I’ve heard this claim several times. Ever since I found out that it is not true, I have been amazed how it just keeps resurfacing. I would like to put this myth to rest. I am aware of at least seven original research papers and one meta-analysis (looking at another 6 randomised clinical trials or RCTs) published since 2009 which look at myriad aspects of general health, comparing large unvaccinated and vaccinated populations. I will lay them out below, but to put it shortly: vaccinated people are as healthy or healthier in all aspects compared to the unvaccinated. The vaccinated populations studied have fewer vaccine preventable diseases (may seem obvious, but nevertheless needs to be mentioned), fewer cases of asthma, fewer heart attacks, better birth outcomes, and higher cognitive scores than their unvaccinated counterparts. To note, the incidence of autism is also unchanged in populations with or without the MMR vaccine – more about that in a piece of its own, The great myth of vaccines and autism.
But before we get to the studies themselves, let’s talk briefly about…
What kind of studies are possible?
The biggest limitation to vaccine studies is connected to the vaccine health effect number one. Naturally, the main effect vaccines have on health is the prevention of the diseases they were developed for. Because of their significant contribution to our health, conducting a study where children would be assigned to a group that would not receive vaccines is unethical. Individual parents do have the right to choose not to vaccinate their children (in most parts of the world), but nowhere in the world would an ethical committee approve of scientists asking parents not to vaccinate children, even for the purpose of a study.
This is why the studies I will present below are largely observational – looking at populations and comparing the differences among naturally occurring groups of unvaccinated and vaccinated people. Many other studies on this topic, which are not directly comparing groups, rely on data derived through other methods, like vaccine efficacy and the rate with which the diseases spread in their presence vs absence. For instance, an impressive study from 2013 digitized massive amounts of US data since 1888. They estimate a total of 3 to 4 million deaths prevented in the US by vaccines. You can find a video with a graphical presentation of the vaccination effect on disease prevalence in New York Times: The Vaccination Effect: 100 Million Cases of Contagious Disease Prevented, and it has also been covered by the Science Based Medicine, here.
Another example is an article titled Ten Great Public Health Achievements, published in The Journal of American Medical Association, which estimates that
…the current childhood immunization schedule prevents approximately 42,000 deaths and 20 million cases of disease, with net savings of nearly $14 billion in direct costs and $69 billion in total societal costs.
However, most of the time when people express their concern for the health of vaccinated vs unvaccinated people, they aren’t actually speaking of the vaccine preventable infectious disease, which has largely been absent from much of the western world, thanks to herd immunity (read more about herd immunity here, or shortly put: it’s the effective limitation on the spread of disease when most people are immune and won’t pass the disease on to others). They worry about other potential effects on health, such as allergies, asthma, non-preventable infections, autoimmune conditions, etc general health. So let’s look at studies on those topics.
The indirect health effects of childhood vaccines
One German study from 2011 evaluated data from 17 641 children and adolescents and found that the prevalence of allergic diseases (such as skin conditions) and non-specific infections in children and adolescents was not found to depend on vaccination status. However, not surprisingly:
The lifetime prevalence of diseases preventable by vaccination was markedly higher in unvaccinated than in vaccinated subjects.
In another German study, from 2013, 1315 babies were followed from birth until they were 20 years old to study the development of asthma. They concluded that the vaccinated have lower rates of asthma compared to non-vaccinated.
To look at the situation in a very different part of the world where the proportion of vaccinated/unvaccinated people are nearly reversed compared to the western world, here’s a study 2011 from the Philippines, called The effect of vaccination on children’s physical and cognitive development, which finds:
…no effect of vaccination on later height or weight, but full childhood vaccination for measles, polio, Tuberculosis (TB), Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) significantly increases cognitive test scores relative to matched children who received no vaccinations. The size of the effect is large, raising test scores, on average, by about half an SD.
It is worth noting that vaccination rates in the Philippines are still relatively low, and the effects of the infectious childhood diseases themselves (referred to as ‘stunting and wasting’ in this study) are likely the biggest contributing factor to the lower cognitive scores of the unvaccinated children. To avoid socioeconomic confounding factors, the study did match the results for household characteristics.
Additionally, there is one older study from Nigeria in 1990 that followed the small groups of 25 vaccinated and 25 unvaccinated children. One child in the vaccinated group had a mild case of measles, whereas the stats for the unvaccinated children were as follows: 3 dead (from measles and tetanus) and 11 non-fatal cases of measles.
The flu vaccine
Considering the flu shot: firstly there are several studies on its beneficial effect on health of not catching the flu. Much depending on the year and the flu strains in circulation, it protects from infection at rates anywhere between 10% and 93% (see more over at the CDC for seasonal flu, or a meta-review on the swine flu pandemic). In addition, comparing unvaccinated and vaccinated people who do catch the flu, a study in 2014 found that vaccinated people were protected from its gravest effects. As reported on the study by Forbes:
study released this past week shows that among this season’s influenza patients sick enough to end up in their intensive care unit, 91% had failed to receive this year’s seasonal flu vaccine. And for those admitted to the hospital, but with less severe disease not requiring an ICU stay, 67% weren’t vaccinated.
On top of protecting from the flu, and connecting back to the overall health angle, a 2013 meta-analysis looking in total at 6735 patients also found that having the flu vaccine may lower the risk of heart attack, although the exact reason has not been pinned down. Reported by the Center for Infectious Disease Research:
Influenza vaccination may prevent cardiovascular events via avoidance of atherosclerotic plaque rupture or other forms of cardiac injury in a vulnerable patient and represents a simple once-annual protective therapy to reduce cardiovascular events. This finding has considerable clinical and health policy importance.
Comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated pregnant women
One group especially in the spotlight for flu vaccines are pregnant women. Firstly, it is important to note again that the flu shot provides important protection from… the flu. Due to the attenuated immunity, women are more susceptible to infections during pregnancy. Thanks to the variable degree of flu vaccination in the general population, here we actually have an easy time finding large groups of both, unvaccinated and vaccinated mothers-to-be for observational studies, and partly thanks to that, there is an impressive amount of research on the safety of the flu-vaccine in pregnancy.
The search ‘pregnancy AND influenza AND vaccine’ gives 878 articles on Pubmed (the most comprehensive life science journal database), 180 of which are review articles. Here a recent review as an example: Safety of seasonal influenza and influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccines in pregnancy – no health concerns.
The test-populations are equally impressive – here one study from 2013 that studied about 75 000 vaccinated and 150 000 unvaccinated expectant mothers. Maternal Safety of Trivalent Inactivated Influenza Vaccine in Pregnant Women:
trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine during pregnancy was not associated with increased risk of adverse events in the 42 days after vaccination, supporting its safety for the mother.
This extensive amount of research has lead the health authorities to recommend the shot for pregnant women. There is a direct effect of protecting the mother (and to some degree the infant) from the flu – see a study of the 2009 pandemic in Japan, vaccination for pregnant mothers reduced their infection rate by 89% – but it doesn’t stop there.
Unborn babies benefit from mother’s flu shot
Interestingly, the effect of flu vaccines on the health of babies starts even before birth. Three studies have compared babies of unvaccinated vs vaccinated mothers, and they have found significant health benefits for babies whose mothers took the flu shot when they were pregnant – fewer miscarriages and higher birth weights. One study from 2010 looked at effects on pregnant women during the H1N1 pandemic in the UK, another from 2013 looked at 30 448 pregnant women in Argentina, and a third study from 2104 looked at 12 223 pregnant women in Canada. You can read more about the results as reported in The Science Daily Flu shot during pregnancy shows unexpected benefits in large study, and Global News CA Pregnant women who get flu shot reduce baby’s health risks:
The women who did get the flu shot were 25 per cent less likely to deliver a baby prematurely or with a low birth weight
[The] influenza vaccine is just as important as making sure you get enough iron, that you are not smoking, not drinking alcohol, that it’s part of how you improve your own health and your baby’s health.
New research is indicating even more potential health benefits for the baby from mother’s flu vaccine. In 2013 The Science Daily reported on how Flu in pregnancy may quadruple child’s risk for bipolar disorder:
In spite of public health recommendations, only a relatively small fraction of such [pregnant] women get immunized. The weight of evidence now suggests that benefits of the vaccine likely outweigh any possible risk to the mother or newborn.
A previous study, by Brown and colleagues, in a related northern California sample, found a threefold increased risk for schizophrenia associated with maternal influenza during the first half of pregnancy. Autism has similarly been linked to first trimester maternal viral infections and to possibly related increases in inflammatory molecules.
Update: In 2016, a fourth and by far the largest study of pregnant women and the flu shot was published. This study followed 60 000 mothers-to-be in Australia, and found that the flu shot may cut stillbirths by half. The researcher note that increased numbers of stillbirths follow influenza waves, and say that vaccination may prevent even more than half of these as reported by MedPageToday:
the protective effect between vaccination and stillbirths that we observed may be an underestimate of the true effect measure
I hope that this body of evidence of the large benefits from a flu vaccine gives mothers necessary reassurance and arms them with useful information on how to protect their own and their babies’ health during their pregnancy.
Health effects of childhood vaccinations and the flu vaccine have been thoroughly studied
Covered above are the studies that I’ve found so far on this topic. It is by no means an extensive list (I have not combed the Pubmed for all possible studies). Should anyone know of more, I am always happy to get a pointer to relevant research.
