Don’t Put Stones, Yogurt, or Garlic Cloves in Your Vagina

Dr Jen­nifer Gunter is a physi­cian who is board-cer­ti­fied in obstetrics/gynecology and in pain med­i­cine. She has ded­i­cat­ed her med­ical career to reliev­ing her patients’ suf­fer­ing. She has even risked her own life by per­form­ing abor­tions, in a coun­try where some abor­tion providers have been assas­si­nat­ed by anti-abor­tion ter­ror­ists. One might think that this would have earned Dr Gunter con­sid­er­able pres­tige among fem­i­nists, as both an expert on women’s health and a cham­pi­on of women’s rights. Yet Dr Gunter has come under fire for com­plain­ing that a lot of peo­ple are using the Inter­net to spread dan­ger­ous false infor­ma­tion about health and med­i­cine. In par­tic­u­lar, she point­ed out that the orga­ni­za­tion Our Bod­ies, Our­selves (for­mer­ly known as the Boston Women’s Health Col­lec­tive) has occa­sion­al­ly giv­en some ridicu­lous­ly bad health advice, such as encour­ag­ing women to put yogurt or gar­lic cloves in their vagi­na. In response, Jen­nifer Block (a for­mer edi­tor for Our Bod­ies, Our­selves and for Ms Mag­a­zine) vicious­ly attacked Dr Gunter in an op-ed that appeared on Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can’s web­site. [The op-ed itself was even­tu­al­ly retract­ed by Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can.]

Some Bad Advice From Our Bodies, Ourselves

Block claims that Dr Gunter is tar­get­ing Our Bod­ies, Our­selves because the book Our Bod­ies, Our­selves “was orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten in the 1970s, and not by doc­tors” [empha­sis in orig­i­nal]. In real­i­ty, Dr Gunter was con­cerned because Our Bod­ies, Our­selves was still urg­ing women to put gar­lic cloves or yogurt in their vagi­na. The advice to put gar­lic cloves or yogurt in one’s vagi­na was still on the Our Bod­ies, Our­selves web­site as of Novem­ber 29, 2019, in an arti­cle that was pub­lished in Octo­ber 2011 and revised on Sep­tem­ber 10, 2019.

Food Goes in the Mouth, Not in the Vagina

Dr Gunter tells us that the vagi­na is self-clean­ing, and that one should not put food in it. Her rea­son­ing makes a great deal of sense. Gar­lic cloves are often con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed with soil bac­te­ria, includ­ing the bac­te­ria respon­si­ble for bot­u­lism. Putting a gar­lic clove in your vagi­na would give those bac­te­ria the per­fect envi­ron­ment to mul­ti­ply and pro­duce bot­u­linum tox­in. Thus, putting a gar­lic clove in your vagi­na could put you at risk for paral­y­sis or even death. Sim­i­lar­ly, yogurt does con­tain lac­to­bacil­li, and some lac­to­bacil­li are sup­posed to live in the vagi­na. How­ev­er, yogurt does not nec­es­sar­i­ly con­tain the right kinds of lac­to­bacil­li. Also, any yogurt that con­tains live lac­to­bacil­li could con­tain oth­er live bac­te­ria. So a woman who puts gar­lic cloves or yogurt in her vagi­na could be run­ning seri­ous risks, in exchange for extreme­ly ques­tion­able ben­e­fits.

A Parody of Feminism?

Block’s op-ed seems almost to be a par­o­dy of the roman­ti­cism that was embraced by some fem­i­nists in the 1970s. For exam­ple, Block snipes that “Gunter was a child in the 1970s, but sure­ly she has read some his­to­ry.” Block then went on to describe how women “took off their pants and looked at their own and each other’s cer­vices” and swapped home reme­dies: “they com­pared all this gath­ered wis­dom to what men in white coats had been telling them and doing to them.” Block then went on to extol the “ideals of informed con­sent and par­tic­i­pa­to­ry med­i­cine” and the move­ment that “sent droves of women to med­ical school.” Yet Gunter was among the droves of women who went to med­ical school; Block was not. Gunter has not only looked at oth­er people’s cer­vices, she has per­formed surgery on them. Gunter has risked her own life to give oth­er women the chance to make their own deci­sions about preg­nan­cy. This fact should give Gunter a degree of cred­i­bil­i­ty and pres­tige that Black sore­ly lacks.

Tea-Tree Oil Could Disrupt the Endocrine System

Block does not under­stand that a lot of Dr Gunter’s advice is based on the con­cept of “bet­ter safe than sor­ry.” That is why Dr Gunter urges women to abstain com­plete­ly from some unnec­es­sary prod­ucts, includ­ing alco­holic bev­er­ages and tea-tree oil, dur­ing preg­nan­cy. Block dis­miss­es the study on tea-tree oil as “an unpub­lished case report pre­sent­ed at a meet­ing with indus­try spon­sors.” That is a gross mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion that reveals how lit­tle Block knows about how sci­ence is done. In real­i­ty, the study was not a “case report,” which would be a sto­ry about some­thing that hap­pened to a par­tic­u­lar per­son, per­haps for unknown rea­sons. Instead, the study was a study of human cells that were being grown in a lab­o­ra­to­ry under tight­ly con­trolled con­di­tions. The study is not “unpub­lished”: its pre­sen­ta­tion at ENDO (the annu­al meet­ing of the Endocrine Soci­ety) is actu­al­ly a form of pub­li­ca­tion. A for­mal arti­cle about the study was pub­lished in August 2019 in the Endocrine Soci­ety’s jour­nal, The Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal Endocrinol­o­gy and Metab­o­lism.

It is pre­pos­ter­ous for Block to dis­miss ENDO as “a meet­ing with indus­try spon­sors.” The Endocrine Soci­ety is not an indus­try trade group. Rather, it is a pro­fes­sion­al soci­ety whose 18,000 mem­bers are physi­cians and sci­en­tists who study the endocrine sys­tem (i.e., the hor­mones). The Endocrine Soci­ety has safe­guards in place to pre­vent indus­try from choos­ing which abstracts are accept­ed for pre­sen­ta­tion at ENDO. Fur­ther­more, the study on tea-tree oil wasn’t done by a phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­ny or by any­one with a com­mer­cial agen­da. It was done by sci­en­tists who work for the Nation­al Insti­tute of Envi­ron­men­tal Health Sci­ences.

