What the dooce?

By Phil Plait | April 18, 2009 9:24 am

One thing I try not to forget is that there are parents out there struggling with the decision to vaccinate their kids or not. They are inundated with information about vaccines, and a lot of the information they see says that vaccines cause autism. Here on this blog I have copious links to many sources that show that vaccines absolutely do not cause autism.

But how many parents wrestling with this issue see my blog? Or Orac’s? Or Steve Novella’s?

You can bet that millions of these parents see Oprah, and Larry King, and hear the propaganda said by the antivaccination movement. But to those parents, anecdotes make sense, and anecdotes are scary.

And those anecdotes are coming from parents. I’m a parent — my daughter is fully vaccinated — but I’m not known as one on the web. I’m known as a skeptic and a scientist… and antiscience movements are themselves well-known for making science look evil.

That’s why I’m very happy to see this video at Dooce.com. These are moms talking about the issue. They’re doing so calmly and rationally, but the important thing is they’re moms.

I hope that a lot of people watch that video (and the one made by actress and mom Amanda Peet). If you know someone who is confused on this issue, who is questioning what they should do, show them this video. Maybe then they’ll do the right thing, and vaccinate their children. It may literally save their lives.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Antiscience, Debunking, Science

Comments (67)

  1. Wes Bowie

    Jenny McCarthy’s logical fallacies do not trump years of exhaustive medical research! Get your kids vaccinated today!

  2. TheTurtleMoves

    Talk about good timing. I was just reading an article by Ars Technica’s Chris Lee that was looking at a paper describing a mathematical model that explains why quacks are doing so well, and he hit the same point. To quote the article:
    “[the model] me understand why the meme of vaccine damage has spread. There are literally no demonstrators for the effectiveness of vaccination, making social learning difficult. ”

    http://arstechnica.com/science/2009/04/why-snake-oil-sells.ars

  3. Chris

    Phil,
    You’ll be happy to know that my co-worker and his wife just got their 9 week old son vaccinated yesterday (not that it was ever a question for them, though) :-)

  4. Angel

    I really think there’s a problem when politicians use science. People don’t use their rational thinking when politics are involved.

    I really don’t know if there are some cases of autism caused by some vaccines. But I really KNOW that the benefits of those vaccines are MUCH more important than the problems they may cause.

    The demonstration that politics are involved without any real scientific reason is that this is only a problem in the USA, but it’s not even mentioned in the rest of the world. And the rest of the world is also plenty of people who can think, understand and create science.

  5. QUASAR

    More liquid stuff to fill up your children with?

  6. QUASAR

    How many times do children get filled up these days?

  7. I’m a soon to be mom (in 6 weeks or less) who reads both your blog AND Steve Novellas (and http://www.rationalmoms.com). However, given that not one of my offline friends, family & coworkers (minus my husband) read your blog, I think its great that dooce is covering the issue because I’m not really sure how the issue is covered in the “mainstream” parenting blogs or sites. I don’t read them because when I first got pregnant, I was literally overwhelmed with the pregnancy woo (i.e., eat anything but organically raised oats and your child will turn out stupid). It turned me off. It’s heartening and nice to see a topic I believe in so strongly covered in a rational manner by influential mom bloggers.

    (It was also nice to see the topic discussed in the dooce comments in such a rational manner – at least that I’ve read through so far, with a few exceptions).

  8. Gary Ansorge

    Quasar:
    One should fill up with liquids at least 8 times/day,,,

    I would include a link to the CDCs vaccination page, but every time I do it gets sequestered(permanently) in moderation.

    There are 27 current diseases against which we can vaccinate. Some are tropical so Europeans and Americans can probably ignore those, unless traveling to such areas.

    GAry 7

  9. Ok, I do have a stupid question – in some of the comments the moms are talking about a “modified” schedule of vaccinations. What is that and why would someone do it? I’m not getting it.