It is important that vaccines effects are well studied. Should there be an unexpected side-effect for our health, researchers would fight for the chance to report those findings – not only would they want to let people know, but such a novel finding (if based on solid data and afterward confirmed by independent groups of researchers elsewhere) would mean the world to their careers.
What the science has uncovered so far, is that vaccines may have additional beneficial effects on health, such as the positive impact on neonate health, perhaps even a protective effect in heart disease. The greatest health effect of vaccines, though, remains the drastic difference they have made for surviving childhood in good health for millions of children worldwide. I am deeply thankful for vaccines – I do not have to worry that my daughters would be crippled by polio, go deaf from measles, or lay weeks or months in coughing fits, struggling for their life in the grip of whooping cough. When I think of what it must have been like to be a parent in the beginning of the century, and what it still is for parents in large parts of the world, I am amazed at the privileged and protected life we are allowed to have in the western world today. I’ve found that becoming a parent turns a permanent emotional switch in your head, and ever since, this topic regularly chokes me up. Thanks vaccines.
For an idea on the main impact vaccines have had on our health, here an infographic from Forbes How Vaccines Have Changed Our World In One Graphic:
The data in this graphic come from the web site of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. It is a look at the past morbidity (how many people became sick) of what were once very common infectious diseases, and the current morbidity in the U.S.
If you are interested in reading more on vaccine topics, please check out my Immunization overview (there you can find all my infographics and pieces on vaccine ingredients, conflicts of interest, herd immunity, and psychology of vaccine discussions to mention a few).
Summary of the studies comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated populations
- German study on lower rates of asthma among the vaccinated http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(13)01860-5/abstract
- Another German study: prevalence of allergic diseases and non-specific infections in children and adolescents was not found to depend on vaccination status. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057555/
- Philippine study on cognitive benefits from vaccines: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00036846.2011.566203#.VM4Ni2TF8o
- Pregnant women who are vaccinated have better birth outcomes compared to non-vaccinated mothers, three studies: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/186/4/E157.long,
- and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20630123.
- update from 2016, study of 60 000 women finds flu vaccine cuts stillbirths by half: http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/03/10/cid.ciw082.abstract
- A 2013 meta-analysis finds the flu vaccine may lower the risk of heart attack http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1758749
- Comparing unvaccinated and vaccinated people who do catch the flu – vaccinated people are protected from the most serious effects: http://www.atsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1164/rccm.201401-0066LE#.VSfg-ZSUcoa
Adding more studies as I find them:
- “Vaccinated versus unvaccinated children: how they fare in first five years of life.” Nigerian study of 25 unvaccinated and 25 vaccinated children: one vaccinated child had a mild case of measles. Unvaccinated children: 3 dead, plus 11 non-fatal cases of measles. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2260220
If you would like to have a discussion in the comments below, please take note of my Commenting policy. In a nutshell:
- Be respectful.
- Back up your claims with evidence.
ok I took the time to read 2 of the studies. The first study I read was the German 2011 study. Several problems, the first one being that the vaccinated were determined by being any child that has received at least 1 vaccine. It is clearly obvious that a child that has received one vaccine may not demonstrate the same results as a child who has received the full vaccination schedule. Secondly, the vaccinated totalled 13,359 children while the unvaccinated control group was 94 children.
errrrrrr, quality study, not?
The second study I read was the Phillipine 2011 study. This was done for children born between 1 May 1983 and 30 April 1984, which included a total of 6 vaccines. This is VASTLY different from the vaccination schedule we see now!!!!!
If you are going to provide scientific evidence, I suggest you don’t follow the behaviour of exactly what you criticise anti-vaxxers for. Perhaps you should actually read the studies you’re linking to?
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Thanks for your interest in my blog and welcome!
To recap the context: in my piece I have presented some of the observational studies which many people have expressed a wish to see. Observational studies do not intend to prove causation, although they may suggest directions of interest, as causative factors will also readily show up as a correlation between the cause and its effect. Please correct me if I’m wrong, it seems that you have a grievances with the following:
a) that the German population that was studied is one where most people vaccinate their children, although not all vaccinated children had all the vaccines,
b) that the Philippines do not have a similar vaccination schedule as we do,
and c) (as seen in your comment on Facebook) that the flu vaccine may not be the only factor correlating with good health outcomes for the babies in one of the three studies. Have I understood you correctly?
I tend to find it positive that studies of diverse populations and vaccination backgrounds are being conducted. Should there be a previously unknown harmful effect from vaccines, we could detect the effects in studies like these as initial correlations, and what comes to beneficial correlations which keep showing up, taken together with good suggestions for their mechanisms of action, we can have better ideas of what kind of potential causative relationships to choose for further study.
I am not sure what it is I am criticising anti-vaxxers for here, maybe you could specify? I do wish to treat everyone with respect, no matter what their views are.
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Thoughscapism, irrespective of your reasons the studies I revealed above do not present as evidence against the anti-vaxxer claim that there’s “no suitable vaxx vs unvaxx study.”
A true vaxx vs unvaxx study needs to take into account the number of shots, the ages the shots are given, and the entire health outcomes for the children. The studies above only look at specific outcomes, such as asthma, or remove subjects that have died. How can you call it a valid study when you don’t also evaluate health outcomes such as death?
Pro-vaxxers using these studies as definitive proof that vaccines are safe is clutching at straws!
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Thanks for your engagement and interest in research. What constitutes a good or a bad study is indeed a very important thing to consider and it is valuable when laypeople get more involved in reading scientific research. At the same time it is good to consider the amount of time and knowledge necessary for being able to evaluate scientific studies thoroughly on one’s own. Reading through a whole field of research and having enough knowledge about the statistics and biology to evaluate all its claims is a full time effort of cooperation that draws from the expertise of people in all the connected fields (statistics, chemists, biologists, clinicians etc). For people who are interested but don’t have the time or the groups of consulting experts at their disposal, there are still many good ways to go about interpreting the results of a field of research.
Validity of a study is evaluated by several methods. The important first step is peer-review. Lay men as well as expert comments and criticism of studies can be interesting especially what comes to very new research with novel or speculative findings, but most important factor is setting the studies in context with the majority of other research. Criticism with true substance is denoted by the trait that it can be translated into more research, and by publishing that research can it be illustrated what aspects earlier studies may have gotten wrong or have overlooked. The more studies there are supporting the results of a peer-reviewed study, the more we can say about the reliability of its results.
Reading repeated reviews and meta-analyses of research is a great way for non-scientists to make sure they are getting balanced information on a topic. If all reviews you can find are along the same lines, you can feel pretty confident in that direction.
I’ve written more about this in my piece ‘Why science?’ https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/02/13/why-science/
It is important to note that it is this kind of history of vaccine studies which evaluations of vaccine safety are based upon. The specific subgroup of studies which I have presented in this piece above, where secondary aspects of general health are studied between groups of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, are certainly interesting. They mainly highlight areas where vaccines have previously less known beneficial effects, however. None of the studies have found unknown indications for harm. These kind of population comparison studies, most importantly, are not what vaccine safety is based on – that is based on extensive clinical trials and continuous monitoring of vaccine effects. Vaccine side effects are well studied, and the risk from vaccinating is always several orders of magnitude lower than the risks of not vaccinating.
Here for instance, from an Australian government public health site a comparison of risks of the vaccines and the diseases side by side:
and in pdf form:
Click to access quick_sideeffects.pdf
“Canadian Immunization Guide Comparison of Effects of Diseases and Vaccines”
For more information on vaccine safety, you can look at various health authority sources that have made thorough assessments of the scientific literature, like:
Vaccine safety National Health Services UK http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/Safety-and-side-effects.aspx
or Australian equivalent:
I’ve listed more of World Health Organisation recommended sites on evidence-based information on vaccines here, ‘Main sources of vaccine information’
I hope you find my answer helpful.
I hope you will enjoy your day, at least here it’s finally warm and sunny, so I should finally get off my computer – thinking of the number of studies that talk about the risks of sedentary life… 🙂
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A TRUE vaxx vs unvaxx study? Boy, you really bought into this THE ONE study, haven’t you?
“This was done for children born between 1 May 1983 and 30 April 1984, which included a total of 6 vaccines. This is VASTLY different from the vaccination schedule we see now!”
If there really was some cumulative negative effect caused by vaccines or their ingredients, it would be observable with this study of 6 different vaccines. The study amply demonstrates that the “too many too soon” hypothesis is flawed from the start whether there are 2 vaccines, 5, or 20.
I read what you say here and below that you don’t think this is good or suitable evidence, but I recently came across an excellent definition of what an “anti-vaxxer” is: someone who questions vaccine safety but isn’t interested in the answer.
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That’s a highly inappropriate comment. Anti-vaxxers say the same about pro-vaxxers – that they don’t want to look at the evidence.
Besides how do you know that 6 vaccines and 20 would yield the same result? And the ingredients vary from vaccine to vaccine and especially from 30 years ago to now. Aluminium-containing adjuvants come to mind.
That’s lovely way of completely skirting around the issue.
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I am happy for the recent interest in my piece, and I welcome people who would like to discuss the topic in the comments. However I’d like to take the opportunity to draw your attention to my comments policy: https://thoughtscapism.com/about/commenting-policy/
Dear readers, please note that insinuations of conspiracies are not a rational starting point for a discussion. Comments based solely on conspiratorial thinking do not contribute to a good discussion, and will not get my approval. What I am interested in is understanding the scientific evidence, with focus on the word evidence.
I am very happy, however, to discuss important topics such as: how can we know something, and what constitutes a good source.
