Why everyone* should get vaccinated

One of the running ha-has at LeagueFest was the seeming predilection Rose and I have for hot-button topics.  Between circumcision, attachment parenting and home birth, one could draw the conclusion that we like to go “poke, poke, poke” at the hornet’s nest of various emotionally-charged issues.  I think I speak for both of us when I say that, while it’s always nice to get page views, it’s not necessarily the most fun thing ever to have a comment thread largely devoted to what a stupid, child- (or woman-)hating fascist you are.  We don’t do it on purpose.

To that list of topics, you can now add vaccination.  I haven’t written a basic post before about why I support vaccination for all healthy children, largely because “pediatrician supports vaccinations” seems the kind of obvious notion that doesn’t even need stating.  Plus, one can reasonably expect that posting on the topic will invite yet another deluge of “why do you want to poison our children?” comments, and who really has that kind of time?  However, when a regular commenter makes a request, who am I to refuse?

Over at the main page, Miss Mary asks:

I’ve heard you mention that you are fond vaccinating children a few times. Did you ever do a post on why this is so important to you? I’m just interested in hearing more.

I wouldn’t say I’m “fond” of vaccinating children.  Jabbing children with sharp things (I give my own shots) is no fun.  But I absolutely, without equivocation support full vaccination for all* children on the recommended schedule.

I support routine vaccination because vaccines save lives.  There are few things modern medicine has accomplished that are such an unalloyed good as immunization.  (A few other things in that category that spring to mind are insulin, chemotherapy for most cancers, effective antisepsis, anesthesia for surgery and antibiotics.)  Routine vaccination has led to the near-eradication of numerous diseases that used to kill thousands of children in the United States, to say nothing of the rest of the world.

Attributing the decline in the incidence of these diseases to advances in hygiene, sanitation and nutrition alone (as is a common trope of anti-vaccine crusaders) strains credulity.  Yes, these things certainly help, but vaccinations deserve the lion’s share of the credit.  To demonstrate this point, let’s look at three totally different vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, the immunizations for which were introduced at different times — tetanus, hepatitis B and haemophilus influenzae type B (HiB).

Tetanus is caused by spore-forming bacteria found in the soil.  It cannot be eradicated, short of massively irradiating the earth’s crust.  In order to cause disease, it has to gain entry into a person’s body through direct insertion into a deep wound; it is not spread person-to-person.  Hepatitis B is a blood-borne viral infection of the liver, which is spread through contact with infected blood (eg. through IV drug use), through sexual contact or from mother to infant.  HiB is a bacterial infection that is transmitted when carriers (who carry the pathogen in their respiratory tracts, and are quite often symptom-free themselves) pass it through droplets (eg. sneezing).  All very different reservoirs and clinical illnesses, with very different mechanisms of infection.

Before routine vaccination, tetanus sickened 500-600 people per year [PDF], killing about a third of them (horribly).  Since the introduction of the tetanus toxoid vaccine in the 1940s, the incidence rate has fallen precipitously.  In 2009, there were 19 reported cases in the United States [sorry, another PDF].  While some of this decline can be attributed to improved wound hygiene, the most significant factor was the advent of vaccination.  Of those who contracted tetanus from 1972 through 2009, the overwhelming majority (84%) were un- or under-vaccinated.

Because the route of transmission for all children infected with hepatitis B is from an infected mother (with ~90% of them going on the chronic infection), routine vaccination for all newborns was begun in 1991.  From 1990 through 2004, there was  94% decline in the incidence of hepatitis B in children and adolescents, coincident with a 92% coverage rate with the vaccine.  While much of this success is also attributable to screening pregnant women for hepatitis B, screening is worthless unless it is coupled with targeted neonatal vaccination.  Attributing the decline in childhood infection to any intervention other than vaccination is highly implausible.

HiB infections manifest in a variety of illnesses, including (among others) meningitis, septicemia and epiglottitis (a severe and life-threatening swelling of the upper airway).  Prior to the introduction of a vaccine in 1985, HiB was the most common cause of invasive bacterial meningitis in children, accounting for roughly 20,000 cases per year (with about a 5% mortality rate, and about 20% of survivors suffering permanent hearing loss or other disability).  There has been a 99% decrease in HiB disease since vaccination against it became routine, with less than one case per 100,000 people.  There is no other significant change in public health in that time period that can be credibly linked to this decline.

To these three, you can add many other diseases, including (but not limited to) polio, diphtheria, measles and meningococcal meningitis.  Vaccines save lives.  It is an act of willful blindness to aver otherwise.

I am aware of the concern about autism.  I am even aware of the occasional study that seems to lend credence to the concern that there is a link between autism and vaccination.  (They largely seem the work of a particular couple of authors.)  The vaccine-autism link was first introduced by a man who has since been exposed as a fraud, and his landmark study retracted by the journal that published it.  The link has been attributed to thimerosal, a preservative used in some vaccines, and also to the MMR vaccine itself.  Both of these associations have been thoroughly investigated and debunked by several studies.  The massive preponderance of evidence does not support a causal relationship between vaccines and autism.  [I apologize that a few of those links are only to abstracts.  I cannot find non-subscription, full-text versions.]

Further, for there to be such a strong link between vaccines and autism as anti-vaccine advocates claim, it would require an amazing degree of malicious indifference on the part of my fellow pediatricians to keep giving them.  From residency until now, I have taken care of thousands of patients and worked with dozens of experienced physicians.  I have neither seen or had reported to me by any of my colleagues (including many who have been in practice for decades) a single case of autism that could be attributed to vaccines.  To what motivation would those who oppose vaccination attribute pediatricians’ persistent devotion to immunizing our patients except that we firmly believe it benefits them?  Do they think we are all in thrall to Merck?  If you think vaccinating children is a huge cash cow for medical practices, allow me to disabuse you of that notion.  We ain’t getting rich from administering DTaPs.  I realize this is just me talking here, but I promise you that if we truly saw that vaccines were harming our patients we would stop administering vaccines!  We went into pediatrics in the first place because we want to help children, not because of some sinister allegiance to Sanofi.

Vaccines make the world safer.  They prevent horrible disease that kill or disable.  They allow us more freedom, in that we can freely assemble with less fear of contagion.  (To be fair, modern hygiene and sanitation really do help with that, too.)  We can more confidently send our children to be educated in schools because we don’t have to fear they will be slowly strangled to death by diphtheria or crippled by polio.  Even for diseases that are merely intensely unpleasant but rarely fatal in the United States (like chicken pox or rotavirus), we are a more prosperous nation because parents need not lose a week of productivity caring for their convalescing children.  What more good could one possibly ask of a simple, low-risk medical intervention than this?

But people still refuse.  They believe the fear-mongers and the charlatans.  Of course, no vaccine is 100% effective, and so to truly keep our population safe immunizations must be given to a sufficient number of people to provide good herd immunity.  Once a certain threshold of coverage is missed, previously-controlled illnesses resurface.  Over and over and over.  For no good reason whatsoever.

