But What If They’re Wrong?


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

299 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    Strictly as a matter of pragmatism, we learned quickly to try to schedule our vaccination visits on Fridays, because as you note, they sometimes disrupt the schedule and it’s easier to deal with that disruption and a cranky infant on weekends (assuming you have a Mon-Fri work schedule); by Monday generally all is back to normal.Report

  2. Avatar Kazzy says:

    I feel like what you describe here is known as something, though I can’t remember the name. As you say, at worst, vaccination carries “a low likelihood of catastrophic consequence”. And, at worst, failure to vaccinate carries “a low likelihood of catastrophic consequence”. You note that your heart would be crushed if you did vaccinate and this somehow caused autism. But would your heart be equally crushed if you did not vaccinate and she contracted one of the diseases you could have prevented?

    There is some human tendency to view action that leads to harm as somehow worse than inaction that leads to harm. This tendency should be overwhelmed whenever possible.

    You did right to vaccinate Lain.

    But this was an interesting piece and has the sort of nuance that I’m just a sucker for. 🙂Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I case it wasn’t clear from the post, I don’t consider the decision to vaccinate to be a “close call.” With or without Clancy, I can’t seri0usly envision anything else. I can simply envision how others might do so (in a way that I couldn’t, before Lain was born). And that’s enormosely distressing.

      To answer your question – and looking back I wasn’t quite as clear on this point as I thought I had been – I would be torn apart either way… but the emotional toll of it being something I actively did rather than a precaution I didn’t take would be more severe. This isn’t logical, but on a strictly emotional/visceral level, it’s how it feels.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        “…but the emotional toll of it being something I actively did rather than a precaution I didn’t take would be more severe. This isn’t logical, but on a strictly emotional/visceral level, it’s how it feels.”

        This is what I was getting at. There is a term to describe this type of thinking.

        Again, thought-provoking piece. Thank you.Report

    • Avatar Tim Kowal says:

      “You did right to vaccinate Lain.”

      I agree.

      But, of course we say that, we being not one of Lain’s parents but rather the parents of other children, thus standing to benefit from other children being vaccinated while not having to incur any of the risks.

      I think there’s a name for that, too, isn’t there? Something like the opposite or inverse of moral hazard. That’s why doctors want to vaccinate, I think: it’s the kind of policy that’s good in the aggregate, even if in particular cases, it might be better if your kid doesn’t get certain vaccinations. My wife did a ton of investigation on the web and careful monitoring of our daughter before finally deciding to go forward with vaccinations, though on a delayed and staggered schedule. Other moms in our circle decided the same, and at least one had to change doctors after theirs refused to deviate from the boilerplate — some doctors tend to provide aggregate care rather than personal care.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Of course, taken to it’s logical conclusion, this argument implies that no one ever gets vaccincated. The decision calculus you’re implementing is that a person acts so as to minimize the risks to their own child. That means they would rationally support a policy where everyone else gets immunized but their child doesn’t.

        And I hasten to add that I know you realize this. In my mind, tho, it’s just another example of how unconstrained individual rationality can lead to not only collectively worse outcomes, but individual ones as well: your child’s chances of suffering a debilitating disease decrease if that child is a participant in vaccination.Report

        • Avatar Tim Kowal says:

          Not “never” gets vaccinated. Just that if you ask me the question: “Should someone else’s child get vaccinated?” my answer is “Yes, 100%” But if you ask me “Should your child get vaccinated?” my answer is “Probably yes, but let me look at it first.” In the first instance, I get some >0 benefits and 0 risk. In the latter case, I get ever greater benefits but >0 risk, too. As soon as there’s some risk to something I’m doing to my child (it’s a Trolley Problem, to some extent), it’s a different calculus.Report

    • Avatar Matthew says:

      “In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation. This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen. ” – Benjamin Franklin

      Note that inoculation at the time was quite dangerous, although as Franklin said, it was still safer than not doing it.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Great piece, WIll, and one that would make a great companion piece to the great vaccination posts over at BT.Report

  4. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    My uncle James was a devil: a bad gambler, a liar, an alcoholic, a thief and a wife beater. He could keep a beer can moving with a six shot revolver. He carved gargoyles out of lead shotgun slugs. He once stole his wife’s wedding ring off her finger while she was sleeping, ran out the door, pawned it, drank and gambled the proceeds. He came around with his wife, weeping, asking my parents to get the ring out of hock. I’ll bet you already know what happened with the money they were given.

    James was closest in age to my father. James contracted polio at the age of seven. He nearly died. He emerged with a withered leg, stumping around on his braces for several years. He fell behind in school, developed a bad attitude and drifted into bad company. My father loved him but James couldn’t be saved. James’ polio came to define him.

    James died dead drunk at 2:10 of a Sunday morning, reaching under the car seat for his whiskey bottle and hit a bridge abutment head on. He left two tiny children behind.

    The scourge of polio emerged every summer for centuries. It killed and maimed untold thousands of children. We beat polio. Children supported the March of Dimes to get there and untold suffering has been driven out of the world. Parents’ fears about vaccines are understandable. But there was a day when parents feared polio and with better reasons.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      So eloquent and true Blaise. I am struggling at this moment to think of any achievement of our species that compares to the sheer humanism of the eradication of smallpox on a global scale. Herd immunity is the cathedral of modern medicine but instead of stained glass windows or charming architecture these cathedrals churn out uncountable legions of people unscarred and unslain by some of our most ancient foes.Report

      • Avatar James K says:

        The Green Revolution strikes me as the only likely candidate as an alternative.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          Don’t forget Saran Wrap.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Yeah James, I’m pretty down with the Green Revolution as a competitor.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Refrigeration has saved countless lives.
          So too has basic sanitation (sewers and such).

          I’ll name both of them as alternatives.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            True Kim me dear, but they and actually the green revolution too, have/had serious downsides. Environmentalists can point to soil erosion, excessive fertilizer use producing algae blooms and the like and lay that plausibly at the feet of both the green revolution and sewers. Refrigeration, until recently, used ozone layer destroying chemicals (though they have fixed that). To my knowledge vaccination lacks a similar empirically solid downside.*

            *That is not to say the benefits don’t massively outweigh the harms. But we’re talking about the #1 spot for human achievement.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            So too has basic sanitation (sewers and such).

            I remember what a big surprise it was to me when reading pieces by experts on sanitation to find that they give very large credit to one of the “and such” items: underwear. Cheap cotton made possible by the industrial revolution made underwear available to the masses, with apparently dramatic results. If you look at the list of things that disaster relief organizations distribute in the first wave, it includes water, food,… and underwear.Report

          • Avatar Toni Reid says:

            With you on that one Kim. 🙂
            If you look in the year books you’ll find most diseases had substantially declined BEFORE the introduction of vaccines. Most doctors seem to overlook this inconvenient fact.Report

  5. Avatar dhex says:

    “Fear, fear, fear.”

    hell yeah.

    for giggles, walk into a bookstore and take a few moments to gaze upon the parenting section. fear is the pin # to the atm of your heart, or something.Report

  6. Avatar North says:

    An amazing post Will. You achieved what I considered impossible and caused me to feel in my heart a brief softening of sympathy for anti-vaccination parents (brief). And yes, agreed it boils down to fear, deep primal instinctive irrational fear. For those who are not parents but still peddle anti-vaccine hysteria, however, I lack the English to express my incalculable contempt and loathing.

    And yeah, immunization (if you allow any emotion into the calculation) does represent a severe prisoners dilemma and a commons dilemma. I myself wouldn’t object to any liberal style government interventions to enforce the maintenance of herd immunity. At the very minimum vaccination should be required in order to involve kids in any public services that bring them into proximity with other kids.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “At the very minimum vaccination should be required in order to involve kids in any public services that bring them into proximity with other kids.”

      When I used to work at a private day care and had some administrative duties, one of my responsibilities was to go through medical forms and make sure immunization records were complete and up-to-date. If they weren’t, I sent them on to the Director. I also know that my current school, an independent PreK-9 school, requires health forms to be submitted, though I don’t now exactly what is included in that. I’m not sure what enforcement mechanisms existed, if they did at all, but my hunch is that parents had to at least make an affirmative case if they were choosing not to vaccinate; that alone probably creates at least some social pressure.

      I do know of at least one family that did not get the chicken pox vaccine; I know because when a child came down with shingles they insisted on scheduling play dates so the boys could get their exposure and develop their immunity that way. The ironic thing is we all strongly suspect that her eldest has some form of ASD. Of course, the crazy mother insists it is just a diet issue and that if he avoids gluten, he’ll be fine. Or something. It’s a shame, really.

      ANYWAY, to your point, schools do inquire and perhaps require immunizations, but I don’t know how much teeth they do or even can have behind those requirements.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        My kids’ schools required immunizations for registration. It was that simple: no immunization records, no school.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I think that there are ways around that, which perhaps there should be. Are there any religious faiths that do not permit immunization? Still, the burden of proof ought to be on the family to demonstrate why their individual interest outweighs the public interest and perhaps they ought to even bear a financial or legal responsibility should anyone fall ill on account of their decisions.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        I was aware that there is a general requirement. But I’d definitly want it to have teeth. Sharp ones.
        Some kids are allergic to some kinds of vaccines. Through no fault of their own they are forced to depend on herd immunity for their health. Volantarily non-vaccinated kids endanger that. I can, in some realm, defend an emotional parent physically endangering their own child with their paranoia but it’s not just their own kids that’re endangered by this.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Dowe needto think of not immunizing as drunk driving? It is not just a personal decisiom; it puts people at a real risk, yes?

          I have been squishy on very toouth (Snarky-style) requirements because of individual autonomy and all that. But that see,s to be the wrong way to think of it.

          I can inquire at my school and with my friend at a public school about the policies.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Perhaps? I’d be content with a really firm requirements to positively validate your kids have been immunized in order to involve them in public activities coupled with a very strong social stigma against vaccinated kids.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:


              I find little to argue with you here. But if you asked me a year ago, before I had a child on the way and understood the threat that non-immunized children posed, I would have pushed back more. I long believed that, yes, everyone SHOULD get immunized because immunizing is undoubtedly good with little-to-no ill effect BUT that the government should not be positioned to require it, as it was a “personal decision”. I understand better now that it is not.

              The question is, how do we educate people as I’ve been educated? We’re not going to change the mind of the zealots. But some folks might think, “Eh… why risk it? We won’t immunize. It doesn’t impact anyone else.” And what about childless folks, who may never need to make the decision but whose support might be required to authorize any sort of enforcement on behalf of the government… how do we get them to understand?

              How do we shift the perception of vaccination from, “It’s a personal decision,” to “It’s not more a personal decision that the decision to drunk drive is”? Because a lot of reasonable, educated, well-meaning, vaccination-friendly people hold the former… like I did 12 months ago.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          I agree.
          Can I plead with the folks around here to get a flu shot?
          Pretty please?Report

        • Avatar Twyla says:

          North, one of the problems is that we really don’t know who is susceptible from harm from vaccines. This is one reason why we need more studied of the vaccine injured – going beyond mere statistical analysis.

          See this interview of the late Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the NIH and member of the Institute of Medicine, by CBS News:

          Healy goes on to say public health officials have intentionally avoided researching whether subsets of children are “susceptible” to vaccine side effects – afraid the answer will scare the public.

          “You’re saying that public health officials have turned their back on a viable area of research largely because they’re afraid of what might be found?” Attkisson asked.

          Healy said: “There is a completely expressed concern that they don’t want to pursue a hypothesis because that hypothesis could be damaging to the public health community at large by scaring people. “First of all,” Healy said, “I think the public’s smarter than that. The public values vaccines. But more importantly, I don’t think you should ever turn your back on any scientific hypothesis because you’re afraid of what it might show.”

          As an example, Healy points to the existing vaccine court claims.

          CBS News has learned the government has paid more than 1,300 brain injury claims in vaccine court since 1988, but is not studying those cases or tracking how many of them resulted in autism.

          The branch of the government that handles vaccine court told CBS News: “Some children who have been compensated for vaccine injuries…may ultimately end up with autism or autistic symptoms, but we do not track cases on this basis.”

          “What we’re seeing in the bulk of the population: vaccines are safe,” said Healy. “But there may be this susceptible group. The fact that there is concern, that you don’t want to know that susceptible group is a real disappointment to me. If you know that susceptible group, you can save those children. If you turn your back on the notion that there is a susceptible group… what can I say?”


    • Avatar Michelle says:

      I have one question, if your child is vaccinated, then how does my unvaccinated child pose a danger to yours…can someone explain that to me?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Your unvaccinated child is a danger because they risk spreading disease to others.

        Some people, particularly those with compromised immune systems, cannot get vaccinated. So you increase the risks they have of being exposed to disease.

        Did you know we had nearly eradicated polio? And now, it’s making a resurgence.

        But be very sure of one thing: the only reason your unvaccinated child is relatively safe, the reason you dare not have that child vaccinated, is because you live in a place where most children are; you’re protected and insulated from the very diseases you refuse to protect others, including your children, from.

        I have a friend who had polio as a child. One of her feet and legs is deformed as a result. She says it’s often painful; and she has to see a podiatrist regularly. I have another friend who’s mother had rubella; he’s been blind all his life. A third friend had mumps in his early 20’s, and cannot have children, though he’d make a wonderful father. Failing to vaccinate can have very serious consequences.

        And unvaccinated children develop autism, too.Report

        • Avatar Michelle says:

          So I’m expected to put my child at risk and vaccinate so that I might possibly prevent my child from getting a disease and spreading it to someone who is also not vaccinated due to a compromised immune system and then be forced to do so by the govt….I don’t think so!Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            It’s the FLU, for god’s sake! do you really think your child is not going to get the FLU?
            Get real.
            You put people I care about at risk of DEATH.
            Because you’re scared that your little precious is going to wind up a drooling idiot.

            You can talk to Rose about what it’s like living with someone who’s intellectually disabled, and how much she enjoys the company of her son.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

            No, everybody subjects their children to the very minor risks of vaccination and together we eliminate the terrible risks of the diseases vaccines are eradicating. When people like you “free ride” on the risks of others, you gain a very tiny benefit while at the same time making it more likely that those terrible diseases will return.

