or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Baby Health › Vaccinations › Vaccinations Debate › Summaries of Vaccine Course
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Summaries of Vaccine Course

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Today is the first day!  This week there are two videos to watch, one on introducing the course and one on the history of vaccines and viruses.

In the introducing the course video Offit discusses three reasons to except yourself from vaccination: medical reasons, personal philosophy, and religious exemptions.  He briefly explains each of these types of exceptions.  Not in a very neutral way but what do you want.  Among other things he explains that when Christian Scientists were established it was taught that they shouldn't vaccinate against small pox because they didn't believe it was a disease but a mental state.  I thought that was interesting.


He also explains that the two states that don't have religious exceptions don't have them because they're supreme courts have ruled they violate equal protection.  In other words, just because the parent is religious doesn't mean the child shouldn't be protected.


In the history of vaccines he divides it up into eras.  The first is the whole animal era, starting with Jenner and the small pox vaccine.  He discusses how Jenner noticed that every couple of years small pox would sweep the country side and leaving 1 in 3 people who got it dead and the rest disfigured or blind.  But he noticed that women who milked cows didn't get small pox.  He postulated that the blisters they got on their hands and wrists from milk and cows protected them from small pox, somehow.  So he took some blisters from a milk maid and used them to infect a boy with cowpox (he injected him with fluid from the blisters).  He then goes into a long talk about variolation which was really interesting.  Basically you take a dried up crust from someone with small pox and you either inject it into someone or have them inject it.  It did protect people from small pox, but it also sometimes killed people.  Jenner vaccinated people with cowpox and then variolated them and saw that the reaction to the variolation was much less than normal and postulated that therefor the person was protected.


Still in the whole animal era we then have the rabies vaccine.  The rabies vaccine was developed by infecting rabbits with rabies, then drying out their spinal cords and injecting people with them (we now know that the process killed the virus).  He then took a little boy who had been bitten by a rabid dog and gave the boy immunity.  The problem was that when you inject a person with nervous tissue it contains myelin, and it causes the body to produce an immune response to myelin which causes seizures and encephalopathy in around .4% of people.  This was considered to be not so bad since it was a vaccine that was only given post exposure, and exposure to rabies was basically 100% deadly.


Still in the whole animal area comes the Polio vaccine and the 1930's.  There were several attempts to create a polio vaccine in the 30's using monkeys.  One group took monkeys, inoculated them with polio, then made a slurry (they skipped the details of that process, thank goodness) and used a soap of ricinoleate to kill the virus.  Another group did a same thing but used formaldehyde.  Problem was the slurries protected the virus, so the people who got the vaccine ended up getting polio and several died.  That was a miserable failure and basically ended polio vaccine research for awhile.


That was all so far!

post #2 of 20

Sounds interesting!  Great summary.

post #3 of 20

WTF! I signed up and they didn't email me!

post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Me either, I just went and checked at one point and saw it started June 25.
post #5 of 20

Oh I was wondering about that. I didn't get an email either. Will have to catch up! ;) 

post #6 of 20

I got the email today! An interesting video. This is not a difficult of time-consuming course, for those of you wondering.

post #7 of 20

I watched the video today - only 13 mins for this first one on early history of vaccines. I didn't know about early polio and rabies vaccines before. Glad we've moved beyond that! 

post #8 of 20

Caught up with the second video today (this one 18.5 min long, so a bit longer). 


It's about history of vaccines from 1930-1950s. Some yucky bits (for me why I came a physical scientist) about sacrificing and mincing bits of animals to try to grow vaccines in. 


Interesting dicussion about why eggs are used to grow vaccines (cheap, and naturally sterile which was very important pre anti-biotics). 


I was also really interested to hear about the massive polio vaccine trial run by Salk in the 1950s. They vaccinated 420,000 children against polio (a vaccine which at the time contained thimerosol), 200,000 got a placebo (so everything except the attenuated virus in the injection - need to check if this included thimerosol), and 1.2 million children were used as an unvaccinated control. I want to read up on this to see if there has been any later studies on the general health of these 3 groups of children - seems like that would be interesting to find out. 


Dr. Offit then talked about what he called the largest biological disaster in history - when a company improperly attenuated polio virus in a batch of vaccines, and injected thousands of children with live polio - 200 of which ended up permanently disabled. He talked about how this event immediately led to stronger controls for vaccine manufacturers which continue to get stronger today. 


I was also struck by Paul Offits discussion of how vaccine researchers (including himself) often vaccinate their own children well before formal licensing and widespread distribution of the vaccinations.