Vaccinating your children is, without question, the responsible thing to do.  It’s the right thing for them, and it’s the right thing for your community.  Relying on the good decisions of other parents to provide herd immunity to protect your children is asking others to shoulder a risk you refuse to accept for yourself.  (Never mind that the risk is incredibly low in reality.)  It is bad citizenship, as well as irresponsible parenting.  My kid is fully vaccinated, and everyone else’s should be, too.

* The above post pertains to children who do not have an obvious contraindication to vaccination.  Children who have certain immune deficiencies should not receive certain vaccines.  Children who are allergic to certain vaccines or vaccine components should not receive those vaccines.  And there is one plausible case that a child with a rare mitochondrial disorder may have developed encephalitis after having received several vaccines, though that is far from a settled question.  For the vast majority of children, vaccines are perfectly safe.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. I’m just interested Russell — what do you think about excluding children from attending public schools if they are not vaccinated? We are just so historically far from the horrors of smallpox, polio and rubella that modern parents cannot even emotionally connect to the possibility that their children can possibly become infected; and in some parts of the country (I’m looking at you, Tod), the childhood vaccination rate is dipping low enough that herd immunity is lost.

    This is a horrible public health dilemma, as well as an ethical and public policy one. Parents that refuse to vaccinate their children are putting not only their own children at risk, but everybody’s children (and quite a few adults, as well). How much compulsion and sanction is appropriate, here? We all have some level of responsibility to one another: are these parents falling below the minimum required for the good of our species?

    • I think, without reservation, that children who are not fully vaccinated should be excluded from public school (with the obvious exception for those who have medical conditions that preclude vaccination).

      And are those parents falling below the minimum required for the good of the species (or, at very least, their community)? You bet.

      • Wow, you’re response is much more unequivocal than I would have expected. But I completely agree.

    • I was surprised how easy it was to explain away why you do or did not vaccinate your child and get them into public school in Washington state and Oregon. IIRC, you could site medical, religious or personal reasons.

      • Please just don’t use the phrase “philosophical objection.”

        • “Please just don’t use the phrase “philosophical objection.””

          Thank you for accepting our son Houston into your kindergarten class. We’d like you to not that we have chosen not to vaccinate Houston, on the basis that what we perceive as reality is in fact a transitory illusion that nearly mirrors a greater purpose that lies just beyond our ability to understand the true mind of God/Not God. We therefore believe the the diseases he would be vaccinated against by your policy to nearly be a social construct that exists due to the numerous realities comprised of institutions propped up by language conventions. Should you have any questions about our decision, please see the earlier works of Berger and Luckmann.

          Also, please note he’s allergic to dairy, so only juice or water at snack time. Thanks.”

    • Is this true about Portland? If so I am surprised, since you’re not allowed to have your kid in public school without proof. True story: a couple of year’s ago we moved cross town and our youngest switched schools. Right after we got a letter from he district saying that his proof had gone missing- when they were gathering his info to send to the new school they couldn’t put their hands on it. They said we needed to get them. Ee copies by X date or he would not be permitted to enter school grounds. My thought at the time was, you CLEARLY know he’s had the shots since you let him in, wasn’t it overkill to make us go back and get copies of that old paperwork?

      Which is not to say you’re wrong, just that I’m surprised.

      • Don’t worry, Tod, I’m not wrong. And neither are you! Not entirely anyway. In Oregon you need a religious or medical reason. In Wasington it can be religious, medical, philosophical or personal (sorry, Rose). Yes, you must provide documentation (or “shot records”), but the documentation can be their form for explaining why you didn’t vaccinate for the reasons they approve/accept. All of this info I got from state websites (thanks for the reminder to look things up before I open my mouth) and so I assume it applies to your children’s schools, but I don’t know. Maybe Portland School District is different from the state.

  2. They’ll stick you when you’re stepping on a nail
    They’ll stick you when you pulled the kitty’s tail
    They’ll stick you cause you have to go to school
    They’ll stick you cause you’re swimming in a pool
    Well you should not feel so out of luck
    Everybody must get stuck

      • What’s the deal on the 10 year boosters of tetanus? My doc’s been advising that I don’t need to have ’em, but since if I get cut, it might be three days out from an ER, I’ve still been requesting them…

        • Clancy is very pro-tetanus booster (that was actually one of the shots I was thinking about in my below comment, though that one I did finally get). What’s your doc’s rationale?

        • I recently (2 years ago) accidentally put part of my hand through a window, and had to go to the ER for stitches.

          In CA, they don’t just give you a tetanus booster any more, it’s a Di-P-Tet with Pertussis.

  3. + a bazillion. Allow me to stress, as you and Mr. McSnarkSnark touched on, the social responsibility factor in this. There is a slight risk for vaccination. Those who choose not to vaccinate are getting a free ride from the rest of us who subject our kids to a risk for the benefit of the community. Nice.

    Also, I live in fear every flu season that my disabled kid will get it. It is potentially more devastating to him than to other kids. I vaccinate him, but of course no vaccine is 100% effective. Babies under six months are not vaccinated for flu and are more likely to die from it. Even chicken pox can be disabling if transmitted to a pregnant woman who never had it or the vaccine (there was no vaccine when I was growing up, and people my age are still having kids). You may not get dangerously ill if you forego a vaccine, but you might well transmit it to someone who will.

  4. Vaccines can trigger autoimmunity and autism in babies. Spread them out, lower your risk. Don’t listen to arrogant pediatricians who believe everything that any sales rep has ever said about the safety of their vaccines (ie products). My young, sweet sister-in-law tried to tell me how safe the vaccines that she was selling were… As I engaged her in conversation about her “product”, I was alarmed at how much she didn’t know. I’m talking about not knowing anything about her own companies safety studies on this “product”. Pharmaceutical Reps and the pediatricians typically know LESS than a well educated and well informed parent. Honest.

    • Citation please. And allow me to suggest that perhaps you average pediatrician knows a hell of a lot more than your average pharmaceutical rep. And even a very very informed parent, for that matter, who has no basis for understanding what makes one study more valuable than another.

      • You need a “citation” to confirm that vaccine injuries are very real. You need a “citation” to understand that the government pays out millions of dollars in vaccine injuries? You need a “citation” to understand that when a child goes in for multiple vaccines on one day and dies that night from SIDS, that there may be a connection? Let me guess… haven’t done much research on the dangers of vaccines, have you?

        I suggest that you worry less about the flu and more about the flu vaccine, Rose. Honest. My kids were never sicker after those years when I trusted the pediatrician and got flu shots for them. Since we stopped the flu shots…. miraculously, no flu and healthier kids. Obviously, anecdotal… However, so are the stories of how you (ie anyone) has been able to stay healthy during the Winter months because of the miraculous wonder drug — Flu shot — (ie money maker for the pharmaceutical companies). Flu shots = biggest scam out there. People lining up for flu shots at pharmacies, grocery stores, etc…. Ha Ha!!! Sheep to slaughter.

