940s (Russell, 1988). By fitting a trend to measles deaths for the period 1940–69 and extrapolating it from 1970 onwards, we can estimate the deaths that would have occurred without immunisation. A trend can also be fitted to actual deaths that occurred with immunisation. The difference between these two trend curves is our estimate of the lives saved because of immunisation.

I’ll leave you dear reader to pop over and peer at their graphs revealing the “lives saved because of immunisation”. They also sacrifice many pure white A4 sheets doing the same with Hib vaccination. Nonetheless here is (the businesses end of) the table born of such mysterious chanting and ritual. Pre immunisation years from 1940 are available. The point here is to further debunk the antivaccinationist claim that vaccines did nothing. By analysing pre and post immunisation mortality and morbidity trends, a strong estimate of lives saved and disease prevented can be clearly demonstrated.

 Estimated deaths due to, and notifications of, measles tabulated as with or without immunisation

Consequently estimated lives saved and estimated cases averted based solely on measles immunisation can be calculated as the difference

Deaths Notification
 Year Without Immunisation With immunisation Estimated lives saved Without immunisation With immunisation Estimated cases averted
1970 16 10 6 110,693 77,000 33,693
1971 15 10 5 112,391 67,459 44,932
1972 14 10 4 114,061 59,100 54,961
1973 13 10 3 115,706 51,777 63,929
1974 13 9 4 117,325 45,362 71,964
1975 12 9 3 118,921 39,741 79,180
1976 11 9 2 120,494 34,817 85,677
1977 11 8 3 122,044 30,503 91,542
1978 10 8 2 123,574 26,723 96,851
1979 10 7 3 125,083 23,412 101,671
1980 9 7 2 126,573 20,511 106,062
1981 9 7 2 128,044 17,969 110,075
1982 8 6 2 129,497 15,743 113,754
1983 8 6 2 130,932 13,792 117,140
1984 8 6 2 132,351 12,083 120,268
1985 7 5 2 133,753 10,586 123,167
1986 7 5 2 135,139 9,274 125,865
1987 6 4 2 136,511 8,125 128,385
1988 6 4 2 137,867 7,118 130,749
1989 6 4 2 139,209 6,236 132,973
1990 6 4 2 140,537 5,464 135,074
1991 5 3 2 141,852 4,787 137,065
1992 5 3 2 143,153 4,194 138,960
1993 5 2 3 144,442 3,674 140,768
1994 5 2 3 145,719 3,219 142,500
1995 4 2 2 146,983 2,820 144,163
1996 4 1 3 148,236 2,470 145,765
1997 4 1 3 149,477 2,164 147,313
1998 4 0 4 150,707 1,896 148,811
1999 3 0 3 151,927 1,661 150,266
2000 3 0 3 153,136 1,455 151,680
2001 3 0 3 154,335 1,275 153,059
2002 3 0 3 155,523 1,117 154,406
2003 3 0 3 156,702 979 155,723

 © Applied Economics

These are impressive figures. Lives are saved and disease is averted due to the MMR vaccination. Conversely with no vaccine induced protection from measles lives are lost, disease is spread and disability and suffering ensues. There can be few better examples as to the efficacy of mass immunisation, or indeed, the danger of the anti-vaccine lobby.

Consulting reputable publications we can see that measles is indeed a potentially very serious disease. Health authorities have never denied that vaccination carries a negligible risk. The anti-vaccine lobby is apt to demand vaccines be both 100% effective and 100% safe. As a public we are rather poor at assessing risk-benefit and thus many fall prey to the anti-vaccine slogans and lies.

Encephalitis is a one in a million plus risk as a consequence of measles vaccination. As a consequence of measles it is a one in a thousand risk. In short those who argue “natural immunity” is best subject their children to the risk of brain damage or death at a rate 1,000 times greater than had they chosen MMR. For every ten who contract encephalitis one will die and four will be permanently brain damaged. Around one third of those infected will develop complications that will likely require hospitalisation.

Depending on age, one child dies for every 2,500 – 5,000 cases of measles.