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ok I understand where you’re coming from on the scientific front, but I have to point out that a forum thread like this is not necessarily a suitable place for tit for tat posting of links. I could do the same, but I know I’ll get a “yeah but, see this study”. There are significant numbers of studies that raise alarm about vaccines as well. There’s no “proof” as such, but science never really proves anything for certain anyway.
It is not possible to provide a link for the absence of a study. It is quite clear that many medical professionals who investigate and do vaccine research, that the safety testing of vaccines is not adequate. Sufficient studies simply have not been done. Safety testing on vaccines do not use adequate controls. Zero study has been done on any synergistic effects between the vaccines. Vaccines are being recommended for pregnant women when no safety testing has been done for pregnancy, and no studies have been done on the long term effects of vaccines on an unborn foetus. This is not conspiracy theory, it’s a basic fact.
On a different point, just to prove that I can post scientific studies as well, consider this (pro-vaccine) study that possibly suggests that vaccinating is having the unfortunate side effect of putting very young babies (previously protected by their mothers) at greater risk:
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The recommendation the authors in this study is to vaccinate earlier to prevent early disease contraction, and to use adjuvants to increase immunity response. I second that. If I could give my daughter the vaccine sooner, I’d sleep better at night not having to worry about her being around people at daycare who are unvaccinated.
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@Mel, there is no sufficient long term study done on safety of drinking water. Let’s not even begin with synergistic effects between water and … well … all the other stuff that we consume. Your scepticism is highly nihilistic. If you are applying it to other facets of life, not just vaccinations, it would be interesting to observe how you make it through the day.
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BojanD, your straw man argument is mostly correct.
However, there is not an apparent need to convince a large, suspicious swath of the population that drinking water, alone or in synergistic combination, is safe enough to consume (ah, except perhaps in Flint, MI.).
But where vaccines are concerned there rather appears to be a critically large population who require such proof. So if we agree that it would be inhumane of me to force anything into your bloodstream against your will, and if we also agree with our current best science which requires that the herd, including this suspicious population, voluntarily submit, then there most certainly is an overwhelming need to provide such proof of safety.
It should therefor be part of every pro-vaccine agenda to conduct such exhaustive research and testing, even as it appears to someone who is willing to accept the current state of research to be “undo”, into these very areas. This – and not coercion – is where the answer exists.
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You are absolutely right there about the nature of knowledge. That is a great insight that I think many people don’t have. Drawing from the philosophy of knowledge (that’s what it’s called in Swedish, maybe epistemology is the correct term in English), by definition we can’t ever prove anything to be 100% safe, or say that our scientific theories would be 100% certain. Instead we need to operate with degrees of support and likelihoods. Even when those likelihoods would be close to a 100%, they can never quite reach it. These kind of uncertainties can be quite exhausting for us mentally, since our practical cognitive dynamics rely more on deeming something simply safe or risky.
Thanks for the article, that was an interesting read. It is good that scientists keep monitoring vaccination effects as the situations in our societies change and present novel challenges for us.
Babies being more susceptible now is an important observation, and there are hopefully better vaccination strategies we can adopt to address that. What is even more important is to see that measles does not once more become commonplace – when the vaccination rates fall below 95%, thanks to its incredibly effective infection rate, measles can have the chance to blow out in epidemics once more (as has happened in much of the western world in the past years). When vaccination rates stay above that rate, we protect not only unvaccinated babies, but everyone with lowered immunity, along with the unlucky few of the vaccinated who may contract it.
The reason vaccines were created were that we could avoid the significant risks of (childhood) disease, and vaccines have always presented a very low risk option in comparison. For measles, in the context of your article, risks from the disease:
“Complications such as bronchopneumonia and otitis media occur in about 10%. Encephalitis occurs in 1/1,000 cases (fatal in 15% and neurologic sequelae in 25%). Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis is a rare but fatal complication. Case fatality < 0.05%. With 2-dose schedule, indigenous measles has been eliminated in Canada."
versus the vaccine risks:
"Measles vaccine is given in combination with mumps and rubella (MMR). MMR vaccine: Malaise and fever, with or without a non-infectious rash in about 5%; up to 1% of recipients may develop parotitis, about 5% have swollen glands, stiff neck or joint pains. Transient arthralgias or arthritis may occur and are more common in post pubertal females.
About 1/30,000 develop transient thrombocytopenia, 1/1 million develop encephalitis."
this from http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cig-gci/cedv-cemv-tab-eng.php
On this context, I’m reminded of a good common sense commentary – on the argument I've heard quite a few times, I'm not trying to say you would have made it, but it connects to the topic at hand, namely that it would be better if we just stuck to natural immunity – from a blogger I once read:
“This reasoning is so circular it makes my head hurt: It's better to risk death, brain damage, paralysis, birth defects, and various kinds of cancer by getting a full-blown "natural" case of one or more of these diseases because… because it's a more effective way of making sure you don't ever get the disease you already had. "
'Married to Medicine' http://bostonwed-murakami.blogspot.ch/2013/11/the-top-six-least-logical-anti-vaxx.html
– what I try to illustrate with this quote is that though the potential finding of babies increased susceptibility before vaccination is worrisome, the most important risk that remains for us to avoid, for everyone's sake, babies as well as adults, is the risk of the disease. To avoid that risk, we have to find out what kind of vaccination is the best way to go.
I would like to make the comment, btw, that while a commenting thread may not be optimal for many things, I am optimistic that we can make the best possible use of it if we want to. Should you have important studies to show us about harm from vaccines, you are welcome to post them. I certainly want to be informed about anything that has great significance to the health of my children, as do we all, I'm sure – I think that's why we are all so passionate about this discussion.
I hope that perhaps I can reassure you with a some additional recent studies on the safety of vaccines. There is a review that looks at the effect of delaying vaccines, for instance – if vaccines cause harm, it should be possible to detect a difference in large populations looking at the degree/delay of vaccination. Fortunately, if possible the indications so far have been in the opposite direction:
"Timely vaccination was associated with better performance on 12 outcomes in univariate testing and remained associated with better performance for 2 outcomes in multivariable analyses. No statistically significant differences favored delayed receipt. In secondary analyses, children with the greatest vaccine exposure during the first 7 months of life performed better than children with the least vaccine exposure on 15 outcomes in univariate testing; these differences did not persist in multivariable analyses. No statistically significant differences favoured the less vaccinated children."
And there is a recent review by Institute of Medicine, looking at 67 vaccine safety studies to establish causal relationships between vaccines and adverse effects. A Standford article about them (the link to review after):
“There are no surprises here; vaccines are being shown over and over again to be quite safe,” said Cornelia Dekker, MD, medical director of the vaccine program at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, who chatted with me about the study earlier today. “The safety record for our U.S.-licensed vaccines is excellent. There are a few vaccines for which they document that there are indeed adverse events, but the frequency is quite rare, and in almost all cases they are very easy to manage and self-limited.”
I think there is a lot of anxiety many of us feel when a serious risk is openly admitted – when vaccination rates are indeed high as in the west, and we can live largely in the absence of these diseases, any risk of something serious, no matter how tiny, is difficult to accept, when it has to do about our children. Weirdly enough, we submit ourselves and our kids to much larger risks with potentially serious consequences every day (say driving a car), but since those risks are a part of our everyday life we have learned not to think about them in a way that would alarm as.
I hope I haven't written this comment way too long for anyone to read 🙂
I would just like to say thanks for taking part in a polite exchange of ideas and sources, it can be so tiring in the internet when so many discussions become shouting matches. I much prefer style where people stop seeing each other as enemies and instead realise that they can learn from each other, and get farther by looking critically at the evidence together. Of course it's not ease always to keep one's cool, but I appreciate all of you who try.
Time to stop, don't have the time to answer everything at one go. it's getting late here. Have a great evening!
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When you refer to “herd immunity”, the original theory was based on people who naturally contracted the disease held lifelong immunity, thereby protecting the vulnerable people of society, which are the very young and the very old. [Reference? Herd immunity concept was first properly formulated in the 70s after adoption of vaccines, see my reply – Iida]
As suggested in the previous study I linked, this means we are breaking down the traditional herd immunity. There’s has been no testing and no evidence that we can replicate herd immunity with vaccinations. [Evidence for that claim? Or see evidence in my herd immunity post https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/04/20/the-simple-math-of-herd-immunity/ – Iida]
The classic answer is to say “we need more boosters”, but as consumers we should be careful about buying into products that are failing.
The damage is done already however, and our very young are now more vulnerable. Vaccinating them younger and younger is not the only answer, and we should question what impact we are having overall on the human race.
There are so many facets to the vaccination debate, that I have plans to eventually write up complete information on why anti-vaxxers have the right to have genuine concerns. Some of the evidence I have found relates to fraud, vaccines not being as effective as proposed such as the whooping cough vaccine:
[Please see my herd immunity post on waning immunity https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/04/20/the-simple-math-of-herd-immunity/ – Iida]
Despite the fact that we can see the vaccine failing for several reasons, we repeatedly see the mainstream attacking and blaming anti-vaxxers for whooping cough outbreaks. This should be major red flag.
Specifically, when I find the pro-vaccine establishment writing blatant lies (provable) about about certain individuals that do not meet their agenda, this raises big, massive, red flags.
We are not just talking about conspiracy theories here, or hippy mum blogs. We are seeing doctors who begin to question the safety of vaccines face death threats and threats to remove their medical licence. This reminds me of the time Galileo was burned at the stake for proposing the earth was round.