          • Are you expecting something like peer reviewed studies, Russell? Don’t you know those are all BOUGHT AND PAID FOR BY THE PHARMACEUTICAL LOBBY??? And that the intuitive understanding of things is superior to years of specialized training and large scale research? Sheesh, you doctors, think you know everything.

          • How about a “citation” from you in regards to the safety of the vaccine schedule in TOTAL. Not one vaccine at a time. Not picking and choosing one or two vaccines to study. The TOTAL and complete schedule measured against a group of non-vaccinated children. Get on it… then, we can talk. We aren’t the ones forcing people to inject their babies with untested vaccines. You are. Less is more. Every medication, every medical intervention will cause side effects to some (or many). Stop acting as if vaccines somehow escape this rule. Ridiculous.

        • When I was in Highschool I used to play football. None of my students believe me at first, because I’m middle aged and a little flabby and a lot nerdy.

          But you see, I was the only guy, my freshman year, who had the speed, and the hands, and the brains to run a successful triple option. Yeah my passing arm sucked, but we had two good wideouts that could pull down just about anything with 5 yards and a set of backs that ran routes no problem. The thing was, to make the triple option work was we needed a QB who was enough thinking to read a defense, see where the LB’s were leaning and make that split second call at the snap as to what was going to happen. Usually the backs didn’t have to sell a faked handoff because they didn’t know it was faked until they were 5 yards down field.

          Only thing was that I only played 3 games. In the third game I had put us up by 28 in the first quarter and that was it. Next play, one of the OLB’s came around, ignored the whistle grabbed my helmet and effectively tried to twist my head off like a pop-cap. I remember, vividly watching the play on the other side of the field (went with the hand off to the half back), and then seeing this hand come infront of my face, and then nothing until I was staring up at florecents in the ER. I guess there as an abulance ride, and Meredith Shaney told me she loved me, but honestly I don’t remember a lick of it. Bummer too because Meredith had this really cute gap between her two front teeth.

          The other school got fined, I know that, but when you’re in HS you don’t think too much about that stuff. All I knew was that I was done with FB and since I only played 3 varsity games I didn’t qualify for a varsity letter. I could have gone out again for the team but my dad and I talked a lot that fall about it all and decided it wasn’t for me.

          And it’s all true.

          I’d link the news story from the local paper’s website but, you know, you don’t need citations, right?

      • In regards to vaccines specifically…. A well informed parent knows more. Honest.

        Again, not talking about “other” topics — vaccines specifically — trust a well informed parent who has studied the topic extensively not a pediatrician whose job depends on having his/her patients vaccinated with every possible vaccine on the market. Pediatricians will give you the standard “iron-lung” knee-jerk reaction… The informed parent goes beyond that and can see through the crap that is spewed. Hep B at birth? Flu shots every year? Chicken pox vaccine? LOL! Please, spare me.

        • I am not familiar with the standard “iron-lung” knee-jerk reaction. I am much more familiar with the “vaccines save lives” argument, what with vaccines saving lives and all.

          • “I am not familiar with the standard “iron-lung” knee-jerk reaction”

            You should really have your pharmaceutical rep explain it to you.

          • Tod, you are on fire this thread. Space fire.

        • Keep in mind that “well informed” laymen know more than climate scientists, economists, doctors, and academics. The power of the human mind to double down on their own beliefs is an extraordinary thing.

          Is it possible that we’ll have to have another polio epidemic before we once again appreciate that vaccines (along with sewage management) have made a greater contribution to human health and longevity than all the medical advances of the last 50 years?

      • My (and Burt’s) friend Sheila made the observation/speculation that what anti-vaccination isn’t anti-science so much as the idea of a lot of mothers hating the idea that somebody might know what’s better for their children than they do. And so when someone tells them that they know something that the doctor doesn’t…

        • LOL! Mothers hate that doctors tell them what’s better for their children? Are you seriously proposing this as a possible reason why someone would be anti-vaccine? Wow.

        • Will, it’s an interesting thought. I wonder if some of it has to do with people feeling that others (especially doctors) are failing to respect the uniqueness of their child. So the toys, diets, schools, parenting techniques, etc,, that most people use can’t be good enough for their child.

          • Oh, Christ Allmighty, is that ever an issue! Working in an independent school, with many parents of obscene means and, thus, with obscenely unique and special magical children, that is a very common mindset to bump up against.

            “Yes, that is all well in good, what the ‘research’ and everything says… but what about *MY* child?”

          • Oh lordy, do they ever. I suspect that’s also a reason teaching is generally viewed as “babysitting” by so many parents. (Or at least “easy work”. If they can teach their little precious angel how to dry dishes or catch a baseball, surely it’s not hard!)

            At least parents and education have some sort of basis, dumb as their extrapolation is — they have managed, probably, over years, to develop enough experience with their precious angel to figure out his or her most obvious buttons.

            After all, it’s what — 10,000 hours to make you an expert? Most parents get to be experts in their own precious angel (when they’re not fooling themselves, at least). Teachers are expected to be expert in 150 a year. From week one.

          • Do you have children? I would guess that you don’t. This odd theory of people who are upset about others “failing to respect the uniqueness of their child” is very strange to me. Not at all based in reality – from what I have seen – from those who have chosen a different path (re: vaccination).

            Not that there aren’t some parents who from day 1 have said that their child will not be vaccinated for reasons: a, b or c. (Insert whatever reason you want, even including the above odd theory). Having said that, most that I have come in contact with have made difficult decisions based upon very sound reasoning oftentimes involving adverse reactions from their own children.

            For myself, my older two were fully vaccinated on schedule based upon our ped’s suggestions. In fact, I vividly remember crying when I realized that I had inadvertently missed my son’s 6 month appointment (ie, well-baby(lol), vaccine appointment). I couldn’t get him in for a month after that and was upset about it. Hilarious to think about now. My older two children had many adverse events post vaccination. Thankfully, my youngest is selectively vaccinated. I was able to make educated decisions based upon my own history with vaccines with my older two. It’s really that simple. But, I suppose if it makes you feel better to think that I am crazy because I don’t think that others “respect the uniqueness of my child”… that’s fine too. 🙂

          • Joe, our gracious hostess Rose’s biography on this very page includes this line: “She teaches and is mom to a few very young ‘uns, one of whom is disabled. ”

            Way to research, man.

      • There’s a good book about a Hmong mother that makes the opposite case. Granted there was a linguistical barrier there. (not anti-vax book)

        • Are you thinking of “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”? If so, that is a fantastic read that I would recommend to folks, but I don’t know that it is really pertinent to this discussion.

