Helen Petousis Harris

Dr Helen Petousis-Harris blogs about vaccines and vaccination. Her background is predominantly biological sciences, and she did her PhD in Vaccinology, specifically around vaccine reactions. She worked at the Immunisation Advisory Centre at the University of Auckland between 1998 and 2018 where she has developed a passion for all things vaccine. Currently Helen has an appointment as a Senior Lecturer in the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care and her teaching is largely around vaccination. Her research focuses on a number of aspects of vaccines and vaccination but in particular vaccine effectiveness and vaccines safety. She is a member of the World Health Organisation Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) and the Brighton Collaboration Science Board. Of course all opinions in this blog are her own. This is a science blog, dissent is welcome if justified and respectful. Trolling and personal insults are not and will be trashed. Disclosures: Helen has led a number of industry funded studies. These have all been investigator conceived and led. She does not receive honorarium from industry personally. She has received industry support to attend some conferences and has contributed to Expert Advisory meetings for GSK, Merck, and Pfizer.

Aussie ‘no jab, no pay’ unlikely to make disease go away. - Diplomatic Immunity

Apr 15, 2015

The Australian proposal to remove financial benefits from families who fail to immunise their children seems like a politically motivated point-scoring move based on emotive lobbying by media, namely the Sunday Telegraph.  It would appear to have arisen from the outcry about anti-vaccination parents putting others at risk following the deaths of two infants too young to be vaccinated. I am not entirely sure what the problem to this rather draconian solution is. Australia has had reasonably high immunisation coverage (~93%) for many years now. In fact the Australian Government consider that Australia has an excellent record in national immunisation coverage. Here is a link to their coverage information. One of their strategies has involved a carrot, which has worked quite well – under this system parents need to produce evidence of their kids’ vaccination status in order to … Read More

Tenpenny’s vaccine advice is worth ten a penny and is certainly a dime a dozen - Diplomatic Immunity

Jan 08, 2015

Sherri Tenpenny is an American anti-vaccination protagonist causing some disturbance across the ditch, and somehow this issue has crawled into the NZ Herald.  Australian lobby group Stop the Australian Anti Vaccination Network would like to see Sherri’s visa declined so that she may not spread her gospel in their country (The AntiAVN exist to hold the anti vaxers accountable for their dangerous information). Great to see such strength in the AntiAVN, but in this case I really don’t think denying her a visa is a very good idea – free speech and all that, it is likely to make a martyr out of her. Her claims are so pedestrian they would probably fall relatively horizontal without the extra attention. I sincerely hope the strategy does not boomerang. Just one of Tenpenny’s ‘facts’ is cited in the … Read More

Shingles is much worse than Leukemia – Guest Blog by Lynley Hood - Diplomatic Immunity

Dec 23, 2014

By Dr Lynley Hood For the first three years following his diagnosis in December 2002, Jim’s chronic lymphocytic leukemia was a non-event. Then from late 2005 the complications – the anaemia and the chest infections – began to recur with tedious regularity. My husband endured them all, and the consultations and treatments they necessitated, with good-natured stoicism.   On 10 September 2007 the complication was a sore throat. To Jim and me, and to his GP, the tiny blister that appeared on his forehead that day seemed inconsequential. So the treatment he received was for a sore throat.  Next day, an oncologist phoned to call him into hospital.  A serratia infection had been found in his sputum. He needed urgent inpatient treatment. In the course of that conversation Jim mentioned his sore throat and the red, … Read More

What do chickens astronauts and St Anthony’s Fire have in common? Varicella policy at odds with science - Unsorted

Dec 18, 2014

Angelina Jolie has come down with chickenpox, missing the Premier of Unbroken Update since published: NZ introduced varicella vaccine for children on 1st July 2017. I have just listened to an excellent series of interviews on Radio NZ about the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine. NZ does not fund this vaccine for all children although over the years the various incarnations of the technical advisory group to the Ministry of Health, and now PHARMAC, have been recommending it be introduced. Why would this be I wonder? Perhaps it is a good idea! Below are the reasons for using this vaccine: Chickenpox can be a miserable disease, sometimes it can be very serious and occasionally it can be fatal. Each year in NZ there are around 55,000 cases and 450 hospitalisations due to chickenpox. Between 2001 … Read More

NZ Immuniation Conference 2015 – The Rock and Roll of Infectious Diseases - Diplomatic Immunity