            Yes, it may be in your selfish best interest to have the only kid who isn’t vaccinated. That way you get to avoid that very tiny risk and get the benefits from everybody else’s hard work and sacrifice. But the world doesn’t work that way. You aren’t the only person clever enough to think that they can scam the rest of us, and if enough people behave the way you do, we end up with things like polio whooping cough coming back.

            So forgive us for dumping on that type of behavior, but unlike most other parents, you’re not doing your part to prevent a lot of kids from dying.Report

          • Avatar Michelle says:

            I got an email about a reply which I can’t find now …content below…

            Author: Kim
            It’s the FLU, for god’s sake! do you really think your child is not going to get the FLU?
            Get real.
            You put people I care about at risk of DEATH.
            Because you’re scared that your little precious is going to wind up a drooling idiot.

            You can talk to Rose about what it’s like living with someone who’s intellectually disabled, and how much she enjoys the company of her son.

            To which I’d like to address…I have a drooling idiot myself…and I know what it’s like to raise a handicapped child, and what it comes down to is this, I love my children and grandchildren more than I ever will be concerned about someone else who may get the flu and die…sorry it’s the way of the world, you think it’s perfectly okay for you to get angry because I chose not to vaccinate, and you also seem to think it’s perfectly okay to force me to do something against my will which I believe to be a danger to my family, the difference between us is I don’t…Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              Well, some of us have to work for a living. Otherwise, we die. You apparently think that the level of danger I am forced to engage in, in order to survive is something that I shouldn’t be forced to do.
              Will you pay for me to live in my house? Will you shop for me?Report

        • Avatar Trumwill says:

          In addition to individuals with compromised immunity without vaccinations, they are also putting my daughter at risk because she isn’t old enough for a lot of vaccinations yet.Report

  7. Believe it or not, I can actually relate to this. No matter how much one can know something is safe, there’s always that irrational part of your brain that goes “what if you’re wrong?” When the Critter got his MMR, I’ll admit I was a little bit nervous afterward until it was obvious that he was the same kiddo afterward as he was before. “What if the wackos are right?”

    Squirrel got her first vaccines a week and a half ago, and she was out of sorts for a few days. I can understand the worry some people feel.

    That said, I think I’ve said my piece re: vaccines and their safety enough times to rest assured that my views are clear. We really do know they’re safe. And no amount of science will ever dispel the irrationality that informs vaccine refusal or mollify those who are beholden to that irrationality.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      It is my belief that autism is a genetic, hereditary condition, one you are born with, not one you “catch”. It is not necessarily known right away because symptoms don’t become evident until later and we don’t yet know what the markers are. But I believe either you will have it or you will not and nothing you can do will move the needle either way. Does the science bear this out?

      If so, are there any studies on individuals who got vaccines/immunizations after the point where ASD would have been diagnosed? Comparing a 6-month-old to a 3-year-old who was vaccinated in the interim and saying, “He wasn’t autistic then and he is now. Something made that happen,” seems to ignore the realities about ASD diagnosis. But surely folks who get immunized later in life for whatever reason don’t suddenly wake up autistic.

      If you don’t want to go down this road, please feel free to disregard these questions.

      Also, are vaccinations and immunizations the same thing? Can we use the terms interchangeably?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that it’s one you’re born with a genetic predisposition to have, but that there are some environmental issues that further trigger it; what those issues might be I cannot guess, but that it’s increasing beyond the realm of ‘previously undiagnosed’ troubles me. I don’t think it’s vaccinations. But I do think there’s something we do that spurs it on.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Might just be modern life. Particularly with autism, which seems to cause difficulties for people when life is unpredictable….
          Allergies are probably caused by Dow Chemical, same as breast cancer.

          But autism? It may be related to something people don’t want investigated… or it might just be something that didn’t used to be a problem.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          I think the major uptick in diagnoses is predicated mostly on two factors that have nothing to do with the disorder itself:

          1.) Awareness and an ever-increasing definition of the disorder. There are people we consider to be on the spectrum now that 20, 10, or even 5 years ago we wouldn’t have. They haven’t changed; our method of diagnosis has. On the other end, people with severe or low-functioning ASD might have been classified with something other.
          2.) Fewer places in our society for people with ASD to be without needing some form of accommodation. Twenty years ago, if you had Aspergers or another form of high functioning autism, you could live in a small town, keep to yourself, do highly repetitive work like that which would occur on an assembly line, and folks might think you were weird or quirky but you’d otherwise get on largely fine without a diagnosis. There are fewer small towns, it is harder to keep to one’s self, and most repetitive work has been automated. So folks who might have led fairly successful lives in spite of (or perhaps because of) there autism have less avenues with which to do so.

          I’ve worked with autistic children, generally high-fuctioning ones. There seemed to be little that could be done to “cure” the disorder; the best you could do was work with them on strategies to overcome the difficulties and find success. Perhaps this is overly simplistic, but if we can’t “cure” it or “fix” it, it makes me think we can’t “cause” it either.Report

          • Avatar zic says:

            I agree with this, Kazzy. What troubles me, and what spurred my comment, isn’t the high-functioning levels, but the full-gored unable-to-be-social autism; the extremes of it. Even thinking through the history of literature; how many descriptions of it can you find?

            /non-scientific, just feeling. Yet something seems amiss; with the advent of modern industrial society.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:

              My hunch is those folks were simply seen as “retarded” or whatever the term du’jour was. If you don’t take the time to get to know an autostic person, it is not immediately evident that it is a social disorder. Someone who doesn’t talk, taps his fingers, and swings his head likely wasn’t identified as capable of intelligence by out rudimentary scientific/education/medical community.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                And, again, this is my hunch, informed by some professional experience and education, but far from a vetted stance.

                If you put a severely autistic person in front of a layperson and asked what they thought was “wrong” with the person, autism would not likely be there first guess. And while I’m sure the scientific/medical/education community of 20/30/50 years ago understood autism better than a layperson now, I don’t know if there was that big a difference.Report

              • Avatar Twyla says:

                There are certain viewpoints which are repeated ad nauseum by various news sources and medical authorities, and are picked up on by the general populace, which have no basis in fact but are repeated so often that people come to believe them. One of these is the view that the “apparent” increase in autism is due to better diagnosis.

                While some autism is mild enough that it may really be classified as “nerdism” – i.e. social skills outside of the mainstream – much autism is severe enough that it could not be overlooked even by people not educated in diagnosis. If we had these rates of autism in prior decades it would surely have been recognized as something, and would be part of our history, medicine, folklore, news stories, songs from prior decades and even centuries. You simply cannot overlook a child not learning to talk and obsessing on spinning objects.

                Here is Dr. Thomas Insel speaking about the very real increase in autism:
                Scroll down to the bottom of the article for a link to a pdf of the full interview.

                Here is an article about a UC Davis study showing a real increase in autism:
                “A study by researchers at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute has found that the seven- to eight-fold increase in the number children born in California with autism since 1990 cannot be explained by either changes in how the condition is diagnosed or counted…”
                “’It’s time to start looking for the environmental culprits responsible for the remarkable increase in the rate of autism in California,’ said UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute researcher Irva Hertz-Picciotto, a professor of environmental and occupational health and epidemiology and an internationally respected autism researcher.”Report

              • Avatar Twyla says:

                Here is a comprehensive review of autism statistics in California:
                Please note:
                – chart on page 9 showing increases from 1987 through 2007
                – chart on page 10 showing how the huge % increase in autism compares with the slight % increases in mental retardation, epilepsy, and cerebral palsy. If autism was being diagnosed instead of MR, one would expect a decrease in MR diagnoses.
                – chart on page 13 showing age distribution of cases with autism – much higher among younger clients.

                An “Executive Summary” with one of the stated conclusions: “The observed increase in autism cases cannot be explained by a loosening in the criteria used to make the diagnosis.”

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Interesting study just popped into my RSS feed regarding the diagnosis debate.


              • Avatar Twyla says:

                Here is an analysis of autism statistics showing an increase in North Dakota:

                Autism Not Really on the Rise? 96.7% Impossible.

              • Avatar Twyla says:

                Leo Kanner wrote some of the very first descriptions of autism back in the 1940’s, shortly after mercury fungicides began to be used in crops and lumber and vaccines for diphtheria and small pox began to be widely distributed.

                Leo Kanner began his 1943 paper describing eleven children with autism with the words, “Since 1938, there have come to our attention a number of children whose condition differs so markedly and uniquely from anything reported so far…”

                In 1935 Leo Kanner had written a long and comprehensive book called “Child Psychiatry” which documented every diagnosis he knew of at the time. There was nothing about autism, although he had been working at a clinic that attracted patients from all around the U.S. and even abroad.

                The vaccines for smallpox and diphtheria saved many lives. But there is a question of balance. One of the mothers of this very small group of children was a pediatrician who was quoted in an Annapolis newspaper article speaking about the importance of vaccination: “Too many parents, said Dr. Peabody, have the proper shots given and then relax, forgetting that booster shots are needed and that immunization does wear off. Speaking specifically of some of the most prevalent ailments, she stated that a child cannot be vaccinated against smallpox too often and it should be done for the first time when a baby is between three months and one year of age. In the case of diphtheria, booster shots are extremely important.”

                It seems to me that the question of vaccines is not a question of all-or-nothing but of weighing the risks and benefits. The rate of autism has steadily gone up in tandem with the number of vaccines we give to infants and children – both accelerating especially rapidly over the past 25 years. It seems to me that as we give more vaccines, the percentage of serious reactions increases as well. Perhaps the belief that children “cannot be vaccinated… too often” is at the heart of our problem.

                The current generation of children also has an increased rate of many immune system disorders, including asthma, diabetes, allergies, and more. We really don’t understand the unintended impact of so many vaccines on developing immune, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems.

                Some of the vaccines we give are for serious prevalent communicable diseases, some less so. Hepatitis B on the first day of life? What percentage of newborns are at risk of Hep B? What is the impact of this vaccine on a newborn whose health status is unknown (allergies? impaired liver/kidney function?)

                Vaccine reactions are very poorly tracked, and since modern science and medicine don’t even know how to identify them they are simply discounted as “coincidence” and “anecdote”, unless hugely obvious – and sometimes not even then.

                I’m not suggesting that people stop vaccinating. I’m asking for honest appraisal of risks and benefits by our health authorities. And I strongly believe in the right of people to make choices for themselves and their children.Report

              • Avatar Twyla says:

                P.S. By “What is the impact of this vaccine on a newborn whose health status is unknown (allergies? impaired liver/kidney function?)” what I mean is that we don’t yet know whether that baby was born with health issues such as allergies or impaired liver/kidney function which might cause increased susceptibility to a vaccine reaction, decreased ability to process the vaccine on the first day of life.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Vaccines occasionally can cause/contribute to egg-allergies. the first one isn’t an issue, but it’s the repeated stimulation… (and some people are more succeptible)Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Even thinking through the history of literature; how many descriptions of it can you find?

              This bugs me too.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                How many descriptions of the Rocky Mountains do we have from before the 1700’s?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Running with that analogy, I’d wonder why we’ve only recently visited a continent with autism on it.


              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                You lost me… In my own analogy, no less! You word demond, you!

                Do animals suffer from autism? How would we know? If wild animals had severe autism, would any survive long enough for us to know?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m more wondering if the ancient Greeks mentioned it… I’m not remembering any mentions. Now, my knowledge of the fathers isn’t exhaustive by any means… but something like that would be interesting to modern readers, wouldn’t it? A paragraph devoted to when fathers should turn their backs on a baby is one of those paragraphs that would be fairly well-known today, and quoted all the time. (“This government policy is doing nothing more than bringing Dragocles to the 21st century!”)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Well, did the Greeks discuss people with mental retardation? ADHD? Other developmental disabilities and needs?Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Kazzy, there are certainly descriptions of people with severe depression in the bible; there are characters who are mentally retarded or otherwise impaired.

                But I do not recall characters who don’t respond to social contact the way a child with severe autism does. I freely admit to not having a grand knowledge, but it’s a personality type that seems missing from the writer’s eye until recently.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I dunno about the greeks, but the Victorian English should have reasonable records of sanitariums…Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Just a simple proposition, that -may be very well wrong-. It might be nutritional. It could be that autism is not present if a person is deficient in a particular nutrient… Or even that autism might manifest in a more helpful fashion (no, I’ve no idea what that would be…).Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                I get the impression that in the olden days, a lot of the diagnoses for various mental/emotional/physical disorders consisted of the words “That boy ain’t right.”Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                They might not have recognized the social nature of the disorder. They might have said hi to their kid, noticed him stare at the ground, grunt, and bang his head on the wall and think he didn’t even have a functioning brain.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Yeah, that’s sort of what I was trying to get at. It’s not just that we have better tools, and access to historical records, and knowledge etc. now; it’s that in the modern world (the last couple hundred years) we also have the resources (financial, and time-wise) to try to work with people to find out more info on what the parameters of the issue are, and try to assist.

                In a more hardscrabble existence, no one can afford to take the time to make a complex diagnosis, and find out all the specific details and try various remedies. They are either going to leave the person to fend for themselves, or inter them in a sanitarium.

                That field isn’t going to plow itself; the gods have cursed our family; what more is there to know?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                So something like “the boy’s off, but he’s good with the horses” or, maybe, a reference to the “village idiot” is as good as we’re going to get?

                I still think that there’d be references to flapping, or rocking, or any number of behaviors that are pretty easy to recognize/describe. There are dozens of reasons that they’d not show up… so it’s not like I even have a hypothesis or anything.

