I know I promised you part 2 of my “I Love Being Sick” series, and I promise that will be coming out soon, but I needed to interrupt your regular programming with a little talk about vaccinations because holy shit have you seen Facebook?
No matter what side of the needle you’re on, here’s what it all comes down to:
I’m speaking to pro- and anti-vaxxers here. There are claims made by both parties that are unfounded, and if we all do research representing both sides of the matter, we’ll understand much more. When you research only the side you want to believe, you only find information that already supports your belief. I bet most of you haven’t read a single study. I’m not talking about an article where someone refers to a study, I mean a read study with an abstract and methodology and conclusions. THIS is where the real information comes from.
1. Autism – Not proven to be a result of vaccination. The study that started this idea was discredited. The vaccine component usually blamed for autism is thimerosal, an organomercury compound. What people don’t understand about mercury is that there are two types. Methylmercury is the really dangerous one you hear about, ethylmercury is its less bad brother. Thimerosal is made from ethylmercury, which is less toxic and moves out of the system much faster, reducing the risk for over-accumulation.
Between 1999 and 2001, the amount of thimerosal in vaccines was reduced to trace amounts, and no reduction in the rate of autism has been detected.
Here’s my beef with the autism issue. While people spend energy addressing it, the REAL issues get swept to the side.
2. Autoimmunity – THIS is what we should worry about. Repeat immunization can lead to autoimmunity (Hey! Ankylosing Spondylitis tie-in!) as shown in this study.
3. Blaming unvaccinated people for spread of disease – ANYONE can be a carrier. Vaccines reduce the risk of coming down with the disease, they do NOT kill the microbe. If a baby too young to be vaccinated catches measles, she may have gotten it from a long chain of vaccinated people passing the microbe around.
Diseases like measles and Ebola naturally come in waves. They recede, they come back, they recede, they come back. There’s another outbreak of measles in Toronto. This concurrent outbreak is unrelated to the U.S. outbreak; they are two different strains, and there’s no travel link between the two. This comeback is just the natural evolution of the disease like a Backstreet Boys reunion tour.
4. Data on vaccination effectiveness is often not represented accurately. Data reports that after vaccines, disease mortality rates plummeted. But if you look at that data, you notice the rates decreasing BEFORE these vaccines were used. As we advance our medical practices, sanitation and knowledge, mortality rates decline regardless of vaccination. Check out whooping cough’s plummeting mortality rates WAY pre-vaccine.
Sorry, boring chart graphic.
This is an apology for the boring chart graphic.
5. Necessity – Measles is less deadly than asthma where we live. In the U.S. in 2011, there were 222 cases of measles and 0 deaths, according to the CDC. In the same year, 3,345 people died of asthma, an illness we commonly think of as controllable. Sure, it’s riskier to people who have a compromised immune system, but so is a cold. Studies have shown massive doses of vitamin A and vitamin C to drastically reduce the rate of mortality from measles.
6. Efficacy & Trust – Pharmaceutical companies have lots of money and hang out with lots of government friends, and that means that they can fun studies that support the results they find beneficial. Merck recently got in big trouble when they were found to have skewed data that finds their mumps vaccine to be much more effective than it is. The case involves sexy stuff like monopolizing the market to drive up the price, false claims, improper testing and manipulated results, mislabeling and false certification with the FDA and CDC.
“However, instead of reformulating the vaccine whose declining efficacy Merck itself has acknowledged, the company reportedly launched a complicated scheme to adjust its testing technique so that it would yield the desired potency results.”
This lack of integrity pervades both sides of the argument. The Wakefield study “proving” an autism link was funded by a law firm hoping to secure some fine cash money by suing vaccination manufacturers.
“I’m not an anti-vaxxer, but part of the problem may be that the medical community is not trusted by the public. Everyone knows that studies on the same issue can produce opposite results. Who are we to believe if the medical community can agree on something?”
You find wisdom in the craziest places. I pulled that from the comments section in the article regarding Toronto’s measles outbreak. It about sums it up.
7. This fact – Furthering the trust issues, a law was passed in 2011 releasing pharmaceutical companies from any harm done by vaccines. Regardless of your take of general vaccine safety, keep in mind that even Tylenol was recalled due to dangerous quality control errors. When you take away the responsibility, you take away the consumer protection.
8. Superbugs – Like antibiotics, relying on vaccines can create superbugs that are resistant, stronger, more prolific, and more dangerous. Newer strains of whooping cough lack one of the proteins that the vaccine targets. What does this mean down the road? It means when there are breakthrough epidemics, they’ll be way, way worse. Here’s a Penn State study that finds the whooping cough vaccine enhances the development of the disease and may be the reason for the increase in prevalence in the last decade.
9. Eradication – doesn’t exist. Microbes of anything will survive, hang out with carriers, and infect when the opportunity arises. Travel to other countries will spark outbreaks. The goal of eradication is impossible, and we need to stop acting as if this new outbreak threatens it.
Do I feel for the families who are dealing with measles right now? Of course. I don’t blame them for feeling like victims of an unvaccinated population, but at the same time, we need to reassess blame, understand doubts and protect ourselves the best we can.
Would I vaccinate my kids? I don’t know yet. If that time comes, I’ll be researching the latest data.
Should vaccination be mandatory? No. Even with a suppressed immune system, I am pro-choice. Period.