Anti-vaccine fear versus science

Amy Wallace's Wired feature, "An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All" looks at the life and times of Paul Offit, vaccine inventor and advocate, and the anti-vaccine pseudo-science he battles as he attempts to convince parents not to give in to fear and disinformation, and to follow the science that will keep their kids safe.
At this year's Autism One conference in Chicago, I flashed more than once on Carl Sagan's idea of the power of an "unsatisfied medical need." Because a massive research effort has yet to reveal the precise causes of autism, pseudo-science has stepped aggressively into the void. In the hallways of the Westin O'Hare hotel, helpful salespeople strove to catch my eye as I walked past a long line of booths pitching everything from vitamins and supplements to gluten-free cookies (some believe a gluten-free diet alleviates the symptoms of autism), hyperbaric chambers, and neuro-feedback machines.

To a one, the speakers told parents not to despair. Vitamin D would help, said one doctor and supplement salesman who projected the equation "No vaccines + more vitamin d = no autism" onto a huge screen during his presentation. (If only it were that simple.) Others talked of the powers of enzymes, enemas, infrared saunas, glutathione drips, chelation therapy (the controversial -- and risky -- administration of certain chemicals that leech metals from the body), and Lupron (a medicine that shuts down testosterone synthesis).

Offit calls this stuff, much of which is unproven, ineffectual, or downright dangerous, "a cottage industry of false hope." He didn't attend the Autism One conference, though his name was frequently invoked. A California woman with an 11-year-old autistic son told me, aghast, that she'd personally heard Offit say you could safely give a child 10,000 vaccines (in fact, the number he came up with was 100,000 -- more on that later). A mom from Arizona, who introduced me to her 10-year-old "recovered" autistic son -- a bright, blue-eyed, towheaded boy who hit his head on walls, she said, before he started getting B-12 injections -- told me that she'd read Offit had made $50 million from the RotaTeq vaccine. In her view, he was in the pocket of Big Pharma.

An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All


  1. I had read this earlier.

    I want to say I am so proud of Wired for running this. I loved this article. I wish more press could run something as courageous, as true, as strong in the face of fear an lies and ignorance. This article was a breath of fresh air.

    1. What’s the point of an anti-vaccine lobby? It’s not profitable.

      Like hell it ain’t. If you can scare people away from proven and testable alternatives, there’s no end to the hokum you can sell them. Vaccines are expensive as hell to develop, while homeopathic remedies literally flow out of the kitchen sink.

      pseudo-science has stepped aggressively into the void.

      This is what I’d personally most like to see change. Just because science doesn’t have a complete answer does NOT mean you can fill in the gaps with whatever brand of bullshit you find most comforting at the time.

      1. Science never completely answers anything. That’s part of the definition of science; the existence of the “law” of gravity owes to oft-repeated, peer-reviewed experiments. Scientific truth is always provisional.

        That being said, I don’t see why people aren’t free to fill in the gaps with whatever the hell they want to. You may not like it, but it’s not your choice.

        1. That being said, I don’t see why people aren’t free to fill in the gaps with whatever the hell they want to. You may not like it, but it’s not your choice.

          Unvaccinated individuals are not only in danger themselves, though. If vaccination numbers were at the level they should be, a baby too young to receive a whooping cough vaccine would be in far less danger of catching the disease if all the older children (and adults) around it were vaccinated. It’s called herd immunity.

          So while yes, you’re right, parents can choose whether or not to vaccinate, but it’s not only their own children they’re endangering with this behaviour. (Endangerment of one’s own children through this sort of neglect is a debate for another time).

        2. That being said, I don’t see why people aren’t free to fill in the gaps with whatever the hell they want to.

          Because the next step is to imply the bullshit is as true as what comes before and after it, and then to wrap the whole thing up and sell it to schmucks who don’t know enough to make a proper judgment for themselves. It ceases to be science and becomes faith.

        3. Ah yes, the argument from ignorance. Haven’t you noticed how science works? How over time, more and more knowledge accumulates due to scientific research? How more knowledge leads to new questions, and more knowledge? Sure, using science we don’t know everything. But using pseudo-science we sure haven’t gone very far from psychic auras, balancing chakras, and diluting flower essences, have we? I’m sticking with science myself.

    2. Where do you think their entire “medical” practice and livelihood comes from? The entirety of it is false treatments, and they draw attention to the practice through a thoroughly gullible media.

    3. What’s the point of an anti-vaccine lobby? It’s not profitable.

      1. Yes it is. Just look at Jenny McCarthy’s book sales as one example.
      2. The anti-vaccination people are often driven by ignorance or ideology rather than a profit motive.
      3. People can believe something with all their hearts and still be completely, tragically wrong.

  2. Bearchild: it’s profitable if you’re the one selling the B-12 shots. Or the chelation chemicals.

  3. I disagree, it’s very profitable. You’ll find that most if not all anti vaccination conspiracy theorists also heavily promote and sell their own brand of “alternative medicine” and other such woo-woo. All the income of science based medicine without any of the development costs, testing costs, external and very thorough scrutiny, or requirement to demonstrate efficacy.

  4. I live in Brazil (apologize in advance for the possible engrish) and, to me, this anti-vaccine lobby is one of the craziest things i’ve ever heard. Really, ever. Same goes to the idea that it”s related to autism (and that vitamins will solve the problem).

    I’ve taken every single possible shot a child can take (including a few more as an adult) and pretty much everyone i know did too. And we’re all ok. And measels-free.
    It is obvious that there can be some bad reactions to vaccines, just like with any other medication. I am, for instance, allergic to Novalgin, but it would never occur to anyone I know that it’s the remedy’s fault. My reaction to it doesn’t make it some suffocating poison, it just makes me allergic.

  5. The reaction from the anti-vax folks has been well.. interesting.

    I did a complete roundup this morning on not just the article but pro and con reactions to the article.

    Amy Wallace’s pro-vaccination, pro-science article in Wired, and Reactions to It

    The most important thing is to read the comments — J. B. Handley, in particular, shows up at several favorable blog posts and denigrates anyone who doesn’t agree with his assertion that autism = vaccine injury.

  6. There is plenty of fear mongering on both sides of the isle. People desperately want a logical reason for the skyrocketing rates of autism, and vaccinations are at least something you can avoid easily (as opposed to environmental factors, pollution, genetically engineered foods, etc. which are significantly harder to address). But the proliferation of vaccines is at least partially at fault for parents no longer believing the vaccine pushers. I understand the need for the polio vaccine, and meningitis, but I don’t get the need to vaccine infants against chicken pox, or HepB (blood borne), or tetanus (needed yearly or when exposed).

    1. You need tetanus vaccine every ten years. More often carries some potential for complications that I no longer recall. If you wait longer, you may get tetanus from a wound that doesn’t appear significant enough to make a special trip for the shot.

    2. “I understand the need for the polio vaccine, and meningitis, but I don’t get the need to vaccine infants against chicken pox”

      If you scan the article on Wikipedia on chickenpox, you will note the need to maintain sanitary conditions around the open sores in order to prevent secondary bacterial infections at the sore sites.

      Every person with chickenpox, even if they are not risking death from the disease, is at risk of possible secondary infections. Should they actually become bacterially infected, now we have to deploy antibiotics. And the more we deploy those, we have learned, the less effective they become. The high costs of cutting-edge antibiotics, and the higher cost of having them become useless, can be mitigated by vaccinating so as to forestall the need for them in this case. And the negative effects of resistant bacterial infection – something that is very hard on the person – are reduced in likelihood with a chickenpox vaccine.

      The end result is that having a child gain an immunity to chickenpox via a vaccine is going to be better now and in the future for that child, as well as being better now and in the future for the rest of society.

    3. Regarding your query why chickenpox, HepB and Tetanus vaccines are necessary – chickenpox can leave virus remnants that cause shingles. Tetanus shots are to prevent lockjaw (muscle spasms that occur in the jaw and can affect the rest of the body) and HepB vaccine is to protect you from a hepatitis strain that can cause liver problems and chronic illness later in life. Hope that helps.

  7. As I understand it, “skyrocketing rates of autism” owe much to improved diagnoses of autism-spectrum disorders: we’re just better at spotting it now.

    Vaccine ‘proliferation’ means more protection: how is this a bad thing? Chickenpox has complications later in life; Hep is nasty; Tet is really nasty and kids can hide injury or parents misdiagnose: “too small to bother the doctor”.

  8. Along the same lines, the tin-foil hat people have continued to win the day in Oregon, where fluoride has been kept out of domestic water, saving everyone from ‘poison’ and dooming Oregon’s kids to poor dental health.

    1. Ick. i have tasted non-fluoride water, and it is really nasty and full of chlorine flavor. People seem to propagate anything that goes into their ear that sounds somewhat plausible. Anti-vac “lobbyists” always add comments about “new world order” and about Obama being the antichrist. I had a good laugh before totally overpowering everything they commented on in a mini debate I had on YouTube.

  9. I’ve been ranting about this all week. I have a well-educated sister who seems to think that scientists have nothing better to do than create secret, evil potions. It’s alarming to think that she has two unvaccinated children, although our aunt was severely polio-stricken. Learn something about the scientific method and double-blind studies, people! Also, if any one of these people had ever passed Statistics 101 this issue would never have come to light.

  10. To reiterate my oft repeated stance on this subject. If my daughter becomes seriously ill/dies because you are too stupid to immunize your children, I will mess you up. We do not need more Darwin award winners, immunize!

  11. It’s not an epidemic of fear, it’s an epidemic of distrust. Americans have finally begun to realize that NOTHING backed by their government can be trusted.

    1. Never in history has a government been so well prepared so far in advance of an emergency.
    2. The vaccine makers have been pardoned in advance for any difficulties arising from the vaccine.
    3. The alleged disaster seems to be less of a threat than the usual fall diseases.

    There are three good reasons to refuse to participate.

    1. @Jewels
      Vaccines aren’t “backed by governments”. They’re universal. They’re backed by *evidence*. That’s the *only* reason to trust *anything*. I’ll bet millions of people who distrust vaccines trust huckster preachers and their bronze-age “Jehovah” dude who has *never* merited *any* trust.

  12. @Thalia, #8 – Chickenpox can be a serious health threat if an adult is infected without prior immunity. However, because of the way chickenpox spreads, the only way to eliminate chickenpox from circulation is to vaccinate early for a long span of time.

    Chickenpox episodes leave latent infections in the body that manifest as shingles later in life. It isn’t easy, but it is possible to spread the virus through a shingles episode. Everyone who’s ever had a chickenpox infection may have shingles later in life. Eventually, we’ll reach a point where there aren’t any people with latent infections; at that point, we can stop vaccinating. Until then, we’re waiting for the number of people with latent infections to diminish and vaccinating the rest to stop the remaining pool from spreading.

  13. Chicken pox can also be deadly when you get it later in life. Two brothers I knew got it in High School and were hospitalized in the intensive care wards for weeks as a result.
    It’s also important to note that this article is primarily about time-proven childhood vaccines…not about the H1N1 vaccine, or flu vaccines. That is a whole separate issue. It is telling however that the Obamas have no plans to vaccinate their own children against H1N1.

    1. I got chicken pox at the age of 32 after attending a birthday party where a young girl already clearly had symptoms (her mother was in denial). I was seriously ill and was in the hospital a week. It was probably the worst illness i’ve ever had in my life. Despite all the “chicken pox” parties my well meaning Mother too me to as a child, it never took. Had a vaccine been available, I would have been spared this nearly fatal illness.

  14. Like the Wired article says, it’s a result of people looking for comfort in the face of grave misfortune – even if the comfort is empty or harmful itself.

    It’s magical thinking. How much “science fiction” involves faster than light travel, space aliens, etc.? How much generic fiction involves technology filling in where magic used to go?

    It’s also the difficulty people have in evaluating risk. What’s more likely to kill you (or your kids) – driving to the grocery store or a vaccination?

  15. Antivax stupidity isn’t limited to human vaccines. I recently started listening to some dog obedience podcasts by Ed Frawley. The guy might be an OK dog trainer, but he’s vehemently opposed to vaccinating his dogs, out of fear of “vaccinosis”…. and wouldn’t you know it, he markets his own brand of every dog toy, leash, collar and woo-woo remedy imaginable.

    You’d think that someone who works intimately with beings that can’t reason very well (dogs), might be better equipped to realize when irrationality afflicts his own human thoughts. Then again, it’s perfectly rational if there’s enough gullible customers to buy the bullshit.

  16. Jewels @ 16

    I’m not 100% sure, but I think you’re talking about the H1N1 flu. Please, for the sake people like me who aren’t long-distance HTML mind-readers, go ahead and mention your subject near the top of your post. We’ll all be obscenely grateful.

    There have been several frustrating missteps regarding H1N1, from the early apocalyptic predictions to the uncertain availability of the vaccine. But, as my grandma used to say, “Two stupids don’t make a smart.” Responding to someone else’s bad decision by making a bad decision of your own just compounds the problem.

  17. People want their scapegoats and their magical cure-all elixirs and it seems they don’t care who has to suffer or die because of it.

