Should I vaccinate my two-month old?
July 12, 2005 10:57 PM   Subscribe

Why shouldn't I vaccinate my two-month old?

Just wondering what reason(s) there would be NOT to immunize my newborn with the standard vaccinations. A health nut family friend gave me the willies one day with a diatribe on the dangers of vaccines. Anyone concur with her?

I'm not seriously considering skipping them -- just wondering.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (123 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just went through this with my two month old.

I think the only real honest-to-goodness health reason one might consider avoiding vaccines is that there is a link between old vaccines that contained mercury and onset of autism in children that got the vaccines. Vaccines in the past few years have been reformulated (at least the ones we got) to remove any mercury or other heavy metals, so the chances of creating an autistic child should be nil.

The other obvious, but emotional (not medical per se), reason one might avoid them is that previously happy babies scream bloody murder. Our baby had never screamed like that ever, not even remotely close. There was also this look on her face that made you think she was wondering why her loving, trustworthy parents were holding her and helping do this to her.

It was the very first time I felt like we actually did something to hurt her and she was freaked out for about 24 hours afterwards. We had to give her a little baby tylenol for the aching legs later that night, but I'll never forget those blood curdling screams. The vaccines are important to her long-term health and I would never consider skipping them, but there was certainly an emotional reason I could see short-sighted people using to not do them.
posted by mathowie at 11:03 PM on July 12, 2005


Here in NZ when you get your babies jabbed with needles, the doctor or nurse giving the shot holds the baby so they don't associate you with the pain. I'd strongly recommend this if possible for your own mental wellbeing.

I've heard similar stories to mathowie linking MMR vaccines to autism, but I take them with a large grain of salt.
posted by tracicle at 11:08 PM on July 12, 2005


Warren Olney's To the Point had a show on this a few month's back. It's my favorite source for news on controversial topics. A well-moderated civil debate format, that generally has informed guests. Realaudio format

To the Point: Science, Politics and Vaccinations
posted by Manjusri at 11:30 PM on July 12, 2005


There is a risk of side effects, some of them quite serious. However it should be noted that the risk associated with the vaccine is much smaller than the risk associated with measles.
posted by arha at 11:31 PM on July 12, 2005


When you get your baby vaccinated you're ensuring not only her own health but the health of everyone else. Many diseases that we immunize against previously killed off large numbers of children. If you don't want your child to get measels, polio, etc. then get hir vaccinated.
posted by bshort at 11:39 PM on July 12, 2005


This is so over-simplistic. If you believe that nature, and human evolution over millions of years, is completely incapable and basically wrong... then get your kid vaccinated.

But a kid who gets measles is automatically immunised from suffering the illness again. So maybe nature isn't so stupid after all. Indeed in some quarters it is argued that our attempts to fight illnesses (using vaccinations and antibiotics) actually makes society less able to cope with bugs in the long run. It's a school of thought... not necessarily one I'm saying I agree with.

I wasn't vaccinated against anything as a kid. I had mumps, measles, chicken pox and so on. All of them. Not loads of fun at the time, but a natural part of growing up. And I'm fine. Indeed my grandmother - who didn't vaccinate any of her kids - used to stick all her children in bed together when one got sick, so they would all get the illness at the same time.

Lately in the UK this debate has raged, because the government has insisted on providing a single MMR shot to counter measles, mumps and rubella at the same time. The reason is that it's cheaper to do the shot at once - and easier to monitor kids if they've been given the shots all at the same time. But one doctor claims that the MMR shot encouraged autism. The claim has since been discredited, but many parents in the UK are still nervous.
posted by skylar at 11:49 PM on July 12, 2005


You should get your child vaccinated. Not doing so is a defection in a very important prisoner's dilemman... except that there is very, very little risk of any sort in getting the vaccinations.

That health nut family friend? Nut is the operative word. As arha points out, the risk of side effects from the vaccinations is rather a lot less than the risk associated with the diseases they prevent.

(on preview: Do. Not. Listen. To. Skylar. Skylar's point about the "school of thought" regarding vaccinations and antibiotics is a gross misrepresentation. )
posted by Justinian at 11:52 PM on July 12, 2005


this is a huge hot-button issue that people get really fanatical about, so it's a somewhat loaded question. my take: vaccines are good. the "link" to autism matt refers to above for older vaccines has never been proven, but vaccines were reformulated to remove both heavy metals and thimerosol, the most controversial component of many vaccines. and not only do vaccines help keep your own kid safe and keep the people around your kid safe, but if you have a daughter, and she nurses her child, the antibodies she has will protect that child.
posted by judith at 11:58 PM on July 12, 2005


Possibility of vaccine contamination, you are injecting live virus into your child--which isn't 100% without risk, etc. There is a decent amount of evidence linking various autoimmune disorders to vaccination programs. I elected to skip an adult Hepatitis vaccination because of the risks. (Here's a link to more info.)
posted by trevyn at 11:59 PM on July 12, 2005


There are some serious questions over the all-in-one vaccinations used in the UK. You can get the same protection out of a series of single-function vaccines, though they may be more expensive in total. Have a look at those.
posted by krisjohn at 12:05 AM on July 13, 2005


Gosh, until I read trevyn's link, I didn't know Aids was man made! WOW.

I believe that the very fact that vaccination works has brought into question the necessity of it - most people living in good health, in a healthy society, do not see the effects of serious contagious illness around them, and question the need for protection from it.

When most people call a cold `The Flu' and don't know what real contagious sickness is all about, it's understandable that people think that disease isn't a very realistic prospect in their day to day lives.

Chickenpox and mumps? Sure, they're unpleasant, I had them both (vacccinations not available as a child). Hepatitis? Whooping cough? Polio? Smallpox? Appalling and deadly.

Tell the millions who died of smallpox that it's natural for them to have suffered as they did.

Skylar, if you've ever been to the doctor, then you yourself are admitting that "nature, and human evolution over millions of years, is completely incapable and basically wrong".
posted by tomble at 12:16 AM on July 13, 2005


My take: so you will be protecting those unfortunate few like my (now 15 years old) nephew. He was one of the infinitismally small % that suffered from convulsions (for a very short time) as a result of his 2/4/6 month injections. So he never finished the course. But his parents are absolutely in favour of immmunizations (as am I and as is my other brother, paediatrician). I'm unsure as to the reasons for his reactions: whether they were immunological/sensitivity based or otherwise.

(so you see, if other children are protected then there's less chance the unimmunized child will be at risk)

I don't believe there's any good argument (that isn't irrational and based on spurious evidence) for opting out. It's part of this thing we in the west regard as a value of modern living...or something.
posted by peacay at 1:13 AM on July 13, 2005


when I say my take is to protect others --- I mean that's the reason to HAVE the vaccine -- I misread the question.
posted by peacay at 1:25 AM on July 13, 2005


I wasn't vaccinated against anything as a kid. I had mumps, measles, chicken pox and so on. All of them. Not loads of fun at the time, but a natural part of growing up. And I'm fine.

Nice anecdote. Hey, where are all the anecdotes from the hundreds of thousands of people who died from measles last year? Oh yeah, they can't tell us their anecdotes because they're dead.

The risk of dying from these diseases is so many times higher than even the alleged risks of the vaccines, it's not even funny.
posted by grouse at 1:33 AM on July 13, 2005 [1 favorite]


Since 40 countries in the world have better infant mortality rates than the US, I'm reluctant to take advice from the American medical establishment about how to birth or care for my baby, in general.

Most of the information that gave me pause when thinking through the vaccination issue is summarized in
this pdf.

This page indicates that diseases for which we vaccinate were declining rapidly before vaccines were created (possibly due to better hygiene and overall cleanliness?).

I don't trust a small group of "experts" (CDC, ACIP) with a questionable track record, little oversight, and known heavy influence (follow the money: billions in guaranteed annual revenue) from the drug industry to tell me what's best for our population in general and my child specifically.

When you can't trust scientists to be honorable and greed-free, where are you supposed to get valid data?

Personally, I think the government mandating vaccinations relieves the drug industry of the responsibility of improving their vaccines so that they are truly effective with minimal side effects. If the drug companies were to publish peer-reviewed double-blinded studies proving their vaccines work well and safely, they'd sell themselves and no government strong-arming would be necessary.
posted by Bradley at 1:33 AM on July 13, 2005


Since 40 countries in the world have better infant mortality rates than the US, I'm reluctant to take advice from the American medical establishment about how to birth or care for my baby, in general.

Fine, take advice from the medical establishments of those 40 countries. Name one that discourages vaccination. Just one.
posted by grouse at 2:06 AM on July 13, 2005


Yes, exactly. All those countries with better infant mortality rates than the USA also push vaccination.
posted by Justinian at 2:28 AM on July 13, 2005


Linkers to whale.to: do you believe the rest of the shit they're peddling? The further you dig into that site, the loopier the claims made and the dodgier the sources. I would say in this case Google has not been your friend. Apparently you can't trust scientists, but you can trust random fruitloops on the internet who believe in government-sponsored mind control programmes, the Illuminati, time travel, remote viewing, Zionist Jewish control of the news media, and more ... basically every conspiracy trope of the 20th century.

Here in New Zealand, above the US in that top 40, we immunise, including the MMR these days. My daughter was immunised and I have no regrets.

The only reason not to immunise that I can think of is the standard one: if your child is sick with a cough or cold or whatever already, wait for the illness to pass. Apart from that, it's your duty to your child, your fellow citizens and your rational intellect to do it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:35 AM on July 13, 2005


skylar does not seem to understand the basics of vaccines. They protect in exactly the same way, using the same mechanisms, as getting measles protects you from further cases of measles, vaccines just cut back the discomforts (best case scenario) and deaths (worst case scenario) of getting the disease full blown.

Hell, the first smallpox vaccine was the observation that milk maids didn't suffer from smallpox, and the realisation that this was because they had been exposed to cowpox - a similar but far less dangerous virus. You can't get more "natural" than that.

Vaccines are based on the principle that nature and human evolution is right, not wrong.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:02 AM on July 13, 2005


Unfortunately, they're also based on the principle that humans are rational creatures who don't listen to nutjobs and who care about doing the right thing by their fellow man. This is, unfortunately, clearly not the case.
posted by Justinian at 3:14 AM on July 13, 2005


I don't claim that other countries discourage vaccination. By presenting the infant mortality statistics, I'm only demonstrating that the medical system in the US that is commonly described as the "best medical care in the world" is fallible, and therefore I'll do my own research and trust my own gut instead of blindly following their guidelines about any aspect of child birth or care. Medical science is a religion, and I'm not a True Believer.

If I ever find a doctor who will sign a contract with me guaranteeing that a given vaccination will provide my child immunity to the proposed disease without causing him any harm, I'll reconsider my opinion about vaccinations.

I'm pretty confident that won't happen, since there's never been a single published, peer-reviewed, double-blinded study (the gold standard for research in all other scientific fields except vaccines, apparently) demonstrating true immunity along with safety. If anyone has a link to such a study, please link it because the world is waiting.