Have to say though I'm not impressed with the "assessment quizes". Seems a bit too focused on remembering facts (which method a particular researcher used etc) rather than making sure we get the concepts about how the early vaccines work etc.  


How are you all getting on with it? 

post #9 of 20

I've got really behind (busy at work and with the end of the school year stuff). But watching 3rd video right now (14.21 minutes).


It starts by talking about development of measles, mumps and rubella vaccines in the 1960s. Interesting to learn about the technique of reducing the strength of the viruses by growing them in cells from other animals (often chicken eggs, or embryos). 


Some more comments on researchers vaccinating their children with test vaccines out of a desire to protect them (picture of the developer of the Mumps vaccine with his two daughters - the older was the source of the virus used to develop the vaccine, and the younger is pictured getting the experimental shot). 


Now talking about growing viruses in human fetus cells (claims it was considered desirable as there was less chance of cross contamination). Two sets of cells are used from fetuses from two elective abortions in the 1960s (one in Sweden, the other in the UK). This is obviously controversial, especially for Catholics. Offits says that the Pontifical Academy for Life has passed an opinion on this - they state that the vaccines should not have been made this way, but now that the vaccines exist it is a good thing to continue to use them and save children with the vaccines. Claim is no new fetus cells are used now - all from these two fetuses in the 1960s.


Now Hep B vaccine - and discussion of chemicals (one of which is formaldahyde) which can kill human viruses. Hep B was first and last vaccine developed from human blood, and there were a  lot of problems with the acceptance of this method (concerns it was "dirty" even though it was purified extensively). Was used 1981-1986, and then withdrawn because of the concerns over its source.

post #10 of 20

Now still working to catch up with Video 4 (17:46 mins). 


Starting with development of a new Hep B vaccine (Maurice Hilleman again) in 1980s. They were trying to do it without using human blood as a source -  but instead via genetic engineering (having bacteria grow and produce the virus surface protein). HPV vaccine also made this way - encoding yeast to grow HPV surface protein which can be purified and used to make the vaccine.


Reassortant Vaccines - now talking about his rotavirus vaccine. Rotavirus - a killer in the developing world (and rarely in the US pre vaccine). Technique involves mixing the genes of viruses to reduce the bits that cause the illness, but keep the bits which induce the immune response. 


Summary of viral vaccine production methods: 

1. Live attenuated virus (weakened in animal cells)

2. Whole killed virus (killed with chemicals)

3. Virus subunit (removing surface protein from virus) - HPV, Hep B

4. Reassortant virus (mixing genes of virus strains). - only Rotavirus


Now onto bacterial vaccines. 


"Bacterins" - early vaccines against bacterial diseases. Easy to make, but didn't actually work (pre FDA).


1901 - first Nobel prize, for discovery of antibodies as a way to protect against bacteria (von Behring)


Developed vaccines containing these antibodies which did help prevent disease. 


Diptheria Vaccine (1920s) - "classic" vaccine, weakening the diptheria toxin and injecting it to induce an immune response.

Tetanus Vaccine - done in similar way. This saved a lot of lives in World War 1.


Pertussis Vaccine (1940) - different to previous two, as has a lot more "structural proteins" (3000 compared to 1). 


DTP vaccine (combination of the three above) had some severe side effects which were relatively common. These didn't cause permanent harm, but were difficult to get through. At the time Pertussis killed about 8000 children per year, so people put up with the side effects. We now have better vaccine with fewer side effects. 


Polysaccaride Vaccines

Polysaccaride - complex sugar coating around bacteria.


Found in pneunococcus, meningococcus, and HiB. 

This method doesn't work very well in young infants. There is a procedure to improve how it works (called conjugated polysaccaride vaccines). This is the method used in the current Hib (1991), Pneumocuccus (2000) and Meingococcus (2005) vaccines. 


 Well I have to say that was a tough one to follow. Lots of jargon. It's interesting for me as a scientist to watch something aimed at non-scientists from a different field. I think Offit thinks he's really explaining well, and I'm not scared off by jargon (it's just language after all), but I am struggling to follow sometimes!  

post #11 of 20

Still playing catchup - just watched video 5, on the alternative vaccine schedule (16 min video). It's a discussion is of the reasons for developing this delayed schedule, and the harm (as seen by Paul Offit) of it. Here are my notes to self made while watching. I don't have time right now to edit them. I have a big work trip/holiday (that's a vacation for the Americans!) coming up, so haven't been able to keep up as I wished, and I'm not sure I'll make it through the last two videos (both over 30 mins). If they're still available in September I might get back to them on my return. 



Alternative Vaccine Schedules


Discussing Dr. Bob Sear's schedule which brings kids into the doctor much more often.