          That book chronicles the story of a young girl with a seizure disorder, born to Hmong immigrant parents. The details the many missteps of ALL parties in securing proper treatment of the girl while also supporting a family in an unfamiliar country. It is not offered as a commentary on medicine but instead on the problems that arise when folks, especially folks in position of power, lack cultural competency. It is a GREAT read, but should not be used as an argument for or against any specific medical approach.

          More info here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Spirit-Catches-Fall-Down/dp/0374525641

          • It is a fantastic book. I was actually lucky enough to see the author speak; she presented at our Grand Rounds when I was in residency.

          • Awesome! I read it in an graduate education class about working with families of different cultures. The class was a bit of a dud (not because of the subject matter, but because of the wishywashy way it was taught) with that book being the diamond in the rough. Might have been the only book throughout my collegiate career that I read every word of.

      • Russell,

        Thanks for those above citations. Now, where’s the evidence that the TOTAL vaccination schedule is safe when compared against a group of unvaccinated children? I must have missed it. There would be less children with autism, allergies, autoimmune diseases, etc. etc… in the unvaccinated group. No doubt. This isn’t hard.

        • …or, alternatively, you could present evidence supporting your claim that there are more children with “autism, allergies, autoimmune diseases, etc. etc.” in the vaccinated group.

          • Get me a study involving vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated children and I will. 🙂

          • Joe,
            One might find that study easier to find if there was a substantial portion of upper-middle class people who agreed with you. As there isn’t, you don’t have a data sample.

          • Sweet Jesus, you really seem to have no idea how to read medical studies or have even the most rudimentary understanding of epidemiology. With that having been firmly established, what minimal return there may have been on engaging with you has passed the event horizon of inanity.

            If you are suggesting that a prospective study be designed that randomizes children into vaccinated vs non-vaccinated groups and then follows them over time to determine their rates of allergies, autism and auto-immune disorders, I wish you the very best of luck getting that past any internal review board for approval, given that it is flagrantly unethical to deprive a population of medical interventions that have been shown to prevent illness just for the sake of seeing what happens. If you are suggesting that the rate of the disorders you list be analyzed vis-a-vis existing study populations, then I would redirect you back to the very same studies I’ve already provided for your perusal and suggest that you learn how to interpret them before pretending to have the faintest iota of a notion of what they mean.

          • “Get me a study involving vaccinated vs. non-vaccinated children ”

            um ok so you’re saying it’s incumbent on me to provide data to disprove your assertion when you don’t actually have data to support your assertion

            did I get into a global-warming discussion by mistake?

        • So you actually read the studies, Joe? And so you note that the first addresses cumulative vaccine exposure, and the second deals with vaccines as administered routinely and deals with all adverse outcomes attributed to vaccination? Because yes, it does seem as though you missed it.

          And am I allowed to come to my own preemptive conclusions, too? Or are you just special that way?

          • I’ve noted lacunae in Joe’s research skills above. If he can’t be bothered to read the very blog page upon which he’s taking personal swipes at people, do you really expect him to both read and understand actual medical science? That stuff is hard, man! Joe’s got a point to make and he shouldn’t have to be bothered with your silly sideshows and so-called “evidence.”

        • Thank you for pointing out the transitional fossil (A) between X and Y.

          Now please point out the transitional fossils between X and A, and between A and Y. Can’t you see how all your proof just makes your argument weaker?

          I saw this on Futurama once.

    • Russell and Rose, you guys always get the most intersting people to visit our site. It’s really quite uncanny.

  5. I agree with you. But let me play devil’s advocate around some of the edges for a moment.

    Hepatitis B is primarily spread mother to child. Nevertheless, it seems to be routinely administered to ALL children, at least in some places. Might it not make more sense to us the Hepatitis B vaccine only for targeted vaccinations of neonates with infected mothers (and perhaps high-risk others, like health care workers).

    You mention herd immunity, but my understanding is that only works for diseases where transmission is primarily person-to-person. In particular, mass vaccination provides no herd immunity for tetanus, one of your examples.

    • I think there is an argument that can be made for routinely vaccinating neonates against hepatitis B only if the mother tests positive for the illness or whose status is unknown. I would be in favor, generally speaking, of just vaccinating everyone and obviating the risk, but I don’t think it’s flagrantly irresponsible for a woman who is known to be free of the illness to defer the vaccination for her child. It’s not a decision I would make, but it’s not crazy either.

      And tetanus is the only vaccine-preventable infectious disease that is not contagious. (It’s kind of a moot point, since tetanus vaccination is almost always done as part of a combined vaccine such as DTaP or Tdap, and both diphtheria and pertussis [with which it is combined] are contagious.) Technically, it doesn’t benefit the community to the same degree to vaccinate against it. I think it’s incredibly stupid not to vaccinate against tetanus, but it’s not quite the same kind of immunity-mooching as with pretty much all the rest of them.

    • I never fully understood the reasoning behind vaccinating for Hepatitis B at birth in my child’s case and so I chose to delay that one (along with a few others), sorry Russell. Is there a schedule you recommend to your patient’s parents if they are not comfortable with the traditional vaccine schedule? I know what my son is on, but I’m just interested in you opinion.

      Are the three vaccines you listed in your post the ones you feel strongly are the most important that every child get? I assume you want every child to get everything (with the obvious exceptions), but I’m wondering what you tell your patient’s parents who say they are opting to do limited number only.

      • As I indicated in the comment above, I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made for deferring the hep B vaccine for infants born to mothers who are known to be negative. It’s not the decision I would make, but it’s not one I find insane either.

        I chose the three vaccines for the OP because of how differently the infections are transmitted and how widely spaced the introduction of the vaccines was, in order to demonstrate as clearly as possible that vaccines are responsible for the decrease in disease. As I said in another comment, I think it’s idiotic to defer vaccination against tetanus, but at least it doesn’t compromise the health of the community at large to do so.

        And our practice does not accept patients who aren’t vaccinated on the recommended schedule, with a few rare exceptions. And we don’t insist on flu vaccines or HPV vaccine.

          • I assume you’re referring to hep B? In any case, no — there isn’t a different risk. But for people who prefer to minimize vaccine exposure, there isn’t the same risk to those in the community if their children aren’t vaccinated at birth.

        • And, of course, there’s always that mother who totally honestly absolutely postively definitely under all possible circumstances knows that she’s negative for hep B. Except that then she turns out to be positive after all.

  6. I’m just barely old enough to remember the polio epidemic of the 1950’s, or at least to have been able to see the effects on my school classmates. They were partially paralyzed and used leg braces and crutches to get around. I have no idea how many didn’t survive the disease but from what I have read, a significant portion did not.

    These crippled children were common back then. But then the polio vaccine became available and these injured children virtually disappeared in the newer generations. I haven’t seen a new polio victim since the early 1950’s.

    This was a common disease back then. Even The President of The United States, Franklin Rooseveldt was a victim and the most recognizable face of the disease. These victims (after the mid 1950’s) just don’t exist any longer.