  18. So much self congratulation. Everyone here is so smart and anti-vaccination people are so dumb! The government never lies. Big pharma only wants whats best for YOU!

    1. “So much self congratulation. Everyone here is so smart and anti-vaccination people are so dumb! The government never lies. Big pharma only wants whats best for YOU!”

      So you are (passive aggressively), saying that big pharma and the Gov ARE out to get you all the time? Face it Pharma wants profit and if their work does not produce or indeed hurts they get their asses sued off, and the gov get idiots like you fighting for every inch of crazy that they can grasp.
      Yes sometimes a product goes to market too quickly,(Loop hole from AIDS med laws,trying to get help to AIDS patients), and something goes wrong. That is unfortunate but much better than a snake oil salesmen when the cure goes wrong all the time!

      1. Are big pharma and the government out to get you? Well, not necessarily; but as you state, they are out to make a profit first and foremost.

        I think the important thing to note is that, FDA approval does not mean a product is safe; nor does the lack thereof mean that something is dangerous. There is a HUGE amount of regulatory capture with regards to the FDA, and a real “revolving door” syndrome between pharma and the FDA. There is a lot, a LOT of money slushing around the whole industry, and it IS the responsibility of the consumer to do some research on their own, and not just take the FDA word as gospel truth.

        Drugs have often gone to market too quickly not because there was a dangerous health crisis in the works, but simply because the company needed a new revenue source, fast (look at Vioxx). Or been shockingly approved for groups they haven’t been tested on, such as strong atypical anti-psychotics such as Zyprexa and Seroquel for use with children.

        The story of Vioxx vs. Cherries is a telling one: While the painkiller Vioxx was killing thousands, the FDA was cracking down on cherry packagers, for putting language on their cherries that said they helped reduce pain (which studies have shown to be true).

        “That is unfortunate but much better than a snake oil salesmen when the cure goes wrong all the time!”

        Here’s a statement, that I invite you to refute: Western pharmaceuticals, as a system of medicine, has the highest rate of side effects of any system of treatment in the world today. While the clinical efficacy of many alternative treatments is not determined (and in many cases they are less immediately effective that allopathics, and are generally effective in combination with other treatments such as diet etc.), the rate of side effects is very, very low.

        1. “While the clinical efficacy of many alternative treatments is not determined (and in many cases they are less immediately effective that allopathics, and are generally effective in combination with other treatments such as diet etc.), the rate of side effects is very, very low.”

          The side effects of using “alternative” medicines for serious diseases or medical conditions are

        2. No, you’re dodging the point. Any treatment that fails for a major disease can kill you. Allopathic treatments often fail too – look at patrick swayze or ted kennedy.

          And “alternative” treatments can be highly effective, particularly if you consider nutrition to be an alternative to pharmaceuticals – there is no better way to avoid getting sick in the first place than to be conscientious about what you put in your body, and there are no negative side effects to this, and many positive side effects.

          My question is, can you think of any system of treatment around the world that has a higher adverse, unintended side effect rate that western, allopathic pharmaceuticals?

        3. there is no better way to avoid getting sick in the first place than to be conscientious about what you put in your body

          An excellent idea, but completely inapplicable to infectious disease. Do you think that smallpox comes from an imbalance in bodily humors caused by eating too many bilious foodstuffs?

        4. An excellent idea, but completely inapplicable to infectious disease.

          No, that’s not true. Proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle strengthens your immune system and your natural resistance to disease. This seems pretty straightforward – in times of famine, rates of all sorts of infectious diseases rise.

          Nutrition is not 100% effective (although it is pretty much always helpful), and it should no be relied on in all cases; but to call it “completely inapplicable” is simply false.

        5. Proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle strengthens your immune system and your natural resistance to disease.

          Diet and exercise might help you shorten the duration of a cold, but it’s not going to do anything to prevent you from getting measles.

        6. “it’s not going to do anything to prevent you from getting measles.”

          Now, it won’t prevent it. The measles vaccine is probably the only way to outright prevent it. But can you say that diet and lifestyle won’t help to shorten the duration and severity of a measles infection? And can you support such an assertion with a well designed study?

          If you can’t, then your assertion is not science, it’s dogma.

        7. If you can’t, then your assertion is not science, it’s dogma.

          To be frank, you don’t even need science to make this decision, just simple arithmetic. Percentage of people killed or seriously injured by infectious disease before widespread vaccination versus percentage after. Percentage of people killed or maimed by vaccines before widespread vaccination versus percentage after. The numbers speak for themselves.

          There’s a name for this refusal to look realistically at public health, and that name is Typhoid Mary.

        8. Medical treatments, even science-based ones, don’t always work because of the complicated nature of the systems of the human body. I’m sure if their medical doctors thought a vitamin shot would help cure their cancer, they’d have given Ted or Pat one.

          Good nutrition and an active lifestyle does indeed help when fighting off infection, as does a positive attitude. However, due to the behavior of serious infectious diseases, a healthy body can be overwhelmed for a long enough period of time to maim or kill an individual, even if that person were in a intensive care unit. The only way to avoid infection is from proper hygiene and sanitation, not nutrition. Vaccines are the only answer.

          With respect to high rates of adverse and unintended side effects to prescription drugs, that isn’t true for vaccines. Yes, certain drugs have been pulled from the marketplace due to previously unknown (at least to the public) side effects, and they’ve made major headlines. But those weren’t vaccines.

        9. My question is, can you think of any system of treatment around the world that has a higher adverse, unintended side effect rate that western, allopathic pharmaceuticals?

          Yes, yes I can. With adverse unintended side effects one should count cases where the medicine failed to have any effect at all and the patient got worse. Because that’s the choice you have: a balance between the harm of the disease and the harm of the side effects.

          BTW, describing vaccinations as “allopathic” betrays a rather distressing ignorance of both the meaning of the word and the mechanism of vaccination. Hint: vaccination is based on the “like cures like” principle (usually in the form of “like prevents like”, but sometimes literally “like cures like”, as with rabies vaccines).

        10. Thanks, Sabik. I will take that as confirmation, along with the same point made by CANTFIGHTTHEDITE, that no other system of medicine in the world has such a high rate of negative side effects as western medicine. I apologize for the use of the term “allopathic”, I didn’t realize it is a loaded term.

          Now, allopathics are often effective, at least in the short term. In fact, if you have compromised your immune system with a lifetime of crap diet and environmental toxicity, the “sledgehammer” approach of western medicine may be the only thing that has any effect on you. There is a reason that alternative medicines are called “holistic” or “complementary”, and I suspect a reason they don’t usually perform so well in standard placebo trials: they don’t have as strong an effect; in order to be useful, they must be taken in concert with a total lifestyle of health. You can’t take a person who eats at McDonalds 6 times a week and switch out his Lipitor for the herbal equivelant – it won’t work, it is not concentrated enough. But, you reaffirm my third point above: proponents of western medicine see no value in any other medical system in world history, except for the molecules that can be extracted and refined and assimilated into western medicine.

          But the whole health system just seems so deeply insane to me. People eat all kinds of awful foods, live on food with ingredients lists that are five inches of unpronounceable gibberish, live in unhealthy environments, etc. etc. and get sick. And what is our society’s answer? Oh, easy – you can just empty your bank account on this new pharmaceutical!

          Of course, I don’t refer to all diseases here. I’m not talking about the measles. But the biggest killers of Americans (and the biggest money makers) – Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. are all so obviously environmentally treated.

          It really makes one question the ethical basis of the whole system, the integrity of the governmental oversight, or the quality and neutrality of all of these expensive studies.

          Considering the government fully supports big pharma making tens of billions off of easily preventable diseases, and doesn’t really raise a finger to fix any of the underlying issues, does it seem that outlandish to think that the whole thing is fundamentally flawed?

          Here’s a scenario to consider: if the medical industry were hijacked by a ruthless and hugely profitable criminal cartel, what would our medical system look like?

          I would venture that it wouldn’t look so different from what we have today. Millions driven into bankruptcy by medical bills, but public health declining and declining.

          I sometimes wonder, what happened to the crowd of billionaire psychopaths who bankrolled the Nazis? They certainly weren’t at Nuremberg, so did they, you know, retire?

          Is that the way things are? It’s possible. It’s also possible that they are run by some of the most upstanding members of society, and every vaccine ever made is tremendously useful and valuable. Which is true, or where in the middle does the truth lie? I certainly don’t know, but neither of them are so far outside the realm of possibility as to dismiss without at least considering them.

          I think there is definitely something weird about this whole swine flu thing. Here in Korea, it has a .2% fatality rate, having killed 24 out of 48 million, and yet the news won’t stop going on about it and everybody is freaking out. There is definitely talk in the air of a mass vaccination program. Of course, this vaccine, being made in a rush and using techniques to stretch it thin, has not and cannot possibly have had long term tests done. Is this really in the cause of neutral, impartial science?

        11. Thanks, Sabik. I will take that as confirmation, along with the same point made by CANTFIGHTTHEDITE, that no other system of medicine in the world has such a high rate of negative side effects as western medicine.

          In other words, when comparing systems of medicine, you will arbitrarily count some negative effects but not others. There is some moral difference between causing harm through action and through inaction, but ultimately a death is a death.

          I apologize for the use of the term “allopathic”, I didn’t realize it is a loaded term.

          And yet you use it in the very next sentence… In any case, I wasn’t complaining that it was loaded, I was complaining that it’s factually inappropriate to apply it to vaccines.

          Of course, I don’t refer to all diseases here. I’m not talking about the measles.

          Then what are you doing commenting on an article which is primarily about diseases like measles? Changing the subject?

          I sometimes wonder, what happened to the crowd of billionaire psychopaths who bankrolled the Nazis?

          And thus, by Godwin’s law, you concede the argument.

        12. Unfortunately, side effects can be harder to catch in limited timeframe studies. So we know about the benefits, but only learn about the ill effects later, and they often aren’t figured in when calculating what course of treatment is best.

          “Bad reactions to prescription and over-the-counter medicines kill more than 100,000 Americans and seriously injure an additional 2.1 million every year – far more than most people realize, researchers say.”

          I feel there is a strong bias towards pharmaceutical approaches in the medical system in general. Sometimes, they are indispensable. But there are often other approaches that work, as well, that are not given fair consideration.

          On the whole, the cost benefit equation for pharmaceuticals only sometimes adds up. There have been, for instance, many reported cases of additional pharmaceuticals being prescribed to treat the side effects of previous prescriptions – and stacking up, and up.

          And there was no Godwin’s law invocation, because no comparison was made ;)

        13. The problem is that every physician takes an oath promising to “first do no harm.” This oath is taken about as seriously as the oath our lawmakers take to uphold the constitution.

          Our current medical system does a great deal of unintended harm.

          Pharmaceuticals are often prescribed in tandem, without any studies done showing their effects together.

          Pharmaceuticals are often given to young children, without having been approved for use with children.

          Most studies have relatively short time frames, and don’t take into account long term effects, and sometimes don’t report patients withdrawing due to adverse effects.

          The vast majority of research money goes to studying pharmaceuticals, and because they are often funded and designed by the pharmaceutical companies themselves, the possibility for skewed methodologies exists.

          The long term, real world metric of “safety vs. efficacy” is often impossible to determine from the data that is collected.

          I feel that there should be a preference given to treatments with lower negative side effects – but the exact opposite is true.

          We have chosen to institutionalize the medical system with the highest rate of adverse side effects of any available, in direct opposition to the Hippocratic Oath.

          To HenryG: What to do with people who intentionally destroy their health? Well, it might sound a bit harsh, but one could argue that the best course of action is to not promise to take of people no matter what they do. Most medical expenses should be out of pocket, and only catastrophes should be paid for by “insurance.”

        14. I will take that as confirmation, along with the same point made by CANTFIGHTTHEDITE, that no other system of medicine in the world has such a high rate of negative side effects as western medicine.

          You don’t have to worry about dying in a hospital if you live in a country too impoverished to build any. By the same token, you don’t have to worry about side effects if the “medicines” you are taking have no effect at all.

        15. Of course, in a hospital in an impoverished country, the medicine you’re likely to be receiving is the stuff that went past its sell-by date in the West, only to be dumped in the Third World thereby earning huge tax breaks for Big Pharma. And who cares about side-effects from drugs that are past their prime?

        16. If what you’re trying to say is “the pharmaceutical industry engages in some questionable practices” then we’re in agreement.

          If you’re arguing this is evidence that “western science-based medicine is a bad thing” and/or “vaccines likely cause autism” then I’m afraid we’re not likely to see eye to eye on this issue.

  • Me, I’m having a hard time getting stressed out about not being vaccinated…

    I have two questions:

    1) If you’re immunized, in what way does someone else not getting immunized jeopardize you?
    As an exercise, compare and contrast the risks from H1N1 with the risk of hitting a moose on while driving on Highway 1 between Port aux Basques and Springdale at night.

    2.1) How do the rates of infection, complications, and death from the H1N1 virus compare with the garden-variety flu?
    2.2) How do these all compare with, say, malaria?

    Compare and contrast your reactions, as well.