I believe if:
– medical practitioners were not threatened for questioning vaccines (http://edition.cnn.com/videos/health/2015/02/05/ac-dnt-lah-arizona-anti-vaccine-doctor.cnn)
– or nursing students kicked of out uni for questioning the ethics of underhanded coersion tactics to force parents to vaccinate (http://vaccineimpact.com/2015/student-who-refused-to-lie-about-vaccines-and-was-kicked-out-of-nursing-school-fights-back-with-lawsuit/),
– scientists employed by vaccine manufacturers were not coerced into the type of information they were allowed to publish (cannot find link) [Please consider it is important to provide evidence for such strong claim – Iida]
then perhaps we would see more unbiased safety studies that would either, a) put more people’s minds at ease, or b) reveal safety issues that we currently suspect, but have no proof of.
One of the major issues is that none of the vaccines are ever tested in conjunction with each other. We have no idea of the synergistic effects of combining vaccines.
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Thanks for your interest in discussing these things with me, I appreciate it. I think these are vitally important areas to address, too.
I will get back to you when I have the time, but could I briefly ask you to edit (add/subtract) your comments where you are making very strong claims without evidence? I am happy to discuss this more, but I would also appreciate it if you respect my rules on this. At least three statements in your comment require the reader to take the claim at face value, and I think it would be important instead to look at the proof we can find together. Could you please add evidence on or retract the following statements:
1. No herd immunity from vaccines. What this claim presents in simpler words is: vaccines do not protect from disease. This is a very big assumption that really requires strong evidence.
2. Pro vaccine establishments (?) writing blatant provable lies about people. I’m not sure what you mean, please elaborate? Which establishments? What are the provable lies?
3. Scientists employed by pharmaceutical companies are coerced to publish – as in, scientists fabricate data? Again, major accusation. Really needs proof.
These are important issues, and if you wish to discuss them they cannot simply be implied to. To address this rationally we need some evidence to go on.
I will get back to you as soon as I find the time, meanwhile take care!
I’m not sure what you mean by editing my last comment, as I have no ability to do that in this forum? So I can only post another comment here.
To address your points:
1. I did not say that vaccines do not protect from disease, although this really is individual for each vaccine (such as the pertussis vaccine, which is failing to protect from some instances of the disease, in Australia possibly as high as 80% of instances). [Could you provide a reference? Thanks! – Iida]
What I am saying is there is no scientific evidence that vaccines can replicate “herd immunity”. [Please see my post about Herd immunity https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/04/20/the-simple-math-of-herd-immunity/ – Iida]
To quote Tetyana Obukhanych who has a PhD in Immunology:
“The majority of measles cases in recent US outbreaks (including the recent Disneyland outbreak) are adults and very young babies, whereas in the pre-vaccination era, measles occurred mainly between the ages 1 and 15. Natural exposure to measles was followed by lifelong immunity from re-infection, whereas vaccine immunity wanes over time, leaving adults unprotected by their childhood shots. Measles is more dangerous for infants and for adults than for school-aged children.”
Link to her open letter which includes scientific references: http://thinkingmomsrevolution.com/an-open-letter-to-legislators-currently-considering-vaccine-legislation-from-tetyana-obukhanych-phd-in-immunology/
2. ok I didn’t dive immediately into explaining this one, because it involves bringing up the “forbidden name”, Andrew Wakefield. When I say that the media publishes provable lies, this involves lies about Wakefield. I’m not about to try and prove he’s not a fraud, but the lies I can prove are “red flags, so hear me out on this one.
Example 1: One of the claims against him is that he had a conflict of interest as he has filed a patent for a competitor vaccine to MMR. If we ignore the actual details about the vaccine for the moment, let’s take a look at the patent. Brian Deer, the journalist who investigated Wakefield has published the patent (link below) supposedly proving the conflict of interest. The media continuously repeat this claim that he had a conflict of interest. But when you actually look at the patent itself, The applicant is the Royal Free Hospital, so therefore Wakefield holds no financial interest in the patent at all!
Example 2: Let’s have a look at what Wikipedia says about Wakefield’s retracted study. Wikipedia says:
“Andrew Jeremy Wakefield (born c. 1957) is a British former surgeon and medical researcher, known for his fraudulent 1998 research paper in support of the now-discredited claim that there was a link between the administration of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the appearance of autism and bowel disease.”
Whereas the paper actually says:
“We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described.
If there is a causal link between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and this syndrome, a rising incidence might be anticipated after the introduction of this vaccine in the UK in 1988. Published evidence is inadequate to show whether there is a change in incidence or a link with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.
We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.”
Note that the study also specifies that the link with the onset of vaccines being after the MMR shot was by the parents, or in some cases the GP.
Wikipedia says: “Wakefield’s study and his claim that the MMR vaccine might cause autism led to a decline in vaccination rates in the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland and a corresponding rise in measles and mumps, resulting in serious illness and deaths”
The increase in “deaths” is not supported by the evidence. In the UK, where Wakefield had the most influence, there is zero evidence of an increase in deaths due to measles in the UK:
Wikipedia says: “After the publication of the paper, other researchers were unable to reproduce Wakefield’s findings or confirm his hypothesis of an association between the MMR vaccine and autism, or autism and gastrointestinal disease”
However the fact is, Wakefield’s paper was a “Case Series”, which is not a hypothesis testing paper. He simply took the doctors referrals, treated the disease and reported the information provided by the parents, the referring doctors and the outcomes of his investigations. Also, his 19 other papers were never retracted, and the investigations into gastrointestinal disease has been replicated multiple times around the world.
Wikipedia says: “most of his co-authors then withdrew their support for the study’s interpretations.”
Wikipedia actually reports this correctly, although most news establishments write “most of his co-authors reacted their support for the study”, which is incorrect. The study never established a causal link between MMR and autism, so all his co-authors were retracting was an interpretation for something that was never said. Which is a bit silly really. If the media correctly reported what the study was in the first place, his co-authors wouldn’t have needed to “retract an interpretation”.
3. For point 3, I read a paper from a former lab scientist that worked for a vaccine manufacturer. The statement was that the manufacturer very severely restricts what he/she could and couldn’t publish, but now this scientist was able to publish want he/she wanted (referring to the paper just published). But I can no longer find this paper. In the meantime, I’ll provide this example. I understand this is not a quality link, but it’s a start.
Of interest is also the 2 whistleblowers from Merck.
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Thanks for taking the time to respond, again in a friendly and clear manner. Good to know that you can’t edit your own comments, it seems then that only I can do that. I’ll add note in few places to highlight the evidence requests instead, you already know now, but I’d also like to prime other blog readers, looking at the comments, with what my rules are about.
On the point nr 1 – I have been working on a post on herd immunity, so I think I’ll just wait until I have time to finish that, before I get back to this. EDIT: Here it is, I hope this clarifies some of the concepts that have come up: https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/04/20/the-simple-math-of-herd-immunity/
Could you include a reference for situation of the pertussis vaccine in Australia specifically?
Otherwise this topic has been covered well by Tara Haelle, a science writor, here: http://www.redwineandapplesauce.com/2012/09/13/a-weaker-dtap-vaccine-and-other-factors-in-the-pertussis-epidemics/ – Scientific american also had a piece on that: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/whooping-cough-vaccine-falls-short-of-previous-shots-protection/
I also think you mentioned concerns about TDAP vaccine and pregnant women earlier on in the thread, so I’ll add Haelle’s review of the evidence on that here too: http://www.redwineandapplesauce.com/2014/11/25/safety-of-the-tdap-in-pregnancy-and-exploring-the-evidence-for-pertussis-cocooning/
2. Just to clarify, you said you thought that lies by establishments were a reason to doubt vaccines. I wonder if you consider Wikipedia an establishment? Wikipedia, with its open source ‘crowd sourced’ operating format, is a great endeavour, but I would be careful of treating it as evidence on it’s own of what establishments say. As establishments I would consider instances such as the WHO, national health authorities, or academic or medical institutions. Media may be an establishment, but I’m sure media as a whole is guilty of making misleading claims about most things 🙂
The American Association of Pediatrcis, for instance, has this to say about Wakefield: “Andrew Wakefield’s study in The Lancet in 1998 began the concern about MMR and autism. Since the study was published, 10 of the 13 authors have retracted the findings. In 2010, The Lancet retracted the study, citing ethical misconduct on the part of Wakefield. Journalist Brian Deer has written several articles published in the British Medical Journal, describing the ways that Wakefield’s study was in accurate.”
Since his conclusion mentions ‘a possible relation’ to the vaccine, that media outlets present it with the wording that he claims there is a link is not a blatant lie IMO, it’s at most an exaggeration. Here in Wikipedia, that’s also exactly what they say ‘lent support to the claim of a link..’:
“The MMR vaccine controversy started with the 1998 publication of a fraudulent research paper in the medical journal The Lancet that lent support to the later discredited claim that colitis and autism spectrum disorders are linked to the combined measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. ”
What comes to other statements from Wakefield, and patents (I’ve heard several mentioned) he has worded the topic in stronger terms himself. From the British Medical Journal piece on him by Brian Deer, http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347:
“In these children the mean interval from exposure to the MMR vaccine to the development of the first behavioural symptom was six days, indicating a strong temporal association,” he [Wakefield] emphasised in a patent for, among other things, his own prophylactic measles vaccine,99 eight months before the Lancet paper.