                But it does bug me that this stuff isn’t mentioned in literature.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Are you talking about medical literature? Or any literature?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                From “defeating autism, a damaging illusion”… they might have simply died. High infant mortality, ya know? And if you aren’t terribly good at communicating… (disc: I don’t know autism. if someone wants to chime in and say “they’re perfectly good at communicating sickness” please do.)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                And I will concede that it is possible that autism is a relatively “new” disorder. But I am confident it is not of the type that it was once described: Cold Mother Syndrome, where otherwise healthy, typically developing children were turned autistic by distant, cold mothers. Generously, it seemed they had the direction of causation of… Mothers likely struggled to connect with Autistic children. At worst, it showed a certain widespread contempt for women.

                So is it possible that Autism is a relatively new mutation? Absolutely. But I din’t think anything you put int a kid, be it food, love, or a needle, will “cause” Autism.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Rather imprecise, but definitely looks like autism (and epilepsy)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                *ANY* literature. Any at all. From Herodotus on up.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Heck, you asked “Well, did the Greeks discuss people with mental retardation? ADHD? Other developmental disabilities and needs?”

                I’m going through my files and looking for some of these and the earliest I’m finding in my own personal databanks is Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth (the youngest sister) and I want to say that Steinbeck may have had a story with someone who had some of those traits (how would we categorize Of Mice And Men?). I’ve no doubt that my data has holes you can drive a truck through, though… but my google-fu is finding precious little from before the 20th Century.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I think there a host of reasons that autism would not appear in hiatorical literature that do not point to human influence on the rise in incidence. I’ve offered some here but doubt I can offer a sufficient answer to satisfy your inquiry.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                My point is that “presence in ancient Greek literature” is a poor proxy for “existing.”

                The Greeks didn’t write about the Rocky Mountains. Or super novas. Or atoms. I assure you all very much existed in Grecian times.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Democritus talked about atoms, Kazzy. He forged atomic theory.

                While the Greeks don’t have any documentation of super/novas, ancient Chinese astronomers *DO*.

                As for the Rockies, that’s a hair precise. The fathers did very much know about mountains and could recognize them when they saw them.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Let’s be direct…

                What are you attempting to prove by drawing attention to ASD’s apparent absence from pre-20th century literature?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It’s been a while since I read it, but I think Foucault’s Madness and Civilization talks about a lot of these issues.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Kazzy, this started with me, pondering the potential of some sort of environmental trigger because I thought there a dearth of good descriptions of autism in earlier literature.

                Are you feeling threatened by the line if inquiry?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                What are you attempting to prove by drawing attention to ASD’s apparent absence from pre-20th century literature?

                Hurray, motive questioning.

                I was saying that I was bothered by the lack of references to autism in classical literature. My motive was to communicate that I was bothered by the lack of references to autism in classical literature.

                If you’re discussing, say, the historical Jesus, it’s a good idea to pick up Josephus. If you’re discussing the historical Arthur, it’s a good idea to pick up some Gildas. If you want to look for historical references to autism, though… there aren’t that many.

                And this absence is something that doesn’t strike me as easily explained through the existence of social stigma throughout cultures, throughout eras.

                I’m not trying to “prove” anything as much as try to figure out a testable hypothesis for why this (notable!) absence is there.

                So far I’ve come up with “social stigma was, in fact, strong enough that even the people who wrote about it didn’t tend to write stuff that survived”, “only the highest functioning ones survived and history is full of stories about people who are a little bit off”, and “it’s a modern phenomenon.”

                But, mostly, it just bugs me that there isn’t a whole lot of mention of this sort of thing, historically. You’d think there would be.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                look at the victorian research. I’d think it would be comprehensive enough to get you at least a few cases. They did so love sensationalism (and SEX), those victorians.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                I suppose I’m not particularly bothered by it. At least not sufficiently so to declare that increased incidence rates of ASD are the result of human action absent hard data to back that up. Which is a claim many folks, though not necessarily you, have made.

                My semi-educated guess is that autism is something you are born with, not something you can “get” from what you put in your body. This is not incompatible with the idea that there was less or no autism in ancient times; there also wasn’t AIDS, which I understand to be a relatively recent mutation or whathaveyou.

                I also think it is possible that a confluence of factors prevent a similarly frequently occurring form of autism from appearing in ancient literature. In a nutshell, I don’t consider its absence a particularly compelling piece of evidence, though do think it fair to b curious about it.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Actually i’d be surprised if you could find good historical references for lots of things in lit. The lit that has passed down to us is only what has survived either through luck or from being copied multiple times. What we know of writing from the ancient greeks is a skewed sample of what they were writing.

                Also different times have different preoccupations. They wrote in the paradigm they lived as we all do. If they didn’t have an idea of something like mental illness, as opposed to cursed or gifted by the gods or born under a bad sign or the mom didn’t make the correct offering, then they couldn’t write about it. It’s been a while since i read much ancient greek but they weren’t exactly Studs Terkel giving us slices of life and listening to peoples stories.

                How they understood human variation is so different from what we understand it today that its hard to even conceive of how they understood it. I don’t know, how often in ancient or old time lit did they talk about mental illness ( as a biological, enviro, and behavioral issue). Did they talk about Little People or people with Spina Bifida or developmental delays or a million other disorders we see now. There were people who became hermits throughout history, we might see some of them today as mentally ill.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                Threatened? Not at all. I very well may be wrong about the causes of autism… There is so much we don’t know. And I have no vested interest in my theory outside of liking to be right.

                I asked JB what I did because he picked up and ran with it and did it in the uniquely JB way where it is unclear if he is actually arguing his own point or simply pushing back against another point, wherein little will satisfy his foray into devil’s advocacy (a tack I take no issue with); it appears he was raising a genuine question that my theory can not fully put to bed. Which I’m okay with. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Actually i’d be surprised if you could find good historical references for lots of things in lit.

                Yeah, but I’m not looking for much more than fairly easily recognized/described symptoms.

                The Book of Daniel talks about when Nebuchadnezzar went off and ate grass like an ox for a while. This is something that has a handful of scientists talking about what was really going on. The wiki talks about “clinical lycanthropy”, “porphyria”, and “general paresis or paralytic dementia seen in advanced cases of syphilis”. So if I was talking about wanting to find potential references to porphyria in history, well… I’ve got the Book of Daniel.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                The “begat” lists linking Adam to David in the OT, and David to Jesus in the NT, just scream “compulsive listmaking due to OCD” to me. 😉

                More seriously, I think autism symptoms are varied enough, and internal enough, that you just aren’t going to find much. So for someone on the “severe” end of the spectrum, where they can’t readily socialize, they were just filed under “Not Right In The Head”.

                And if they are on the other end, high-functioning or even savant, they’d just be filed under “eccentric” (or maybe even “blessed by God”, as they can somehow remember long strings of numbers or lengthy biblical passages that most ppl cannot.)

                Like, we look at certain historical figures now, and we say “Syphilitic”, or “mercury/lead poisoning”, or “dementia”, or “Alzheimer’s” – but at the time, it was all just “Madness”, and all “likely caused by The Moon”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                And maybe that’s it.

                I remain bugged.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The Wild Boy of Aveyron?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Glyph, that’s pretty much what Foucault was arguing in Madness and Civilization: that as cultural norms, schools of thought and institutional thinking changes, what a society views as “madness” changes as well.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                as cultural norms, schools of thought and institutional thinking changes, what a society views as “madness” changes as well

                And these things do swing back and forth.

                Like a pendulum.

                (Yeah, I know. I just couldn’t resist, sorry.)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                I haven’r read it, but it seems like a good place to start…


                A review indicates he cites historical evidence like that which you seek.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

                I still think that there’d be references to flapping, or rocking, or any number of behaviors that are pretty easy to recognize/describe.

                You mean like these?Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                Good golly Patrick, of course. Can’t believe I didn’t think of that.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                The more I think about it, the more I think “demonic possession” would absolutely have fit the bill.

                “He looks at me so strangely…he shrank away and cried out like he was burned when the priest touched him!”

                Sometimes may be prone to violent emotional outbursts, yet may also (in higher-functioning or savant types) demonstrate certain talents or abilities far exceeding what would normally be expected of a child that age…yep, I’ve seen THIS before; he’s possessed all right.Report

              • Avatar Glyph says:

                You know what also kind of fits? The “changeling” trope. Don’t many autistic kids develop fairly normally at first, then regress or stop progressing fairly suddenly sometime between the ages of 1-3?

                To a superstitious and uneducated people, wouldn’t it seem like their baby had been “taken” in the night, and replaced with one that somehow was not *quite* the same (flat affect, etc.) even if there was no “large” or obvious symptom to point at?Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Changeling works well; the seemingly normal baby changed for the faery child who cares not for the human world.

                I’m less convinced when it comes to demonic possession, though it might describe angry outbursts and definitely must have been used to describe psychosis.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                My understanding is that most symptoms of autism can’t be diagnosed in very young babies.

                For instance, limited to no talking is a flag for autism (though could be a sign of other things as well). Can you identify that in a 3-month-old? Not really… 3-month-olds aren’t supposed to talk.

                Symptoms of severe autism may manifest themselves at very young ages, but I can’t really say for sure.

                The age of children I teach (4 to 5) is often when we start to seriously look at autism as a possibility. There is a lot of social growth and milestones that should be hit around that time. If not, you start to consider it. Before that, the tendency is to attribute it to immaturity or something else and to allow a bit more time. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met 3- and even 2-year-olds where I’ve thought, “This kid is probably autistic.” But in all but the most severe cases, it would be easy for a parent to write off the concerns to something far more innocuous. And as I said in my reply to Emily down below, this form of denial* is a very understandable reaction for parents to have.

                * I hesitate to even use this word because it carries some real negative connotations but I can’t think of a better word. Please know that I don’t use it with any of those negative connotations in mind.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:



                I could easily see our superstitious ancestors attributing this type of behavior to “possession”. Hell, it looks like what the movie folk portray in their goddamn exorcist flicks.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Kazzy, I thank you. That also led me to this, with more hope:


              • Avatar Twyla says:

                So why do these accounts of demonic possession mainly affect teenage girls, while autism mostly strikes toddler boys?

                Demonic possession is not the same as autism.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My stars and garters.Report

      • I’ll start with the easy question first — vaccination and immunization are essentially synonymous, and can be used interchangeably.

        As far as what causes autism, nobody knows. It is highly likely that there is a heritable aspect to it, but the exact degree has not been defined. There are all kinds of theories under investigation, but I am not aware of anything that has been particularly revelatory as of yet.

        One of the very few as-certain-as-science-can-ever-get answers we do have is that the cause is NOT vaccines. However, since I’ve dealt with that subject often enough over in my own little corner of this community, I hope you’ll forgive me if I choose not to stoke that particular fire today.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          Thanks. It seems like if such a study did exist, it might quell the anti-vaccine crowd.

          Wait… what am I saying… no it won’t. Nothing well. Zealots are zealots.

          Now let’s go hide in the bushes before they start throwing rocks.Report

          • Avatar Twyla says:

            I for one am neither “anti-vaccine” nor a “zealot” but I do believe that vaccines cause autism. I don’t believe that vaccines are the only cause of autism. Genetics and environmental toxins play a role as well. But there are multiple kinds of evidence supporting vaccines as a primary factor, such as:

            – Thousands of parental reports of regression into autism after vaccine reactions. These reports are available on the govt vaccine reporting system VAERS, in the autism omnibus hearings, in books, on the internet, and more. For example, Robert F. Kennedy jr. says that after writing an article for Rolling Stone magazine called “Deadly Immunity” he received thousands of letters and emails from all over the world and, “The astounding thing was how alike all of them were and that people from Mississippi to New Delhi shared such identical experiences. Here is the typical scenario I heard: A mother took her toddler to the doctor where he received a spate of vaccines, became ill that night, often with a fever, sometimes with seizures, then lost the language he had, developed stereotyped behavior and regressed into a looking-glass world of debilitated relationships and social isolation.”
            These cases of regressive post-vaccine autism are the most obvious, but since babies begin receiving vaccines at birth or within two months of birth, vaccines are not ruled out when there are signs of autism from the start.

            – These reports of vaccine-induced autism are consistent with an accepted association between vaccines and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and encephalopathy (diseases/injury to the brain) which is accepted by mainstream health authorities, such as in the HRSA vaccine injury table:

            – A growing body of science shows that immune system dysregulation is a major issue in autism, including inflammation of the brain, auto-immunity to the myelin basic protein coating nerve cells, family history of auto-immune disorders (perhaps a susceptibility factor) and more.
            The Immune System’s Role in the Biology of Autism

            – The cases of Hannah Poling and Bailey Banks illustrate two kinds of mechanisms whereby vaccines can cause autism:

            Mitochondrial disorder

            Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis

            The standard response to these two cases is that Hannah Poling and Bailey Banks did not have autism. Actually, they both were diagnosed with autism. In addition, Bailey Banks’ neurologist told the court that he would have diagnosed him with autism except that a cause was known – as if part of the definition of autism is that there is not a known cause. Both these children had the classic DSM-IV characteristic: impaired language and social skills, and perseverative interests.

            The other standard response is that Hannah already had mitochondrial disorder and would have become autistic even without the vaccines. But she did not show signs of mitochondrial disorder before the day when she received 9 vaccines at once. Several of those vaccines contained mercury in the preservative thimerosal. Mercury can cause mitochondrial disorders.Report

        • Avatar Twyla says:

          Haha, pretty funny, Russell Saunders “Nobody knows what causes autism except we know for sure that vaccines don’t cause autism.” The old ABV theory – Anything But Vaccines. How is it that we know so little about autism, it is such a mystery, except when it comes to a vaccine-autism link?

          And our govt has never even done a comparison of autism rates among vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

          There is a genetic susceptibility to autism, and I suppose it’s possible that there are some purely genetic cases of autism, but genes don’t change fast enough in a 25-year period to explain the increase we have seen in autism.Report

  8. Avatar Citizen says:

    I seriously doubt we have seen the end of polio or small pox. In the halls of time we have only fortified our positions for a blink. What happens to the “saved” when the fortifications are breached?Report

    • What happens to the “saved” when the fortifications are breached?