MMR vs infection

© The Encephalitis Society – Access full document here

Recently the vaccine-autism zombie had some life breathed into it. Fortunately it turns out that just as Wakefield perpetrated his original – and ongoing – fraud for money, the author of the latest scam is a member of a group erroneously believing vaccines cause autism and will stop at nothing to mislead the public to this same misconception. The “paper” was withdrawn in one month. A statement has been published by Dr. William Thompson who was deceived into becomming a “whistleblower”.

He was recorded against his will and it appears the anti-vaccine author Brian Hooker had worked for months to get the pro-vaccine Thompson on record as sounding like a whistleblower.

And so it continues. This is indeed not a drill. We do have reasonably healthy rates of vaccination but the return of measles, varicella and other vaccine preventable diseases means there is no room for complacency.

Make an informed decision. Vaccination saves lives.

The history of measles

Australian Immunisation Handbook – 2013


Measles Fact Sheet – WA Health

NCIRS – events in MMR vaccination practice

Australian Vaccination Network crashes and burns on seminar tour

As many know, Australia’s leading anti-vaccination lobby group, the deceptively named Australian Vaccination Network recently finished it’s “tour” of Western NSW.

The tour itself was an abysmal failure. Billed Vaccination and Health Rights – a seminar for parents and health professionals it attracted mainly aged hippies and conspiracy theorists. The most compelling development was rumoured to be Greg Beattie shouldering Meryl Dorey out of the spotlight.

Subtracting the obligatory four heads of the Doreys and Beatties, attendance was likely anything from 4 to 15 across various venues. This silliness may have cost over $7,500 if food, fuel and dodgy accommodation is included. To the surprise of many it cemented the disgust which with Meryl Dorey, Greg Beattie and the other misguided members of the antivax movement are regarded.

The “fury” expressed by residents of Tamworth appears typical of the reception the AVN received. The vicious online reception that the public of Tamworth laid out and the pummeling the AVN received in the comments attached to that article ensured Tamworth attracted the highest attendance.

Another piece, Controversial AVN vaccination group in Tamworth briefly covers the event. It includes the grab for money the AVN is known for;

Participants paid $12 to attend the meeting and were given information on the AVN legal fighting fund appeal where they can donate money to help the AVN fight their own pending legal cases and also to support the “fighting fund for non-vaccinating partners.”

The group says it helps parents in court proceedings fight their ex-partners or spouses who seek orders of the court to vaccinate their children.

Sounds darn tootin’ except “the group” has never done any such thing. Nor do they have any pending legal cases. This is a bald faced lie and an outright scam. I can be no kinder.

So, their largest turnout included critical journalists and the “ninja academic”, Scotty Harrison. Scotty is an Armidale local and PhD candidate in Health Economics. Scotty – the most qualified individual on the entire tour – took the stage and worked his way quickly to evidence based figures on the history of vaccines. Within 12 minutes he had demolished the thrust of a life time of deception from Greg Beattie (video below).

Greg Beattie: His antivax lies were demolished before his eyes

Scotty didn’t just lay bare the lie that decreases in mortality before vaccination, supposedly refute the efficacy of vaccination. Improved living standards led to increased recovery – but not reduced incidence of disease. He also raised the reality of vaccine preventable disease-induced disability. Then furthermore spoke of his own struggle with ADD, asthma, allergies and eczema. There is no evidence they are due to the vaccines he received as a child, he concluded.

He makes it quite clear vaccines brought about the elimination of the incidence of disease. When pre-vaccine recovery meant a lifetime of scarred lungs or severe brain damage or being bed ridden with multiple organ damage, the onus is upon people like Beattie to convince us just how vaccines are supposedly useless. As seen below the video, even in the present day (wherein no changes in living standards have occurred) the impact of vaccination on disease is striking.

Delightfully, Dorey and Beattie didn’t expect any presentation that might be in dissent to their theme. They refused Scotty’s invitation to return the next night. Keep an ear out for the spontaneous applause on Scotty’s point on how poorly the vaccination “debate” is being conducted. Strange then that this enthusiasm vanishes once his content is known.

As much as one may want to support the AVN in their quest for legitimacy, “because every story has two sides”, I’m afraid that’s presently impossible.

This trip was an unmitigated disaster.

Over to Scotty…

The impact of vaccination on measles and Hib incidence in recent & very recent times

(Above) Hib vaccine introduced to Australia

(Above) Hib Vaccine introduced to Kenya, Kilifi district