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Earth Not Flat After All
February 15, 2009 4:51 PM   Subscribe

After ten years of legal battles, three federal judges rejected the theory that the MMR vaccine causes autism. "Petitioners' theories of causation were speculative and unpersuasive," wrote Special Master Denise Vowell in the case of Colten Snyder v. HHS. "To conclude that Colten's condition was the result of his MMR vaccine, an objective observer would have to emulate Lewis Carroll's White Queen and be able to believe six impossible (or at least highly improbable) things before breakfast."

Last January, Alison Singer, the executive vice president of communications and awareness at Autism Speaks, quit her job over her frustration that too much attention was being placed on vaccine studies, saying in part, "The question has been asked and answered and it's time to move on," she told Newsweek last month. "We need to be able to say, 'Yes, we are now satisfied that the earth is round.' " A poll taken the previous fall showed among other results that "Nineteen percent of the respondents agreed with the statement 'Autism is caused by a preservative once found in childhood vaccines.'"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (244 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow. That Alison Singer interview is incredible. Yes, yes, YES.
posted by effugas at 4:56 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I doubt it will help, sadly. Over at ArsTechnica (a technical and moderately science-friendly publication, let us note) one of the early reactions to this was from a commentator who claimed that, since the germ and viral basis of understanding disease is unproven tosh, we shouldn't be using vaccines anyway, since they have no proven benefit.

Between that and "Jenny McCarthy says it, it must be true" I find myself wondering how far off the next Dark Ages are.
posted by rodgerd at 5:15 PM on February 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


This article in a recent London Times is required reading for anyone interested in how science can be twisted by personal ambition and hubris. It details how Andrew Wakefield, then an English surgeon, conspired to build a medical case against the MMR vaccine by falsifying data in a case series of a dozen autistic children. (The study, published in the Lancet, touched off the panic over the MMR vaccine and led to a sharp drop in vaccination, the loss of local herd immunity and a massive increase in measles incidence.) It has never been replicated.

Given the Times article supports the hypothesis that Wakefield (and charlatans like him) are nothing more than con men in white coats, building their own fame and fortune with the pain and anguish of autistic children and their parents. They should hang.
posted by docgonzo at 5:19 PM on February 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Where's your God now, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.?
posted by billysumday at 5:25 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I have two words: silicon breast implants.

Reason won, this time. It won't always win.
posted by Xoebe at 5:25 PM on February 15, 2009


silicon? that sounds.... lumpy.
posted by klanawa at 5:31 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


And there's this sideshow as well.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:39 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where's your God now, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.?

I lost more than a little respect for Jon Stewart when he had RFK jr on -- after rightfully mocking the cable shouters and talking heads many, many times for letting guests spout transparent lies without calling bullshit, Stewart let RFK jr ramble on about the proof that thimerosol causes autism.

Comedy's hard, news is harder.
posted by docgonzo at 5:43 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just because there was not enough evidence to establish it as truth does not mean that it is false.
posted by caddis at 5:49 PM on February 15, 2009


"Reason won, this time."

Even that is not so certain... Wakefield's created a meme that will go on and on, in my opinion. The echo chamber of web-connected concerned parents will make sure of that.

I met my first denialist a couple of Sundays ago. She was nice enough, but advised me to avoid vaccinations for our baby - her own child is severely autistic. It's hard to rebut such advice when you know it's well-meant and "supported" by dozens of other parents of autistic kids who also blame their kids' conditions on vaccines.
posted by micketymoc at 5:50 PM on February 15, 2009


Just because there was not enough evidence to establish it as truth does not mean that it is false

I look forward to monkeys flying out your butt.
posted by docgonzo at 5:52 PM on February 15, 2009 [21 favorites]


I've been wondering if there's a term that succinctly captures the mechanism by which the autism - MMR jab connection has gained credibility. We could go with the old chestnuts like ad populum, ad verecundiam don't quite work, because we the appeals aren't really to the bandwagon, the elite, or authority. ad Misericordiam isn't quite it, either, because it's not merely an appeal to pity.

Hypothesis by convergent misery?
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 6:01 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


But don't you see? This is all part of the cover-up too.
posted by gottabefunky at 6:01 PM on February 15, 2009


I just hope that this ruling will provide some peace to the autism affected families. At least some of them can now can stop worrying about assigning blame and maybe move on with their lives.
posted by orme at 6:04 PM on February 15, 2009


Just because there was not enough evidence to establish it as truth does not mean that it is false.

There's also lots of evidence that it's false, some of which is mentioned in the above articles, the rest of which can be found with your favorite search engine.

Feel free to provide us with your refutation, or let us know if you want specific articles.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:09 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


(But I am glad that thimerosal was removed as a preservative from vaccines and contact lens fluid. Organic mercury compounds are nasty.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:12 PM on February 15, 2009


I was just listening to the This American Life episode about the recent measles outbreak in Southern California, and it left me with the conclusion that if the public health community wants to convince resistant people to vaccinate, they're going to have to come up with a better strategy than just repeating, "DO IT YOUR YOUR KIDS WILL DIE" over and over. I only selectively vaccinated my kid (please restrain yourself from yelling "do it your kid will die!" - I've heard it all before) and the only argument that's ever come close to convincing me to get more vaccinations for her is the greater good argument, but I've never heard that argument from a doctor.

Likewise, with the specific issue of autism, I think some people - effected or uneffected by autism - will continue to hold their position that autism can be triggered by themerisol as long as the only way they are addressed is, "Themerisol doesn't cause autism and if you think it does then you're dumb and a child abuser!"

I'd have a lot more faith in a public health voice that spoke more honestly about how much is unknown, that aknowledged the real and known dangers of mercury (which is in themerisol) and the reality that in the past medical wisdom has sometimes been proven wrong. I think to deal with complex issues, health workers have to be wiling to dialog on a deeper level with lay people who have genuine interest in the issue and have shown their willingness to do research on the topic.
posted by serazin at 6:20 PM on February 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Just because there was not enough evidence to establish it as truth does not mean that it is false.

You say that as if someone here has claimed otherwise. What we are saying is that a bunch of really smart people have looked for evidence and found none, and so pretending it's an issue that still merits great public attention and a large piece of the limited research funding pie is disingenuous... and worse yet, harmful, when it discourages people from receiving provably beneficial vaccines.

These people have been through terrible struggles in their lives and I have nothing but sympathy for their motivations. But they have let their emotions stand in the way of true progress on this issue, and are simply making the problem worse for many, many other families. Every measles-afflicted child whose parents heeded their warnings about the vaccine is in part their responsibility. If they're not willing to concede the floor to more rational voices then the floor should be taken from them by people like Alison Singer.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:23 PM on February 15, 2009


gottabefunky:But don't you see? This is all part of the cover-up too.

Although the available data doesn't support a link to autism, the conspiracy theory portion of the anti-vaccination camp is a powerful lure. If a group of companies made a product that was practically mandated for the entire population to use, a guaranteed money-maker year after year, why wouldn't they do anything in their power to make sure their product is perceived as safe?

Crap like this will gain traction in the face of contrary evidence since there is so little known about the causes of autism, or specifically, what causes the range of conditions that fall into the autism spectrum.
posted by dr_dank at 6:24 PM on February 15, 2009


Nineteen percent of the respondents agreed with the statement 'Autism is caused by a preservative once found in childhood vaccines.

I hate to say it, but one out of five is not bad in terms of the average joe believing something that is absurd but widely disseminated.

Just because there was not enough evidence to establish it as truth does not mean that it is false.

That's a real nice platitude about, like, what is truth, really, man. But the case against a vaccine connection to autism is done, it is an epidemiological impossibility. Anyone who believes otherwise is either ignorant of (or ignoring) the data or doesn't understand statistics.
posted by nanojath at 6:30 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


MMR can cause SIDS, not autism.

Japan moved the age for vaccinations up from 3 months to two years and straight away their SIDS rate plummeted.
posted by Zambrano at 6:30 PM on February 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Crap like this will gain traction in the face of contrary evidence since there is so little known about the causes of autism, or specifically, what causes the range of conditions that fall into the autism spectrum.

And because, as you allude to, pharmaceutical companies are among the most greedy and amoral of corporations with an obvious motivation to lie about safety.
posted by serazin at 6:32 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


If a group of companies made a product that was practically mandated for the entire population to use, a guaranteed money-maker year after year, why wouldn't they do anything in their power to make sure their product is perceived as safe?

Particularly since they did it with DDT and cigarettes, in the last case for literally decades after their own research had shown the dangers of the product.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:32 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Likewise, with the specific issue of autism, I think some people - effected or uneffected by autism - will continue to hold their position that autism can be triggered by themerisol as long as the only way they are addressed is, "Themerisol doesn't cause autism and if you think it does then you're dumb and a child abuser!"

To hell with that, it's objective truth. Thimerosol does not cause autism. People who believe that it is are deluded and foolish and are harming their children. To not say this is to lie. We should not be coddling the poor child-abusing nonvaccinators in the fear that we'll hurt their precious widdle feewings. This is literally a matter of life and death. If you do not vaccinate your children, you are placing those people who cannot be vaccinated at significant risk of life-threatening illness.

I'd have a lot more faith in a public health voice that spoke more honestly about how much is unknown, that aknowledged the real and known dangers of mercury (which is in themerisol) and the reality that in the past medical wisdom has sometimes been proven wrong.

Oh, fuck right off. You know who pretends that doctors know everything and are always right and that all things are known? Nobody. The only place you can go to get this whole "Scientists are so arrogant and pretend they know everything!" and "Doctors should be more honest about the fact that they're not perfect Jesus messiahs!" is from the same anti-intellectual idiots who are more interested in their own agendas of promoting psuedoscientific, new age, and occult bullshit than in honestly investigating the real world. It's a strawman, and it's one that is universal within a certain segment of the population which provides aid and comfort to thieves, con men, and frauds.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:32 PM on February 15, 2009 [72 favorites]


I'd have a lot more faith in a public health voice that spoke more honestly about how much is unknown, that aknowledged the real and known dangers of mercury (which is in themerisol) and the reality that in the past medical wisdom has sometimes been proven wrong. I think to deal with complex issues, health workers have to be wiling to dialog on a deeper level with lay people who have genuine interest in the issue and have shown their willingness to do research on the topic.

Oh oh oh! Can I play this game?

I'd have a lot more faith in a public health voice that spoke more honestly about how much is unknown, that aknowledged the real and known dangers of chlorine (which is in table salt) and the reality that in the past medical wisdom has sometimes been proven wrong. I think to deal with complex issues, health workers have to be wiling to dialog on a deeper level with lay people who have genuine interest in the issue and have shown their willingness to do research on the topic.

I can make assertions using scary sounding elements too! Do you feel scared now? Organic mercury compounds might have unresearched consequences. But going "OH NOES NOT TEH MERCURY!" like the raw toxic aspect of mercury is somehow conferred on other compounds is not the way to approach the situation.

Take Prussian Blue for example. It's a compound with the formula (or at least as close as I can put it using raw text) Fe4[Fe(CN)6]3. That CN thingy? That's CYANIDE. IN A PAINT PIGMENT! HEAD FOR THE GOD DAMN HILLS BETTY! But if you were suffering from heavy metal poisoning from Cesium-137 you'd be begging for them to give you some, irrational fears of cyanide poisoning be damned and all that.

Besides. They took the damn compound out of the vaccines already. Now can you stop being morons and start vaccinating your kids again? Or have I played into a carefully constructed trap where anti-immunization moves from "ITS TEH MURCURY STOOPID!" to "ITS TEH VACCINE STOOPID!"?
posted by Talez at 6:35 PM on February 15, 2009 [13 favorites]


Pope Guilty,

I didn't say "scientists are so arrogant and pretend they know everything." I did suggest that researchers and MDs are resistant to having thoughtful, honest dialog about this issue.

The way you're talking to me right now, its not helping convince me. Having a rational, thoughtful dialog (which I think is a pro-intellectual, pro-scientific style, personally) is a much more effective way to help me see your point of view.
posted by serazin at 6:37 PM on February 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Just because there was not enough evidence to establish it as truth does not mean that it is false.

Yes, but it does mean that Snyder's case will likely be dismissed.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:38 PM on February 15, 2009


You know who pretends that doctors know everything and are always right and that all things are known? Nobody.

While I'm the pro-vaccine side here, I think your statement means that you haven't had much experience with the US medical system, where there are an awful lot of doctors who act that way.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:43 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I view the MMR= Autism people the same way as I view 9/11 conspiracists and intelligent design fanatics. Nothing, not one thing that you or I or any amount of experts can say will convince them that they're wrong. In short, they trust science when it suits them, and when it gets in the way of their paranoid delusions they decry science as, at best, not having all the answers, and, at worst, being the root or all evil. It's a preposterous position but basically impossible to argue against because it's not based on any empirical notion or starting position.
posted by ob at 6:44 PM on February 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


Or have I played into a carefully constructed trap where anti-immunization moves from "ITS TEH MURCURY STOOPID!" to "ITS TEH VACCINE STOOPID!"?

Like all psuedoscience, the hypothesis changes- without any experimentation or new evidence being gathered- whenever science or even just common sense proves that the current hypothesis can't be true, and the burden of proof, rests not on the people with the theory but everyone else.

An example can be seen in homeopathy. For a long time, homeopaths would claim that their mixtures contained tiny traces of the poisons and whatnot that they claimed would cure sickness when diluted, but it was then discovered that, at the claimed rates of dilution, the ratio would be less than one molecule of the substance for every [number of molecules in the entire universe] molecules. At this point, the homeopaths invented "water memory" and challenged scientists to prove that there was no such thing...
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:44 PM on February 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Japan moved the age for vaccinations up from 3 months to two years and straight away their SIDS rate plummeted.


Citation, please.

I find this and this.

And this, which says (VAERS is the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System):

The case of SIDS exemplifies the problem with interpreting VAERS data. About 200 deaths a year are reported to VAERS; most of these are of infants under one year of age; of these, most are diagnosed as SIDS. The reported time from vaccination until death varies from a few hours to many weeks or even months. In most cases multiple vaccines are involved, consistent with recommended immunization schedules. Because SIDS is a well documented (if not well understood) phenomenon that occurs both in the absence and presence of vaccination, one cannot presume a causal connection if SIDS follows shortly after vaccination; in fact, one can predict that such events would occur even in the absence of a causal connection because virtually all infants receive vaccines and because SIDS occurs at the relatively high rate of somewhat over one per thousand live births in the United States.

In response to public concerns arising in the early 1980s about the safety of DTP vaccines, the National Institute of Child Health and Development conducted a large case-control study directed specifically at the question of the association between SIDS and DTP vaccination. This study did not support the hypothesis that DTP vaccine caused SIDS; in fact, it demonstrated a lowered risk for SIDS in children receiving DTP vaccine. (The authors of the report suggested that this lowered risk estimate was more likely the result of differences in baseline health status between children who did and did not receive scheduled vaccinations than to any protective effect of the vaccine against SIDS.)

While this and other studies with similar results resolved the issue to the satisfaction of the scientific community, some members of the public have remained concerned about a possible connection between DTP vaccine and SIDS, citing the SIDS cases regularly reported to VAERS. In response to such concerns, FDA and CDC staff calculated the number of SIDS cases expected to occur by chance within a fixed number of days following immunization, accounting for the age-adjusted SIDS rate and the proportion of infants vaccinated at specific intervals, and determined that the number of cases reported for each time interval is far lower than would be expected to occur by chance alone. (Of course, these estimates may have been artificially lowered by underreporting of SIDS occurring shortly after vaccination.)


And I find a lot of the usual kind of hysteria from bloggers at CafeMom and chiropractors' websites and something called "curezone.com."

I'm satisfied. Not wasting any more time on this.
posted by not that girl at 6:46 PM on February 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


It is like the 9/11 conspiracy theorists and the creationists, but these people are at least working hard to select themselves out of the gene pool.
posted by blenderfish at 6:48 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Likewise, with the specific issue of autism, I think some people - effected or uneffected by autism - will continue to hold their position that autism can be triggered by themerisol as long as the only way they are addressed is, "Themerisol doesn't cause autism and if you think it does then you're dumb and a child abuser!"