Lavender and Tea-Tree Oils Make Boys Grow Boobs

Sci­en­tists from the NIEHS already had com­pelling evi­dence that soaps, sham­poos, or lotions that con­tain laven­der oil or tea-tree oil have estro­gen-like effects. Use of those prod­ucts can cause gyneco­mas­tia, which means abnor­mal growth of the breasts in boys. The NIEHS researchers used stan­dard lab­o­ra­to­ry meth­ods to show that some of the com­pounds found nat­u­ral­ly in laven­der oil and tea-tree oil real­ly do act like female hor­mones or sup­press the effects of male hor­mones on human cells that are being grown in a lab­o­ra­to­ry. This study is part of the Nation­al Tox­i­col­o­gy Program’s efforts to iden­ti­fy sub­stances that dis­rupt the endocrine sys­tem and to assess what kinds of effects these sub­stances are hav­ing on human beings and on wildlife. This is a big story—the kind a jour­nal­ist should cover—but Block missed it because she does not know how sci­ence works.

Don’t Put Stones in Your Vagina

Dr Gunter has also warned women not to put “jade eggs” or oth­er stones in their vagi­na. If you want to strength­en the mus­cles of your pelvic floor, do Kegel exer­cis­es instead. The stone itself could car­ry bac­te­ria, such as the kind that caus­es tox­ic shock syn­drome, which can be fatal. Also, a woman could injure her­self while try­ing to remove a slip­pery pol­ished stone from her vagi­na. Dr Gunter has treat­ed sim­i­lar injuries that result­ed from women using sex toys.

Don’t Worry About Glyphosate in Tampons

Giv­en Dr Gunter’s cau­tions about alco­hol, laven­der oil, tea-tree oil, and vagi­nal stones, you may be sur­prised to hear that Dr Gunter tells women not to wor­ry about the trace amounts of glyphosate that might be found in tam­pons. Block feels that this reas­sur­ance is hyp­o­crit­i­cal. Block sneered, “No need for pre­cau­tion, because there’s not enough research.” This atti­tude mere­ly shows that Block her­self is unaware of the enor­mous body of research about the safe­ty of glyphosate. Ms Block’s atti­tude also sug­gests that she has poor math skills. The report­ed amount of glyphosate in tam­pons is extreme­ly small. As Dr Gunter explains, using tam­pons for every sin­gle day of every peri­od for 40 years would expose a woman to a total of 1 thou­sandth of a gram of glyphosate from the tam­pons. This amount real­ly is too small to mat­ter. So the glyphosate in tam­pons should be the least of your wor­ries.

Don’t Steam Your Private Parts

Ms Block is out­raged because Dr Gunter tells women not to steam their vul­va (the exter­nal female gen­i­talia). Ms Block feels that “vagi­nal steam­ing” is “about bring­ing com­fort and blood flow to areas that have suf­fered trau­ma, dis­con­nect, and abuse” and that it is a way to help women “regain sen­sa­tion.” Dr Gunter is con­cerned that women might burn them­selves with the hot water. In fact, there have been reports of women who burned their pri­vate parts while try­ing to steam them. How­ev­er, Ms Block scoffs at Dr Gunter’s warning—“as if women can’t han­dle boil­ing water.” Yet the Shriner’s Hos­pi­tal burn team has been warn­ing peo­ple for decades that scald­ing-hot water, even hot tap water, can cause seri­ous or even dead­ly burns. In one famous case, Stel­la Liebeck was bad­ly burned by a cup of hot cof­fee that spilled in her lap. As a result, she required 8 days of hos­pi­tal­iza­tion for skin graft­ing, fol­lowed by two years of addi­tion­al treat­ments. Her case is described in the doc­u­men­tary Hot Cof­fee:

We Have No Safeguards Against Bad Journalism

Ms Block com­plains about some things that Dr Gunter sup­pos­ed­ly has not writ­ten about. “Instead of tak­ing shots at what’s in your fridge or night­stand, she could be using her plat­form to talk about, say, obstet­ric vio­lence, the ris­ing mater­nal death rate, the pelvic mesh dis­as­ter or the overuse of hys­terec­tomies, to name a few trends more threat­en­ing to women’s health and lives than yogurt.” Not only is this crit­i­cism unfair, giv­en that Dr. Gunter actu­al­ly has addressed some of these things, but it shows that Ms Block com­plete­ly mis­un­der­stands the par­tic­u­lar gap that Dr Gunter is try­ing to fill.

Amer­i­cans already have sys­tems in place to deal with dan­ger­ous prod­ucts and bad doc­tor­ing. The Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion reg­u­lates the mar­ket­ing of med­i­cines and med­ical devices. The state gov­ern­ments reg­u­late med­ical prac­tice with­in their bor­ders. State gov­ern­ments issue pro­fes­sion­al licens­es, and state gov­ern­ments can take those licens­es away from bad prac­ti­tion­ers. State courts allow patients who have been injured by doc­tors to sue for dam­ages. The state can even pros­e­cute and imprison doc­tors for com­mit­ting crimes like assault, rape, or fraud. In con­trast, we have absolute­ly no pro­tec­tions against bad med­ical jour­nal­ism. We have no sys­tem in place to ensure that the med­ical advice that peo­ple spread through books and mag­a­zines or over the Inter­net is actu­al­ly reli­able.  

Whom Should We Trust?