    The French edition of Le Monde Diplomatique’s September issue actually supplied the numbers (um, not the moose numbers), for these cases – in an article by Denis Duclos entitled “Psychose de la grippe, mirroir des sociétés” (Flu mania, societies’ reflection).
    See here:
    (Oh, and thanks CBC and Globe and Mail for NOT EVER supplying this information… Grrr!)

    The H1N1 virus, estimated/unconfirmed deaths world wide so far: 1,250.
    ‘Regular’ flu: 300,000 PER YEAR, every year.

    Malaria: 700,000 to 900,000 in the year 2000 alone,
    and only counting the deaths of 0-5 year old African children.
    See here: “Malaria deaths are the hardest to count”

    For the record, I’m not worried about thimerosal. Even if there are complications from a vaccine, they’re far fewer than those from not getting a vaccine.

    1. @PaulR

      Vaccines aren’t 100% effective — having some ignorant unvaccinated bozo in the neighborhood provides a non-trivial risk — obviously statistically more to his fellow bozos, but also even to his more enlightened neighbors at a lower rate.

      Comparing flu to malaria makes no sense — obviously malaria kills more people, but we can *do* rather more about flu — malaria is a known unsolved problem that is a major research topic among many biologists.

    2. “1) If you’re immunized, in what way does someone else not getting immunized jeopardize you?”

      See the comment above about vaccines not being 100% effective – if I’ve been vaccinated, but it didn’t take, I can get the disease from you.

      Also, note that there are diseases which will kill infants before the infants are old enough to be vaccinated – the only thing keeping the disease away from infants is total vaccination.

      2.1) How do the rates of infection, complications, and death from the H1N1 virus compare with the garden-variety flu?

      See fiatrn’s excellent response to this. Also note that the more people who are infected with H1N1, the more different new strains appear, and hence the greater the chance that a strain that is both virulent and highly contagious emerges.

      2.2) How do these all compare with, say, malaria?

      Two of my professors in undergrad biochemistry have made finding a malaria vaccine their life’s work. Believe me, if there were a vaccine for the disease, it would be going out all over Africa. It’s just not as simple a disease to vaccinate against as polio, smallpox, mumps, etc.

      Oh, and the reason the press doesn’t care about the million or so kids dying of malaria every year is that malaria doesn’t occur in developed nations. It’s a sadly neglected disease, but then so are a huge number of nasty and/or deadly diseases that only occur in developing nations. (And this is an entirely different topic).

    3. “1) If you’re immunized, in what way does someone else not getting immunized jeopardize you?”

      As others have written, general immunization covers people for whom the vaccine is ineffective (often a few percent), those who cannot take it for serious reasons (immunosuppressed or otherwise immunodeficient) and those who are too young to have had it yet (as in the case of pertussis and infants).

      To that, I would add another reason: empathy. I do not wish to live in a community where people die of entirely preventable causes. Further, I would be complicit if I heard people promoting dangerous courses of action under the guise of safety and did not speak up.

      “2.1) How do the rates of infection, complications, and death from the H1N1 virus compare with the garden-variety flu?”

      The reason for the panic about swine flu is memory of the Spanish Flu of 1918, which killed more people than World War I.

      It’s pretty rare for flu to do that, but it’s still reasonable to worry about it and take such steps as we can when the signs point that way. Luckily, this time, it seems to have been just a drill.

      “2.2) How do these all compare with, say, malaria?”

      No vaccine exists for malaria, so it doesn’t have the “gratuitous death” aspect that vaccine-preventable deaths do in the developed world.

      People are searching for a malaria vaccine, better treatment, vector control techniques, etc. Others are applying what tools we have to reduce its incidence — it’s one of the Millennium Development Goals, for instance. It’s not a trivial task. Malaria is a big problem, affecting a lot of people in many countries.

      And, of course, if and when an effective malaria vaccine becomes available, questions will no doubt arise about whether or not it should be given — as per the article…

      1. Anonymous: I should have made it clearer that the “1,250” deaths world wide was quoted from the Le Monde Diplomatique article. You say that the figure is 6,000 ‘confirmed’ deaths but without listing your sources. Sigh.

        Does that figure include ferrets?

        A little googling found a 2,800 figure from the WHO in September, after the LMD article was written. I found a CBS report that put the figure at 5,000 – and another article that said that the WHO doesn’t track individual numbers anymore…

        So far this year, I bet that the non-H1N1 influenza death rates for just the US are in the range of about 30,000 deaths. Again, why all this panic about H1N1?

  • Lots of parents fear vaccines because their kids begin to manifest symptoms immediately after receiving their shots, but it could have been when the symptoms would have manifested anyway.

    As it turns out, my son began to show signs of austism almost to the very day he was SUPPOSED to have had his MMR. I had postponed this shot because he was getting over another illness. (It wasn’t actually autism, but sensory integration disorder, which I & my father have.) Had he received his shot right before the symptoms appeared, I’m sure I would have blamed the vaccine (and myself) for his condition.

  • On both sides of this issue, people are SO sure of themselves. I am still undecided and I have some unanswered questions :

    1) Is this year’s variant of the flu really that worse than the ordinary flu? (knowing that people are now actively looking for any signs of the flu, and that the news centers are inundating us with every single story about a baby that coughs?)

    2) How are vaccines tested every year? I don’t doubt that they are effective against the flu viruses that they were designed against, but is that the one that actually reaches us? They can’t be good against all variations and mutations of the viruses, and viruses don’t mutate only between the flu seasons (and just enough so that last year’s vaccines become ineffective).

    3) Natural selection. If everyone receives the vaccine, won’t we then just be hit by the mutations which aren’t targeted by said vaccine ?

    4) The anti and pro-vaccines arguments always refer to the doctors and studies which back (or not) this year’s vaccine, but they never refer to any studies. Citations needed! I love facts! Bring me facts! Bring me numbers! Otherwise your argument has no weight with me. I for one am not very fond of the “won’t SOMEONE please think of the CHILDREN!” arguments. Emotion, not logic.

    Oh, and please, understand that I believe that vaccines work. Or should I say “Vaccines”. And I also believe that capitalism works, and that you should always follow the money. Things are allowed to move a little too quickly for my taste when we are faced with an “emergency”.

  • @Cedehi
    Flu is rather unusual among diseases because it mutates so quickly, and new strains can arise through mixture of genes during co-infection of multiple strains. Basically, fly vaccines are created by looking at the most common strains in circulation — but given that there is a lag of months between the initiation and deployment of the yearly vaccine, it is possible that the vaccine isn’t effective against the most common strain in circulation at the time of deployment. Does that mean that it isn’t worth getting vaccinated? No, one just has to learn to think statistically rather than in absolutes.

    1. @Jonathan Badger

      Thank you for your reply, it was more appreciated than your comment about “unvaccinated bozos” ;)

      I agree with you about using statistics rather than absolute, but from my point of view, the normal flu seems to cause more deaths than what we have had so far with the A(H1N1) virus. Why is there an unusually high fear of the flu this year ?

      And if you believe in statistics, what are the odds of a vaccinated person getting the flu from a non-vaccinated person? Sure, it is more then zero, but is it worth insulting people? I’m not against vaccination. I’m against uninformed decisions based of fear.

      You answered another poster who was comparing malaria and the flu, saying that comparing those is silly. Maybe, but maybe comparing how we react when we are faced with these illnesses is important. We put a lot of weight one something that has a chance, however small, of affecting us indiscriminately.

      And to close the subject on statistics, how much money is being spent on this? Could this money save more people by curing something else?

      I will admit that I do not have a lot of information on the subject, and for that I apologize. I’m suffering from flu-information overload :p

      1. “And if you believe in statistics, what are the odds of a vaccinated person getting the flu from a non-vaccinated person? Sure, it is more then zero, but is it worth insulting people?”

        Personally, I think these idiots SHOULD be insulted.

        Why? Some of us cannot get the standard shots…I am somewhat immunocompromised as a result of a genetic illness…I can take some of the vaccines, but not others. Unfortunately, some of the flus that have been around have been VERY problematic for folks like me…

        Luckily, my work has it such that if you even THINK you might have the flu, you are not to report in. Educators working for us, are not supposed to ask for doctors notes, nor are they to use it against students for being absent. Sadly, even with the free vaccines, most of the people that cause the problems won’t listen either way…and they won’t see how it is of any of their concern either.

  • @ Cedehi – Natural selection only occurs if there is reproduction occurring, and by reproduction I mean copying genetic material and making “offspring.”

    The reason being vaccinated is not a cure all against that disease is, in part, because of unvaccinated people! Every virus can mutate, especially flu – but this only occurs in a host (read person – where the virus can reproduce). So if I get vaccinated against this years flu and you don’t, and the virus you catch (that I would not have) mutates in you and in the other non-vaccinated people, then I CAN catch it, because its reproduction in you has allowed it to mutate. If you had simply been vaccinated, neither of us would have gotten sick, most likely, and the virus would no longer be able to propagate, having no hosts it can reproduce in, and that particular strain may die out. Now this doesn’t prevent species jumping of viruses, but once they are in our population vaccinating against them and decreasing the space in which they can evolve by not providing them hosts in our species should be a giant help.

  • OMG, my 2 year old has trouble remembering things, becomes irritable and aggressive at random!

    It’s Alzheimer’s disease!

  • The article in Wired is excellent and I applaud Amy Wallace for writing it.

    It’s absolutely heartbreaking children will have to die and have permanent injuries from the effects of diseases such as hepatitis, measles and pertussis etc. when, here in the 21st century, when we have the means to protect them. Chicken pox isn’t a benign illness either – it can be devastating to the babies of pregnant women, or those with compromised immune systems. Not the mention that economic cost of having people stay home sick. I know the two painful weeks that I endured chicken pox are something I wouldn’t inflict on anyone.

    The problem with quacks “filling the void” is that people start to believe that they have merit, and take these remedies them instead of evidence based medicine. The end result is that for serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease, people take homeopathy, which utterly lacks evidence that it’s more than expensive water. Again, people die earlier earlier that necesssary.

    @pecoto Your assertion regarding the Obama’s children is incorrect

  • Having been knocked flat by flu once I don’t relish getting it again. As to the vaccine deniers, you’re up for a Darwin Award.

  • Reprinting one of my ancient comments:

    Here’s my take on parental motivations. Assume a disease that will kill one in ten thousand and a fully effective vaccine that will kill one in a million. Many parents will choose the higher risk of not vaccinating. If the child dies after being vaccinated, the parents feel personally responsible. If the child dies from the disease, it’s the hand of God or whatever is analogous in their belief system.

    If you listen to what people say about this it runs to, “Oh, my God, I would feel so terrible if I did something that…” Some parents will choose a greater passive risk to their children in order to avoid guilt after the fact. Parental motives are not necessarily clear to anyone (including the parents) and are not always effectively altruistic. Guilt avoidance is a huge motivator in parenting. cf Free Range Kids.

  • And…I had measles and chickenpox once, rubella twice and have a shriveled nut from mumps. Plus I went to school with kids who were in wheelchairs from polio and I’ve worked with people who were disfigured by smallpox. Two people that I know were sick for six months with pertussis last year. If you’re not old enough to remember the days before vaccines or you don’t have a lot of friends who are immunocompromised, you have no idea how bad it can be.

  • I can totally understand the anti-vaccination/psuedo science/bio med movement. When my son was diagnosed with Autism I asked what I should do to help him. The specialist (the one we had waited a YEAR to see) said, “You can pursue this as aggressively or non aggressively as you want. It won’t matter.” And that was the end of it. We were rushed out the door and left with a tremendous burden of finding out for ourselves how to improve our son’s quality of life. I’m sure other parents experience the same. In the face of that any offering of help or hope looks tantalizing. Luckily my natural skeptiscism resulted in my son not participating in hoodoo treatments. A steady routine plus lots of love (coupled with lots of speech and OT) has done wonders that no pill could ever do.

  • I’m fine with vaccinations, I really am. And the minute there’s no more mercury in them I’ll be down with the annual flu shot. I’ll even get the kids annual flu shots.

    Until then, keep it.

    1. Ooh, good point, but you are not taking it far enough. mercury is not the only poison out there.

      Chlorine is a deadly poison so I recommend you avoid all foods that might have a trace of Chlorine or Chlorine compounds in them.

      Especially if its a compound with sodium – have you seen what sodium does in water? You have to be nuts to let that into your body.

      For the love of Mike, avoid anything containing Sodium Chloride like the plague!

    2. …the minute there’s no more mercury in them I’ll be down with the annual flu shot. I’ll even get the kids annual flu shots.

      I’m happy to hear that you’ve been keeping your kids properly vaccinated for the last decade or so.

  • I cheerful admit that I was incorrect. I wish this was publicized more….I would have loved to see a special report showing the president and his family immunized….it might encourage others to do the same and save a lot of unnecessary suffering this season. I’m not blaming the president here…..his advisors on these issues really seem to be making some crucial errors….giving credence by omission to a lot of b.s. involving the current administration.

  • Some vaccines are backed by evidence. I have yet to see actual evidence of the efficacy of flu vaccines. Even though there have been numerous opportunities to study it statistically (e.g. 2004 when the vaccine wasn’t available, were the death rates higher?)