    (As a side note it is funny how reading the comments makes me, a skeptic and a firm believer in vaccination, still get all worried about doing it. :))

  10. mus

    Is it really all that wise to combat anecdotes and appeal to mommy authority with anecdotes and appeal to mommy authority? I mean, it’s great that people are speaking out and making videos, but there wasn’t really much actual information in that video. For your average layperson out there, these kinds of videos aren’t really all that different from the crap other people are putting out there.

    I think we should just absolutely obliterate any of their points with hard facts and rational arguments. We should show WHY appeals to “mommy sense” or fear mongering is wrong, not join them in doing it.

  11. Ad Hominid

    Angel sez:

    “The demonstration that politics are involved without any real scientific reason is that this is only a problem in the USA, but it’s not even mentioned in the rest of the world.”

    The Daily Mail sez: London suffering from shocking rise in rare ‘Victorian’ diseases

    London is suffering a startling rise in diseases associated with Victorian times, official figures reveal today.

    Rare infectious illnesses including typhoid, whooping cough and scarlet fever have soared by 166 per cent in the past two years, with the number of cases of mumps – a disease easily prevented with vaccine – rising from 125 in 2007 to 393 last year – an increase of 214 per cent.

    Justine Greening, the shadow minister for London, said infection rates in the capital are markedly higher than the national averages.
    The rise could be a result of parents refusing the MMR jab after now-debunked claims in 2001 that it might be linked to autism.
    (emphasis added)

    Now, what political agenda led YOU to make a counter-factual assumption and post it as evidence of something?

  12. QUASAR

    @ Gary Ansorge

    When I said ‘filled up’ I was talking about that liquid stuff in seringes which they claim it “prevents” diseases!

  13. @quasar

    The answer to your question is “not enough” since killer diseases still run rampant.

  14. Julian

    “I think we should just absolutely obliterate any of their points with hard facts and rational arguments. We should show WHY appeals to “mommy sense” or fear mongering is wrong, not join them in doing it.”

    Seconded. I was surfing that site the other day and somewhere between their calls for a modified schedule (because vaccines are just icky icky things and must be bad bad bad. By the way, if you’re a tool, I’m just referring to how many parents there consider vaccines a necessary evil.) and their claims that they know more then doctors because it’s their kid I realized I wanted nothing to do with any of these people.

    Let’s stick to the facts. We’re skeptics first and activists second.

  15. Lawrence

    Well, let’s see. Some of that “liquid” stuff in syringes eliminated Smallpox from the human popluation. So yes, it does PREVENT diseases.

  16. I think the problem I and many other parents face is that both sides arguments generally boil down to a “Trust Me” simplification. I don’t trust pharmaceutical companies implicitly; they have been shown time and time again to value profits over safety.

    What really help me and my wife was a book called “The Vaccine Book” by Dr. Sears. It’s a short book that contains a rundown on every vaccine, where and how it is made, the reasons some parents choose not to get this one (and whether or not he agrees). For any parent that just wants the facts, I highly recommend it. The book also includes an alternative vaccination schedule that still covers the normal vaccines, yet does so in a way to minimize the concurrence of any ‘controversial’ ingredients.

    I can’t recommend this book highly enough to give any parent the factual basis to make their own decisions. It’ll be the first gift I give to any prospective parents.

  17. Andy Cooke

    @quasar,

    Ah, so not that liquid stuff in bottles/glasses/cups that they claim “prevents dehydration”

    Right, just so we’re straight there.

    Because I’ve got anecdotal evidence that my son developed regressive autism and he regularly drank fluids in order to combat this “dehydration” thing that they scare you with.

  18. @Quasar – Come on… Even the antivaccinationists accept that vaccines do indeed prevent disease.

  19. Zar

    Liquids are scary? What, are you the Wicked Witch of the West or something?

  20. Brian

    Is it really all that wise to combat anecdotes and appeal to mommy authority with anecdotes and appeal to mommy authority? … I think we should just absolutely obliterate any of their points with hard facts and rational arguments.

