Vaccines = Common Sense

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Photo: WikiCommons

Just before our youngest was scheduled to receive his four month immunizations, our pediatrician blogged about whooping cough. Whooping cough is an illness I had heard of but didn’t know of anyone who had actually had it. So I did a little digging into those “famous” diseases that most young mothers have heard about but never seen. Polio, for instance, was pretty common in the 1950’s. My mother has seen the effects of polio and remembers getting vaccinated against it. Another one of these famous diseases is small pox. Most of the people in my parents’ generation have a scar from their small pox shot. Routine vaccinations for this disease ended in 1980, and in 2007, the World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated the 30th anniversary of the eradication of small pox.

Which brings me to whooping cough.  Most young mothers have never seen this disease or its effects on a child. Never seen, that is, until now. Pertussis (whooping cough) is making a come back. I have seen news about the outbreaks in California and there are reports that cases of pertussis are spiking in Ohio and Oregon as well. The root cause of the outbreak appears to be parents who are refusing to vaccinate their children. Why are parents refusing to vaccinate? A study done by John Hopkins in 2005 stated that more than two thirds of the respondents thought vaccines were harmful. I have even seen celebrities spouting that vaccines cause Autism. I did a little research into how vaccines work to set my mind at ease. Vaccines prepare our bodies to fight off an illness before it is exposed to it. They typically include a dead or a weakened germ which triggers the body to make antibodies as practice to defeat the illness. Then, if you are ever exposed to that illness, the body already has antibodies in place to fight it. In general, a vaccine keeps the person from getting the illness or keeps that person from getting severely ill.

As a mother, I feel it is my responsibility to not only immunize my children for their protection but also for the protection of society at large. The more people that are immunized, the less likely diseases can spread. When the population at large is sufficiently immunized against these diseases, babies are also protected because they aren’t exposed to the illness. It gives their little bodies time to produce antibodies of their own so when/if they are exposed, the disease is not lethal.

Photo: WikiCommons

Needless to say, at my son’s four month checkup, my husband and I both got booster shots for whooping cough. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care. If you have questions as a parent, please do the research from reliable sources and then make an informed decision. It is time we stop listening to celebrities and others who don’t know a lick about medicine and use our common sense.

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100 thoughts on “Vaccines = Common Sense

  1. I love science, specifically the scientific method. I am a skeptic, I want proof. The proof is not there for linking autism to vaccines. Having read some of the drug studies that support vaccination, I see no scientific proof that vaccines are safe.

    I think most would agree that a properly done scientific study would involve one variable among known constants with a significant number of random participants. Many of the studies and drug trials compare the effects of one experimental drug to another, a variable to an unknown. Others test the lowest “statistically significant” number of participants which is only slightly over 1000 to represent the US. The results of a single study of 1040 people are used to make a decision for 300 million. Many of the tests and studies are never repeated; and, when there are multiple papers about a single vaccine, they often reference the same dataset. In any other science this would be ridiculed; no result of a physics experiment would be accepted until the test was repeated. Also, the vaccines are tested individually, I have seen no research encompassing the entire vaccination schedule. Over thirty doses of dead or weakened germs (along with preservatives and carriers) are injected into a child before the age of six, at least sixteen of these before six months. I would greatly welcome a study done over the first 10 years of life on children who receive the full schedule vs. those on an alternate schedule vs. those with no vaccinations.

    All of this is compounded by the bias readily apparent in medical research. John Ioannidis has published two articles (one in JAMA) showing the variability present in research, how much bias shapes results; a recent article about him and his research can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269

    As a proponent of science, vaccine studies (and much other drug research besides) does not hold up to academic scrutiny. The concept behind vaccination is logical, but I am uncomfortable with its current execution. We are mandated to receive injections, whose worth is based on biased and flimsy research, and, to jump into cynicism, the profit earned from this enterprise numbers in the billions. Reads to me more like science fiction than science fact. Any suggestion to change (even improving the methods) is muted by cries of, “this protects our children.”

    I do not complain without suggesting a fix. Encourage independent and redundant research on each of the vaccines and on the vaccination schedule as a whole. With a government mandate, there should be no private gain. The vaccination of all our children should not profit individuals and corporations. It should be a nonprofit enterprise.