    As to the hepB and chickenpox and tetanus, I believe in vaccinating for those later in life, if necessary. I do understand the risk for pregnant women and ages above puberty. But vaccinating infants is just ridiculous for blood borne diseases (unless obviously the child needs a blood transfusion, or the mother is infected) and diseases like tetanus which actually are effectively only for a short period.

  • The only part of the article that I object to is this bit:
    “The so-called epidemic, researchers assert, is the result of improved diagnosis, which has identified as autistic many kids who once might have been labeled mentally retarded or just plain slow. In fact, the growing body of science indicates that the autistic spectrum — which may well turn out to encompass several discrete conditions — may largely be genetic in origin. In April, the journal Nature published two studies that analyzed the genes of almost 10,000 people and identified a common genetic variant present in approximately 65 percent of autistic children.”

    I don’t disagree with the part about it encompassing several discrete conditions, that part (fragile X, asperger’s may be split off soon) is already partly occurring, and further subdivisions will be seen as the syndromes get better definied.

    I do disagree with her offhand dismissal of it being an epidemic. Some researchers do assert that the prevalance is not really increasing, but many others don’t agree with that. The CDC used to assert there was no real increase, just improved ID. It doesn’t assert that anymore. The NIH is actively looking at environmental as well as genetic and immunological links. The noted existence of a genetic link absolutely does not mean that the increase noted is not due to an environmental cause. If you don’t have a background in genetic to understand this, think of two twins with hemophilia, one raised in a padded environment, the other raised in a junk yard. You might only be able to diagnose the kid in a junk yard, though the underlying condition and genetics is identical. If a chemical trigger has become more prevalent since the 1990’s, we’re all in the junk yard now, and those families with a previously hidden genetic prevalence will now show symptoms in the kids.

    The weirdness in a syndrome that was once considered to be 1 in 10,000 now being seen in 1 in 150 can be partly due to a moving of diagnostic goalposts, but autism is not a subtle condition. It’s kind of hard to miss. A “just plain slow” kid is unlikely to be shoe-horned into a diagnosis of autism. I’m glad that vaccines have been well examined so they can be discarded as a likely cause, but it strikes me as unscientific to say with any certainty that there is no other underlying environmental cause. Everyone reading this now, is likely looking at it on screen comprised of a collection of compounds and elements that would be rare to find before 1990. We do have new chemistry going on round much of the world. I’m not calling for panic or the outlawing of all chemicals containing Chlorine, but I really think it’s important to recognize environment as a potential etiology of autism.

    1. Snig, you wrote:

      autism is not a subtle condition. It’s kind of hard to miss.

      You are misinformed.

      While classic or Kanner’s autism is obvious, Pervasive Developmental Delay — Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Aperger’s Syndrome (AS), and/or High-Functioning Autism (HFA) may not be. There are mounting numbers of adults getting diagnosed in their 20s, 30s, and later.

      Autism is commonly described as a triad of impairments in three cognitive or functional domains: (1) social language and communication skils;(2) social understanding and relationships; and (3)imagination (specifically being able to imagine another’s point of view)

      Two public examples of people who “passed as normal” until relatively late in life:

      Asperger Journey
      and Falling Into Place

      There are a number of others, both male and female.

      1. I quite frankly wish I had less data than I do. My daughter has autism. My wife works for one of the local social agencies that identifies kids with special needs. Much of my social life revolves around my kid and her peers on various parts of the spectrum. I see it every day, and no, I don’t think it’s subtle. The average age of diagnosis these days is around 3.
        though some other research showed it as late as 6 years old.
        I know what the difference between Asperger’s, HFA and the others are. I’m not at all dismissing that they’ve relevant issues, and quite frankly wish my daughter’s autism was mild enough that she could have gotten to 20 or 30 without it being obvious that she was having substantial difficulties. I’ve realized after the fact, now that I know what to look for, that some friends and colleagues meet the criteria for Asperger’s or HFA. Doesn’t change the data in front of my eyes and others that classic autism is becoming more prevalent.

  • One of the new bits of homey wisdom:

    “I trust that our bodies can deal with anything nature can dish out.”


    “I’m more afraid of vaccines that disease.”

    The above are more-or-less exact quotes heard on NPR this week.

    To both: No, you complacent idiots. The only reason you can be so blithe is that you’ve grown up in a society where virtually all of the bacterial and viral diseases that have plagued humanity for thousands of years are kept in check by modern sanitation and widespread vaccination. You’re spoiled. You’re ignorant of history.

  • The rest of the controversy aside:

    child at son’s school 50 students large dx w/ swine flu
    we all became ill with comparable symptoms
    lived through it
    vaccine here now
    called pediatrician asking to have the Ab test
    told test for Ab sensitive only during active infection
    Hell, I can buy a saliva HIV test at the drugstore
    whatever, I will go ahead and vaccinate them

    7 yo admitted to a large teaching hospital for 48hr video monitored EEG to r/o petit mal epilepsy
    upon review of EEG and video , internationally renowned published expert on pediatric epilepsy introduces himself and says one thing and then asks another

    1) Your daughter has epilepsy.
    2) Has she received any vaccinations in the last 6 weeks?

    IF you are vaccinated yourself for whatever infectious disease you seek to prevent your risk of infection from a unvaccinated individual in general is less than your risk of potential harmful side effect from a vaccine (rates differ from disease to disease and vaccine to vaccine). Risk analysis do what you want with it.

    I know chairs of medical departments who have chosen not to vaccinate. Again, why?

    I don’t give a shit. All I care about is my kids and all you care about are yours. DEAL

  • Most of the parents of the kids at my 4 year old’s daycare refuse to vaccinate for anything. Mostly their problem, except that I have a 2 day old infant in our house. If their ignorance harms my child I won’t know what to do.

  • As someone who as an uncle in a wheel chair from Polio and while my age of 41 isn’t quite that young anymore it ain’t that old yet. I just boggle at and then want to strangle the people that do not want to give their kids vaccinations. People used to die, regularly from these diseases which is why they hell we made the vaccines in the first place.

  • From your friendly boinging ER Nurse:

    @ many questions re: H1N1, vaccine, science

    H1N1 is very different from what you think of as “the flu.” Medicine has made a mistake over the last umpteen years by calling the common cold “the flue.” Influenza is the flu, and it is a whole world of hurt different than the common cold. Now, sadly, people aren’t as afraid of the flu as they should be. No boot-quaking fear, but respectful fear that helps you learn about the risks, take precautions, and be smart.

    H1N1 hasn’t been around for most of us in life, so there are many many more people susceptible than to the seasonal flu. Most people haven’t developed any immunity to this strain of flu by being near someone who has it in the past, and flu shots haven’t been around that provide that immunity, so we’re more likely to get sick. People sick with the flu but strong and healthy may give it to people who are frail and fragile (like small kids, or HIV immune compromised folk, or someone with cancer undergoing chemo, the list goes on).

    Every vaccination doesn’t work for every person, so some people have been vaccinated for something but haven’t developed immunity. Think pertussis – we aren’t all immune to pertussis, but enough people were to keep it out of general circulation until the last few years. Now, with many people not getting vaccinated, the disease is around more than ever, killing people again, and causing a good deal of suffering – suffering that those who chose against vaccination are directly causing. Their kid sick with pertussis (whose parents were afraid of vaccination) could give it to my kid (I don’t actually have one) who got vaccinated but didn’t develop immunity. That’s not very morally sound, is it?

    Back to H1N1:
    H1N1 appears somewhat less virulant than as it could have been – it isn’t killing as many people as we feared. But it is very contagious – it infects entire families, where in the past one person in the family may have shown full blown influenza. Usually we see one person in a family with influenza, say the daughter in 4th grade. Now mom and dad and auntie and daughter all have it, and are all sitting in my ER waiting room coughing next to the 3 year old who’s there for stitches, or the 20 year old w unknown HIV or or or …

    Perhaps the round of it last spring brought some herd immunity to our country, and perhaps (as is speculated)some folk over 50years of age have some natural immunity from a similar variant years ago. Perhaps. But there’s no perhaps in the thousands of people suffering this virus, suffering with 103 fevers, painful coughs, myalgias, shortness of breath and occasional headaches. And there’s no perhaps about the fulminant pulmonary edema when we’ve placed these patients on ventilators in the ER – usually patients under the age of 40 with no comorbidities. And there’s enough “randomness” in who gets critically ill from H1N1 to make it important that people understand the issues and not get their ideas and decisions from Fox news or some moronic anti-vaccine zealot whose 9 children all had pertussis last year.

    “I understand the need for the polio vaccine, and meningitis, but I don’t get the need to vaccine infants against chicken pox, or HepB (blood borne), or tetanus (needed yearly or when exposed).”

    Hepatitis can kill people, and often does. Seen a yellow person in liver failure? Vaccination while young gives LIFE long immunity for most diseases, and just works better. Tetanus used to kill people – really…kill them! Now most of us in the medical field have never seen a case bc we’re so good at vaccinating against tetanus. Tetanus kills 10% of people who contract it. Go here

    and read the pdf under “what you should know” that tells you how and when and why the vaccine schedule was created. Chicken pox is dangerous to people other than those infected, and can kill them as well.

    Do some research, folks. Want numbers? Use that “search” bar on your browser and start reading. There’s a lot of data out there, easy to understand and well presented if you just go looking for it, instead of getting your medical advice from unqualified fear mongers.

    The FiatRN

  • Not vaccinating your child when it has been medically recommended, should be considered medical neglect and child abuse. Such an act endangers your own child and the community at large. It’s socially irresponsible and quite frankly immoral.

  • An interesting counterpoint to this article:

    The issue this article raises is this: Sometimes, the scientific consensus trumps the scientific method.

    The studies that have been done on the flu shot were cohort studies, with many difficult to isolate variables.

    There have not been widespread, double blind placebo studies of the various flu vaccines. The argument being that it is unethical to give some people placebo vaccines.

    So, the scientific basis for the efficacy of the flu shot is shaky. But, the results of the cohort studies seem on the surface so conclusive and dramatic, that it is simply accepted as unquestionable truth that the flu vaccine is effective.

    I feel that the majority of vaccines are enormously beneficial. But just because something is a vaccine, does not absolutely mean that it is good and effective. And I think there is strong evidence that some vaccines have a variety of side effects in a certain percentage of the population. It is irresponsible to ask that every single person get every single type of vaccination, without some consideration of the relative risks and benefits.

    I challenge all of the pro-vaccine readers out there: can you find ANY studies demonstrating the safety of the swine flu vaccines that are being rolled out on a massive scale? I would really be quite curious to know.

    1. Hi Zyodei,

      I’ll just focus on the safety bit now, since I’m in a bit of a hurry:
      The reason the vaccine has been delayed in Europe (and, I think, in the US) is that the drug agencies have been waiting on the results of the safety studies. When the results came in, the vaccine was approved.
      Right now, I can find the following link on the EMEA webpage regarding pandemrix safety:
      Look at the public assesment report.
      To summarize, the safety profile is similar to the regular flu shot, with a bit higher rate of mild and moderate side effects (due to the adjuvant being used to increase immune response).
      Was this the kind of data you were looking for?

  • I’ve heard a lot of intelligent discussions about this recently. The wired article was not one of them.

    It is a complicate issue with many factors. Unfortunately most people take an absolute stance, for or against, and try and make all the evidence fit that stance. That is a bad idea. Instead of being preached at people would be better served by asking some smart questions and having unbiased realistic information so they can make an informed choice.

    1. How bad is H1N1 turning out to be?
    2. What complications can arise from a swine flu vaccine and its additives.
    3. There are several versions of the vaccine available, are some safer then others?
    4. What are legitimate alternatives and how well do they work?
    5. What are the risk factors that make one more at risk from H1N1.


  • One of the things I find frustrating is that there doesn’t seem to be a middle road. I will get an H1N1 shot when it’s available in my area. Right now it’s not. Therefore I will use my old standby…vitamin D which, by the way, is not a vitamin but a seco steroid hormone produced by the skin when exposed to UV radiation (sunshine) and is used by over 2000 genes in the human body. If just one person here would bother to do a little research you would find that there are many, many scientific studies with regard to this hormone.

    You might also bother to check out some of the legitimate and well known scientists instead of pooh poohing the theories because some so-called science jouralist says it’s because someone wants to sell vitamins. Vitamin D is free. The supplements are very cheap. Perhaps this is why Big Pharma and the Docs don’t want people to know of all of the bennies from this amazing hormone.

    If you do minimal research the least you’ll find is that most of the auto immune epidemics began after we were told to stay out of the sun and then, when in the sun, put a chemical on your skin that makes it not work properly (i.e. production of cholecalciferol, or vitamin D3). Almost all of the autoimmune diseases that have become epidemic…..autism, MS, diabetes, etc. etc. recently have done so within the last 25-30 years. Think about when they started telling us to stay out of the sun and when the “epidemics” began.

    I’m not saying it’s a cure for everything. I’m just asking you people to open your minds a little. I’m always amazed at the scientists who live in such small, close minded worlds. Why does it always have to be some amazing medicine that’s going to cure everything? Why not something as simple as this? Does anyone remember how important mold was to medical science?