      I have no idea what you mean by this. And given that there have been no cases of smallpox in over 30 years, I’m curious where you think a recurrence would come from.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Then we die of whatever monstersanto has made, or whatever “jew virus” pick-your-arab has engineered.
      We will, in all odds, die of global warming far before we die of smallpox.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      As the good doc has noted Smallpox has been exterminated in the general population for over 30 years. Note, also, that smallpox is a human only disease. That means there are not any animal or non-human vectors it could be hiding out in.
      Note also that since it is effectively extinct that means that any samples of smallpox that still exist is not able to evolve to bypass the current vaccine weapons against it. Smallpox does still exist in the CDC and some other stashes held by Russia and the US. It also theoretically exists in some isolated human samples (wiki mentioned finding a cache of old smallpox sores in an old medical journal) but even if it somehow got loose, barring global cataclysm, the weapons by which it was destroyed would promptly be deployed to bomb it back out of existence.

      As far as I can see it would take an act of phenomenal human malevolence to resurrect smallpox as a global scourge (that said I dare say it’d be a good idea to destroy the remaining samples).Report

  9. Avatar Citizen says:

    If we are lucky it will be occasionally restarted from a 50 year old library book.

    If unlucky it will have been evolving for 30 years in a population that presents only a slight fever and no typical symptoms.Report

    • You think the smallpox virus is hardy enough to survive for decades on an inanimate object?

      And you think that there is some otherwise undetectable version thereof that will suddenly erupt forth in a full-fledged return to its most devastating effects?

      Your grasp of virology is… strained.Report

      • Avatar Citizen says:

        Pox viruses don’t survive on inanimate objects? In a stable, dry, climate controlled environment not exposed to sunlight? Variola is known to remain infectious for months under such conditions. I haven’t seen a study that disproves it would last for decades, have you? Anyway that one would probably not spread as it hasn’t had time to evolve.

        The second type would hold the most danger. It’s not that it would be undetectable, just most “we got it whipped” folks wouldn’t think to look for it.
        Assuming the population in consideration met the virus in waves, the first round of infection would have the highest death toll. Each wave after would have a lower death toll. Over time as the virus became less… well hell, your a doc you know all this stuff.

        Any contact with the population from the outside would be vaccinated, so the only time the virus could jump is when it has evolved to work outside the parameters of the vaccine. Yes, beyond its previous full-fledge devastating effects.

        To consider this in cavalier fashion is in my opinion… irrationalReport

  10. Avatar Ellen Mary says:

    Wanna know why folks don’t vax? Because you are MARRIED to a DOCTOR and you don’t understand that there ARE undisputable reports of serious and debilitating adverse reactions. Did you read the package insert for any of your vaxes? Do you know which ones or which BRANDS your child recieved? Did you check the Hot Lots list? Have you reviewed the list of no fault compensated reactions for each formula you chose?

    The idea that the only proven reaction to vaccines is mild fussiness and refusal to take the breast is just straight up wrong. I suggest you have your marriage partner consult a great site called ‘pubmed.gov’. They will find a lot of position statements affiring that vaccines are great and safe and effective, but they will also find ACTUAL MEDICAL EVIDENCE of serious and debilitating adverse reactions. Incidentally, if you consult the historical record, that actual evidence dates back at least 100 years.

    Autism is the ultimate straw man argument. Vauge, subjectively diagnosed, a true link is all but unproveable. But the idea that if they don’t ’cause autism’ vaccines are ‘completely safe & effective’ is a basic elementary school fallacy. They can and do cause serious adverse reactions & the whole ‘I understand, my baby was sooooo fussy’ coming from someone in a position to know better is off the wall patronizing and sad.Report

  11. Avatar Rachel says:

    I wouldn’t normally comment, but I would like to point something out. There seems to be a misconception that those of us who do not vaccinate are not educated and working off of fear factor. That is simply not true. I generally know more about the contents of the vaccine than the doctors that attend my children. No, not from some crazy internet source, but directly from the manufacturer (many of them have it posted online). Additionally, I stay abreast of the current medical journal articles that are available to the public, both for and against vaccines. I also have researched historical data, the disease itself, and “success” rates. For them all I either have a religious objection or other objection to them. I have a bachelor and two masters degrees (and a small child on my lap so forgive my typing) and did not make this decision lightly. I constantly come across opposition. This opposition would not bother me so bad if I could actually have an intelligent conversation with the person, but generally the people who oppose me have put little or no thought into it much less research.

    Additionally, I do not in any way trust those who say the vaccination is “safe”. First, I’ve had to point out to health care providers where they are wrong regarding simple facts of the vaccine. Second, there’s a long history of doctors doing what they think is right and harming people. This is not to knock on doctors as there are some stellar ones out there, but they are not gods. They can not know everything. It is up to me as a parent to educate myself. Think of how recently they recommended formula over breastmilk and separating infants from their mother in the first few days of life so everyone could get some rest! There was recently a study saying that vit c could make chemotherapy ineffective. The media is running with it. This completely disregards all the previous studies that say otherwise, and the massive flaws that the study itself had. Look who sponsored it. A chemotherapy manufacturer. Unfortunately this is often true of vaccination studies as well. I have also met friends online and in real life where the child has severe reactions or even died within 24 hours of a vaccine and it was NOT reported as an adverse reaction to a vaccine. They said they could not say that for sure so they wouldn’t report it even though the child had seemed perfectly healthy at that appointment. Not to say it’s a fear thing, but that the reporting system for adverse reactions to vaccines seems to be lacking.

    The bottom line is that I have chosen this, and I do live in fear of “brute force of government,”. There are already two states that do not allow a religious exemption for your children to attend school. Your personally held religious beliefs mean nothing already there. Many are pushing to be rid of the philosophical exemptions in other states. Thankfully, I homeschool (which is an entirely different subject).

    Yes, there may be people who do not vaccinate out of fear or misunderstanding, but for the most part those of us who chose not to vaccinate have made the decision out of research and prayer.

    I think you might enjoy this article on herd immunity. I regret to say I have not been able to read it in its entirety (with three small children you can probably guess why) but what I did read was interesting. http://www.vaccinationcouncil.org/2012/07/05/herd-immunity-the-flawed-science-and-failures-of-mass-vaccination-suzanne-humphries-md-3/Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Ma’am, do you get a flu shot? Every year?Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      This would be much more believable if you were willing to give any specifics about, well, anything. You have two advanced degrees, but won’t identify them. You stay abreast of the journals, but won’t way which ones. You know all about the contents of vaccines, but don’t identify what they are or why they’re objectionable. We hear about “a study” about vitamin c, funded by “a chemotherapy manufacturer,” as well as “two states” that don’t allow a religious exception to public school. Which ones? If you don’t give people the ability to fact-check you by withholding all of the supporting detail from what you have to say, discerning readers will (correctly) assume that you’re full of it.Report

      • Avatar Rachel says:

        My intent was not to sway people toward my side, my intent was to get people to think. I unfortunately do not have time for that these days.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Your lack of thought shows.
          (e.g.: improper antecendent).Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko says:

          If you want people to think seriously about what you have to say, then don’t write in a way that’s the online equivalent of a giant flashing neon sign saying “I AM A CRANK WHO IS PROBABLY TRYING TO SELL YOU SOMETHING”Report

      • Avatar Emily says:

        You know, it’s funny that I was thinking the same thing about wanting this proof that I keep hearing about that vaccines are safe and don’t cause Autism. No one else has provided that proof here. Oh well.

        Autism is an epidemic in this country. Epidemics are not genetic. 1 in 88 children are Autistic. 1 in 54 boys. In New Jersey alone it is 1 in 29. Back in the 80’s it was 1 in 10,000. The only thing that has changed in correlation with this rise is the number of childhood vaccines on the recommended schedule. Some of this is about common sense. You can’t deny the kids who were perfectly fine and then reduced to a vegetative state a week or less after vaccines.

        The two states that don’t allow religious exemptions are West Virginia and Mississippi.

        Here is the CDC list of vaccine ingredients. Note the formaldehyde, formalin, MRC-5, **Aluminum** ( a known very dangerous neurotoxin), Polysorbate 80, and so on and so on. I think you can do your own research on these toxins : http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-2.pdf

        You people don’t provide proof, but I’ll be more than happy to provide just a PORTION of what I have.

        The Journal of Pediatrics November 1999; 135(5):559-63
        The Journal of Pediatrics 2000; 138(3): 366-372
        Journal of Clinical Immunology November 2003; 23(6): 504-517
        Journal of Neuroimmunology 2005
        Brain, Behavior and Immunity 1993; 7: 97-103
        Pediatric Neurology 2003; 28(4): 1-3
        Neuropsychobiology 2005; 51:77-85
        The Journal of Pediatrics May 2005;146(5):605-10
        Autism Insights 2009; 1: 1-11
        Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology February 2009; 23(2): 95-98
        Annals of Clinical Psychiatry 2009:21(3): 148-161
        Journal of Child Neurology June 29, 2009; 000:1-6
        Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders March 2009;39(3):405-13
        Medical Hypotheses August 1998;51:133-144.
        Journal of Child Neurology July 2000; ;15(7):429-35
        Lancet. 1972;2:883–884.
        Journal of Autism and Childhood Schizophrenia January-March 1971;1:48-62
        Journal of Pediatrics March 2001;138:366-372.
        Molecular Psychiatry 2002;7:375-382.
        American Journal of Gastroenterolgy April 2004;598-605.
        Journal of Clinical Immunology November 2003;23:504-517.
        Neuroimmunology April 2006;173(1-2):126-34.
        Prog. Neuropsychopharmacol Biol. Psychiatry December 30 2006;30:1472-1477.
        Clinical Infectious Diseases September 1 2002;35(Suppl 1):S6-S16
        Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2004;70(11):6459-6465
        Journal of Medical Microbiology October 2005;54:987-991
        Archivos venezolanos de puericultura y pediatría 2006; Vol 69 (1): 19-25.
        Gastroenterology. 2005:128 (Suppl 2);Abstract-303
        The Real Dangers of Indemnifying Vaccine Manufacturers Against Lawsuits

        • Avatar Rachel says:

          Thanks for providing thatReport

        • Avatar Kim says:

          “the only thing”… umm… bullshit. between the 1980’s and now, the amount of time a child spends indoors (or under parental supervision, for that matter), has grown dramatically.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Some, likely a large part, of the rise in diagnosis of Autism is due to much greater awareness and recognition of the problem. In the last 20 years people have learned how to recognize what Autism is so they see and diagnose it now when they would have missed it, or called it developmentally delayed or some other mental illness. Its impossible to look at the rise in diagnosis without coping with this. Diagnosing mental illness is difficult and inter rater reliability is not as high as we would like.Report

          • Avatar Emily says:

            Wow, so ALL these autistic kids and adults are just now coming out of the woodwork because of better diagnosing?? Yeah, right. Diagnosing has gotten better, with no doubt. BUT, thousands of these people weren’t always just walking around undiagnosed and suddenly diagnosed. Is no one else bothered by the CDC statistics from 2008 showing 1 in 88 kids have AUTISM? Oh, but there’s nothing to do about it because it’s genetic, right? Keep believing that.

            Autism never was and never has been a mental illness.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy says:


              There are broader issues at play that point to an increase in diagnosis but not an increase in incidence. I’d retype it here but I’m on the iPad. If you scroll up, you’ll find it.

              And for the record, I am a teacher of young children who has worked with autistic children, often before a formal observation and can day that there are many reasons a child who certainly is autistic may not appear as such until an older age. But I have no vested interest in vaccination outside of doing what is best for children.Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              Autism is listed in the DSM 4 which is where we list mental illness. Why wouldn’t it be a mental illness? Yes better diagnosing his led to sharp rises in numbers of other MI’s also. Sadly some of that , like with ADHD, is over diagnosis based on trendiness and media panics. Like said people with Autism were likely given other diagnoses. People with something like PDD or Aspergers may have just been thought of as weird or slow or eccentric (if they had enough money) or committed crimes so they ended up in jail ( if they were poor). In the mental health community these ideas are not controversial at all and generally accepted as true. Increased awareness leads to a rise in diagnosis.Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              1 in 100 kids are born without a functioning brain, without folic acid…Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:

          “You can’t deny the kids who were perfectly fine and then reduced to a vegetative state a week or less after vaccines.”

          Cite please.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          So, I clicked on one of your studies at random. It’s from an opthamologist, and is about Aluminum toxicity. Doesn’t something seem odd here?

          Second link: same people.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:


          If I look up those citations you list, here, and contact the authors, and ask them point blank if they believe vaccinations are dangerous based upon the entire body of epidemiology research, and they say “no”, will you take that citation off of your list?

          Because I highly suspect, like in the AGW debate, that a good number of people who have performed the research studies you are listing here would say that you are misunderstanding the impact of their results.Report

      • Avatar Rachel says:

        And without looking up current laws I believe it’s Mississippi, West Virginia, and California. Though California flip flops on their laws sometimes so I didn’t include them (see homeschool laws in particular).Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      I generally know more about the contents of the vaccine than the doctors that attend my children.

      I would hazard a guess that you may (may) know the actual ingredients list better than one particular doctor, but that your biochemical knowledge of those compounds (why they are included on the ingredients list, what their possible interactions are, and the likelihood of that causing a side effect) is decidedly less.


      • Avatar Rachel says:

        That’s true. But I have actually had a doctor tell me “I don’t know much about vaccines” I had another argue with me about the ingredients until I told him I had personally looked them up less than a week prior. I have issue with someone saying something is safe when they don’t know what’s in it. My current pediatrician for my children sat down with me and we discussed why I didn’t vaccinate. She was perfectly ok with that. I am always open to new information, but thus far have not found anything to persuade me to change my stance.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          My advice would be to read research about measles, rubella, and polio in countries that don’t have vaccination programs, due to endemic poverty. Read about case studies, that is, and what the possible outcomes are.

          Like, say, this one.

          Measles and pertussis, in particular… people don’t seem to think much of either of those diseases here in the U.S., because we have relatively well-established medical facilities that can handle things like secondary infections. Unless there’s been a recent change, nobody has died from the measles in the U.S. since 2007, IIRC.