Vaccines are not proven to cause immunity. Instead the test subjects are shown to develop a specific desired antigen, with the (BIG) assumption that the presence of that antigen means immunity is present.

I don't believe we know enough about the immune system for that assumption to be valid, and I also believe that the meteoric rise of asthma, fibromyalgia, cancer, autism, and many other diseases in the past 60 or so years is at least partly related to our monkeying around with our immune system. I won't allow my child to be a guinea pig.
posted by Bradley at 3:21 AM on July 13, 2005


Bradley:
Vaccines are not proven to cause immunity

Vaccines eradicated smallpox from the face of the earth. Proof that the vaccine causes immunity couldn't possibly come any stronger than that.

There is some pretty good evidence as to what is genuinely behind the "meteoric rise" of diseases you mention. Vaccines aren't really part of the picture.

But I certainly agree that anyone calling the joke that is the US heathcare system "the best medical care in the world" is not to be trusted. In fact, I'd probably go even further, and might even use the word "nutcase" :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 3:35 AM on July 13, 2005


They protect in exactly the same way, using the same mechanisms, as getting measles protects you from further cases of measles

The evidence I've seen shows this is not the case, since contracting measles gives true life-long immunity whereas the vaccine is only 95% effective at producing the medically-desired antigen therefore a booster shot is required.

Also, the measles virus is airborne and thus dealt with by the body's immune defenses in the respiratory tract. The vaccine shot bypasses the respiratory mechanism and is injected straight into the blood. So how can they be using "the same mechanism"?
posted by Bradley at 3:36 AM on July 13, 2005


Bradley, an antigen is 3-D structure to which an antibody specifically binds. It is most usually a structure on the surface of a virus or bacteria. By introduction of an antigen (either attenuated live strain sans infectivity or bound to inert particles) in the process of immunization, clinically sufficient numbers of specific antibodies (of which I understand there are something in the order of 100,000,000 individual types) which will selectively bind to such antigen, and therefore the cell of a foreign organism priming it for destruction by the myriad elements of the immune system, are stimulated to develop.

So test subjects don't develop antigens as you suggest, they develop (or rather, the numbers increase by some orders of magnitude) antibodies to antigens. Also, it's double-blind.

Please ensure your proper grasp of terminology before peddling crazy. Crazy has been demonstrated in numerous triple-seeing tests to be more palatable to the populace when laced with elements of scientific believablility, believe it or not.
posted by peacay at 3:40 AM on July 13, 2005


contracting measles gives true life-long immunity

Not so. I'm pretty sure I've had measles twice.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:43 AM on July 13, 2005


the measles virus is airborne and thus dealt with by the body's immune defenses in the respiratory tract. The vaccine shot bypasses the respiratory mechanism and is injected straight into the blood.

I'm not sure what you're suggesting here - the immune system does not attack airborne viruses in the air of the throat or lungs, the virus has to enter the body first. Once it has entered the body (presumably through the bloodstream's gas-exchange membrane in the lungs, if it's respiratory as you suggest), then, as with the vaccine which has been injected into the body, it is dealt with via the same mechanism in both cases.

The higher effectiveness of measles for creating measles immunity seems neither surprising nor significant to me. Again, I'm not sure what you're seeing in this. An (over-simplistic) analogy would be lower dose = less effect. If your issue with vaccines is that you would prefer them to be nastier rather than require a booster a decade or so later, then that's your perogative and fair enough, (though those values would likely be in the minority)
posted by -harlequin- at 4:01 AM on July 13, 2005


That whale.to site is the most fascinatingly wrong headed collection of crap I've seen in days.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 4:08 AM on July 13, 2005


So test subjects don't develop antigens as you suggest, they develop (or rather, the numbers increase by some orders of magnitude) antibodies to antigens. Also, it's double-blind.

Thank you peacay for the terminology correction. Pulling an all-nighter at work so fuzzy-headed.

So the test subjects develop the desired antibodies, and this is the test for efficacy of the vaccine. But does the presence of the antibody mean immunity is present? That's the part (to me) that requires the leap of faith. The big assumption.

If anyone has a link to a published, peer-reviewed, double-blinded study demonstrating that immunity is gained in the test subjects by the administration of a given vaccine, please post it.

Without this data, we're doing nothing but giving opinions or repeating drug marketing spin (which is where physicians get most of their info about drugs, so it's not surprising we'd repeat it).
posted by Bradley at 4:11 AM on July 13, 2005


You have seen here excellent examples of both the science and the bushwa that accompanies the issue.

My preference is to get my medical information from doctors. A good idea is to get opinions from more than one if you are unsure. A doctor will tell you something similar to what grouse said: The risk of dying from these diseases is so many times higher than even the alleged risks of the vaccines, it's not even funny.

If, like Bradley, you demand a written guarantee from a doctor that there will be no complications, you will not get it. No doctor worth his salt will ever guarantee that there will be no complications. Medicine is the art of assisting the natural interaction between man and nature, and both have so many differences and variables that doctors can make decisions based only on probabilities, not certainties.

On these matters, doctors know more than I, so I tend to listen to them.
posted by yclipse at 4:27 AM on July 13, 2005


If I ever find a doctor who will sign a contract with me guaranteeing that a given vaccination will provide my child immunity to the proposed disease without causing him any harm, I'll reconsider my opinion about vaccinations.

You should get a written contract from every pilot, bus or taxi driver, or friend with a car, ensuring your absolute safety on any voyage. Why, it'd be foolish to involve yourself in transport without such a guarantee!

If anyone has a link to a published, peer-reviewed, double-blinded study demonstrating that immunity is gained in the test subjects by the administration of a given vaccine, please post it.

If you can't see why a double blind test won't work in this situation, then you've misunderstood double blind tests. You would have to follow up the vaccinations (with real vaccine and placebos) by attempting to infect every recipient with the disease. I see minor ethical issues with this.
posted by tomble at 4:34 AM on July 13, 2005 [1 favorite]


I am fully in favor of vaccinations as part of our social contract"
posted by gaspode at 4:52 AM on July 13, 2005


So the test subjects develop the desired antibodies, and this is the test for efficacy of the vaccine.

Bzzzt, wrong!

But does the presence of the antibody mean immunity is present? That's the part (to me) that requires the leap of faith. The big assumption.

There's no leap of faith, because this is a strawman. No one besides you claims that immunogenicity on its own makes a vaccine effective. There are two stages of clinical vaccine testing—immunogenicity testing and efficacy testing. There is no point in doing the latter if the vaccine doesn't elicit an antibody response, so you will freqeuntly see immunogenicity trials first.

Go to PubMed and search for <vaccine efficacy "double blind"> and you'll find hundreds of the trials you imply don't exist.

Without this data, we're doing nothing but giving opinions or repeating drug marketing spin...

Bradley, you are doing nothing but giving your opinion and repeating ill-informed anti-vaccine tinfoil-hattery. While demanding data from those who disagree with you, all you have to offer are ad hominem attacks against the CDC and seriously misinformed science. If you want to have an informed debate on this, you should go inform yourself first; then we'll talk.
posted by grouse at 4:53 AM on July 13, 2005 [1 favorite]


I'd like to point out that the infant mortality rates quoted above show that the difference between the US and Singapore (the country with the lowest rate) is only 4.21 deaths per 1,000 live births. That doesn't seem like such a huge difference to me. Another way to look at this is to compare our rate to the world average (50.11 deaths/1000 live births). Our rate is only 13% that of the world average.

Sure, there's plenty of room for improvement, but an indictment of our entire medical system? I just can't see it.

Additionally, several multi-state entities are included on the list despite the inclusion of all their member states. Ex: United Kingdom and the European Union. It seems to me that we should look at one or the other in order to get a clearer picture of the comparisons we are trying to make.

And it all boils down to this: I'm not sure how all of this can be used to show that our medical system is a "joke".
posted by Irontom at 5:33 AM on July 13, 2005


I dealt with this just last week prior to our son's scheduled 2-month vaccinations. I'm generally skeptical regarding the whole health care juggernaut in the U.S. and worry that it is driven by profit, and not our best interests. In addition to that, there are many gut-wrenching personal stories out there of parents who report watching their children turn from happy and personable to cold and unresponsive overnight after getting their vaccinations.

I spent a great deal of time researching the issue, talking to friends and talking to our doctor. The Wiki entry on the "Vaccine Controversy" was a good jumping off point for Web info.

In the end, I decided to go ahead and vaccinate. I think it was probably this article, Vaccine myths and why they are dangerous, that swayed my opinion in the end. I also feel there is validity to the "social contract" argument, as mentioned by gaspode above.
posted by Otis at 5:54 AM on July 13, 2005


The system of vaccinations produces the most good for the most people by eliminating or nearly eliminating these sometimes deadly diseases from the population. As stated above, the risk to any individual baby from vaccination is extremely low. You can eliminate that risk, without real serious fear of the disease by failing vaccinate and your baby will be protected from contact with the disease by all of the other people who did vaccinate. (There are some babies that get reactions, usually minor, to vaccines, especially whooping cough. They don't complete the course of vaccination and hopefully avoid the disease because of other's vaccinations. The newer vaccines make this much less common.) You can selfishly choose to protect your own child by relying on the good deeds of others while avoiding vaccination. I hope you can see the immorality of such a decision. You also put your child at risk of these horrible diseases, which if caught might be karmic. Have you ever watched a baby struggling for air because of whooping cough? Scary. Also, are you into home schooling? Good luck getting junior into school without the shots. Do the right thing.
posted by caddis at 6:06 AM on July 13, 2005


you are injecting live virus into your child--which isn't 100% without risk

Even the "live" vaccines are attenuated, which significantly reduces the risk, and not all vaccines are "live". More information, as always, is here.
posted by odinsdream at 6:11 AM on July 13, 2005


I think the benefits of vaccination far out weight any risks.

I'm late 30's. Rubella inoculation were just coming in when I was a child, not everyone got them. The normal boy next door to us caught rubella when he was six. He has an IQ of 60 now. Likewise, there was no mumps vaccine thirty years ago: my best friend growing up is deaf in his left ear as a result.

Neither of these diseases are as common as they were thirty years ago, but still, people worked hard to get rid of these diseases for very good reasons. There are substantial risks with not vaccinating, risks that are much higher than many of the presumed risks of the vaccines.
posted by bonehead at 6:16 AM on July 13, 2005


there are many gut-wrenching personal stories out there of parents who report watching their children turn from happy and personable to cold and unresponsive overnight after getting their vaccinations.

We are human and I am aware that this kind of anecdote is quite persuasive, regardless of the rationality of it. It is clear to me now that what vaccine advocates need to be even more persuasive is an archive of gut-wrenching personal stories from parents who report watching their children turn from happy and personable to cold and dead after not getting vaccinations.