“It is significant that this syndrome only appeared with the introduction of the polyvalent MMR vaccine in 1988 rather than with the monovalent measles vaccine introduced in 1968,” he [Wakefield] claimed in one of a string of patents he filed for businesses to be spun from the research.85 “This indicates that MMR is responsible for this condition rather than just the measles virus.”
There are two claims on COI that I know of on the case of Wakefield. I don’t know enough about patents to say if a patent being in an institutions name would not still entail benefits for the patent applicant. The other one is being contracted by the lawyer to find this connection:
“Claiming an undisclosed £150 (€180, $230) an hour through a Norfolk solicitor named Richard Barr, he had been confidentially 8 put on the payroll two years before the paper was published, eventually grossing him £435 643, plus expenses.9”
What comes to rise in measles, that is quite well documented, and has resulted in several deaths in Europe. Just in 2012-13 season there were 3 deaths.
“Vaccination status was known for 95% of the 10 675 cases reported with known age. Of these 10 129 cases, 83% (8 910 cases) were unvaccinated, 8% (826) had received one dose of measles vaccine, 0.4% (42) had received two or more doses, and 3% (351) had received an unknown number of doses.
Three measles-related deaths were reported during the period November 2012 to October 2013, and eight cases were complicated by acute measles encephalitis.”
3. This case is important, especially in the context of regulation. I’ve written elsewhere (https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/02/25/following-the-money/) about the importance of continued scrutiny and regulation of medical industries (and also noted where such regulation is abssent, on the other hand).
The court case has been overviewed really well here by a law professor: http://www.skepticalraptor.com/skepticalraptorblog.php/merck-mumps-motions-whistleblowers-the-actual-story/
The most important system which I repeatedly underscore, is that we should rely on scientific evidence in it’s context. It’s also the most important tool in evaluating the Merck’s vaccine and its potentially lower effectiveness in protecting from mumps. Note that again, it is not a question of harm, as the risks of going unvaccinated are far greater. It is a question of having a vaccine that is pretty effective vs extremely effective. Both are still protecting people, much more so than not vaccinating would be. Waning immunity is not a fraud, it is a feature of the human immunity itself (also in cases of immunity after suffering from an illness, which can wane just as fast as a vaccine-induced immunity, like here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15876927). More effective vaccines and well informed decisions for the need of timely booster shots are the safe way to go.
Thanks for an interesting discussion. I get sucked in and it takes a lot of time! I have to get back to writing some posts now, have been lacking behind, kids and their colds took up most of my time last week. 🙂
In the meantime I hope you are well.
I’ll get back to you later,
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This is a very thoughtful and well-researched editorial on this often contentious subject. Thank you so much for sharing it. Some of the studies I recognize, but I am going to read some of these studies that I didn’t previously know existed.
Also, thanks for discussing what constitutes a good source. In speaking with other people who are against vaccination, they often link me to sites/sources that are not peer-reviewed or refereed journals, and the sites they link to are completely biased or skewed in their perspective. I find it frustrating, because it doesn’t seem like they are concerned with the quality of the data or the objectivity of their sources. And then they invariably accuse me of being a troll working for “BIG PHARMA” because I disagree with them and say their links are not good sources. I just wish the discussion could be focused on the facts.
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Thanks Bri! So great to hear that you appreciate it, and I’m happy that you share my interest in reflecting over our sources of information. I think sometimes people may lose track of what is a good basis for information, and they may start thinking in the lines of false balance – without reflecting much about it, they begin treating any instance or individual who is much engaged in a topic as an expert, and when they read about a topic, they start weighing them based on the ‘expert’ commentary. I think if we got more people into really thinking about what is different in the scientific process, where empirical observations and data take precedence over any one expert’s opinion, then we might have less areas where groups of people, vocally against what majority of the science says, could get such sway in making the public confused about who they should trust.
I know what you mean with the hostility and futility of the arguments sometime. At the point when someone calls me a shill for big pharma, I just don’t know if there is anything I could say to be able to have an actual discussion with them. I think the facts are plenty interesting on their own, and would also much prefer talking about them.
Thanks for stopping by,
If Vaccine immunity is different than natural immunity and wanes over time, then why don’t we have epidemics of Measles amongst older people (whose immunity waned)?
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We don’t see many outbreaks of measles because with the vaccine-immune population piggybacking on on the larger infection-immune population, we were able to eliminate the disease. However, when it was brought to Disneyland fro, overseas, the majority of the cases WERE in adults.
@Mel “Zero study has been done on any synergistic effects between the vaccines.” The thing that strikes me about this argument is that there is also no (or almost no) study about the synergetic effect of any other combination of every substance we eat\drink\breathe every day. Maybe the MMR and DTap vaccines are safe or their own and poisonous in combination, but it’s equally likely that tomatoes and peanut butter are safe on their own but synergistically poisonous. In fact, I think a fair argument can be made that its more likely, after all, almost no substance even arsenic, is poisonous in the quantities found in vaccines, peanut butter is a poisonous allergen for some people, and tomatoes are related to the poisonous nightshade.
On the other hand, we don’t have any doubt as to whether or not Measles and Diphtheria are poisonous. These came in waves that killed, blinded and maimed thousands of people each year. Even if MMR and DTap and any other vaccine in the schedule are synergistically poisonous (which is unlikely in itself), they are unlikely to be more harmful than the diseases they are meant to protect, or we would have noticed already (the polio epidemics did not need double-blind studies just to be noticed). To me, it’s really weird to expose ourselves to the certainty of a greater harm just to protect ourselves against the possibility of a lesser harm.
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Whether to vaccinate or not is a choice… as it should be. I am not opposed to vaccinating but, neither will I condemn those that do not wish to do so. The one argument that has not been satisfactorily answered for me has been for some time, to VAXer’s – what does it matter to you if another chooses not to vaccinate?
Vaccines prevent certain illnesses? Your child is immunized, correct?
Vaccinated persons still carry and can transmit a virus, correct?
Are you saying the vaccine will not protect your child from a virus?
So, why the animosity toward those that choose not to immunize?
Hello P Bieber, and thanks for your question!
I hope you find the following helpful. There are important factors that make vaccination a decision that impacts the society at large and make it truly effective only as a collective agreement, like say, non-smoking laws and traffic regulations (though there are many differences to each case too). I hope my answer may be helpful in addressing your questions. I’ve covered this topic in detail here: https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/04/20/the-simple-math-of-herd-immunity/
This part specifically touches on your questions:
Yes, you are right – vaccines convey immunity to disease. Immunised individuals have antibodies that will neutralise germs when they come in contact with them, making it much less likely to pass on to others – people who are immune don’t get sick and don’t spread the disease.
As a direct answer to your third question – vaccinated persons don’t carry and transmit the pathogen (virus or bacteria).
Secondly, if nearly everyone is immune, then almost no one will spread the disease. Thus, even people who have not been vaccinated (and those whose vaccinations have become weakened or whose vaccines aren’t fully effective) often can be shielded by the herd immunity because vaccinated people around them are not getting sick. Herd immunity is more effective as the percentage of people vaccinated increases. For more, see the World Health Organisation on herd immunity (links to sources are in the piece, which I linked above).
The vaccination rate that is critical for stopping the spread of disease depends on how infectious the disease is. For measles for instance, which is highly contagious, approximately 95% of the people in the community must be protected by a vaccine to achieve sufficient herd immunity. For Hib in Gambia and Navajo populations on the other hand, less than 70% vaccine coverage was sufficient to eliminate the disease, as reported by the WHO.
People who are not immunized increase the chance that they and others will get the disease. It is important to note that there will always be some people who rely on herd immunity rather than individual immunity to stop disease, such as:
– People without a fully-working immune system, like those without a working spleen
– People on chemotherapy treatment whose immune system is weakened
– People with HIV
– Newborn babies who are too young to be vaccinated
– Elderly people
– Many of those who are very ill in hospital
On top of that, we know that in real life scenarios, neither disease- nor vaccine-conveyed immunity is ever quite 100%. For measles vaccine it is 97% for instance, so 3 out of hundred won’t respond and won’t be immune. With this scenario, and the known rate at which measles is infectious (a sick person, before symptoms, will infect 9 out 10 from the people they come in contact – the contact may be as little as residing in the same room where the sick person has previously been, within 2 hours). The percentage of immune people in the community necessary for a measles infection to be extinguished (so it won’t spread to vulnerable people and those rare cases for whom immunity has not developed) is 95%. So when more than 5% of people are skipping their shot, they are not only affecting their own child’s disease protection, but are bringing back the disease epidemics which may again reach all the vulnerable people in the community.
Please let me know if something is still unclear. I appreciate you speaking out and seeking answers to your questions.
Thanks for stopping by and have a good day,
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I only need to go as far as polio, small pox to realize what this is all about. There is no more small pox, hint, it didn’t go away on its own. Hint polio didn’t run and hide, and that one was worse (though other diseases less) after sanitation improved. I can’t believe the amount of parents who would rather them get head and neck or genital cancer rather than vaccinate their kids for hpv. Almost makes me believe in alien abduction! Alan
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None of these “studies” look at efficacy. Guess why?