How about "Thiomersal is no longer used in the sort of vaccines that children get in developed counties" would that be sufficiently convincing? No need to even point out that autism rates have not dropped since its removal and as such it seems unlikely that there was any link in the first place.
posted by markr at 6:48 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I didn't say "scientists are so arrogant and pretend they know everything." I did suggest that researchers and MDs are resistant to having thoughtful, honest dialog about this issue.

And that's a lie. MDs and researchers have done study after study on this- and there's been a lot of studies, because research is what happens when you offer money to fund research- and none of them have been able to confirm a link. The only study that has was Wakefield's, which not only was poorly designed and carried out, but was faked from start to finish.

In short, the only reason that you believe that there might be a link is because of Wakefield's study, which has been shown to be not only flawed, but faked. There is no reason to hold the position you do. You, however, continue to insist that everyone else be "rational, thoughtful". You are essentially flinging shit at someone and insisting that they be thoughtful and rational in their response.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:48 PM on February 15, 2009 [11 favorites]


the only argument that's ever come close to convincing me to get more vaccinations for her is the greater good argument, but I've never heard that argument from a doctor.

Dr. Dean Edell, the radio doctor, is always talking about this. The most effective argument he made went something like this:
"Imagine your child struggling for each breath. The sound of each breath is a loud wheeze followed by lots of coughing. You listen intently, worried that the next breath might be his last. Now imagine that your child has to suffer through this for 24 hours a day. That is what Whooping Cough is like. If you don't vaccinate your child, you are providing another chance for the disease to spread so that more and more children will get it. These diseases can be eliminated."


Dr. Wakefield created this idea of a MMR->autism link by falsifying his research, in order to get rich. And he has gotten very rich from it--though this latest court case may limit his future income. The extra spread of disease caused by parents forgoing vaccines has resulted in lots of children's deaths. I'm willing to bet that he doesn't care and sleeps well in his nice house.
posted by eye of newt at 6:50 PM on February 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


Organic mercury compounds might have unresearched consequences.

Lots of organic mercury compounds like methyl mercury have well-established negative consequences at moderate doses.

Thimerosal degrades into ethyl mercury in the body. The chemistry of ethyl mercury is different from that of methyl mercury, and the quantities in the vaccines quite small, but the fact is that science has systematically discovered negative effects from all sorts of mercury compounds over time, and it was only prudent to remove this preservative from vaccines which have, after all, been administered billions of times.

You have every right to be dubious about organic mercury compounds - however, there's every evidence that there's no connection between them and autism - and most important, they haven't used thimerosal as a preservative in years so you really have zero excuse not to have your kid vaccinated.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:54 PM on February 15, 2009


I actually don't think there is a link between autism and vaccines Pope Guilty. I found the research convincing. And I don't think its very wise to assume anything about what I believe or why - do you? Especially if you have any genuine interest in convincing more people to vaccinate, it might behoove you to ask some questions and learn more about motivations.

I'm curious: What specifically have I flung shit at? I re-read my comments and I believe they were written in a thoughtful, respectful manner.
posted by serazin at 6:54 PM on February 15, 2009


Having a rational, thoughtful dialog

There was no dialog, just the most empty of statements. It's pot-stirring. You haven't provided anything of merit to this thread; simply a mild victim complex.

Your notions are flawed. Provably so. Either dispute the facts or continue living with your fingers in your ears, under a blanket, with the lights out and the door locked.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:55 PM on February 15, 2009


I joined this thread because I was interested in the component of this issue around public education and debate. I didn't come here to say that kids shouldn't be vaccinated. I came to say that folks who don't vaccinate are routinely just shouted at or insulted. Which, I believe, I have more or less experienced here. And I wanted to make the point that there may be more effective ways to communicate with folks who do come from a different perpective.

Again, not here to argue about whether kids should be vaccinated or not. Simply here to talk about how the debate is framed, and to question how effective various strategies may be.

And I think as someone who didn't give all the recommend vaccinations, I may have a semi-unique perspective in the thread. I hope I've presented it in a thoughtful and respectful way.
posted by serazin at 7:00 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't vaccinate your child with the evidence readily available as to the negative effects (of not), and your kid dies of measles, you should be charged with negligent homicide, and put into prison.

Discuss..
posted by dibblda at 7:04 PM on February 15, 2009


I view the MMR= Autism people the same way as I view 9/11 conspiracists

You need to work a little harder at evaluating the strength of evidence, then.

There's tons and tons of proof that anyone can review that there's no correlation between MMR and autism.

The US government has deliberately withheld huge quantities of information about 9/11 - their own commission comments on this - and a lot of the information that's there contradicts itself.

Do I believe the conspiracy theorists? Generally, no. Most of them have no information either. My best guess (and I do mean guess) is that 9/11 happened quite a lot like the US government presents it (though I'll bet if we got the true picture there would be at least one shocker there, though I have no idea what it would be).

Thimerosal conspiracists are deliberately ignoring a wealth of solid information to promote ideas which are destructive of the public health (think of the children - and I'm serious).

9/11 conspiracists respond to a lack of information about 9/11 to promote fanciful theories which hurt no one directly but do however have the beneficial side effect of making people deeply distrustful of the government, an organization that's consistently behaved in an untrustworthy, dishonest and morally repugnant fashion when it's been allowed to operate in secrecy.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:06 PM on February 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Serazin, I guess he made the crazy assumption that you didn't properly immunize your kid because you thought it might have a link to Autism BECAUSE YOU POSTED IT IN A THREAD ABOUT SOME PEOPLE WHO THINK VACCINES ARE LINKED TO AUTISM.

I didn't come here to say that kids shouldn't be put to work in sweat shops. I came to say that folks who do put kids to work in sweat shops are routinely just shouted at or insulted. Which, I believe, I have more or less experienced here. And I wanted to make the point that there may be more effective ways to communicate with folks who do come from a different perspective. Again, not here to argue about whether kids should be put to work in sweat shops or not. Simply here to talk about how the debate is framed, and to question how effective various strategies may be.
posted by blenderfish at 7:06 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Lots of organic mercury compounds like methyl mercury have well-established negative consequences at moderate doses.

Thimerosal degrades into ethyl mercury in the body. The chemistry of ethyl mercury is different from that of methyl mercury, and the quantities in the vaccines quite small, but the fact is that science has systematically discovered negative effects from all sorts of mercury compounds over time, and it was only prudent to remove this preservative from vaccines which have, after all, been administered billions of times.


And lots of alcohols have well established negative consequences at moderate doses. Following that logic we might as well ban ethanol in drinks because methanol and butanol are toxic.
posted by Talez at 7:07 PM on February 15, 2009


Like I said, we're doing vaccines in the open thread.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:08 PM on February 15, 2009


Don't vaccinate your child with the evidence readily available as to the negative effects (of not), and your kid dies of measles, you should be charged with negligent homicide, and put into prison.

Yes.

If you take a longer look, it is inevitable that there will be another epidemic at some point in mankind's history (unless we torch ourselves with nukes or some other disaster happens). I predict that in the aftermath of this, simply not vaccinating your kids will become a serious crime, automatically punished by having them taken away from you.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:17 PM on February 15, 2009


Speaking of 9/11 truther's I found this video of 9/11 truther's heckling Bill Maher's show (which is live). The video was posted on youtube by the truther's in order brag, apparently, but the just come across as giant jackasses.
posted by delmoi at 7:18 PM on February 15, 2009


I did suggest that researchers and MDs are resistant to having thoughtful, honest dialog about this issue.

You absolutely, positively cannot have thoughtful, honest dialog with the anti-vaccination crowd, because any time they're challenged they fall back on one of a few preset defenses from which you cannot dislodge them with facts:

1. Anecdotes.
2. "I know what's best for my child".
3. "Well, if the studies say it wasn't XXX compound in the vaccines, then it must be YYY compound".
4. "The vaccine is made of aborted fetuses"

The problem is not that most doctors/scientists don't want to explain things; it's that some percentage of people think their twenty minutes of internet research is worth more than a medical degree/PhD, and refuse to listen. I spend my whole life around researchers: we love explaining things, or else we wouldn't have gotten into science to begin with.

In the last year alone, I've cut off a finger, had my shoulder surgically repaired, had a few normal check-ups, and been at my son's birth, all at four different hospitals/offices. Not once was anything done without an explanation, because they need informed consent to actually treat you.

If after having my shoulder X-rayed I was told that it was in my best interest to have it repaired, and I walked out instead, everyone would call me an idiot. When a parent walks out instead of vaccinating, we're supposed to play along and pretend they just needed more 'dialog'? Screw that.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 7:36 PM on February 15, 2009 [15 favorites]


1. Hasn't this already been discussed here, at least two times?

2. How the hell did 9/11 get thrown into the mix this time?
posted by yhbc at 7:47 PM on February 15, 2009


But Dr. Enormous, most medical recommendations aren't as clear cut as the analogy you use here. For many or most disorders, diseases, or even injuries, there are multiple therapeutic options, each with their own benefits and risks. And frequently in the history of medicine, doctors and researchers have discovered that a previously thought to be safe and beneficial procedure is either not-so-beneficial or not-so-safe. And the reality is that much about health is simply unknown and much of medical practice is simply not evidence based - it is instead based on conjecture, tradition, and individual style that varies from practitioner to practitioner. And complicating the whole thing is the fact that we happen to live in a country where the health care system is operated for profit and the federal agency that monitors drug safety is underregulating this for-profit industry.

When I've interacted with clinicians who have the time and willingness to address me as an intelligent, thoughtful person, and I've been able to have nuanced conversations that include a disclosure of the risks of a procedure, possible alternatives, and perceived benefit, I feel much more wiling to take their advice than when I have a simplistic conversation that dismisses my fears as simply "crackpot", and I believe that a lot of vaccine resistor types feel the same way. That's why I'm suggesting that if there is to be an effort to convert more people towards vaccine use, there should be a new public health approach. Personally I've been very grateful for the rare resource that presents a few perspectives without judgment.
posted by serazin at 7:51 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


1. Hasn't this already been discussed here, at least two times?

The other thread on the subject isn't on the front page anymore, and no one has commented in it for a couple days. This is new news, and it seems to have generated a pretty lively and thoughtful discussion.

2. How the hell did 9/11 get thrown into the mix this time?


9/11 is like the SeasonAll of internet discussions - it goes with everything.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:58 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


All you pro-vaccine people really get me.
Every time someone or agency comes out with information that something should be done "for your own good, and the good of society" you used to rail against it.
It sounds like the type of argument that the Bush administration used to use to pass PATRIOT acts.
Do it. Do it all. Do it now. Don't question it. You'll be sorry later if you don't.

Well, you can take your herd mentality and shove it where the herd don't graze.

The risk is my own children, not the herd.
If my child doesn't get vac. and yours does, and they play together, yours won't get diseases because they've been vacced. Mine doesn't get it because yours have been vacced. Unless, you know, they aren't 100% effective, which they aren't. Even with the full regimen of vaccs, you can still contract the disease, sometimes, if it didn't take. So all you have is a false sense of security. At least I know to blame myself if something happens. Who will you, or can you blame if you get them and still contract the disease? Nobody. Nobody will listen to you, and you will get shouted down on internet forums.
I don't generally trust doctors for much. I've been mis-diagnosed, overcharged, and given the wrong prescripts because they were free samples that would "probably do the same thing" to what I needed. (antibiotics) Both my kids were homebirthed, and have never been to see a doctor in their lives. 3 years. They are both extremely healthy. They'll probably be homeschooled, too.

But what the hell do I know. I also don't declaw my cats, and haven't circumcised my little boy either. It's just another one of those hard decisions that you have to make when raising your own kids.

If you want mandatory intervention in your lives and the lives of those around you, there are plenty of OTHER countries that will be happy to oblige. This is land of freedom, and the freedom to do or not with my own body and my kids is one of the freedoms I cherish most.
posted by Balisong at 8:02 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nineteen percent of the respondents agreed with the statement 'Autism is caused by a preservative once found in childhood vaccines.

I bet if the poll were taken specifically among parents of autistic children the number would be much, much higher. My 4-year-old son is autistic, and thus we are involved in a number of support groups and organizations where the "Autism is Caused By Vaccines" mantra is taken as a given truth, along with the sky being blue and taxes being due in April. I think Jenny McCarthy has her heart in the right place, but think she does a major disservice by insisting a theory based on anecdotal evidence is indisputable scientific fact.

Part of the problem is that autistic tendencies tend to display themselves right around the same age when kids are getting frequent vaccinations, So there is a tendency to see assume causation when coincidence is more likely.
posted by The Gooch at 8:12 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Balisong, can I conclude, from what you've said, that you believe:

1. That "herd mentality" and "herd immunity" have anything to do with each other whatsoever,
2. That vaccination is not an effective counter to disease,
3. That if you get sick after being vaccinated nobody will treat you and you will in fact be ignored,

and

4. That you have been witholding medical treatment from your children?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:17 PM on February 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Also, seriously, are anti-vaccine people under the impression that smallpox just went away on its own? It was killed by mass vaccination- deprive a virus of hosts and it dies out. Smallpox exists solely as a sample in a handful of secure laboratories, and has done since 1979, because of vaccination.

Vaccination is one of the greatest triumphs of modern medicine, and has saved more lives than perhaps any other single technology. To oppose it is nothing short of monstrous.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:21 PM on February 15, 2009 [22 favorites]


The risk is my own children, not the herd.

Really? Do you know the vaccination status of every person your kid comes into contact with? Like that (unvaccinated) kid who came home to San Diego after a family trip to Germany, where he contracted measles, and he exposed more than 70 people to the disease. Many of them were too young, too old, or too immunocompromised to be vaccinated. Some of those exposed traveled on to other places before they knew they were infected.

Admit that it is not just your own child that you place at risk. Take responsibility for your decision.
posted by rtha at 8:21 PM on February 15, 2009 [27 favorites]


serazin: I came to say that folks who don't vaccinate are routinely just shouted at or insulted.
That's because, in the large majority of cases, these people are utterly resistant to empirical scientific evidence, common sense, rational thought, and reason. Those of us on the other side of the issue, many of whom work in public healthcare where the consequences of this kind of flat-earth thinking are literally life and death, tend to run out of patience after a while.
Balisong: The risk is my own children, not the herd.
If my child doesn't get vac. and yours does, and they play together, yours won't get diseases because they've been vacced. Mine doesn't get it because yours have been vacced.
The giant, glaring hole here is not your kids or my kids: it's the kids who can't get vaccinated. If those kids play with your kids, who have been exposed and are carriers, those kids will be exposed. If they're immunocompromised, they will most likely manifest the disease.

One of the points of vaccines isn't just to cut off avenues of spread: it's to provide societal buffers for the least fortunate among us, those who can't be vaccinated and can't protect themselves. I don't just vaccinate my kid for his own good: I vaccinate him for everyone's good. That way, I can be sure that he isn't going to propagate a disease to someone who just might not be able to defend against it.
posted by scrump at 8:23 PM on February 15, 2009 [12 favorites]


Well,

1. I believe that having a herd immunity insulates my children, and really doesn't put anybody else's children at risk.
2. Vaccination has it's own risks, and I am not convinced that those risks outweigh the potential benefit, when that benefit is not certain.
3. If my children get sick without vaccinations, then I will find treatment.
4. When... (see 3 above)
posted by Balisong at 8:24 PM on February 15, 2009


Balisong: freedom to do selfish things that are against both your own self-interest and the interests of the group are one of the things that is destroying America.

I agree that if a few pathologically selfish people such as yourself do not vaccinate your kids, you get all the benefits of vaccination without the (tiny but non-zero) chance of side-effects. Of course, if more than a few people are [...] such as yourself, the system would break down and we'd get epidemics of measles, polio or worse again.

That you can equate vaccination, which saved humanity from the scourge of massive, repeated plagues which wracked it continually until a bare century ago with cosmetic procedures like circumcision and declawing (both of which I personally am against FWIW) just shows how poor your sense of perspective is.

So yes, if I had my way you'd be committing a crime and be sent off to jail. You're doing exactly the same thing as not putting seat-belts on your kids, and nearly all the time you'll get away with it. Your family is shoplifting health from the rest of us, and yes, I do resent you for it.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:25 PM on February 15, 2009 [30 favorites]


If you abuse the freedoms given to you to simultaneously expose your children and everyone else's to entirely preventable risk I would prefer if *you* went to some other country.
posted by norm at 8:25 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have little to no opinion on this issue, other than some gut reactions. However, this...
Even with the full regimen of vaccs, you can still contract the disease, sometimes, if it didn't take. So all you have is a false sense of security.
... is, frankly, absurd.