Thankfully, most in the West get these vaccinations and so most children are either immune themselves or protected by herd immunity, so it is harder to find these sorts of stories. But it wouldn't be too hard to find them in poorer parts of the world.
posted by grouse at 6:16 AM on July 13, 2005


I'm sure Bradley feels that s/he has good reasons for his/her stated opinion, but please, don't listen. You will not get a doctor to "sign something stating that your child will have 100% immunity and no side effects", and for good reason - there are, unfortunately, some risks in getting vaccinated. For the forseeable future, there will be some risks. Doctors are very unlikely to be able to tell beforehand whether your child is one who will react badly, and making something that works perfectly in every single human is pretty much impossible. However, the risks of not getting vaccinated are much, much greater, as grouse says. Furthermore, if you leave your child unvaccinated, you're putting other families' children at risk. Check out this SF Gate article on whooping cough. Parents decide to avoid vaccination because of a 1/2000ish risk of mild seizures, and instead let their children be unprotected against a disease with a 1/200 death rate. With a disease like whooping cough, older children aren't as affected by its symptoms, but they're still very capable of passing it on to unprotected younger children.

Not getting vaccinated works on the assumption that everyone else's children will get vaccinated, leaving yours safe. However, many people these days spout the same uninformed stuff that Bradley's been saying, or harp on thimerosal [despite the fact that even after many peer-reviewed studies in many countries, no solid link between autism and thimerosal-containing vaccines has been found], and they decide not to get their kids vaccinated. As a result, disease rates climb, putting those children in danger, and risking other unvaccinated kids [even if those kids don't get the disease themselves.] This is particularly unfair to kids like pecay's nephew, who for one reason or another can't get vaccinated.

Ask your doctor or pediatrician to go through the literature with you if you have doubts, but it all boils down to this: the risks of not getting vaccinated are much greater than the risks of getting vaccinated. Your unvaccinated child will also put others' children at risk. Vaccinate.
posted by ubersturm at 6:22 AM on July 13, 2005


Without a vaccination programme, many children will catch measles, whooping cough, polio (should it re-appear) etc. Most will recover but a significant proportion will have lasting effects (measles encephalitis, anyone?).

With a vaccination programme in place, if you choose not to vaccinate your child, then your child will be protected from the above diseases - but ONLY if your child is the only one not to be vaccinated. So it would be in your interests in this case to have all other parents vaccinate their child.

With a vaccination programme in place, and if you vaccinate your child, then there is a small risk of complication associated with vaccination (as with any medical procedure) but even if he/she can't complete the course, your child will benefit from 'herd immunity' to the harmful diseases mentioned above.

On preview, much as caddis and ubersturm said above, really. It can't be emphasised enough what a harmful disease measles can be.
posted by altolinguistic at 6:35 AM on July 13, 2005


Why shouldn't I vaccinate my two-month old?

I'm not saying you should or should not vaccinate your child. I look at each vaccine individually, and the weigh the history and benefit of each vaccine.

In any case, you definitely do not have to start a vaccination regimen at two months of age, especially if your child is not in daycare or other social settings. In many countries, vaccinations are given later and more slowly and generally individually. I think there is good reason to make sure your child gets no more than one vaccine every 2 months. A decent doctor will work with you to plan a vaccination regimen you are both comfortable with.

And I agree that the True Believers of Science are as annoying, irrational, and self-righteous as religious fundamentalists. A scientific world-view is beneficial, but the True Believers forget or ignore the fact that theories evolve all the time. To think that we know the full ramifications of mass vaccination on human health and evolution after 200 years of use is short-sighted. The unknown consequences are just that, unknown.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:59 AM on July 13, 2005


mathowie,

According to this article:

Mice that are briefly stressed out before receiving a vaccine develop a better immune response than mice under no psychological stress, a new study reveals. This advantageous immunity persists for at least nine months - a good chunk of a mouse lifespan - and is likely to arise because an acutely stressed immune system develops better memories for foreign invaders, the study’s authors suggest.


Of course, in humans, long term stress supresses the immune system and they're still arguing about whether short term stress boosts the immune system like in the experiment.
posted by Arthur Dent at 7:14 AM on July 13, 2005


This has been AskMe'd before - click to read the same contentious arguments done 5 months ago.

If I ever find a doctor who will sign a contract with me guaranteeing that a given vaccination will provide my child immunity to the proposed disease without causing him any harm, I'll reconsider my opinion about vaccinations.

Would you like fries with that? How about a pony? Thank you, drive through.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:20 AM on July 13, 2005


If you believe that nature, and human evolution over millions of years, is completely incapable and basically wrong... then get your kid vaccinated

Jesus Christ. Yeah, and don't have an OB-Gyn deliver the baby, don't get your kid glasses, turn off that computer immediately and have the electricity shut off, stop cooking your food, and if the kid gets sick, feed her herbal tonics, but don't you dare go back to that pediatrician for help. You get the point.

For a list of the lies told by anti-vaccination zealots, and why they are wrong, and a guide to how to spot these lunatics in a crowd, check out this.

People who don't have their children vaccinated are a) sociopathic and b) very, very selfish.
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:29 AM on July 13, 2005


The only reason some people CONSIDER not vaccinating their child is that most parents do the responsible thing and vaccinate, so we aren't faced with the daily horrors or reading about measles epidemics, or knowing somebody's who's child is very ill with diseases that are easily preventable. This is one of those areas where you have to look at the big picture.
posted by lucien at 7:29 AM on July 13, 2005


The responses from Otis and McGuillicuddy are polite, helpful answers to a difficult question.

A handful of others in this thread have provided excellent arguments for vaccination, but the rest of you seem to think it's enough to accuse non-vaccinators of being ignorant nutjobs and tinfoil-hat wackos. This is not as simple as "science" versus "bushwa" and it won't kill you to be respectful toward those who think doctors are not gods.

My anecdote: as an infant, I had the first round of vaccinations and became violently ill for several days. My parents decided not to finish the vaccinations. Before starting college, I had the MMR and tetanus vaccinations and did not suffer any serious side effects.

On preview, millions of babies are born each year without the help of an OB-GYN. And "herbal tonics" are still a huge component of modern medicine, such as the mayapple toxins that are commonly used in chemotherapy. And... sociopaths? What the hell?
posted by naomi at 7:51 AM on July 13, 2005


If your child is unwanted, you could skip the vaccines and hope for the worst. Otherwise, I'd get the vaccinations.
posted by malp at 7:54 AM on July 13, 2005


And I agree that the True Believers of Science are as annoying, irrational, and self-righteous as religious fundamentalists. A scientific world-view is beneficial, but the True Believers forget or ignore the fact that theories evolve all the time. To think that we know the full ramifications of mass vaccination on human health and evolution after 200 years of use is short-sighted. The unknown consequences are just that, unknown.

This strawman needs to be put to rest. Nobody thinks they know the full ramifications of anything. There is one group that is carefully weighing the evidence on both sides, and another who props up their presuppositions with half-baked anecdotes and scant studies that they are not trained to evaluate. The vast preponderance of evidence thus far is that the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks, and it isn't just a handful of studies. This is an incredibly well studied subject, one of the most well-studied in epidemiology. So you have three choices: a) not to believe anything about anything because "theories evolve;" b) to believe (with a grain of salt) the results of a large number of studies; c) to believe the opposite of the findings in those studies despite a lack of evidence to that effect at this time.

And Bradley, I'm sure you're also aware of the contentious debate revolving around skydiving. As yet there isn't a single double-blind prospective placebo-controlled study to evaluate the effects of skydiving without a parachute. So next time you're in a plane and feel like you need some air, by all means ignore the naysayers.
posted by drpynchon at 8:02 AM on July 13, 2005 [1 favorite]


On preview, millions of babies are born each year without the help of an OB-GYN. And "herbal tonics" are still a huge component of modern medicine, such as the mayapple toxins that are commonly used in chemotherapy. And... sociopaths? What the hell?

Sociopaths. You heard me. And your examples of babies born without Ob-Gyns and the modern use of herbal tonics do not refute my argument, which was itself a refutation of the utterly specious argument that "nature" or "evolution" provided all the immunity we need and vaccination somehow interferes with Goddess's plan. OK, fine. So do all medical interventions, all technologies that extend or improve human life, etc.

When you don't vaccinate your kid, you are counting on the rest of us to provide herd immunity behind which you shield your own brood without contributing (and yes, taking a tiny amount of personal risk for a great collective benefit) to the shared effort. If *everyone* (and not just religious zealots and science-ignorant hippies) stopped vaccinating their kids, we'd be in a heap of trouble, very fast. The very definition of a sociopath: it's all about you, and everyone else is just a tool for your use.

Yes, I feel strongly about this. If you really think so poorly of modern medical science, then I hope you're not a hypocrite, and when you get injured or sick, you take care of yourself. Otherwise, health is a morally social issue, as most of us recognize for vast swaths of our everyday conduct. And life involves risk and risk management. If all the no-vaccination folks will simply move to their own private island, fine with me.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:08 AM on July 13, 2005


link to pdf story about a rare debilitating syndrome that is vaccine related. Article talks about the other options
posted by mrs.pants at 8:16 AM on July 13, 2005


Please vaccinate your child. It's possible to find thimerosal-free vaccines; ask your physician for help. Many companies, including Aventis (Sanofi) are producing thimerosal-free vaccines--not because there has ever been any conclusive evidence of a link between autism and vaccination, but because the precautionary principle dictates that any potential toxin should be eliminated if possible.

The autism/vaccination alleged link is an increasingly popular topic with many groups, though I think it's fascinating that so few of them also take on more likely environmental factors for disease: a polluted natural environment, flame retardants in our plastic packaging, fish filled with mercury and other known neurotoxins, etc. Yes, babies are increasingly being born with neurological disorders, and environmental factors are a contributor to this trend. But there are so many pathways for neurotoxins into a developing brain that blaming an injection is too simple. If the link were clear, the numbers would bear this out. They just don't.

In fact, thimerosal is a different sort of mercury than the one linked to neurological disorders in humans. Does that make it necessary safe? Absolutely not. But its potential risk is so much less than not vaccinating a child from known, prevalent, preventable and deadly transmissible diseases. Mothers get hooked on this question because they wonder if they'll have a lifetime of regret if they vaccinate and their child develops a disorder. It's fair to worry. But consider the regret you'd feel at losing your child to a preventable disease like measles.
posted by hamster at 8:23 AM on July 13, 2005


I'm pretty confident that won't happen, since there's never been a single published, peer-reviewed, double-blinded study (the gold standard for research in all other scientific fields except vaccines, apparently) demonstrating true immunity along with safety. If anyone has a link to such a study, please link it because the world is waiting.

1 2 3 4, and that was just from a quick search. It's true that many (not all, as shown here) vaccine studies use immunogenicity rather than the actual disease as the measured outcome, largely because the former can be measured after a few weeks, while the latter takes years.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:29 AM on July 13, 2005


Vaccination is not all-or-nothing. You can choose to delay vaccinations, especially if your child won't be in day care as an infant. In this case, you would not be endangering anyone else's children, and your child will be much less at risk.

