Thanks for your thoughts, Kathy.
It’s fine to use your freedom to choose to not vaccinate yourself – but you are taking away their freedom to a long and healthy life by taking away their only option of avoiding the disease.
I don’t think it’s this clear cut. Vaccine effectiveness and unintended consequences are key, in my mind. I know all of the stuff about vaccines and autism, asthma, etc. is controversial, but it seems well documented that disease outbreaks sometimes occur in highly (or completely) vaccinated populations. It also seems clear that vaccine-induced immunity is not as effective/strong as natural immunity – and even that vaccinations for some diseases can compromise life-long immunity of other diseases, and the ability to pass on that immunity from mother to child.
I’m not trying to convince everyone not to get vaccinated; I just have lingering concerns about rampant/early/multiple vaccinations as being the best way. It just seems so … messy.
50 years ago scores of children were paralyzed or died from Polio.
And 150 years ago no children died from Polio.
I’m not saying the polio vaccine had nothing to do with the reduction in polio cases from their peaks in the 1950s, but I think it’s important to point out there’s a lot more at play here than just vaccination.
And isn’t it crazy to think that improvements in sanitation actually caused the whole polio fiasco? There’s that whole unintended consequence thing again.
Because ALL of us, at some time or another, will fit at least one of your definitions of “the weak” (the very young, the elderly and the pregnant) – and you suggest that “the weak” be vaccinated – wouldn’t that still include all of us?
Maybe I should clarify: If herd immunity isn’t either realistic or effective, the only reason to be vaccinated would be to protect yourself. And if that’s the only reason, then everyone can relax and leave the vaccinations to those worried about being infected (i.e., those who see themselves as likely to get a disease they won’t be able to handle with available medical care).
Kathy again ;)
Ok – I may be in a little over my head here, as clearly you have researched this more than I have on the “anti” side of things. My opinions come from my time as a pediatric nurse and my own logic. I would love to research the other side more. That being said, I still have some thoughts (sorry, actually a lot of them) about your reply, ignorant as those thoughts may be.
<Vaccine effectiveness and unintended consequences are key, in my mind.>
I am with you on inintended consequences, but I have my own spin on it. First of all, there is absolutely no way to predict what those unintended consequences are – or who will be affected. There doesn’t seem to be any undeviating pattern or sure link that the problems you mentioned are directly correlated to vaccines. There are so many other factors and variables – I am not sure if a clear causal link could ever be established. We would need an extensive group of unvaccinated people in a longitudinal study covering years to have any type of unbiased information. (So perhaps that is where you turn to the past for that type of information, prior to vaccines – but I will get to that in a minute.) On the other hand, when we look for a causal link for vaccines preventing death and disease, we find it – and that link is difficult to dispute.
Sooo… I can still see why there would be questions in your mind, or even why you might feel a sense of hesitancy to vaccinate. But this is where your point about unintended consequences comes in. All of the consequences you mentioned are not life-threatening. Life-altering, yes. Quality-of-life-threatening, yes. But when you look at the unintended consequences of not vaccinating, you see life-threatening. This is where people have to think about which unintended consequences they are willing to live with: possible asthma or autism from vaccinating, or possible death from not vaccinating. Neither side is guaranteed to happen, of course. But when you talk about taking risks, I would rather take the risk that my child could end up with a side effect than chance that they could catch a preventable disease and not live through it. But that’s just me…
Ok- on to using the past to make choices about not vaccinating.
Admittedly, I have no idea where you got this information and it could be true. But in my mind, I just don’t see how we could know if this is true. Did they even have the capability of knowing what Polio was at that time? Was there any way to centrally report it, even if they did know? And if so, how many actually did report it to said central agency? I think it is more likely that random people died from it (not outbreak style, mind you) and it was neither diagnosed nor reported, than to think that no children died from Polio. But whatever. Let’s say it is true. The world we live in has obviously changed. We are in bigger cities and closer quarters. Since we have first-hand knowledge of what could happen in TODAY’s society by not vaccinating (1950s outbreak), we can conclude that a possible side effect from receiving a Polio vaccine would be preferable to contracting Polio itself.