You can still die in a car crash if you're wearing your seat belt. You can still choke to death if you chew your food thoroughly. You can still drown if you put your life preserver on. You can still get run over at night if you wear reflective clothing. You can still go bankrupt if you methodically save a large portion of your income. You can still see your house burn down if you have a fire extinguisher. You can still lose a game of chess if you control the center. You can still get lung cancer if you never smoke a cigarette. You can still get electrocuted if you install GFCI devices.

The mere fact that something does not have a one hundred percent chance of protecting you does not imply that all it does is give you a false sense of security, and to claim the opposite is ridiculous.
posted by Flunkie at 8:26 PM on February 15, 2009 [14 favorites]


When the fears are in fact totally crackpot, the best you can do is try to assuage them with evidence. When that doesn't work, all you can do is throw up your hands and call an idiot an idiot. If the doctor won't explain things, you get a new doctor; you don't throw away the entirety of medical knowledge for your own beliefs.

(on preview: see, this is exactly what I mean. 'Oooh, those high-falutin epidemiologists with their evidence and research are just blowing smoke up my ass, but I know better than the experts because this is America and it's my kid.' Christ.)
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:27 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


1. I believe that having a herd immunity insulates my children, and really doesn't put anybody else's children at risk.

What you believe is incorrect. It is wrong.
posted by rtha at 8:29 PM on February 15, 2009 [31 favorites]


When my daughter was up for the MMR vaccine, my doctor gave me a choice between a vaccine containing thimerosal and one with a different preservative. I asked her: "Is the one without thimerosal any less effective?" and she said no. So I chose the one without.


It's not like it was a hard decision...inject something in my daughter containing mercury or not.

My question is...if there are other choices, why use thimerosal at all? Because it's cheaper?
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:30 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Jesus, talk about an echo chamber.

I am absolutely, 100% of the opinion that vaccines do not cause autism. I think it is awful that people perpetuate this myth, and anybody who does so is actively causing harm to the public health. I find it genuinely frightening that "Nearly one in four (24 percent) said that because vaccines may cause autism it was safer not to have children vaccinated at all." HOWEVER, making blanket statements about how stupid that 24% is is really, really not productive.

Maybe the it's true that we scientific types have already provided all the evidence we can give; maybe it's true that it's just anti-intellectual bigotry that's holding these people back from the truth; but this is a situation in which it is worth it for the scientific/medical community to swallow its pride and be a little extra respectful toward some people who may not really deserve it. If I can get a parent to understand why this nonsense is nonsense, I'll do it, even if it means bending over backwards to accommodate them. Anybody who isn't willing to do the same should keep their goddamn mouths shut; you'll only make things worse for the rest of us.
posted by Commander Rachek at 8:30 PM on February 15, 2009 [7 favorites]


Just how many of you that are so vocal about this subject are childless?
posted by Balisong at 8:30 PM on February 15, 2009


Just how many of you that are so vocal about this subject are childless?
I have no children. Does that mean that I'm wrong when I say that your claim of "less than 100% effectiveness means you gain nothing but a false sense of security" is blatantly idiotic?
posted by Flunkie at 8:33 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Just how many of you that are so vocal about this subject are childless?

I am. Your point?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:34 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just how many of you that are so vocal about this subject are childless?
What does that have to do with anything? This is the same argument used to shut down debate on things like warfare: "if you haven't been there, you can't really comment".

The childless, whether they are so by choice or not, have as strong an investment in society as anyone else. They also have as valid a perspective on public health, particularly in the area of vaccination, as any parent, because it's a public health issue, not a parenting issue.
posted by scrump at 8:35 PM on February 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm just saying that maybe if you had children you would think twice about injecting them with toxins. Most people don't. Some people do. Those that do have to make a choice. I've made mine.
posted by Balisong at 8:35 PM on February 15, 2009


I'm just saying that maybe if you had children you would think twice about injecting them with toxins.

I'm just saying that maybe if you had children you would think twice about denying them the single most beneficial medical technology ever invented.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:38 PM on February 15, 2009 [17 favorites]


OK, so WHY is it a decision that I can have a choice on at all?

Maybe once healthcare is finally free, people will show up at my doorstep with a syringe and a court order, and do things to my children against my will.

Slippery slope, fellas.
posted by Balisong at 8:40 PM on February 15, 2009


Those that do have to make a choice. I've made mine.

And your decision has public health implications. Did you bother to check the link in my earlier comment about the San Diego measles outbreak? Your faith in "herd immunity" is misplaced, and your assertion that herd immunity will protect your child is wrong. You don't want to put your child at risk of side-effects of vaccines. Instead, you put him/her at risk because you think herd immunity will protect him/her. It won't.

And your child's vaccination status will put at risk people s/he comes into contact with who can't be vaccinated.
posted by rtha at 8:40 PM on February 15, 2009


And MAYBE once you CAN play Nintendo, people will show up and MAKE you play Nintendo!
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:41 PM on February 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


1. I believe that having a herd immunity insulates my children, and really doesn't put anybody else's children at risk.
2. Vaccination has it's own risks, and I am not convinced that those risks outweigh the potential benefit, when that benefit is not certain.


Don't these two statements contradict each other? Since in Statement 1 you're saying vaccines render people immune to disease (hence the "herd immunity") but in Statement 2 you say "I am not convinced that those risks outweigh the potential benefit, when that benefit is not certain." It seems you go from saying vaccines work to vaccines don't work in the same breath.

Also, instead of embedding your kids within an immunized group at all times, from the national level to birthday parties, wouldn't it be simpler just to get them the shots?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:42 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm just saying that maybe if you had children you would think twice about injecting them with toxins.

Toxin has a specific meaning, and that certainly doesn't apply to vaccines.

But I understand what you mean. There is a small change that taking the vaccine will result in a negative side-effect, even death. Yes.

The point is that the chances from that are far, far lower than the chance of dying from the underlying disease if no one were vaccinated.

This is exactly you're stealing health from the rest of us.

You're banking on the fact that the rest of us do vaccinate our kids - and take the tiny but real risk of killing them - so you don't have to.

You're also significantly risking the health of weaker members of society - the old, the immuno-compromised - for a tiny increase in your own well-being.

I feel about your decision exactly what any thoughtful, ethical person would - however, writing this out would justifiably have this posting deleted.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:42 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who are these "can't be vaccinated" people again, and what line do I have to stand in to be part of it?
posted by Balisong at 8:42 PM on February 15, 2009


My question is...if there are other choices, why use thimerosal at all? Because it's cheaper?

Basically, yes. Thimerosal is a preservative, a bacteriostatic and an anti-fungal agent. While your large bottle of vaccine sits around in storage bacteria that get in to the bottle can contaminate it so it needs a preservative to prevent this.

Single use vials these days are more expensive since you need to duplicate packaging for every dose rather than just sending a box of large bottles but they don't require a bacteriostatic since it'll be packaged in sterile conditions and then sealed until it's used.
posted by Talez at 8:43 PM on February 15, 2009


Just because there was not enough evidence to establish it as truth does not mean that it is false.

So if I say lemon Jello causes autism, you would avoid giving your child lemon Jello simply because there is no evidence to establish that as true? How long is the list of things for which there is no evidence to establish that they don't cause autism? Bizarre!
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:45 PM on February 15, 2009


Just how many of you that are so vocal about this subject are childless?

I have a son. Who is getting vaccinated because I read the primary literature when he was near due and discovered a couple things:

1. It turns out that it is a good idea, and everybody wins.
2. Even though I am a scientist and can understand most of the papers, I'm still grossly unqualified to judge the validity of the studies, so I go by what the people who actually study this for a living say.
3. Ever had the mumps? I have; it sucked. And it's pretty much the least bad of the things we vaccinate against.
4.My son isn't going to be the test bed for crackpot theories that don't conform to fundamental research.

But you think vaccines are toxins. Which clearly illustrates that you have no actual knowledge of the subject at hand. This is exactly the problem, both on this subject and so many others: people who won't admit to their own ignorance, and think their opinion is a substitute for research.

I will freely admit to being horrifically ignorant on the subject (see point #2), and I'm twice as well informed and have better journal access and tools for study than 99% of the population. Which is why I trust the freaking scientists.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 8:48 PM on February 15, 2009 [28 favorites]


Who are these "can't be vaccinated" people again, and what line do I have to stand in to be part of it?

Go get an immunosuppressive condition.

No, no, I'm not saying you should personally get a damaged immune system, but that people with damaged or weak immune systems cannot be vaccinated- their systems can't handle it. So basically, by refusing to vaccinate your children, you're condemning these individuals to catch whatever you refuse to vaccinate your kids against.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:49 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


The "can't be vaccinated" people are those with immune disorders, those too young, and those too old. Your child was once too young. Eventually, if all goes well, they will be too old. For now, immune disorder is the remaining option.
posted by Nothing at 8:50 PM on February 15, 2009


Who are these "can't be vaccinated" people

As I just explained, these are the immuno-suppressed or -compromised: old people; people with AIDS, lupus, or a host of other diseases; premature kids or kids at risk for a host of other reasons like the above or cancer or all sorts of other conditions that might sort themselves out by adulthood - if they survive.

You're willing to make a significant life decision about your kids like not vaccinating them and yet you haven't found out the very first thing about the subject. How do you justify that to yourself?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:50 PM on February 15, 2009


Let me ask again, WHY GIVE ME THE CHOICE?

If it is so important, vaccinate everyone. period. Every one walking across the border. Every one getting off the plane. Give them at the start of EVERY school year. Put it in the drinking water. Have a injection kiosk at the DMV.

Having the US healthcare as a for-profit business doesn't calm my fears any.
posted by Balisong at 8:51 PM on February 15, 2009


So if I say lemon Jello causes autism, you would avoid giving your child lemon Jello simply because there is no evidence to establish that as true?

No because nobody paid a doctor handsomely to fudge the results showing this.

Duh. :P
posted by Talez at 8:52 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm just saying that maybe if you had children you would think twice about injecting them with toxins.

Maybe if we had kids we'd be bad parents too?
posted by Justinian at 8:53 PM on February 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


maybe.
posted by Balisong at 8:54 PM on February 15, 2009


You're allowed to make a lot of stupid choices that can harm yourself, your children, and your neighbors.
posted by Flunkie at 8:55 PM on February 15, 2009


Let me ask again, WHY GIVE ME THE CHOICE?

Because you live in America and you have rights. We respect your right to be a complete moron. We just don't have to encourage the behavior or condone it.
posted by Talez at 8:55 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


WHY GIVE ME THE CHOICE?

Few people here believe you should have the choice.

For most people it's sort of inconceivable that someone would put their own kids and the children of others at risk. Nearly everyone does get vaccinated, only a small number of sociopaths purposefully do not, and therefore there aren't the consequences. As long as there are only a few people, we can sort of pretend you don't exist, and everything's OK.

As I said before, the first time there's a real epidemic that kills a million Americans, people like your family will be rounded up and forcibly immunized and the problem will be solved.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:57 PM on February 15, 2009


thank you. I'll respect your right to talk about it all you want.
And while the first amendment gives the right for free speech, it does not mandate being heard.
posted by Balisong at 8:57 PM on February 15, 2009


the first time there's a real epidemic (terrorist attack) that kills a million Americans, people like your family will be rounded up and forcibly immunized (killed) and the problem will be solved.
posted by lupus_yonderboy


Did you work for... nevermind.
posted by Balisong at 9:00 PM on February 15, 2009


Balisong: "Who are these "can't be vaccinated" people again, and what line do I have to stand in to be part of it?"

In all due respect, Balisong, you're doing exactly what it was predicted someone would do to argue against this. You're using the "I know what's best for my kids argument, the "it's teh toxins!" argument, etc.

Please understand this isn't about the government forcing anything on you or your kids. It's just that sometimes, laws are passed for the common good, and on what basis would you have a law made if not on the basis of evidence and studies?
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:00 PM on February 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


I totally know where you're coming from, Balisong. The government keeps trying to feed me lies like "Driving drunk is dangerous" or "This is your third DUI this week" or "Your license is suspended". As long as everyone else on the road is sober, it's no problem that I'm swerving from lane to lane and going well over the speed limit. It's just my own car at risk, so why can't they let me make my own choices? I know what's best for me.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:00 PM on February 15, 2009 [41 favorites]


WHY GIVE ME THE CHOICE?

I should also add that a free society often makes it hard to prevent crimes before they happen - it can only administer punishment afterward. It's the consequence of a free society that you can do things that are morally abhorrent. We rely on the basic decency of humans, which works out surprisingly well.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:00 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Your "right" to not be vaccinated is the same as your "right" to throw clumps of excrement randomly into crowds.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:00 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Bailsong makes a fuss about safety belts and laws making them compulsory as well.
posted by Talez at 9:01 PM on February 15, 2009


Well, helmet laws suck.
posted by Balisong at 9:01 PM on February 15, 2009


Just how many of you that are so vocal about this subject are childless?

I don't, but would like to. And I would like to bring them into a world without dangerous people such as yourself in it making it riskier for them through your irrationality.
posted by stevis23 at 9:03 PM on February 15, 2009


Why helmet laws but (apparently) not seatbelt laws?
posted by Flunkie at 9:03 PM on February 15, 2009


It's not like a helmet law, which protect bikers. It's like if getting into an accident not only killed you, but some random other person. You haven't got the right to kill that person, even if you insist that you have the right to get yourself killed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:04 PM on February 15, 2009


Well, it's been fun guys, time for me to hit the hay.

Be safe out there, and don't do anything I wouldn't do.
posted by Balisong at 9:06 PM on February 15, 2009


I was so hoping that this vaccination argument would remain against a straw-man. Apologies, balisong.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:06 PM on February 15, 2009


Dammit Balisong, and I agree with so much of the other things you say here.

I so understand not trusting the establishment, and of being treated poorly by doctors generating a whole lot of mistrust. But I really believe that you've chosen incorrectly here. Chances are it will turn out OK for you and your children, and I truly hope that it does. But in the aggregate, people choosing not the vaccinate is bad for all of us.

Herd mentality sucks, but herd immunity is real.
posted by flaterik at 9:09 PM on February 15, 2009


Be safe out there, and don't do anything I wouldn't do.

Like provide basic medical treatment to our children?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:19 PM on February 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


Apologies, balisong.

Apologies?! This is someone who's doing something deeply antisocial and is proud of it - who managed to continue the argument but never engage a single point we made.

As I said before, his family is shoplifting health from all of ours, and in the inevitably more-crowded future, this will be a crime.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:19 PM on February 15, 2009


1. I believe that having a herd immunity insulates my children, and really doesn't put anybody else's children at risk.

You do know that your children are part of the herd, right?

Herd immunity requires that a very large percentage of the population has been vaccinated. If many other people like you don't vaccinate your children, there will be no herd immunity any more.
posted by lemuria at 9:21 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


(..and I should add that I'm generally anti-government in most aspects except as it relates to the health and well-being of the people being governed.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:21 PM on February 15, 2009


It's not like a helmet law, which protect bikers. It's like if getting into an accident not only killed you, but some random other person. You haven't got the right to kill that person, even if you insist that you have the right to get yourself killed.

I think helmet laws are also supposed to protect the family, friends and loved ones of bikers. That's why the whole "the only person I'm hurting is me" argument rings false to me - unless there's literally no one in your life who cares about you, then I'd reckon getting your melon split open on I-95 would hurt other people, too.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:24 PM on February 15, 2009


No, seriously: what about building 7?
posted by Curry at 9:26 PM on February 15, 2009


No, seriously: what about building 7?

Building 7 contracted autism from the MMR it received just after the 2nd plane hit. It's currently in a group home for mentally disabled buildings under an assumed name.
posted by dr_dank at 9:33 PM on February 15, 2009 [9 favorites]


I've been trying to think of another way to frame my thoughts and what I can come up with is this:

The common consensus here is that a small percentage of the population is endangering their children and the larger community by choosing not to vaccinate. Yet they seem immune (sorry) to the mainstream public health vaccination campaigns. My question is, what is an effective intervention to help reach your goal which I understand to be protecting the community from communicable disease?