You can elect to receive some vaccines and not others. After a lot of research, my partner and I have decided that our child WILL receive ALL vaccinations on the recommended schedule, with a few exceptions.

NO Hep B until absolutely necessary (for example, to enter school). No chickenpox vaccine, nor flu shots, which are now officially recommended as part of a child's vaccination schedule.

These are all relatively new additions; I'm guessing no one reading this got any of these vaccinations when they were children. I have never known anyone who has ever died from any of these 3 diseases. And yes, OF COURSE it does happen. Do you have stairs or a bathtub in your house? These two things are far more likely to kill your child.
posted by peep at 8:41 AM on July 13, 2005


Naomi, McGuillicudy, et al: Anyone who takes science on faith is going about the whole thing wrong. Pretty much everyone supporting vaccination here is not doing so because "it is Science and therefore right" or because "anti-vaccination people are krazy!!1!!" but rather because "there have been a lot of experiments done on the topic, and they pretty much universally support the fact that, on average, the risks of getting vaccinated, though present, are much smaller than the risks presented by the illnesses." There's a big difference between those positions; I hope you can see it. Sure, doctors aren't God, but speaking as someone who does scientific research, doctors and scientists are in general much better able to interpret research and evaluate medical risk than laymen [and the journalists who report discoveries to laymen.] Laymen simply lack the background to make an informed decision. "I read an article in Salon saying thimerosal is bad" isn't good enough; for a well-informed decision you have to either be capable of reading and understanding the actual scientific literature yourself or get it explained to you directly by someone who does have that capability. Most articles I see written on scientific research in newspapers or popular magazines are at best gross oversimplifications and at worst downright wrong. Anecdotes are all well and good, but if I had a child, I'd want facts and numbers, not stories and feelings. Scientific papers provide those facts; the anti-vaccination crowd relies too heavily on paranoia about government and health care, anecdotes about kids who got sick around the time they got vaccinated, and a general conviction that natural is better. Nutjobs? No, but certainly not well-informed, and certainly making decisions that affect the rest of the nation by increasing disease rates and infecting other peoples' children.

No health care system is perfect, and the American system is less so than most 1st world countries [although mortality and illness rates are skewed by the number of people with no health care at all], but even as things stand right now, evidence overwhelmingly supports vaccination. Furthermore, research continues to occur to make vaccination safer and more effective. Anonymous, please talk to your doctor or pediatrician about your doubts and concerns. Ask them to go over the literature with you, ask about the timing of vaccinations, , ask about whether some of the newer vaccines [against flu, for example, or chicekn pox] are necessary, but don't reject vaccination out of hand "because it isn't natural" or "because it is harmful to children." Your health nut friend is almost certainly not anywhere near as knowledgeable about the science behind vaccinations as your doctor.

naomi: Sure, naturally occuring things are sources of medicines - but the difference is that when you take a 'natural remedy', you're often taking something in a very imprecise amount, mixed with zillions of other compounds that may or may not also physically affect you. When the effective compound has been isolated and studied, scientists and doctors can figure out exactly how much is needed, what side effects there are, etc. Science takes what's natural and improves on it - after all, that's how the smallpox vaccine was discovered.
posted by ubersturm at 8:47 AM on July 13, 2005


Because the flu vaccine is of such dubious efficacy, I would have to agree with peep on that one. I would be curious to hear more of peep's reasoning on the Hepatatis B and varicella vaccines.
posted by grouse at 8:50 AM on July 13, 2005


An infant in a first world country is not at reasonable risk for Hepatitis B. "Why not just get vaccinated for everything possible?" I don't know, that's just not my attitude. Why give unnecessary vaccines? If I thought my child was at risk, we would get it. If I thought I was at risk, I would get a Hep B vaccine. But I'm not, so I don't.

Chickenpox is much better tolerated in childhood than adulthood, especially late adulthood. And even though the vaccine is somewhat new, there is already evidence that the varicella vaccine offers a limited time of immunity from the disease. I'd rather have my child contract chickenpox, as I did, as all my cohorts did, and have a lifetime of immunity.
posted by peep at 9:07 AM on July 13, 2005


A few people here have quoted the United States infant mortality rate. The rate is high because doctors bring to term pregnancies that might otherwise become miscarrages under different health care systems.
posted by gaelenh at 9:27 AM on July 13, 2005


Wow... some of you people upthread need to unclench.

I did not say that Bradley is correct in his assumptions about vaccines. I merely wanted to make the point that calling people sociopaths and nutjobs (not to mention "science-ignorant hippies" and "religious zealots") does absolutely nothing to help them understand or accept the points you are trying to make.
posted by naomi at 9:28 AM on July 13, 2005


My point is only that mass vaccination can be seen as a relatively recent biology experiment. While the short-term consequences of the experiment are generally agreed upon, the long-term results are really just starting to come in for the oldest vaccines. With smallpox a WMD and multi-drug resistant viruses rampant in some populations, we understand a lot better today than we did fifty years ago that many biological arms races will have unintended consequences. Whether we'll like those consequences in 50 years remains to be seen.

At the very least, it is exceptionally rude to castigate anyone who would opt out of the experiment. They are effectively choosing to play the game of chance that every living human played prior to 200 year ago. Personally, I'm glad some make that choice because they are a control group, and just might survive the unforeseen affliction that kills off the vaccinated masses. But my children are vaccinated about like peeps.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 9:43 AM on July 13, 2005


Personally, I'm glad some make that choice because they are a control group, and just might survive the unforeseen affliction that kills off the vaccinated masses.

It sounds like you're saying that vaccinated individuals will have a greater chance of catching some sort of super-germ than the unvaccinated. Do you have anything to back this up or is this some sort of hunch?
posted by bshort at 9:49 AM on July 13, 2005


I didn't know that the chicken pox vaccine was routinely offered - here in the UK, as far as I know it's given to children who would be at risk of complications if they get chicken pox - immunocompromised children, for example. Immunocompromised adults, too, if they haven't had chicken pox already.

Interesting question, though - where to draw the line, and which diseases are dangerous enough to warrant universal vaccination?
posted by altolinguistic at 10:04 AM on July 13, 2005


The risk of not getting vaccinations is death of your child, and manslaughter due to the irresponsible parents that put their religion over their lives. Give the child the vaccinations. It's important for the child *and* everyone else to prevent this sort of tragedy.
posted by shepd at 10:07 AM on July 13, 2005


/unclenches
/reclenches
millions of babies are born each year without the help of an OB-GYN

Specifying only the US and Europe, "millions" is vague, assuming you mean deliveries assisted only by LPNs and CNMs. I think for the last couple of years in the US the number is well under half a million. Maybe with Scandanavia thrown in it might get to a couple of million total in the west. But beyond the delivery, would it not be considered nearly criminal in this day and age for any pregnant woman in a modern society not to see a doctor *while* pregnant? Thus my point stands. When you have a delivery by a certified midwife in the US, a doctor always stands somewhere behind the practice. One of my most amusing experiences of recent years was touring a "natural birth" facility at an upscale New York hospital. The CNM leading the tour, when asked about what the procedure was for emergencies, sheepishly slid a painting of flowers on the wall to the side and revealed an arsenal of high tech fetal monitors, oxygen tanks, etc. Then she admitted, "if things go wrong, you go right upstairs to the regular delivery rooms." A whole lot of the anti-modern-medicine discourse reminds me of this. This would not be an issue if any of us had any first hand experience with epidemics of preventable childhood diseases.

/unclenches again

I'm sorry if I sounded too testy above. This is an issue on which I have found it impossible in the past to have a reasoned dialogue, and perhaps I am as much a zealot as those I oppose. Extremism in defense of reason, to paraphrase a certain Arizonan, is to my mind no vice. But I know it can be infuriating.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:38 AM on July 13, 2005


bshort - I'm not saying there is a greater chance that vaccination will leave us susceptible to a future disease, but I am saying that such a chance exists. A current example is the uncertainity concerning the long-term effectiveness and effect of the varicella vaccine on chickenpox and shingles. Likewise, the effect of the flu on a child's developing immune system is still mysterious enough to suggest that maybe we should not prevent our little tykes from ever catching the flu. Then again, maybe we should. Nobody really knows yet.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 10:44 AM on July 13, 2005


At the very least, it is exceptionally rude to castigate anyone who would opt out of the experiment. They are effectively choosing to play the game of chance that every living human played prior to 200 year ago. Personally, I'm glad some make that choice because they are a control group, and just might survive the unforeseen affliction that kills off the vaccinated masses. But my children are vaccinated about like peeps.

I'm sorry Bradley but you continue to come at this from an uninformed position. In a sense, people SHOULD castigate anyone who opt's out of vaccination because vaccination as a health measure is a GROUP decision, and not an individual one. I know you're probably enamoured with your false sense of autonomy, but vaccines function in a population through herd immunity. Once we drop below a fairly high threshold you see outbreaks, and the people responsible for these outbreaks are those who don't get vaccinated.

From your perspective virtually all of modern day medicine is an experiment, and in a sense you are right. Many treatments aren't well-studied beyond say 5 or 10 years. But even comparing the known short-term risks of non-vaccination (like subacute sclerosing panencephalitis from measles or whooping cough) to the anecdotal and unsubstantiated risk of things like autism and IBD, the decision remains clear.

In certain cases it's true that vaccination may neither be cost-effective or indicated. People mention chicken pox and Hepatitis. But the "medical establishment" is well aware of this, and usually the recommendations on most of these vaccines aren't nearly as universal or far-reaching. These are new vaccine, and I wouldn't blame someone in a non-endemic area from defering their use. But things like the MMR and DTaP are far better studied, over a much longer period.

This is why like it or not, appeals to authority are a necessity in these debates. The literature is highly-dense, highly-specialized, and requires a substantial understanding of methodology and statistics to evaluate -- more than the mass media can provide. If this makes you uncomfortable, and you are unwilling to defer to someone else's expertise, then I suggest getting some/more training on the subject.
posted by drpynchon at 10:57 AM on July 13, 2005


Sorry, I mean McGuil, not Bradley..
posted by drpynchon at 10:58 AM on July 13, 2005


A current example is the uncertainity concerning the long-term effectiveness and effect of the varicella vaccine on chickenpox and shingles

Well, there is no question that the immunity from varicella vaccine isn't perfect, but the chance of fatal consequences, i.e. varicella pneumonia, is much lower.

As for your earlier assertion that spacing out vaccines is a good idea, unfortunately what seems intuitively sensible is patently moronic. Your perfect newborn will have, on average, no significant level of protective maternal antibodies after the first 6-9 months, unless newer studies have found otherwise, hence the rationale for early initiation of vaccines.