<it seems well documented that disease outbreaks sometimes occur in highly (or completely) vaccinated populations.>
YES! Imagine what the consequences would be in unvaccinated populations. The outbreaks you are talking about in no way rival outbreaks of the past – in numbers or in fatalities. I am willing to admit that this is not a perfect system. But I am also willing to see that it is protecting us from massive outbreaks and fatalities.
<It also seems clear that vaccine-induced immunity is not as effective/strong as natural immunity>
True, if you live through it. You might not get the opportunity, shall we say, to acquire that type of immunity.
<then everyone can relax and leave the vaccinations to those worried about being infected (i.e., those who see themselves as likely to get a disease they won’t be able to handle with available medical care).>
Yeah – newborns and small children really need to ge informed about this to make an educated decision. This choice would obviously be in the hands of their parents. And what parent really knows if their child “is likely to get a disease” or if their child will “be able to handle it with available medical care.” ?? No one can possibly predict that. And furthermore, vaccines ARE avaiblble medical care. That’s all we got. Medical interventions for viruses (virii?:) are limited. That is why conventional medical treatment for deadly viruses is prevention through vaccination.
That is all :)
I know all of the stuff about vaccines and autism, asthma, etc. is controversial
Except that it’s not. Read the scientific literature, not the tabloids.
but it seems well documented that disease outbreaks sometimes occur in highly (or completely) vaccinated populations.
Where’s this documented?
Every recent measles outbreak in the US, for example, is the result of is documented as having been started when someone contracted the disease outside the US and brought it back with them, and almost every one of them was unvaccinated.
Uh, what? Polio has been around since prehistoric times. There are paintings and carvings from ancient Egypt that show polio victims. It simply didn’t get identified as a distinct disease, with its own name, until about 150 years ago.
Come on, Brandon, you’re not that gullible, are you?
Polio is exactly the sort of disease that vaccination is great at treating. The incubation and infectious periods are quite short—a matter of a few weeks, so there’s no long-term “carrier” state—and there’s no non-human “reservoir” from which we can re-contract the disease once it’s been eradicated.
In 1954, the major “field trial” of Salk’s vaccine occurred. Almost half a million children got the vaccine, another quarter million got a placebo, and the other 1.2 million candidates got neither. The results showed the vaccine to be something like 65% effective against the type 1 virus, 90% effective against type 2 and 3. There’s not a shred of doubt among the scientific community that the vaccines were responsible for the change.
That’s not quite right, either. Prior to the sanitation improvements, polio was endemic—essentially everybody contracted it in infancy. Most polio infections are asymptomatic, or involve no more than flu-like symptoms, with fewer than 0.2% of infections resulting in the paralysis usually associated with polio.
The changes in sanitation largely affect the age at which infection occurs. Very young infants have a temporary immunity conferred by maternal antibodies. This lasts for a few months after birth, and tapers off gradually. If infected near the end of the period, they’ll almost certainly exhibit “abortive poliomyelitis” — the completely asymptomatic kind. Since that was the common scenario two centuries ago, there weren’t reports of major polio epidemics: everybody got the infection and either nothing happened or they got paralyzed by it. Once you’ve been infected, you’re permanently immune.
Enter the new sanitation efforts. Instead of almost everybody getting infected very early in life (primarily due to fecal contamination of food), a community can live for years at a time without seeing any infections. During that time, children are born who have no immunity. When a new infection does show up—imported from elsewhere—the children are all susceptible (now, primarily via oral-oral routes) and an “epidemic” occurs.
The sanitation changes didn’t so much “cause” epidemics as to allow infection-free periods to occur in the global, permanent, endemic condition.
If herd immunity isn’t either realistic or effective, the only reason to be vaccinated would be to protect yourself.
Maybe, but that’s an almost completely vacuous statement. Herd immunity is realistic for most diseases. Certainly the ones for which health officials recommend vaccination.
As for herd immunity not being effective, that’s meaningless. Herd immunity is a network effect, not a physiological condition. It is itself an effect, not a treatment, so it’s meaningless to talk about it’s “effectiveness”.
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