I'd posit that shouting down this population is not an effective strategy. The only strategies that I can imagine would create headway involve respectful dialog. With dialog perhaps a practitioner could help parents:
- identify the specific basis of their concerns and see if they can be addressed in ways that would allow them to feel their needs are met even while vaccinating.
- employ harm reductionist strategies such as selective vaccination ie: maybe they'll refuse polio but take pertussis which would provide real community protection against an organism that does exist in North America
- investigate compromise vaccination plans such as delayed vaccinations or separate injections of each vaccine.

I'm not asking anyone to endorse any of the specific suggestions above, but I am asking that folks consider what is a useful strategy for convincing others. Because most people don't respond well to being called morons or child abusers.
posted by serazin at 9:35 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]




Balisong: "Well, it's been fun guys, time for me to hit the hay.

Be safe out there, and don't do anything I wouldn't do.
"

Does this mean we've all just been trolled?

if so, well played
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:56 PM on February 15, 2009


serazin: "I'm not asking anyone to endorse any of the specific suggestions above, but I am asking that folks consider what is a useful strategy for convincing others. Because most people don't respond well to being called morons or child abusers."

The court case has definitively settled the matter for once and for all for anyone who might have previously been on the fence. Vaccines cause autism now takes its place with creationism and HIV doesn't cause AIDS and the holocaust never happened. No one who isn't convinced now will be convinced by logic or evidence.

At this point, shouting to help keep the population of idiots small enough is a harm-reduction strategy.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:06 PM on February 15, 2009


Third Google result for fucking.
posted by Curry at 10:07 PM on February 15, 2009


Just as a point of information - there are a lot of folks who choose not to vaccinate who were never primarily concerned about autism.
posted by serazin at 10:12 PM on February 15, 2009


Just as a point of information - there are a lot of folks who choose not to vaccinate who were never primarily concerned about autism.

Did you somehow miss the last thirty or forty comments?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:15 PM on February 15, 2009


Just as a point of information - there are a lot of folks who choose not to vaccinate who were never primarily concerned about autism.

Everyone knows that. Most people also know that the other reasons are just as bad as the false autism link.
posted by Justinian at 10:18 PM on February 15, 2009


I was never vaccinated and I have ADHD. Coincidence? I think not.
posted by wobh at 10:29 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


it left me with the conclusion that if the public health community wants to convince resistant people to vaccinate, they're going to have to come up with a better strategy than just repeating, "DO IT YOUR YOUR KIDS WILL DIE" over and over

I'd favor messages like

DO IT OR YOUR KIDS WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO SET FOOT IN ANY PUBLIC SCHOOL OR LICENSED PRIVATE SCHOOL, AND YOU WILL BE FORCED TO HOME-SCHOOL YOUR KIDS AT HUGE IMPLICIT COST AND STILL BE IN FULL COMPLIANCE WITH STATE CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

or

DO IT OR YOUR KIDS WILL NEVER BUT NEVER BE ABLE TO ATTEND ANY ACCREDITED COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY IN THE US

or

DO IT OR PAY A FINE OF $500/WEEK FOR EVERY WEEK AFTER THE SCHEDULED MAXIMUM AGE FOR THAT VACCINATION

or

DO IT OR GO TO PRISON

My question is, what is an effective intervention to help reach your goal which I understand to be protecting the community from communicable disease?

(1) Criminalization of nonvaccination and punishment. Fines should be calculated to at least capture the social cost of nonvaccination.
(2) Require proof of vaccination for entry into all schools except with proof of medical contraindication, and highly regulate physicians providing such proof
(3) Just do it on unannounced days in public and private school, irrespective of what the parents think about it
(4) Require epidemiological studies of outbreaks of vaccinatable (?) diseases with the goal, in part, of establishing Patient Zero for that outbreak. Allow subsequent victims to file suit against Patient Zero (or parents), using a preponderance of the evidence test, if Patient Zero was unvaccinated.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:43 PM on February 15, 2009 [8 favorites]


(3) Just do it on unannounced days in public and private school, irrespective of what the parents think about it

The settlement from the lawsuit when the first kid dies after an allergic reaction to the vaccine is going to have soooo many zeroes in it.

And kill off the program too.
posted by Talez at 11:05 PM on February 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


(4) Require epidemiological studies of outbreaks of vaccinatable (?) diseases with the goal, in part, of establishing Patient Zero for that outbreak. Allow subsequent victims to file suit against Patient Zero (or parents), using a preponderance of the evidence test, if Patient Zero was unvaccinated.

Your kid dies and you didn't vaccinate, you should be criminally liable in the death of your child. That should be inducement enough.
posted by dibblda at 11:18 PM on February 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm just saying that maybe if you had children you would think twice about injecting them with toxins.

I have two small children. One of them was having trouble breathing on his second birthday. His lips turned blue and he was struggling to breath. We went to the hospital and his oxygen count in his blood was very low. It was three days in the hospital before his lungs were clear enough for him to breath normally--three sleepless nights for me. He has had asthma ever since, which is a common result of RSV infections in young children.

5 million children a year get RSV--though not all as bad as this. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for it.

You better believe my kids get all the other vaccinations recommended by their doctor, including the flu shot, since the flu hits kids with asthma worse than others.
posted by eye of newt at 11:26 PM on February 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd have a lot more faith in a public health voice that spoke more honestly about how much is unknown, that aknowledged the real and known dangers of mercury (which is in themerisol)

I'm no officially sanctioned public health voice, but I've had repeated conversations about mercury and vaccinations with other parents in my daughter's birthing class group and daycare (this as a subset of conversations about vaccinations=TEH EVIL! conversations I've endured).

I've tried repeatedly to suggest very gently that they might want to at least consider the health risks posed by farmed fish and other top-of-food-chain seafood and the car exhaust they breathe every day. I think I've been particularly cautious and restrained in not getting into the whole coal-fired-power-plants thing.

I've found them universally fixated on the fucking MMR vaccination or whatever.

Pity.
posted by gompa at 11:58 PM on February 15, 2009


Serazin keeps asking perfectly valid and important questions. Questions which are reasonably the next step in solving the problem of getting people to voluntarily accept vaccinations for them and/or their kids. A very useful discussion, I should think, amongst people who accept the validity of the harm-reduction of vaccination. Yet Balisong and hir issue was allowed to dominate the discussion, mainly in the form of personal attacks against hir choice.

Was this because it's easier, and more fun, to attack the easy target than to engage in productive dialog? Or is it because, down deep, we all realize that many of the world's problems would be cured by a big, deadly epidemic?
posted by Goofyy at 12:05 AM on February 16, 2009


I do not believe that vaccinations have any link to autism and I believe that every child should have a complete set of vaccinations. However, all of the comments here about how parents who believe that there is a link between the two are idiots and are committing the equivalent of child abuse are driving people away from the cause the claim to support.

Is it too much to ask for you to put yourself in the shoes of these parents? Your doctor just told you that your child has autism, but he has no idea why this happened, nor does he have any effective treatment options available. So your trust of doctors in general is pretty much completely shaken. Oh and he also tells you that there is no way the vaccine your child had two weeks ago could be related to your child's autism, even though your child was completely fine before it and his autistic symptoms seemed to come on suddenly afterwords.

You go on the internet to do some research for yourself. So you find a website about the links between autism and vaccines. The people there are sympathetic and lots of them have similar experiences. Then you go to metafiler and read this thread and you find that if you suspect that there is a link between autism and vaccines you are a, "child-abusing nonvaccinator", you speak like a developmentally disabled child, ""ITS TEH MURCURY STOOPID!" to "ITS TEH VACCINE STOOPID!"?", you have " paranoid delusions" and you are "living with your fingers in your ears, under a blanket, with the lights out and the door locked."

Now, as a parent who has just received tragic news about their child and had their faith in the medical field shaken, who are you going to trust more, the open and empathetic "anti vaccine" crowd or the hostile and mocking "pro science" crowd?

In the spirit of the thread, what it comes down to is if all you have to offer in this discussion is calling parents of autistic kids "idiots" and "child abusers," then you need to shut the fuck up because you are actively causing harm to any effort to provide them with accurate education.
posted by afu at 12:27 AM on February 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


Pope Guilty, sorry but you've never had a child get ill, gravely or otherwise, after having their MMRs.

the issue is clearly this : deregulation after the 1980s allowed pharmaceuticals to "self-regulate" to the point of changing the composition of their drugs as long as the active ingredient remained the same. and to boot, it also declared that companies didn't have to announce these changes since the
formulas of many pharmaceuticals and cosmeceuticals fall under "trade secrets".

my son got really, really ill after the MMRs. he is not autistic but interesting enough he has all the allergy and chronic disease markers of many autistic children. i actually learned how to deal with my son's health through autism boards because his 17 allergy markers and 3 chronic illnesses made it difficult for me to find other people who understood how to handle my child's health care needs --even the aggressively pro-vaccination pediatriatian we had at the time.

most parents in the autism community that are anti-vaccination are really not the crazy lunatics you make them be. they are not against vaccines. many of them ---and me,btw--- are against the aggressive push to bombard children's bodies with vaccines unquestioningly.

many vaccine resistors really end up vaccinating their children. they just do it at a time they feel their children will be able to cope better if there is any negative reaction at all.

i have a fantastic family doctor who has been voted the best in NYC 7 years in a row. when i told him about my oldest's reaction and my fears for the second one he asked me: are you traveling? my answer was no. we waited for a long time to vaccinate our kids and we've only done some but not all. and even if we ended up getting them all their vaccines, i'd still demand to have the MMRs separated --like the do in the rest of the world-- instead of having them all at once. given we have such a dramatic history of chronic health problems related to allergies, it would be easier to monitor if we did one vaccine at a time.

but here in the US people want to consider this "a crime" because, you know, judges and pharmaceutical companies with a profit interest know better.

look, vaccines are absolutely needed and in a good way yet

not until the FDA gets a complete overhaul,

not until pharmaceuticals are thoroughly regulated and scrutinized,

not until health care stops being a for-profit gambit,

not until the threshold for personal injury and deaths by drugs and vaccines is lowered to close to zero,

will many parents, myself included, heed to the insults of "those who know better". i am a science loving nerd, but i also worked for a pharma/cosmeceutical company in the 1990s and became privy to the shenanigans they'd pull with their drugs with the aid and abetting of the FDA.

there is really no reason to trust the FDA and pharmaceuticals blindly at all. because the strict QA standards of 40 years ago are nowhere to be found these days in the development of many drugs and vaccines --and yes that includes not just new ones but the good old standards y'all are defending so passionately.

so, sum it up : vaccines are not bad nor evil but a bad FDA and evil PharmaCos make vaccines (and many other drugs) potentially dangerous.
posted by liza at 12:33 AM on February 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


It's your right not to get your kids vaccinated.

But if you don't get your kids vaccinated, for their good and for the good of everyone else, you ought to quarantine them.
posted by pracowity at 12:44 AM on February 16, 2009


> I hope his kids die.

Wow. Really?

I mean, disagree with a person's view, sure, but wish death on their children? I mean, I understand the logic, but that is cold, cold logic.

Balisong's been browbeaten on this topic before. But if, a few years ago, given all of the information that you had handy, if you thought there was a real chance - 5%, 10%, 20% - for your kid to catch an incurable disease from a vaccination, wouldn't you think twice about vaccinating them?

It's easier to say now that you would do it, for the greater good of the world. But look at the trade-off: the prescient chance that your kid would become autistic vs. the chance that he would get a virtually-eradicated-disease. You can bet there were more than a few rational people who took the selfish option.

Let's direct our hate where it belongs. Not at children.
posted by jabberjaw at 12:56 AM on February 16, 2009


what's amazing to me is that rabid "vaccinate at all costs" who want to quarantine the non-vaccinated are as irrational as people who won't vaccinate at all and under no circumstances in the first place. yes, am looking at you pracowity, Pope Guilty et al : you're fear and loathing are, well, loathsome.

oh, and you should all read afu several times over. you are doing more harm than good indeed.
posted by liza at 1:07 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Was this because it's easier, and more fun, to attack the easy target than to engage in productive dialog?

Even moreso, people often feel compelled to note their strong disagreement with opinions they strongly disagree with, but do not feel the same compulsion towards opinions that they have tepid feelings towards.

Let's discuss the type of dialogue we should be having. Several here say that calling an anti-vaccination person a child abuser is unlikely to change their mind. I agree. But I think that nothing is going to change the minds of many of these people. Their minds are made up.

The question I am more concerned with is how this debate will effect those whose minds are not made up. If they see anti-vaccination activists being called idiots, will that cause them to automatically empathize with those against vaccination? Or will it cause them to wonder whether the anti-vaccination stance really is idiotic? And to realize the opprobrium they will face from certain quarters if they endanger their children and others by withholding vaccination? Maybe it will do all of these things.

Social opprobrium can be a powerful force for improving public health. But I have to wonder if there is a way of applying it that would be more effective way of applying it. Calling people idiots and child abusers really can get the backs up of people who are even considering avoiding vaccination, and doesn't give them a face-saving way to change their mind. Instead the negative approach of denouncing the parents who refuse vaccination, what might be more effective is a positive approach of a popular parents' movement for vaccination. Parents who publicly pledge that their children will be vaccinated. Perhaps parents who won't let their children associate with those that are not, not in a judgmental way, but out of concern for the safety of their own children. It would be good to have a popular movement for vaccination, because right now we mainly have medical, scientific, and public health professionals advocating it. They are not trusted by some people for a variety of sad reasons.

Personally, I would be for whatever method is most likely to increase the rate of vaccinations. Imprisoning parents who refuse vaccination would do it, but I think legislating this is unrealistic in the current climate. It might be possible to tighten the restrictions on unvaccinated children in public schools, but this might have to wait until a few more unvaccinated children die and people remember how horrid life was before vaccines. Until then, I think increasing the positive and popular pressure for vaccination would be a good start.
posted by grouse at 1:13 AM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]




Like many aspects of raising my children, I defer to my wife to make the decisions. I give my input, but she makes the final say. This is one of them. I support her decisions. We both have done our research. Read several books on vaccinations, gone to seminars both pro and anti vaccs. and to tell you the truth, we still might get them done, but right now, we are pretty comfortable in our decisions.
The same decision process was done before deciding on homebirth. And on breastfeeding, and circumcision.
It's kinda like buying "organic" foods at the supermarket. Are they really better for you? Or is it just a marketing scam for you to pay twice as much? Is what you are getting really organic? Probably not more often than you think, especially in the supermarket. Do you trust Monsanto and ADM to sell you what is best for you? But do you still shell out the extra cash because maybe, just maybe, those strawberries won't have pesticides on them? Or that cup of coffee might really be supporting small growers? Come on. You know they aren't.
But maybe, just maybe they might be a smidgen more healthy than your other choice.
It's a decision you have to make. For you and your kids.

The other anti-vacc people I've met through the birthing classes are not all crazies. Sure there's some of them, and some aging hippies, and commercial and Air Force pilots, and people with masters degrees living in $500,000 homes and driving Mercedes SUVs, and veterinarians, and school teachers, and GI's in the US Army. People you might have to rely on about something YOU care about. But feel free to spout off about how they are child abusers and that their kids should die. Have this discussion with your next airline pilot right before the flight.
Pope Guilty, do you even know some actual kids with autism? I do. I don't want my kids like that. Even if there is a teency-weency chance that I can prevent it, I will. I know a seven year old that can't hold a conversation with anyone. My two 1/2 year old has a greater attention span, better grasp of language, more well behaved, and better reasoning than this seven year old boy. He can't go to regular school, either. And it cost his parent $2500 a month for treatment. Not covered under insurance. It cost his parents their marriage.
I've never met anyone with measles, mumps, or rubella.

But keep up the class act, and blind faith.
posted by Balisong at 3:16 AM on February 16, 2009


posted by Balisong I've never met anyone with measles, mumps, or rubella.