I have to say I'm really, really heartened by the general sentiment here, that people are willing to swallow their uncertainty and fears and take a step toward protecting the most important part of their lives. I am always welcoming of a discussion about the merits of vaccines with patients, and even work to accomodate different schedules, etc., but ultimately, if someone decides against it for the reasons outlined above, I think it's unforgiveable abuse. Should one opt out of vaccinating and the worst befalls their offspring there is nothing but their own stupidity to blame.
posted by docpops at 11:15 AM on July 13, 2005


It is telling that the True Believers use epithets like "uninformed", "moronic" and "sociopathic" to bolster their argument. It is astonishingly uninformed to blindly guess how knowledgeable others are about a topic based on the fact that they suggest that the US medical establishment may not perfectly understand the long-term effects or optimal administration of mass vaccinations. Particularly when you admit as much yourself. Your suggestion that everyone must take part in this grand experiment because you view yourself as a member of a herd is downright Mengeleian. My body, my decision.

The European country where my daughter received most of her vaccinations routinely administers vaccines both later and over a longer interval than in the US. But obviously all those foreign doctors are moronic and uniformed sociopaths.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 12:36 PM on July 13, 2005


Standard european vaccine schedules are fairly similar to the US - specifically as they pertain to diphtheria, tetanus, hemophilus b, pertussis, and measles, being focussed into the first 6 months to two years. There are severe compliance drop-offs noted when schedules are spread out, unfortunately. You simply cannot get most parents to return for monthly appointments over two years in order to space vaccines out. Nor, frankly, would one make a policy out of something that has no sensible merit and only inflates overhead and personnel costs. On an individual basis, though, it can be sensible.

McG, I'm not sure whether to laugh or choke on my sandwich when I read your words..."My body, my decision". This thread isn't about the bodies of autonomous adults, it is about the safety and health of persons dependent on the good sense of those adults to make mature and difficult decisions for them.

Oh, and referring to vaccine advocates as "True Believers" makes you sound like an idiot.
posted by docpops at 12:46 PM on July 13, 2005


Bradley writes "If anyone has a link to a published, peer-reviewed, double-blinded study demonstrating that immunity is gained in the test subjects by the administration of a given vaccine, please post it.

"Without this data, we're doing nothing but giving opinions or repeating drug marketing spin (which is where physicians get most of their info about drugs, so it's not surprising we'd repeat it)."


Smallpox.

'I will not take the thing from your hand.'
posted by Mitheral at 12:47 PM on July 13, 2005


docpops - I wouldn't call all advocates for vaccination "True Believers", only those who don't admit there is much still to be learned about the short and long term effects of mass vaccination. But calling folks that disagree with you about the complex and conflicting interpretations of studies on dosing intervals an "idiot" certainly would mark you as a True Believer.

It is true European vaccine schedules are similar to US schedules, but at least where I lived, they didn't start at 2 months old. As I stated, they started later and were administered over a longer interval. The first two US pediatricians we saw after moving to the US were incredulous after reviewing our daughters records. We wrote those quacks off immediately and found doctors who understand the controversy, were receptive to validity of European healthcare practices, and aren't just reciting what the pharmaceutical salesperson's literature states.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 1:17 PM on July 13, 2005


I distrust the medical establishment. I accept 100% responsibility for my health and my family's. I believe that nutrition, hygiene, and beliefs impact health much more than synthetic chemicals ever can. In my mind there have been too many "oops" moments over the years where procedures/treatments that were once considered helpful turned out to be harmful. Therefore I'm skeptical.

My wife and I don't use medical doctors, and haven't taken any medicines for 15 years. Drugs treat symptoms...they offer no cures. I do use orthopedic surgeons to set bones when needed, and get my teeth cleaned at the dentist, but other than that prefer alternative therapies to mainstream ones. I don't feel that the practices of medicine, including for example the rampant overuse of antibiotics, have society's best interests at heart. I had a nasty cold a few weeks ago, and it never occurred to me to go to a doctor. I ate lots of veggies, slept several extra hours per night, and made some changes in the way I'd been thinking about and stressing myself about a couple of situations and relationships. Felt better in a few days, and no symptom-alleviating pills were required.

We live as naturally as possible in general. For example my wife does not view pregnancy/birth as a "medical condition" (it only became marketed as such around 1920 when the medical establishment decided they could profit from it, but thankfully she never bought into that belief) so we never considered medical "Prenatal sCare". She ate well, exercised, got lots of sleep, and had a relaxing empowering birth at home in the privacy of our bedroom. No drama or trauma. She sees birth as private and sexual, as much so as conception. And to those who say "what about the risks!?", if you don't need an expert to help conceive a baby, why should you need an expert to relax and let it come out when the baby decides it's time? My wife described it as a "king sized dump"...a natural bodily process best performed in relaxed privacy. And that peaceful moment of cuddling my limp blue son as he first opened his eyes, looked at me, sneezed to clear his airway and took his first breath was worth any purported risk. (Only 3-5% of births worldwide have any "complications", usually with mothers who are already unhealthy for any number or reasons, but you'll never hear that stat from your OB).

And my son is happy and healthy despite having never seen a pediatrician. He's had one runny nose that lasted one weekend. He's of course uncircumcised (I see no difference between circumcision and clitorectomies). He'll be exclusively breastfed until at least 18 months old and fully weaned much later (despite CULTural pressure and marketing by formula/drug companies). He'll sleep with us until he decides he doesn't want to anymore and will otherwise be in contact with us or in our presence 24/7 (despite others claiming it will "spoil" him). He'll be homeschooled (or "unschooled"...we haven't yet decided). And my beliefs and interest in giving him The Best would never allow me to subject him to vaccination experiments, no matter how many labels of "sociopathic" or "nutcase" or "immoral" are thrown about by those whose beliefs are more mainstream.

For the doctors in the crowd who may be drug company dependent: No Free Lunch.

A couple of final links for those still undecided about whether/when to vaccinate their child:

Doctors Against Vaccines

A User-Friendly Vaccination Schedule
posted by Bradley at 1:34 PM on July 13, 2005


Many companies, including Aventis (Sanofi) are producing thimerosal-free vaccines--not because there has ever been any conclusive evidence of a link between autism and vaccination, but because the precautionary principle dictates that any potential toxin should be eliminated if possible.

Another reason is that there are people out there that are allergic to thimerosal, which in addition to vaccines, is also a component of many contact-lens solutions (which is how the allergy is often discovered). For people with such an
allergy, vaccinations are much more likely to cause complications if thimerosal is used as a preservative.
posted by gwenzel at 1:36 PM on July 13, 2005


Bradley:

You. are. adorable.
posted by docpops at 2:00 PM on July 13, 2005


When I was going to school (1970s & '80s, Southern California), proof of immunizations were required as part of registering.
posted by deborah at 2:05 PM on July 13, 2005


McG, you demonstrate your own mis- or uninformed opinions whether you realize it or not. As noted, there isn't a great deal of variance on the recommendations for the main vaccines in developed countries, and if there is, it often depends more on varying epidemiology, access to care, access to vaccines, and generally small differences over optimal scheduling.

This is simply not nearly as complex and multifaceted a "debate" as you try to make it out to be, and for that, you are being disingenuous, and doing a disservice to others who are trying to learn more about the issue. You also do a tremendous disservice and are frankly insulting in suggesting that doctors somehow profit from vaccinations. I assure you that as a whole treating patients who actually develop complications from these diseases would be far more expensive than vaccinating the general population.

And it's no more Mengelian than following traffic signs. It's how society's function with implicit social contracts. It's why you get taken to jail when you break a law. There's nothing inherently natural about any of it, but again despite your imagined autonomy, you are still a subject of your government unless you live in an anarchist state I'm not aware of. Here and in most places, vaccination programs are not mandated as such, primarily because the programs are successful. Fortunately, you won't get a real feeling for your lack of autonomy until you're in the middle of a smallpox outbreak. The options then will be quarantine or vaccination; opting out will not be looked upon kindly, assuming it's even possible.

Also Bradley, while I'm happy that everyone in the ole fam is doing well, and your pregnancy was without complications, I might remind you that if your wife developed eclampsia, the outcome might not have been so charming. It's a good thing she doesn't have HIV (or does she? I guess we won't know until it's too late), since no herbal remedy would cut down on the risk of vertical transmission. Thank goodness she didn't deliver 10 weeks premature, or else without a neonatal ICU Bradley Jr. wouldn't be around right now. Glad she didn't happen to have a blood vessel obstructing her cervix, since I'm not sure what the homeopathic solution for pulsatile, squirting, arterial blood is...

It's cute that you don't like antibiotics, but guess what: you've never needed them, and no doctor should be giving them to you for a cold anyway. In the last month I've seen probably a 100 patients all of whom had bacteria growing in their blood, and were septic. Without antibiotics they would be dead, as were the tens of millions of people who died young before we discovered penicillin.

I could go on and on and on. I don't have the energy to fish for the remarkable and self-explanatory trends in infant, neonatal, and pregnancy related mortality over the last century, and frankly I don't think it's necessary. If your world view doesn't allow for common sense, then you're entitled to treat your health as you wish. But again, when it comes to vaccination, you're doing the rest of us a great disservice.
posted by drpynchon at 2:11 PM on July 13, 2005


it only became marketed as such around 1920 when the medical establishment decided they could profit from it

Yeah, that's all it is, a profit making scheme. Those evil doctors.

US Infant Mortality Rate by Year, Since 1915

US Maternal Mortality Rate by Year, Since 1915

Funny how "since 1920" both rates have dropped precipitously.
/washes hands thorougly
posted by realcountrymusic at 2:12 PM on July 13, 2005


When I was going to school ... proof of immunizations were required as part of registering

Still the case in every school system in the US. The anti-vac crowd includes a number of far right "Christians" who may get around to subverting these rules after they get done trashing the teaching of modern biology in public schools. The two positions -- both rooted in fear and a knee-jerk hatred for modernity -- support each other nicely and often go hand in hand. Funny how these people are happy to enjoy many of the benefits of modernity as they espouse their natural and alternative lifestyles all over the internet. And not only espouse them, but try to force these views -- and their egregious consequences -- down the throats of the rest of us. Fine, don't vaccinate your kid. I'm sure there are villages in Afghanistan where you'd feel right at home. And Afghan villagers who would give anything to trade places.

Puke.
posted by realcountrymusic at 2:34 PM on July 13, 2005


I'm torn on how reasonably one should respond to the anti-vaccine crowd. On the one hand, being acrimonious and dismissive might turn off foolish or naive people who "aren't sure" about vaccines, which is a disservice to them. On the other hand, by dignifying anti-vaccinators with debate, one is implicitly granting their positions legitimacy and making it look like this is an up in the air issue without a clear consensus.

It's like fluoride in the water. We no longer take the "precious bodily fluids" types seriously enough to do more than laugh at them. I wish the anti-vaccination crowd would get the same response.
posted by Justinian at 2:41 PM on July 13, 2005


When I was going to school, proof of immunizations were required as part of registering.