Based on the concern that kids might get too many vaccines at once. 

Paul Offit concerned this delays vaccines and leaves them unprotected for longer



1. Too many vaccines too soon (causing chronic diseases). 

1900 - 1 shot total, 1 shot only.

1980 - 5 shots by age 2, 2 shots at once.  

2012 - 26 vaccines by age 2, 5 at once.


Understands that it is hard to do this to your child to protect children against largely unseen diseases using biologic agents which most people don't understand. 


Number of immunologic components in all these vaccines today are fewer than those in just the 1 shot in 1900. 


1900 small pox - 200 antigens in this vaccine

1980 whole cell pertussis vaccines had ~3000 antigens


Neither of these are currently used, so total number of antigens in 2012 is 150-153 so this is actually less. These decreases due to improvements in science allowing "purer" vaccines than before. 


2. Infants are just too young for vaccines? 

From birth, almost immediately get millions of bacteria on their kid. Adult human has 100 trillion bacteria on the surface of your skin (10 times the number of cells in your body). All this induces immune response from the moment of birth. 


Vaccines given at birth (HBV and BCG) also give excellent immune responses in infants.


Alternative vaccine schedules are a choice to put your child at risk of vaccine preventable diseases for longer than is necessary.


3. Too much aluminium. (e.g. Dr. Bob Sears)


Aluminium salts in vaccines to improve immune response, and allow less of the immune response making agent to be included in the vaccine.


3rd most abundant element on Earth's surface, and in everything around us. Also in many foods - and used as an additive (processed cheese, pancake mix for example). Also in breast milk.


6 months - 4mg from vaccine, breast milk 10 mg (formula 30 mg, soy formula 100 mg). 


100% absorbed from vaccination, 1% from ingestion. 

Aluminum is eliminated (but not completely).

End of 1st year - aluminium accumulation from breast milk and vaccine is comparable (0.1 mg)


Aluminium is demonstrably dangerous - but only in people with kidneys not working well and in presence of big doses of aluminium. 


4. Too many shots at once cause stress


2 shots not likely to introduce more stress than 1 - so more visits = more stress. 


What's the Harm? 

- not science based, only from 1 doctor. 

- more likely to induce needle phobia (more visits, more stress)

- increase time children are at risk of VPD

- responsibility to the waiting room 

- there is no benefit

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 

I have been slacking on this, too, thanks for the summary!

post #13 of 20

It sounds like Offit's only response to the concern of too many vaccines is that the number of total antigens is less than 30 years ago. People who are concerned about the number of vaccines--is their only concern the number of antigens?

post #14 of 20

Sounds to me like you have all registered for Vaccine Propaganda 101.

post #15 of 20

Did anyone have chance to catch the last few lessons? I've been travelling for work and totally overwhelmed coming back, but would love to read a synopsis.... 


This was a vaccine course advertised as being given by Paul Offit. I don't think any of us expected to get anything other than the mainstream view. Personally I wanted to listen to that for myself and spend some time thinking about it. 

post #16 of 20
Originally Posted by prosciencemum View Post

Did anyone have chance to catch the last few lessons? I've been travelling for work and totally overwhelmed coming back, but would love to read a synopsis.... 


This was a vaccine course advertised as being given by Paul Offit. I don't think any of us expected to get anything other than the mainstream view. Personally I wanted to listen to that for myself and spend some time thinking about it. 

I am not sure how willing you are to look at the other side of the issue, but I highly recommend watching this interview with pediatrician, Dr Lawrence Palevsky on vaccination, he is a very thoughtful, conservative guy and presents his information in a very clear, concise way without any histrionics.


post #17 of 20

I fell behind in the course because I decided to take another Coursera course! Great website.


I will be interested to play catch-up, although I've already read two books about vaccines. Granted, they were both about smallpox, which has a truly fascinating vaccine history--Offit couldn't even get into it fully because it's so long.

post #18 of 20
Originally Posted by MichelleZB View Post

I fell behind in the course because I decided to take another Coursera course! Great website.


I will be interested to play catch-up, although I've already read two books about vaccines. Granted, they were both about smallpox, which has a truly fascinating vaccine history--Offit couldn't even get into it fully because it's so long.

 Out of curiosity does the courses you have taken on smallpox and it's history teach about the Leicester method?

post #19 of 20

They weren't courses, they were books about the history of smallpox. Both of them discussed sanitation, yes.

post #20 of 20

Just heard that the vaccine course will be starting again soon. Might sign up again to catch the last few videos I missed. :) 



New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Vaccinations Debate
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Baby › Baby Health › Vaccinations › Vaccinations Debate › Summaries of Vaccine Course