Both Dr Jen­nifer Gunter and Ms Jen­nifer Block have writ­ten books about the vagi­na. By writ­ing her op-ed, Ms Block evi­dent­ly wants to posi­tion her­self as supe­ri­or to Dr Gunter as a source of knowl­edge and wis­dom about women’s health and as a cham­pi­on of women’s rights. That’s a breath­tak­ing dis­play of nar­cis­sism, even in the age of Trump. It is astound­ing that Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can pub­lished Block’s op-ed, giv­en that the piece shows Block’s obvi­ous con­tempt for the sci­en­tif­ic method and her fear and loathing of the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty. Block argues that “Doc­tors are not gods.” That’s cer­tain­ly true, but the edi­tors of women’s mag­a­zines are gen­er­al­ly not even doc­tors. [Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can with­drew the op-ed with this note: “Edi­tor’s note. The post that orig­i­nal­ly appeared here has been removed because we’ve deter­mined that it does­n’t meet our edi­to­r­i­al stan­dards.” It was lat­er amend­ed to this note: “Edi­tor’s Note: Because of laps­es in Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can’s review and fact-check­ing process, the post that orig­i­nal­ly appeared here has been removed due to prob­lems with sourc­ing and cita­tions. We apol­o­gize to the author and our read­ers.” ]

Editors and Standards

Many thought­ful peo­ple share Dr Gunter’s con­cern that the Inter­net is being used to spread mis­in­for­ma­tion about health. This prob­lem is main­ly a lack of edi­tor­ship. Ide­al­ly, a work about sci­ence or med­i­cine would go through a sci­en­tif­ic review before pub­li­ca­tion. The review process should pre­vent total non­sense from being pub­lished at all, and it should allow any defects in accept­able mate­r­i­al to be cor­rect­ed before pub­li­ca­tion. The review process that sci­en­tif­ic pub­li­ca­tions use is not fool-proof. But much of the mate­r­i­al that is pub­lished for the gen­er­al pub­lic has not been reviewed by any sci­en­tist. As a result, the pub­lic is being giv­en a lot of bad advice about mat­ters of life and death.

We Need Honest Critiques of Medicine

Soci­ety real­ly does need peo­ple to crit­i­cize per­sons and insti­tu­tions, such as pub­lic fig­ures and the med­ical pro­fes­sion. How­ev­er, such cri­tiques must be based on facts, not on rumors and guess­es and bias­es and para­noia. One can­not real­ly pro­vide a use­ful cri­tique unless one knows the facts and under­stands what those facts mean. To gain that under­stand­ing, you often have to take some of the hard, nerdy cours­es in col­lege or even grad­u­ate or pro­fes­sion­al school. That’s why we need edu­cat­ed experts like physi­cians and sci­en­tists to edu­cate the pub­lic. We also need edi­tors and jour­nal­ists who can sim­pli­fy and clar­i­fy those experts’ mes­sages. Health­care reform­ers need to focus on real prob­lems and work on find­ing real solu­tions. One of those real prob­lems is the bad health advice that peo­ple are get­ting over the Inter­net. Dr Gunter has warned us about it. Peo­ple from many walks of life will have to work togeth­er to solve it.

Are Antivaxxers Mentally Ill?

I have writ­ten a book that explains why we use vac­cines to pre­vent dis­ease. I have also writ­ten a book about men­tal ill­ness­es: what they are and how they are clas­si­fied, diag­nosed, and treat­ed. So I am well pre­pared to answer a com­mon ques­tion: are the anti­vac­cine zealots out of their minds? The answer is “some­times”; that deter­mi­na­tion must be made on a case-by-case basis. Vac­ci­na­tion has long been the main­stay of pub­lic health efforts. Being vehe­ment­ly opposed to the main­stay of pub­lic health efforts is not, per se, a men­tal ill­ness. But nei­ther is it a sign of good men­tal health, espe­cial­ly not in an edu­cat­ed per­son. In fact, peo­ple who go to great lengths in their anti­vac­cine advo­ca­cy are more like­ly than the aver­age per­son to have a par­tic­u­lar kind of men­tal ill­ness: a per­son­al­i­ty dis­or­der.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Are Anti­vaxxers Men­tal­ly Ill?”

Measles Parties” Are a Myth

Anti­vac­cine pro­pa­gan­da has been spread­ing. As a result, so has the measles. Anti­vac­cine zealots are not wor­ried by measles out­breaks. Instead, they want even more peo­ple to catch the measles. These anti­vaxxers believe that measles is a harm­less dis­ease that boosts the immune sys­tem. (In real­i­ty, measles is dan­ger­ous main­ly because it dam­ages the immune sys­tem.) Late­ly, anti­vaxxers have been spread­ing the myth that in the old days, par­ents would send their chil­dren to “measles par­ties” at the home of a measles patient. In real­i­ty, some­one from the local board of health would post a quar­an­tine sign on the patient’s home, to pre­vent any “measles par­ty” from tak­ing place.

Con­tin­ue read­ingMeasles Par­ties” Are a Myth”

Thanks to the Polio Vaccine, Nobody Builds Iron Lungs Anymore

This video is about one of the last Amer­i­cans to get polio. He got it right before the Salk vac­cine came out. For this rea­son, he is one of the last peo­ple to be using an “iron lung” ven­ti­la­tor. Since nobody makes these machines any­more, he had a lot of trou­ble in find­ing a mechan­ic to main­tain the machine. Also, nobody was mak­ing spare parts for the machine.

For­tu­nate­ly, a glob­al vac­ci­na­tion cam­paign is about to dri­ve polio into extinc­tion. After the polio virus­es are no longer cir­cu­lat­ing, we will no longer need to vac­ci­nate any­one against this dis­ease.

Rotary Inter­na­tion­al has played an impor­tant role in sup­port­ing the polio erad­i­ca­tion cam­paign. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it:


See a Registered Dietitian (RD) Instead of a Lyme Literate MD (LLMD)

Many peo­ple have been told by an LLMD (Lyme-lit­er­ate med­ical doc­tor) that they have chron­ic Lyme dis­ease. How­ev­er, there is real­ly no such thing as an LLMD, and there might be no such thing as chron­ic Lyme dis­ease. Those patients prob­a­bly do have a chron­ic inflam­ma­to­ry dis­ease, but they have been giv­en the wrong diag­no­sis and are get­ting the wrong treat­ment. Many chron­ic inflam­ma­to­ry dis­eases can be cured by a sim­ple change in diet. The only way to find out is to try an elim­i­na­tion diet and see what hap­pens. For advice on an elim­i­na­tion diet, peo­ple should see an RD (reg­is­tered dietit­ian) who works with their reg­u­lar doc­tor.

What is an LLMD?

An MD degree, which stands for med­ical doc­tor, means that the per­son has been grad­u­at­ed from an accred­it­ed school of med­i­cine. Often, med­ical doc­tors have oth­er cre­den­tials. For exam­ple, FACP means that the doc­tor is a Fel­low of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Physi­cians. FACOG means that the doc­tor is a Fel­low of the Amer­i­can Col­lege of Obste­tri­cians and Gyne­col­o­gists. Those fel­low­ships are real, mean­ing­ful cre­den­tials. How­ev­er, there is no offi­cial orga­ni­za­tion that grants LLMD cre­den­tials. In oth­er words, LLMD is a pho­ny cre­den­tial. Let the buy­er beware.