    The disease is still out there. It lives in the natural environment ready, willing and able to make a come back just when we let our defenses down. In parts of Africa, it is decimating the population. If this population were to travel to The US, we could experience the first half of the 20th century all over again as has happened with HIV brought to our shores by a single (African) victim.

    We absolutely must keep our defenses up.


    • My cousin, who was born either before the vaccine was invented or before it was distributed widely, contracted polio. Although he has made a good life and career for himself (he just retired a few months ago), I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t wish polio on anyone.

  7. when we were interviewing our pediatrician, the only tense point came when we brought up vaccination schedules. we were worried that he might be on some nonsense delay trip and he was worried that we were some anti-vax nutbags. outside of some of the hasidic/orthodox community in brooklyn, there’s pockets of resistance in high-income/education places like park slope – though being highly educated in the humanities doesn’t mean you understand vaccinations and why they’re important.

    my thought is that among highly educated people susceptible to this line of thinking, having less children means each child has more (emotional and other resources) invested in them, and that having a child with autism is horrible because speaking/communications are the major sign of intelligence in those communities. poorer communications = dumber child or something along those lines. we only knew one of my wife’s colleagues (with a phd in english lit) who was delaying vaccines – our son wasn’t allowed to play with her daughter (roughly the same age) until she’d gotten up to speed. she was upset about it, but tough noogies.

    • I didn’t know any docs delayed the schedule and was infuriated to discover otherwise when I switched pediatric practices. I had assumed (and told new docs) that he was up-to-date, but the former practice had been doing a delayed schedule and we had to catch up. This was my disabled kid; had I been informed, I never would have approved. Also an upscale, highly educated community.

      • that is absolutely awful.

        we were concerned because we at least peripherally knew some folks who were going to pediatricians who went along with this froofraw. (my wife’s facebook feed was filled with them)

        and yeah, vaccination delay/rejection seems to track with higher education and income, outside of pockets of religious communities, at least in new york city. i’m sure a lot of the park slopers would bend your ear happily about those ignorant creationists, though. creationists may be deeply wrong, but at least they won’t get someone else’s kid killed.

        • One kind of funny thing I’ve noticed is how a lot of people (not you!) attribute anti-vaxxing to whomever their political adversaries are. I have liberal friends who just know that it’s all creationist conservative anti-science people. Most of my conservative friends believe it’s all liberal hippies. My experience tends more towards the latter, though maybe because I know more of them. The first place I actually ran into it was Mormonland. Which is odd, because anti-vax actually a very unMormon thing, culturally speaking.

          Notably, the place we have a problem around here is not bluecollarsville or podunkland (though sometimes they’re late just because coming to town is a big deal), but rather the yuppie college town.

          • anyone who is anti-vaxx is my political adversary, whether they call themselves black or tan. they’re striped tigers, and I’ma tiger huntin.
            Same thing with the anti-gw folks.

      • I had assumed (and told new docs) that he was up-to-date, but the former practice had been doing a delayed schedule and we had to catch up.

        I find that jaw-dropping. Utterly, completely egregious. Totally unethical on a couple of different levels. I am so glad you switched.

      • What’s the deal with the delayed schedule? What justifications are offered for it? Or is it merely a way of pursuing anti-vaccinationism by other means?

        • The delayed schedule is a way of accommodating the fear that vaccines as routinely administered somehow assault the immune system with too many pathogens at once. This perspective overlooks the facts that 1: the pathogens in question have been rendered either dead or incapable of causing clinical illness, and 2: that children are assaulted by innumerable (fully virulent) pathogens when they crawl around the floor, visit the grocery store, etc.

          Delaying vaccinations has the negative effects of prolonging the period of susceptibility to the illnesses in question and increasing the likelihood that full vaccination will not occur because one or more immunizations were missed along the way.

          • Out of curiosity, and setting aside the expanded period of risk as a small child, would you consider yourself anti-vaccine spread?

            Meaning if I wanted to spread my daughter’s vaccines out a little more, and I could be trusted to make all her appointments (Where you get to see her as the darling little heartbreaker to be that she is) would you be on board with letting me, as a patient’s father, spread those out?

          • 2: that children are assaulted by innumerable (fully virulent) pathogens when they crawl around the floor, visit the grocery store, etc.

            I grew up on a farm–real Old McDonald ee-eye-ee-eye-oh stuff. You don’t know from environmental pathogens. And you know what? I got colds and occasional flu; no big deal. And no allergies that I’m aware of. Our immune systems have evolved to handle some serious shit. Think about life back in Paleo times.

        • the way it’s been explained to me – and this was a difficult conversation to say the least – too many vaccines in too short a period of time are dangerous because it hurts the child’s immune system.

  8. Than you for the post. You met every expectation. I hope it wasn’t something you did reluctantly.

    • Nah. It was worthwhile to have written it, and so far (*knocking vigorously on wood*) the comments haven’t been too nutty.

  9. Can we have an addendum about the HPV vaccine? I guess that’s not necessarily a pediatrician-type vaccine, but just in the interest of kicking the hell out of the hornets’ nest.

    This was yet another excellent post, by the way.

  10. My mother’s family had been dealing with black people in Atlanta. Somewhere along the line, my mother saw a photograph of a black man who had died of smallpox.

    Niger Republic, 1962. She saw a case of smallpox in a Hausa man. She ran to the house, got my father to get on the shortwave transmitter and call the mission to report a case of smallpox. They immediately called the US authorities, who scrambled an cargo aircraft with thousands of doses of smallpox vaccine and immunisation kits, needles, pans and the like.

    My father gathered the men of the village at the sheikh’s compound and explained what was happening. Several of the oldest men remembered the previous smallpox outbreak and the many who died. The sheikh sent out runners to every surrounding village with the news, and that the bature would be coming out to inoculate everyone.

    Three days later, a DC-3 flew low over the village and four parachutes opened in a clear blue sky. For the next six weeks, we lived in our Jeep, going from village to village as my parents inoculated everyone. When the pan of needles would fill up, my father would fill it with alcohol and flame it off. I will never forget my father, haggard and unshaven, at the wheel of that old Jeep as we bounced down those cattle trails, my mother asleep, her head back, her mouth open, her hair dusty, my brother and sister in the back of the Jeep, too tired to even cry.

    My parents are my heroes. My mother and father stopped one of the last outbreaks of smallpox.

  11. As much as I agree with what Russell has written, I should say that I have never gotten a flu vaccine, even though they have been made available to me. I guess I have some fear that it would lead me to contract the flu. I know–or understand–that the fear is groundless (or almost groundless), and I also understand the argument about herd immunity (and being around people who might develop more severe complications than I would); yet I still have so far refused. Maybe I will next year when flu season comes around. (Disclosure: I don’t have children, so that particular aspect of the issue doesn’t enter into it for me.)

