The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Anti-Vac Rebut

Further to my previous article, said friend put a note up on her Facebook site that I had to rebut. Here's my note to her - I don't want to put her bit up because it's long and it's full of the standard stuff about mercury, formaldehyde, autism, AIDS/polio linkage, and other stuff, plus she's cool and isn't crazy or anything - just trying to be open-minded. Enjoy and feel free to bitch back at me.

Friend, I can't say I agree at all. Most of what you've said has been refuted by reputable sources (see the links below) and the mercury (Thimerosal, I assume you're talking about) thing is inaccurate completely. It's not even used in Canada anymore (although not because it was in any way harmful) and was never implicated in injuries to anyone. Formaldehyde occurs naturally in our bodies and the amounts used in vaccines is nowhere near harmful levels.

You mentioned this: "All the diseases you mentioned were already on the decline when the vaccines were introduced... likely due to increased hygiene practices" Well, that's not entirely true. The diseases weren't on the decline, the *death rates* from the diseases were on the decline - likely due to better hygiene and medicines. When schools are looked at, a very small percentage of students who are immunized get measles, mumps, pertussis, etc, but just about 100% of the non-immunized kids get them. They don't die because science is great at keeping folks alive.

Medicine is medicine. It doesn't matter if it's "western", "eastern" or whatever. If it works and is effective, you'll see it used everywhere, if not, it's "alternative" which generally means "unproven" or "ineffective" but believed by a percentage of the population who is willing to pay for it. Being in the health fields, we should be encouraging people to follow the evidence (actual evidence, not discredited or fraudulent) to effective treatments.

The AIDS from polio argument has been severely criticized and an article in Nature (ref.) ran a story about it. Is there still controversy? Sure, but it looks pretty weak that there's a connection.

Oh, and the mercury/thimerosal to autism link has been demolished (see this article from Slate and this blog post, plus his whole blog - he deals with anti-vac people all the time). Andrew Wakefield's credibility (I assume you've heard of him) is in the toilet after his conflict of interest and shoddy "research" were exposed.

You said, "The funny thing about those kids getting the mumps... most of them have had the vaccine against it." No, that's not true at all and the fact that it's not *usually* serious is no reason to not get the MMR vaccine. The rare complications of mumps can include swelling of the brain, encephalitis and meningitis. Something tells me the MMR vaccine is a better alternative, what with no real link established to serious side effects that can't be controlled.

Finally, check this piece which shows some great information. Seriously, read it. I'd hate to see you go down the road into anti-vac craziness.

7 Barbaric Yawps:

At 9/7/07 10:52 pm, Blogger mcewen said...

Hmm I sympathise, but the trouble is that there are two distinctive camps on this issue and neither are willing to budge an inch.
Best wishes

At 9/7/07 11:23 pm, Anonymous HCN said...

I hate the "diseases went down with sanitation" argument.

For one thing, improved sanitation caused an increase in the severity of polio! There is a book about polio by David M. Oshinsky... but you can download an easy to read cartoon version of the Polio Story (A Virus' Struggle):

Plus, if sanitation were the cause of there being less measles... why did they have to close college campuses in Japan when they had a measles outbreak. If sanitation prevented disease, you would think Japan would be free of measles.

At 9/7/07 11:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of my kids got their recommended immunizations. P#4 had a seizure with the DtaP. As a result, we have to buy the special vaccine without the pertusis. You'd think that the seizures would've scared me off immunizations. But, truly...I worry more about him catching pertusis. Around here, the disease is not uncommon (immigrants from Mexico and Central America keep it in the news). I don't understand why people wouldn't do something as simple as an immunization to prevent their child from getting such horrible illnesses.

At 10/7/07 2:49 pm, Anonymous Melissa G said...

Mcewen, there are two distinctive camps, and neither is willing to budge an inch-- that is true. But one camp's conclusions are based on good science, and the other camp's are based on shoddy research and appeals to emotion. I'll choose sound, evidence-based medicine every time.

At 11/7/07 1:56 pm, Anonymous HCN said...

Dear "Atheist in a Mini Van":

My oldest had neo-natal seizures as a newborn, so he has never, ever... not even once had a pertussis vaccine. He was an infant at a time our county was having a pertussis epidemic (oh, and measles returned to the USA and killed 120 people). We had to be very careful who we let the baby have contact with.

Hence my distaste for the anti-vax bunch. They have not lived through an era where kids became routinely disabled or killed by "common childhood diseases", and their unvaxed kids are still okay because herd immunity is still somewhat intact. Though that herd immunity has failed recently with mumps (more than one person became deaf when mumps went through college campuses in the Midwest last year: ).

Oh, and another article addressing the child's immune system:

At 12/7/07 11:49 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Speaking as an autistic person who has a strong interest in vaccination conspiracy theories, I applaud you for ridiculing them. Hear, hear.

At 13/7/07 12:17 am, Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

Thanks very much. Nice to have you reading and enjoying. Cheers.


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