Peo­ple seek out LLMDs for an under­stand­able rea­son. When sick peo­ple go to a doc­tor, they main­ly want the doc­tor to answer three ques­tions: What is hap­pen­ing to me? Why is it hap­pen­ing to me? and How can you make it stop hap­pen­ing to me? In many cas­es, the doc­tor can­not answer any of those ques­tions. As a result, des­per­ate patients often go from doc­tor to doc­tor until they find some­one who gives sat­is­fy­ing answers to at least one of those ques­tions. Often, it is a strug­gle just to find a doc­tor who believes that they are real­ly sick. Yet the answer that sat­is­fies the patient is not always cor­rect. As a result, peo­ple with mys­te­ri­ous chron­ic ill­ness­es become easy prey for prac­ti­tion­ers who pro­vide false but sat­is­fy­ing answers. Many of these prac­ti­tion­ers use one catch-all diag­no­sis, which is a sin­gle diag­no­sis that is giv­en as an expla­na­tion for every­thing that is going wrong in prac­ti­cal­ly every patient’s body. Since Lyme dis­ease can cause many odd symp­toms, it is use­ful as a catch-all diag­no­sis.

The doc­tors who call them­selves “Lyme-lit­er­ate” have been giv­ing patients the answers that the patients are des­per­ate to hear: Yes, you real­ly are sick. I know what is hap­pen­ing to you, and I will try to make it stop. The LLMDs then start the patients on a long course of antibi­otics, some­times intra­venous­ly. This long-term treat­ment is prof­itable for the doc­tor because the patients must make many appoint­ments. How­ev­er, the long-term antibi­ot­ic treat­ment does lit­tle or no good and can cause seri­ous harm, includ­ing death. In oth­er words, the patients are giv­en the wrong diag­no­sis. As a result, they get the wrong treat­ment, which prob­a­bly does more harm than good. Since the treat­ment involves overuse of antibi­otics, it pos­es a risk to everyone’s health. The long course of antibi­otics allows the patient to devel­op antibi­ot­ic-resis­tant strains of bac­te­ria, which can then spread to oth­er peo­ple.

What is Lyme disease?

Deer tick
The deer tick or black-legged tick (Ixodes scapu­laris spreads the bac­teri­um that caus­es Lyme dis­ease.

Lyme dis­ease is use­ful as a catch-all diag­no­sis because it pro­duces chron­ic inflam­ma­tion. Thus, it pro­duces the same signs and symp­toms as many oth­er chron­ic inflam­ma­to­ry dis­eases. The first known cas­es of Lyme dis­ease were orig­i­nal­ly diag­nosed as juve­nile rheuma­toid arthri­tis because the patients had hot, swollen, painful joints. Then, some­one thought it was odd that so many chil­dren from Old Lyme, Con­necti­cut, were com­ing down with the same rare, non­con­ta­gious dis­ease. These chil­dren had been play­ing in the woods, and some of them remem­bered hav­ing tick bites and rash­es.

Borrelia burgdorferi
Bor­re­lia burgdor­feri, the spi­ral bac­teri­um (spiro­chete) that caus­es Lyme dis­ease.

Even­tu­al­ly, a med­ical ento­mol­o­gist named Willy Burgdor­fer found the spi­ral bac­teri­um (spiro­chete) that caus­es Lyme dis­ease. It was named Bor­re­lia burgdor­feri in his hon­or.

Lyme dis­ease is a chron­ic inflam­ma­to­ry dis­ease. Unless you saw a tick or a rash, Lyme dis­ease looks and feels just like many oth­er chron­ic inflam­ma­to­ry dis­eases. The only way to tell these dis­eases apart is to do some lab­o­ra­to­ry tests. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the lab­o­ra­to­ry tests are not always accu­rate.

A lab­o­ra­to­ry test is like a bur­glar alarm. It is sup­posed to go off when­ev­er there is a bur­glar in the house, but only when there is a bur­glar in the house. If it fails to go off when there real­ly is a bur­glar, the result is a false neg­a­tive. If the alarm goes off when there is no bur­glar, the result is a false pos­i­tive. LLMDs often rely on Lyme dis­ease tests that are non­spe­cif­ic, which means that they pro­duce a lot of false-pos­i­tive results. In oth­er words, many of the peo­ple who have been told that they have chron­ic Lyme dis­ease may not have had Lyme dis­ease to begin with. Cur­rent­ly, a two-step process is rec­om­mend­ed for diag­nos­ing Lyme dis­ease.

In real cas­es of Lyme dis­ease, a 2- to 4‑week course of antibi­otics is effec­tive in cur­ing the infec­tion. So far, we have no evi­dence that the bac­te­ria can sur­vive the rec­om­mend­ed course of antibi­ot­ic ther­a­py. Of course, the antibi­ot­ic can­not undo the dam­age that the infec­tion has done to the body. Thus, some peo­ple may con­tin­ue to suf­fer from symp­toms, even after their Bor­re­lia burgdor­feri infec­tion has been cured with antibi­otics. How­ev­er, this prob­lem should not be called chron­ic Lyme dis­ease. Instead, it could be called post Lyme dis­ease syn­drome (PLDS). But in many of these cas­es, the symp­toms may be due to some oth­er dis­ease. A patient can have more than one dis­ease at a time!

How can a registered dietitian help?

Many chron­ic inflam­ma­to­ry dis­eases are due to a rich, fat­ty diet. Often, these dis­eases can be cured by switch­ing to a low-fat, pure­ly plant based (veg­an) diet. A few plant-source foods can cre­ate prob­lems for some peo­ple. The most com­mon offend­ers are wheat, soy, nuts, cit­rus fruits, and straw­ber­ries. A reg­is­tered dietit­ian can help you plan an elim­i­na­tion diet to fig­ure out which foods might be mak­ing you sick.



Why Do I Need a Pneumonia Shot?

What Is Pneumonia?

Pneumonia means that the air sacs of the lungs cannot fill with air.
Pneu­mo­nia means that the air sacs of the lungs can­not fill with air.