Proof of immunization is required for attending school only if there is an outbreak of a disease. A waiver is sufficient to register for school if no outbreak exists.

Also, I was not suggesting that doctors are rigid concerning vaccination recommendations because of financial interests, vaccination for children is thankfully available without charge in the US. My point was that many doctors are rigid because they become unquestioning of what they've previously learned. If one points out equally learned doctors reaching a whole range of different conclusions concerning which are necessary vaccines and the optimal timing for their administration, many doctors become dismissive. Parents deserve a doctor willing to help them understand the wide range of options generally available. The information in the link above shows a more uniform schedule across the EU/US than existed 6-8 years ago when I last looked at a European schedule. But there are still differences in timing and recommended vaccines. Just as there are still questions about long-term effects that good doctors take seriously.

I work closely with a group of brilliant and world renowned medical doctors in a specialist field, and it is always reassuring to me to hear them tell a patient "Well, our best guess is..." or something similar. They are even more forthright about the limits of their knowledge in discussions amongst themselves. Many of their esteemed colleagues, and participants in this thread, are entirely lacking that humility.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 4:00 PM on July 13, 2005


Proof of immunization is required for attending school only if there is an outbreak of a disease. A waiver is sufficient to register for school if no outbreak exists.

Not in my universe. Public school enrollment (and most private schools, and most colleges) in my city all requires positive proof of immunization. It's been the same in three other cities where I have lived.

I work closely with a group of brilliant and world renowned medical doctors

Bet they don't know what you think about vaccination. And why do I not believe you? What do you do for these doctors?
posted by realcountrymusic at 4:27 PM on July 13, 2005


Oh, and I bet these "brilliant and renowned" doctors, for all their humility and lack of assurance, vaccinate their kids. I've never met a single doctor who didn't vaccinate her/his own kids. I'm sure a few exist, but they are rare. If this is a conspiracy by the medical "establishment," why do doctors -- presumably co-conspirators -- inflict the same horrible, dangerous scourge on their own offspring? Surely, they know better!

I've participated in this same debate a dozen times in the last few years. You anti-vacs are like a cult, with a rationalized defense and a scientifically twisted explanation for everything you can't really prove. Hey, it works for Tom Cruise.
posted by realcountrymusic at 4:31 PM on July 13, 2005


This is so over-simplistic. If you believe that nature, and human evolution over millions of years, is completely incapable and basically wrong... then get your kid vaccinated.

Chiming in a bit late here but...
Do you believe that nature and viral evolution is completely incapable?? Sure, evolution has brought us some ability to fend off infection, but viruses have also evolved to become better intruders. HIV totally outsmarts our immune system and uses it to its advantage.
posted by springload at 4:43 PM on July 13, 2005


rcm - unclench.


i'll rephrase. what mathowie said. and i can also imagine people using the long-term uncertainity of an imagined biological arms race, differences of medical opinion, and/or feelings of personal autonomy (real or percieved) as reasons to delay or skip vaccinations for a two month old.

and it so happens that one of my md colleagues is just the type of homeschooling Christian that might get up your ass sideways. i don't know, i imagine her kids (like mine) are vaccinated for most diseases, but i bet she asked herself "is it worth vaccinating my child against chickenpox? are vaccinations the first week of life necessary?".

also, bradley is adorable.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 5:15 PM on July 13, 2005


My wife and I don't use medical doctors, and haven't taken any medicines for 15 years. Drugs treat symptoms...they offer no cures.

Tom? Tom, is that you? How's Katie doing?
posted by Justinian at 5:24 PM on July 13, 2005


Glad she didn't happen to have a blood vessel obstructing her cervix, since I'm not sure what the homeopathic solution for pulsatile, squirting, arterial blood is...

Wow. That's an image. I was an ICU nurse in a prior life about 10 years ago before I got into I.T. stuff (actually, my RN license is current), but I've never heard of blood vessels obstructing the cervix so I can't imagine it being a very common thing.

But it's a typical sCare Provider kind of thing to say.
posted by Bradley at 6:25 PM on July 13, 2005


Funny how "since 1920" both rates have dropped precipitously.
/washes hands thorougly


The article to which you linked says that many things contributed to the drop in mortality, with no indication as to relative importance:

"Environmental interventions, improvements in nutrition, advances in clinical medicine, improvements in access to health care, improvements in surveillance and monitoring of disease, increases in education levels, and improvements in standards of living contributed to this remarkable decline."

And funny you should mention handwashing. I've read that doctors in the distant past often went straight from autopsies to births without washing their hands...I'm sure at the time they thought that was fine. I'm equally sure that when someone questioned that practice they were equally as defensive and indignant as current docs when their authority and expertise (read: Godhood) is questioned.
posted by Bradley at 6:39 PM on July 13, 2005


If this is a conspiracy by the medical "establishment," why do doctors -- presumably co-conspirators -- inflict the same horrible, dangerous scourge on their own offspring? Surely, they know better!

It's something I've wondered about many times. The only answer I can offer is that I believe that we as humans can't really perform any action that we believe is "wrong". Even a thief or murderer thinks he's justified, and can find enough "right" in the situation to so that the end justifies the means.

Doctors believe they are doing the right thing. They're not making money off of vaccinations...it's the drug companies. Follow the money.

And I don't look at it as a "conspiracy" on the part of the drug companies. It's just very effective marketing, using the government and the medical establishment as a marketing tool. But I'm not buying.

And as long as pediatricians push the CDC recommendations, they're relatively protected (by the government) from lawsuits for adverse reactions to vaccines. With today's CYA mentality, this fits, in my my view.
posted by Bradley at 6:59 PM on July 13, 2005


Bradley, vasa previa is indeed rare, and I think happens in something like 0.05% of pregnancies. The point I'm trying to make of course, is that prenatal care isn't designed to change or improve the course of an uncomplicated pregnancy, which is the vast majority. But the number of cases of pregnancy related complications can be significant without care (maybe on the order of 5-10%, but don't quote me on that). That's just not a chance some people are willing to take. I suppose there are a few fewer chambers in a revolver, but Russian roulette isn't too far off.

And while we're drifting off topic, ultimately vaccination can be seen as serving a similar purpose. The vast majority of cases of chicken pox or measles are obnoxious, uncomfortable, and painful, but would resolve spontaneously. That doesn't mean that tons of people didn't die from sequelae, or complications like superinfection. Many of these deaths were in children. And if I may twist your bleeding heart a bit more, I would point out that the risk you impose on others by not vaccinating is primarily imposed on those that don't have good access to healthcare (ie the poor). Baby Jesus is crying as we speak.

The article to which you linked says that many things contributed to the drop in mortality, with no indication as to relative importance

Here's a nice retrospective study then, you can choose to ignore. They reviewed 172 deaths in children who were deprived modern medical care for religious reasons between 1975-1995. The study found that 140 of these deaths were from conditions that have over 90% survival with appropriate care. 18 more have over 50% survival, and all but 3 would have had some benefit if treated. This is in the presence of all those other modern niceties minus modern medicine.

Also, drug companies DO NOT make money off of vaccines, relatively speaking. Vaccine preparation and mass production is far less profitable than that of other drugs. Drug manufacturers would much rather invest in whatever new non-generic they are pushing. This is partly why we keep running into vaccine shortages. But keep believing in whatever it is you believe without the facts.

And if anyone's wondering why I bother, it's not for the current participants but the countless quiet readers.
posted by drpynchon at 7:13 PM on July 13, 2005


but i bet she asked herself "is it worth vaccinating my child against chickenpox? are vaccinations the first week of life necessary?

OK, I'm unclenched after vaccinating myself against stress with a special herbal tonic. I'll be the first to admit that this topic, more than any other -- even the war -- pushes my buttons, and I apologize if I'm ranting too ferociously. Among other things, I know it doesn't work, and I honestly want badly to convince just one person who reads one of these threads not to go over to the other side. I'm in the sciences, but I know science doesn't have all the answers to its own questions, let alone ones well beyond its purview that pertain to values and experience. Anyway, I know the rant is not effective. I'll be more zen.

But to the quoted text: of course she asked herself! I asked myself these questions, read the literature, worried over my kid's slight fever after the MMR, felt awful that she didn't understand why daddy and mommy were letting the doctor stick a needle in her arm, worried over the thimerosal issue, etc. So I did the research to make sure my intuitive trust in our (wonderful) pediatricians held up to scrutiny. I implore you to do no less, but recognize that if you are not a scientist you may be more amenable to emotional arguments and less able to follow complex statistical and epidemiological reasoning. Heck, even if you are scientifically trained, as I am, it's rough going. We expect and trust doctors to be experts on these things, and the expert consensus is very clear.

It's just a very loaded subject because it's our kids, our emotional responses to everything are thus amplified exponentially, and because science has been politicized all over the place. But on this issue, the science is so clear, and if you forego the individual risk, you rely on others to carry it for you, expose others to elevated risk, and potentially create a much greater long term risk exposure for your kid(s). If enough people do that, the whole system, which on balance *works* (see my references to the CDC infant and maternal mortality statistics above) because the vast majority of modern people participate in it.
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:34 PM on July 13, 2005


I'm equally sure that when someone questioned that practice they were equally as defensive and indignant as current docs when their authority and expertise (read: Godhood) is questioned.

Oh lord, it's hard to be zen. Who do you think "questioned" this practice? Where do you suppose the germ theory of disease arose?

Dear god.
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:36 PM on July 13, 2005


Here's a nice retrospective study then, you can choose to ignore. They reviewed 172 deaths in children who were deprived modern medical care for religious reasons between 1975-1995. The study found that 140 of these deaths were from conditions that have over 90% survival with appropriate care.

Thank you for the link. I read the full text. I'm not a "faith healer" type, but it was interesting reading.

I can assure you that if my son had a 41-inch tumor on his leg as one of the children in the study had, or had burns on 50% of his body, I'd be consulting experts (hospitals) for help. This would be for trauma or surgical care. And the article didn't talk specifically about improvements in infant mortality (birth to one year) over the decades, but about medical neglect in a 20-year span. I don't see myself as an extremist who would "pray to God to reward my faith and exorcise the cancer demon". That sounds a little loony to me, but to each their own.

I maintain my own motorcycles and cars, and only consult experts when it gets beyond my comfort level. If my Accord has a Maintenance light on the dash, I take it to AutoZone and get them to hook up and give me a readout, at which time I decide whether I'll fix it myself or have someone else do it. Others get experts to change their oil and air filters.

I'm comfortable adjusting the suspension on my sportbike to get better traction on certain roads/tracks, but I've read and heard plenty of warnings that this type of thing should be left to experts since it can adversely affect handling and cause a crash.

To each their own.