    I will gladly inject my son with something that has been proven to be of value by multiple independent data sets. I will not make the decision to inject him solely based on the concept of vaccination. Nor will I make any decision based on anecdotes of autism-links or anecdotes of outbreaks which effect both vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

    1. Elliot, it sounds like you’re missing the concept of statistics. The calculation of a sample size sufficient to give a result that can be generalized to 300 million is exactly why the studies don’t need to be done over and over again.

      There’s also the fact that, in effect, testing in the entire population after a vaccine is recommended for general use. Manufacturers are required to do formal postmarketing studies, and there are multiple governmental mechanisms for detecting patterns of adverse reactions. There have been a couple of occasions when they did catch a trend too rare to have been observed in any reasonable-sized clinical trial. So this is a practical way of making sure vaccines really are safe, even after scientists have done everything they can do pre-release.

  2. I love science, specifically the scientific method. I am a skeptic, I want proof. The proof is not there for linking autism to vaccines. Having read some of the drug studies that support vaccination, I see no scientific proof that vaccines are safe.

    I think most would agree that a properly done scientific study would involve one variable among known constants with a significant number of random participants. Many of the studies and drug trials compare the effects of one experimental drug to another, a variable to an unknown. Others test the lowest “statistically significant” number of participants which is only slightly over 1000 to represent the US. The results of a single study of 1040 people are used to make a decision for 300 million. Many of the tests and studies are never repeated; and, when there are multiple papers about a single vaccine, they often reference the same dataset. In any other science this would be ridiculed; no result of a physics experiment would be accepted until the test was repeated. Also, the vaccines are tested individually, I have seen no research encompassing the entire vaccination schedule. Over thirty doses of dead or weakened germs (along with preservatives and carriers) are injected into a child before the age of six, at least sixteen of these before six months. I would greatly welcome a study done over the first 10 years of life on children who receive the full schedule vs. those on an alternate schedule vs. those with no vaccinations.

    All of this is compounded by the bias readily apparent in medical research. John Ioannidis has published two articles (one in JAMA) showing the variability present in research, how much bias shapes results; a recent article about him and his research can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/print/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269

    As a proponent of science, vaccine studies (and much other drug research besides) does not hold up to academic scrutiny. The concept behind vaccination is logical, but I am uncomfortable with its current execution. We are mandated to receive injections, whose worth is based on biased and flimsy research, and, to jump into cynicism, the profit earned from this enterprise numbers in the billions. Reads to me more like science fiction than science fact. Any suggestion to change (even improving the methods) is muted by cries of, “this protects our children.”

    I do not complain without suggesting a fix. Encourage independent and redundant research on each of the vaccines and on the vaccination schedule as a whole. With a government mandate, there should be no private gain. The vaccination of all our children should not profit individuals and corporations. It should be a nonprofit enterprise.

    I will gladly inject my son with something that has been proven to be of value by multiple independent data sets. I will not make the decision to inject him solely based on the concept of vaccination. Nor will I make any decision based on anecdotes of autism-links or anecdotes of outbreaks which effect both vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

    1. Elliot, it sounds like you’re missing the concept of statistics. The calculation of a sample size sufficient to give a result that can be generalized to 300 million is exactly why the studies don’t need to be done over and over again.

      There’s also the fact that, in effect, testing in the entire population after a vaccine is recommended for general use. Manufacturers are required to do formal postmarketing studies, and there are multiple governmental mechanisms for detecting patterns of adverse reactions. There have been a couple of occasions when they did catch a trend too rare to have been observed in any reasonable-sized clinical trial. So this is a practical way of making sure vaccines really are safe, even after scientists have done everything they can do pre-release.

  3. Don’t mean to be curt, just brief.

    Q: Why don’t we vaccinate for smallpox anymore?
    A: The risk and cost are small, but greater than zero.

    The risk from vaccines is non-zero. If you’re in the 99.9% group, fine. If you think you’re in the 0.1%, pause and think about what you’re doing.

    I have a wife and child with flaky endocrine and immune systems. The time-tested vaccines on a non-aggresive schedule – sure. Mercury-free, please. But, we were not beating down any doors to get a freshly developed vaccine against H1N1.

    Also, the 2005 study was from Johns Hopkins not “John Hopkins”.

  4. Don’t mean to be curt, just brief.

    Q: Why don’t we vaccinate for smallpox anymore?
    A: The risk and cost are small, but greater than zero.

    The risk from vaccines is non-zero. If you’re in the 99.9% group, fine. If you think you’re in the 0.1%, pause and think about what you’re doing.