Probably because the majority of parents are intelligent, rational, and responsible people who have been vaccinated against--and have vaccinated their children against--these deadly, disfiguring, misery-causing, entirely preventable diseases. Don't vaccinate your kids, and then you'll really hope you don't meet someone with measels. Or maybe you already have met someone, but you don't yet know it. So the first person you meet with the measels will be your own children, who will suffer through an entirely preventable and deadly disease with complications like pnuemonia, encephalitis, and blindness, while they become disease vectors, all because you cling to the completely irrational, irresponsible, and idiotic idea that vaccines cause autism.
posted by mattdidthat at 3:45 AM on February 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


if the public health community wants to convince resistant people to vaccinate, they're going to have to come up with a better strategy than just repeating, "DO IT YOUR YOUR KIDS WILL DIE" over and over. I only selectively vaccinated my kid (please restrain yourself from yelling "do it your kid will die!" - I've heard it all before) and the only argument that's ever come close to convincing me to get more vaccinations for her is the greater good argument, but I've never heard that argument from a doctor.

Okay, how about hearing it from someone who caught measles during an epidemic among the unvaccinated in Chicago? I was in the bubble of bad vaccines from the late 50s. In 1989 I, and my 9-day old baby, were exposed 9 days postpartum in a medical ward in a hospital that was denying they had any measles cases. Although my doctor, all the nurses and the doctors I spoke with in the hospital all told me I had measles, and I CLEARLY had all the symptoms of measles, my medical records show "unknown viral illness." I was sick for 3 months. I had to stop breastfeeding. I have hearing loss. My child was affected intellectually. I was relying on herd immunity to protect me and it let me down.

How about this one-- my son suffered a severe allergic reaction to the mumps vaccine. Stopped breathing! He's only had the first shot, because he was one of the tiny percentage who suffer this reaction. He is relying on YOU to protect him from mumps, because he has an ACTUAL medical issue with the vaccine.

Do you need to hear "stop at a stop sign, it's for the greater good" in order to obey traffic laws, or do you accept that as something that's already been established?

GET VACCINATED OR SUFFER HORRIBLE CONSEQUENCES for fuck's sake.
posted by nax at 4:11 AM on February 16, 2009 [23 favorites]


and most important, they haven't used thimerosal as a preservative in years

I wish this were true. It seems to be true (at least near Philly) that thimerosol is not being used in the main rounds of kids' vaccines, but it still is in the flu vaccines (even the ones that you're supposed to give to little kids---although we were lucky and able to get the FluMist for my 3-year-old this year, which doesn't contain thimerosol). And at least this year, when I said I was nursing, the nurse giving me my flu vaccine thought it was probably better to not give me the thimerosol-containing flu shot.
posted by leahwrenn at 4:19 AM on February 16, 2009


Balisong:

A friend of mine is a speech pathologist and comes across many un-vaccinated children here in Central Pennsylvania. Do you know that whooping cough can now jump from children to adults? You are endangering a lot of people. Most especially you are endangering your children. Also, among the children she tutors, she works with five autistic children. ALL FIVE OF THEM WERE NOT VACCINATED BECAUSE THE PARENTS THOUGHT THIMEROSOL WOULD MAKE THEM AUTISTIC. So now these kids are autistic and, in addition, they're susceptible to a whole range of diseases. The parents just blame "the government" for poisining the kids somehow and making them autistic. They've transferred their fear of thimerosol to some other crazy thing, give their kids these metal cleanse things. People are being harsh here because it's insane you don't vaccinate your kids! You say, "We both have done our research. Read several books on vaccinations, gone to seminars both pro and anti vaccs." You really think you're smarter than decades of medical research? How arrogant! My god, you know people spend their entire lives doing research on this, right? And you go to a conference and think you know better!! Holy moly!! Am I judging you? You betcha! I can't really take anything you write here on these pages seriously again. You're a negligent parent and putting your children's health at risk.
posted by billysumday at 4:44 AM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I've never met anyone with measles, mumps, or rubella.

BECAUSE YOUR GENERATION GREW WITH PARENTS WHO WERE DEVASTATED BY POLIO AND OTHER CHILDHOOD INFECTIOUS DISEASES AND FIGURED OUT THAT "HOLY SHIT THIS VACCINATION STUFF IS PRETTY SWELL AT STOPPING THEM"

Christ almighty it's like trying to explain something to a brick fucking wall.
posted by Talez at 4:49 AM on February 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


Wow. There are a lot of strident voices here. I usually think of this place as a haven of reflection and an oasis of people able to see all sides of any issue, even if they are pretty strongly focused on their particular side. Not always and here we have found another issue. It amazes me how some fools think there are zero issues with vaccine safety. I guess the VICP was just a big waste because medicine, vaccines, never hurt anyone. Add to that the fact that you are forced by the government to take something that can harm you. Don't think that I advocate not getting vaccinated, the benefits to society as a whole outweigh the risks by quite a large margin. However, to stick your head into the sand and proclaim that there are no dangers associated with vaccines is even more ignorant as the people who convince themselves of a thimerosal cause of autism despite tons of evidence to the contrary. There is at least a possibility that the thimerosal people might be right. The self righteous pro vaccine shouters here would brook no such possibility. The biggest idiot is the self assured idiot who fails to question their own assumptions.
posted by caddis at 4:56 AM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


posted by caddis There is at least a possibility that the thimerosal people might be right.

I look forward to monkeys flying out of your butt.
posted by mattdidthat at 5:05 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


HAY GUISE, autism is partially marked by problems with brain folding, which occurs in early gestation. http://www.jneurosci.org/cgi/content/abstract/27/43/11725

Any of my fellow members of the neuroscience community (who are already at the stage that I'll be at in a few years or so) want to jump in?
posted by kldickson at 5:09 AM on February 16, 2009


There is at least a possibility that the thimerosal people might be right.

The intelligent design argument is applicable here. We can provide all the evidence in the world for evolution, but some people will say "there is at least a possibility that God created everything 6,000 years ago." You're just playing devil's advocate, but you're doing it without any supporting data. I mean, ALL SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE points in one direction, yet some people will cling to their faith because it's painful to let that faith go. Caddis, you've dropped at least two comments in this thread that have both been "Now wait a minute, folks, what I'm saying is: what if thimerosol really was harmful?" It's cute and coy, but where's the evidence? The VICP link doesn't take me to any cases where the government paid out for harmful vaccines. I would be interested, though, to see what the infection rate is, and how that's changed over time.
posted by billysumday at 5:10 AM on February 16, 2009


Listen, serazin, I get it. You recognize two sides of this debate, and want to find compromises that are acceptable to both. That's admirable, but I don't think you realize that our current situation, optional vaccination, is the compromise. We allow people to choose whether to be vaccinated, and whether to vaccinate their children, because in practice those people are limited enough in number to keep us above herd immunity, and because we understand that there are very valid fears about the power of government and industry.

This is a bitter compromise for many, including several in this thread. The unvaccinated still present a risk even if society is above herd immunity. As has been reiterated many times already: too young, too old, immunosuppressed. People who remain unvaccinated don't just endanger their own lives, they directly endanger those three groups. The idea that we throw those people's welfare under the bus to protect vague antiestablishment fears is unacceptable to many people, but it's the tenuous balance we've reached.

In the meantime, we've been able to rely on good will and good sense to keep the larger danger - loss of herd immunity - at bay. However, our good will and good sense are being undermined; the former by "logic" such as Balisong's, and the latter by an anti-scientific campaign with excellent PR. As if it isn't bad enough to put infants and the elderly and the infirm at risk, each unvaccinated person is another chip in our collective armor, and they're doing it for reasons that have absolutely no basis in reality.

We tried appealing to reason and they ignored it. We tried appealing to their better natures and they chose to act selfishly (and failed even to serve their own interests). So no. No new compromises; the current one is already too far. No more hand-holding, no more "teach the controversy." They are OBJECTIVELY wrong by the very best measures we have available to us, and if they refuse to see it then the only viable option left to us is to marginalize them in no uncertain terms.

In no uncertain terms: Balisong and his ilk are individually guilty of child abuse just as if they fed their children nothing but candy. They're guilty of reckless endangerment just as if they were driving while drunk. They are part of a movement that is collectively guilty of endangering humanity, and are absolutely unapologetic about it. And then, just to add insult to injury, they imply that we are the ones endangering children. They need to go back to the margins where they belong... they should sit there, quietly, and think about what they've done until they're ready to rejoin the rest of the class.

I say this, not because I believe I can shame them into submission, but because I want anyone "on the fence" to realize exactly who they're siding with if they go the anti-vaccination route. I can't stop them from making that decision, but they'd better have a much better goddamn reason than these jokers.
posted by Riki tiki at 5:11 AM on February 16, 2009 [29 favorites]


So you members of the mercury militia can suck it, because you have been pwned by neuroscience.

The thing about autism is that it is polygenetic and possibly epigenetic and it is probably just as complex as things such as intelligence - ASDs are extremely difficult to diagnose. We in the scientific community really don't know a whole lot about these things, but rest assured, we know more than you do.
posted by kldickson at 5:14 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


FWIW, as someone who knew very little about the issue beforehand, the fact that the pro-vaccine side can cite actual logic as well as numerous studies while the anti-vaccine side seems to be relying heavily on emotionally-charged arguments about personal rights and nasty underhanded jabs about parenting, I'm going to have to give the win to the pro-vaccine side, even with the rather uncalled-for comments about hoping Balisong's children die.

Maybe I'm not a good representative for how everyone else would view this discussion, but frankly when people are blatantly, obviously wrong and refuse to provide any proof for their position, I tend to regard it as justifiable when they are shouted at. I agree that shouting isn't likely to change the minds of those who already are anti-vaccine, but they have already proven their ability to resist actual arguments involving facts and logic, so it's not really hurting the discussion to shout at them.

Balisong, your logic isn't logical and it hurts my head. Please try to listen to the reasonable arguments and ignore the Internet-Tough-Guy posturing. It's fairly obvious that vaccines provide some tangible benefits with a very small (if present at all) risk, and your position seems selfish and misguided. You also need better debate tactics than false equivalencies, false dichotomies, and false authorities. (ZOMG Airline pilots agree! WTF do airline pilots know about vaccinations?)
posted by Scattercat at 5:16 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


posted by Scattercat WTF do airline pilots know about vaccinations?

Well, some diseases are airborne, so if diseases are flying through the air, there's no way vaccines can work because diseases will just crash into kids like geese into their engines. Therefore, instead of vaccinating kids, we should encourage kids to avoid geese, but if they hit a diseased goose, they should swim in the Hudson River.
posted by mattdidthat at 5:28 AM on February 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


It amazes me how some fools think there are zero issues with vaccine safety

No one is saying that. Clearly there are problems with vaccine safety, for instance my measles vaccine didn't work at all, and my son had a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. But neither of these are reasons to risk your child and society against the clear and obvious benefit of vaccination, namely that 10s of thousands of children in the West no longer die from infectious diseases. When it's your child who is the one-in-a-100,000 who has the medical issue with the vaccine it's harsh and unfair, but balanced against the public health and societal benefits it's simply not a contest. The solution is not "don't vaccinate," but rather agitate and work for demonstrably safe vaccines.

Children in societies with low vaccination rates Die From Infectious Diseases. Case closed.
posted by nax at 5:29 AM on February 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Balisong,
As one of the immunocompromised people you were apparently unaware of until yesterday, I'm directly affected by the arrogance, ignorance, and selfishness of you and people like you. Your idiocy could cause me to contract a life-threatening or fatal illness. I'm actually sympathetic to the (misguided) fears some parents have about vaccination -- but your smug recklessness is just breathtaking.
posted by myeviltwin at 5:44 AM on February 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


No one is saying that. Clearly there are problems with vaccine safety, for instance my measles vaccine didn't work at all, and my son had a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. But neither of these are reasons to risk your child and society against the clear and obvious benefit of vaccination, namely that 10s of thousands of children in the West no longer die from infectious diseases. When it's your child who is the one-in-a-100,000 who has the medical issue with the vaccine it's harsh and unfair, but balanced against the public health and societal benefits it's simply not a contest. The solution is not "don't vaccinate," but rather agitate and work for demonstrably safe vaccines.

Children in societies with low vaccination rates Die From Infectious Diseases. Case closed.


This. This. This. I can't favourite this enough.
posted by Talez at 5:54 AM on February 16, 2009


Wow. There are a lot of strident voices here.

Because you've got logic and the health of a general population on one side and you've got My baby! Won't everyone think of my baby!? on the other. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to be reasonable about public health policy when dealing with descendant worshippers. Nothing, perhaps, except trying to worship one's child-god, He Who Shall Not Be Vaccinated, in the face of unbelievers.
posted by pracowity at 5:57 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


not until pharmaceuticals are thoroughly regulated and scrutinized

Liza, allow me to introduce you to what I have to do to make salt water:

Go to milli-Q system, check conductivity of water.
If low enough, collect water. Record volume and milli-Q apparatus ID in my notebook.
Get salt, record its manufacturer, lot number, arrival date, opening date, and expiry date in my notebook.
Go to balance, check and see if a calibration check has been done on it that day. If not, do a calibration check and record that in the balance log book.
Weigh my salt. Record the notebook page that my work is recorded on and intended usage for said salt in the log book.
Record the weight of salt in notebook.
Add salt to water.
Mix.

And all the while be assembling a notebook entry that goes something like:
A 1M NaCl solution was prepared by collecting 100 mL of milli-Q water from the apparatus in room 123 in a graduated cylinder and adding 5.6789g Sodium Chloride, Sigma, lot #12H3456, Recieved: 12Mar2007, Opened:15Oct2007, Expires 15Oct2009 (weighed in room 456) and mixing by inversion until all solids were dissolved by visual inspection. This solution will be stored at 4 deg. in the refrigerator in room 789 and will expire on 16Mar2009.

There you have it, salt in water. Behold the awesome power of SCIENCE! What I could do in about 5 minutes now takes about 20, but damn, it's a well documented 20 minutes. Oh, did I mention that there is a whole staff of people making sure that the balance, the milliQ system, and the refrigerator are all performing to specification, and we constant measure and record the temperature of the refrigerator.

What would you add to that?

Personally, I think part of the problem is, we're so thoroughly regulated and scrutinized that we spend too much time making sure everything is ready to be regulated and scrutinized and not enough time actually thinking about what we're doing.

Case in point, I know of at least one story where a company made a small change, then, years later, made another small change, and, years later, made a third small change. And then there was a train wreck. The small changes really were small, and they were regulated and scrutinized to the Nth degree, but nobody ever stepped back and looked at what might be hiding in all those changes put together.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:24 AM on February 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


Giant list of recent papers. Just to add some evidence to the discussion.
posted by kldickson at 6:33 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a million % pro-vaccination.

But the combination of snobbery and gleeful fascism generally displayed here to "moronic" dissenters on this subject is depressing.

Kind of a tangent comment: when we came to the US, both our kids - aged six and three - had all their age appropriate vaccinations, and all their official certificates. We'd gotten clearly written statements from their UK doctors to go with the certificates. Checked that everything was up to date before we left.

The doctors here ignored the certificates. They were both re-vaccinated as if they'd never had a shot in their lives.

Obviously, we asked why this was necessary, We were told it just was. It wasn't a pleasant introduction to US life, frankly.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:34 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just how many of you that are so vocal about this subject are childless?

If I had had no children, I would still have been susceptible to measles because of faulty vaccination, and would still have gotten deathly ill. My parental status had nothing to do with it.

Balisong: Let me ask again, WHY GIVE ME THE CHOICE?

You don't have a choice; if you send your child to public, Catholic, or many independent schools you must present evidence of vaccination or a doctor's excuse exempting you for medical reasons. But of course, you've also opted out of the public school system, so this is not a problem for you. But do my grandchildren a favor and stay out of malls, public transpo, museums and parks as well, just in case.
posted by nax at 6:37 AM on February 16, 2009


Snobbery and gleeful fascism, Jody? It occurs to me that 'snobbery' and 'gleeful fascism' are just excuses thrown about to cover for the fact that these people presumably haven't done the reading or have the necessary background knowledge to understand much of this. Forget, for a moment, their worship of their children.

Part of it is frustration because people who are underinformed are, in their arrogance, oversimplifying the problem. Autism is complex. Even we who know most about it don't know enough, and much of it has to do with things that I haven't run across formally just yet as an undergraduate who is STUDYING neuroscience (I've run across it in my own reading in my spare time, but for the most reliable explanations of this, you're going to have to turn to someone who is already where I will be in a few years and who may even specifically investigate autism. It is fucking frustrating sometimes to sit down and explain some of these things very carefully and try to find words some people understand which aren't some of the more specialized terminology we use which better describes this phenomenon. People such as Matthew Nisbet, sod him, have tried ; there is a lot of glossing over of important details to explain these phenomena simply.