    But that’s pretty much what we have been doing. This approach undoubtedly works well for some people, but for some it may just get their back up. Sometimes the full frontal attack of we’re-right-they’re-wrong (or worse, we’re-right-you’re-wrong) just feeds into the conspiracy-theory reaction — they’re just trying to suppress the truth because [insert paranoid idea here]. For those people, perhaps this approach — I’ve read all the same things you have, I have children on the line like you do, and I still absolutely think vaccines are GOOD — is more effective.

    I agree it would be nice if the obliteration approach worked more, and on a less pressing issue (Sylvia Browne, say) I would be more inclined to agree. But in this particular case, I don’t think we should be so quick to denigrate other approaches to the problem. Whatever works. We can fret about lost opportunities for teaching critical thinking when our herd immunity isn’t being compromised.

  21. T_U_T

    More liquid stuff to fill up your children with?

    Sorry about the kids,, but, you know, that is an important part of our international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids

  22. gepinniw

    Wow. If you watch the video, (after enjoying the full-length ad for Target), you will hear a proponent of vaccinations say the following: “…You can feel sorry for your child who is sitting there screaming because you are injecting crazy diseases into their legs.”
    Jeez. With proponents like these, vaccination doesn’t need enemies.
    I vaccinated my kids because it was clearly the right thing to do. Let’s not mince words. Parents who don’t vaccinate are doing their children and their community a disservice.

  23. mus

    “on a less pressing issue (Sylvia Browne, say) I would be more inclined to agree. But in this particular case, I don’t think we should be so quick to denigrate other approaches to the problem.”

    Yeah… I see what you mean. Part of the problem is that this involves parents doing something (or not doing something) to their children, which can also affect OTHER children. If it were people doing something which only harmed themselves, I would much more strongly criticize this approach.

    And yet…. I’m still not sure this approach is very wise. It makes me uncomfortable. I guess I need more information about what works and what doesn’t.

  24. Diane

    Hey Corrie,
    I think a “modified vaccine schedule” means that the parents want to space out the vaccines, so that the child gets immunized against one thing at a time. I believe the mistaken thought is that a baby’s body can’t handle multiple challenges to its immune system. I believe that in actuality, a baby gets multiple immune system challenges from its environment every day, and that the number of daily antigens a baby is exposed to is far less than the entire vaccine schedule combined. I’m not a med professional or anything, so if I got this wrong, hopefully someone will correct me.

  25. Lawrence

    I don’t think you’re wrong. There are some preservatives, etc, that are used. For multiple shots, the amount of preserves is the same as one at a time shots, so you are actually getting a larger exposure with a spaced-out regimen.

    Best to get as many done as you can, as quickly as you can.

  26. Vaccines – Do your homework.

    Denial is a crucial step to truth. Vaccines are not safe, nor are they effective. Period.

    Do some extensive research for yourself and the health of your children before you have them subjected to dangerous, poisonous vaccines?

    If you feel like looking at all of the evidence out there(instead of just the pro-vaccine government/corporate supported websites) and decide to question and do your own unbiased research, you’ll come up to a surprisingly different conclusion. Independent science shows they are not safe, and they HAVE tied vaccines to autism through the mercury based preservative thimerosal. Anyone educated on the effects of mercury know that is is a neurotoxin.

    Please choose love over fear when dealing with the fear-inducing media and propaganda that they are constantly trying to shove down our throats. The human body is a miraculous healing machine and doesn’t need to be pumped full of contaminants and preservatives to be effective at healing itself. It just needs to be loved and taken care of. Forced vaccination is already taking place in places such as New Jersey and Texas. In what free society are people forced to be vaccinated.

    Meanwhile the Federal government is preparing for an all out Avian flu pandemic. Please don’t allow yourself or anyone you love to be vaccinated. DON’T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT! DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH! BUT PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T SPREAD MORE PROPAGANDA ABOUT THE SAFETY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF VACCINES!