Your lung con­tains many tiny sacs that are sup­posed to fill with air when you inhale. But if you have a lung infec­tion, those tiny sacs can fill up with pus or oth­er flu­id instead. Swelling of the tis­sue that sur­rounds the air sacs can also make it hard for the air sacs to inflate. This prob­lem is called pneu­mo­nia. If a case of pneu­mo­nia gets bad enough, you could suf­fo­cate. That is why pneu­mo­nia has always been a major cause of death.

For­tu­nate­ly, there are a few sim­ple things you can do to pro­tect your­self against pneu­mo­nia. One is to make sure that you get all of your rec­om­mend­ed vac­ci­na­tions, pos­si­bly includ­ing the pneu­mo­nia shot. The pneu­mo­nia shot pro­tects against sev­er­al strains of Strep­to­coc­cus pneu­mo­ni­ae, which is also called the pneu­mo­coc­cus. Pneu­mo­coc­cal vac­cines are giv­en to babies and to elder­ly peo­ple, as well as to any­one else who is at risk for pneu­mo­coc­cal infec­tion. The vac­cine is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant for pro­tect­ing peo­ple against the antibi­ot­ic-resis­tant strains of pneu­mo­coc­cus.

The pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae)
Strep­to­coc­cus pneu­mo­ni­ae is also called the pneu­mo­coc­cus.

Strep­to­coc­cus pneu­mo­ni­ae is a fac­ul­ta­tive­ly anaer­o­bic organ­ism. That means that it thrives in an oxy­gen-rich envi­ron­ment, such as the upper res­pi­ra­to­ry tract, but can also live in oxy­gen-poor envi­ron­ments. As a result, it thrives in the human upper res­pi­ra­to­ry tract, which is its nat­ur­al habi­tat. How­ev­er, it can also invade deep­er tis­sues, such as the blood­stream, heart, joints, bones, and brain.

Since the pneu­mo­coc­cus nat­u­ral­ly lives in the human upper res­pi­ra­to­ry tract, it is just wait­ing for an oppor­tu­ni­ty to cause prob­lems. As a result, it often caus­es pneu­mo­nia and inva­sive infec­tions in the wake of some oth­er ill­ness, such as a cold or a case of the flu. Thus, the influen­za vac­cine can also help to pro­tect against pneu­mo­nia. Lung dis­eases such as emphy­se­ma, which is due to dam­age to the walls of the air sacs, can also increase the risk of lung infec­tions and death from pneu­mo­nia.

To pro­tect itself against the human immune sys­tem, the pneu­mo­coc­cus secretes a com­plex sug­ar called a poly­sac­cha­ride. This poly­sac­cha­ride forms a cap­sule around the bac­te­r­i­al cell. The cap­sule makes it hard for a white blood cell to grasp and swal­low the pneu­mo­coc­cal cell. The cap­sule also hides the bac­te­r­i­al pro­teins. Thus, it makes it hard­er for the body to rec­og­nize the bac­te­ria as a for­eign invad­er. The human immune sys­tem can make anti­bod­ies against the poly­sac­cha­ride. How­ev­er, each strain of pneu­mo­coc­cus has a dif­fer­ent poly­sac­cha­ride. As a result, the anti­bod­ies against one strain of pneu­mo­coc­cus will not pro­tect you against a strain with a dif­fer­ent poly­sac­cha­ride cap­sule.

Why Are There Two Types of Pneumococcal Vaccine?

Two types of pneu­mo­coc­cal vac­cine are avail­able. One type is the poly­sac­cha­ride vac­cine, which is made out of the poly­sac­cha­rides from 23 dif­fer­ent strains of pneu­mo­coc­cus. The oth­er type is a con­ju­gate vac­cine. It is made by bind­ing the poly­sac­cha­rides from 13 dif­fer­ent strains of pneu­mo­coc­cus to a bit of pro­tein called a con­ju­gate. The pur­pose of the con­ju­gate is to help the body devel­op a stronger, longer-last­ing immune response, even in chil­dren under 2 years of age.

Who Needs the Pneumonia Vaccine?

The pneu­mo­coc­cal con­ju­gate vac­cine is rou­tine­ly giv­en to babies at age 2, 4, 6, and 12 to 15 months of age, as well as to patients age 65 years or old­er. It may also be rec­om­mend­ed for patients age 2 years to 65 years of age if they have cer­tain health con­di­tions. The pneu­mo­coc­cal poly­sac­cha­ride vac­cine is rec­om­mend­ed for patients over 65. It may also be rec­om­mend­ed for younger patients who are at high risk for pneu­mo­coc­cal infec­tion.

Who Took the Mercury Out of Vaccines?

jill stein vaccines

Jill Stein, a med­ical doc­tor who is run­ning for Pres­i­dent on the Green Par­ty tick­et, has claimed that the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal indus­try has a cor­rupt­ing influ­ence on the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion (FDA). She has also claimed that she was part of a pub­lic health move­ment that led to the removal of mer­cury from child­hood vac­cines. In real­i­ty, we have no evi­dence that the mer­cury in child­hood vac­cines was caus­ing any harm. Nor was any grass­roots orga­ni­za­tion, oth­er than the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Pedi­atrics, involved in the deci­sion to stop using a mer­cury com­pound called thimeros­al as a preser­v­a­tive in vac­cines. (Stein is an internist, not a pedi­a­tri­cian.) The deci­sion to make child­hood vac­ci­na­tions mer­cury-free was made by the FDA and the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion (CDC). Promi­nent anti­vac­ci­na­tion activists start­ed speak­ing out about mer­cury in vac­cines only after the vac­cines became mer­cury-free.

It is dis­turb­ing that Repub­li­can and Green Par­ty Pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls, includ­ing some med­ical doc­tors, have been using the talk­ing points of the anti­vac­ci­na­tion move­ment. What’s worse is that any med­ical doc­tor, and espe­cial­ly any med­ical doc­tor who wants to be chief exec­u­tive of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, does not seem to know how the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment works to pro­tect pub­lic health.

Mul­ti­dose con­tain­ers of most vac­cines must con­tain a preser­v­a­tive to keep bac­te­ria like MRSA from grow­ing in the vac­cine.