    I have a wife and child with flaky endocrine and immune systems. The time-tested vaccines on a non-aggresive schedule – sure. Mercury-free, please. But, we were not beating down any doors to get a freshly developed vaccine against H1N1.

    Also, the 2005 study was from Johns Hopkins not “John Hopkins”.

  5. If you’re talking about making informed, sensible choices, you might want to read my latest blog post, which is about the fact that — unless you’re asking questions — you’re probably going to get a nice, strong dose of mercury with your flu shot this year. Oh, and the H1N1 virus. My sources are Flu.gov and Dr. Sears as well as the drug companies. I’d never tell someone not to get a vaccine. I would say, however, that before you do it you need to be very aware of what you’re taking in.

    Me, I figure that if it isn’t mandated for school, it’s something I’d probably want to skip. Do you know what’s mandated for admission to school in your state? Here in New York it’s only about half of what they try to give you. Remember: Medicine is a business, and we are customers. What business doesn’t try and sell you more than you actually need? Sure, for some people and some populations it might be wise to take the rotovirus vaccine, for example, but my kids had healthy immune systems as babies. I would have been fine with them getting a stomach virus. They never got the shot or the disease, FWIW.

    1. The mercury in thimerosal-containing flu shots is anything but strong. It’s been studied to death, and the only adverse reactions associated with it are in people who are allergic to it, just like people can be allergic to peanut butter or what-have-you. There’s nothing insidious or hidden about it.

      And of course you’re going to get the H1N1 virus – a killed version of it, of course – in your flu shot! What did you want, a shot of plain saline? The virus is what makes it a vaccine. The fact that it is killed is what ensures it can’t actually make you sick, but it teaches your immune system how to recognize it in case it ever encounters the live virus.

      Previously healthy children in the US have died from rotavirus, just like previously healthy children in the US have died from influenza, varicella, and other vaccine-preventable diseases that some parents think it would be beneficial to have them suffer through. Yours were among the lucky majority who recovered without complication. But please don’t think it was because they were special or better than the ones who didn’t.

  6. If you’re talking about making informed, sensible choices, you might want to read my latest blog post, which is about the fact that — unless you’re asking questions — you’re probably going to get a nice, strong dose of mercury with your flu shot this year. Oh, and the H1N1 virus. My sources are Flu.gov and Dr. Sears as well as the drug companies. I’d never tell someone not to get a vaccine. I would say, however, that before you do it you need to be very aware of what you’re taking in.

    Me, I figure that if it isn’t mandated for school, it’s something I’d probably want to skip. Do you know what’s mandated for admission to school in your state? Here in New York it’s only about half of what they try to give you. Remember: Medicine is a business, and we are customers. What business doesn’t try and sell you more than you actually need? Sure, for some people and some populations it might be wise to take the rotovirus vaccine, for example, but my kids had healthy immune systems as babies. I would have been fine with them getting a stomach virus. They never got the shot or the disease, FWIW.

    1. The mercury in thimerosal-containing flu shots is anything but strong. It’s been studied to death, and the only adverse reactions associated with it are in people who are allergic to it, just like people can be allergic to peanut butter or what-have-you. There’s nothing insidious or hidden about it.

      And of course you’re going to get the H1N1 virus – a killed version of it, of course – in your flu shot! What did you want, a shot of plain saline? The virus is what makes it a vaccine. The fact that it is killed is what ensures it can’t actually make you sick, but it teaches your immune system how to recognize it in case it ever encounters the live virus.

      Previously healthy children in the US have died from rotavirus, just like previously healthy children in the US have died from influenza, varicella, and other vaccine-preventable diseases that some parents think it would be beneficial to have them suffer through. Yours were among the lucky majority who recovered without complication. But please don’t think it was because they were special or better than the ones who didn’t.

  7. My oldest was born before the Rotavirus vaccine. She was a healthy, robust, breastfed baby and she contracted the virus. It made her very sick. My youngest got the vaccine, and fingers crossed, we avoided that particularly stinky virus.

  8. My oldest was born before the Rotavirus vaccine. She was a healthy, robust, breastfed baby and she contracted the virus. It made her very sick. My youngest got the vaccine, and fingers crossed, we avoided that particularly stinky virus.

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  10. Hi I want to to talk about a remark right here concerning you to definitely have the ability to let you know simply how much i personally Loved this particular read. I have to elope to aTurkey Day time Dinner but wanted to leave you an easy remark. We preserved you Same goes with end up being coming back subsequent work to read more of yer quality posts. Continue the quality work.

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