    Here are a few links to get started:

    http://truthtogether.blogspot.com/2009/04/david-ayoub-md-mercury-autism-and.html

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/10/21/avoid-flu-shots-vitamin-d-is-a-better-way.aspx

    Baxter Releases Contaminated Bird Flu Vaccine

    http://truthtogether.blogspot.com/2009/03/baxter-product-contained-live-bird-flu.html

    http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_16835.cfm

    http://truthtogether.blogspot.com/2009/01/washington-post-study-finds-high.html

    Gary Null on Vaccinations 1 of 2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-xG_Yxj8PE

    Gary Null 2 of 2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQttFXiOcbo

    Bayer Exposed – HIV Contaminated Vaccine released in Japan, Spain, and France upon unsuspecting public.

    Internal documents show Bayer knew the vaccine was contaminated. The FDA allowed the contaminated vaccine to be released in other countries when it was banned in the US and Europe.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wg-52mHIjhs

  27. I vaccinate my kid as his doctor says to. When he explained to me that I could lose my child to “common” diseases I knew then that it was the right thing to do. Sure I feel a little guilty for about ten seconds while my kid is screaming bloody murder, but rather have than him be a trigger for say measles or mumps. Hell even chicken pox is more than I’m willing to have rest on my shoulders.

    My mother had me vaccinated at the age of 17 for chicken pox. However, this was after 17 years of trying to have me go through the experience of chicken pox. Every friend who ended up with chicken pox, I was the only kid allow to go play with them. A study done on my blood and my brother’s blood showed that we were both immune to chicken pox. Mom had use vaccinated anyways, why? She wanted to protect us from the deadly adult version, shingles.

    I was out of school for two weeks, because I ended up with chicken pox. After that, I never skipped school again.

    <3

  28. MadScientist

    Vehicles kill kids – let’s ban all cars and trucks. Airplanes kill – let’s ban them too. Oh, wait a second, road vehicles and aircraft actually do kill so let’s not ban them.

    Now vaccines – they’re evil because they don’t cause autism, so folks, don’t vaccinate your kids. After all, wouldn’t you rather listen to a lie and let your children suffer polio, rubella, rubeola, mumps, hepatitis B, the whooping cough, varicella, variola, and so on?

  29. coolstar

    I guess I have to come down with mus and Julian on this one: for an issue this important, a battle of who has the best meme (or the most convincing mommy) seems very much like a losing proposition to me and is just as likely to lead to an “arms” race as to do much good.

  30. coolstar

    A solution that is likely to be more effective in the long run is more legalized “shunning”. Don’t want to have your kid vaccinated? then that kid can’t go to public school (which is already done in many, if not most, states) and your homeschooling isn’t accredited, can’t get a scholarship to a state college, can’t join the Scouts, can’t play soccer or little league and oh, your federal tax rate just doubled. All but the first of these are just common sense public safety issues while the last can be seen as an ignorance tax. Societal problems require societal fixes, not propaganda wars.

  31. Supernova

    Phil, I love that you read dooce.com. :)

  32. Thanks Diane! I’d never heard of that modified schedule before, though I think I have heard of the multiple immune challenges. (Besides, I’m pretty sure my kid will be getting more immune system challenges from our dog than it will from the standard vaccine round — I’ve seen what the dog eats when he thinks we’re not looking, and its poop. Literally.)

    In any case, we will be getting our kid vaccinated – no question about it.

    On the whole “mommy sense” issue – I highly recommed The Mommy Myth by Susan Douglas. Her book is pretty much a rundown of parenting in the 20th century with a discussion about how the whole myth of the “perfect mother” leads in part contributes to the whole “I should know best, because its my child.” It’s a huge “parenting trend” right now and horribly endemic online. You have certain types of parents who believe that every decision that make must be perfect (and instinctive) which leads those parents to try to find authority which agrees with their arguement. I’ve seen it time and time again since I’ve gotten pregnant – specifically with breastfeeding and c-sections and circumcision….pretty much anything involving medicine. This is why I stay away from “mom” blogs and sites – outside of the occasional skeptical mom blog. I got turned off early in my pregnancy and just decided that I’d stay away.

  33. Angel

    @Ad Hominid

    Firstable, your attack begins with your nick… Ad hominid. May I think you’re calling me hominid, given you do an ad hominem speech?