And despite the abstract you linked to about drug companies not making money off vaccines (the full article requires a subscription so I can't see the details), I have a hard time believing they don't. All corporations are driven by the bottom line. I've read many other articles indicating that in fact the drug companies make billions per year on common vaccines, and those articles were more believable to me.
posted by Bradley at 7:56 PM on July 13, 2005


I've read many other articles indicating that in fact the drug companies make billions per year on common vaccines, and those articles were more believable to me.

Too bad drpynchon is, as throughout this thread, right. The vaccine business is marginally profitable at best, and often a loss leader. The reason pharmas fought to keep thimerosal in vaccines is that it enables the production of multi-dose batches that are hard to contaminate after opening, because single-dose vaccines almost always lose money. Vaccine production is subsidized by the government (actually, several different layers of government) for very good reasons, and even then it is a business many pharmas stay away from.

But so what if vaccines *were* profitable? Do drug companies not deserve to make a profit just like every other business? Heck, Autozone tests your Honda for free, because they sell you parts to fix it. They do so for a profit. Does that mean the auto parts business is a scam?

Here, learn something about the economics of vaccine production from the World Health Organization. Or do you think they are in Big Pharma's pocket too?

If my Accord has a Maintenance light on the dash, I take it to AutoZone and get them to hook up and give me a readout

Too bad you can't do that with a sick kid. And the analogy doesn't hold up. A better analogy is driving a car with bad emissions. You save money not fixing it, and don't suffer individually for the pollution you cause, but you add a long-term burden for everyone else to shoulder as you tool down the highway.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:14 PM on July 13, 2005


I maintain my own motorcycles and cars, and only consult experts when it gets beyond my comfort level.

I can't just let this pass either. So you are saying population epidemiology and immunology are within your "comfort level?" You feel confident that you know enough about disease vectors, risk/benefit calculations, the workings of the human immune system, the mutation of pathogens, etc. to decide "heck, I don't need to vaccinate my kid(s). If they get sick I'll just take them down to DoctorZone and have them scope the blood."

You are adorable. What's the most complex repair you've ever done on your Accord? Now multiply that times, oh, 1200 or so and you can approximate the difficulty of your first exam in organic chemistry as a premed college sophomore. Absolutely adorable.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:33 PM on July 13, 2005


Actually, I got distracted with work stuff (working on the 5th day of a system go-live, and it's slow but got distracted on an issue) and failed to make my point.

Life is about risk and risk management. I'm comfortable with my wife and me assuming and managing the risks associated with having a home birth. Many others are not, and I think this is primarily due to the scare tactics of the medico-legal establishment since it's a pretty simple process overall. Similarly, car dealers would rather scare you into bringing every little indicator light to them to diagnose and treat. Not happening in this household.

Vaccination is a similar but slightly different issue. When I do the personal risk/benefit analysis, accepting 100% responsibility for my family's welfare, I can't in good conscience vaccinate my child. There are simply too many unknowns and what-ifs. Many people would be comfortable 20 years from now pointing at the doctors and saying, "sorry, but they made me do it," absolving themselves of any responsibility for giving their kid a shot that caused them to be ashtmatic or autistic or whatever. I'm not a finger-pointer, and I'll assume the risk. If my kid gets measles, I'll be sure that he's been well-nourished enough to have a strong immune system and the best chance to fight it off. My wife will contribute to that by breastfeeding him for as long as possible.

Once more, I simply don't believe that we know enough about the immune system to monkey with it the way we do and assume there'll be no negative consequences in the future.
posted by Bradley at 8:53 PM on July 13, 2005


What's the most complex repair you've ever done on your Accord? Now multiply that times, oh, 1200 or so and you can approximate the difficulty of your first exam in organic chemistry as a premed college sophomore.

I don't do what I consider to be complex car repairs, but I'm comfortable doing things others would think complex. Replaced the VTEC sending unit once, and that's about as complex as I get.

And I actually had 2 semesters of organic chem in college, and didn't think it was that hard. Just a bunch of carbon compounds, bonded in different ways. I remember labs being a hoot...we had a hippie graduate assistant that you could easily envision whipping up devious mind-altering compounds in his basement at night. Claude was his name.
posted by Bradley at 9:16 PM on July 13, 2005


Just a bunch of carbon compounds, bonded in different ways.

Just. Too. Adorable.
posted by realcountrymusic at 9:38 PM on July 13, 2005


posted by Bradley: Life is about risk and risk management. I'm comfortable with my wife and me assuming and managing the risks associated with having a home birth. Many others are not, and I think this is primarily due to the scare tactics of the medico-legal establishment since it's a pretty simple process overall. Similarly, car dealers would rather scare you into bringing every little indicator light to them to diagnose and treat. Not happening in this household.

Vaccination is a similar but slightly different issue. When I do the personal risk/benefit analysis, accepting 100% responsibility for my family's welfare, I can't in good conscience vaccinate my child. There are simply too many unknowns and what-ifs. Many people would be comfortable 20 years from now pointing at the doctors and saying, "sorry, but they made me do it," absolving themselves of any responsibility for giving their kid a shot that caused them to be ashtmatic or autistic or whatever. I'm not a finger-pointer, and I'll assume the risk. If my kid gets measles, I'll be sure that he's been well-nourished enough to have a strong immune system and the best chance to fight it off. My wife will contribute to that by breastfeeding him for as long as possible.

Once more, I simply don't believe that we know enough about the immune system to monkey with it the way we do and assume there'll be no negative consequences in the future.


I mean this in this nicest way possible: Please do not have any more children. Your grasp of logic, science, and medicine is appallingly flawed and you are exposing your children to diseases which can result in disfigurement, blindness, brain damage, paralysis, and death. Your irresponsibility and ignorance are shocking beyond words.
posted by fandango_matt at 10:34 PM on July 13, 2005


Your irresponsibility and ignorance are shocking beyond words

Like I said, sociopathic. Maybe delusionally so.

And the worst part is that there are lots of Bradleys. Good thing he's so adorable.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:54 AM on July 14, 2005


Drpynchon/realcountrymusic:

I have to say this is one of the few threads I've returned to days in a row.

Your eloquence and pointedly articulate comments were comforting and I expect would soothe anyone on the fence or looking for focus on this issue. The Bradley's of the world are not rare. In primary care I expect I see one a few times a year. They usually come in almost on a lark, enumerate their philosophies, and then expect you to play along with their unwillingness to deal with anything potentially alarming in a reasonable fashion. Or they expect you to act as some sort of authoritative bystander while their holistic healer treats them with herbs, prednisone, or desiccated bovine thyroid. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee you won't get sued by their estate if they die while under your care, but hey, that just shows what mercenary, self-serving assholes we all are for not playing along.

After the cycle of meeting and finally freeing myself from one of these soul-sucking nightmares, I'm always reminded that there is more ignorance in the world than we will ever know. People that seek out our advice are self-selecting, for better or worse. As I said earlier, I'm heartened by the general sentiment here. It takes a lot more guts to swallow your fears and do the difficult thing for your child than to cloak yourself in conspiracy theories and quackery.
posted by docpops at 7:12 AM on July 14, 2005


Right on docpops. You have the much harder job confronting this stuff in real life, and I salute you for it. The awesome power of modern medicine, despite all we don't know, has created a class of people who view it as godlike, and thus find any flaw, weakness, or gray area proof that this God has failed. Anyone who actually deals with the science knows it's just a very human enterprise, and all the more amazing for that. I think Bradley's particular viewpoint is distinctively that of a modern, western subject in the grip of an emotional metanarrative. There must be some deeper history there. I hope his health never lets him down. Or his Honda.
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:21 AM on July 14, 2005


I think I love you, realcountrymusic and docpops. And thank you for speaking up. My entire family works in public health--my father develops vaccines for "big pharma," mom develops preventative care programs for "big HMO," sister's a nurse, and I work for an NGO that focuses on environmental factors for disease. We dissent often about the state of health care in this country, but one thing is very clear to me: the rep docs, pharma types, and care providers get is rarely deserved. My "big pharma" dad just spent weeks in Burkina Faso, working to get meningococcal meningitis vaccination costs below $0.50 a dose with support from the Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization. Why? Right, it must have something to do with sinister corporate greed and his deep-seated desire to play God. Selfish assholes, trying to save thousands of lives from preventable death.
posted by hamster at 9:30 AM on July 14, 2005


hamster, the work your dad does makes a difference few of us can claim to make. meningitis is a fine example of a disease that constitutes a very real and deadly threat to many people (in the US our college age kids for clear epidemiological reasons). Anyone who knows how meningitis kills people should be very grateful indeed that there is a vaccine and that a company is willing to shoulder its development, production, and even a good deal of the cost of its distribution, pro bono for all practical purposes. your post demonstrates my point above: medicine is a very human enterprise, for good and bad, but the good so clearly outwieghs the bad that it is strange that we take it so much for granted. and thanks for the love . . . .
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:38 AM on July 14, 2005


Anyone who wishes to take medical advice from Bradley, please contact me as I have some looney "smart people" insurance which will provide a benefit to your family in case you accidently sail over the edge of our flat Earth. You might also be interested in some stories about how space aliens populated the Earth and how they come back every year to pick up a few subjects for anal probings.

The sad thing here is as you engage the loonies, you inevitably legitimize them, if only to a minor extent. Ignore this one!
posted by caddis at 7:25 PM on July 14, 2005


While tossing labels around, don't forget Adorable.

(whatever that means...it was used in different contexts in this thread, seemingly for both admiration and condescension)

If this were a cut-and-dried issue, I doubt it would have inspired 100+ comments.

"My pediatrician says...." and "My doctor says..." do not have to be part of conversations with friends about decisions we make about our bodies.

And the opinions I've offered here could be completely wrong...
posted by Bradley at 10:51 PM on July 14, 2005


If this were a cut-and-dried issue, I doubt it would have inspired 100+ comments.

And see, *that* is the reason that we should have ignored you. You don't have anything approaching a coherent, logical argument, yet, because people feel the need to tell you when you're wrong, you feel that your viewpoint is just as valid and reasonable as the viewpoints of the medical and scientific communities.

The fact is, vaccination *is* a cut and dried issue. We vaccinate people so that they don't die. We've vaccinated an awful lot of people so that your unvaccinated kids are less likely to catch measles, mumps, polio, etc. but sooner or later they're going to catch something that was preventable. And it will certainly be terrible but it'll be *your* fault for not taking reasonable, inexpensive steps.

See, unlike everyone else in this thread, I don't think you're adorable, I think you're dangerous, and you're a danger to your kids, who you should be protecting.
posted by bshort at 11:20 PM on July 14, 2005


What bshort said.

You ought to be ashamed of yourself, but you clearly lack the wisdom to be so.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:05 AM on July 15, 2005






Bradley, the article to which you linked contains nothing about vaccination or immunization. Could you please explain yourself?
posted by fandango_matt at 9:19 PM on July 15, 2005


A branch of the NIH (NAIAD, I think) does vaccine research. It appears that a significant percentage of NIH researchers (44 out of 81 in this particular inquiry, so over half) are paid by drug companies. With this huge conflict of interest, I have an even harder time believing the output of their research. We all know that statistics can be used to tell any story desired. They say vaccines provide immunity to disease. I say, "pull the other one."