          It is, however, very dangerous and can cause permanent paralysis and brain damage. There is no specific treatment for the measles: once you get it, you’re basically on fluids and hoping for the best. Antibiotics are not going to help you. Antivirals are probably not going to help much either. The disease runs its course and you take what you get, as an outcome.

          From the standpoint of public health, it’s an abysmally bad trade off even if you don’t die, and you don’t get any major side effects, particularly if you’re young… because it’s expensive. You are talking about possibly tens of thousands of dollars in hospital costs to provide palliative care for someone that has almost zero chance of getting the disease if they take a $20 shot.

          From a risk analysis standpoint, that’s pretty absurd. This is like turning down a $20 home security system with a whole-home fire extinguisher system when you live in a high crime neighborhood prone to wildfires because someone is telling you that the EMF from the security system might give you brain cancer. In fifty years. Although there’s no actual evidence to support a higher incidence of brain cancer from wireless RF transmissions in that portion of the spectrum.

          The number of cases themselves are on the rise, very likely due to under-vaccination in particular geographic regions. Here in California, for example, there are communities with a large number of people refusing to vaccinate. Measles is highly contagious, and very common in Afghanistan, where we have a fairly large number of troops who routinely cycle home.Report

          • Patrick, my good friend, I have tried so hard to explain to people who refuse vaccines for their children why their decisions are catastrophically flawed. And it always ends up a waste of my time.

            The people who refuse to vaccinate their children do so from inside the cosseted reality of a society where most people are vaccinated, insulated from the ghastly ramifications of their utterly selfish decisions. So long as the buffer exists between them and the reality of the diseases they stupidly leave their children susceptible to, their assurance that their decisions are sound will persist.

            Heaven help the first American child whose frantic parents bring her into the emergency department with diphtheria. It’s only a matter of time, really, and that poor child is done for.Report

  12. Avatar alaska says:

    The ingredients in vaccines alone should be enough to frighten you.Report

  13. Avatar Ellen Mary says:

    Those that are saying that we haven’t seen the last of Polio: what do you think about VAPV? IE Vaccine Acquired Polio Virus? From the Oral Vaccine? Look it up, I suspect it will be news to the author. That can and does spread to others in the community? The Oral Vax is given everywhere but the US and has ALWAYS been documented to be capable of causing paralytic polio in recipients and their contacts . . . I have heard this fun logic around this problem: it only spreads in communities that are undervaccinated. So if you had already been vaccinated for Polio you wouldn’t have gotten (paralyzing) Polio from our Oral Vaccine . . .Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      In children, paralysis due to polio occurs in 1/1000 cases, while in adults, paralysis occurs in 1/75 cases. (quoting from wiki)
      So, the polio vaccine is JUST ABOUT as dangerous as GENERAL ANESTHESIA???


  14. Avatar alaska says:

    Monkey kidney tissue… formaldehyde …. aborted fetus tissue… mercury…Report

  15. Avatar Emily says:

    I invite any of you to come to my house and help me deal with my neurologically damaged (autism, SPD, ADHD, learning disabilities, etc, etc, etc) son and my Apraxic daughter on a daily basis. I would love for each and every one of you to see how they were BEFORE vaccines and AFTER. I’ll tell you what, I love my kids, but it’s a hard life to live for all of us involved.

    Hug your normally developing children tight and thank your lucky stars. I will hug mine and hope that we have a better day than what we’ve been having so far with the many meltdowns and non verbal chatter. Holidays are always worse for us when our routine is thrown off….but you guys wouldn’t know about having to keep routines to keep peace in your house.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      … just a question, but why bother with the holidays, then?
      Holidays are supposed to be fun times, sure… but if they aren’t making anyone happy…Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:


      I won’t pretend to know enough about your situation. But as a teacher of 4- and 5-year-olds, the ages where many of the aforementioned conditions are diagnosed, I will say this…

      Parents are often in deep denial about the needs of their children, and understandably so. There is nothing fun about learning your child has ASD or ADHD or anything of that sort. And in the less severe cases, the conditions don’t impact young children in such a way as to make their presence obvious. It is hard to note Aspergers with confidence in a 3-year-old because the social skills of children that age are so raw. But that same child at 5 or 6, still demonstrating the same struggles, might now receive a diagnosis. Did something change in their physiology between 3 and 5? Not likely. But vaccines or school or other things that tend to happen in that age range provide a convenient excuse for parents who shift from being in denial to looking for someone to blame. Which, again, are wholly understandable reactions to have.

      And, ftr, I have a parent at school who did not vaccinate her kids because of autism fears. The eldest is almost assuredly on the spectrum. She insists he isn’t and has pointed to a host of other conditions, none of which have been borne out by independent evaluations. She now insists it is gluten… Or nitrates in deli meat… Or the drinking water… Or my pace of speech. Seriously.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      I suppose this sounds harsh, but I simply don’t believe that your children’s disabilities were caused by a vaccine, and I’m not going to roll over and let your sob story justify a bunch of conspiracy theorizing that has very real and very damaging effects.Report

      • Avatar Twyla says:

        Don Zeko, you don’t know anything about her Emily’s children and are not even entitled to have an opinion.Report

        • Avatar Twyla says:

          To clarify – you’re as entitled to general opinions as anyone, Don Zeko, just not to opinions on Emily’s children’s health/neuro conditions. I assume you have never met them nor reviewed their medical records, so I don’t know why you presume to know anything about them.Report

          • Avatar Don Zeko says:

            If I got on this board and started talking about how I got a bad case of syphilis from drinking bottled water, would you feel confident in telling me that I was full of it without seeing my medical records or meeting me? The autism/vaccine link has been studied endlessly and thoroughly debunked. I don’t believe that vaccines gave Emily’s children autism because I don’t think vaccines gave anybody’s children Autism.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:


      Sure it wasn’t strep throat?
      Note to paranoid parents: if you don’t know it, it’s probably OCD.

      (seriously, the only reason I know about this, at ALL is because I knew a licensed psychologist whose son had this happen to him).Report

      • Avatar Twyla says:

        But why does strep throat trigger OCD? This is more common now than in the past. Why? Because our immune systems are overly stimulated by too many vaccines.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      I suppose that was just a matter of time…Report

  16. Breathe, Russell. Breathe. Stay strong, stay sane. Remind yourself that you’re super-busy today, that you’ve already said your piece (many, many times), that you don’t have time to get into yet another argument about vaccines, that Will started this round and it’s not your fault! Take a slow deep breath and stop reading this comment thread.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Virtual {{{hugs}}}.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Exit the doctor,
      Today’s Doc Saunders,
      He gives up on you,
      The conspiracies you trade,
      He gets right on to the vaccines of the day.Report

      • Heh.

        You’re right, you know. I can comfort myself that, rather than engaging once again with a troupe of nutters who I’ll never convince anyway, I’m actually vaccinating people. Which, obviously, is a much better way of spending the time.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        wait until they find out rush causes chronic lyme disease. but only when you’re circumcised.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          /actually had a lyme infection last spring; it was not fun. For about six months, I felt like crap; and that long feeling-like-crap is what chronic lyme disease is, or so my doctor told me.

          I’m frequently a host to ticks after walks in the woods; I believe it more dangerous to cower in fear of ticks then to get outside and encounter ticks. But this tick bite was not like all the hundreds of others I’ve had; lymph nodes swelled hard, like mumps, only in the back of my neck, I hurt all over. It was very, very painful. Antibiotics took the horrid symptoms away, but it took a good six months to get rid of a general unwell ache.Report

  17. Avatar Joe Mruk says:

    I see Big Pharma is very well represented in the comments section. And as usual, feeding the sheep their B.S. Try some real info..

    • Avatar Kim says:

      You expected any different?
      A ceo is not paid to make children healthy. he is paid to make money.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      It’s true! Everyone who disagrees with you is being bought off by the evil pharmaceutical industry. There is no need whatsoever to search your own thought process for bias or prejudice.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      damn…where is my check from Big Pharma…i’ve been waiting for it for …well my entire life.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Here’s my problem with conspiracy theories: they assume a level of competence that JUST AIN’T THERE.

      It wasn’t until… what? Semmelweis? Lister? It was decades after they got their theories out there that they were adopted en masse… let’s say 1900. It wasn’t until, let’s say, 1900 that medical science finally overcame that iatrogenic thing that it had going on and started helping more than it hurt.

      So in the space of 100 years, we will have gone from “it’s okay to wear the coat you wore in the autopsy room to the gyno ward without changing it” to “we know enough about most diseases to cure them entirely… but there’s more money to be made in five-times-a-day pill regimens”?

      Hardly. It’d be easier for me to suspect that we’re still trying to overcome the flotsam and jetsam of the humors, phrenology, alchemy, and homeopathy that stick to science like so many burs after walking through a field of ragweed.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:


      I point you to this old post.Report

  18. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    In an age where we can choose our own facts by choosing our own sources…

    No. You can find opinions to match your own prejudices. In particular, you can find differing statistical interpretations of assorted data. Those opinions and interpretations don’t change the facts. As you say, “On the one hand, vaccination presents a low likelihood of catastrophic consequence. On the other hand, refusing to vaccinate presents… a low likelihood of catastrophic consequence.” Driving with your child not properly restrained presents a low likelihood of catastrophic consequence — but in this case, “low” is much higher than it is for vaccination. There are people who refuse to expose their children to the risk of vaccination, but will expose them to the greater risk by not restraining them in the car.

    One of the scariest things happening in medical research today is cherry-picking of data for publication. Large pharmaceutical companies like Amgen and Bayer now find that they can only replicate results for a small fraction of the published studies they consider. Probabilities that are being published as “facts” simply aren’t so.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

      That doesn’t necessarily have to be a result of cherry picking or malfeasance. One of the basic problems with testing for statistical significance is that there’s still some probability that your results were random luck. In a world with zillions of researchers all running perfectly valid tests, there will be a lot of false positives. Worse, in a world where those researchers don’t usually publish boring negative results, you have a natural filter that should cause a large proportion of what gets published to be blind luck rather than a real phenomenon.

      In a sense, the research is “cherry picked” but not at the dataset level. Studies are “cherry picked” for interesting results that passed a statistical test at the journal level. Everybody can be acting reasonably and the data can all be above board, but any system that is designed to bubble interesting stuff to the top is going to have this problem. The proportion of real results to random chance results in the final population would likely be a function of how many “real” interesting phenomena are actually out there to be found and what the odds are of finding them, because the system will receive noise at a fairly constant rate.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        but once a phenom is flagged as “interesting” (or worse “believed”) — the counter-argument “that’s just nonsense” becomes interesting phenomena as well.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          Sure, that’s true, but if you’re a researcher trying to find something that is likely to produce results, do you go with something new and untested or try to invalidate something in the literature that appears to have statistical significance on its side? Money and time are both very valuable, so do you really want to use them going against something with a low p value?

          Retesting and confirming results is a valuable thing to do, but there’s no way you’ll get enough people doing it to fully counteract the hordes of researchers constantly producing new results.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            You assume that most research doesn’t go out to test 30 things at once. Also, that researchers don’t test using different methodologies to cross-validate.

            The research result “pupils dilate when you’re thinking/feeling more” has been tested for decades. Now, take a look at that lovely piece of research methodology. I’m certain you can think of half a hundred different tests.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          That’s exactly the one I was thinking of. Multiply that problem my thousands of research teams all acting in good faith according to good protocols and you have a lot of potential false positives.

          If I could convince enough people that tossing coins and writing down the results was a good career, I’m pretty sure I could publish a quarterly journal of Interesting and Statistically Significant Coin Toss Outcomes without asking anybody to fudge any data.Report

  19. Avatar Don Zeko says:

    Twas once a doc for the sick kids
    heard ‘ccines aint made with katydids
    not even disturbing
    but really quite boring
    how soon will the cranks shut their lids?Report

  20. Avatar edna k says:

    People who choose to not vaccinate do so for many different reasons. If a child receives every recommended vaccine from birth to age 18 years, they will have been injected with a MINIMUM of 64 vaccines. The vaccine excipient list can be found here. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-2.pdfReport

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      People who choose to not vaccinate do so for many different reasons.

      Some are stupid.

      Some are dumb.

      Some are addle-brained.

      Some are paranoid conspiracy theorists.

      Yep, lots of different reasons.Report

  21. Avatar Bronwyn says:

    Do all vaccines have the same risk to benefit analysis?Report

    • Avatar Joe Mruk says:

      Only if the research being done is by Big Pharma.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Do all vaccines have the same risk to benefit analysis?

      I’d imagine that they don’t, but that’s the issue here, it seems to me, insofar as there is one. If taking a vaccine increases the likelihood of X above a risk level which would be justified by preventing Y, then taking the vaccine is riskier than not taking it.

      This is similar but not identical to another argument: that any risk from taking a vaccine is unjustified, and vaccines increase the risk of autism. This argument says that any risk incurred from taking the vaccine warrants not taking it, rather than that the risk to benefit ratio justifies doing so. The latter claim about vaccines causing autism is what’s being disputed, of course, but even if it were true, your initial question makes some sense.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        Right now, the risk to you from taking the smallpox vaccine is more than the risk from smallpox, because the disease is basically eradicated in the wild and it is actually one of the few vaccines with a demonstrated reliable fatality rate (albeit, a very very small one).

        If you have certain contraindications, you shouldn’t take some (or all) vaccines. Immune system compromised, for example. Some people with egg allergies shouldn’t take some vaccinations. Early stage pregnancy is a reason to delay certain vaccinations as well, if I recall correctly.

        But otherwise, no. Not really. Most of the reports in VAERS are reports of people having some sort of medical issue after recently receiving an immunization, but the vast majority of VAERS reports lack a causal mechanism. In fact, if you read the CDC recommendations, they’re extremely conservative… they will recommend withholding vaccinations on the basis of VAERS reporting for certain illnesses and vaccinations, even when they note that there is likely no causal link.Report

  22. Avatar wardsmith says:

    We can always look to those geniuses in Boulder for the future of parental refusal to immunize children. They’ll likely bring back polio over time there in South Park land.Report

  23. Avatar Applegirl138 says:

    I think that if you or someone you love suffers from an adverse side effect- you would be singing a different tune!!?? Yes?Report

  24. Avatar Ellen Mary says:

    Do you mean paralyzed by Wild Polio or by Vaccine Derived Polio Virus from Oral Polio Vaccines.