    Since it’s not so important to me, I’ll go for the heart of the question. I thought it was evident I only posted an evidence: Vaccines have more good than bad effects.

    When I posted about the rest of the world… You know, British use English as first language. Maybe you could find similar tendencies about many “USA problems” in Great Britain, Australia, South Africa… That’s the magic internet does.

    I challenge you to use google to find the combination of words “measles autism” (without quotation marks, of course) in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese (arab or chinese are difficult for me to use :P) with the “news” tag marked.

    Spanish: two results
    Italian: No results
    French: 3 results
    German: 1 result
    Portuguese: 1 result

    Of course, changing the Google preferences to show the apropiate language each time… That’s what I meant when I said “rest of the world”. I apologize if I wasn’t clear enough in my previous answer.

    Notice that I mean Google shows 7 News results for all South America and almost all Eastern Europe (but Great Britain, of course)

  34. Dusty Murray, why do you think smallpox has been eliminated, and polio nearly so? And why is it that measles outbreaks only occur when someone has not been vaccinated against it?

    It’s wrong to say that vaccines cause autism, but it’s beyond the pale to say they don’t even work to prevent disease. You might as well deny gravity and light. Vaccines work. And they don’t cause autism.

  35. Ute

    Wow, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard of that rumour. (#autism) Over here, vaccines are said to cause skin rash, outbreaks of the illnesses themselves, allergies, death and what not, but no-one in Europe seems to believe they cause autism.

    Guess American antiscience is not quite the same as its European equivalent. It’s a bit like German superstition (Friday 13th) vs. Spanish superstition (Tuesday 13th). *g*

    So much for that.

  36. Ute

    PS: Me = Mother of two fully vaccined children. (2,5 / 4 yrs of age)

  37. QUASAR

    @ Phil Plait

    Gravitational and EM interaction causing autism.

    ROFL

  38. QUASAR

    @ Phil Plait

    If you use EM interaction or gravitaltional interaction to manipulate someting on a subatomic scale, that means manipulating something particle by particle, well, then you can do a lot of things!

  39. Keith

    Kudos to these moms for having their children vaccinated and their straight talk about it. The second mom may not be calling people who don’t vaccinate stupid, but I am.

    If you don’t vaccinate your children against PREVENTABLE ILLNESSES THAT COULD KILL THEM, you are a STUPID IDIOT who should have your children taken from you by your local Child Protective Services agency and put into a foster home where the WILL be property vaccinated.

  40. ND

    QUASAR: “…manipulating something particle by particle, well, then you can do a lot of things”

    Very few Jedi ever reach this level of manipulation with the force. At least that’s what I’ve been told.

  41. Peter B

    Quasar said: “More liquid stuff [vaccines] to fill up your children with?”

    If vaccines aren’t responsible for the reductions in disease rates, then what is? Also, why is it that these reductions are most noticeable immediately after the introdution of vaccines for those diseases?

    “@ Phil Plait: Gravitational and EM interaction causing autism. ROFL”

    What?

    “If you use EM interaction or gravitaltional interaction to manipulate someting on a subatomic scale, that means manipulating something particle by particle, well, then you can do a lot of things!”

    What? You’re still not making sense.

  42. GirlyNerd

    I’m a mom and because I work for a company that employs alot of homeopathic medicine users, I know alot of people who haven’t had their kids vaccinated. It’s so sad.
    Last summer Parenting magazine (or was it parents magazine? I can’t remember) had a great article about vaccines. They went through all the reasons you should, and in a nice way, told it’s readers that they were idiots if they didn’t get their kids vaccinated. It even addressed the whole autism/vaccine thing as a bunch of BS.

  43. Mark Hansen

    Peter B, quite often QUASAR makes no sense. The posts are just to get a bite. Trolling if you like. In this case I think it’s just to get a personal response from BA. After all, Dusty Murray got one; QUASAR feels the need for one as well. DM at least had a post in need of a response.

  44. I love your site and read it always but don’t agree with your views on vaccines and that has nothing to do with a fear of autism (which I personally have not felt convinced exists with a direct correlation to vaccines). And it has nothing to do with an inherent comfort level because I can rely on herd immunity. It has to do with science, just like your views do.

