Antivaxxers take note: vaccines stop polio outbreak in Tajikistan

By Phil Plait | August 4, 2010 3:00 pm

This is wildly good news! Through Vaccine Central I learned that a major polio outbreak in Tajikistan has been stopped!

How? Through vaccination.

Yup. The first reports of polio were confirmed in April — 413 of them. However, that ended in late June, when no new cases were reported. That is credited to the thousands of doctors and nurses who not only vaccinated at least 97% of the children in each region of the mountainous country, but also flooded the area with multi-lingual informational leaflets, posters, and banners.

And they succeeded! With no new reports, it appears this outbreak was stopped cold.

And with the AVN in Australia getting hammered repeatedly in the press, I can now have some hope that the movement here in the United States, spearheaded by Jenny McCarthy, will die off as well. Vaccinations work, and they save a lot of lives.

Comments (36)

  1. WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE POOR IRON LUNG MANUFACTURERS! Thee poor dears have been driven out of business by big pharma… :P

    Okay, in all seriousness: It’s a very sad day when you have to show such examples to people, and yet they will still continue in their deluded adn iresponsible ways…

    http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.php and also Todd’s site. :)

  2. Beautiful, you don’t hear the “Person takes vaccine and is not only unharmed but protected from virus” side of the equation often enough, it’s usually just the one in a million problems that get reported.

  3. Chris

    Too bad there isn’t a vaccine against Jenny McCarthy.

  4. rob

    science works!!!!

  5. J Hall

    @Larian: As I understand it iron lungs aren’t made any more because of things like ventilators and intubation (ah, Wikipedia agrees!). I once knew someone who at night slept in an iron lung but that was 15 years ago.

    @Phil: These AVN articles are starting to get to me. The families retort to AVN’s propaganda show how stuck-in-the-mud these people are. Whenever someone brings up anti-vac points I am quick to refute; however, while I was in collage an environmental chemistry class had a lecture on the vaccines’ mercury preservative (and other chemicals [BPA]) effects on children. I see now that the lecturer’s claims about vaccines may have been ill researched or at worst to further some ideology. It undercuts the point of the lecture — that exposure to minuscule amounts of chemicals during development, especially synthetic hormones, can cause harm.

  6. Zucchi

    According to the idiots at AVN, polio’s nothing to be scared of anyway. Hardly even worth trying to prevent.

  7. Steve

    As a polio victim from long before the vaccine was developed, let me warn all parents that the effects of polio are horrible and proven! The old wives’ tales against are ridiculous and unsafe.

  8. “I can now have some hope that the movement here in the United States, spearheaded by Jenny McCarthy, will die off as well.”

    While I agree with that wish, I have very little hope that anti vaxers will go away anytime soon. Evidence contrary to their views has never been a deciding factor in what these loons believe in.

  9. SLC

    Re Zucchi @ #6

    Of course, Franklin D. Roosevelt wasn’t confined to a wheelchair. That was just propaganda from big pharma! End snark.

  10. Old Geezer

    So, the next news out of Tajikistan will be a drastic rise in Autism diagnoses?

  11. Michael Suttkus, II

    Bah, we all know that polio in the US dropped in response to better hygiene. No doubt, the pro-vaccine crowd is suppressing the reports of the massive, area-wide instantaneous improvement in hygiene levels. Just like them!

    (PS, because I don’t post here often, I must point out that the above is, indeed, sarcasm.)

  12. Great news for Tajikistan! Glad they were able to stop the spread.

  13. 24601

    As Old Geezer said, I’m sure the AVN and other antivaxxers are watching this too, predicting that some malady will increase due to the heavy vaccinations, and they’ll latch onto whatever they find that appears to support their position.

  14. Jack Mitcham

    This reminds me a little of the heroic work done by Dr. Larry Brilliant in India against smallpox. His big thing is “early detection, early response.”

    It sounds like this is the case here. The outbreak was stopped by early detection and early response.

  15. Ken

    The victims of the old days of polio are becoming too rare to keep the memory alive in the public’s eye.

    My high school French teacher (I’m grad 1989) was a polio victim. She had leg braces and required crutches to walk.

    Our former Prime Minister here in Canada, Jean Cretien is a polio victim, a milder case, it simply made him talk funny as if he was talking from the side of his mouth.

  16. JMW

    …I can now have some hope that the movement here in the United States, spearheaded by Jenny McCarthy, will die off as well.

    Sadly, Phil, it’s unlikely most Americans will even be aware of this (and lest you think I’m criticizing your country unfairly, most Canadian news media probably won’t carry it either).

    Surely you’re familiar with the joke:

    The UN conducted a world wide survey. The question they asked: In your honest, humble opinion what is the solution to the food shortage problem in the rest of the world?

    The survey failed because:
    In China, people didn’t understand “opinion”.
    In Africa, people didn’t understand “food”.
    In France, people didn’t understand “humble”.
    In the rest of Europe, people didn’t understand “shortage”.
    In Russia, people didn’t understand “honest”.
    In the Middle East, people didn’t understand “solution”.
    And in America, people didn’t understand “the rest of the world”.

  17. Nigel Depledge

    @ JMW (18) – LOL!

  18. Yeebok

    Awesome news Phil, I’ve not heard anything about the outbreak down in Oz, without your post I’d be unaware there was even a problem .. let alone a great outcome.

    @18 / JMW – LOL, not heard that before. A good ‘funny because it’s true’ type joke.
    As a humble suggestion, somewhere in there :
    ‘In Australia, they didn’t understand “problem”.’
    and potentially (if you want all the continents covered) Antarctica and solution (since it’s cold).