This ties into other problems: Most people are woefully scientifically illiterate, and I would suspect about half the American population doesn't know what a mitochondrion is. (It's very basic biology.) The American educational system needs to be better supported (higher education is doing fine, fwiw, except for the fact that there's a rather stupid double standard where science students have to take the same classes for gen eds that humanities majors take for their majors and humanities majors only have to take 'rocks for jocks', and that frankly, four years isn't enough). Also, Congress needs to stop cutting funding for research. Approximately 14000 grant applications that are approved every year don't get funded.

America has to stop being stupid.
posted by kldickson at 6:56 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


he asked me: are you traveling? my answer was no.

If you ride the subway on a regular basis (even if your kids don't), the correct answer to this question is "yes."
posted by oaf at 7:17 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Most people are woefully scientifically illiterate, and I would suspect about half the American population doesn't know what a mitochondrion is. (It's very basic biology).

kldickson,
I hotly agree with your drift (great comment, btw).

That autism is complex - and then some - I know very well. Ironically, we came to the US because my husband's a British boffin who joined the brain drain and he works in a lab here on Long Island where the research includes neuroscience, genetics and autism.

But when - in 1993 - as new immigrants from the UK, we swallowed hard and quickly meekly accepted our kids HAD to be revaccinated all over again, we were in the hands of a) dragon medical receptionists - who had no time to talk to us, b) impatient nurse practioners who thought we were getting difficult with the concept of vaccines, rather than simply explaining to them that our kids already had their shots up to date so far and here are the letters to prove it.

We caved in reluctantly.
The "moronic dissenters" are very frustrating. I agree.

But when you've got copies of US Weekly magazine with those ghastly, emotive interviews with Jenny McCarthy (and only tiny sidebar boxes warning readers that "scientists disagree") sitting in medical waiting rooms, PLUS medical staff who have no time to counter a moron's concerns, I feel it's hopeless to give up campaigning to counter the stupidity.

Calling people child abusers etc will just make them defensive.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:18 AM on February 16, 2009


META
posted by Meatbomb at 7:44 AM on February 16, 2009




Like many aspects of raising my children, I defer to my wife to make the decisions. I give my input, but she makes the final say. This is one of them. I support her decisions. We both have done our research. Read several books on vaccinations, gone to seminars both pro and anti vaccs. and to tell you the truth, we still might get them done, but right now, we are pretty comfortable in our decisions.

Please point me to any VALID research that indicates that vaccines cause autism. And Jenny McCarthy does not consitute valid research. And you won't be so comfortable if there is a measles epidemic in your community. Then you'll be praying your kids don't catch it and cursing yourself for your stupidity.

My son is autistic. It's a scary disease. No one knows how what causes it (though I do believe that there are genetic factors) and there is only one known treatment, Applied Behavorial Analysis. It's not a cure but an effective, if painstakingly slow treatment.

So parents of kids with autism are looking for someone or something to blame. And here come RFK Jr. and the plaintiff's attornies with their bad science who want to go after the deep pockets of big pharma and the government. It doesn't matter if the science is bad. What juries understand science anyway? So now autistic parents have their bogeyman.

The fact is that autistic parents are bombarded with bad science and miracle cures. Go to any autism conference and you'll find people selling hyperbaric oxygen, chelation, gluten free foods and other miracle cures. They're all BS. But parents are desperate so they'll try anything. It doesn't matter that a vast majority of doctors and the medical establishment have found these "cures" to be useless. They're all part of the conspiracy.

As a parent in the autism community, I've found that every professional in the community I've dealt with understands that vaccines do not cause autism.

Many parents on the other hand, do not. It does not matter how many times you explain it to them. They block you out and think you're either a moron or are part of the conspiracy. (And yes, Balisong, many of them drive nice cars and make lots of money - They're still ignorant). I started off trying to be reasonable but when faced with reckless ignorance, I do become strident.

When there is a measles epidemic or a flu pandemic, I will know that I've done everything I could to protect my kids. I have an eight month old also. She gets all her shots.

I can't imagine being the parent of a child who dies from a preventable disease. One that could have been prevented by a vaccination but they chose to be ignorant.

So while I applaud the decisions of the vaccine court. It won't change any minds. Just check out Age of Autism.

Vaccine Court? It might as well be the Warren Commission to these people.
posted by cjets at 8:19 AM on February 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


As a scientist, I find it very difficult to explain stuff to regular people because it's difficult to figure out what they don't understand. As kldickson says, the average person has little training in school on how science works. In school, you're given a lot of scientific facts to memorize, and they sound cut and dried; then, if you become a scientist, you discover that it's all a process, and the facts are under constant revision. To me, that's the exciting and hopeful thing, but to someone trying to simply determine whether or not to vaccinate a child, it sounds like we're trying to pull something over on them. I do research on pesticides, and constantly have to deal with members of the public with fears about that much like the fears of Balisong and serazin- I try, honestly I do, to explain the risks and benefits, not to be insulting, not to belittle them, but the communication gap is so wide it's almost like we're speaking different languages, because even a simple word like "risk" means something different to me than it does to them. It takes good will on both our parts, and many, many hours to reach an understanding. But it's possible.

In NY, regulations were passed to record exactly when, where and how much pesticide was applied by every registered pesticide applicator. Now, this was a huge pain in the neck for those of us who apply pesticides, and we grumbled and whined. However, we did it. When the results were tabulated, they showed that incidence of breast cancer did not correlate at all with pesticide application. At all. Admittedly, there are still applicators who scream "fascist Big Brother controls my every move!" and cancer advocates whose fears have mutated to some other conspiracy, but surely this is progress. If it isn't, I don't know what else to do.

The key is the good will on both sides.
posted by acrasis at 8:21 AM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Not cancer advocates. I think I meant to say anti-cancer advocates.
posted by acrasis at 8:24 AM on February 16, 2009


*Intermission*
posted by pracowity at 8:33 AM on February 16, 2009




I've been wondering if there's a term that succinctly captures the mechanism by which the autism - MMR jab connection has gained credibility.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Autism often appears in young children who were previously quite functional. It's only natural that parents whose kids 'suddenly' develop autism look desperately for a causal explanation -- and since nearly all children receive vaccinations, also at very young ages (probably prior to the onset of their autistic symptoms), it's unsurprising that it would be isolated as a cause. After that, it's merely a matter of gaining traction.
posted by spiderwire at 8:46 AM on February 16, 2009


Like many aspects of raising my children, I defer to my wife to make the decisions. I give my input, but she makes the final say.

This comment stuck out for me. Balisong, if you love your children as much as you say you do (and I believe that you do) you might want to step up and actually start making decisions that so profoundly affect them. Your comment makes you sound like a 1950s housewife who defers all the important household financial decisions to her husband. Be a parent. An equal, 50% share of the partnership parent. Your children deserve no less.
Also, as hard as it is for some parents, I'll also ask you to give some thought to other children that aren't yours, and how your decisions affect them, too.
posted by rocket88 at 9:02 AM on February 16, 2009


I'm waiting for some clown to write a book arguing that we're seeing an upswing in autism due to the essential trace levels of lead being removed from our children's diets.

No, I don't think for a moment it's true, but I wouldn't be stunned if I read that you need at least four atoms of lead per cell (a la selinium) at some point in the future. (And if you think lead poisoning is bad, Google "selenium poisoning". Makes lead poisoning sound like "Sunday in the Park with George".
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:04 AM on February 16, 2009


The settlement from the lawsuit when the first kid dies after an allergic reaction to the vaccine is going to have soooo many zeroes in it.

Sovereign immunity.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:05 AM on February 16, 2009


I had whooping cough a year and a half ago. I was 25 years old.

I am not immunocompromised. On the contrary, I am quite healthy, except for pollen allergies. My parents got me all my shots, that's for damned sure.

I am not amused by people who don't vaccinate their children. Pertussis made me cough until I thought I was going to seriously hurt myself; people fearfully steered clear of me whenever I broke down into paroxysms -- how someone could willingly risk subjecting their children (or anyone) to pertussis, I've no clue.

My work means that I encounter many strangers ("visitors", "guests") a day, and most of them are children. We have plenty of anti-vaxx fools in the area.

You'll have to forgive me for having developed a slight fear that I contracted pertussis from an unvaccinnated child, and that 1) said child suffered and maybe died from this disease, and 2) I, or someone I care about, will contract some other medieval infection from an unvaccinated child, now that our vaccinations have worn down as adults.
posted by Coatlicue at 9:09 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jody, did an actual medical professional tell you your children had to be revaccinated, or did someone who was untrained tell you that silly crap? Because vaccines in the UK typically work.
posted by kldickson at 9:12 AM on February 16, 2009


However, all of the comments here about how parents who believe that there is a link between the two are idiots and are committing the equivalent of child abuse are driving people away from the cause the claim to support.

You're assuming that we want it to be a cause that people have to support.

I don't. I want the full power of the State to simply force immunizations for at the very least airborne and contact communicable diseases upon the unwilling. I don't really give a crap how balisong etc feel about it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:12 AM on February 16, 2009


kldickson, I would imagine the people telling jody her kids needed to be revaccinated were USCIS (the immigration people).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:14 AM on February 16, 2009


how someone could willingly risk subjecting their children (or anyone) to pertussis, I've no clue.

This is easy.
  1. They know nothing about the severe consequences of contracting these diseases (including death and disfigurement) because a vaccinated population means few people contract them anymore.
  2. They incorrectly think the risk of contracting these diseases is basically zero. After all, "I've never met anyone with measles, mumps, or rubella."
I think many more children will contract these diseases before the pendulum starts to swing back in the other direction.
posted by grouse at 9:16 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never met anyone with measles, mumps, or rubella.

There are a lot of tense emotions going on here, so I'll break it up with a funny story. I'm kind of an old timer, (despite having two young kids). When I was young, they didn't have these vaccines. Everyone got mumps, measles, and chicken pox. (I guess it was some other

Parents back then did there own kind of vaccinating by making sure that their kids got these diseases when they were young. I remember when my parents took me to this other kid's house. All the parents told me to play with him. I didn't know him. He was in a robe and didn't look very happy. He certainly didn't look like he felt like playing. I knew something was up, but I wasn't sure what. The my Mom said it "make sure to touch his toys." I gave her a suspicious look. "Why?" "Because he has the mumps." I don't have the best memory of my childhood, but this one is etched in my brain. I can even remember what the kid looks like. Why? Because it was the first time in my life that I began to think that maybe this person, to whom I depend on for protection might not have my best interests at heart. She's trying to give me the mumps? So I can be as miserable as this kid looks?

Needless to say, I didn't touch a thing, and never got the mumps. I've since asked for the vaccine, but doctors refuse to believe that I never got it because everyone got it back then.

Something to think about. Personally I think that vaccines are a much better way to go than actually getting the disease. Yes, I survived chicken pox and the measles, but lots of kids got some bad complications--certainly many more and much worse than any vaccine complications.
posted by eye of newt at 9:19 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


But when you've got copies of US Weekly magazine with those ghastly, emotive interviews with Jenny McCarthy (and only tiny sidebar boxes warning readers that "scientists disagree") sitting in medical waiting rooms, PLUS medical staff who have no time to counter a moron's concerns, I feel it's hopeless to give up campaigning to counter the stupidity.

You know where the real harm is. I have a friend who is a fairly newly minted pediatrician and she has given up trying to convince the dissenters to vaccinate their children. They are rabid and unreasonable and she would just lose them altogether if she pushed vaccines on them. It seems to me that this "movement" has reached such a fever pitch that parents are unwilling to take their own pediatrician's advice regarding the health of their children based on Jenny McCarthy's prattling.

That is tangible harm.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:21 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


liza: my son got really, really ill after the MMRs. [...] most parents in the autism community that are anti-vaccination are really not the crazy lunatics you make them be. they are not against vaccines. many of them ---and me,btw--- are against the aggressive push to bombard children's bodies with vaccines unquestioningly.

I'll wager your boy is not deaf nor severely mentally impaired. My best friend growing up had major hearing loss (deaf in one ear, impaired in the other) because of mumps. He wanted to be a professional musician. My neighbours' had a son who will require constant care because his mental age is about 4. He had rubella as a child. I'm one of the last generation to grow up without the MMR vaccine. My father was a child before polio vaccines were available: he has residual nerve damage in his left leg. He can walk, but not run.

Any child of mine will be fully inoculated with what's ever available. Every pet of mine has its shots up to date. There are potential consequences of getting vaccines, sure, but the diseases are far more devastating than the vaccines. So far, I'd say, as denial of treatment boarders on child abuse. If a parent's (in)action lead to deafness or severe retardation in a child, wouldn't you be concerned?
posted by bonehead at 9:24 AM on February 16, 2009


Parents back then did there own kind of vaccinating by making sure that their kids got these diseases when they were young.

Heh, I remember some of my mom's friends bringing their kids over when we had the chicken pox, and that was the late 80's, so I guess "back then" wasn't so far back.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:31 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


to stick your head into the sand and proclaim that there are no dangers associated with vaccines

Jesus, caddis, point out one vaccine advocate claiming that in this thread. Anybody who pays attention to the science knows that vaccines aren't harmless or risk free. I don't know much about the whole "administered too soon/too close together/" stuff people like liza are discussing. But as a general issue in society I really don't believe there is a shred of decent epidemiology that suggests anything other than that the benefits of vaccination - to the individual and society - far outweigh the risks, even within the context of our imperfect, for-profit medical system.

Ugh, I can't believe I wasted a minute of my life in this thread.
posted by nanojath at 9:33 AM on February 16, 2009


'Too soon' my ass. Most people who are properly vaccinated turn out fine.
posted by kldickson at 9:34 AM on February 16, 2009


Some people here remember when measles and pertussis were commonplace and have some horror stories about them. It's pretty obvious to most of the people who have seen the effects of these diseases that one really ought to vaccinate. Of course, most young parents weren't around or don't remember why we need these important protections.

This reminds me somewhat of the protective set of post–Great-Depression banking regulations and laws that were dismantled in recent years. Now that the threat appeared to be eliminated, it was easy to get rid of those apparently unnecessary and profit-restricting laws.

Whoops. Looks like we did need those laws after all. That there was some wisdom in their making that we ignored at our own peril.

I hope we can realize the importance of vaccinations through reason before a new pandemic forces us to.
posted by grouse at 9:42 AM on February 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


You all realize that when anti-vax kids don't get rubella or mumps or whatever, this will only strengthen their argument against vaccination? The "OMG UR KIDS WILL DIE BC YOU DINT VAXN8" argument is tepid. Try something more constructive.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:43 AM on February 16, 2009


Anybody got any videos of these patients we can show balisong, caddis, and liza?
posted by kldickson at 9:44 AM on February 16, 2009


jabberjaw, there was a measles epidemic in several cities around the nation last year. Want to know who was the culprit?
posted by kldickson at 9:45 AM on February 16, 2009


grouse, it's apparently quite possible to succees oneself out of a job. :(
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:50 AM on February 16, 2009


Jody, did an actual medical professional tell you your children had to be revaccinated, or did someone who was untrained tell you that silly crap? Because vaccines in the UK typically work.[posted by kldickson]

kldickson, I would imagine the people telling jody her kids needed to be revaccinated were USCIS (the immigration people).[posted by ROU_Xenophobe]

Immigration were totally fine.
Coming here was a measured decision - we had fairly good advice AND I had already figured letters from our doctors explaining the UK vaccination codes on the kids' certificates would be a smart idea. At the time, I thought it was a slightly paranoid decision - ironically!

When we went to register the kids at a local practice, I was given an appointment for their physicals. The receptionist said they couldn't have physicals unless they'd been vaccinated. I handed over the certificates and the letters -with their complete medical records -and we came back for the pre-physical appointment - to be told (by the nurse) they'd have to get re-jabbed.

It was like talking to a wall.
The nurse simply said "they couldn't be sure about the British system...better safe than sorry."

My husband and I were appalled. (Felt like we were getting a taste of something very ugly.) Looking back, I could - and maybe should - have kicked up a stink.

