Friday, September 9, 2011

Miscellaneous Illogical Pro-Vaccination Arguments

My husband has  commandeered my writing skills for his website over the past week, so I haven't had time to post. But I'm back now with responses to common pro-vaccine arguments.
  • “Vaccines save lives!” This warm-and-fuzzy statement plays on your fear of losing your child. It also conveniently does not address the fact that the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) has received over 200,000 reports since 1990, and about 30,000 reports annually, with 13% being associated with hospitalization, serious injury, disability or DEATH. (1) Since most infectious diseases we vaccinate for and deaths from them had declined substantially before the advent of vaccines, it hardly seems reasonable to assume that it is absolutely certain that an unvaccinated individual would contract a “vaccine preventable” disease and die from it. Nevertheless, vaccine advocates love to make the (unfounded) assertion that death and destruction will surely follow if we stop vaccinating. Have you ever heard of the “Jenny McCarthy Body Count” website that supposedly counts the number of deaths that have occurred from failure to vaccinate? The methods used to calculate these numbers are highly unscientific, by the site’s creator’s own admission:

“Q: How do you know that all of these illnesses and deaths are due to people not being vaccinated?
A:    I don’t and I don’t believe that anyone can say that all vaccine preventable illnesses and vaccine preventable deaths are due to people not being vaccinated.  However, in nearly all of the outbreak cases that I have read on the CDC website the “index patient” has been an unvaccinated child.” (2)
The site’s creator just assumes that everyone who dies from a “vaccine preventable illness” was unvaccinated because the index patient is sited as being an unvaccinated child. Furthermore, just because the CDC cites the index patient as being an unvaccinated child, doesn’t mean that an unvaccinated child was the cause of an outbreak. Vaccinated children contract diseases like measles and pertussis all the time, yet are very conveniently never cited as an index case for an outbreak.
  • “Autism may not kill your child, but diseases will.” OK, so maybe there is enough information to say that vaccines cause autism, BUT isn’t that better than losing your child? Refer to the chart from Tavia Gordon’s 1953 report to the Office of Vital Statistics. (3) Even in 1900 when sanitation and diet were bad, most people still recovered from infectious diseases that we vaccinate for. Most unvaccinated children grow up to be perfectly healthy functioning individuals who do not die from “vaccine preventable disease”. Furthermore, find me a parent who welcomed a beautiful baby into their family, a child who used to smile and laugh and light up when his mommy and daddy entered the room, a child who was learning to walk and talk and who then stopped developing, stopped looking people in the eyes, doesn’t say “I love you”, won’t be touched, and now bangs his head against a wall. Find me that parent, look her in the eye and tell her she hasn’t lost her child.
  • “Thousands of people used to get sick or die from diseases before vaccines were introduced. Since mass vaccination campaigns started, theses diseases have become rare.” The measles vaccine was licensed in 1963, but by 1955, there were only about 50 deaths (.03 per 100,000) a year from measles. (4) The surge in polio cases in the 1950’s was very likely due to vaccination with DTP since injections increase the risk of polio (5,6,7,) The Hib vaccine is often touted as indisputable proof that vaccines are effective because experts can say that the number of cases of Hib decreased the very next year after the vaccine was introduced. It was said to have dramatically decreased cases of the disease in Dallas and Minnesota, but Hib was on the decline in Dallas before the introduction of the vaccine and efficacy studies in Minnesota showed the vaccine to be ineffective (8).
  • “Reactions from vaccines are very, very rare”. This complacent argument was ignorantly repeated by the Missionary Medical in the March 2007 Ensign article on missionary preparation. (Yes, I am saying “ignorant”. I am not being malicious; I am calling a spade a spade. I have no doubt at all that Brother Doty had the very best intentions when he said that “The advantages of immunization overwhelmingly exceed the minuscule risks of receiving vaccines.” He was simply giving ill-researched and misguided advice.)  