    Open your minds peeps. PLEASE.

    1. “Right now it’s not. Therefore I will use my old standby…vitamin D which, by the way, is not a vitamin but a seco steroid hormone produced by the skin when exposed to UV radiation (sunshine) and is used by over 2000 genes in the human body.”

      Why is this even being considered in the H1N1 area? It is well known that D will fix a LOT of ailments…heck, I go to the tanning bed in the winter, not for getting color, but for this. The vitamin form of this is not soluble to the point of getting enough to do anything for you (I believe that the legitimate studies show you might get 400IU absorbed if your are taking a LOT more than that…)

      But yeah, most in the medical field know D fixes most flus…why? Because there is a reason most flus don’t come around in the summer time, and it is generally a winter only disease. Problem with H1N1 is that people were getting infected in areas that were right in the middle of the summer, folks with exposure to the sun and getting all the D needed. There has been nothing stopping the spread as in other outbreaks.

      That said, I’ve been walking around in nothing but shorts and a T lately, but I think even on the sunniest day in Indianapolis, we are too far north at this time to do anything about D production from a natural stand point. D helps prevent a lot, but there are limits to what it does and docs generally know these…just because they don’t talk to you about it doesn’t mean they don’t know…just means more than likely, it isn’t applicable to you.

      1. It’s also well known that vitamin D promotes immune system health….and you’re right you could stand outside all day on a sunny day in INDY this time of year and not make one ounce of it. In our climate we need to supplement in the winter. I suggest you do some reading on what the Canadians are saying about Vitamin and all influenzas. You’d be surprised. a good start is or the Vitamin D Council. Both are non-profits.

        I have nothing to do with either. Simply trying to stay informed. I have COPD and Vitamin D and made a huge difference in my recovery. HUGE.

  • I am a pro-science, (generally) pro-vaccine father of a 10-year old girl with autism. For eight years now (since we got our diagnosis) I have been reading and listening and trying to make the best decisions I can. Facts are few, experts are many, and my daughter’s life is at stake. Only other parents of children with this bewildering condition can fully understand how hard this is.

    And from the beginning there has been more heat than light on both sides of the vaccine debate.

    Some of what Amy Wallace reports is true. Like her, I deplore the vicious, ad hominem attacks on researchers like Paul Offit who are rightfully concerned about an overreaction against all vaccines. And I agree with her that some of the anti-vaccine forces have hardened into a kind of fundamentalist religion.

    But I found Ms. Wallace’s article to be full of misinformation, oversimplifications, and ad hominem attacks in the other direction. She repeats the now discredited myth that there is no real epidemic and suggests that autism is genetic, not environmental, as if you have to choose between the two. She paints the scientists as rational and courageous defenders of a settled truth, comparing Offit to Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H. And she paints those who raise questions about the possible role of vaccines as bimbos, vacuous celebrities, anthrax terrorists – in short, a violent, ignorant, unhinged rabble that “endanger us all”.

    The truth is not quite that simple. Emotional responses – and financial entanglements – are present on BOTH sides.

    I don’t think money is the primary force at work here, but it is a factor. The carnival of competing autism therapies have indeed become big business. On the other side there is the fear that if vaccines ever were linked to autism the resulting flood of law suits would make anti-tabacco suits look like a walk in the park (a factor Ms. Wallace fails to mention).

    But emotion is what really drives both sides. No emotional force on earth compares to a mother protecting her cubs, and if mothers (and fathers!) even start to suspect that the lockstep medical establishment is trying to jam poison needles into THEIR children – look out.

    The emotion on the other side is evident in many of the comments above. Just raising questions about a vaccine is sacrilege, an attack on science itself, an attack on society and safety and on other children – the kind of thing that could only come from idiots or crazy people. The attacks on Paul Offit pale next to the attacks on researchers like Andrew Wakefield. (Strap yourself in for the lynch mob that will assemble at the very mention of his name.)

    Disputes like this are not unknown in the annals of science. Scientists are people too and tend to get a bit testy if some crackpot questions their most cherished assumptions – especially if there are lives at stake. And yet today’s crackpot notions have a funny way of turning into tomorrow’s mainstream dogma. This does not mean that every crackpot is a prophet. But it does mean that in science, the path to truth is rarely short and seldom follows a straight line.

    I agree that if vaccines really are a significant cause there should be more evidence by now. Thimerosal, for example, now seems unlikely to be the cause. But from the outset I have been troubled by how quickly and vehemently vaccine defenders sought to shut down all inquiry.

    It’s true that correlation is not causation, but correlation is the logical place to start, indeed the only place to start. The studies which supposedly exonerate vaccines are full of holes and much is still poorly understood, including the infant immune system. There seem to be several plausible ways in which vaccines *could* play a role. So people who opposed all studies and said the case was closed before it was even opened made – and still make – me suspicious.

    My conclusion: insert a big grain of salt in everything you hear about this for awhile – including articles like Ms. Wilson’s. Until a smoking gun is found, err on the side of vaccination, but weigh the risks for each different vaccine and don’t be afraid to ask when it really needs to be administered, and in what form. Fund more studies on this. Even if vaccines do turn out to be a red herring such studies will rebuild public confidence and may also lead, in unexpected ways, to the real culprit.

    And please, while we wait for the final truth to emerge, a little more humility and open-minded scientific curiosity from all sides would be nice.

  • Here, Here jcartan. (or is it HEAR HEAR)

    I subscribe to WIRED, and the cover was so antagonistic…..and yellow. What little I read seemed that her vitriol is directed at parents and children and the anti-vaccine movement was a perfect tree to drape those ornaments on.

  • From Kieran O’Neill @6’s link:
    “a “plausible scenario” that the novel H1N1 virus could infect up to half the U.S. population in the next 6 months and kill as many as 90,000 people”

    Aaarrggghhh!!! Is this 90,000 people in the ‘States? Or for the whole world? And just how ‘plausible’ is this scenario? What’s the difference in odds between this plausible and likely? I don’t know, ‘cuz the article is behind a paywall… Sigh.

    Let’s assume that the “up to” figures are good and for just the USA: They’re saying that out of 165,000,000 infected people, 90,000 would die. So a death rate of 1 out of 1833 infected people, or 1 out of 3,667 for the whole population which works to a mortality rate of 27.2 per 100,000.

    How does this compare with the rates for regular influenza? You tell me.
    I’m not sure if the “influenza plus pneumonia” figures are the same statistical group a for the ‘plausible’ ScienceMag guesstimates.

    According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, roughly 41,000 people die from influenza every year in the USA. For fun, let’s assume that none of those 90,000 H1N1-infected people really did die from H3N2 (responsible for an estimated 36,000 deaths in the USA per year) and they did die from only H1N1. (see footnote below) That means that roughly 50,000 more people would die from H1N1 than from your ‘garden-variety’ influenza.

    Compare that figure with the deaths from lack of universal health. An estimated 45,000 Americans die every year because of the lack of a universal health care system in the USA.

    Why is there such a huge (possibly unneccessary – look at the Avian Flu which killed all of, um, around a hundred people world-wide) and expensive push for a H1N1 vaccine (not to mention all those sales of Tamiflu) but there isn’t a huge push for universal medicare (y’know, like the kind that Congresspersons and Senators have)? Stock options or electoral campaign contributions from big pharma? Could this be Naomi Klein’s thesis at work?

    From “Journalists sink in The Atlantic article on vaccines”
    We have always felt the way to prepare for and battle a pandemic is to rely on a strengthened and robust public health and social services infrastructure, not to plan for the best (that there will be an effective and timely vaccine available to everyone) while hoping the worst won’t happen. Vaccines and antivirals are a poor second best as a strategy. [My emphasis] Thanks, ‘revere’, whoever you are.

    Why compare influenza and malaria rates? Jeepers, I thought it was obvious…:
    What is the link between malaria and poverty?

    Malaria is intimately linked with poverty – as both a root cause and a consequence of poverty. Malaria is most intractable for the poorest countries in the world and those living on low incomes and in rural areas that lack the information, money or access to health care are the most vulnerable.

    And further down this FAQ:
    What are the current funding trends for malaria?

    There is an estimated global requirement of about US$ 3.2 billion a year to make sure malaria is eradicated by 2015 in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, at present less than US$ 1 billion per year is available for malaria resources.

    Malaria isn’t an issue because it almost exclusively attacks poor people, and ‘darkies’ at that. See my question earlier about stock options.

    The footnote:
    Earlier this year, CBC Radio News reported, breathlessly, that a H1N1-infected woman (from Manitoba, I believe) had died. Towards the end of the piece, the reporter added that, well, she DID have a bunch of other infections and probably had died from those diseases. I’ve asked the rhetorical question to some friends: So, if a H1N1-infected person gets hit by a bus and dies, will their death be reported on the national news?

    Clif Marsiglio: it’s possible, even likely, that your aging body doesn’t make calciferol (D3) at all, any more, or in sufficient quantities. Calciferol is a dirt-cheap supplement in pill form. Those of us North of the 45th parallel can’t rely on sun exposure for most of the year, so taking it is a reasonable alternative. And it’s more eco-friendly than using a tanning salon to get it.

  • over-vaccination is dangerous for children and adults. depending on the individual’s own immune system, different levels of vaccination are dangerous for different individual’s. it may be helpful for those interested in the topic to search for information on vaccination and potential harms not related to autism. for instance, in the first persian gulf war, many soldiers had health problems from the mass vaccination they received prior to being shipped off to war (mass vaccinations were especially problematic here because they were administered during a time of extreme stress-immediately prior to departing for war).
    any decent immunologist will tell you that YES you can be over-vaccinated as a child or as an adult.

  • Glad to see that after the pendulum swings of the early comments we’re coming back to middle ground because I don’t think this subject nor any other can be resumed to black and white. The problem with the pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine stances : well, I think that’s the problem. Anyone who decides their camp is going to have a hard time keeping an open mind.
    Some worrying aspects that make people doubt ‘The Medical Profession’…
    1. Big pharma funds the vast majority of medical studies and have no interest in selling medication that does not make money.
    2. 90% of doctors do not read any independent, peer-edited literature. What they read is the literature that comes from big pharma…
    I would truly love for there to be balanced, open debate around this subject, but the dominance of big pharma skews all balance.
    I waited till my daughter was 2 before vaccinating her. She had never been ill until that point. It’s hard not to make the correlation. I was open enough to hear the arguments about strengthening the immune system (from the antis) and protecting against very dangerous and preventable diseases (from the pros). So where does my worry about my daughter systematically getting ill after her shots take me? “Aha! Proof of how bad they are” from antis and “no discussion” from the pro’s because vaccination can’t and mustn’t be questioned.

    I wish that we could all benefit from an Independent Medical Body, not behoven to pharma or health insurance companies, but also able to listen to those kooky alternative folk, just in case, just in case, sticking a carrot in your left ear might help prevent contracting something nasty.

  • amk, “over-vaccination is dangerous” – please qualify that assertion. Remember, it’s not vax vs not-vax, it’s vax vs not-vax-plus-disease.

    Disease is dangerous.

    1. So from this, no vax > disease??? No, please.

      When my friend went to India some years back, she had a host of vaccinations beforehand, including the anti-typhoid. She got typhoid.

      Sometimes vax > disease.

      And truly, if no vax automatically meant a disease (let’s say polio rather than chicken pox) then you wouldn’t find so many parents playing fast and loose with their children’s health. I think the idea behind the no-vax principle is that you shore up the person’s immune system in other ways, rather than sitting around waiting to get struck down.

      1. Not all vaccinations are the same, nor are the diseases they protect against, so basing a claim entirely on the effectiveness of the Typhoid Vaccine would be logically fallacious. The rates of effectiveness vary depending on the disease (multiple strains, I’m assuming), and vaccines don’t always take on the first try (albeit, rarely).

  • I think the “middle ground” here is something of a false equivalency. On the one side we have an awful lot of verifiable evidence, and on the other side we have strong feelings, broad generalizations, and an assortment of anecdotes. One argument is measurably more valid than the other.

    We can, of course, treat every person with equal respect and consideration. But that doesn’t mean we average out every opinion and choose the one in the middle.

  • More and more research suggest there is indeed no epidemic of autism. Especially a recent study by the NHS in the UK that found the indidence consistend among all age groups. That means there were just as many back when as there are now, just that now more and more adults are also getting diagnosed.
    Combined with the clear thimerosal debacle – diagnosed autism cases continue to rise despite the vaccines no longer containing that stuff – the evidence just keeps on pointing to genetic causes and increased diagnosis.

    the NIH is a publicly funded body, and so is dependent on the policy makers, which are dependent on voters, which are the same ppl arguing here. That’s why it sometimes has to spend research money on things that have been disproven already. Unfortunately it’s very hard to disprove something to believers…

  • I agree with the visionary David Icke that the vaccine is part of a NWO/Reptilian conspiracy to depopulate the planet to manageable levels.

    Don’t call me a “Nut” for agreeing with him. If anything, I’m flattering the governments and big corporations by associating them this way.