Many lay­men were hor­ri­fied to hear that a mer­cury com­pound was ever being used as an ingre­di­ent in child­hood vac­cines. Yet that mer­cury com­pound is a pow­er­ful preser­v­a­tive that was being used to solve a seri­ous safe­ty prob­lem. This prob­lem became obvi­ous in 1928, in a dis­as­ter called the Bund­aberg Tragedy. A bot­tle of diph­the­ria vac­cine in a doctor’s office in Bund­aberg, Queens­land, Aus­tralia, became con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed with a bac­teri­um called gold­en staph (Staphy­lo­coc­cus aureus). The bac­teri­um was prob­a­bly car­ried into the bot­tle by the nee­dle that was used to draw out one of the first dos­es from the bot­tle. Then, the bac­te­ria grew inside the bot­tle as it sat on a shelf between dos­es. Twelve of the chil­dren who received vac­cine from this con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed bot­tle died. Five oth­ers became seri­ous­ly ill but recov­ered. To pre­vent a sim­i­lar tragedy from hap­pen­ing in the Unit­ed States, the US Code of Fed­er­al Reg­u­la­tions (21CFR610.15) requires vac­cine mak­ers to put a preser­v­a­tive in mul­ti­ple-dose con­tain­ers of prac­ti­cal­ly all vac­cines. Sin­gle-dose con­tain­ers can be preser­v­a­tive-free but are more expen­sive.

The reg­u­la­tion does not spec­i­fy which preser­v­a­tives must be used. How­ev­er, it does say that the preser­v­a­tive must be “suf­fi­cient­ly non­tox­ic so that the amount present in the rec­om­mend­ed dose of the prod­uct will not be tox­ic to the recip­i­ent.” Also, the preser­v­a­tive must not inter­fere with the poten­cy of the vac­cine. Thimeros­al has been used since the 1930s as a preser­v­a­tive in vac­cines because it was the most effec­tive option, it did not inter­fere with the poten­cy of the vac­cine, and it was well tol­er­at­ed. Thimeros­al has also been used as a preser­v­a­tive in con­tact lens solu­tions. Even today, despite an exten­sive research effort, we have no evi­dence that the use of thimeros­al in vac­cines has caused any health prob­lems.

The per­son who raised the ques­tion of the mer­cury con­tent of med­i­cines (not specif­i­cal­ly vac­cines) was Frank Pal­lone, a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Con­gress­man from New Jer­sey. In 1997, he intro­duced an amend­ment to the FDA’s reau­tho­riza­tion bill. This amend­ment gave FDA two years to com­pile a list of all med­i­c­i­nal prod­ucts that con­tain mer­cury com­pounds as ingre­di­ents. The FDA had to ana­lyze what kind of mer­cury com­pound was in each prod­uct, and how much of each mer­cury com­pound the prod­uct con­tains. In response to this Con­gres­sion­al man­date, the FDA revis­it­ed the ques­tion of how much expo­sure chil­dren were get­ting to thimeros­al through their vac­ci­na­tions.

Because of the intro­duc­tion of some new vac­cines, the amount of thimeros­al that chil­dren were receiv­ing had gone up. In 1999, sci­en­tists at the FDA cal­cu­lat­ed that the rec­om­mend­ed vac­cines would deliv­er a total of 187.5 micro­grams of mer­cury. (A micro­gram is a mil­lionth of a gram.) How­ev­er, there was no reli­able way to judge whether this amount of mer­cury expo­sure is a prob­lem. In the human body, thimeros­al is bro­ken down into eth­yl­mer­cury, but the fed­er­al guide­lines on mer­cury tox­i­c­i­ty were based on methylmer­cury. To be on the safe side, the sci­en­tists assumed that eth­yl­mer­cury would be just as dan­ger­ous as methylmer­cury. (We now know that it is not, because it is quick­ly elim­i­nat­ed through the kid­neys.) So they sug­gest­ed that steps be tak­en to reduce thimeros­al expo­sure. Back in 1999, we had no evi­dence that the thimeros­al in vac­cines was caus­ing prob­lems. By now, we have evi­dence that it was not caus­ing any of the health prob­lems that were inves­ti­gat­ed. How­ev­er, it did become a seri­ous pub­lic rela­tions prob­lem.

The FDA and the CDC take vac­cine safe­ty seri­ous­ly. As a result, the rec­om­mend­ed vac­cines are amaz­ing­ly safe. Yet there is one thing that we can do to improve safe­ty still fur­ther, while restor­ing pub­lic trust in the pub­lic health author­i­ties. We must focus on dri­ving dis­eases like polio, measles, and rubel­la into extinc­tion through vac­ci­na­tion. Once a dis­ease is extinct, every­one is pro­tect­ed against it, for­ev­er. As a result, chil­dren do not need to be exposed to even the min­i­mal risks, and the dis­com­fort, of the vac­ci­na­tion. Instant­ly, the sales of the vac­cine drop to zero. By work­ing to erad­i­cate a vac­cine-pre­ventable dis­ease, we pub­lic health activists make it crys­tal clear that our goal is pub­lic health, not pri­vate prof­it.

Measles Attacks the Immune System!

Like HIV, measles attacks the immune systemA measles virus infec­tion starts off as a res­pi­ra­to­ry infec­tion. Thus, it starts off look­ing and feel­ing like a com­mon cold. But then it takes a dan­ger­ous turn: it infects the immune sys­tem. Measles can cause long-last­ing dam­age to the immune sys­tem. Recent stud­ies have shown that a case of measles can increase a child’s risk of death from oth­er infec­tions for more than 2 years!

Measles is not the only viral infec­tion that is known to pro­duce long-term sup­pres­sion of the immune sys­tem. Anoth­er exam­ple is the human immun­od­e­fi­cien­cy virus (HIV), which is the cause of acquired immun­od­e­fi­cien­cy syn­drome (AIDS). How­ev­er, HIV and the measles virus attack dif­fer­ent kinds of white blood cells, which are the work­hors­es of the immune sys­tem.

HIV attacks the T4 lym­pho­cytes, which are often called T‑helper cells. T‑helper cells help the oth­er cells of the immune sys­tem rec­og­nize infec­tions and tumor cells. After an HIV-infect­ed person’s T4 cell count drops to dan­ger­ous­ly low lev­els, his or her immune sys­tem is less able to fight many infec­tions and some can­cers (such as Kaposi’s sar­co­ma). Thus, the weak­en­ing of the immune sys­tem gives germs and can­cer cells an oppor­tu­ni­ty to sur­vive and thrive. The result­ing dis­eases are called oppor­tunis­tic.