Seriously, put my timid don't-rock-the-boat reaction to the total stress of moving countries. You're drowning in red tape - it's still something that bothers me. How I crumpled and caved. The boys were not at all happy either - though there were no untoward reactions.

We also remained with the practice (for 15 years).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:52 AM on February 16, 2009


kldickson - I am aware of the measles epidemic in San Diego. "The outbreak is believed to have started with a child who caught measles in Switzerland, then returned to the United States." link (nsfw - picture of a man's bare measley ass.) "We had an outbreak of mumps in the United States a couple of years ago. We still see whooping cough in the United States in very large numbers."

I am absolutely pro-vaccination - even if it did have a chance of causing autism. And I think balisong and other anti-vax parents made the absolute wrong decision.

I just don't like the LOLHolistix vibe here.

But perhaps we should make all kids who weren't vaccinated wear little red stars on their shirts so we'll know not to let our kids play with them, and we can avoid their parents, until we force-vaccinate them or quarantine them into non-vax camps.
posted by jabberjaw at 10:06 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never met anyone with measles, mumps, or rubella.

Why? Why do you think you've never met anyone with any of these diseases, which used to be extremely common? Here's how common rubella was before vaccination eliminated it in the US:

During 1964 and 1965 a rubella epidemic in the United States caused an estimated 12.5 million cases of rubella and 20,000 cases of congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) which led to more than 11,600 babies born deaf, 11,250 fetal deaths, 2,100 neonatal deaths, 3,580 babies born blind and 1,800 babies born mentally retarded.

Could it be that you don't know anyone with rubella now because after this epidemic they developed a vaccine and nearly everyone got it? Or do you think it's just a coincidence?

Given that rubella is still active in other countries, and people from other countries do travel to America, logically speaking would it make more sense for the US to continue to vaccinate so that they're immune to rubella? Or would it make more sense for the US to stop vaccinating people and wait for the next epidemic?
posted by lemuria at 10:09 AM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Anybody got any videos of these patients we can show balisong, caddis, and liza?

I have seen a baby with whooping cough. It was pretty scary. He was struggling to breathe.

If you had read my comments I think you will see that I am not arguing against vaccination. I just stopped in to point out that the court case only found lack of sufficient evidence to support a finding of a causal link between the vaccine and autism. It did not settle the matter for ever as someone suggested, and basically as the post itself implied. Court cases do not settle matters of science. Anyway, I don't think MMR or thimerosal cause autism. I had my own children vaccinated with it. I think there are more adverse reactions to the Pertussis vaccine anyway. Some kids have a bad reaction to the first dose and should skip the follow on ones. As long as almost everyone else who does not get a bad reaction gets vaccinated they should be fine. The parents who never even try are being selfish. A lot of people here call them foolish, but perhaps they are not. There are small but real risks with vaccines and if you let the other parents take them you can selfishly avoid those risks and the disease. I think that makes you a pretty bad citizen, not stupid.
posted by caddis at 10:11 AM on February 16, 2009


Wait, now folks are attacking Liza who is PRO-vaccination? So basically, anyone who doesn't support the exact to-the-letter course of vaccinations most commonly recommended in this country is an idiot too?

Even though
1) most doctors recommend alternative vaccination schedules for certain children (immune compromised, highly allergic, etc)
2) vaccine schedules differ from country to country and over time
3) some vaccines prevent diseases that are much more common in North America (pertussis for example) than others (polio for example) and some vaccines protect against much more dangerous diseases (polio) than others (chicken pox)

and so far, the only suggestion I've heard for how to get more people to vaccinate is to enact heavy criminal and civil penalties. Because criminalization is so effective for public health problems. It's certainly cured drug abuse. Right?
posted by serazin at 10:14 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, now folks are attacking Liza who is PRO-vaccination?

Who is attacking liza? Who are these "folks?" Are they the same folks who said they thought Balisong's child would die (which turned out to be one person)? Is there even one person who is attacking her or are you confusing disagreement with an attack?

the only suggestion I've heard for how to get more people to vaccinate is to enact heavy criminal and civil penalties

If that's all you've heard, it's because you haven't been listening.
posted by grouse at 10:20 AM on February 16, 2009


Sorry grouse, will you clarify? What do you think is an effective strategy for getting resistant people to vaccinate?
posted by serazin at 10:25 AM on February 16, 2009


serazin, while you're at it, why don't you clarify the "folks" who are "attacking Liza?"

As for what I think may be an effective strategy, please read my first comment in this thread.
posted by grouse at 10:29 AM on February 16, 2009


So basically, anyone who doesn't support the exact to-the-letter course of vaccinations most commonly recommended in this country is an idiot too?

So basically you're conflating all the people you're mad at for conflating the people you're not mad at?
posted by spiderwire at 10:29 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]



Anybody got any videos of these patients we can show balisong, caddis, and liza?

and

If you ride the subway on a regular basis (even if your kids don't), the correct answer to this question is "yes."
posted by oaf at 7:17 AM on February 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


both jumped out at me.

The second one was almost funny because Liza was quoting her doctor's recommendation, yet someone felt the need to call her out.
posted by serazin at 10:36 AM on February 16, 2009


Sorry if I was conflating everyone. There are a number of people in this thread who have approached this issue by repeating the general concept that whoever doesn't vaccinate is either a child abuser or an idiot or both. And I was suprised to see theat some commentors took it as far as being critical of other posters who were pro-vaccine, yet simply have some questions about the schedule, side effects, or possible motivations of pharm companies.
posted by serazin at 10:38 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The second one was almost funny because Liza was quoting her doctor's recommendation, yet someone felt the need to call her out.

Her doctor's recommendation was based on information that is either false or means her family doesn't take the subway on a regular basis.
posted by oaf at 10:45 AM on February 16, 2009


I know vaccines are good for my kid and society and my wife and I have gladly had our first vaccinated and will do so with the one due in April. I do understand some of the apprehensions of the anti crowd though.

Our son had his first flu shot at about 8 mos. He was crabby and a little lethargic for the rest of the day. The next morning he woke up with an eye infection that quickly worsened, requiring an emergency room visit that same day. They told us he'd have to stay in the hospital for several days and as we held down our screaming baby while the nurses tried to find a vein in his little foot it was easy (if illogical) to assign blame to the last "different" thing that happened to him.

We both know, objectively, that the flu shot had nothing to do with it, but that doesn't stop that bit of trauma-induced doubt from bubbling up every time he gets jabbed. (His eye is fine now, btw.)
posted by the christopher hundreds at 10:49 AM on February 16, 2009


Anybody got any videos of these patients we can show balisong, caddis, and liza?

and

If you ride the subway on a regular basis (even if your kids don't), the correct answer to this question is "yes."


Neither of those are attacks. Disagreement is not "attacking." Yes, even if someone takes a position you think is a compromise, many people are going to disagree with it.
posted by grouse at 10:59 AM on February 16, 2009


So basically, anyone who doesn't support the exact to-the-letter course of vaccinations most commonly recommended in this country is an idiot too?

Of course not. There's no obvious reason (unless there is) why people can't inflict more jabs on their kids if they want, or space them out differently so long as they're all done within whatever the medically relevant timeframe is.

And even I'm saying that they shouldn't be required when medically contraindicated. It's for those people, in large part, that kids who don't face any contraindications have to be vaccinated.

And, yes, we can quibble about what vaccinations should be required and which ones shouldn't. Stuff that's sexually transmitted might be lower down that list than things that are airborne or contact transmitted, since you're not likely to accidentally fuck people on the bus you're on. Or not; what the hell do I know? This is why we have physicians and epidemiologists.

Because criminalization is so effective for public health problems. It's certainly cured drug abuse. Right?

It's vastly easier to succeed at forcing people to do something they don't want to do, and to do it only a few times, than it is to prevent people from doing something they do want to do, can do in private, and can do at any time.

I've nothing against putting together a wonderful informational campaign to induce parents to get their kids vaccinated. But when push comes to shove, I don't really give a fuck what balisong thinks about it any more than I give a fuck how upset it makes him that people have to wear helmets on their motorcycles or how upset it makes people that they have to pay their taxes and obey traffic signals. I'd much rather that his kids get vaccinated against his will and have him be hopping, frothing mad about it than have them not vaccinated.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:01 AM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am having my daughter vaccinated. She's had her first three rounds of shots and will continue on with the regular recommended series. What I hate about the anti-vac crowd is that they've given me the barest bit of doubt that it's the right thing to do. I read all the science and believe that vaccinating is the right thing to do but I'm angry that I'm even the slightest bit affected by the crackpot anti-vac crowd. The slight glimmer of fear regarding the vaccines that I have every time I bring her in is totally stupid and unfounded and I hate that somehow it's gotten under my skin. Thanks, morons.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:04 AM on February 16, 2009


We both know, objectively, that the flu shot had nothing to do with it, but that doesn't stop that bit of trauma-induced doubt from bubbling up every time he gets jabbed. (His eye is fine now, btw.)

Oh, absolutely. I sometimes think that one of the single biggest problems in society is people who are unable to separate their emotions from their reason- the "I had a strong emotional reaction to it, therefore it is meaningful" fallacy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:12 AM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Have they found a causal link between smoking and cancer yet? It took, what, fifty years? I haven't read up on the vaccination issue, so I'm not referring to this in particular. But I am surprised how many people are here saying "science has the answer" without considering the politics behind science (e.g., the profit motive) and the history of science fraud (eg). I associate "no link found" science with issues where the link is obvious to the 95% of the world not paid to do science on behalf of an industry. Maybe the preponderance of the evidence swings the other way here, as I'm sure it must sometimes. And I've been on the other side of the issue, so I know how frustrating that can be. But the occasional "no link found" study would not be enough to immediately eliminate my skepticism.
posted by salvia at 11:14 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


koeselitz said what I'm trying to say a bit better over here.
posted by salvia at 11:29 AM on February 16, 2009


I have child who was born extremely prematurely. My wife is-- despite my repeated warnings-- a regular reader of several sites devoted to discussing preemies and micropreemies. Several times she has brought articles and threads to my attention where the writers are choosing not to have their children vaccinated on the grounds of autism or that they'll be in the tiny, tiny minority that have negative reactions to the vaccines. We have been dumbfounded.

It's one thing to be-- as I suspect Balisong is-- a hippie that doesn't trust doctors or science or society. It's entirely another thing to be a parent whose child is alive because of doctors and advances in medical science and yet turn down the vaccines. A child with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, for example, is extremely sensitive to any respiratory insults, which is why we don't let people take care of our kid who hasn't gotten a flu shot in the winter and a recent pertussis vaccine. Yes, he has had these vaccines, too, of course.

The herd immunity effect is extremely important. As many others have pointed out, diseases require a certain amount of carriers and potential carriers to be viable. If the vaccination rates get above that point, then historically brutal diseases became either hyper-rare or extinct altogether.

Also, if you don't vaccinate you're perpetuating things that have killed more people than Hitler. That makes you worse than Hitler. What?
posted by norm at 11:37 AM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


posted by serazin What do you think is an effective strategy for getting resistant people to vaccinate?

Mockery, humiliation, ostracization, shunning, lawsuits, and imprisonment. People who refuse to vaccinate their children are willfully endangering their children and the rest of us. I don't know what else to call that other than abuse.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:07 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because criminalization is so effective for public health problems.
"...there has been strong evidence for the effectiveness of these laws with nationwide seat-belt usage increasing from about 15% in the early 1980’s to about 65% in the late 1990’s."

"Several studies have analyzed the effectiveness of these laws. These have generally found an association between passage and enforcement of these laws and increases in seat-belt use." (source)
Noodle that one for a bit, serazin, if you're going to spout off about the ineffectiveness of government regulation as a solution for public health issues.

What do you think is an effective strategy for getting resistant people to vaccinate?

I know you weren't asking me, but since you're not paying attention to the many people who have answered this question: we do not think there is an effective strategy for getting resistant people to voluntarily vaccinate. They are resistant because, for whatever reason, they have abandoned common sense and the welfare of their fellow man in favor of unsubstantiated hoodoo. It would be folly to assume we can overcome that.

We're left with two options: legally require that people vaccinate even if they're resistant, or do what we can to keep more people from joining the anti-vaccination movement. Calling them idiots and child abusers, in addition to being true, serves this latter purpose well. To withhold those claims out of "respect" implies that it is a position that is worthy of respect, which lends it legitimacy that might earn it more supporters.

That's what I was trying to say with my previous comment. This is not an "agree to disagree" issue. This is an issue of wrong versus right, in as clear and objective terms as we are currently capable of achieving. I don't give a damn if speaking the harsh truth hurts their feelings or drives them further away. Their emperor has no clothes, and if they want to continue believing otherwise at least I may be able to have some impact on the general public who are susceptible to letting "respect" trump reality.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:15 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know who else was worse than Hitler?
wait.
posted by Rumple at 12:16 PM on February 16, 2009


Have they found a causal link between smoking and cancer yet?

Yes.

But the occasional "no link found" study would not be enough to immediately eliminate my skepticism.

The list of substances for which no link has been found to autism is very, very long. You might find it difficult to avoid every one of them (e.g., water).
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:46 PM on February 16, 2009


You know who else was worse than Hitler?

MINI HITLER
posted by spiderwire at 12:46 PM on February 16, 2009


Well lucky for me, Mental Wimp, I'm not trying to avoid every one of them.

Also, is there really a study examining whether a causal link exists between (plain old uncontaminated) water and autism? I'd love to see that!
posted by salvia at 12:50 PM on February 16, 2009


Perception plays a huge role in this. As I said on the MeTa thread, the reason that we don't fear Measles, Mumps and Rubella is due to vaccination. Autism is scary to parents as there is no cure, so that's the focus (even though the link is nonsense.) So people decide, through their fear of autism, not to vaccinate their child against potentially fatal diseases precisely because they're not scared of these diseases because we have vaccines that prevent them. It's really that stupid.
posted by ob at 1:02 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think there's a deeper argument that remains(?) to be made, which is that if the fragility of our herd immunity is put in danger by a few who abstain from immunization, we're doing something wrong as a society, addressing this issue in a way that fundamentally doesn't work.

"Well, if we could get EVERYONE to be immunized then we wouldn't have to worry about these diseases." The problem is WE CANT GET EVERYONE IMMUNIZED (people will always come up with some reason not to), so we'd best have a back up plan. And, um, we don't. (FYI There's still smallpox out there waiting, just begging to be released onto the world somewhere, so don't use that as a counterpoint. That shit is as scary as nuclear war nowadays.)

The outbreaks blamed on anti-vaccine parents could equally be blamed on our cultural hubris/stubborness. Couldn't they be?

So what do people think about that argument? Could it work? Why not?

I guess I should say (so that I don't get outright attacked?) that I've got no objections to vaccines myself, but I think that the attitudes expressed by some comments are downright ugly, so anti-freedom, anti-choice, for lack of better words.

Also, this is the ugliest thread I have ever seen on Metafilter. Ever. Period. Etc.
posted by symbollocks at 1:23 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The outbreaks blamed on anti-vaccine parents could equally be blamed on our cultural hubris/stubborness. Couldn't they be?

They could also be blamed on the Tooth Fairy, but that wouldn't make much sense. Certainly the proximal cause would be the anti-vaccination parents; more distal causes such "our cultural hubris" or the Easter Bunny are not really useful.

Also, this is the ugliest thread I have ever seen on Metafilter. Ever. Period. Etc.

This is pretty mild by MetaFilter standards. Stick around.
posted by grouse at 1:36 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


They could also be blamed on the Tooth Fairy, but that wouldn't make much sense. Certainly the proximal cause would be the anti-vaccination parents; more distal causes such "our cultural hubris" or the Easter Bunny are not really useful.

Effects can have multiple causes. Ignoring all but one cause is, to use such a blunt argument, "not really useful."
posted by symbollocks at 1:39 PM on February 16, 2009


"Well, if we could get EVERYONE to be immunized then we wouldn't have to worry about these diseases." The problem is WE CANT GET EVERYONE IMMUNIZED (people will always come up with some reason not to), so we'd best have a back up plan. And, um, we don't.