    Even a “Conspiracy Theory” is flattering in face of the simple, realistic Petty Greed that is so common in mammoth corporations with virtual and literal immunity due to size and influence.

    Anyone who argues against, just look at “Thalidomide” and “Flammable Pajamas” for a few instances out of many, and those only among the ones exposed. In both cases the company knew full well that their product was harmful, and in the latter case still marketed it after it was illegal to keep their profit margin. OF COURSE a huge, immunity given, corporation will slap together tons of vaccine using the cheapest materials and quickest and cheapest production methods and any ‘research’ it does on it’s own product is called into question.

  • Cory,

    So often an advocate for voices of reason, I’m really shocked that you would recommend such an obviously partisan article as this.
    As other commenters have pointed out, the author backs all of her main protagonist’s positions, mostly by referring to a given number of scientific articles (is there any other peer-reviewed research which supports different conclusions – answer is yes – from this article we would never know) – this is highly disingenuous verbal trickery. Any counterpositions are glibly aligned with pseudo-science, character assassins, and irrational emotional outrage, rather than other research, other scientists and experts of equally respectable standing etc (they can be easily found). Her protagonist’s affiliations are not discussed, and neither is the context of the referenced scientific research (funding and affiliations of authors for example). Given the obvious risk of litigation which would result from any proven connection between ill-health and vaccination, such investigation should be a given for any serious journalism on the subject.
    The very crude and obvious attempt to set up a simple pro- (scientific) and contra- (emotion and fear) dialectic should immediately be cause for alarm for anyone wishing to get informed.
    Whilst you can find bombast and bluster on any side of an argument if you want to, there is much extant scientific evidence to support arguments against many vaccinations, which are here not referenced.
    And nobody seems to mention Squalene?

    Best Regards,


    1. I’m really shocked that you would recommend such an obviously partisan article as this.

      To the best of my knowledge, Cory is also rabidly partisan about the earth not being flat or only 5,000 years old.

      1. Just because Wired says it unfortunately doesn’t make it so – see my second post.

        Yours respectfully,


      1. I should note that I’m replying to a blog post, not writing a purportedly researched article on a scientific subject. So excuse my brevity ;). Here’s a couple of things, it should be noted, by no means all of them by die-hard anti-vaccination advocates:

        Autism as systemic body disorder that affects the brain, connection to toxicology:

        James SJ, Melnyk S, Jernigan S, et al. Metabolic endophenotype and related genotypes are associated with oxidative stress in children with autism. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2006;141B(8):947-956.

        James SJ, Cutler P, Melnyk S, et al. Metabolic biomarkers of increased oxidative stress and impaired methylation capacity in children with autism. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004;80(6):1611-1617.

        Herbert MR. Autism: A brain disorder or a disorder of the brain? Clin Neuropsychiatry. 2005;2(6):354-379.

        Herbert MR. Large brains in autism: the challenge of pervasive abnormality. Neuroscientist. 2005;11(5):417-440.

        Vargas DL, Nascimbene C, Krishnan C, Zimmerman AW, Pardo CA. Neuroglial activation and neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with autism. Ann Neurol. 2005;57(1):67-81. Erratum in: Ann Neurol. 2005 Feb;57(2):304.

        Wakefield AJ, Ashwood P, Limb K, Anthony A. The significance of ileo-colonic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia in children with autistic spectrum disorder. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005;17(8):827-836.

        Uhlmann V, Martin CM, Sheils O, et al. Potential viral pathogenic mechanism for new variant inflammatory bowel disease. Mol Pathol. 2002;55(2):84-90.

        Autism: connection to vaccines (as said – not all polemic):

        Kawashima H, Mori T, Kashiwagi Y, Takekuma K, Hoshika A, Wakefield A. Detection and sequencing of measles virus from peripheral mononuclear cells from patients with inflammatory bowel disease and autism. Dig Dis Sci. 2000;45(4):723-729.

        Hornig M, Briese T, Buie T, et al. Lack of association between measles virus vaccine and autism with enteropathy: a case-control study. PLoS ONE. 2008;3(9):e3140.

        Bradstreet JJ, El Dahr J, Anthony A, Kartzinel JJ, Wakefi eld AJ. Detection of measles virus genomic RNA in cerebrospinal fluid of children with regressive autism: a report of three cases. J Am Phys Surgeons. 2004;9(2):38-45.

        Taylor B, Miller E, Farrington CP, et al. Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association. Lancet. 1999;353(9169):2026-2029.

        Mercury toxicity (re Thimerosal):

        Mutter, J. et al: Comments on the article the toxicology of mercury and its chemical compounds by Clarkson and Magos, Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 2007 Jul; 37(6): 537-549

        Autism Research Initiative. Treatment Options for Mercury/metal Toxicity in Autism and Related Developmental Disabilities: Consensus Position Paper. San Diego, CA: Autism Research Initiative; 2005. Available at: heavymetals.pdf. Accessed September 17, 2008.

        Holmes AS, Blaxill MF, Haley BE. Reduced levels of mercury in first baby haircuts of autistic children. Int J Toxicol. 2003;22(4):277-285.

        Adams JB, Romdalvik J, Ramanujam VM, Legator MS. Mercury, lead, and zinc in baby teeth of children with autism versus controls. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2007;70(12):1046-1051.

        Thompson WW, Price C, Goodson B, et al. Early thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years. N Engl J Med. 2007;357(13):1281-1292.

        Geier DA, Geier MR. A prospective study of mercury toxicity biomarkers in autistic spectrum disorders. J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2007;70(20):1723-1730.

        Echeverria D, Woods JS, Heyer NJ, et al. The association between a genetic polymorphism of coproporphyrinogen oxidase, dental mercury exposure and neurobehavioral response in humans. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2006;28(1):39-48

        Heyer NJ, Echeverria D, Bittner AC Jr, Farin FM, Garabedian CC, Woods JS. Chronic low-level mercury exposure, BDNF polymorphism, and associations with self-reported symptoms and mood. Toxicol Sci. 2004;81(2):354-363. Epub 2004 Jul 14.

        Echeverria D, Woods JS, Heyer NJ, et al. Chronic low-level mercury exposure, BDNF polymorphism, and associations with cognitive and motor function. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2005;27(6):781-796.

        Squalene and Gulf War Syndrome

        Carlson, B.C. et al.: The endogenous adjuvant squalene can induce a chronic T-cell mediated arthritis in rats, American Journal of Pathology 2000; 156: 2057- 2065;

        Asa, P.B. et al.: Antibodies to squalene in Gulf War syndrome, Exp. Mol. Pathol. 2000 Feb; 68(1): 55-64;

        Asa, P.B. et al.: Antibodies to squalene in recipients of anthrax vaccine, Exp.Mol. Pathol.2002 Aug; 73 (1): 19-27

        Horner, R.D. et al.: Occurence of amyotrophic lateral sklerosis among Gulf war veterans, Neurology 2003 Sep 23;61(6): 742-749

        Squalene and Mercury-based adjuvants are present in many H1N1 vaccines, such as those acquired for the general population here in Germany (GlaxoSmithKline’s Pandemrix). Pandemrix contains 5 Mikrogramms of Thimerosal, whose molecule is 49.6% Mercury (2 shots = 10 Mikrog). There is no minimum threshold dose for mercury (See: Lutz, W.K.: A true threshold dose in chemical carcinogenesis cannot be defined for a population, irrespective of the mode of action, Hum. Exp. Toxicol. 2000, 19 (10):566-8;discussion 571-2).

        I should note that I’m not saying a journalist needs to reference the entire scientific body of research on a subject, just that they should not imply the pretense of a consensus where it does not exist. Some of the most vocal objections to H1N1 vaccination are coming from the medical profession, the scientific community, and health institutions and authorities, concerned about inconclusive testing and safety, and in the light of much of the above, not fear and loathing. (German),1518,656151,00.html (German)

        It should also be pointed out that it is not only individuals with a critical position on certain vaccinations who are using fear to expoit people for personal gain: (French) (French).

        Hope that helps.

        Yours Respectfully,


        1. Hey Ernst, where in:

          “Taylor B, Miller E, Farrington CP, et al. Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association. Lancet. 1999;353(9169):2026-2029.”

          Does it contradict the idea that there is, indeed, “no epidemiological evidence for a causal association”?

          Because when I read their finding that “Our analyses do not support a causal association between MMR vaccine and autism. If such an association occurs, it is so rare that it could not be identified in this large regional sample”, I came away thinking that article supported the position taken in the WIRED article.

          Is it possible that you just googled “MMR autism”, and then copy pasted every journal entry that came up in the search, hoping that this would look like you had a lot of sciency stuff to back up your claims? ‘Cos it kinda looks that way.

          1. “Hey Ernst, where in:

            “Taylor B, Miller E, Farrington CP, et al. Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association. Lancet. 1999;353(9169):2026-2029.”

            Does it contradict the idea that there is, indeed, “no epidemiological evidence for a causal association”?”

            I did point out that not all the referenced articles made a simple case against vaccination – that was not my point. That a study finds no causal link between MMR vaccine and autism is not the same as the argument that there is no connection between toxicity (to which certain vaccine components may contribute) and autism.

            “Is it possible that you just googled “MMR autism”, and then copy pasted every journal entry that came up in the search, hoping that this would look like you had a lot of sciency stuff to back up your claims? ‘Cos it kinda looks that way.”

            Please look at the “claims” before resorting to ad hominem speculations. I am not “claiming” any proven causality between vaccines and autism, I am saying the scientific consensus is not where the article says it is and therefore, as a piece of purported scientific journalism, it is inaccurate and misleading. If my intention was really to be as polemical as you appear to think, don’t you think I would have left out of my list an article whose conclusions are stated in the title?

            Yours respectfully,


  • An article entitled “Pro-Vaccine confidence versus science” would be just as valid and to serve the cause of balance,
    more needed,
    seeing how the Mainstream media is greatly more biased in favor of pushing the pro-vaccine agenda.
    Anyone who trusts that government and Big Pharma never obscures the truth and does all they can to protect and encourage your good health
    is a naive fool, to put it lightly.
    It takes more effort but if you truly want to be informed on the matter you must go beyond the restrictions of the mainstream to discover the truth for yourself.
    Gary Null has been leading the fight for decades
    to educate the public and hold big pharma acountable.
    Do a search on him if you want to find more “Science” on this important issue and empower yourself with non-agenda driven knowledge !
    To your health !

    1. ThirdEyeOpen:

      “Big Pharma” is also an outspoken advocate of germ theory. This fact is not evidence that physical ailments are actually caused by evil spirits.

    2. It takes more effort but if you truly want to be informed on the matter you must go beyond the restrictions of the mainstream to discover the truth for yourself.

      Your argument is drivel. I have attacked the pharmaceutical industry on many occasions. In the last few decades they’ve created many drugs that do an unacceptable level of harm, and in many cases, simply don’t work. But do you know how we know about that harm? Clinical data. We know that drugs for depression and ADHD sometimes do more harm that good because clinicians who prescribed them reported their results. We know that cholesterol-lowering drugs don’t seem to do much of anything because the clinicians who prescribed them told us. Do you know what the clinical data is on vaccines? They work. They’ve been working for decades. If there is any risk, it’s infinitesimal compared to the benefits of vaccination.

      You’ve equated Gary Null, a talk radio host with a PhD from a correspondence college and an AIDS denialist, with the Center for Disease Control. Your arguments are drivel and children will die because you can’t understand the difference between knowledge and opinion.

  • As someone who has had shingles, and could have it again, I fervently wish the vaccine for chickenpox had been available when I was a child. I wonder how many of the fervently anti-vax crowd are old enough to know people with polio, children born with birth defects because their mother got measles, etc?

    1. Re: Too many humans, due to success of vaccines.

      Unfortunately, no. Turns out people have more kids when the survival of said kids is uncertain. The less control you have over the number of kids that survive, the more kids you try to have.

      Personally, I like not having chicken pox waiting to come back and bite me in the ass when I hit middle age. Coincidentally, I also like science. I’m pretty sure this is correlation, rather than causation.

  • In order for a disease to remain in a population, it needs a sufficient density of susceptible hosts.

    Influenza mutates rapidly- if it didn’t we’d all already be immune. Other diseases mutate more slowly. In any case, if every potential host were immunized against a particular disease, there would be no more hosts in which it could mutate.

    For any given disease, if enough people don’t get immunized, they form a population in which new strains of the disease can evolve, which would ultimately undermine the efficacy of the existing vaccine.

  • 1. Stupid people don’t vaccinate themselves, or their children.
    2. Stupid people are more likely to die.
    3. Human race evolves and becomes more intelligent, as intelligence is a an evolutionary advantage(for a change).

    I don’t see the problem.

  • Antinous, biased much ?
    The fact of the matter is Gary Null is an *Educator*.
    To label him an AIDS denialist is unfairly marginalizing of the man’s body of work, to say the least.