Peo­ple who are infect­ed by HIV will remain infect­ed for the rest of their lives. In con­trast, most peo­ple who catch the measles will elim­i­nate the measles virus from their body after only a few weeks. Yet the measles infec­tion can cause long-last­ing effects on the immune sys­tem because it wipes out the immune sys­tem’s mem­o­ry. Measles virus kills the B mem­o­ry cells, which are the white blood cells that are sup­posed to remem­ber the germs that the body has suc­cess­ful­ly fought in the past. After the B mem­o­ry cells are killed off, the immune sys­tem must relearn much of what it had already learned about dan­ger­ous germs. In the mean­time, the per­son remains at risk for oppor­tunis­tic infec­tions.

HIV is bad, and so is measles. Hav­ing HIV and measles at the same time is par­tic­u­lar­ly bad. The death rate from measles is par­tic­u­lar­ly high in peo­ple who have any oth­er form of immune sup­pres­sion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, peo­ple who have a sup­pressed immune sys­tem can­not be vac­ci­nat­ed against measles, because the measles vac­cine is a “live” vac­cine. To pro­tect those vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, we must ensure that prac­ti­cal­ly every­one else is vac­ci­nat­ed against measles.

Most of the deaths due to measles are due to oppor­tunis­tic infec­tions. Thus, it is hard­ly sur­pris­ing that the death rate from measles start­ed to fall after the intro­duc­tion of antibi­otics, even though antibi­otics have no effect on the measles virus itself. Yet even with the best of mod­ern med­ical care, peo­ple still die of measles. Even if they sur­vive, they may be left with per­ma­nent dis­abil­i­ties, such as blind­ness, deaf­ness, and brain dam­age. In some cas­es, the measles virus infec­tion may per­sist in the brain. This per­sis­tent infec­tion leads to a hor­ri­ble dis­ease called sub­a­cute scle­ros­ing panen­cephali­tis (SSPE), which slow­ly destroys the brain. Thus, it leads to a slow and hor­ri­ble death. There is no cure or even any effec­tive treat­ment. For­tu­nate­ly, SSPE can be pre­vent­ed by pre­vent­ing measles.

The vac­cine against measles pro­vides pow­er­ful, long-last­ing pro­tec­tion. If you have received two dos­es of the measles vac­cine, your chances of catch­ing measles go down by about 97%. Thanks to the wide­spread use of the measles vac­cine, measles was elim­i­nat­ed from the Unit­ed States by the year 2000. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we still have occa­sion­al out­breaks of measles in the Unit­ed States. Most of these cas­es can be traced to some­one who was exposed to measles in some oth­er coun­try. So the best way to pro­tect our­selves against measles is to dri­ve the measles virus into extinc­tion world­wide.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, many par­ents are refus­ing to allow their chil­dren to be vac­ci­nat­ed against measles. Many of these par­ents have been told that it is bet­ter to allow their chil­dren to get sick, so that they devel­op immu­ni­ty nat­u­ral­ly. In real­i­ty, many of the vac­cine-pre­ventable dis­eases are dan­ger­ous because they sup­press the immune sys­tem. This immune sup­pres­sion is good for the germ that caus­es the dis­ease, but it is bad for the per­son who has the dis­ease. As a result, hav­ing a vac­cine-pre­ventable infec­tion can increase your risk of dying of some oth­er infec­tion.

Many par­ents are refus­ing vac­ci­na­tion because they think that the vac­cines are unnec­es­sary and unsafe. Con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists claim that vac­cines are being pro­mot­ed sim­ply to make mon­ey for the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies. Yet if some socio­path­ic “phar­ma bro” real­ly want­ed to make mon­ey on vac­cines, he would make sure that the vac­cine-pre­ventable dis­eases remain in cir­cu­la­tion. Once a dis­ease has been dri­ven into extinc­tion through vac­ci­na­tion, there is no longer any need to vac­ci­nate any­one against it.

Small­pox is extinct. Today, nobody vac­ci­nates chil­dren against small­pox. After polio is extinct, the sales of the polio vac­cine will drop to zero. Like small­pox and polio, measles is caused by a virus that can be found only in human beings. Once we have wiped measles, mumps, and rubel­la off the face of the earth, nobody will need the MMR vac­cine. But it would be mad­ness to stop vac­ci­nat­ing against those dis­eases before then.

For infor­ma­tion about efforts to erad­i­cate measles, vis­it the Measles & Rubel­la Ini­tia­tive.

Lies About the Pertussis Vaccine

Dr. S.H.* is a med­ical doc­tor, but she is spread­ing dan­ger­ous false mes­sages about vac­cines. In par­tic­u­lar, she has been mis­rep­re­sent­ing the results of a study of the vac­cines against per­tus­sis (whoop­ing cough). Anti­vac­ci­na­tion activists like to cite sci­en­tif­ic research. They want to cre­ate the impres­sion that they have done their home­work, and that their opin­ions are sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly sound. They often claim to be doing “research.” Yet when you look them up in, you find that their pub­li­ca­tion record is thin or nonex­is­tent. Although the anti­vac­ci­na­tion zealots some­times read med­ical jour­nal arti­cles, they typ­i­cal­ly mis­un­der­stand the arti­cles that they dis­cuss. As some­one who has edit­ed text­books and med­ical jour­nals for a liv­ing for more than 25 years, I find their mis­un­der­stand­ings to be irri­tat­ing. Their work is so full of obvi­ous errors of fact and errors in rea­son­ing that it would nev­er have passed muster at any of the sci­en­tif­ic pub­lish­ing com­pa­nies for which I have worked. And yet their work is get­ting plen­ty of hits on the Inter­net!

Dr. H.’s basic argu­ment is this: She thinks that it would be bet­ter for your baby to catch whoop­ing cough, which is a hor­ri­ble and some­times dead­ly dis­ease, than to be vac­ci­nat­ed against whoop­ing cough. This is what whoop­ing cough is like:

Some­times, per­tus­sis is even worse than this. Some new­borns are not strong enough to cough like this. Instead, they sim­ply stop breath­ing and die, with­out warn­ing.