Also, in one of the articles that hamster linked to above, I learned that the CDC estimates that 20% of US children are "behind" on their vaccination schedule (lacking at least one shot). Since I've read of no negative effects from this (disease outbreaks), this gives me even more comfort about my decision not to make my child a guinea pig.

Through this thread I've become even more convinced that vaccinations have little or nothing to do with decreased rates of disease in the last centry...the improved hygienic and nutritional trends were in place and working beforehand. I understand that the mainstream folks (and especially those who have already bought into the scare tactics used to market vaccines) will disagree with this, but that's where I am.

I'm even more convinced after this thread that nutrition, exercise, healthy thinking (stress reduction, meditation, etc.), and other common-sensical approaches are the keys to immunity and health. Drugs (including vaccines) are not the answer.

For a child, the nutritional answer is breastfeeding. It surprises me when people feed their kids nothing but synthetic drugs (aka "formula") and then wonder why they're always sick, need ear tubes, etc. One article I read this week said that not only does the baby passively receive immuninty from the breast milk, but there's an active component as well. The child is exposed to a germ and passes it to mom via the nipple, and mom's immune system responds to create the required immune stuff for baby and give it back in the milk.

IMHO, the immune system is less understood than the brain, and vaccinations make as much sense to me as lobotomies. Time will tell.
posted by Bradley at 11:09 PM on July 16, 2005


For a child, the nutritional answer is breastfeeding

Humans have breast-fed infants for the entire history oour species. Only in the last 80 years have we stopped dying of smallpox, being crippled by polio, or suffering dozens of other major childhood diseases thanks to vaccination. You may be an idiot, but the science is clear and this is proven. You ahve twisted words and facts, mixed opinion with half-truth to arrive at nonsensical conclusions, and otherwise proved exactly why no one should be paying an attention to the anti-vaccine lunacy you spout. You are, in a word, delusional. And you are, "IMHO" (to quote your favorite bit of false modesty) guilty of child neglect at best. Someone should do something. I pity your children.
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:36 AM on July 17, 2005


PS -and you thought you could sneak back in and get the last word!
posted by realcountrymusic at 7:38 AM on July 17, 2005


Bradley - So if you're right then you should be able to come up with the following evidence:

1. If vaccines don't protect against disease then you will be able to come up with at least one study that shows rates of disease staying constant after the vaccination of vast majority of the population of a country.

2. You should be able to show that, in an unvaccinated population, improvements in diet lead to drastic reductions in diseases for which vaccines exist.

3. You should also be able to show that breast-feeding is sufficient protection against disease by coming up with a study that shows that increasing rates of breast-feeding result in decreasing rates of diseases for which vaccines exist.

To really prove your argument you should show all three, and provide links, although I'd settle for one substantive example of any of these scenarios.

My hypothesis, and the hypothesis of the vast majority of scientists, doctors, and researchers, is that vaccines prevent infection by the disease for which they're targeted and that decreasing vaccination rates will lead to increasing rates of disease.

The first part of my hypothesis can be shown by this article posted by Hamster that shows how cases of measles in the US decreased rapidly following the introduction of MMR vaccines in 1964.

It also supports the other part of my hypothesis, by showing that after rapidly decreasing rates of pertussis vaccinations in Japan, there was a rapid increase of pertussis cases.

If you really want to prove your point, you should also be able to offer some reasonable hypotheses that could explain my two examples that doesn't talk about vaccination rates at all.

Also, expounding on realcountrymusic's point, you're not just putting your own kids in danger, but by exhorting others to stop vaccinating their kids, you're spreading a very dangerous meme.
posted by bshort at 3:05 PM on July 17, 2005 [1 favorite]


posted by Bradley: Through this thread I've become even more convinced that vaccinations have little or nothing to do with decreased rates of disease in the last centry...the improved hygienic and nutritional trends were in place and working beforehand. I understand that the mainstream folks (and especially those who have already bought into the scare tactics used to market vaccines) will disagree with this, but that's where I am.

I'm even more convinced after this thread that nutrition, exercise, healthy thinking (stress reduction, meditation, etc.), and other common-sensical approaches are the keys to immunity and health. Drugs (including vaccines) are not the answer.


So, then who or what do you suggest is primarily responsible for ending the Polio epidemic?
posted by fandango_matt at 1:59 AM on July 18, 2005 [1 favorite]


So, then who or what do you suggest is primarily responsible for ending the Polio epidemic?

Careful, now, you might break him. It isn't going to be pretty.
posted by odinsdream at 11:47 AM on July 18, 2005


Concerning vaccinations and enrolling in school, you'll find there are exemptions that basically accept a written waiver in every state. You could call it the Christian Scientist exemption. If you think the government should be able to mandate what medical care is compulsory to receive public benefits, you are far more dangerous to the future of the US than bradley's ideas.

I think for most people, the use of vaccines is a clear cut question for public health, but not so clear for the individual. Obviously, folks are emotionally attached to their ideas but that emotion leads each side of the argument to make unscientific claims (like the assumption that we already know what the long-term consequences will be).

Unless, for example, there is a 20 or 50 year epidemiological study about the 10 year old varicella vaccine of which I'm not aware. The 10 year results are beneficial for societal costs and nearer to neutral for individual health, which doesn't make the risk versus benefit question any easier for the individual deciding whether the varicella vaccine is necessary for a 2 month old (unquantifable risk of new vaccine or complications related to chickenpox vs. small individual benefit). After all, the individual risk of skipping or delaying vaccinations in a vaccinated society is relatively small, as is the risk of vaccinating (both vaccines and preventable diseases may or may not have serious long-term consequences).

Anyway the question is basically "why not vaccinate my kids on the schedule starting at 2 months". The over-the-top arguments for the virtues of vaccines ignore all the subtleties of the question at best. And the personal invective is despicable. Given the state of public health in the US, reasonable people should be able to disagree about the prudent action concerning chickenpox or Hep B vaccinations for infants. If a parent is suggesting avoiding the polio vaccine during a polio epidemic, you can claim parental irresponsibility. Arguing that everyone should get vaccinated because you and your kids did is the worst kind of zealotry.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 6:40 PM on July 19, 2005


I'd rather have my child contract chickenpox, as I did, as all my cohorts did, and have a lifetime of immunity

I had chickenpox when I was a child. Because I had to work in healthcare, I had a routine screen. I discovered that my childhood acquired varicella immunity had declined to such a degree that I was now borderline vulnerable. I decided to get a varicella booster, especially given the possibility of contact with pediatric patients. A day or so of "flu like symptoms", and now my immunity reads as optimal again.

Conclusion? Varicella-zoster is a tricky little bugger. Even if you think you are "immune" from childhood, it can come back and bite you later as shingles, neuralgia, myelitis, and so on. Given its tricky nature, I think that a childhood immunity from a known strain with defined characteristics is preferable to infection by a wildtype virus. Just because you had it "as a kid", don;t assume you are risk-free twenty years later.
posted by meehawl at 4:55 AM on July 20, 2005


With smallpox a WMD ... we understand a lot better today than we did fifty years ago

Smallpox has *always* been a WMD.
posted by meehawl at 5:02 AM on July 20, 2005


McGuillicuddy - I think for most people, the use of vaccines is a clear cut question for public health, but not so clear for the individual.

There's a world of difference between vaccinating for Chicken Pox, which is unpleasant but rarely fatal, and vaccinating for measles, mumps, pertussis, polio, rubella, etc. The benefit of not dying or being permanently disabled is pretty profound.

And how are you figuring out what the individual cost is, anyway?
posted by bshort at 9:02 AM on July 20, 2005


I accept 100% responsibility for my health and my family's. I believe that nutrition, hygiene, and beliefs impact health much more than synthetic chemicals ever can.

If you avoid using "synthetic chemicals" for your hygiene, then I say, good luck with that. But please stand downwind from me, don't ever touch my food or my drink containers, and please, please, please don't let your nitty, contagious kid anywhere near mine (so thanks for the homeschooling!).
posted by meehawl at 12:55 PM on July 20, 2005


bshort - The fact that every vaccine is different is just my point. I'm trying to say that people have a right to and should be involved in making healthcare decisions that will effect them or their kids, instead of just leaving all the thinking to the folks in white coats. Of course, if you are comfortable believing others know best what care is appropriate for you than I have no problem if you take that approach either. But it shouldn't be forced on others. And real doctors, not just folks playing one on the internet, should be prepared to discuss a patient's concerns and show an appropriate modicum of respect for their decisions.

I spent hours yesterday in a meeting discussing how to disseminate information related to treatments for multidrug resistant diseases to healthcare professionals and patients in third world settings. The obstacles are enormous, including the belief by many patients in such communities that vaccines or drug treatments are the root cause of HIV in one way or another. Not a single doctor in the room (nor I) believes that is the case, but simply calling such patients uninformed sociopaths is the worst possible solution. Not a single doctor in the room would castigate a patient that choose not to partake or provide a child anti-retroviral treatment (or a vaccine). We all wish they'd take it (and that we could afford enough for everyone that needs it), but it is a decision for the individual.

Whether we're talking about MDR TB, polio, or chickenpox the root cause of bad decisions by patients is almost always fear. Every decent doctor I know is willing to acknowledge a patient's doubts and fear, and work to assuage them honestly and forthrightly. Many of the comments in this thread read like "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?" type responses. Convincing skeptical people about what healthcare is appropriate takes far more nuance than that. At least in third world medical settings the balance is clear: they'd prefer seeing patients and discussing what their best choices are even if they don't take all the advice offered.

To bring the discussion back to vaccines, the parallel is that one need not take every vaccine on the schedule. Vaccines for major illnesses are a priority, vaccines for less serious illnesses should be seriously considered, but establishing a trusted patient-provider relationship based on mutual respect is the best thing one can do for an individual's long-term health. A trusting relationship starts with telling people the truth, in this case: not all vaccines are equal.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 12:23 PM on July 21, 2005


I'd rather have my child contract chickenpox, as I did, as all my cohorts did, and have a lifetime of immunity.

And come down with disabling zoster rashes any time he becomes immunocompromised (i.e. from epstein-barr virus, or old age, or peri-transplant immunosuppresion.) V1 zoster is particularly interesting to neurologists, as the eruptions occur over the surface of the meninges lining the brain surface, and produce a damaging and sometimes fatal meningitis. I'd hate to think that my neurology students would never get to see a case of this again - so, thank you, peep!

The pulmonologists will also appreciate the several week ICU stay when your kid contracts varicella pneumonia. You might even give a mortician some work - varicella pneumonia is often fatal and the mortician then has to touch up the face with special mortician's makeup to hide the typical chicken pox eruptions.

Cheers!
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:19 PM on July 24, 2005


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