    One thing Ive noticed about your blog is that you are very black and white. You have concrete unbending views on religion and scientific theories. I guess I tend toward some of those same views but when it comes to vaccine safety and efficacy, I can see the grey in a way I think maybe you can’t (which, you seem to rationalize, makes you right or more researched – neither of which is true). And it isn’t based on anecdotes, memes or unfounded fears.

    One of the things I like about discussions such as the one to which you linked is that there are rational conversations happening with mostly respectful exchanges of information by people who mostly understand that this IS a grey area issue, legitimately, from a scientific and medical perspective. I can poke as many holes in your scientific theory as you can mine. The truth is most likely somewhere in the middle. Vaccines save lives. Vaccines cause damage. Both of those things can be true at the same time. And yet both of them have been proven false in cases as well. This is certainly not a black and white issue.

  45. Julian

    Stepping on Legos perfectly illustrates what I was saying in my first post. These are not the kinds of people we should be extending a friendly hand to. They don’t care what the data says, (we’re just close-minded.) It’s exactly the kind of attitude that leads to such poor coverage of science issues in the media and the classroom.

  46. Peter B

    Stepping On Legos said: “I can poke as many holes in your scientific theory as you can mine. The truth is most likely somewhere in the middle.”

    Quite possibly true, but quite possibly not where in the middle you think it is.

    “Vaccines save lives.”

    Yes.

    “Vaccines cause damage.”

    Yes.

    “Both of those things can be true at the same time.”

    Yes.

    “And yet both of them have been proven false in cases as well.”

    Pardon?

    “This is certainly not a black and white issue.”

    Well, possibly not.

    But remember, in general the death rate from vaccines is a tiny fraction of the death rate from the diseases they protect against. The problem with what you say is that people may interpret what you say as vaccines being a 50-50 prospect, when the evidence suggests they’re *much* safer than that.

    I’d be curious for you to spell out in more detail your concerns about vaccines, and the evidence you have to support those concerns.

  47. Gary Ansorge

    Legos:

    The one thing that is apparent in your argument is that you have not researched the cost /benefit side of the vac. argument. Neither, it appears, have you considered the relative probabilities of death/disability of vaccinated vs unvaccinated. It varies from one disease to another but in general, the serious side effects of vaccination are about 1/million, vs anywhere from 1/100 to as high as a 90 percent death rate(ebola), even 100 % in the case of rabies(but only for those showing symptoms).

    Note that if small pox were to be re-introduced into the general population, the death rate would depend upon the original population,ie, for European populations, about 30%. For Native Americans, nearly 98%.

    The probability of dying in an auto accident is about 1/50,000. For air travel it’s about 1/4 million. If the odds were closer to 30%, I expect few would ever climb into a car or plane, yet anti-vaxers are quite content to expose their children to diseases that could have just such odds of death.

    Vaccinations save a LOT more lives than they cost despite the supposed nefarious intent of the pharmaceutical industry.

    When I was a child, it was still generally accepted that a large percentage of our children would die before reaching adulthood, so parents were not as obsessed with their children as we are today. Families were large(8 to 15 kids in a family) to compensate for those losses.
    Today, we have 1 to 3 children, and the loss of even a single one is highly traumatic. Be glad you have the chance to be so dedicated to your children. It was not always thus,,,but it could be so again,,,just don’t vaccinate and watch the death rates rise.

    Gary 7

  48. Lawrence

    It scares the holy heck out of me to read materials like “Demon in the Freezer”, by Richard Preston – detailing how the Russians developed Smallpox for Strategic use in ICBMs, specifically because it would kill such a large population of children. There was also the distinct possibility it was done to blow through current vaccines, as to maximize the total carnage.

    Pharma companies may be motivated by profit, but they also still provide a valuable service preventing very horrific diseases from effecting the rest of us. Even aspirin is not without side effects – but the greater good totally outweighs the risk to the individual (which is very, very uncommon).

