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The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield
diversion sign
tallguywrites
A fifteen page story about the MMR vaccination controversy. As ever, I'm sure a few spelling errors have slipped past me. Feel free to point any out so I can correct them.

The reference links for the strip are in the next blog entry.

Now! Let's have a heated debate!

2013 update. Since I wrote this blog entry, this cartoon strip as well as many others on such subjects as homeopathy, chiropratic, evolution, and the supposed NASA Moon hoax landings, have been published in a book: Science Tales in the UK (Myriad Edtions) and How To Fake A Moon Landing in the US and Canada (Abrams). Here's the link to my main blog.

1 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story



2 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

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MMR 7 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 8 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 9 Vaccination Scandal Story

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MMR 12 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 13 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 14 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 15 Vaccination Scandal Story

I am Darryl Cunningham and this is my main blog.

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my family caught the flu bug this past winter... my 6 week old daughter seemed fine when we went to the hospital that night but i still had her checked out and she was fine...with me on 2 hours sleep, a mere 6 hours later she woke up with a high fever and the same cough as everyone else. I took her to Childrens Hospital and immediately the resident doctor wanted to do a lumbar puncture on her to test for spinal meningitis. I told them look our entire family is sick I think she has the same thing we have. at the time we weren't diagnosed with the flu but with possible strep throat, ear infections, and a severe cold. The doctor blew me off and started lecturing me about how i needed to let him do a lumbar puncture on my child, that it was in her best interest because if she has spinal meningitis she could die. I asked how is spinal meningitis treated? he said with a course of antibiotics. I said well lets start with the smallest test first, which would be urine, followed by a blood test. He got infuriated with me and went as far as to say i wasnt a good mom because i was thinking about my own feelings not my daughter. He left the room. I sat there and broke down in tears. The thought of someone poking her in the spine for a "possible" cause made no sense to me. The nurse came in and saw me crying. she told me to calm down and then she said to me. "dont let them do the lumbar puncture, she doesnt need it!" I said "why would you say that?" she said " a blood test would reveal that she is sick with SOMETHING maybe not exactly what, but the medicine used to treat the blood abnormality would be the same as meningitis." The main doctor came in and i let her have it. I said theres no way in hell anything is going in her spine before all other tests have been performed. she then said that the intern was wrong to scare me like that and that they will do the least invasive test on her first. The first thing they did was swab her nose for the flu, followed by urine samples and blood work... an hour or so later the resident came back in, looking very unhappy. He said "your daughter just has the flu, we are going to treat her with tamiflu and send you home." I wanted to get up and sucker punch him in the face!

I fought sleep to go get her medicine from the pharmacy, made it home, gave her her first dose and went to sleep. Fast forward 7 hours or so after I had finally gotten some sleep and I decided to read the pamphlet that came with the tamiflu... "DO NOT GIVE TO CHILDREN UNDER 1! NO CLINICAL STUDIES HAVE BEEN DONE ON CHILDREN UNDER AGE 1. IN CHILDREN UNDER 3 TAMIFLU IS KNOWN TO CAUSE GREATLY INCREASED RISK FEREBRAL SEIZURES." Even more enraged, I threw the medicine away. 9 days later we were all fine, sick of being sick, but fine nonetheless. I haven't been back to Children's Hospital and I doubt I will ever go back to them.

Y'know, as much as people complain about our "lawsuit-obsessed" culture, I frankly think medical malpractice suits are disturbingly UNDER-utilized.

I've suffered permanent nerve damage because of a doctor who couldn't be bothered with actually looking up known side-effects in the PDR and INCREASED my dosage in hopes of treating the symptoms the medication itself was causing. (Nothing crippling, but it does get painful; the only thing that keeps it under control, alas, is Valium, which is getting increasingly hard to get because "everybody knows" it's dangerous despite the decades of evidence that it's effective and safe for most users... but that's another story.)

And I know two other people who have suffered medically because of his ill-considered prescriptions, yet the guy is not only still practicing, in this small town there's no one else to turn to for his specialty; people kiss up to him because his approval is needed to get access to certain treatments.

Yep, it's a scary world, and sometimes the people who are supposed to keep us safe are the scariest part.

With the greatest of respect, some of what you posted is inaccurate for small babies. However from your post, I would agree that they method of delivering the advice to you has been horrendously sub-optimal and there are aspects of your own opinions that are entirely correct.

Small babies do not show serious infections in the same way as everyone else, particularly with respect to blood tests. Babies can be seriously ill with relatively normal tests (or tests with very mild abnormalities). Having said that, the critical age is under 4 weeks, but until the age of three months, doctors need to be very, very careful with them. The reason doctors want to perform lumbar punctures where possible (and indicated) on babies is because it will direct a specific course of management including the actual antibiotic they give as well as the duration of treatment (meningitis requires longer courses than blood or urine infections). Babies also tolerate procedures we would consider painful extremely well, provided adequate comfort measures and reassurances are given. I agree with you (and the second doctor you saw) that doing simple, less-invasive investigations first is the correct course of action. In my practice, I often mention lumbar punctures as a possibility for further investigation depending on the results of the initial tests. Also, it's important to remember that it is possible to have bacterial seeding into the CSF (the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord which is what we sample on lumbar puncture) from a primary infection elsewhere and that the important thing is knowing how long to treat the infection for and whether further investigations in the future (such as brain scans, hearing tests, etc) are required to determine the extent of damage caused by certain types of meningitis. Partially-treated meningitis can be extremely problematic and therapy to minimise long-term damage is vital, should it be the case.

Very few medications are actually licensed for children under one year because the pharmaceutical companies often struggle to recruit babies into trials (plus there is considerable financial burden). Doctors (specifically paediatricians) are aware of this and utilise their knowledge of both the drugs and infant physiology to recommend specific unlicensed treatments. Tamiflu (oseltamivir), once it was being used during the H1N1 crisis a few years ago, was found to be particularly problematic in children and it was ceased to be used in kids in Australia (with some specific exceptions where the risks of the drug side-effects were outweighed by the risks of influenza on those individuals). We regularly saw kids coming back in with vomiting and headaches after Tamiflu administration.

However, your description of your experience sounds awful: when your kids are sick it's the worst thing in the world, made worse only by you being sick at the same time. You have my sincerest sympathies for the stress you experienced and I hope that you never experience something so stressful again.

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