Dec 12, 2014

What do Foot Twitch, Glowing Toes, Prosthetic Foot , Toe Jam Brothers, Moldy Toe and Toe Nail Fungus have in common? (Answer. They are all little known rock bands we have rejected as acts for our conference dinner) However, in all seriousness, a few of us have been considering suitable acts for our conference dinner (NZ Immunisation Conference 2015, webpage coming soon). We have come up with some great options that are sure to be crowd pleasers. The Conference venue is Wintec in Hamilton. With this in mind we channelled our inner bogan and came up with suitable entainment options for the ‘Tron. A good option may be a live band called The Vaccines, an English indie rock band based in West London. Their first studio album “What Did You Expect from The Vaccines” was released in … Read More

Amazing new cure for Ebola - Diplomatic Immunity

Oct 06, 2014

  Stop press! Thai scientists claim to have a treatment against ebola that is more effective that any other treatment! Is this possible? “Researchers at Siriraj Hospital claimed that the new antibody is “more effective” than those that now exist.” This is an astounding claim, especially as they haven’t actually tested it in animals or humans. What is also really awesome is that is safe in humans! Dr Wanpen said the Thai antibody was inherently safe and has no side effects because it was developed from human genes. A striking claim since it hasn’t been tested it in humans yet. Just saying… Oh, and how does it actually work? Here are comments, mainly from Udom Kachintorn, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital. It is a new antibody structure, a new mechanism to kill the Ebola … Read More

Kelly Brogan denies germ theory and the value of HIV drugs - Diplomatic Immunity

Sep 23, 2014

HIV causes AIDS and modern antiretroviral drugs extend quality of life and reduce AIDS related mortality. Kelly Brogan MD does not believe that HIV is the cause of AIDS because it does not satisfy Koch’s Postulates of infectious disease according to her website.* These postulates are four criteria refined and published in 1890 by a chap called Robert Koch. The idea is that they can be used to establish a causative relationship between a microorganism and a disease. Their application and generalisation for disease is scientifically controversial. Gosh, Koch himself abandoned the first one as soon as he found asymptomatic carriers of cholera existed. It is useful to point out that 1890 is before we had the same understanding of infection and disease as we do now – yes believe it or not we have learnt … Read More

Hundreds struck down by social contagion - Diplomatic Immunity

Sep 03, 2014

  OMG!! Hundreds of Columbian girls have been struck down after receiving the HPV vaccine. So what has this got to do with biting nuns, alien attacks and Dr Sarah Potts? Clip from Dominian Post last week Remember War of the Worlds in 1938? (No, neither do I.) However when it first aired on radio some say a mass panic ensued, many listeners who tuned in after the beginning of the programme believed we were under alien attack. Others say the hysteria was overstated and the phenomenon was simply a media-driven myth. I guess either way the effect is quite profound. So is it a venomous vaccine or a mass sociogenic illness (a condition that spreads within a social group, but does not seem to have a common organic cause)? Unfortunately the girly mag Cosmo is … Read More

Anti-imms reduce carbon footprint by committing to recycling - Diplomatic Immunity

Apr 29, 2014

An article currently exploding on the anti-immunisation websites  touts a chap called Dr. Bernard Dalbergue as an industry whistle blower. Apparently Dalbergue was doing the hard yards as a physician in a hospital and got seduced by the dark side. Fast cars, lots of money and embezzlement were part of his life. Fortunately, his conscience got the better of him and he has written a book about it all. There is nothing new in the claims being made about Gardasil in these articles, same old nonsense that is recycled every year. Here are some links to previous discussions about: Gardasil Safety, Chris Shaw, Lucija Tomljenovic, Diane Harper (no she didn’t say that). So who is Dr Dalbergue? Apart from being a new name splashed all … Read More

Marvelous measles media and menacing measles myths - Diplomatic Immunity

Feb 19, 2014

There has been some great media reporting recently around the measles outbreaks popping up around the country, for example the Dom post  and a fun editorial in the Southland times  Interesting how the focus is on the damage done to immunisation programmes as a result of the mischievous actions of one Andrew Wakefield . This, I think, has been partly driven by the recent rather nice visual interpretation of vaccine preventable disease outbreaks across the globe, courtesy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Have a play with the dots and notice where they cluster, it is … Read More