Dear Mr Doubleday,
Thanks for stopping by! In this case no guessing is necessary. 🙂 I hope it is clear from the context that these studies are not studies of efficacy, but of other health factors associated with vaccinations. I hope you noticed the links I provide for those who are interested at looking more at studies of efficacy, specifically on the topic of the flu-shot, here:
“Considering the flu shot: firstly there are several studies on its beneficial effect on health what comes to not catching the flu. Much depending on the year and the flu strains in circulation, it protects from infection at rates anywhere between 10% and 93% (see more over at the CDC for seasonal flu, or a meta-review on the swine flu pandemic). In addition, comparing unvaccinated and vaccinated people who do catch the flu, a study in 2014 found that vaccinated people were protected from its gravest effects. As reported on the study by Forbes:
study released this past week shows that among this season’s influenza patients sick enough to end up in their intensive care unit, 91% had failed to receive this year’s seasonal flu vaccine. And for those admitted to the hospital, but with less severe disease not requiring an ICU stay, 67% weren’t vaccinated.”
“This extensive amount of research has lead the health authorities to recommend the shot for pregnant women. There is a direct effect of protecting the mother (and to some degree the infant) from the flu – see a study of the 2009 pandemic in Japan, vaccination for pregnant mothers reduced their infection rate by 89% – but it doesn’t stop there.”
What comes to vaccine efficacy for standard childhood vaccines, there are a lot of studies and data looking at that, carefully monitoring the effect not least importantly in order to be best able to determine the optimal amount of booster shots. In fact, thanks to the amount of studies on vaccine efficacy, I wonder if perhaps you mean to question the duration of immunity rather than original efficacy of vaccines’ protective effect? In that case, you might be interested this piece where I discuss vaccines efficacy and the duration of immunity, here: https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/04/20/the-simple-math-of-herd-immunity/
From there: “Are vaccines in fact a “fraud” if immunity against diseases can decrease over time? If you approach the question from the perspective of our natural immunity, this isn’t a “fault” of vaccines, no more than it is a “fault” of the diseases themselves when surviving them does not provide a life-long immunity. In fact, natural immunity does not necessarily provide longer-lasting protection than does a vaccine, as found in this study:
A review of the published data on duration of immunity reveals estimates that infection-acquired immunity against pertussis disease wanes after 4-20 years and protective immunity after vaccination wanes after 4-12 years. Further research into the rate of waning of vaccine-acquired immunity will help determine the optimal timing and frequency of booster immunizations and their role in pertussis control.
It is a common trend for an immunity to a disease to wane over a few years or decades. There are things we can do to achieve a longer lasting immunity – like using adjuvants that allow for a stronger immune reaction at the time of vaccination. For some diseases, booster shots may be necessary. Waning immunity is not a “fault” of neither, the diseases nor the vaccines, it is no more or less than a facet of our immune system.
Thanks to vaccines we can harness our body’s natural reaction to pathogens. Our bodies need information about which threats they should protect us from. With remarkably little side-effects, vaccines manage that great feat of delivering that information, of creating immunity, which, before vaccines, was not possible without first enduring the risk of death and disability (at least once). Back then, being in the lucky group – those who would not need to worry about the next wave of disease – may have been a bleak consolation in comparison to the worry of not knowing which of your siblings, friends and relatives would not survive the next ‘immunisation round’.”
If you are interested, one of the best illustrations of vaccine efficacy can be found from the presentations of data on this site: https://medium.com/@visualvaccines/graphic-proof-that-vaccines-work-with-sources-61c199429c8c?hc_location=ufi#.l9363f70k
Thanks for your interest in my piece! I hope you have a great day.
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Actually, the German study suggests that the unvaccinated population had fewer vaccine preventable diseases:
“As expected, vaccine preventable diseases affected those who had been vaccinated against a particular disease to a lower degree than unvaccinated persons.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3057555/
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Thanks for your contribution to the discussion. I wonder however, if you mean to say “The German study suggests that the unvaccinated population had more vaccine preventable diseases” – as that is what you quote right after?
Hope you have a good day,
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whoops “vaccinated population had fewer vaccine preventable diseases”, not “unvaccinated”…
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The graph you show from the CDC is deceptive. It compares rates of death due to diseases before vaccination existed to after vaccination is common, BUT it fails to mention that deaths due to almost all of these diseases had decreased dramatically (e.g. 90% decrease), BEFORE the respective vaccines for them were even created. This is true even for diseases (like scarlet fever) for which a vaccine was never created. There is a whole book analyzing the history of the decrease in disease called Dissolving Delusions, which includes other countries like England and vaccines like small pox. Some of the graphs are shown here: http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/an-honest-look-at-the-historical-evidence-that-vaccines-eliminated-diseases/ Sanitation seems to be the leading cause for the decrease in deaths due to diseases, not vaccination.
Thanks for your interest in my blog. Sorry that you had to wait such a long time for a reply, I have been taking a few months break from the internet. I’m afraid the source you have been reading about vaccines is known for making very misleading representations of evidence. I would recommend that you look on either the information presented by any national or international medical and health organisations, or scientific review-articles. If you read my commenting policy (here, https://thoughtscapism.com/about/commenting-policy/) you can see that I ask people to think about how we can weigh and compare the strengths of evidence.
I have talked more about how we know that vaccines work over in my piece about herd immunity – as herd immunity is the result of two simple things: high enough vaccination rate, and vaccine efficacy. Here is the piece: https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/04/20/the-simple-math-of-herd-immunity/
Vaccine efficacy, that is, their ability to protect from disease, has been very well documented all over the world. Death rates of many disease had luckily gone down thanks to modern medicine, improved hospital care, food stability, and better standards of living, but the infection rates had not changed before the introduction of vaccines. The graph (from Forbes) shows this data, of the number of people infected – morbidity is a term that means ‘diseased’, that is, how many got sick. Mortality is the term that describes the death-rate. Mortality rates, though luckily lower, were still significant for many of the diseases we now vaccinate against, and the disease incidence for each disease, in each country, decreased drastically and immediately after vaccine introduction, which happened at different time points in the west, any time between 1802 (smallpox), and 2006 (rotavirus). In the US, for instance, the timeline was more or less like this: Typhoid infection rates decreased 1914, diptheria at 1925, Yellow fever 1937, polio 1954, measles 1964, rubella at 1969 – each right after the vaccine introduction. For an example from the other side of the globe, Polio was just recently eradicated in the Indian slums after successful vaccination programs – unfortunately, sanitation in those conditions is still sub-par.
You can find many graphs following disease incidence and vaccine introduction, with links to the data sources, in the site I also mention in my piece about herd immunity, here: https://medium.com/@visualvaccines/graphic-proof-that-vaccines-work-with-sources-61c199429c8c?hc_location=ufi#.oa7gjpw8o
Thanks for reading! I hope you find the resources I provided useful.
Have a great day,
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Is it significant that the few ‘trials’ you refer to are merely observational? More importantly, the article at this link raises some important, valid points and exposes information the public you are trying to inform should probably be aware of:
Hello Peter A,
Thanks for your interest in my piece. If you read the piece above, you probably saw where I talked in detail about what kind of studies are possible, and why:
“The biggest limitation to vaccine studies is connected to the vaccine health effect number one. Naturally, the main effect vaccines have on health is the prevention of the diseases they were developed for. Because of their significant contribution to our health, conducting a study where children would be assigned to a group that would not receive vaccines is unethical. Individual parents do have the right to choose not to vaccinate their children (in most parts of the world), but nowhere in the world would an ethical committee approve of scientists asking parents not to vaccinate children, even for the purpose of a study.
This is why the studies I will present below are largely observational – looking at populations and comparing the differences among naturally occurring groups of unvaccinated and vaccinated people. Many other studies on this topic, which are not directly comparing groups, rely on data derived through other methods, like vaccine efficacy and the rate with which the diseases spread in their presence vs absence. For instance, an impressive study from 2013 digitized massive amounts of US data since 1888. They estimate a total of 3 to 4 million deaths prevented in the US by vaccines. You can find a video with a graphical presentation of the vaccination effect on disease prevalence in New York Times: The Vaccination Effect: 100 Million Cases of Contagious Disease Prevented, and it has also been covered by the Science Based Medicine, here.”
I provided a summary of these observational studies here for convenience after many people asked to read more about such studies. Of course, many other types of studies exist, and another type which people often ask about, are double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. These are also conducted with vaccines, wherever ethical.
If you are interested, I can provide an example list of such studies in the end of this comment.
Different kind of studies give us different types of information, and both observational and double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have their appropriate uses. There is an unfortunate way for some people on the internet to argue that if they can’t find one, very very specific type of study they would like to see, that they somehow then can ignore the wealth of evidence from every other type of study performed. Well demonstrated by this passage in Ohara Tree (site has not been up lately, so I will quote it here):
>> The “there are no trials” is a flat out lie, and this is an excellent example of shifting the goalposts.
Anti-vaxxer: “There are no trials.”
Pro-vaxxer: “Yes, there are, they’re tested extensively. ”
Anti-vaxxer: “There are no double blind placebo trials”
Pro-vaxxer: “Yes, there are in situations where it would be ethical.”
Anti-vaxxer: “But not all vaccines are tested that way”
Pro-vaxxer: “No, because of ethical concerns. We get the data elsewhere.”
Anti-vaxxer: “I’m not satisfied until every vaccine is extensively tested in double blind placebo controlled trials. ”
Pro-vaxxer: “But not all of them can be.”
Anti-vaxxer: “So, you admit they’re never tested! ”
Pro-vaxxer: “Yes, they are.”