    Speaking of “opinion”
    take a glance at Ernst’s post above and it’s quite obvious benefits of vaccine are subjective opinion
    not cut and dried scientific fact.
    As far as calling something drivel, what the hell was that mess of contorted pro-pharma logic ( in an above post I’m paraphrasing here) that said the autistic behaviors exhibited by some children after getting the MMR would have manifested anyway regardless if the vaccine had been administered because that’s the age that children start showing that sort of dysfunction naturally ??!
    Inquire of the mother whose previously bright and normally developing 2 year old regressed into nonresponsiveness shortly after receiving the MMR vaccine,
    and I think you’d get an entirely different take on the matter.
    Another thing about Gary Null, he’s pro-human health,
    not pro-genocide,
    don’t know if the same could be said for CDC,
    and that makes him a whole lot more trustworthy in my longevity desiring opinion.

    1. Gary Null is a quack who is in the business of selling alternative medicine books and overpriced vitamins, not an educator. Even assuming he is sincere, he is more pro-Gary Null than pro-human health.

      Whatever you want to call him, he denies that HIV causes AIDS. I wouldn’t take any medical advice whatsoever from anyone who can believe that after more than 20 years of science to the contrary.

    2. Antinous, biased much ?

      Towards reality? Yes. I understand the need for philosophy and even fantasy in life. But not in public health discussions. Your drivel is becoming more ludicrous.

  • pre the medical revolution and the ability to inoculate and immunise populations what was the infant mortality rate?


    this is a no brainer, but hey kids don’t die from those horrible diseases because a previous generation was immunised…..


  • I wonder how much of the population has to be vaccinated before not being vaccinated is actually the better survival strategy. Off hand, I’d guess it’d be pretty high, since the risks associated with vaccination are much lower than the risks associated with the disease, but statistics are funny things sometimes…

    And not that this could happen with flu, but vaccination did manage to eliminate smallpox. Maybe we should vaccinate pigs and geese…

  • Well it looks like the doomsday clock on the wall says “Times Up”…

    And your self-denial was going sooo well…

  • Re Jenny McCarthy and other celebrity anti-vax folks: did it occur to any of them that the autism of their children could have been due to something they did? I’d be much more suspicious of various legal and illegal drugs ingested before conception or during fetal development which could certainly have caused a problem, as could any of a number of epigenetic factors. Exposure to polluting chemicals, disease, and other things all can alter genetic epxression.

    Why assume that vaccine was the “cause” of the autism? Well, it’s hard to take the blame personally for something like that, isn’t it?

    1. Cowherd asks “did it occur to any of them that the autism of their children could have been due to something they did?”

      The thing is, we just don’t know. The causes of autism are so poorly understood. The irony is that due to this controversy, the one, single, solitary thing we can be absolutely 100% certain did NOT cause their children’s autism is… the MMR vaccination.

      We know that as fact from large scale studies with extensive peer review. It is beyond dispute.

    2. “did it occur to any of them that the autism of their children could have been due to something they did?”

      I realize you want to decry an unscientific position, but it doesn’t excuse boorish behaviour. I think every parents with kid(s) with autism encounters at least one pinhead who blames us for our kid’s behaviour when we’re out in public. So, yeah, it’s occurred to all of us. The majority of parents support Autism Speaks instead of the Jenny McCarthy group. Autism Speaks pursues research into causes and treatments vs. attacking vaccination, because we want to know the truth. It used to be accepted medical opinion that it was the mothers fault, though now, it’s considered a pretty shitty thing to do. Google “Refrigerator mother” if you’re unfamiliar with the history. I don’t believe vaccines caused autism, but personally believe it was likely some environmental exposure. Yes, there are also likely genetic factors too. Since you’re living in this society and using technology, maybe you should also consider that it’s something YOU did that caused it too.

  • I will make four statements about western, pharmaceutical based medicine:

    1) It is the system of treatment with the highest rate of negative side effects of all widely practiced systems of medicine.

    2) It is the most expensive and profitable system of treatment on the planet today.

    3) Its proponents claim that all other treatment systems in human history are utterly worthless and have no benefit whatsoever.

    Considering these three statements to be true, and I invite anyone to rebut them, I think it is only sensible to be skeptical of the claims made by this industry.

    I might even add a fourth:

    4) It’s proponents spend quite a lot of time and money lobbying various political systems to be given preferential treatment, and to make it more difficult for practitioners of other medical systems to operate. Look at the current health care “reform”, that forces everyone to buy into some sort of allopathic insurance and throws not a single bone to any type of non-allopathic care.

    1. zyodei, 3) is pretty ridiculous. Botanical research generally focuses on plants identified by indigenous peoples as effective. Artemisium, for example, is one of the more effective malaria treatments. I’ll freely admit there’s a lot more skepticism, but it is certainly not ignored.

      If you’re talking about things which do not have a scientifically feasible method of action, such as crystal auras, those definitely are.

      1. Ah, damn, sorry, artemisinin. To actually add something, it’s isolated from

        Antinous, you’re ignoring my argument. My dogma statement was not about vaccines, but rather about the value of nutrition in preventing and lessening the duration and severity of even serious infectious diseases. Certainly, the measles vaccine is highly effective – but it and a healthy lifestyle are not mutually exclusive.

        I maintain that if you claim that nutrition and lifestyle has no effect whatsoever on the severity or transmission rate of an infection without any evidence, that is not science, but rather “scientific” dogma.

        If you read my first post above, #63, I am saying roughly the same thing – that most vaccines are useful, but we should consider them on a case by case basis, instead of reflexively saying vaccine = good. The Atlantic article I link makes a pretty good case that the benefit from the Flu vaccine may be negligible.

        1. wmburke,

          We don’t allow links to nut-job conspiracy blogs. Unless they read like a Dr. Bronner’s bottle and have pictures of dino-riding Jesus.

      2. From #112–Proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle strengthens your immune system and your natural resistance to disease.

        Sometimes the immune response to fighting off an infection is what kills you. It’s called a cytokine storm.

        Normally most flu deaths are from the very young or very old populations. However, when a particularly potent mutation of the flu (or other pathogen) arises it is often the young and health-those with strong immune systems–who are at most risk of dying. Essentially their immune systems over react to the threat and triggers a cytokine storm.

        Proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will not protect you from infection; a vaccination can.

      3. @zyodei. All of your posts raise the blatant straw man that western medicine consists solely of pharmaceutical measures. This clearly isn’t true. There is no such thing as complementary, alternative or any other kind of woo medicine. There is only medicine. If it works, its medicine. If it doesn’t, it isn’t.

        There is no big conspiracy. There is no desire from the elite overlords to oppress the masses with pill shaped toxins. If you think that’s the case, then you seriously need to get away from the tin hat brigade.

        Take a look around you, assess the evidence, find out a bit about modern health care techniques, leave your pathological inability to trust experts at the door, and assess with a rational thought process whether evidence based medicine is actually achieving more or less than non-evidence based “medicine”.

        Pharmaceutical treatments are one among many of the interventions that can be offered by health professionals. If any of the woo stuff worked, then, believe me, it would be offered. This hot air is not helping anyone. On the matter of woo, put up or shut up. Show me the evidence.

        Now don’t get me wrong, there are lots of things that individuals can do to improve their chance of living a long and healthy life. We are all the product of our lifestyle choices. But believe it or not, people don’t want to be told how to live. Living in the UK, I am very aware of the fact that the NHS would love everyone to stop smoking and drink less and eat less junk and eat more vegetables. These are lifestyle factors that have a real impact on health. But people seem to like smoking and drinking and eating junk. What would you advocate at this point?

        And, yes, I think something has to be done about the motives in big pharma. But this doesn’t detract from the main point. I used to be very skeptical of the NHS, but I’m coming to the idea that the motives are oh so much better than the profit is all motive that seems to exist in the states. For one, prevention really is better than cure.

      4. Yeah, I just HATE these “stupid,” “ignorant” “bozos” who question Mr. 100,000 vaccines/baby, or weigh the likelihood of getting a disease against the likelihood of injuries caused by the vaccine.

        By taking a critical look at their options, they’re committing “neglect and ABUSE” (emphasis added). And of course in this society when people commit child abuse, we take their kids away and put them in jail, which is what should happen to them.

        In fact, their behavior is so “socially irresponsible and … immoral” taking all their kids away might not be viable. We ought to put these people in camps, frankly. It might sound extreme but these peoples’ actions “endanger their community” and we can’t let it go on.

        I don’t know if I can wait… “I just boggle at and then want to STRANGLE the people that do not want to give their kids vaccinations” (emphasis added).


        Seriously, people in this thread need to check themselves. A lot of people who liked the wired piece are writing really violent, frankly psychotic things. What are you calling for when you accuse someone of child abuse? Vaccinations and diseases can be a life and death matter, are you joking when you say you want to strangle someone? How do I know?

        Frankly I’m not surprised by the schlock published by the yellow journalists at wired (all opposing voices were labeled “misinformants” in a blood-red callout with mugshot looking pictures, that’s neither good for scientific inquiry nor is it good journalism), who would run a cover predicting the end of sliced bread if they think it’ll sell a magazine. I don’t take it seriously and didn’t think many people did.

        As a parent with a more nuanced stance on vaccinations however, I am shocked and appalled (and believe me I’m rarely “shocked” by something I see on the ‘net) to see, basically threats on my life (or calls to kill people like me) and insistence that people like me MUST dismissed as idiots and treated like ‘undesirables’ because of what we deem the lowest-risk way to treat our kids medically. Furthermore, I believe that many of you saying “Vaccines never harmed anyone, YOU ARE STUPID AND DON’T KNOW SCIENCE” don’t know what the fork you’re talking about.

        If it’s “crazy” to ask whether there’s a link between vaccines and autism, why did the federal government concede that vaccines contributed to a child’s autism and settle a lawsuit brought by the parents ? Why didn’t they use the “numerous studies” to prove that there was no link?

        Anyway, all I ask is that people seriously consider how they are speaking, and the potential consequences of their demonizing. It’s bad, people, and it scares me.

        1. Anyway, all I ask is that people seriously consider how they are speaking, and the potential consequences of their demonizing.

          Some of us think that advocating a public health policy that might save one child from autism at the cost of killing ten children with chicken pox, measles, etc. is pretty demonic and deserves to be condemned at every opportunity.

        2. sloansteddi is shocked at the “insistence that people like me MUST dismissed as idiots and treated like ‘undesirables’ because of what we deem the lowest-risk way to treat our kids medically.”

          What you deem to be the lowest-risk way to treat your kids medically is not a fact based calculation and puts my kids in mortal danger.

          If you think thats over-dramatic, look at the outbreak of whooping cough in NSW this year, clustered around areas with low vaccination rates (according to the NSW Health Dept), and the infant death that resulted.

      5. I notice this isn’t the only recent hit-piece on this subject- See also:
        David Kirby was consulted for this particular piece – you can read his response in the letter he sent after publication here:
        The list of scientists advocating closer attention to this issue listed here reinforces the point I was making about the Wired article – it is a gross misrepresentation of the state of scientific debate, and both poor on science and on journalism.
        This may have been pointed out elsewhere in the comments, but David Kirby’s Blogposts on Huff Po on this issue are well worth a read.

        Yours respectfully,


        1. David Kirby’s Blogposts on Huff Po on this issue are well worth a read.

          Kirby has written for many national magazines, including Glamour, Redbook, Self, and Mademoiselle.

          In May 2005, Evidence of Harm was reviewed negatively in the British Medical Journal. The reviewer described Kirby’s book as “woefully one-sided”, and wrote: “In his determination to provide an account that is sympathetic to the parents, Kirby enters into the grip of the same delusion and ends up in the same angry and paranoid universe into which campaigners have descended, alleging phone taps and other forms of surveillance as they struggle against sinister conspiracies between health authorities and drug companies.”

          1. Antinous:

            I havn’t read “Evidence of Harm” so can’t comment on the book, and I’m not saying anybody’s the fount of wisdom on this subject. I have just read Kiby’s blog posts, which document a very real level of ongoing debate within the scientific research community and institutions such as the CDC, NIH, National Vaccine Advisory Committee and others, of which one would not be aware from the Wired article or indeed your posts here.

            What were you actually trying to say, with your post?
            That somehow, the information presented is invalid because his book got a poor review?
            Are there factual errors in his blog posts about the ongoing scientific debate and the absence of consensus?
            If so, it would be more helpful if you would point these out, rather than trying not-so-subtly to delegitimise Mr. Kirby himself.

            Yours respectfully,


            1. it would be more helpful if you would point these out, rather than trying not-so-subtly to delegitimise Mr. Kirby himself.

              I have pointed you to the Center for Disease Control: You have pointed me to someone who writes for Mademoiselle and Cosmo. I have pointed you to experts: You have pointed me to someone who confirms your unsupported claims and apparently soothes your conscience. I stand by my repudiation of your source. Opinion =/= fact.

              1. Antinous,

                You did not point ME to the CDC at all – It seems you are confusing me with another poster (sloansteddi@#155, perhaps?).

                I would be interested to know which of the authors in the studies I listed in Comment #101 are not experts.

                I have made no “unsupported claims” or “opinions” on this thread, apart from pointing out that the the Wired article’s assertion that there is a scientific consensus on this issue is inaccurate and distorts the discussion. Althouhg in my first post, I had not imagined an exhaustive bibliography would be necessary, I have backed up this point with enough “supporting” material.