  49. Ema Nymton

    Stepping on Legos makes a classic idiotic assumption that if there are two side of an issue, black and white, the real answer must be gray. With science, that is almost never the case. If black has the evidence behind it, the real answer is black, no matter how many loons insist that white is the case.

  50. JB of Brisbane

    @Zodi, re Chicken Pox: “She wanted to protect us from the deadly adult version, Shingles”.

    If only she had said that to the doctor when she took you in: he would have laughed in her face and told her to get out. Unless I am sadly mistaken, shingles is not deadly. There used to be a belief dating back to ancient times that shingles would prove fatal if it completely encircled a person’s waist, but shingles nearly always affects a small part of the body on one side only, so it is likely that no one has ever seen a case of shingles going all the way around. Then, like the Korean belief that you will die if you go to sleep with a fan blowing on you, the story got spread all over by rumour and anecdote.

  51. MartinM

    I can poke as many holes in your scientific theory as you can mine.

    Try.

  52. Nick

    # Patrick Says:
    April 18th, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    @Quasar – Come on… Even the antivaccinationists accept that vaccines do indeed prevent disease.

    Dusty Murray Says:
    April 18th, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Vaccines – Do your homework.

    Denial is a crucial step to truth. Vaccines are not safe, nor are they effective. Period.

  53. wright

    @ Emma Nymton:

    Well said. I have a 4 year-old nephew, immunized right on schedule. If he were to be one of the very few who experienced significant injury / disability from one of his vaccinations…

    I would be devastated. I would be angry. But it would not change one iota the fact that vaccines ARE safe and ARE effective for the vast majority. All aspects of life have risk.

  54. My sons are now 11 and 15. When my wife and I decided to have them immunized (on schedule) we were both aware of the (very small) risk that the procedures might kill them or injure them.

    But we were also aware of the much bigger risks posed by not immunizing them.

    Immunize your children.

  55. Cheyenne

    Speaking of Smallpox – is there anything we can do to get the Americans and the Russians to destroy their remaining samples? I really don’t trust the security of Vector (their inventory controls, the temptation of guards or researchers to sell the stuff on the black market, etc) – this is scarier (to me) than the odds of them launching nukes accidentally.

    I actually would like to have the Americans keep the samples to work with, I know we can learn a lot from them. But the only way to get the Russians to incinerate them would be if we did as well. Let’s just eliminate this nasty bug from the planet once and for all.

  56. OtherRob

    JB of Brisbane said:

    If only she had said that to the doctor when she took you in: he would have laughed in her face and told her to get out. Unless I am sadly mistaken, shingles is not deadly.

    I most certainly hope that the doctor would not laugh and kick her out. I would hope that he would tell her that while Shingles is not deadly, it is extremely painful (I can attest to this from my own experience) and, in some case, could lead to blindness.

    And, frankly, any doctor that would laugh at a patient’s lack of knowledge about a medical condition probably should find another line of work…

  57. Todd W.

    @Stepping On Legos

    You seem to be of the opinion that Phil is stating that vaccines are 100% effective and 100% safe. However, that’s just my assumption, since you don’t actually specify what particular details with which you disagree.

    As Phil (and generally most people who are well-informed on the issue) would likely say, vaccines, just as every other medicine, has adverse side effects. Also, they are not always effective. However, for the general population, the success rate and benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks of the vaccine and the risks of not vaccinating. In this regard, vaccines are “safe”. They also have a fairly high success rate (approx. 80%-90%, depending on the vaccine, though some, like TB, fall below that rate), meaning that they are “effective”.

    When it comes to discussing any medical product, “safe” and “effective” are relative terms, and are never absolute. I’m sure Phil would agree.

  58. numsix

    just chiming in on – “Profit is evil”
    If you believe vaccines are big pharma for profit I ask you: Why do you work?
    You want a profit over your cost of living.
    You are evil.
    So is every producer/supplier of every product/service.

    Simplified I know, but sometimes simple explains the complex things I do not have time to go into from work :)

  59. Calli Arcale

    JB of Brisbane Says:
    @Zodi, re Chicken Pox: “She wanted to protect us from the deadly adult version, Shingles”.