    All this is to say that vaccines, no matter how justified, are part of a phenomenon that people are wary about, especially when they are compulsory. There’s a certain way in which all sides of the “debate”–not really a debate, because there appears to be an almost unanimous consensus by those who know what they’re talking about–are talking past each other. There’s a kernal of….not merit…but something understandable, or at least “human,” in the anti-vaccine position.

    Just to be clear, I support compulsory vaccines, at least for the major illnesses (however one defines “major”….my definition is pretty broad…and if I were consistent, I’d probably include flu vaccines on that list). Also, please understand I’m not criticizing the pro(-compulsory)-vaccination argument as an argument, and I accept the facts as you (Russell) cite them. I guess I’m just adding my voice to the noise of what will probably be an uproarious comment thread.

    • please get the flu shot next year! There are plenty of people with poor immune systems out there — and sometimes they can’t get the shots!

      • Very little (if any) evidence that flu shots actually protect you from the flu. Anyone ever catch on that after the flu season, the CDC comes out and admits that the flu shots that have been recommended during that time did not cover the right strains. That’s why so many people got sick…. LOL! Oops. We guessed wrong… sorry you had that extra dose of mercury injected into your system. Sheep to slaughter.

        • That’s such bullshit. The influenza virus mutates fairly quickly. The virologists who help compose the vaccine work with the stats, trying to predict which strains will appear in the general population, it’s never less than three. So if you get the flu shot, your immune system gets enough of a heads-up on those strains to make a big difference.

          Now you might get a different strain of flu than what you were immunised against. Not uncommon. But you aren’t going to get the strains against which you were immunised. Those you are certain to meet up with, based on the epidemiology work.

          As for all this thiomersal hooey, if you’re really worried about mercury intake, stop eating seafood. And quit breathing the air downwind of coal fired plants. All this thiomersal harum scarum, a bunch of stupid people running around in circles, screaming like little girls, so many ninnies flapping their arms. Complete fucking idiots, every one of them. They make a strong case for eugenics, the lot of ’em. The planet would be a better place without them.

          • I find the flu shot thing so interesting. Definitely not enough evidence out there that they actually work… And yet, people line up every year thinking that they are doing what they need to do in order to protect themselves from the flu. Don’t get me started on the flu scaremongering. It’s the flu, people. Lighten up. Don’t give me crap about how hundreds of thousands of people are going to keel over from this illness. Sick and twisted motives from the government and/or the pharma companies. Just stop…

            Before people go off on how there actually may someday be this flu pandemic issue. Ok. Fine. Got it…. Do I think that the scientists are going to be able to predict this ahead of time and have the correct strain available to “protect” us all? Please. Spare me.

          • Joe, given that your grasp of what constitutes “evidence” seems tenuous in the most charitable light, I remark your boldness in using the term so confidently.

          • Well, if you’d like to see the evidence, in the spirit of Popper’s Falsifiability, nature has given us a hideous proof of what happens when your immune system fails. It’s called AIDS.

            See, AIDS people die of literally everything at once. Including influenza.

        • Very little (if any) evidence that flu shots actually protect you from the flu. Anyone ever catch on that after the flu season, the CDC comes out and admits that the flu shots that have been recommended during that time did not cover the right strains. That’s why so many people got sick …. LOL! Oops. We guessed wrong… sorry you had that extra dose of mercury injected into your system. Sheep to slaughter.

          So….you’re implicitly admitting that vaccines work, and now the problem is that they’re misdirected. That’s a good way to change the goal posts.

          • “So….you’re implicitly admitting that vaccines work, and now the problem is that they’re misdirected. That’s a good way to change the goal posts.”

            Um, no…. I’m suggesting that the CDC makes CLAIMS that the reason why so many people got sick with the flu despite their best efforts to vaccinate everyone is that their super smart, genius-like “scientists” were unable to predict the correct strains of the flu that would affect people. This happens almost every year… Trust me. Again, oops, the reason why the flu affected so many already vaccinated people this year is that we predicted the wrong strains that would affect people. Sorry. Let’s try this again next year! Get your dose of *crap* at your nearest Walmart! See you in September. LOL. Gotta’ love it!

          • This happens almost every year… Trust me. Again, oops, the reason why the flu affected so many already vaccinated people this year is that we predicted the wrong strains that would affect people. Sorry. Let’s try this again next year! Get your dose of *crap* at your nearest Walmart! See you in September.

            So….you’re implicitly admitting that vaccines work, and now the problem is that they’re misdirected. That’s a good way to change the goal posts.

          • “The flu shots are supposed to stop the flu! Millions of people got flu shots! And I still got the flu! FLU SHOTS ARE A SCAM!”

            “Did you get a flu shot?”

            “No, of course not! I told you, IT’S A SCAM!”

    • Measles is making a comeback in the USA. 222 cases of measles were reported in the USA. There was a bad outbreak in the Minneapolis area after a child came back from Kenya. The statistical analysis backs the concept of compulsory vaccination, however wary people might be about the subject. People who won’t get vaccinated are a threat to the people around them.

      Vaccination rates are low in Europe, too. Something like 32,000 cases of measles cropped in Europe: now people are getting their kids vaccinated. People become complacent. It’s awfully hard to reinvigorate a cause when the threat hasn’t been seen in a few decades, nonetheless, the threat remains. A quick stroll through any older graveyard might re-acquaint people with how many children died of preventable diseases before vaccination. Read a few of those tombstones, heartbreaking little poems. If the marble lambs that top those grave markers are a bit worn down by weather, some people still alive remember what life was like before the polio and MMR vaccines were widely administered.

      • I don’t dispute any of what you claim.

        I cheerfully have acquired the full suite of compulsory vaccines and realize I ought to get the flu vaccine, precisely for the reason Kimmi states. Also, if I had children, I would get the full suite of compulsory vaccines for them, too (along with HPV and maybe some others), and would also be much more likely to get the flu shot so I wouldn’t be a vector for them to contract it.

        At the same time, I think if I were a slightly different person–maybe I were less introspective and less willing to examine facts that take me beyond my comfort zone–I might be an anti-vaccinationist. That thought gives me pause. I think it’s appropriate to judge people’s ideas as foolish and, if put into practice, as dangerous. But I also think there’s an element of moral condemnation against anti-vaccinationism (or any ill-reasoned, faulty, and dangerous ism) that I am not particularly well qualified to exercise.

        • Fear of the unknown is always a problem, even for rational people. There’s a cure for that. Knowledge. It’s pointless and rude to tell people they’re behaving Foolishly and Dangerously in the face of the unknown.

          My parents had a little speech they’d give when they were going around from village to village, doing those smallpox vaccinations. They’d say “The last time agana (smallpox) came through, it didn’t kill everyone. Some people survived. They never got smallpox again. The inoculation will leave a small ado, (a scar, also synonymous with smallpox) which will save you from the whole mashasshara, fever unto death, (also a synonym for smallpox).”

          My parents would bring their own kids up front, show them our arms, the little smallpox vaccination scars. “We have done this to our own children. If you love your children, you will let us do it to yours.”