Again, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) has received over 200,000 reports since 1990, and about 30,000 reports annually, with 13% being associated with hospitalization, serious injury, disability or death- and this represents only a fraction of reactions because of underreporting. Cancers and tumors have been caused vaccines, such as in the case of SV-40 and the polio vaccine. (9) Then there are all the issues like fibromyalgia, SIDS, autism, ADHD, and multiple sclerosis that many people say came on shortly after vaccination, but which the medical community curiously has no explanation for. And if reactions are so rare, why do we keep seeing vaccines being recalled? In 2007 Merck recalled PedvaxHIB (HiB) and Combivax (Hep B and HiB) for equipment contamination with the bacteria bacillus cereus. (10) In 2009, Sanofi Pasteur recalled 800,000 doses of their H1N1 vaccine because they said the strength of the shot dropped slightly. (Though they reassured parents that the shot was still safe and effective. Then why the recall?) (11) And in 2010, the rotavirus vaccine Rotarix was recalled after it was found to be contaminated with porcine circovirus 1. (12)
  • “The vast majority of a population must be vaccinated to keep infectious diseases at bay.” (Herd Immunity). Do you know anyone who has scarlet fever? How about typhoid? Polio? We don’t vaccinate for scarlet fever, yet it remains relatively rare. Typhoid is virtually unheard of because of clean water supplies. But if the concept of herd immunity is true then we should all be vaccinated for typhoid. Most adults no longer have immunity to polio, yet polio is unheard of in the United States except as a result of vaccination for the disease. See my herd immunity post.
  • “It’s the unvaccinated kids who are bringing all the diseases back.” Well, if that were true, then Mississippi (which only allows medical exemptions from vaccinations) shouldn’t have a pertussis problem. But they do. In August of 2007, Mississippi experienced a pertussis epidemic with 140 cases reported. (13) Even if you believe childhood vaccines to be 99.99% effective, the unvaccinated adults can be seen as spreaders of disease. But the vaccinated kids (even asymptomatic ones) are also getting diseases like pertussis, as one Israeli study showed. (14) During the 2010 pertussis outbreak in San Diego, most of the pertussis cases were found to occur in vaccinated individuals. (15)
  • “Keep your germy unvaccinated kids away from my vaccinated kids so that they don’t get my kids sick!” If you really believe vaccines to be effective then what do you have to worry about?
  • “Vaccines make kids healthier.” I have yet to see a vaccinated child who doesn’t get sick frequently. My friends and relatives who vaccinate their children are always taking their kids to the doctor for illnesses ranging from the flu to pneumonia. I was fully vaccinated as a baby and I can assure you I was sick all.the.time. Amoxicillin was as regular a find in my parents’ fridge as milk, bread, and eggs when I was growing up. As a baby, I had eczema so bad that my mom had to put me in mittens during the summer to keep me from scratching. The eczema outbreaks continued through childhood and I still have problems with it. My brother had tubes put in his ears at a year old and the procedure was considered for me as well because we kept getting ear infections. I had the flu once a year, several colds, and frequent strep throat. Vaccinations did not make me healthy. My little boy, on the other hand, has never had an ear infection, flu, strep throat, or anything more than a mild diaper rash or the sniffles during teething.
  • “All the information saying vaccines are dangerous is just hearsay on the Internet.” And in books, medical journals, studies, articles... I have actually found a great deal of information that supports my arguments in pro-vaccination articles and information from the CDC.
  • “People who don’t vaccinate are just a bunch of fear mongers.” Hey, you’re the one who thinks your kid is going to die from measles or the flu, not me!


(1) VAERS statistics
(2) Ridiculously inaccurate “statistics” on “vaccine preventable deaths”
(3) Tavia Gordon’s analysis in Public Health Reports, Volume 68, No. 4 pgs. 441-444
(4) How to Raise A Healthy Child... In Spite of Your Doctor by Robert S. Mendelsohn M.D., pg. 237
(5) Abstract of HV Wyatt study on polio and injections
(6) Abstract of Strebel study on polio and injections
(7) J.K. Martin study on polio and injections
(8) The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults by Randall Neustaedter, pg.166
(9) The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults by Randall Neustaedter, pg.58-59
(10) Merck recalls Pedvax and Combivax,8599,1694265,00.html
(11) H1N1 vaccine recall
(12) Rotarix recall
(13) Mississippi pertussis outbreak,5373,279.html
(14) Fully vaccinated, asymptomatic children catch pertussis
(15) San Diego pertussis outbreak

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