Telegraph calls for single vaccines. Morons.

December 2, 2008 at 6:27 pm (Anti-Vaccination, Bad Science, Media) (, , , )

The Daily Telegraph has printed a monumentally stupid article calling for single vaccines to be made available. Incredibly, Cassandra Jardine has claimed that the only reasons that the triple MMR vaccine is given instead of single jabs are money and simplicity.

Only one doctor, Richard Halvorsen, author of The Truth about Vaccines, offers single vaccines to his patients on the NHS. The rest of us have to pay about £100 a shot.

But why? Combined vaccines suit the companies that make more profit on them because the patents on single vaccines have expired. But that can’t be why the Department of Health refuses to offer parents choice, when in other areas of care choice is the watchword.

The real reason it is so stubborn is that it is simpler and cheaper to get children into the surgery when they are very young and administer three vaccines at once. Otherwise, there seems no good reason not to revert to the old practice of separate vaccines, most of which could be given at a later date when children are more robust.

No, Cassandra – I think you’ll find that following a schedule of single measles jasb (e.g. measles one year, mumps the next, rubella the year after that) leaves children exposed to two-out-of-three of these diseases for 12 months and to one-out-of-three for 24 months. Perhaps that could be a consideration?

Cassandra also refers to children being given the other single vaccines when they “are more robust”. This seems to be a reference to “immune overload”. The World Health Organisation has a useful page on immune overload that states that “evidence to support the concept of “immune overload” is lacking” and there are links to three abstracts of papers on immune overload. According to both the Offit et al and Miller et al papers, vaccinated children in fact have fewer infections than unvaccinated children. The pdf of the Offit paper is here and in it, the authors state that:

Current studies do not support the hypothesis that multiple vaccines overwhelm, weaken, or “use up” the immune system. On the contrary, young infants have an enormous capacity to respond to multiple vaccines, as well as to the many other challenges present in the environment. By providing protection against a number of bacterial and viral pathogens,
vaccines prevent the “weakening” of the immune system and consequent secondary bacterial infections occasionally caused by natural infection.

The paper from Miller et al tells us that “Combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine did not increase the risk of hospitalisation with invasive bacterial infection in the three months after vaccination; rather there was a protective effect. These results provide no support for the concept of “immunological overload” induced by multiple antigen vaccinations, nor calls for single antigen vaccines.” While Hilton, Petticrew and Hunt point out that we don’t actually know “how British parents conceptualise the notion of ‘immune-overload’ or how they relate this concept to their own children”. Link.

Incidentally, this NHS pdf has a chart on page two showing levels of measles infection prior to (a) the introduction of a single vaccine and (b) the MMR triple jab. It also shows levels of mumps and rubells prior to the introduction of MMR. Notifications of measles infection dropped significantly following the introduction of the single vaccine, but can be seen to have dropped even further on the introduction of MMR. This vaccine is doing a very good job of keeping our children safe from three not insignificant diseases. I don’t want to get all shrill and hysterical, but frankly I think that papers like the Telegraph are jeopardising children’s health by printing ill-informed articles such as the one by Cassandra Jardine. Won’t someone, please, think about the children?

8 Comments

  1. dvnutrix said,

    Jardine has a history of being credulous – even so, this beggars belief.

    It’s in the developing world that it kills. Malnourishment makes complications far more likely.

    Silly me. I didn’t realise that SSPE only affected malnourished under-1year olds who are too young to receive MMR. I really think that the german govt. should do something about the outbreak of malnutrition amongst the patients of the doctor’s surgery where 2 babies were infected and deteriorated in an abruptly short time.

    Bellini et al. calculate that the incidence of SSPE is much higher than was previously thought (broken links to avoid the filter).

    http:// http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16235165

    Stephan Arenz, puts the SSPE incidence in children contracting measles under one year of age as high as 1 in 2000-3000 (that may be a peculiarity of the strains – but when you’re not vaccinated, you’re not vaccinated). S Arenz Kinderärztl Praxis 77:29-31 (2006) (Allegedly, I haven’t found the paper that is referenced in the news report about although it is said to be this.)

    Jardine seems to be following the Halvorsen line of only vaccinating for measles (if at all) but delaying vaccination for both mumps and rubella and only administering the former to boys and the latter to girls.

  2. draust said,

    Perhaps Jardine’s article should have a sub-title;

    “Ignorant and suspicious of science and medicine – and proud of it”

    I’m only disappointed that this dismal article doesn’t have a research credit for “MMR? It’s A Government Cover-up!” conspiracy fan Beezy Marsh, like Cassandra Jardine’s last farrago of nonsense on MMR that I wrote about back in the Summer.

    But then, this limp piece of hand-wringing opinionizing doesn’t have any research in it, although it does have a plug for paid “expert” for Wakefield and panderer to middle class neuroses Richard Halvorsen. I seriously doubt that Halvorsen doles out much single vaccine on the NHS – though I suspect he will be making out nicely from scientifically illiterate middle-class neurotics like Cassandra Jardine boosting his private practise income.

    Anyway, if she can persuade the Telegraph to pay her for this tired tripe, no doubt Cassandra can afford it. All I can think is that the Telegraph must have had some late space to fill.

    Perhaps they couldn’t find anyone to knock out a quick 300 words on “electrosensitivity”.

  3. stavros said,

    I don’t want to get all shrill and hysterical, but frankly I think that papers like the Telegraph are jeopardising children’s health

    You’re not hysterical, this is exactly what happens, especially considering the readership of such newspapers and the fact that the vast majority of the public gets his “science” and “health” news from these.

    Regarding the vaccination graphs, a “beautiful” response from the lunatics is that the graphs have been reduced to only a few decades before the vaccination, while if you start the time line from last century you will see that vaccines didn’t have an influence -it was merely the better sanitizing and overall health conditions that did the trick… Well, and if you start the graphs from the Big Bang…

    Maybe gimpy will send a formal complain to the newspaper? :-) Actually, all of us should do so!

  4. Neuroskeptic said,

    See also this classic from Ms Jardine :
    here

    Which includes the old 1-in-58 canard

    “Certainly autism appears to have increased dramatically. In the early Nineties prevalence in the UK was put at four or five per 10,000. In 2006, The Lancet put it at one in 86 and, last year, Cambridge University’s Autism Research Centre estimated that some 210,000 children – one in 58 – suffer from an autistic spectrum disorder.”

    Doesn’t she read Ben Goldacre? I’m shocked.

  5. draust said,

    Neuroskeptic

    The earlier Sally Jardine piece was the one I wrote about in the post I linked to above (earlier comment). The trigger for her article was the UK visit of the fatuous David Kirby, ex-travel writer (sic) and chief PR man of the toxins-in-vaccines cult. See also here.

  6. Claire said,

    Articles in medical journals more and more routinely carry ‘declaration of interest’ type information. Perhaps we should be thinking about similar for writers of articles on health matters in mainstream media?

  7. Smart Bombs said,

    I’m so fed up with the argument that single vaccines should be provided because of “patient choice”.

    Patient choice only extends to treatments that are safe and effective. Single vaccines are not as safe or effective as the triple, as the number of people completing all 3 will be lower, and it leaves people unprotected for longer.

    Try asking your GP for trepanning when you have a headache, and see how far patient choice gets you.

  8. The Daily Mail and Mr Andrew Wakefield « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] – something I have referred to previously on this blog in discussion of an article by Cassandra Jardine in the Daily Telegraph on single […]

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