          There was never a problem until the Islamic preachers started racing around, saying the vaccinations would make people Christians. So we took one of the guys who worked for my parents, Halilu, along. He was a Muslim. My parents never tried to convert him, he respected us. If there’s do be any moral condemnation in this context, it’s coming from the other side of the debate.

          • It seems to me the cure is more than simply knowledge. Perhaps “knowledge” + trust or faith. That is, trust or faith in the purveyors of knowledge (in your example, your parents) and in the foundations of that knowledge. I doubt that everyone who accepted smallpox inoculations from your parents fully understood the peer-reviewable arguments in favor of vaccination. But they probably relied in trust on your parents’ word.

            My “peer-reviewable” remark is not meant to be an insult. It applies to me. I understand the basic mechanism by which vaccines and inoculations work (and I even have what is probably a rudimentary understanding of the difference between vaccine and inoculation), but I don’t have the scientific training or knowledge to understand the many studies that have been made to test their efficacy and their safety. And even if I did have such training, I would still have to trust the founding assumptions of the scientific enterprise–that we live in a world governed by natural laws, for example, and that we are able to discover, if only by fits and starts, the attributes of those laws and how they apply in the case of vaccines / inoculations.

            Perhaps this is part of what you were getting at.

            As for your remark about all moral condemnation coming from the other side of the debate, I’m not so sure. But the only examples I have are anecdotes, and even I realize that my own examples might not necessarily lead one to conclude that “our side” is making moral condemnations.

          • Yeah, that’s a valid point. I doubt anyone understood the nature of communicable disease, though my parents were constantly going on about not drinking ruan tabke, water from puddles, which caused all sorts of parasitic infestations.

            All they had to work with was dark stories told of agana which wiped out entire villages back in the 1950s. They all knew what agana was, it had many synonyms as well. When those runners went out from Dungas, the people we met were terrified. We were tracked from village to village, we’d arrive in one village, a runner would go out to the next village to tell them to expect us. They didn’t need to understand much of anything: they were told how it spread, how could be prevented and where to line up. The only peers they needed to review were us kids with our little scars on our shoulders.

          • Pierre, it bugs me, but every time they vaccinate my kids, I watch them closely for days afterwards. Even though I know better.

            There’s an interesting philosophical literature on whether believing something without evidence or warrant is a) irrational, or b) immoral. I’ve always been somewhat skeptical that it’s actually immoral (which would make it immoral- not just irrational – to believe in God, after all). The is an argument to be made, however, that vaccinations are the kind of case where believing something without evidence is indeed immoral, because the consequences are so grave.

    • I am really bad about vaccinations, making me something of a hypocrite. There’s nothing ideological about it, though. I just never actually think about doing it. Clancy has been good for me in this regard. She nudges me pretty hard and has made the important point that when the little one (who kicked for the first time yesterday!) comes in, I am more or less at her command as far as my health care goes, since it wouldn’t be just me.

      • She nudges me pretty hard and has made the important point that when the little one (who kicked for the first time yesterday!) comes in, I am more or less at her command as far as my health care goes, since it wouldn’t be just me.

        1) Hoorah!

        2) That last bit is the attitude I’d commend to anyone.

      • please, please get those damn vaccinations!
        (our health plan gives us deductible cash back for getting a flu shot. good incentive!)

        • Ha Ha… Who are you Nancy Snydermann? Just get those damn vaccines. Sure Nancy… Stick it where the sun don’t shine. 🙂

          Cash back for getting an extra shot of mercury. Awesome plan!

  12. What’s always amusing to me is the people who claim that vaccination is just a scam by the pharmaceutical industry to sell us all more drugs.

    Because, y’know, the profit margin on totally-generic vaccines is just like SUPER high.

    And that’s setting aside the fact that, if these companies really were run by such bastards, those bastards would have no qualms about jacking up the price on the medications used to treat the conditions they’re vaccinating against.

    • The one that gets me is the convergence between people who believe:

      “The medical establishments don’t care about curing people, they just want to treat them because that’s where the money is. Where’s the preventative medicine in all of this. Lost, that’s where. Because there’s no money in it.”

      “Vaccinations are a scam by the medical establishment to fatten their pockets.”

  13. Another thought: If an SF writer had predicted a world where poor kids were sick from being too fat and rich kids were sick because they didn’t get vaccinated, they’d have been laughed off the face of the Earth.

      • Even a blind clock finds a stopped pig’s nuts twice per forest-day.

    • poor kids were sick from being too fat

      Pohl’s The Midas Plague. The other I can’t think of off-hand, but it’s a fairly common trope that the poor and wretched stay on Earth while the privileged rough it exploring new planets. (RAH’s Tunnel in the Sky almost fits, the the explorers earn the privilege via ability rather than wealth).

    • This might be the comment of the week, right here.

  14. Russ-

    Great posts. One question: I generally skip the flu vaccine. Not out of any philosophical (@ Rose, hehehe!) reason or anything, I’ve just never gotten one and never really had a problem, so sort of a “Ain’t broke, don’t fix it” thing. And the last vaccine I got (I believe for meningitis or whatever they make you get before college) left me sick as a dog for two nights. A worthy price to pay based on what I understand meningitis can do to you, mind you. Generally speaking, I don’t like going to the doctor. I’m young, fit, and rarely get sick*. And with reported shortages of flue vaccines, I figure any one I take is one denied to a more at risk segment of the population.

    All that being said, should I get a flu vaccine if they are available? Does the fact I work with kids matter?

    * It is a commonly held notion that teachers and other folks who are regularly around germy folks tend to have super strong immune systems. Is this true? I haven’t been genuinely sick (such that I can’t go to work) in years. I’ve gotten strep once or twice, an occasional mild sinus infection, and the sniffles in the winter, but that is it. Otherwise, unless I’m hungover, I’m good to go. Do you know of any research into the building of an immune system by exposure to germy folk?

    • Starting from the bottom and working upward, it’s a commonly-held conceit that people exposed to multitudes of children during cold and flu season develop an iron-clad immune system. Pediatricians certainly like to think so. And given that I see a couple dozen sick kids per day (easily) during peak season, most of whom sneeze/cough/vomit/worse on me, it’s probably true. The last time I boasted about this, however, I got conjunctivitis the next week. (Thank you for the lesson in hubris, Universe.) And I’m not aware of any actual studies, but then again I’ve never bothered to look.

      And yes, I would probably recommend you get the flu vaccine. [Insert usual disclaimer about not giving actual medical advice blah blah blah here.] That would be both for your protection, and your students’. And I, of course, am required to get one annually.

      • Thanks! I get pink eye a lot, but it is usually the general irritation variety, not the viral or whatever type. At least, that is what I’ve been told, that there are two types, one of which requires medication and the other which does not (but can benefit from it). And I usually get it from sleeping in my contacts.