Also, how is this the tooth fairy? I thought it was fairly reasoned...
posted by symbollocks at 1:41 PM on February 16, 2009


symbollocks, herd immunity doesn't require universal immunity. If we can get ENOUGH people immunized then we don't, as a whole, need to be worried about those diseases. The reason Balisong is failing, as I said before, to protect even his own child's interest is this: herd immunity protects the herd. It doesn't protect individuals within the herd, but it keeps individual outbreaks from becoming epidemics.

Our backup plan is to live in a world like we used to, where people get these horrible diseases, die or are handicapped or disfigured for life, and we just have to bear the cost for that as a society. Or are you saying we should have come up with a way to all but eliminate these diseases that doesn't require near-universal participation? Well yeah, blame away. We haven't discovered the silver bullet yet. Maybe we never will. So sorry, please forgive us.

In the meantime, here's what we've got. We can save millions of lives and protect humanity as a whole as long as almost all of you inject your children with this vaccine that has an eensy weensy risk and huge proven benefits. Forgive us our hubris and stubbornness to even suggest such a terrible course of action.

You're right that this is an ugly thread. It's an ugly thread because it's an ugly issue, where willfully ignorant people are putting their own misguided selfishness above the common welfare. That's about as ugly as it gets. It's a conversation that needs to be had, though, from the lowliest MetaFilter threads to the highest levels of government.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:51 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well lucky for me, Mental Wimp, I'm not trying to avoid every one of them.


Without data, how was your skepticism eliminated, pray tell?
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:40 PM on February 16, 2009


Also, is there really a study examining whether a causal link exists between (plain old uncontaminated) water and autism? I'd love to see that!

That's right, no study has been done, so "no link has been found."
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:42 PM on February 16, 2009


One way to really annoy an autism expert is to keep talking about MMR, especially preservatives that are not even in MMR vaccines any more and were never actually linked to to autism in the first place.

Incidentally the scary-sounding preservative was a compound of mercury. Mercury is known to cause mercury-toxicity in large quantities. These vaccines contained less mercury than a portion of sea-fish. Strange then that these MMR fear-mongers never once mentioned the links between fish and autism.
posted by salimfadhley at 2:50 PM on February 16, 2009


Without data, how was your skepticism eliminated, pray tell?

If you'll go back and read my original comment, it was about the corruption of science, much like koeselitz's point here. It was a very general point, not specific to vaccinations or autism. Now you want to talk about a lack of data altogether? That has no relevance to my comment about corruption and fraud in science.
posted by salvia at 2:57 PM on February 16, 2009


Measles is now endemic in the UK after 14 years.

Vaccination rates against MMR vary widely across the country and are especially low in London. In the last quarter of 2007, the rate stood at 71 per cent for children at age two (first dose) and 50 per cent at age five (second dose) compared with the 95 per cent coverage needed to maintain herd immunity and prevent endemic spread.

Congratulations dipshits. Thanks to you and your "my special little flower is just one child. Herd immunity can protect my kid! I can be special!" attitude you managed to bring back a disease that was all but eradicated in the developed world.
posted by Talez at 3:16 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


You know who else was worse than Hitler?
Jenny McCarthy?
posted by Flunkie at 4:28 PM on February 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


It was a very general point, not specific to vaccinations or autism.

And your very general point is that you can't rule out associations that have inadequate data to rule them out. This includes just about every association in the world, save the few that have been pretty well established. It ignores the fact that we use Occam's razor to keep order and rationality, lest we spend all our time fighting the demons for which we have no data. If all it takes is for you to hear an allegation and then find that there are no data to rule out that allegation, then your fear is limited only by your imagination. On the other hand, if you choose to ignore all associations for which there is no supporting evidence and concentrate on those for which there is, you will find your life much better.

Oh, and by the way, the feeble and generally untrue point that "science is funded by corporate interests and therefore unreliable" is an ad hominem argument, and, I believe one of the well known logical fallacies.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:28 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm still confused why we shouldn't call people who abuse their children "child abusers"? Because it makes them unhappy?
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:57 PM on February 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Vaccination rates against MMR vary widely across the country and are especially low in London. In the last quarter of 2007, the rate stood at 71 per cent for children at age two (first dose) and 50 per cent at age five (second dose)

It should be added to this statistic, that autism rates are up. So much for the so called MMR vaccine--autism correlation that started all this nonsense.
posted by eye of newt at 5:24 PM on February 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I ranted a great deal in the last thread. And what I said wasn't all that well written. But there has been more than one death due to vaccine avoidance in the US. I was able to find 3 easily with Google. I know there are those out there who are convinced vaccines will give their kids autism. I think the appropriate question for them is would they rather have their children dead or autistic? (This is ignoring the willful ignorance issue, etc.) I feel that children who are not vaccinated and not immunocompromised should be preemptively quarantined for the safety of society. Maybe that would shock people into realizing just how sick this practice is. And I fully support the idea of suing the parents of patient zero in these outbreaks.

I had whooping cough at the age of 12. It was unpleasant, I missed a week of school and I had to have my sinus cavity probed to get a culture to test me for it. I know there were parents with infants who pulled their children out of school until the outbreak was ended. The disease was wretched. You know that feeling you get when you're coughing so hard you think you're about to lose a lung? Try that for a week straight. I don't know how the kids with asthma handled it. (This was in 1994- there is a reason you don't here of the great pertussis outbreak in Boston at that time: the vaccine rate was high enough that an outbreak in a school didn't spread.) (I had my DPT shot, but I guess it doesn't last your entire life, just long enough to make sure the disease doesn't fucking kill you.)

The reason why I, and so many people get so incensed about this is that, to us, it looks like you're defending the practice of drunk driving. "Oh, you just have to see it from the alcoholic's side, they're worried that if they don't drink their life will fall out of control, so you see they have to get behind the wheel drunk with their kids in the back seat." This is reckless endangerment, it kills children and there is no excuse for it. People get mad when this subject is brought up because of just how harmful it is. The emotions and concerns of people who claim they drive better than most people when drunk is not considered by a cop. Why should the equally unfounded claims about the dangerous of vaccines be given any more credibility?
posted by Hactar at 7:35 PM on February 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


eye of newt, you're not up to the latest advances.

It has been discovered that the massive amounts of MMR-vaccinated kids in America are emitting particles called autismons, which then ride the Gulf Stream and make British kids autistic.

When you vaccinate your kid, you make them emit autismons, and increase the risk for EVERYONE. Or something.
posted by qvantamon at 7:38 PM on February 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the case Robert Sapolsky wrote about in _The Trouble With Testosterone_ and recently discussed in WNYC RadioLab's "Diagnosis" episode (on their podcast site).

Briefly, autopsies of victims of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the early 20th century showed that, compared to a control autopsy group, the children had abnormally large thyroid glands. The proposed cure was to irradiate childrens' throats. This was apparently done systematically and resulted in a lot of throat cancer cases - this was before the full effects of radiation exposure were known.

Turns out, the control group were largely from orphanages. Kids in orphanages are under a lot of stress; thyroid glands shrink under stress. So the control group was actually the abnormal group, and the irradiation was, in retrospect, wrong. But there was no way to know that at the time.
posted by mindhead at 8:59 PM on February 16, 2009


Balisong is a bit unusual in that he seems to count on his children not getting the standard childhood illnesses. Most people who don't vaccinate are prepared to accept that their children may get those illnesses. It is a philosophical position that it is better to deal with illnesses when and if they come than it is to purposefully expose someone to harm. At the very least, if your child falls ill, you can provide for the child to the best of your ability until he recovers. If you take your healthy child to the Ped to get his jab and he suffers vaccine damage, what recourse is there? Sorry, I broke your kid, but you know, thanks for taking one for the team? Your child has died so that others may live? How is the ped who knowingly injects a child with something that kills him or damages him permanently for life somehow less culpable than a parent whose child dies from a vaccinatable illness contracted from the environment? In both cases it's a roll of the dice. You're just quarreling about the odds.
posted by BinGregory at 10:25 PM on February 16, 2009


How is the ped who knowingly injects a child with something that kills him or damages him permanently for life somehow less culpable than a parent whose child dies from a vaccinatable illness contracted from the environment? In both cases it's a roll of the dice. You're just quarreling about the odds.

The difference is the ped isn't "knowingly" poisoning the child. He is in fact intending to do the opposite, and he'd be right in asserting there's a very, very small chance of something bad happening. Balisong's attitude, on the other hand, is letting other people's children carry the burden of protection for him, and a lacsidasical "I'll cross that bridge if I come to it" position on perfectly preventable but potentially fatal diseases getting into his children's systems. It's not just "quarreling about the odds". But even if it were, drinking and driving is also "quarreling about the odds" of destructive behavior.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:03 PM on February 16, 2009


Balisong is a bit unusual in that he seems to count on his children not getting the standard childhood illnesses. Most people who don't vaccinate are prepared to accept that their children may get those illnesses

No. They mostly count on their kids not getting the illnesses because the other parents vaccinate. It ends up being a pretty safe bet most times, but as some comments here have shown if too many parents take this selfish stake that safe bet becomes risky. It is of course safest when all the other parents vaccinate and you do not. It becomes progressively less safe as other parents take the selfish course of avoiding a potentially risky vaccine on the assumption that the other vaccinating parents will essentially provide the protection that the vaccine would have provided. (there are so many preachers in this thread who fail to see the selfish reasons some parents fail to vaccinate, who fail to recognize the real risks, many of whom probably have never had to face this decision as they are childless and only view vaccination through their own parent's decisions. The stupidity level in this thread is at an all time MeFi high. Yes, we should all vaccinate, but there are very good and very selfish reasons not to do this. There exists a strong following in this thread who seem to be unable to grasp this very simple concept.)
posted by caddis at 12:15 AM on February 17, 2009


The ped isn't knowingly poisoning the child, and the parent isn't knowingly infecting the child either. The ped is offering a small risk now to potentially avoid a larger risk later. The non-vac parent is avoiding a known small risk now while accepting a larger risk later. For the purpose of discussion, place this scenario in a developing country where childhood diseases are common, so there is no "stealing of health" issue. The parent is confronted with a choice about managing risk for his child where the consequences in either case are life and death. And that's all I'm saying: The parent must have the choice. If not, the state is directly and knowingly killing or permanently damaging a non-zero number of children for the greater good as a matter of public health policy.

(I notice that McMigillicudy made the basic point I'm getting at very well, so I guess I ought to let the embers of this thread die out.)
posted by BinGregory at 12:33 AM on February 17, 2009


And that's all I'm saying: The parent must have the choice. If not, the state is directly and knowingly killing or permanently damaging a non-zero number of children for the greater good as a matter of public health policy.

No, the parent doesn't get to decide if s/he exposes his/her child to dangerous pathogens, or become a petri dish of pathogens for people with poor immune systems.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:48 AM on February 17, 2009


And your very general point is that you can't rule out associations that have inadequate data to rule them out.

No. It actually really is not. (The strawman argument is another logical fallacy.)

ad hominem argument... one of the well known logical fallacies.

Maybe I didn't say it well the first time, and maybe it wasn't clear from reading what koeselitz wrote, so I'll give it one more try. My point was not to come in here saying what is right or wrong. My comment, ending with "would not be enough to immediately eliminate my skepticism" was a comment about emotions I have. Many studies, and the way scientific studies have been used in US policymaking, have betrayed the public trust. I feel angry in general at the abuse of science in a number of different situations. Therefore I can empathize with those who are distrustful (although it appears that I'd disagree with their conclusions in this case).

I have great respect for scientists, the vast majority of which are doing good work. But the minute political bodies start making decisions on something (eg, the Forest Service approves a logging plan), I do get skeptical about where their science came from and which science they did consider and did not consider. The way the laws are written, it's often not the case that a government agency needs to use the best science -- the studies that are most relied-upon or even studies that have been peer reviewed at all. Often the agency gets legal deference, and if one logging company staff scientist shows up with a couple of printouts and writes an email in which they draw spurious conclusions, the agency can legally base their decision on that. All the virulent defenders of real science in this thread should be as outraged as I am at the way US government agencies either suppress science or rely on fake science all the time.

It's going to be kind of hard for you to win this argument you're trying to have with me, since I'm not saying "this is what's true or false in any one particular instance," I'm saying "this is how I feel based on closely watching or researching political decisions and the way scientific information entered into and was evaluated during those processes."

Responses you could make that would actually reply to me would include: "I know exactly which situations you're talking about, and actually, the data was treated fairly in those situations" (feel free to start reading through all those links above), or "I don't think you have a right to be angry about the misuse of science in those situations even though it has resulted in bad environmental decisions," (I would disagree), or "people who have seen misdeeds nevertheless have to re-evaluate new situations fair-mindedly and not assume wrong-doing is happening every time science is invoked," and here, I would completely agree with you. My only point is that -- though we do have to re-evaluate all new situations -- I can understand those who feel distrustful at the start.
posted by salvia at 2:05 AM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


The way the laws are written, it's often not the case that a government agency needs to use the best science -- the studies that are most relied-upon or even studies that have been peer reviewed at all.

This has certainly been true with Bush administration environmental decision making. All of the published peer-reviewed literature has disagreed with several Bush administration decisions. In the case of vaccines, it is the opposite. All of the published peer-reviewed literature (that has not been discredited) supports vaccination as sound public health. You're right to be skeptical of government decision making and look at what the science actually says. In this case, science says "vaccinate your kids."
posted by hydropsyche at 4:23 AM on February 17, 2009


In this case, science says "vaccinate your kids."

Actually, science says have all the other kids vaccinated, not your own. Well, I am not sure which risk is higher, catching the disease or having an awful adverse reaction. With proper vaccination of the remaining population it is probably the latter.
posted by caddis at 5:04 AM on February 17, 2009


Followup from Mrs. Balisong.
posted by Balisong at 5:31 AM on February 17, 2009


My only point is that -- though we do have to re-evaluate all new situations -- I can understand those who feel distrustful at the start.

Salvia,
Very well put (again!).

Again, I think the Balisong Parents are wretchedly mistaken in their conclusions BUT watching PBS last night (on lobotomies) and recently reading Rolling Stone's piece on the anti-psychotic drug industry AND being married to a boffin involved in science education & being fascinated by the history of health czars preaching to the public I, er...can't quite figure out how to end this comment...!

Anyway, I liked what you wrote.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:16 AM on February 17, 2009


Actually, science says have all the other kids vaccinated, not your own. Well, I am not sure which risk is higher, catching the disease or having an awful adverse reaction. With proper vaccination of the remaining population it is probably the latter.

The studies of individual vaccines show that the risk of infection for an individual well exceed potential averse reactions. Public health studies show that universal vaccination of all eligible people is necessary to protect those who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons from infection.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:26 AM on February 17, 2009


My six-year-old son was vaccinated for everything. I was told that all of the vaccines didn't contain themerisol, including the vaccine for RSV (he was 5 weeks premature and spent some time in the NICU.) My son, my reason for being, does have autism. He is learning to speak in sentences, he has problems with physical touch and he is completely unaware of danger.

There is nothing in this world that can convince me that being vaccinated caused his autism. His father had some developmental problems, and I have some issues with social situations. I think it's genetic, and I have nothing other than my own experience to back that up.

If you disagree with the line of thought that says autism is totally unrelated to vaccines, that is your choice. But I know that, without a doubt, I would rather have my son, alive and autistic than dead because I was too stubborn trust scientifically proven results.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 11:02 AM on February 17, 2009


It ends up being a pretty safe bet most times, but as some comments here have shown if too many parents take this selfish stake that safe bet becomes risky.

So Kant was right for once!
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:04 AM on February 17, 2009


Well, I am not sure which risk is higher, catching the disease or having an awful adverse reaction.

Yeah, it's too bad nobody has studied how likely it is to suffer a serious adverse reaction from various vaccines! Then you might have to have an informed opinion.
posted by Justinian at 12:27 PM on February 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I take it these anti-vaccination people never saw that one Little House on the Prairie where Mary gets the measles and goes blind?

"Yuh-huh! But later in the season she became a teacher! She got married to that hot blind guy!"

Yeah, not so much.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:35 PM on February 17, 2009


My roommate says: If you really want to understand the moment that science is corrupted by politics irredeemably, then you should really have a look at Brecht's Life of Galileo (not the 1930 version but the 1950 rewrite after he'd been living in the US). (Maybe I should have a look at that, too.)
posted by salvia at 1:48 AM on February 21, 2009


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