    Mandates retarded innovation & product improvement. Love it how parents attack other parents instead of lobbying Pharma for safer products. Pharma says thx!Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      If comments like this were finite, then this post would be doing a valuable service simply by draining the anti-vaccine fever swamp.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

      Well, let’s see here. There’s vaccine derived polio at 650 cases out of about 10 billion doses over 10 years. So you’re what, 4 times more likely to match 5 out of 5 in the California lottery?

      And then there’s the 3.5 million cases of polio that those vaccines likely prevented.

      Too close to judge between the two, I know.Report

  25. Avatar Brock says:

    Modern science has become a Church, with the highly irrational ritual of vaccination becoming the indoctrinating sacrament. It is a form of branding, a declaration of bodily ownership by the powers that be, and without which the control of the body (and soul that resides within) would be impossible. When scientific evidence fails — and the strength of scientism alone can not convert the masses — they will stoop to any level necessary to inject their highly immoral objectives (whether strictly profit-motivated, or worse) into mass consciousness.

    One no longer has to look to religion for the absolutist claim to truth. Medical science has laid claim to the body in the same way that religions once laid claim to the soul. The physician today — albeit a glorified “applied pharmacologist” — has become the “priest of the body,” capable of influencing the course of life or death by the quality, or combinations, of nostrums (s)he is able to apply to the problem (i.e. patient) at hand.

    Just as monotheism depends on there being “one God,” modern medical science depends on the “evidence-based” concept that there is One Truth, and One Right Way to apply it. This, by implication, gives absolute power to those who would claim to know the difference. There is also a sacrificial logic at play here… Who, after all, would allow the injection of aborted fetal cells (diploid), detergents, biocides, heavy and lighter neurotoxic metals, DNA from a wide range of known and known species, etc. into their children, if the sacrificial logos did not have a stranglehold on their reason? I believe the origin of the problem goes back to the actual etymology of the word pharmaceutical. While vaccines are not classified as pharmaceuticals, they share common intentions/manufacturers/roots.Report

    • I think this may be my all-time favorite nutty anti-vaccine post. It’s really a masterpiece of the form. The combination of majestic bombast, prose so purple you could use it to make jelly, a litany of the usual purportedly harmful subjects and a truly applause-worthy misunderstanding of how science works puts it into a category of its own.

      Bravo, Brock. In you the craziness of teh Internets has found its apotheosis.Report

      • Avatar Brock says:


        It sounded like the OP’s conscience was violated then was trumped because her spouse is a doctor.

        “…stranglehold on their reason…”Report

  26. Avatar greginak says:

    “prose so purple you could use it to make jelly”…this is funny.

    I would hope the jelly would be made of multiple species DNA and nuerotoxins and elf blood and mutated mitichlorians also.Report

  27. Avatar therese says:

    “Brute force of government” …. what is that about? Where is the idea of choice, particularly with regards to such a personal arena as one’s own body? In practically all the western european countries, the opinions of vaccinated and non-vaccinated are part of the discussion. In this country, not to vaccinate is NEVER outlined in mainstream media, except as a put-down. Is this how we want our country to proceed – “brute force”? Herd mentality?Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko says:

      Worrying that jackbooted thugs will vaccinate your children? This is what we call a ‘First World Problem.’Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Perhaps the anti-vax movement should find a blond telegenic spokesmodel who is comfortable with her own nudity to try to get some MSM coverage. Because i’m sure the MSM has never ever aired the views of the anti vax side.Report

  28. Avatar Jess says:

    Dear pro-vaxers CDC, FDA, Pharmacutical Companies ect. I wonder if this Gardasil vaccine is going to unravel for the general public what vaccine injured famlies already know…….The pharmacutical companies who make vaccines and the CDC and FDA who approve and recommend them are not to be trusted period. Motive. Money. I was a full believer in vaccines and my children (all 4) were all fully vaccinated….until about 4 months ago………when my daughter had not one…..not two…..but three drug reactions from Gardasil. I kept trusting the doctors again and again when they told me that Gardasil was not the cause of her blistering rash and hives until about 3 weeks after the third shot when her immune system started attacking her, wheals on her hands and feet, hives worse then ever, angioedema, joint pain, head aches, nausea, vomiting…..her immune system was going crazy! As I nurse…..I knew after that third shot that the vaccine was causing this….obviously OBVIOUSLY! vaccine 3 weeks blistering rash / vaccine 3 weeks hives that dont go away/ vaccine 3 weeks worsening hives, joint pain, wheals, angioedema, nausea, vomiting, headaches…..come on! Yes I have an expert witness and Yes were going to vaccine court. It is what it is. This has happened and there is nothing that helps her condition…..NOTHING so far. She just suffers period. I had no idea what the heck vaccine court even was. Why do you call someone like me “anti-vax” I am a nurse and a mother of 4 and I have 2 step children one of which is autistic. I had every faith in my goverment and my doctors. But what do you expect me to do? Ignore that the rhumatologist leaned forward in his chair….looked me right in the eye and said “were still going to ask people to get this vaccine” 3 immunologist saying there was no way I was ever going to “convince” a doctor that this was a vaccine injury…???? why? It was, it is period. You cant make something into nothing just because you dont want to believe it. Molecular Mimicry is well documented. it is what it is. Its really the denial of “the vaccine injury” and the emotional abuse that is suffered by the patient and family that caused me to search deeper and find out just what the heck was going on here? That pushes mothers over the edge. Ok…..so you have this vaccine that is brand new on the market…I dont know it is fast tracked …..but you do. I dont know it is gaining a name for itself as a very controversial vaccine because many many girls and now boys have been hurt …but my daughters provider….she knew. And she chose not to believe it was possible, that all these girls were just making it up. Well the public is finding out all kinds of things about Gardasil and Parents are scared of that vaccine and for good reason. I have a best friend dying as we speak of cervical cancer. I have taken care of 2 others one elderly one 30+ with children who died of cervical cancer and it is an aweful cancer that I obviously did not want my daughter to get. Then to find out that the vaccine only lasts 5 yrs? And they want my boys to get it and it only lasts 2.5 yrs in boys? that is no where on the CDC hand out why? When you start “tricking” mothers / fathers by hiding information and denying that it is causing injury causing more children to be hurt needlessly the parents start to really question the ENTIRE vaccination schedule. I have pulled them appart one by one and you know, I did it this year. I did not vaccinate my youngest. You tell me not be afraid that the vaccine would hurt him but yet you lied to me and said it wouldnt hurt my daughter and it did. then it did again and then it did again. You tell me to trust my doctor but then when my daughter gets hurt you tell me its my fault because I should have stopped the continued vaccination. You continue to deny it did? what do you expect me to do? sacrifice my child to you? If you are appropriate and honest with the public about vaccines ………… EVEN when they cause injuy people trust. When you cover up……deny deny, belittle and abuse the injured you recieve a very angry parent who will never again trust the vaccines, the people who make them, the people who give them, or the people who recommend them. So my advise to you when dealing with us “anti vax” moms is to set up some sort of protocal when there is a vaccine injury where the concern is taken seriously and we dont just haphazardly keep vaccinating this kid with a drug that her immune system cant handle. Please dont tell me Paul Offit is on here saying that an individual can get 10,000vaccines no problem. Thats the dumbest statement he could have ever made. If the people in goverment or in pharmacutical companies for that matter feel it is vital to our world that as many people as possible get their vaccines I suggest they start being more honest and transparent about vaccine limitations. Because just like every other drug vaccines have limitations. Vaccines are not magic. The body works upon the drug and during that process all kinds of things can go wrong just like in any other medical proceedure or any other drug including tylenol for goodnesake. If trust is what you want from me then give me a reason to trust you.Report

  29. Avatar Twyla says:

    Will Truman and others –
    Please see the movie The Greater Good, available here:

    Again, this is not a matter of all or nothing, for or against. There are serious reasons for concern about our current program, based on science and medicine and good evidence.Report

  30. Avatar Jess says:

    Kim, I am just wondering if you were replying to my comment? vaccines can cause/contribute to “egg allergies?” there is no egg in Gardasil. Do you realize this?Report

  31. Avatar Jess says:

    Do any of you realize that many many young people injured by Gardasil have NO allergic reaction? That is to say they have no imediate allergic reaction. A hypersensitivity reaction includes type 1 allergy and type 2-4 which include molecular mimicry and autoimmune disorders. That takes time…….weeks……In fact the allerginest at Boston Children’s Hospital stated to me after the 3erd phone call (him calling to check on my daughter) and saying this could not be connected because it would be such a “rare” occurance……”I am an allerginest…..she doesnt have an allergy” I said “Then…. who…. can… help… her…. and ….. what…. does…she….have….for the 3erd TIME?! And he said….”you need a rhumatologist” I actually laughed. “already been there he sent me to you!” None of them want to own it. why? Everyone is protecting themselves, everyone points to everyone else and no one is taking responsiblity for this child….accept for me, her mother. That is why I tell all my friends and family that they better be careful when it comes to vaccines. Dont trust your provider…..(provider said “NO its not Gardasil! dont go on the internet, she must be allergic to something”) Dont trust the specialists ( specialists said “you will never “convince” a doctor that a vaccine caused this”) Dont trust the CDC ( CDC said “sounds like you need a lawyer” “we are still doing reasearch”)…..Dont trust the FDA (“the CDC provides the information as to what reactions to watch out for, we just approved the vaccine” “did you ask to review the package insert?”)……ummmmm? was I soposed to know to do that? What kind of game are we playing with childrens lives anyway? Dont trust the pharmacutical company (they said “well, you could have stopped her from getting the vaccine!”) Do your own research. No one is going to be on your side if a vaccine injury happens no one will admit it and you will have to get a lawyer, that is rediculous. …..The medical world does not know how to treat a vaccine injury. What they wanted me to do was to accept that this happened and not to pursue it any further……”we dont know why this happened, its incidious, lets just do what ever we can to make her feel better” How? by giving her more drugs? Immunosuppressants that will cause her to loose her hair like a cancer patient? Isnt that what I was soposed to be protecting her against? Why would you turn your back on a child when you know full well she had a vaccine injury? someone here tell me why? It made a bad situation a freaking nightmare. And so the nightmare continues on this blog. I feel strongly that had my daughters injury been treated correctly from the beginning I would still be vaccinating my children instead of screaming all over facebook that parents better be careful about vaccines. With facebook a single vaccine injury can turn a whole lot of people against vaccines. So again….if you dont want this to happen why are we as a nation not treating vaccine injuies appropriately? Why is there no protocol? No proceedure to a vaccine injury that is best practice with the patients health and best intrest at heart? Is it all about this argument and us vs them……all about avoiding a case in vaccine court? Tell me what should happen to a child that is injured by a vaccine? Should they just accept that they are collateral damage? I could almost accept that if the Gardasil vaccine was highly effective for 15 yrs of immunity. But for 5 years? My daughter is just a kid. She is not nor does she plan to be sexually active any time soon. So she has suffered this for nothing. If the provider treated her reaction appropriately and stopped vaccinating her and honestly tried to protect the public by doing some testing and investigation as to why this injury happened to avoid others from being hurt, I doubt I would have dug so hard trying to find out why this was happening to us. what I found out is that vaccines have everything to do with MONEY and nothing to do with the individual patient standing infront of the doctor lying their life in the doctors hands. The medical field has turned on its patients and put money before life and the medical field is shooting itself in the foot if what they want is for parents to trust them. I cannot understand “Pro-vax” people who are so aggressive in their comments as to say they loath “anti-vax” mothers without any knowledge into that mother’s own personal situation. Its like name calling and its hurtful. There may be people out there just trying to make things up for a buck I dont know but I do know that I am not one of those people. I would pay MERCK and the goverment what ever I could, I would slave night and day for their fee if I could return my daughter to the health she enjoyed before those Gardasil vaccines. We cant take it back and I owe it to her to fight for compensation for what she has been through. If it was your daughter what would you do? Go home and forget she ever had any vaccines? just deal with the symptoms and let it all go? Really?Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      Bless you and your family….sorry you had to find out the hard way that vaccines are not always safe…and all the ones who think you should vaccinate can kiss my beep cause they won’t be there to help pick up the pieces or take care of our loved ones …yet they want to mandate it…I say HELL no!!!!!!!!!Report

    • Avatar Twyla says:

      Jess says, “why are we as a nation not treating vaccine injuies appropriately? Why is there no protocol? No procedure to a vaccine injury that is best practice with the patient’s health and best interest at heart?”
      Those are such important questions.

      And it is heartbreaking to read accounts of children having escalating adverse reactions to vaccines which ultimately culminate in very serious reactions causing long-term illness or disability — because the denial of vaccine injury causes a failure to respond appropriately and recognize that this particular child is susceptible to injury from this vaccine.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Back in 1995 I was given a prescription for Naproxyn, a n anti-inflammatory, for a torn tendon. Within 5 days it ate a hole in my stomach, giving me a perforated ulcer with stomach acid leaking into mt abdominal cavity. It took an emergency surgery to save my life.

      Should Naproxyn be banned or avoided by all others because I had an unusual sensitivity to it?Report

  32. Avatar Erwin Alber says:

    “I would be lying, though, if I said that a question from an irrational little voice wasn’t running through my mind. What if they’re wrong? What if they’re wrong?! What if they’re wrong?! If they’re wrong, I am signing up to poison my child.”

    Unfortunately for you and your child, your worst fears have come true: the “irrational little voice” running through your mind was telling you the truth, and “they” are indeed wrong, meaning that you have in fact signed your child up to be poisoned.

    The most important thing for you is now for to realise that you can wake up from your propaganda-induced delusions right at this moment, that you can keep your child vaccine-free from now on and that Dr Wakefield is not a conman, but a hero who has been vilified, persecuted and deregistered because like your inner voice, he dared to tell the truth.