                It in no way “sooths my conscience” to see uncertainty in the scientific community on a major public health issue – quite the opposite.

                If there is anything inaccurate or factually incorrect in Mr. Kirby’s post here:


                I would be interested to know, as it describes members of the CDC and other US Federal and State Health agencies (all listed in the article), academics etc. in the so-called “Salt Lake Writing Group” advocating further study and evaluations – an odd thing to advocate if the necessary research had already been done and the case were closed.

                There are people around who think something must be more true because they read it in the NYT (for which David Kirby ALSO apparently has written and gained prizes).

                The validity of somebody writing is determined by WHAT they write and what it is based upon as much as WHERE it’s written. Even some moderator in a comments thread on the blogosphere might make a relevant point or pass on an important piece of information now and again ;).

                Yours respectfully,


        2. Ernst,

          Thanks for the link to Kirby’s calm reply (comment 148) – the most eye-opening thing I’ve read here.

          As I said, I’m pro-vaccine, but I deeply resent this “I’m a scientist, you’re a kook” stance. *Very* unscientific.

          Thanks also to Antinous for pouncing on it so quickly. That’s when I knew I *had* to read it.


      6. d

        Well, for instance, homeopathy – roundly rejected and derided by the scientific community. But what do you make of this meta-analysis?

        Overall, of the 105 trials with interpretable results, 81 trials 
        indicated positive results, in 24 no positive effects were found.’  They concluded  ‘The evidence presented in this  review  would  probably  be  sufficient  for  establishing  homoeopathy  as  a  regular  treatment  for  certain 
        indications… Based on this evidence we would be ready to accept that homoeopathy  can be efficacious, if 
        only the mechanism of action were more plausible.’. –  BMJ in 1991 by Kleijnen et al 

        “results  are  not  compatible  with  the  hypothesis  that  the  clinical 
        effects  of  homoeopathy  are  completely  due  to  placebo” – Lancet 1997

        Eight years later, the Lancet picked eight studies out of 110 available, and even though they did show some usefulness, chalked it all up to placebo, and wrote an anonymous editorial and a cover headline called “The End of Homeopathy”

        Whatever the benefits of homeopathy (and I don’t know much about it), the editor makes it clear that they don’t believe it can possibly work, and work from their. This seems like poor science.

        Just the first example that came to my head.


        I think that vaccines have been one of the most important health breakthroughs of the 20th century. But just because something says vaccine on it, doesn’t automatically mean it’s safe and effective – even if most are. The flu vaccine, in particular, rests on shaky evidence. To defend it, in the name of science, is fatuous.

      7. @robulus

        What you deem to be the lowest-risk way to treat your kids medically is not a fact based calculation and puts my kids in mortal danger.

        lol deja vu. Why is it that you say my position isn’t fact based, yet offer no facts to refute it? Why is it that you accuse people in my camp of being “emotional” and unscientific, when you make wild accusations of me putting your kids in “mortal danger” but offer no proof? Where’s this science you claim I don’t understand?

        If you think thats over-dramatic, look at the outbreak of whooping cough in NSW this year, clustered around areas with low vaccination rates (according to the NSW Health Dept), and the infant death that resulted.

        Hmm, funny… if I offered up an anecdote as scientific proof, I’d be called an ignorant moron. I guess this is your irrefutable science?

        btw, the gov. didn’t just agree vaccines contributed to autism in one case, they also set up a fund to pay out to those injured by vaccines. Yep, your tax dollars at work, paying for an “imaginary” problem cooked up by us moonbats.

        Oh, but yall don’t want to respond to my links, just make emotional ad-hom’s. Suit yourself, but if you take that route don’t you dare claim you have science on your side.

        1. Why is it that you say my position isn’t fact based, yet offer no facts to refute it?

          You linked to a page talking about a law that was passed in 1986. If you follow the first link on that page, you’ll see that all of the test cases failed to prove that vaccines were the cause of their children’s autism. Is that your best shot?

          Let me introduce you to the Center for Disease Control‘s information from 2009.

        2. lol deja vu.

          How very pat.

          if I offered up an anecdote as scientific proof, I’d be called an ignorant moron. I guess this is your irrefutable science

          This site summarises the evidence based argument succinctly. In short, there have been a total of three peer reviewed studies linking the MMR vaccination to autism, and their peers savaged them. The results have not been reproducible, and the samples have been laughably small.

          In contrast, there are more than twenty major studies analysing data from hundreds of thousands to millions of people all conclusively finding no link whatsoever between MMR and autism.

      8. What amuses me to no end about anti-vaxxers (and conspiracy theorists in general) is how they always respond to disbelief in their pet conspiracy with the claim that you’re a deluded sheep because you don’t believe in ANY conspiracy theories and believe the government is always benevolent on all matters.

        So, what, I have to believe in all conspiracies or none of them? No middle ground?

      9. @Antinous First of all I think it’s fair to note, for the sake of all readers, that you are taunting me then blocking my comments, which I don’t think is reasonable. Either ignore me completely or let me respond please. Wanted to mention it just so everyone knows that an aggressive player in this debate is also the ref.

        Gov’t concedes connection (note I didn’t say 1:1 cause:effect) between vaccines and autism:

        The point of the second link wasn’t to assert that autism is definitively caused by vaccines, just to point out that:
        A) It is officially accepted fact (as far as US gov is concerned) that vaccine injuries (not just autism) are an ongoing problem, and this has been known for over two decades and
        B) Given that, and the fact that the gov’t also conceded a connection between vaccines and autism, it is not unreasonable for parents to question whether they want to subject their kids to that risk (vs. the disease risk), and to label them all wackos is unreasonable and more theological than scientific.

        I am using the gov’t for examples because it is fairly conservative on such matters and unlikely to speak poorly of vaccines unless they absolutely have to.

        I am not going to debate whether vaccines cause injury because it is an accepted fact. The debate is “is it reasonable for parents to weight the risks of vaccine injuries against the risks of disease” and I think it is.

        I’m not saying vaccines have never done good because I believe they have, but it doesn’t make a person crazy to weigh the risks/benefits of different choices. Furthermore, it’s just plain stupid to claim the science is all cut and dry and of one opinion, because this simply isn’t true.

        1. First of all I think it’s fair to note, for the sake of all readers, that you are taunting me then blocking my comments, which I don’t think is reasonable.

          I haven’t blocked any of your comments. As to taunting you, I have attempted to discredit your opinions because I find them to be a threat to public health and because you apparently didn’t even read the court records that you linked.

      10. @robulus

        how very pat.

        Just keepin’ things light and breezy, baby!

        So did the US gov’t just not read that link when they paid out on a claim that here’s a vaccine-autism connection? Or is the federal gov’t just drinkin’ the snakeoil koolaid?

        Anyway autism is not the only injury caused by vaccines, and remember I’m not saying autism is caused by vaccines, just that if the gov’t etc. says it’s a possibility, it’s not unreasonable for me to consider this. To call people stupid for weighing their options is hateful and ignorant.

        1. @sloansteddi

          Just keepin’ things light and breezy, baby!

          OK, cool.

          I am deliberately ignoring your link, you are right. The reason is not because I can’t bare the damning weight of its power. Its because its a link to a journalist’s interpretation of a government compensation finding, mixed in with hand picked research notes, that has been framed specifically to support the anti-vaccination movement.

          There’s just so much wrong with weighing that piece of “evidence” up against the overwhelming consensus of the global medical research community that I am simply not prepared to entertain it.

          You’ve decided to count the doubts raised by this kind of sketchy amateur sleuthing as more compelling than the rigorously produced, verifiable results of decades of research with millions of participants. And you want me to concede that this is a reasonable choice and I should respect it.

          It’s not, and I don’t.

      11. @Antinous Well maybe my comment that was antagonistic towards *you* (no more antagonistic than you and other have been in this thread) deleted itself; I’ve not had a single problem with the other comments I’ve made.

        >Is that your best shot?

        That is taunting, Antinous.

        You haven’t answered why you think the gov’t conceded a connection between vax and autism, settling a lawsuit about it, which is of course tantamount to saying “we think we might lose this case if it went to trial.” Why did they think they might lose the case re: vax/autism in light of your definitive evidence against it?

        Anyway you’ve officially won this war debate via attrition warfare: I have no more time to spend commenting on this.

        1. You haven’t answered why you think the gov’t conceded a connection between vax and autism, settling a lawsuit about it

          The congressional action was in 1986. 23 years ago. And the test cases failed to prove a connection. Is it really too much to ask you to read your own linked material? I know that it’s a big drag to slog through multiple 30-page pdfs. I know, because I did it. Your link proves the opposite of what you’ve been contending.

      12. What really lolz me is that for the first time in history, we have a vaccine that protects against a form of cancer, which is effective when administered at any age, and it’s only recommended for females under age 26?? (I am referencing Gardasil, for cervical cancer. If I have stated anything incorrectly, correct me.)
        Contrast this with the fury to vaccinate infants and toddlers against every other thing known to man.
        I’m just sayin’.

        1. It’s not a vaccine against cervical cancer, it’s a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV). Granted, contracting HPV is a huge factor in getting cervical cancer…but there’s still no vaccine/cure for cancer. Bummer.

      13. The way this posting was framed, and the way the sides have been defined, it’s hardly surprising that universal health care still seems so far off.

        All you have to do is blame a family with autism for any case of the sniffles for which there’s a vaccine. If Big Pharma screwed up and guessed wrong in its recipe, no big deal, there’s always some layman to blame for it.

        It doesn’t seem to matter that Big Pharma itself directly funds the studies that determine a vaccine’s safety. Conflict of interest be damned, peer reviewed science can’t lose when the alternative is this kind of straw man.

        If there is a real known benefit for a drug, and there’s also a real known risk associated with that drug, who determines what those numbers have got to be before the entire population is required to buy into it?

        I think it’s a lot cheaper to publish articles like these, than to improve those numbers.

      14. I can certainly understand why most agencies continue to recommend more investigation. The breadth of almost any scientific research on a topic really doesn’t ever sink into anyone’s head.

        It is increasingly clear to me that without reaching 99.9% certainty, there are a lot of people who just won’t believe it. 98% is not sufficient, because that two percent of the research is enough to base your knowledge in, and build enormous fairytale castles in the sky. Point-one percent cuts it down to fairytale houses, and it starts to look less impressive and convincing to others.

        This is true of many disciplines, but in this case, it has consequences. That last 1.9% is actually worth getting.

      15. Any medical treatment carries risks both known and unknown. The diseases, especially in healthy children, just don’t worry me enough to seek out a medical treatment to prevent them. And it’s not just one combination vaccine it’s a lifetime commitment to the whole schedule.

      16. I’ve been working on an essay regarding the pros and cons of immunisation and it was very interesting reading all the posts here.
        Things I found interesting: some seem to think that there is alternative/’natural’ medicines versus pharmaceutics when >90% of pharmaceuticals come from natural sources but are standardised so that an exact dose is given without guessing the potency (plants vary in their potency depending on environmental conditions).
        Also, the main difference (in my reading on the subject) between ‘alternative/natural’ medicines and pharmaceuticals is how much testing has been done on them. If they have been adequately tested they become pharmaceuticals.

        On immunisation, the only thing that I use to decide whether or not to immunise my kids is evidence and the best evidence for me is statistics.
        Read Bacterial infections of humans: epidemiology and control By Alfred S. Evans, Philip S. Brachman, chapter 37 for one example of the effect of vaccinations. Mortality rates of tetanus dropped dramatically.
        People also seem to be forgetting about smallpox which used to kill ~30% of people infected (and many were infected) and now how many are dying? point in case.
        Didgeon, J.A. (1963). Development of smallpox vaccine in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. British Medical Journal 1(5342), 1367-1372.
        Sure vaccines have come a long way since then and continue to get better so we must not get stuck in a rut eg thimerosal which was used but is now rarely if ever used but people are still using it as an excuse not to vaccinate.

        As parents it is easy to feel guilty if our child gets a bit sick after vaccination eg fever etc but most don’t seem to feel guilty if their child gets really sick from a disease for which a vaccination exists. If a parent chooses not to vaccinate and their child gets the disease and dies they seem to say ‘it was natural’ and don’t blame themselves when in >90% of cases of diseases for which vaccines are available, the vaccines are able to prevent and/or cure the diseases they are for. Therefore if a child dies from a preventable disease because the parents chose not to give them the prevention/cure, the parents certainly have much to feel guilty for. The fact that vaccines work so well and these diseases are rarer than before seems to me to have made people forget how bad they are. Is a fever for a couple days or a rash really the same as permanent damage or death?

        Having said that there are a number of ‘herbal’ therapies in testing which show no effect by themselves at immunising an individual against a disease but when used with a vaccine seem (not enough studies have been done to say more concretely) to minimise vaccination side effects as well as enhancing the vaccine. For example ginseng and the influenza vaccine. Ginseng does not prevent influenza, and the influenza vaccine can prevent most cases of the influenza strain it is designed against but when used together the effect may be enhanced. (Ginseng itself has side effects eg insomnia, as do most ‘alternative/natural’ therapies)

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