    If only she had said that to the doctor when she took you in: he would have laughed in her face and told her to get out. Unless I am sadly mistaken, shingles is not deadly.

    More probably, the doctor would have clarified for her that adults who contract chicken pox are more likely to die from it than teenagers and adolescents.

    Shingles is actually not a new infection (if I’m understanding it correctly) but rather a recurrence of an old infection. The varicella vaccines probably does (but is not yet approved by the FDA to) protect people who have had chickenpox from later getting shingles. For this reason, it has been used in the elderly, reportedly with significant success in reducing shingles rates.

    Shingles isn’t something to shrug off, either. You can get it repeatedly, it’s debilitating, and it has a significant likelihood of causing permanent disability. This may be blindness, but it may also be neuralgia, paralysis, deafness, or other problems associated with nerve damage. Beall’s Palsy is one possible result. That’s paralysis of one side of the face, and depending on how bad it is, it can be quite disfiguring, sometimes permanently so.

    I just looked up the Wikipedia article on shingles, and it says that about 20% of patients will develop neuralgia that lasts after the shingles outbreak is over. Neuralgia can be horrible; it’s persistent, often untreatable pain not related to any actual pain stimulus. Sometimes the only cure is to kill the affected nerve, but that’s often not possible.

  60. Calli Arcale

    Addendum: shingles might be lethal in one indirect way. Although this is pretty speculative, it has been suggested a correlation between shingles infection in the elderly and suicide rates — perhaps some patients are in so much pain that they seek what News of the Weird likes to call “The Only Way Out”.

  61. ndt

    Dusty Murray Says:
    April 18th, 2009 at 7:12 pm
    Vaccines are not safe, nor are they effective. Period.

    How many cases of polio were there last year? How about smallpox?

  62. Dawn

    I have the solution. For all the parents who don’t vaccinate their children, we bring back the old fashioned quarantine signs. I’m sure they have no clue what they are. Let’s take chicken pox for an example:
    Scenario: Child #1 is exposed to chicken pox. He (or she…I’m not typing this each time) now has to be in quarantine, out of child care, out of public for a minimum of 21 days. So, mom and kid are homebound. No working for mom, if she works. No visitors who aren’t proven to be immune. Visits by the public health staff to make sure they are staying in. Day 21, Child #1 breaks out in pox. Sibling, Child #2, has not had chicken pox, nor had child #2 broken out. MORE days in quarantine, up to 21, to see if this kid develops Chicken Pox or not. Lather, rinse, repeat per family member who takes longer to break out.

    Scenario repeats for any other infectious disease: Measles, Mumps, etc.

    People now don’t know what quarantine can be like, how stressful it is on the family. Nor do they remember how scary and deadly these “minor” diseases are. Try reading any books from the 1800’s or early 1900’s. All these “minor” diseases were feared as child killers.

    Re: shingles. Yeah, the outbreak itself may not be deadly. However, the secondary infections from scratching, the pain and the possible long-term sequelae, can be. Just ask any adult who has HAD shingles if they wished they could have had a vaccine against them.

  63. JB of Brisbane

    Thanks to all the people who responded to my comment – I have learned a couple of new things about shingles and its after effects. I was not aware of possible neuralgia, blindness or paralysis. My brother-in-law had an attack some years ago on the lower left side of his face, and although painful at the time, he came through with no lasting effects of which I am aware.
    My comment was in reference to Zodi’s, in which he claims that he went through life apparently immune to Varicella zoster, until his mother had him vaccinated at 17 due to some belief that shingles was “the deadly adult version” of chicken pox, whereupon he promptly developed chicken pox. Does contracting the disease from the vaccine happen often?

  64. JB of Brisbane

    Oh, and before I forget, the docor with which I grew up certainly would have set this woman straight about chicken pox and shingles… but he would have had a chuckle first, and he probably would hae declined to provide the vaccination.

  65. Damon

    They’re not “moms”, they’re women who happen to have children. Assign gender-roles much?

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