    Dr Andrew Wakefield defends his research


  33. Avatar SASHA says:

    It is an absolute shame we put so much trust in the pharamceutical companies. Vaccines are poison, BPAs, pesticides,phthalates, solvents, toxic metals, PVCs, radioactive particles etc. etc. etc. and we seriously sit back and wonder why we have an epidemic of cancers, autoimmune conditions and autism? Seriously? Are we that disconnected as a society that we can’t connect the dots?
    This a good documentary: http://www.greatergoodmovie.org/ with both sides of the argument! I know a few medical doctors who are actually against vaccines after doing their own independent research! I urge you and your wife to do the same before her next round 🙁Report

  34. Avatar Twyla says:

    For more about Gardasil problems see:

    An Interview with Dr. Diane M. Harper, HPV Expert

    Judicial Watch reports on Gardasil adverse reactions

    The Truth About Gardasil

    Gardasil and Unexplained Deaths

    Death after Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination:
    Causal or Coincidental?

  35. Avatar Twyla says:

    re: “I suddenly understand why con men like Wakefield make such headway.”

    Dr. Wakefield was not (and is not) a con man. He responded to concerns about the MMR; he did not single-handedly cause the concerns. His work would not have had legs were it not for many parents’ experiences with the MMR, which at that time in England contained the Urabe strain of the mumps virus – known to cause a high rate of complications.

    Dr. Wakefield has been made a scapegoat, but he was only one of the thirteen authors of the 1998 Lancet paper which caused such controversy. This paper described a group of patients who had inflammatory bowel disease. Most of them had also been diagnosed with autism, and most of the parents reported that their children’s bowel and cognitive issues began after receiving the MMR. The paper did not claim to have proved a link between the MMR and autism; it simply called for more research. In a better world, the result would have been more research, instead of a witch hunt.

    The treatment of these children was supervised by world renowned pediatric gastroenterologist John Walker-Smith. He along with Dr. Wakefield and Simon Murch were tried by the General Medical Council (GMC) in England. Wakefield and Walker-Smith lost their licenses to practice medicine, but Walker-Smith was able to get funding for an appeal, and subsequently an English court restored his license, finding that the GMC judgements were erroneous. Full text of the decision: ?
    EBCALA statement about the court’s decision clearing John Walker-Smith:

    For another side of the story on Dr. Wakefield, see Mary Holland’s article in Chapter 25 of the book Vaccine Epidemic, available online here:
    http://vaccineepidemic.com/images/vech25.pdf ?
    and footnotes here:

    The parents of these children have spoken up to say that their children received beneficial treatment from this team of doctors:
    Parents express support for Dr. Wakefield:?
    Lancet 12 Parents Respond to Brian Deer BMJ GMC Allegations
    No Parent Ever Complained to GMC: Public Statement from Lancet Families Supports The MMR3
    Parents read from the book “Silenced Witnesses”

    See Wakefield’s accuser Brian Deer in this video, and hear what the parents have to say:?
    Brian Deer and The GMC, Selective Hearing

    Also see:

    Dan Olmsted’s series on AoA:? An Elaborate Fraud Series: Brian Deer, BMJ, Murdoch, Dr. Andrew Wakefield ?

    “Articles of Interest” here:

  36. Avatar Will Truman says:

    This thread has become tiresome and I’m tired of getting scores of emails a day on it. I will be closing comments in 24 hours.Report

    • I see no reason to wait that long. I’ve found it wise to shut down threads that get invaded like this once it becomes clear that the newcomers are just engaging in hit and runs that merely repeat what others have already said.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I figure I will give our guests a chance at a last word before we close things out.Report

      • Avatar Twyla says:

        “invaded like this”? “hit and runs”?

        Jess is posting her experience as the mom of a daughter who suffered a serious vaccine injury and this is considered an invasion and hit and run? This is a demonstration of what we see as a problem with our vaccine program today – no compassion for the vaccine injured and little assistance available, just blanket denialism.

        My comments are factual and link to solid information.

        And neither of us are running – we’re both still here until the comments are shut down.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:


          Allow me to provide you some context. Every post about vaccination on this blog lasts for between 2-5 days before a large swath of anti-vaccination people show up. These are not people who routinely visit the blog, they don’t stick around, and they comment only on the one post.

          They don’t engage, typically. They don’t respond to the science that is presented to them. They make claims that can’t be substantiated (there is, in many cases, no way to establish that someone’s autistic daughter was actually harmed by a vaccination just because she got the vaccination right before she exhibited signs of autism). They often make a set of predictable claims that are, charitably speaking, implausible.

          And they assert iron-clad conviction that their beliefs are true. They are not here to share their stories, they are here to use this blog as a soap box for their belief.

          Hey, it’s a free country. Go set up a blog and have a soap box for your (erroneous, to be clear) claims. That’s fine.

          But it’s hardly cricket to use another person’s comment threads without treating the person who is writing the blog with respect, and expect anything other than being shown the door.Report

          • Avatar Twyla says:

            Patrick, I have engaged in reasonable discourse, and I have not shown anyone disrespect. Presumably Will wished to initiate a discussion. I’ve provided quite a lot of concrete information as food for thought, to at least show that there are other sides to these stories. And I believe I’ve linked to more studies than you have.Report

    • Avatar Twyla says:

      Tiresome to learn more about the subject which you posted on? Yes, I suppose it can be tiresome to do a lot of reading, when you had already formed your opinions and were getting so much support for them from others.

      Although in your post it kind of seemed like you might be open to considering other sides.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Well, if you all actually helped us learn more, but repeating anecdotal stories and presenting misleading and erroneous information doesn’t really help us “learn” anything.Report

      • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

        No, he’s being open to understanding other sides.

        Your side is wrong, Twyla. The medical evidence against your proposed theory is overwhelming.

        Epidemiological evidence shows that a broad swath of staple vaccinations saves millions of lives. This would be a worthwhile tradeoff even if vaccination side effects were much greater than they are.

        And the vast majority of reported vaccine-related “injuries” aren’t borne out by investigation.

        Are some people harmed by vaccines? Not outside the known side effects posted on the CDC’s vaccine information pages. Those known side effects occur with far less frequency than worse effects from the diseases they prevent.

        That’s stone cold reality. To pretend otherwise is to blame medicine for God’s inability to make the world work the way you want it to work.Report

        • Avatar Twyla says:

          The vast majority of reported vaccine-related “injuries” aren’t investigated.

          You are making a number of totally unsubstantiated declarations, Patrick.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

            No, I’m not.

            I don’t even have to look up the citations for you. They’re available on a number of different sites. The CDC is a good place to start.

            If you are not going to accept the CDC as a reliable source for medical information, you need to explain why not. First. Before we bother to go anywhere else.

            Because I’m hard pressed to imagine a set of judgments that enables you to reject the collected information there and allows you to accept published information from other medical researchers.

            Age of Autism is not a medical journal.

            Andrew Wakefield is no longer licensed to practice medicine, he no longer deserves the honorific “Doctor”. He falsified his research, failed to disclose conflicts of interest. These are accepted facts in the public record.

            Emily lists a few dozen studies above, she does not say what she believes the research listed there shows. I’ve been hammered by lists of citations before, and gone to the trouble to contact the authors in two cases, and found not one author who agrees with the way their research is being presented.

            I’m disinterested in doing it again.Report

  37. Avatar Jess says:

    My experience with my daughters vaccine injuy reminds me of a news clip I once saw where there was an earth quake or something that caused the road crumble into the river below and the cars coming could not see until it was too late that they were going to go off a cliff. The people below who survived watched in horror as one family after the other plunged to their death. Imagin if you could stop it and you didnt? Because you were paid a lot of money not to….Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      So we shouldn’t have roads, because of what earthquakes do to them.

      That’s pretty much how you all respond to health problems that may–but are not proven to–result from vaccines.Report

  38. I wonder if I can rig my office to play an audio clip of a thunderclap followed by maniacal laughter every time I administer a vaccine.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      Don’t forget to have the lights flicker.Report

    • Avatar Michelle says:

      Seems it would suit you well!Report

      • You sure have me pegged, Random Internet Stranger!Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          Hey, you are the guy who staples bandages to kids, aren’t you?Report

        • Avatar Michelle says:

          I know enough to see if you think this is a laughing matter~ the concerns and fears of distraught parents of vaccine injured kids…that I’d not care to really get to know you and certainly not pay you for your carelessness! Good day to you sir!Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            You know what’s really not funny? People who prey on the concerns and fears of distraught parents of sick kids by peddling them snake oil, lying to them about why their kids are ill, and encouraging other parents to forgo life-saving preventative treatments.

            That’s not funny at all.Report

    • Avatar Twyla says:

      Russell, you think these concerns are funny? Seems to me you should take them seriously. Jess describes her daughter having escalating reactions to the vaccine and the doctor’s insisting that these were not due to the vaccine and she should continue with the series. At the very least there should be a focus on noticing when children are having adverse reactions and so maybe should not continue on the standard course. Like Dr. Bernardine Healy said, there should be concern for identifying and understanding the most susceptible group.Report

      • Do I think the hysteria, misinformation and outright delusion that inform the anti-vaccine movement are funny? No, actually. Not really. I think they’re tragic. But since I have essentially no power to change them, I try to find what small bits of levity where I can.

        I know nothing of Jess’s daughter beyond what her mother reports of her perceptions on an Internet comment thread. Is there a non-zero chance that she suffered one of those extremely, fleetingly rare serious adverse reactions to the vaccines? Of course. I can’t really comment on her particular case, aside from express my usual skepticism about such claims.

        Do I think that Gardasil (along with all the other recommended vaccines) is a safe and beneficial preventive treatment? You bet. Will I continue to recommend and administer it? You bet. Do I imagine you think me some kind of monster for doing so? You bet. Do I care? Not the very smallest scintilla.Report

        • Avatar Twyla says:

          I would be less inclined to believe Jess were it not that her account is so similar to many other accounts I have read, such as on the web sites I have posted above, and in the movie The Greater Good.

          There is no hysteria, misinformation, or delusion in anything I have posted. Instead of making any kind of rational argument you are simply labeling with derogatory aspersions.

          Your reaction is the typical reaction to reports of adverse reactions – the burden of proof is on the parent. But parents don’t have resources to prove vaccine causation. Parents can only report what they have witnessed, which should be the basis for further study.

          A recent study examining the bodies of two teenagers who died after receiving Gardasil: “Post-mortem brain tissue specimens from two young women who suffered from cerebral vasculitis- type symptoms following vaccination with the HPV vaccine Gardasil were analysed by IHC for various immuno- inflammatory markers. Brain sections were also stained for antibodies recognizing HPV-16L1 and HPV-18L1 antigen which are present in Gardasil.” They found “evidence of an autoimmune vasculitis potentially triggered by the cross-reactive HPV-16L1 antibodies binding to the wall of cerebral blood vessels in all examined brain samples. We also detected the presence of HPV-16L1 particles within the cerebral vasculature with some HPV-16L1 particles adhering to the blood vessel walls… IHC also showed increased T-cell signalling and marked activation of the classical antibody-dependent complement pathway in cerebral vascular tissues from both cases. This pattern of complement activation in the absence of an active brain infection indicates an abnormal triggering of the immune response in which the immune attack is directed towards self-tissue.
          “Conclusions: Our study suggests that HPV vaccines containing HPV-16L1 antigens pose an inherent risk for triggering potentially fatal autoimmune vasculopathies.”

          There is genuine reason for concern based on science and medicine as well as anecdotal evidence. This is not hysteria, misinformation, or delusion. I can’t say whether the Gardasil vaccine vaccine benefits some people, but I am saying that adverse reactions must be better understood. Our vaccine program must not be based on denialism and CYA. Problems must be addressed. Personalized medicine, with accurate evaluation of the real risks and benefits, intelligent efforts at prevention and treatment – this is not so much to ask for.Report

  39. Avatar Jess says:

    You administer vaccines Russell Saunders? Do you administer the Gardasil vaccine? I am trying to understand why docotrs do not seem to be concerned about all these Gardasil injuries? Do you think we are all lying? Do you really believe that all of the “said” Gardasil injured are “not connected” ? Do you get money from the pharmacutical company to turn a “blind eye?” why is this happening to me and my daughter? Why are patients not told that that the vaccine is fast tracked? Why are parents not allowed to know there is at least CONCERN about this vaccine……is there not? I guess I am one of the “stupid” people you were talking about. I am a nurse. I have been practicing for 9 years. I have never seen emotional abuse like I have experienced. Just because it was triggered by a vaccine. Why is that so friggen difficult to accept? Please tell me all powerful vaccine giver with claps of thunder and laughter. Is the Gardasil vaccine different? more dangerous that the others? Is that due to the rDNA tightly bound to aluminum swimming in my childs veins???? “yes I know there not really swimming Im not THAT stupid!”Report

    • Jess, I don’t know your daughter. I don’t know anything about her health either before or after she received those vaccines beyond what you report. Is it possible that she suffered some kind of extremely rare and non-generalizable adverse reaction? Of course. Do I think it has anything to do with aluminum or viral genetic material floating in her veins? Not in the least.

      I have and will continue to give Gardasil to my patients because I firmly believe it is to their benefit to do so. I appreciate your legal counsel below, which I will take under advisement. However, I will still weight more heavily that information passed on to me by colleagues I trust, rather than random strangers on the Internet.