Anti-vaxxer: “Well, I want them all tested the way I want and not what the scientists want. Your studies will never be good enough; therefore I reject them all.” <<"
Now, for the second part of your comment. If you read my commenting policy, you may know that I encourage people to carefully think about what kind of information they rely on as evidence. The link you provide goes to a site run by an osteopath called Joseph Mercola, who, I'm afraid, has demonstrated in many ways to be a very unreliable source. Not only does he stand to profit directly from the claims he makes about medicine (as he can convince people to buy his alternative supplements instead), but he has also made many very wild claims over the years.
Joseph Mercola is an osteopath in the business for supplements. He uses loose allegations, anecdotal evidence, scare tactics and exaggerated claims to criticise mainstream medicine and promote his own supplements (link to FDA illegal claims below). His ideas are counter to much of what the scientific evidence and mainstream medicine tells us. He believes that vaccinating is an experiment on the population by the government (just the US government, I presume.) But he by no means restricts his scepticism to vaccines, but opens the discussion to a lot broader set of topics, such as that HIV does not cause AIDS ( actually claims AIDS is caused by the stress of being told you are HIV positive!), and that modern medicine in general is a fraud that has no effect on areas such as heart disease, cancer or arthritis.
He believes chemtrails are another experiment (that is, airplanes leave white tracks and these are supposed to actually be some kind of aerial poisoning scheme by… the government?). Also supported by Mercola is the claim that microwaves 'kill' nutrients.
The following things are "The most bizarre experiments of all time" according to Mercola, which speak volumes about him as a source.
[experiments on the general populations by the government – US only? – I presume]
– Water fluoridation
– Mandated vaccinations
– Information-carrying radio waves
– Pharmaceutical drug use for everything from non-existent diseases to ailments that do not have a pharmacological cure
– Mercury exposures that are claimed to be “safe”
– Estrogen-mimicking compounds used in everything from children’s toys to that steak on your plate
– Genetically modified foods, and cloned meats
– HAARP [My clarification: The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) is an ionospheric research program jointly funded by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the University of Alaska, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).]
More on that here:
Mercola does not merely dislike vaccines (and sell 'immune' boosting supplements instead), he also thinks that conventional medical care kills more people than heart disease or cancer
Here FDA warnings for illegal claims on his products:
Apart from when he makes too wild and direct health claims, under more vague marketing tactics he can sell pretty much whatever he wants, as he operates under no control and scrutiny, as supplements fall outside of medical regulation – so he does not have to prove anything he is selling actually works. More about that in the second part of my piece "Following the money": https://thoughtscapism.com/2015/02/25/following-the-money/
Any claims made about vaccines should have a robust, evidence-based backing, something unfortunately lacking at Mercola's site. If you wish to look into some claims made by Mercola, you can look for scientific studies on those topics, or you are welcome to ask specifically about the claim you would like to find out more about here.
Here the promised list of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies:
Efficacy of a prophylactic adjuvanted bivalent L1 virus-like-particle vaccine against infection with human papillomavirus types 16 and 18 in young …
Sustained efficacy and immunogenicity of the human papillomavirus (HPV)-16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine: analysis of a randomised placebo-controlled … – PubMed – NCBI
Efficacy of 23-valent pneumococcal vaccine in preventing pneumonia and improving survival in nursing home residents: double blind, randomised and p… – PubMed – NCBI
Efficacy of nine-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine against pneumonia and invasive pneumococcal disease in The Gambia: randomised, double-blind,… – PubMed – NCBI
Efficacy of human papillomavirus type 16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine in Japanese women aged 20 to 25 years: final analysis of a phase 2 double-blind… – PubMed – NCBI
Immunogenicity, reactogenicity, and safety of human papillomavirus 16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine in Japanese women: interim analysis of a phase II,… – PubMed – NCBI
Safety, efficacy and effectiveness of cold-adapted, live, attenuated, trivalent, intranasal influenza vaccine in adults and children.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the safety and immunogenicity of live, oral type 4 and type 7 adenovirus vaccines in adults
Safety and immunogenicity following administration of a live, attenuated monovalent 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine to children and adults in two rando… – PubMed – NCBI
Efficacy and safety of pentavalent rotavirus vaccine in Japan
Swiss TPH : Phase II Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study to Evaluate the Safety and Immunogenicity of H1/IC31®, an adjuvanted TB Subunit Vaccine, in HIV-Infected Adults with CD4+ Lymphocyte Counts Greater than 350 cells/mm3
Efficacy of pentavalent rotavirus vaccine against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis in infants in developing countries in Asia: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
You are of course very welcome to ask, if there is something more you might be wondering about. Thanks for reading!
Here’s a question that I never see addressed in these discussions about vaccines. If vaccinations are NOT the casual agents for the onset of autism in the 40s and the dramatic rise of same in the last two decades, then WHAT is? I mean the rate that this horrible affliction of frightening. And no one seems to be looking at the probable cause. I don’t get it.
Hi Political Pundit,
Thanks for stopping by. I have written more about autism in the piece here: https://thoughtscapism.com/2016/04/19/the-great-myth-of-vaccines-and-autism/ Quoting from there for the passages that directly relate to your questions:
“If you would like to read more about autism research, one good site to continue on is Autism Science Foundation. It is important to mention that it has been questioned whether a real rise in the incidence of autism even exists, or if the apparent increase does not mostly result from better recognition and awareness of the disorder. Science based medicine argues that this is the best supported conclusion:
Further, the best epidemiological evidence suggests that the rise in the diagnosis rate of ASD is an artifact of broadening the definition of autism, diagnostic substitution, and increased surveillance. Therefore there isn’t really an autism “epidemic” just a change in the definition and efforts to make the diagnosis.”
There used to be a lot of people on the autism spectrum before as well, they were just left to manage as best they could with the things they found challenging in the world of ‘neurotypical’ people.
When it comes to research into causes of autism, it is a big and active area of research, involving a great many scientists. They might be generating less sensationalist headlines about it, but if you are interested in the topic, you can head on over to the helpful summaries provided by the Autism Science Foundation: http://autismsciencefoundation.org/
To elaborate a little bit more here, autism is really more a spectrum of neurological tendencies rather than ‘one thing’. This short comic, brings up many good points about “the spectrum” and makes a great effort at illustrating it more in the form of a multicoloured circle than a line: http://theoraah.tumblr.com/post/142300214156/understanding-the-spectrum
These neurological ‘types’ so to say which lean more toward autistic traits, (with things like special interests areas, sensory sensitivity, greater difficulty processing social cues or language, etc) are heritable. These neurological styles can be quite fluid, that is, it may not be easy to say where to draw the line of diagnosis vs a more or less neurotypical individual. If a person has strong enough autistic tendencies, however, then they are on the spectrum. They can often lead very independent and productive lives, even if some of their behavioural habits may not be viewed as mainstream ‘normal’. These individuals often have a very high IQ.
It seems to be the case that the more debilitating forms of autism emerge when embryos of this neurotype heritage have additional new mutations (in potentially one of hundreds of specific locations) that occur in the sex cells or in the developing embryo. The mutations are what then lead to a certain neural development in utero. This genetic background leads to the further development of the child’s cognitive type, which takes time to mature, and manifests itself clearly first when the brain has had time to develop, often perhaps at one year old.
It’s likely that environmental factors that can lead to epigenetic changes play a role, too, but it is more likely at the level of earlier generations, in utero, or when the sex cells were formed, rather than exposures after birth. There might be an increase in the rates of autism, even if most of the change would be due to changed diagnosis criteria and increased attention, and it can be hard to pinpoint the difference at this point. Most of the current rise in incidence, at least, is purely diagnostic (they were simply not diagnosed before).
The Autism Science Foundation gives good overviews of autism research, and if you look at their reports on studies about autism risk factors and environmental factors at
… the list of possible connections to autism is really long:
Maternal age, paternal age, mother’s influenza/untreated fever during pregnancy, diabetes, air pollution, cigarette smoke, lead, methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, arsenic, and toluene, manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers, organophosphate pesticides, maternal childhood abuse, placental folds…
Considering the number and diversity of these factors, it’s best to wait for comprehensive meta-analyses or reviews on these topics before making too strong conclusions. One of the recent meta-analyses were in maternal age:
“The results of this meta-analysis support an association between advancing maternal age and risk of autism. The association persisted after the effects of paternal age and other potential confounders had been considered, supporting an independent relation between higher maternal age and autism.” http://autismsciencefoundation.org/news/advancing-maternal-age-is-associated-with-an-increasing-risk-for-autism-a-review-and-meta-analysis/
Hope I could provide some useful answers to your questions! Please feel free to ask more, if there is anything else you might still be wondering about.
Have a great day,
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Can I just point out a flaw with the infographic about reduction in diseases? It’s such a great example!! Strictly speaking, what it says is correct but it’s also highly misleading because it doesn’t mention that morbidity rates declined mostly before the vaccines were introduced. So yes, morbidity was high SOMETIME before the vaccines but it was also very low sometime later, still BEFORE the vaccines. It just shows how the same data source can be manipulated to make the point for both sides.
The infographic also compares morbidity in the past to recorded cases now, rather than morbidity now. This shouldn’t make much difference but it’s rather odd to compare different statistics in this way.
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I hope you take a moment to be careful about the terms you use – morbidity *is* the number of cases. They had not unfortunately decreased much at all before vaccine introduction. Thanks to better nutrition and medical care, *mortalities* from disease, that is, deaths, were not as common as before. Still before vaccine introduction, there were thousands of deaths from vaccine-preventable disease each year in the US alone, and hundreds of thousands of *cases of disease*, or morbidities.