  19. Shoeshine Boy

    @#6 Zucchi

    “According to the idiots at AVN, polio’s nothing to be scared of anyway. Hardly even worth trying to prevent.”

    I know you are being scarcastic, but having seen the effects of polio first hand, we should all be thankful that a vaccine is available. Thank you Drs. Salk & Sabin.

  20. Neil Murphy

    This might be good news, but the fact that this is NEWS saddens me. Think about it. A vaccine.. stopping a virus?! Perhaps Louis Pasteur’s rabies vaccine would have made such a headline back in the day but the fact that such a tried and tested thing is back in the news due to recent AVN’ers getting airtime is pretty depressing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome that their BS theories are being blown straight out — that part I like :)

    The best part of all is that lives are being saved. The sooner the AV movement gets put to a halt, the more children get to live to see at least their 1st birthday.

  21. Leathersoup

    Meanwhile Jenny McCarthy’s death toll is up to 7 babies in California? Lovely.

  22. Sir Eccles

    @J Hall: Technically iron lungs are still made but they look nothing like the huge behemoths of yesteryear. They generally now take the form of a wearable jacket and they use a different name which escapes me right now.

    Anyway, it’s quite clear to me that the vaccine had nothing to do with it, just the amazing power of leaflets in disease prevention (sarcasm).

    Actually in all seriousness, I had a grandfather who got polio as a child and lived well into his 90s the later part of which mostly confined to a wheelchair. The amazing thing was his mind which was forever active. He went to medical school and practiced as a family doctor well into his 80s and was a huge inspiration to me.

  23. Mark Hansen

    Shoeshine Boy, Zucchi isn’t being sarcastic. The AVN really do believe polio to be a minor complaint. Their travel advice for areas where polio is prevalent shows what they think of the effects of polio. Their solution? Homeopathy. They are truly anti-vaccination despite their high priestess denying it. If you have the stomach for it (do not eat before viewing) try reading their travel advice page.

  24. Tribeca Mike

    Somewhere, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is not amused by the likes of Jenny McCarthy.

  25. MadScientist

    And in a few months I expect to hear nothing of an epidemic of autism.

    @Mike #26: You mean like in Bizarro World? After all, FDR is long gone …

  26. Frank E.

    Phil, thank you for real news and the green lantern kid and the moon shots and the saturn rings and the spinning l.e.d. girl and the antivaxer smackdowns and the loyal fans! and the, oh you get it. :)

  27. We have vaccines against all these things that are harmful to the health of people and animals. This is a great thing. However, I want to know when someone is going to put some serious research into creating a vaccine that will protect us from anti-vaccination proponents like Jenny McCarthy, the AVN, etc. The world will be a much better place when we have a world-wide immunization against all the anti-vaccination nonsense these dangers to public health espouse.

  28. tmac57

    @Stephen M-“The world will be a much better place when we have a world-wide immunization against all the anti-vaccination nonsense these dangers to public health espouse.”
    There already is an immunization for that, its called ‘education’.

  29. Adi

    The problem is not the vaccines per se, but the pressure to sell certain poorly- or un-tested vaccines (and other drugs) on the coat tails of some manufactured crisis. The second problem is compulsory vaccination. You can understand how some parents are not so eager to afford their full confidence to health officials motivated by political bribes. You should also understand that forced medication is breaking a few human rights; and in the case of children, it replaces the natural authority of parents for that of the state. While it may seem reasonable to award this authority to the state, can you be sure this power would not be abused?

  30. Chris

    Adi:

    The second problem is compulsory vaccination.

    Where does this happen? It obviously does not include any part of the United States of America, because even Mississippi and West Virginia have private schools.

  31. TheBlackCat

    The problem is not the vaccines per se, but the pressure to sell certain poorly- or un-tested vaccines (and other drugs) on the coat tails of some manufactured crisis.

    Oh, which ones are those?

    The second problem is compulsory vaccination.

    Where does that occur?

  32. Nigel Depledge

    Adi (32) seems to have swallowed some antivax propaganda:

    The problem is not the vaccines per se, but the pressure to sell certain poorly- or un-tested vaccines (and other drugs) on the coat tails of some manufactured crisis.

    Any vaccines that are sold as licensed drug product that have not been properly tested are illegal in all civilised nations. Where do you live, exactly?

    The second problem is compulsory vaccination.

    I am not aware of any country that currently has compulsory vaccination. I believe that, in some countries, schools have (or had?) the right to refuse to accept unvaccinated pupils, but that is separate from government-mandated vaccination.

    You can understand how some parents are not so eager to afford their full confidence to health officials motivated by political bribes.

    If you have any evidence that health officials are receiving bribes, you should take it to the authorities.

    If, OTOH, you are merely repeating hearsay, then perhaps you should consider where you got that information from and how likely it is to be reliable. Did anyone show you evidence that health officials accept bribes?

    You should also understand that forced medication is breaking a few human rights; and in the case of children, it replaces the natural authority of parents for that of the state.

    Quite right, because all parents are far more qualified to make medical decisions about their children than physicians are. [/sarcasm]

    And, as above, where in the world is any parent being prosecuted for refusing vaccination for their children (although, to be brutally frank, a case probably could be made that parents that refuse to have their children vaccinated are risking the lives and wellbeing of other people’s kids).

    While it may seem reasonable to award this authority to the state, can you be sure this power would not be abused?

    Irrelevant. No nation (AFAICT) has this power.

    OTOH, McCarthy et al. are abusing their position as celebrities to promote a stance that is quite definitely contrary to the interests of the public at large.

  33. Chris

    So Adi is never going to tell us where vaccination mandatory? Pity.

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