      And the amount of money I have received from drug companies since the day I entered medical school is nil. Nada. Not one thin dime. That you need to impute my clinical practice to such payments in order to strengthen your argument says more than I can about its merit.Report

  40. Avatar Jess says:

    Ok I see you point. I get that. Perfectly rational. I am so relieved. But sir, This vaccine Gardasil has not been proven to last more than 5 yrs in girls and 2.5 yrs in boys. Gardasil has been connected to countless autoimmune disorders and 126 deaths, over 5,000 disabled come on. When my daughter had an autoimmune reaction TWICE! why did the immmunologist of all people have me get her vaccinated AGAIN when she is not sexually active and does not plan to be until out of highschool? I pay these people to KNOW! They hold a license because they are soposed to know what the hell they are doing. It is a malpractice suit but I cant sue because I am forced into vaccine court!! I do not give a damn about their money they can keep it. MERCK, CDC, FDA and any doctor involved in my daughters vaccine injury should be held accounttable. They have hidden information with the vaccine, tucked away so you cant see it……….but you can ask for it if you know its there……WHY! NAPROXYN is clearly labled. No one is hiding the fact that naproxyn can tear your stomach up. That is why patients are monitored and side effects are taken seriously! And why Naproxen is still on the market. I am not sure Gardasil will prove to to have that kind of “staying” power. Gardasil is gaining a very nasty name for itself. I think physicians would be best advised to be cautions of this vaccine before you have a child in your office whos mother wants to sue you.Report

  41. Avatar Twyla says:

    re: “NAPROXYN is clearly labled. No one is hiding the fact that naproxyn can tear your stomach up. That is why patients are monitored and side effects are taken seriously!”

    That is such a good point.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Sorry, not really true. My GP was shocked, and the surgeon struggled to believe I had no pre-existing condition and had only been taking Naproxyn for a week. As he said, “I’ve seen this problem in 80 year old people who’ve been taking the medicine for a year or two, but never in an otherwise healthy 30 year old who’s been taking it for a week.”

      So, no, nobody expected that Naproxyn could do that to someone like me. You trying to say different doesn’t make it so. You’re just trying your best to ignore the unfortunate fact that no matter what medicne we’re talking about, there will be a small number of people that react badly to it, but that small number of people is not a good basis for refraining from use of that medicine when there is an incomparably larger number of people who benefit from it.

      You are ignoring the overall level of evidence and focusing on a few heartbreaking anecdotes. And anecdotes are all you folks can come up with because the overwhelming bulk of evidence just isn’t on your side. But heartbreaking anecdotes are a foolish basis for public policy. You would consign a great number of people to harm to prevent a few cases of harm. That’s just not wise.

      My GP continued to prescribe Naproxyn to people who needed an anti-inflammatory, and he was right to do so. And I just make sure to use ibuprofen instead of a Naproxyn-based anti-inflammatory (like Aleve) when I have sore muscles. We need to be aware of the potential dangers to outliers, and figure out what to do for them, but outliers–like me–should not be the basis for the general policy.Report

      • Avatar Twyla says:

        James, the difference is that your doctor did not say, “Keep taking Naproxyn because I’m quite sure that your problem is not caused by Naproxyn.” Instead, you stopped taking Naproxyn. Based on your comment, sounds like that was the best choice for you. The problem was acknowledged and responded to appropriately.

        I am not saying that everyone should stop vaccinating. I have never told anyone not to vaccinate. Yet the vaccine defenders keep trying to turn the debate into only two sides: all vaccines or none, for or against, deny problems and keep vaccinating or acknowledge problems and totally stop vaccinating. This is stupid. There are not only two choices. I expect more from modern science and medicine.

        In the movie The Greater Good one of the stories is about an infant who had escalating adverse reactions to vaccines and then died. The mother, a psychologist, then researched vaccines and realized that her baby’s reactions were real, and that they should not have continued vaccinating her on the standard schedule. By continuing to summarily deny adverse reactions instead of developing a science for preventing, recognizing, and treating these reactions, our vaccine program is hurting itself.

        For years parents of children with autism have been told, “Oh, that’s something that just happens to occur at the same time as infant/toddler vaccines, just a coincidence, no causation.” Now with Gardasil people are being told, “Oh, sometimes healthy teenagers suddenly develop serious health conditions such as seizures or auto-immunity, just a coincidence, no causation.” If we keep adding more and more vaccines eventually the problems will become all too obvious to the majority of voters and consumers, and something will change. So I’m probably wasting my time here, as change will have to occur eventually.Report

      • Avatar Twyla says:

        re: “We need to be aware of the potential dangers to outliers, and figure out what to do for them”

        • Avatar Twyla says:

          re: “but outliers–like me–should not be the basis for the general policy.”

          “Outliers” should be the basis of certain policies, such as advising doctors and patients of potential side effects so that, for example, when you began having certain symptoms you and your doctor considered that this might be related to the Naproxyn, instead of just thinking it’s a huge mystery and continuing to take the Naproxyn while getting worse and worse.

          Also, because vaccine adverse reactions are so poorly tracked and inadequately studied, we really don’t know how rare reactions are. So you can’t just keep assuming that these are one-in-a-million. Prior to licensing there is study of short-term effects, but there is no tracking of the long-term cumulative effects of our vaccine program. The CDC found a 1 in 88 rate of autism among children born in the year 2000. If vaccines are a factor in that, it’s very significant. We also have escalating rates of a number of neurological and immune system disorders in today’s generation of children.

          Mark Blaxill and Barbara Loe Fisher wrote an excellent paper about balance here:

  42. Avatar Jess says:

    No no no, these situations are not the same. I am not ignoring your point. Your situation is rare fine, would it have been responsible for your doctor to tell you that Naproxyn was NOT the cause of your injury. Would you feel differently about the situation if you saw that your doctor was trying to cover up that Naproxyn injured you? Would you feel angry if you were not healed, if you did not recover, if you were still bleeding and having pain and vomiting and miserable. If you continued to have good days and bad days but had to sometimes miss work because you were so sick. If you had to continue to see dr. after dr. because most physicians would just roll their eyes and not even listen to you. Just wait for you to stop talking so they could tell you your problem is “insidious” …… “There is no such thing as a Naproxyn injury” You see our experiences are not the same because you were hurt by a drug and not a vaccine and that is what is so wrong with the way we treat vaccine injuries. It is compleately irrisponsible. According to the research I have done Gardasil is a big lie. It cannot provide herd immunity because it doesnt last more than 5 years in girls and 2.5 years in boys. You are risking autimmune disease in a 9, 10, 11 yr old child for 2.5 yrs of protection against 4 out of 100 HPV? There are 18 different types of HPV that cause cancer. If a heterosexual boy who does not have sex until he is 17 yrs old gets a Gardasil vaccine at 11 how has that shot protected him? Is that boy even at risk for an HPV that causes cancer? NO. Lies lies lies. Thats the problem I have. Also, When ever I see a commercial on TV for a drug they list a ton of side effects……..Gardasil only causes pain at the injection site and fainting? HARDLY. I will add that I have spoken to many mothers who knew nothing about Gardasil (as I admittedly did not) and low and behold there daughters are not feeling good after the shot! Two of them have hives that have not resolved which started 3 weeks after the third vaccine…..hmmmmmm. Luckily for one of them they are consoled that their daughter responds to zertec. My daughter’s symptoms do not respond to anything. So there for I believe there a lot more people affected by Gardasil then the public even knows yet because there is so much cover up going on. The “one less” comercials on TV have disapeared. Where did they go? Why are they off the air? And why were they not required to to list more side effects like the autoimmune disorders that happened in clinical trials….including death. Gardasil has not been proven to prevent cancer at all. HPV stays in the body for a very long time 20-40 years before it will develop into cancer. But do we know what HPV rDNA fragments tightly bound to aluminum in blood and tissues will do? We are finding out my friends. You are comparing apples to orenges. These 2 situations are not the same. I am wicked sorry that you had to have surgery, being sick is aweful and I am sorry you went through that. I understand what you are trying to say here but if you could have walked in my shoes for the last 4 months you would understand better my position. You have never been through what my daughter and I are going through. The only support I am getting is from Gardasil support groups on facebook where hundreds of mothers from around the world are trying to support each other through this. And when we add a new mom every friggen weak it gets to feel barbaric. You are wrong to say that gardasil is hurting a very few. It is hurting a lot more people then you are willing to admit or the CDC is willing to be uncovered right now. The truth is the truth and it will all come out in the wash…..Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      It’s not impossible that vaccinations can sometimes cause an adverse reaction. But people whose vaccinated kids have a health problem are too quick to assume the vaccine was the cause, just because the health problem arose after the reaction. That’s the classic post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. And so saying that, “no, the vaccine did not cause this health problem” is not necessarily wrong, no matter how strongly the parent is certain that it did cause it. This is particularly the case with the claimed link between vaccines and autism–the epidemiological evidence is overwhelming that vaccines are not linked to autism. But because nearly all kids get vaccinated, and some number of kids develop autism, it’s really easy to show a list of kids who both got vaccinated and then later developed (or later demonstrated) autism. But just because one thing happened after the other does not mean the first thing caused the second one.

      And when the doctor is wrong, it’s because the reaction is so dramatically rare that nobody would expect that reaction to happen, so that it’s more likely something else is causing the reaction. So it’s not only reasonable but more responsible to look for the more likely potential causes first, and only after that to look at the less likely potential causes. And it’s the very rarity of those reactions that shows that we should not limit vaccinations, or refuse to vaccinate our own kids. Because the odds of getting a serious disease if they are not vaccinated is so vastly much greater than the odds of having an adverse reaction to a vaccination.

      Parents who don’t vaccinate their kids are undoubtedly well-intended, and care deeply for their children. But nonetheless they are actually making a choice that endangers their kids, rather than protecting them as they think they are doing.Report

  43. Avatar Jess says:

    It is an honest question Dr. I am not trying to say you ARE taking money I really was asking. It is difficult for someone like me to understand why medical professionals are denying what is obviously a vaccine injury. Do you think there are doctors that do take money? Are they just afraid if my child is really vaccine injured they will be in trouble some how? I didnt want to sue them, I wanted the truth! You start to try search for the reason your being treated this way and the more you find out the more pissed you get. It is like being in the twilight zone. You think to yourself “why on earth are they doing this?” Money is an obvious possible motive. But I dont know, Im not a doctor. I dont know how all this goes, I guess Im still learning. And like you Dr. I listened to the people who were soposedly the experts. They are not always right. I understand you cant tell for sure what I am saying is true there is nothing I can do about that. Although you may here about my daughter in the future as I will be holding everyone I can accountable. Maybe if my…..hypathetical situation…..(lets say)….were in your office, you have handled it better I dont know? Would my daughter have been in better hands? Would you do any research to see if anyone else had developed urticaria and not shown symptoms for 3 – 4 weeks after recieving Gardasil? Because when I looked on VAERS there were over 200 cases of urticaria that developed more than 2 weeks after the vaccine and most of them develop around 3-4 weeks. Would you look or no. Just keep vaccinating? VAERS is antiA serious question. You seem to be saying the repeated vaccination was warrented because there could have been so much else that could have caused it. Except that the ONLY thing different was the gardasil vaccine. See its so hard to have this debate now because NOW I know so much about Gardasil but then I knew NOTHING. I was 100% trusting my doctor. If you had a nieve mom with a daughter of 14 who was not sexually active in your office. She had been given the Gardasil vaccine and then after 3-4 weeks she suffered a blistering rash that went away in about 3-4 weeks. Had had her second vaccine and developed hives 3-4 weeks after that did not go away and were still not gone when she came back to you. The mother kinda looks at you like….”we want her to be protected against cervical cancer but she also has had perminent urticaria, are you sure it is safe to get the third vaccine? (she is resistant to any zertec, sigulair, allegra, claritin, hydroxyzine….yes they had her on all that at one time with no affect!) Would you really feel comfortable vaccinating again? Or would you look into it more? Well of corse it is difficult for a Dr. to think of himself in this kind of situation because when it is happening it feels entirely different that being able to think it through on the computer but if you would at least take into consideration that this may be true, could the information not be useful to other people? At the very least? Maybe after vaccine court people will believe me. sigh. Now Im getting tired. I am sorry Dr. if I offended you. As a nurse I can respect your anger at that question. Please understand that money is the only thing I can think of that would motivate these people to treat us like this. Even if we are “rare” I mean….”Hypatheticly” The few injured that are “real” does that mean we should be disposed of, discounted, lied too? No of course not but that is what happens. Could there not be an alternative approach to cases like mine. Some kind of protocol or way to track VAERS, patient concerns, possible side effects……especially with a vaccine like Gardasil that was released to the public before it was fully tested? I know you are going to say VAERS is flawed not followed up on and none of those claims are proven but Dr. that is just the point! Is there no way for a child to avoid revaccination of a vaccine that is harming him or her? No way to avoid this? Because my gut just tells me this vaccine injury could have been avoided before my daughter was damaged. I live in Maine, my daughter is still sick. wheals, agioedema, hives, on her face….what is that word when she scraches her self and the skin puffs up…….dematographism ( I probably didnt spell it right) skin writing, joint pain in her knees. It is a very well documented case because I have a little experience as a case manager with documentation so I know how very important it is and that is why I am confident that I will win my daughter a compensation claim, how ever small it may be. Her case is very well documented and in Writing that her injury is due to a Gardasil vaccine. Dont you think moms and dr. s should know this story to ensure they are cautious at the very least or no? Oh ya….you dont friggen believe me…..well, the next time your in Maine I would love to have some lobster and blueberry pie over a stack of documentation. You are a very smart man I can tell. There is no way you wouldnt see this is real. Im sorry we will never have the chance. Now blast away because I have to spend time with my little ones. I hope I can stay off this computer for a few hours. I could never keep up with guys! phewReport

  44. Avatar Jess says:

    *you guys….oops I messed up alot on this one sorry. I have over stayed my welcome. Thank you very much for having me. At least you didnt block me. I appreciate that. Maybe someone will run accross my story and it will help them. I hope that is the case. otherwise this would be a huge waste of my time.Report

  45. Avatar Twyla says:

    Will Truman, it is difficult to make vaccine decisions these days. I think Dr. Robert Sears’ “The Vaccine Book” offers some good supportive information, regardless of whether you are following the standard schedule or looking for an alternative schedule.

    Good luck with making the best decisions you can for your child. Don’t stress out too much, all you can do is evaluate the info, observe your baby, and do what you and your wife think is right.

    Good night and all the best to everyone.Report