        Super immunity folks unite!

      • Grr… wish ya hadn’t said that Doc.

        I forgo the flu shot my wife and kids get it. The last time I got one I was laid up for two days with flu-like symptoms and when I don’t get it I rarely get sick, or when I do it’s more the “common cold” kind of sick, not flu-sick.

    • please get vaccine? I have very dear relatives who can’t get vaccine, and have poor immune systems.
      please get vaccine?

  15. I started getting the flu vax in 1999, when somebody dear to me was on chemo, and I’ve gotten it every year since. No problems, not even a sore arm that I recall.

    I started being a lay advocate for vaccines around the same time, as we found that many in our social circle had refused vaccines for their children. Since my dear one’s immune system was (temporarily) not-so-great, it was awkward to socialize.

    The arguments against vaccinating, even against adult uptake of the annual flu vaccine, come in two flavors: weak and weaker. Or as somebody else said (I think one of the Australian skeptics) “On the one hand, there’s science. On the other hand….Wait! There is no other hand.”

  16. There are few things modern medicine has accomplished that are such an unalloyed good as immunization.

    You mean besides killing 100,000 people per year due to medical errors?

    He has a husband

    Not possible

    • FYI “Sid Offit” is the nom de insult of Robert Schecter of the Vaccine Machine blog, who has a B.S. in Fire Science. He’s best known for frequent nonsensical comments at Respectful Insolence.

  17. I suspect you think your post made sense. You would be mistaken

    • *re-reads post*

      Hmmmm. Looks pretty solid to me. Certainly tight enough to withstand your assaults thus far, you forensic marvel you.

  18. Chickenpox is “intensely unpleasant?” Which Grenadian medical school did you go to?

    • Gee Offal…

      It was certainly unpleasant for my son, who contracted it two weeks before he was due to be vaccinated against it. It was unpleasant enough to require medication to control the itching and swelling, since the majority of his outbreak occurred in his genital area, and face/neck. I’m thankful we managed to keep him from scarring his face, but not elsewhere.

      As far as the whole, “I’m the parent I know more than the Dr/Radiologist/anyone that’s spent 8 years studying in their chosen field” – I see it too when the anti-vaccination folks start to spout off about ‘TOXINS!”

      They deny the concept of a ‘dose/response’ relationship, they claim the blood brain barrier isn’t intact at birth (they’re right – it’s intact after the first trimester!) and thus all those ‘toxins’ have a free ride into their special snowflake’s brain.

      One of my favorite comments I’ve seen regarding formaldehyde, “I don’t want synthetic formaldehyde being injected into my child!” They’ve been convinced that there’s ‘natural’ formaldehyde (which the body produces naturally and can metabolize and excrete perfectly fine) and ‘synthetic formaldehyde’ which isn’t the ‘same’ as ‘natural’ and thus the body can’t deal with it and it causes cancer.

      It’s confirmation bias of olympic proportions!

      They’ll scream bloody murder about thimerosal (mercury!) and aluminum (!!!) but then turn around and recommend colloidal silver for everything under the sun, while insisting that giving ionic silver is, “perfectly safe” – because it’s not ‘Big Pharma’.

      As someone very, very familiar with the concept of toxicity and toxicology, the utter ignorance they display is truly mind boggling, since ionic silver is second only to elemental mercury in terms of toxicity to life. The colloidal silver sold now is mostly nano-silver – which makes it even more dangerous to use, since nanosilver can (and does) pass through the cell membrane and the blood brain barrier – by simple diffusion. It can also be taken up (despite the concentration gradient) by active transport via the sodium pump – it’s small enough and has the right charge – your body doesn’t know it isn’t sodium. Once it’s in the cells, that’s when it starts the ROS generation and other problems which usually leads to apoptosis and cell death.

  19. Joe Schmo wrote,

    You need a “citation” to understand that the government pays out millions of dollars in vaccine injuries?

    That’s his argument that vaccines are always bad and more dangerous than the diseases they protect against.

    So I did the math. Well, actually, I did the math estimate, accurate as to 6 months ago.

    I estimate that there have been more than 1.8 billion doses of vaccines administered to children six and under since the program began. The average ratio of vaccine awards per million doses of vaccines is…1.3.

    As one of my commenters noted,

    I think it’s also worth noting that of the 2,892 claims compensated, nearly half (1,266) were related to the DTP with whole cell Pertussis. Since the DTPwP is no longer used, it would make sense not to consider these awards if using the VICP compensation figures as an indication of safety.

    So the “millions in vaccine injury compensation” is correct, and it means that the program is working the way it was designed to do.

    Yes, vaccine injury is real, but extremely rare.

  20. “pediatricians typically know LESS than a well educated and well informed parent. Honest.”

    As someone who considers the self a well educated and informed parent, I’m not sure any recent pediatric residency grads would be willing to have them take their boards for them.

    • 1) Heh. Good point. Indeed not.

      2) I just now figured out who you are, which is embarrassing. (I thought you were another erstwhile commenter named Ken the last time you commented.) Nice to see you!

  21. See this is the exact thing people who dont want to poisen there children have to put up with!

    Let me just clarify, if you can find me A single document, that states with scientific evidence that *formaldehyde* or *Aborted Baby Fecus’s* or even Sheep DNA and errmmm what was that other poisen, OH YEAH MERCURY, IF YOU can find us the document that states with scientific evidence as proof, that any of the Above substances helps human being live a healthier life, or that these substances are good for humans in anyway, then maybe, theres just a tiny chance i might think for 5 seconds on vaccinating my babies.


  22. See this is the exact thing people who dont want to poisen there children have to put up with!

    Let me just clarify, if you can find me A single document, that states with scientific evidence that *formaldehyde* or *Aborted Baby Fecus’s* or even Sheep DNA and errmmm what was that other poisen, OH YEAH MERCURY, IF YOU can find us the document that states with scientific evidence as proof, that any of the Above substances helps human being live a healthier life, or that these substances are good for humans in anyway, then maybe, theres just a tiny chance i might think for 5 seconds on vaccinating my babies.

    I Put it too you that if vaccination actually works and Eradicates disease, then why is the common flu still around world wide? can you answer that? it cant even end the flu, infact after recieving a flu jab you just end up feeling like shit for a week with the flu it’s rediculous to even think these vaccinations are doing any good to such a small child, its all about money,

    you said Quote// why I support vaccination for all healthy children, largely because “pediatrician supports vaccinations” seems the kind of obvious notion// End Quote

    Doctors are the 3rd highest cause of death in the united states and the united kingdom

    you just blindly follow what you told by other people who are blindly following what they was told because they get paid ALOT OF MONEY for it!



  23. Aborted Baby Fecus’s

    Come again?

    if vaccination actually works and Eradicates disease, then why is the common flu still around world wide? can you answer that?

    Because there are a wide variety of different influenza viruses and they mutate readily. And you say you’ve done your homework. Sigh.

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