Thank you for showing interest, I hope you have a good day!
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If you would like to take a look at the individual introductions of different vaccines in different countries, this site has many great graphs that illustrate the situation. They also look at morbidities, the disease incidence. Mortality-rates for the standard diseases still vary anywhere between 1/20 to 1/1000, even after improved living conditions in general. https://medium.com/@visualvaccines/graphic-proof-that-vaccines-work-with-sources-61c199429c8c?hc_location=ufi#.445kdwiud
Interesting study showing how mass vaccination ruins natural boosters (which creates new opportunities for vaccine makers to further expand the already crazy vaccination schedule – of course in alliance with official health institutions like, in America, the CDC, FDA, etc): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3759842/
“Varicella vaccination is less effective than the natural immunity that existed in prevaccine communities. Universal varicella vaccination has not proven to be cost-effective as increased HZ morbidity has disproportionately offset cost savings associated with reductions in varicella disease. Universal varicella vaccination has failed to provide long-term protection from VZV disease.”
Thanks for your interest in my piece. Firstly, I would like to point out that the vaccine schedule is not crazy – that is a vague an un-founded argument (and I kindly ask people here on my blog to back up their claims with evidence). The vaccine schedule has been found safe time and again, in fact, only the safety of alternative vaccine schedules lacks evidence of safety, as they expose small children to risks from disease during a time when they are still very vulnerable. For more, you can read the most recent review from the Institute of Medicine:
“A report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released Wednesday affirmed the safety of the federal childhood immunization schedule, stating that a review of available research revealed no reason why vaccines should not be administered under the current guidelines.
“Vaccines are among the most effective and safe public health interventions to prevent serious disease and death,” said Lainie Friedman Ross, M.D., Ph.D., FAAP, a member of the AAP Committee on Bioethics and the 14-person committee which developed the IOM report, touted as a comprehensive overview of the nation’s vaccine guidelines.” http://www.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/01/17/aapnews.20130117-1
The misconception that giving a child several immunizations at once would be harmful is even included in the 6 most common vaccine myths listed by the World Health Organisation: http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/initiative/detection/immunization_misconceptions/en/index6.html
Secondly, considering the rates of incidence of Herpes zoster – shingles, that is – after varicella – chicken pox – vaccine programs are a bit more nuanced than that. A recent (2015) study looks at them in more detail, here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26259874
To summarize, basically adults have to some degree received a ‘natural booster’-effect to their own (naturally waned) immunity to chicken pox, thanks to children who have had the disease and spread it around, getting them renewed exposure to it. This effec partially protected adults from getting shingles (a painful rash, resulting from the re-activation of the virus derived from an earlier illness of chicken pox). However, this ‘booster’ effect has not been found to be large, and by vaccinating, we can ensure that the pool of individuals with a latent varicella virus in their nerve cells to begin with, will become drastically reduced.
Temporary, small increase in the already quite rare incidence of shingles, however, can not be used to justify the alternative – that all children should suffer through chicken pox, disease which does carry risk from rare but real severe complications even in healthy children: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11694663
– not to mention creating the chance for shingles emergence later in life…
The topic of chicken pox, shingles, and chicken pox vaccination has also been covered well here by Skeptical raptor:
“One of the enduring myths of the antivaccine cult is that chickenpox vaccine will increase the rate of shingles, especially in older adults. A recent published article examines chickenpox vaccine and shingles – and like everything in science, it’s the nuanced data that makes the story.”
“Many countries have avoided introducing universal chickenpox vaccination in children because it was believed, even by experts in public health, that the reduction in chickenpox related disease would be counter-balanced by the temporarily increase in shingles. This study actually debunks that belief.”
“So let me be nuanced. Yes, vaccinating children against chickenpox may temporarily increase the incidence of shingles, but mostly in younger adults. But that same vaccine also lowers the incidence of chickenpox in children, who then never will have to worry about shingles.”
“It is morally unjustified to use children as a pool of virus to “boost” the immune system of adults against shingles.”
For more reading, I’ll include an atrticle where an infectious disease expert speaks about the protection from shingles thanks to chicken pox vaccine: “In fact, children who receive a chickenpox vaccination have a much lower risk of getting shingles later in life than those who are not immunized, said Dr. William Schaffner, doctor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, and a leading infectious disease expert.”
The chicken pox vaccine has been found safe and effective, results which have been confirmed after the inclusion of chicken pox vaccine in many national vaccine schedules. Here one recent reviews:
Click to access 418.pdf
And here is a recent review of all vaccines in the schedule: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25086160
The inclusion of chicken pox vaccine in the standard schedule, which is created with the best protection of children’s health in mind, is well founded.
Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a good day!
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I recently came across your blog; thank you for your well thought out and sourced pieces (I’ve read some of the vaccine-related ones so far). I don’t know if it would be better in this post or your post on autism and vaccines, but I wanted to share this study with you in case you hadn’t seen it. They looked at autism occurrence by vaccine status and concluded “receipt of the MMR vaccine was not associated with increased risk of ASD, regardless of whether older siblings had ASD. These findings indicate no harmful association between MMR vaccine receipt and ASD even among children already at higher risk for ASD.”
So, both a study comparing vaccinated vs unvaccinated kids and more evidence of autism not being vaccine-related.
I look forward to reading more of your posts!
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This study examines the cohort of second children. Studies show that most toxins from mother’s bodies are passed to their child ( http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns , https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00128-011-0487-5 ). Looks like the first child gets the most of toxins from mother’s body.
Interestingly, the second study found that aluminum amount in newborn’s hair was 8 times higher than in mother’s hair.
Interesting information, thanks 🙂
As I understand it (and I’m no expert), while firstborns are more likely to have ASD their siblings are at a higher risk than the general population. So the JAMA study looked at this higher risk group to see if the MMR had any association with them getting ASD and it did not.
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Do you know any large and long term studies which examine the first child cohort, vaccinated vs unvaccinated, not only for autism but for for all their officially diagnosed health issues?
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Thanks for an interesting site, especially the politeness. 🙂 I wonder why it is that America seems to Vaccinate more than other countries, and does it make for a healthier population?
Thanks for your comment!
I wonder what you mean exactly with ‘vaccinating more’, and what you might be comparing to? Comparing the US and European vaccination stats, for instance, shows that US is below the European average vaccine uptake on several vaccines, and above our rate on a couple others. More on the rates here for US: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/immunize.htm and here for Europe: http://www.who.int/immunization/monitoring_surveillance/data/gs_eurprofile.pdf?ua=1
And for a really comprehensive look 🙂 here’s a database on vaccination rates globally, per country, vaccine, and year: http://apps.who.int/immunization_monitoring/globalsummary/timeseries/tswucoveragemcv1.html
If you mean to ask if there are more vaccines given in the US? Many people claim that US has somehow an abnormal vaccine schedule, repeating the ‘too many too soon’ -slogan. My own personal experiences of Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland were enough to cast serious doubt on that claim, so it comes as no surprise to me that when you actually look at the readily available information for each country, it is clear that the health authorities of most parts of the developed world have actually drawn very similar conclusions on the optimal number and timing of vaccines – the US does not have an unusually large number in their schedule.
“while many folks still push the myth that the United States gives many more vaccines than other developed countries, you just have to look at their immunization schedules to see that it isn’t true.” https://vaxopedia.org/2017/04/23/immunization-schedules-from-other-countries/
To the general question of vaccinations and their connection to health, yes, the countries that vaccinate more, do have healthier populations with a much lower disease incidence.
Hope that answered your question!
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Hi, are there any comprehensive studies to support your claim above?
“…the countries that vaccinate more, do have healthier populations with a much lower disease incidence.”
I found that studies are referencing only a limited subset of diseases.
When looking at vaccine influence, it is clear that all vaccine-preventable-illnesses become very rare with high enough vaccination rates. Their effect in disease reduction is drastic. See more for instance at https://ourworldindata.org/vaccination/
If you want to look at ‘all disease’, that is a very complex metric, but there is a general ‘burden of disease’ metric that you can look at, and there western countries, such as the Nordics, which have traditionally had very high vaccination rates, are also among those with lowest total burden of disease. Many other European countries and Canada are there with the Nordics, and US is not far behind.
“How many healthy life years are lost due to diseases, deaths, and injuries? It is a daring question, but we actually do have a good answer to it. The Global Burden of Disease estimated that in 23.5% of potential life years were lost due to premature death in the year 2013. Another 10.7% of potential healthy life years were lost due to disease and disability.”
The second map, on communicable diseases, shows how much of the world has drastically reduced their spread. If you look at the most lethal infectious disease, you can see that vaccines have played a role in greatly reducing 3 out of the top 5 (you will have to scroll a bit on the page to that graph) https://ourworldindata.org/health-meta/
Other ways you can get an idea of that metric by looking at things like life-expectancy and most common causes of death per country.
Here is a interactive chart on life-expectancy per country:
It also follows the burden-of-disease map quite closely.
Here is a break-down of life-expectancy by income level of countries. Higher income countries tend to have higher vaccination rates than lower, and they also have less infectious disease and more lifestyle disease (risk much increased by sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, greater age). http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index1.html
Hope you found the answer useful.
Thanks for your interest in my blog,
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I wonder if there is a synergy between multiple vaccinations that result in a more robust immune system. Does the immune response occur more quickly or strongly to an unknown pathogen because of multiple stimuli by vaccines, like aerobics for the immune system?