Dr. H. claims that this study by War­fel and cowork­ers shows that hav­ing a nat­ur­al Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis infec­tion would be bet­ter than vac­ci­na­tion for pro­mot­ing herd immu­ni­ty. This idea is total non­sense. Whoop­ing cough was once com­mon. It is now rare, thanks to vac­ci­na­tion. Hav­ing more nat­ur­al cas­es of Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis infec­tion among the pop­u­la­tion would lead to more ill­ness and more deaths. Bet­ter vac­ci­na­tion cov­er­age leads to less ill­ness and few­er deaths.


The first vac­cine against Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis was intro­duced in 1940. At the time, rough­ly 6,000 Amer­i­cans per year were dying of whoop­ing cough. Rough­ly 95% of the dead were chil­dren. Thanks to the vac­ci­na­tion, the death rate dropped sharply. How­ev­er, we are still see­ing occa­sion­al cas­es of whoop­ing cough, even in high­ly vac­ci­nat­ed pop­u­la­tions. Even the immu­ni­ty that results from a nat­ur­al infec­tion lasts for only 4 to 20 years. The pro­tec­tion from vac­ci­na­tion lasts for only about 4 to 12 years. That is why doc­tors urge peo­ple to get boost­er shots against per­tus­sis. If you have par­tial immu­ni­ty to per­tus­sis, you might get only a mild case of the snif­fles from a Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis infec­tion. Yet you could pass the bac­te­ria on to some­one else, who could get severe­ly ill.

War­fel and cowork­ers want­ed to answer an impor­tant ques­tion: Is the mod­ern acel­lu­lar per­tus­sis vac­cine less effec­tive than the old-fash­ioned whole-cell vac­cine at pre­vent­ing the spread of Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis from per­son to per­son? Since it would be unthink­able to expose human beings to live Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis, the researchers used baboons as exper­i­men­tal sub­jects. (Of course, many peo­ple have eth­i­cal objec­tions to the use of ani­mals, and espe­cial­ly pri­mates, as research sub­jects.) Like human beings, baboons get a bad cough from a Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis infec­tion.

War­fel and cowork­ers found that both the acel­lu­lar vac­cine and the whole-cell vac­cine were effec­tive for their pri­ma­ry pur­pose, which is to pro­tect the vac­ci­nat­ed indi­vid­ual from get­ting sick after expo­sure to Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis. How­ev­er, the whole-cell vac­cine gave the baboons a lit­tle help in clear­ing the Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis from their upper res­pi­ra­to­ry tract. The acel­lu­lar per­tus­sis vac­cine did not. It took 21 days for the baboons that received the whole-cell vac­cine to clear the Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis from their upper res­pi­ra­to­ry tract. It took unvac­ci­nat­ed baboons and baboons that received the acel­lu­lar vac­cine about twice as long to clear the bac­te­ria from their upper res­pi­ra­to­ry tract.

Dr. H. point­ed out that the Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis bac­te­ria could not col­o­nize the baboons that were recov­er­ing from a recent Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis infec­tion. From that, she con­clud­ed that nat­ur­al infec­tions were bet­ter for pro­mot­ing herd immu­ni­ty. Yet even the immu­ni­ty pro­duced by a nat­ur­al infec­tion declines after a few years. Also, the basic repro­duc­tion num­ber of per­tus­sis is 5.5, which means that in a sus­cep­ti­ble pop­u­la­tion, a sin­gle nat­ur­al case of per­tus­sis would tend to lead to an aver­age of 5.5 new cas­es of per­tus­sis. So if we relied on nat­ur­al immu­ni­ty to solve our per­tus­sis prob­lem, we would have huge epi­demics of per­tus­sis, as opposed to occa­sion­al small out­breaks.

The study by War­fel and cowork­ers was not about whether to vac­ci­nate against per­tus­sis. It was about which vac­cine to use. In the 1990s, Amer­i­cans switched from the whole-cell vac­cine to the acel­lu­lar vac­cine because the whole-cell vac­cine some­times caused chil­dren to spike a fever. This fever could some­times cause a febrile seizure. These seizures were ter­ri­fy­ing to the par­ents, but they do no last­ing harm to the child. Some oth­er coun­tries con­sid­er this risk of fever to be accept­able because the whole-cell vac­cine may be bet­ter for stop­ping the spread of Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis.

Bor­de­tel­la per­tus­sis is found only in human beings. Thus, we might be able to dri­ve this germ into extinc­tion through vac­ci­na­tion. Once it is extinct, nobody will need to get a per­tus­sis vac­cine. Yet to dri­ve per­tus­sis into extinc­tion, we will need a bet­ter vac­cine, one that pro­vides longer-last­ing pro­tec­tion against the car­ri­er state, not just against clin­i­cal dis­ease. In the mean­time, we need for peo­ple to get their chil­dren vac­ci­nat­ed and to keep up to date with their per­tus­sis boost­ers!


*I do not use her real name because I do not like to give peo­ple unde­served atten­tion. I explain my rea­son­ing in these two books:



How to Report About a Mumps Outbreak

In Octo­ber of 2016, I saw a news report about a mumps out­break in Arkansas. The reporter men­tioned that mumps caus­es a flu-like ill­ness that can pro­duce swelling under the jaw, and that the dis­ease can last for about two weeks. How­ev­er, that report made it sound as if mumps were no big deal. But mumps is a very big deal.

Here are the basic facts that reporters should explain when­ev­er mumps breaks out:

  • Mumps is rarely fatal, but it can leave its vic­tims deaf in one or both ears.
  • Mumps can cause painful swelling of the tes­ti­cles and can leave men ster­ile.
  • Mumps is a res­pi­ra­to­ry virus, which is why it spreads eas­i­ly from per­son to per­son.
  • Vac­ci­na­tion is the only reli­able way to pre­vent infec­tions that spread eas­i­ly from per­son to per­son.
  • The vac­cine against the mumps is part of the measles-mumps-rubel­la (MMR) com­bined vac­cine.
  • To pre­vent mumps, we need to vac­ci­nate as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. If a large enough per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion is immu­nized, then mumps stops spread­ing.
  • By vac­ci­nat­ing every­one who can be vac­ci­nat­ed, we can pro­tect the peo­ple who can­not be vac­ci­nat­ed (infants and peo­ple with immune sys­tem prob­lems).
  • A glob­al vac­ci­na­tion cam­paign could dri­ve measles, mumps, and rubel­la into extinc­tion.

Here are some use­ful memes for fight­ing mumps: