The truth about vaccinations: Your physician knows more than the University of Google

“A cousin of my mom’s survived Polio and lived the rest of his life with its effects. He was not expected to live past his teens but made it to his 40s. I am grateful that modern science can protect us from Polio and other diseases and I choose to take advantage of modern science to give my kid better odds of not dying from a preventable disease. I had heard a lot of noise from people claiming vaccines caused Autism, but never saw any clear evidence. It just seemed to me like people really wanted to point to something as the cause and they latched onto vaccines.”–Jennifer

I have been getting into a lot of discussions about whether vaccines are safe in the last few days. I’m not sure if it’s because of a post going viral about a (terrible) Italian court ruling last year (In contrast, American courts side with doctors and scientists on vaccine safety) or Jenny McCarthy’s recent hiring as co-host on “The View”, or simply (as a friend suggested to me today) the fact that a new school year is starting soon and parents are having to provide vaccination records to schools.

“(I got my children vaccinated) because the science supports it and I don’t want my kids to die. And civic reasons. It’s so straightforward.”–Britta

Whatever the reason, this week I’ve been in many conversations with individuals staunchly against vaccinations, parents who are very upset at the idea of unvaccinated children putting their own kids at risk, and parents who are confused and worried and want to know how to make the best decision possible for their children’s safety. I’m writing this for the third group of parents.

What’s going on?
There has been a very steep decrease in the rate of vaccinations recently, particularly (but I want to stress not only) within communities of affluent, well-educated parents. [UPDATE: Keep in mind that there’s considerable diversity among anti-vaccine proponents. A conservative religious community here in Texas, opposed to vaccines because “faith should be enough”, is currently experiencing an outbreak of measles].

“It’s that whole natural, BPA-free, hybrid car community that says ‘we’re not going to put chemicals in our children,’” Shapiro told Salon. “It’s that same idea: ‘I’m going to be pure and I want to keep my child pure.’”

California law mandates that all students get vaccinated, but it also makes it easy to get exemptions for personal beliefs. And parents in tony places like Marin County are taking advantage of it in seemingly growing numbers. One public elementary school in Malibu, an affluent beach town just north of Los Angeles, reported that only 58 percent of their students are immunized — well below the recommended 90-plus percent level — according to Shapiro.

And it’s even worse in some of L.A.’s private schools, where as few as 20 percent of kids are vaccinated in some schools. “Yes, that’s right: Parents are willingly paying up to $25,000 a year to schools at which fewer than 1 in 5 kindergartners has been immunized against the pathogens causing such life-threatening illnesses as measles, polio, meningitis and pertussis (more commonly known as whooping cough),” she wrote. –from (Emphasis mine)

This is particularly frustrating when there is overwhelming evidence that vaccinations DO NOT cause autism. As the wonderful blog Science Based Medicine puts it:

“At this point, the evidence is so utterly overwhelming that there is not a whiff of a hint of a whisper of a correlation between vaccines and autism that it has become irritating that antivaccine activists keep pressuring scientists to do the same study over and over again, coming up with the same results over and over again, and then seeing antivaccinationists fail to believe those same results over and over again. Apparently, antivaccine activists think that if the same sorts of studies are done enough times, there will be a positive result implicating vaccines as a risk factor for or contributing cause to autism.”

Why are parents choosing not to vaccinate their children?
I think there are several reasons, but they all may have some connection to misunderstanding of what the scientific evidence on this issue is, or resistance to perceived authority. In Western cultures, we’re accustomed to framing every public issue as two-sided. People who refuse to acknowledge that there’s legitimacy to the other side are “unfair.” I think this viewpoint is really muddling the vaccine safety conversation. When the media presents scientists on one side, and Natural News on the other, it’s creating a false equivalency. The anti-vaxxers have no credible scientific evidence supporting their position, but placing them opposite a scientist makes it seem like there are two legitimate sides to this debate. There aren’t. The simple fact is that there’s overwhelming scientific consensus that the MMR vaccine doesn’t cause autism.

“I unapolagetically vaccinate my kid, and it’s not just because that’s what you do, it’s because I really looked at what the science said and made a decision based on facts, evidence, and rational weighing of risk-benefit. I think the problem is that it’s easier to feel off the hook for risking your kids via inaction rather than action. But realistically, the risks of vaccination are so much less than the risks of what could happen if your child does get a vaccine-preventable disease, and you are also protecting those who *can’t* be vaccinated. That’s why I get a flu shot. Not because I am going to die of the flu, but to protect the elderly, infants, and immunocompromised folks I might come into contact with.” –Melissa (emphasis mine)

Do vaccines work?

Yes. Here are some of the diseases prevented with vaccinations:


from “Demographics of Unvaccinated Chidren”, National Network for Immunization Information.

Do vaccines cause autism?

No. As a starting point for you, here’s a roundup of trustworthy scientific resources for you to read on your own (everything is peer-reviewed, or contains links to peer-reviewed articles):

Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism

Vaccine Safety studies (a bunch of studies, with notes about what they mean):

Concerns about vaccine safety (this is really great, and written in layman’s language)

How do we know that scientists and doctors are right?

I’ve been asked about this quite a bit lately. One person asked me “why aren’t we getting peered reviewed research from other points of view?” The reason is quite simple: there isn’t any.

Scientific research works like this:
You start with the specific questions “Does the MMR vaccine cause autism?”, “Does the MMR vaccine increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease?” and so forth. You then design a study to test that question. It’s not starting from one “side” or the other, trying to seek proof for it. That’s the way politics works, not science. When you get an answer, it’s either “yes” or “no” (actually it tends to be “there is a statistically significant association between this drug and this disease” or “there is NOT a statistically significant association between this drug and this disease.”) Your results are submitted to experts for peer review. These experts then go over your results and methods with a fine-toothed comb, trying to find weaknesses in your approach, or over-interpretation of the results. They evaluate your statistics to make sure that they’re correct. If they decide that it’s acceptable (and this is usually a very hard test to pass), your paper gets published and is considered “peer-reviewed.” But that’s not the end.

Studies are then done by other research groups to both test and build upon your results. While the initial screen by peer reviewers is very stringent, it doesn’t always catch mistakes, and can miss identifying faked data (for example, Andrew Wakefield’s paper got past peer review because the reviewers didn’t catch that his data were fraudulent). However, all scientific research is iterative–that is, it builds upon a foundation created by other research. So if your results are wrong, or faked, it will quickly become obvious to other researchers who try to replicate or use them. Scientific consensus is VERY hard to achieve. So when it happens, pay attention.

Why do I (and others) keep harping on “peer-reviewed” studies? Why do I (and others) refuse to acknowledge the truth of what X blogger says?

Science operates based on the philosophy that the truth is knowable if we design experiments correctly, and we do enough of them to rigorously test our hypotheses. And I hope that you know by now that anyone with a keyboard can make stuff up. Peer review is how we test that someone isn’t making things up. Experts in your field have to agree with your conclusions.

But what about Andrew Wakefield’s research?

“I got my son vaccinated after doing research about it. I had been going through birthing classes that were against it, but the scientist in me questioned what they were saying. I found the info about the falsified info about autism. I still couldn’t believe (and still can’t) that parents would hold chicken pox parties. I’d had chicken pox as a kid, and I know about shingles. It just made sense to me.”–Charity

Andrew Wakefield faked his data for profit. His medical license has been revoked as a consequence. It’s important that people know that the the link between vaccines/autism is based on an outright lie–most of the other authors on the paper have removed their names from it. You can read more about this story here:

What are the consequences of not vaccinating your children?

“We chose to vaccinate Vera on a regular schedule, and to be honest I did not do extensive research. I read enough to know that the studies showing an autism link were bad science and I found a pediatrician I really trusted and talked to her about it. I also really do believe that those of us with healthy kids should vaccinate to protect children who have compromised immune systems.”–Faye

Harm to your child:

Penn and Teller illustrate this beautifully (if profanely: language NSFW)

To put it simply, your child is at risk of contracting a preventable disease.

Image from
Many of us (myself included) don’t remember polio epidemics. This was the treatment. Image from

What happens in the absence of our vaccination program? Read about it here:

Harm to other children:

“Unvaccinated children are concentrated in particular states, increasing the risk of transmitting vaccine-preventable diseases to other unvaccinated children, undervaccinated children and fully vaccinated children.”

One person with whom I was discussing this issue (he has not vaccinated his kids, but does homeschool them) put forth a hypothesis:

“but if you are correct, i guess in the near future the progressive states will have noticeable outbreaks (and not just the ones you read about), ones that touch somebody you know, as more and more hippy parents stop vaccinating their kids. stay clear of the pacific northwest or perish. ahaha. nah, we are growing super strong natural kids for the future here, and not ones reliant on medicines from a lab. we are sprouting wings and soon we shall fly to furthest regions of the universe and beyond”

I agree with that hypothesis. Unlike the rest of his comment, it’s quite scientific. IF vaccines are protective, and IF parents are choosing not to vaccinate, we should be seeing outbreaks of those diseases in states where the rate of non-vaccination is highest.

This is indeed the case. Here are two examples:

Incidents of whooping cough (pertussis) are significantly higher in states that easily allow parents exceptions from the vaccination. In Washington state alone, there was a 1,300% increase in cases.
Have you ever taken care of a child with pertussis? I have. This is what it’s like (warning: video of children in pain):

And cases of measles infection in the United States have already doubled since last year.

That’s just the beginning. This post is already too long, but I urge you to go to the CDC’s website and read about recent outbreaks. They are tied to regions where vaccine rates are low.

Final thoughts

Googling and listening to what people tell you over on parenting message boards, “Natural News”, and similar sites is not the same thing as advice from a trained physician. I really believe that the vast majority of parents who are leery of vaccinating their kids are simply confused because they’ve been given bad information.

“We live in a society, and our actions have consequences for others. It’s our responsibility to protect our children and our neighbors’ children. Plus our ancestors could only have dreamed of something that would protect their children from these horrible diseases.”–Mary

Vaccination is not just to protect your own child. It’s also a moral and civic issue. Remember that we are incredibly privileged in our society to have access to vaccines. In many places around the world, people don’t have easy access to them, and there are even some places where aid workers are killed for trying to administer vaccines. Our privilege confers responsibility as well. By vaccinating your children, you are also protecting other children (and adults) who can’t be vaccinated. Here is a really great explanation of this, and the concept of herd immunity.

“I chose to have my first child vaccinated because I paid some attention in science classes and it works. I paid better attention in history classes and have a sense of the suffering various preventable diseases have caused in the past and I didn’t want that for my child. After my first born spent a week in the hospital with an infection, I feel much more strongly about having my second child vaccinated. In that case, it wasn’t something that could have been vaccinated against, but there is no reason and no excuse for subjecting your child to the risk of that kind of suffering over a preventable disease. It’s irresponsible and cruel.”–Eric

Wakefield, McCarthy, Kennedy and other leaders of the movement are deceiving you. They bear responsibility for the deaths of children. That’s why I keep speaking out on this issue.

I hope that I’ve provided you with a starting point from which to do your own research. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me here, or on twitter, or by email (link at the top of this page), or–even better–ask your physician!

UPDATE: I wrote a tutorial/example of how to critically read a vaccine safety study here. If you wish to do your own research, I suggest that reading the primary, peer-reviewed literature is a vastly better approach than relying on books/Facebook memes/discussion forums. Hopefully the tools you’ll find in that post (and this one) will be helpful.


Edited to remove Lyme disease from list of vaccine preventable illnesses. There’s a vaccine currently in clinical trials, but it’s not fully tested or available yet. Thanks to “justreadingyourblog” for pointing that out to me.

1,781 thoughts on “The truth about vaccinations: Your physician knows more than the University of Google

  1. Ariane Beldi August 27, 2013 / 12:19 pm

    Reblogged this on Rewinding Ariane's thread | Rembobinage du fil d'Ariane and commented:
    An excellent post aimed at concerned parents who are trying to make a decision with regards to vaccinations for their kids in the midst of all the contradictory information swarming the Web, with the anti-vax fairly dominating the page results from Google Search. The author has reposted some video of children suffering from pertussis that shows how much they are suffering and that it isn’t disease to be taken lightly, illustrating the importance of immunization.

  2. Doc of Life August 28, 2013 / 9:46 am

    I hope all of you smart adults commenting on the efficacy and necessity of vaccinations are indeed practicing what you preach! when was your last booster? Vaccinations do NOT give lifelong immunity. If you are demanding that children get vaccinated because of public safety, you better be offering up your arm to the needles too! If you are not following a schedule then you are simply a hypocrite and are sucking off the false concept of “herd immunity”.

    • Marni August 28, 2013 / 12:35 pm

      Personally, I got a Tetanus/Pertussis booster this year (early, because they weren’t doing pertussis immunizations for adults when I’d had my previous booster in 2006) and will now have to remember to get future boosters in every year that ends with a 3 — 2023, 2033, etc. As a registered nurse, and as a “senior citizen” — I’m 66 — I’ve seen a fair amount of what happens when people don’t take health promotion seriously. My parents made very sure that all of us kids got the Salk vaccine when it was first given on a national basis (Mom’s good friend, Berniece, was a polio survivor; can you imagine learning how to pin diapers one-handed?) and then again when we participated in “Sabin Oral Sundays” when the oral vaccine became available. I’m also up to date on the pneumonia vaccination. I’ve gotten other immunizations along the way and have had very few problems with the immunizations and no problems with the diseases.

    • Anonymous August 28, 2013 / 5:44 pm

      Yep. Fortunately I work with a lot of RNs and they filled me in on what boosters I was likely to need. I checked with my primary care physican and got the boosters.

      Which will not convince you, nor anyone else who has decided that herd immunity is a myth.

  3. Thomas Holm August 28, 2013 / 3:33 pm

    I sometimes get very strong reactions to my vaccinations, high fevers, rashes, roller-coasters of cooking and freezing, the shakes… Just for a day or two, but still enough to make me dread them.

    Would I ever go without my vaccinations? No. Not just for myself, but also for those around me.

    • Carys August 30, 2013 / 9:13 pm

      I had such a violent reaction to my last tetanus booster that my doctor told me not to have another one unless I had a possible exposure.

      I feel faintly guilty about this, but at least tetanus is unlikely to have person-to-person transmission, if I’m right? Everything else I keep up to date. I regret not being elligible for Gardasil (HPV). I’m too old. :(

      • KHandcock September 11, 2013 / 10:54 am

        If your doctor has told you not to, you are one of the few people that SHOULD be declining that particular vaccine. No one should be giving anyone a hard time about a genuine medical reason to limit vaccination. Please don’t feel guilty.

  4. David August 28, 2013 / 5:26 pm

    Hepatitis B is a viral disease of the liver that is usually transmitted by sex or by IV drug users sharing needles. There is virtually no chance that a young child will catch the disease (unless their mother is infected) or spread the disease. Nonetheless, most states mandate that newborns follow CDC guidelines and be injected with the vaccine at birth and then two more times in the next 18 months.

    Here are some peer-reviewed papers that suggest that there are problems with the vaccine:

    Hepatitis B vaccination of male neonates and autism diagnosis

    Autoimmune hazards of hepatitis B vaccine.

    Adverse events associated with hepatitis B vaccine in U.S. children

    Hepatitis B vaccine and liver problems in U.S. children

    So here’s the question: knowing that there’s zero chance that your child will get this disease before they become sexually active or start sharing needles with their friends (at which time they could get vaccinated), and knowing that there are reliable reports of problems caused by the vaccine, especially when given to infants, why would you have your child vaccinated on the CDC schedule?

    • Sullivanthepoop August 29, 2013 / 7:26 am

      Hep B infections are usually cleared by healthy adults, but children under 5 cannot clear this infection and it becomes chronic. So, most people who have a chronic Hep B infection caught it when they were under 5 long before they would have been using drugs, getting tattoos, or having sex. When the Hep B vaccine was first approved they gave it to older children and even though the incidence of chronic Hep B infections was reduced, it was not reduced near enough. When they switched to giving it to newborns it reduced the incidence of chronic Hep B infections greatly. None of those papers are very good. 3 are too old and there are no papers that support their position. Just because there is one paper that says something does not mean that something is correct.

      • David August 29, 2013 / 3:08 pm

        The age of a paper has little to do with whether it’s a “good” paper. Whatever research was published to justify the introduction of the Hepatitis B vaccine and its inclusion on the vaccine schedule is “old” at this point. If being old means it’s no longer valid, then that undercuts the argument for requiring the vaccine today.

        The deck is stacked in major ways in favor of the status quo and against any studies to uncover problems with the vaccine. Right off the bat, any researcher who dares to express any doubt about the vaccine is going to be suspected of not being on the “team” and of not being “with the program.” Such defection from mainstream opinion will be punished with loss of funding and poor job prospects. Most people aren’t going to jeopardize their careers in that way.

        But career suicide is only a smallish obstacle to an honest evaluation of the vaccine. The major obstacle is that no institutional review board is going to approve a controlled study because everybody already knows the vaccine is great, so it would be unethical to run a control group which doesn’t get the vaccine. Because of this Catch-22, most papers that find a problem with the vaccine are going to be small studies looking at old data. Yes, that means they will be weak, but that doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.

        It’s really hard to see how an honest and rational risk-benefit analysis of the Hepatitis B vaccine could lead to a mandate that every infant be vaccinated. The risks may be small, but there is enough smoke in the papers I cited (and in others that I didn’t) to make me wonder if there might not be some fire in there somewhere. It’s certainly enough to justify some skepticism. And the benefits of the vaccine to a child whose mother is not infected seem to be remote in the extreme. When I compare a small risk of problems with zero chance of benefit, it’s not hard to make a decision.

        Why not just vaccinate those children whose mother is infected? Or vaccinate when the child is entering adolescence? Those are rational strategies for dealing with the disease. One has to wonder about what sorts of corruption and hidden agendas might be involved in mandating a vaccine for so many children who will not benefit from it.

        • Marni August 29, 2013 / 3:53 pm

          there are several reasons to immunize newborns against hepatitis, whether the mother is infected or not. According to the CDC (
          “Who is at risk for Hepatitis B?

          Although anyone can get Hepatitis B, some people are at greater risk, such as those who:

          Have sex with an infected person
          Have multiple sex partners
          Have a sexually transmitted disease
          Are men who have sexual contact with other men
          Inject drugs or share needles, syringes, or other drug equipment
          Live with a person who has chronic Hepatitis B
          Are infants born to infected mothers
          Are exposed to blood on the job
          Are hemodialysis patients
          Travel to countries with moderate to high rates of Hepatitis B

          If I think I have been exposed to the Hepatitis B virus, what should I do?

          If you are concerned that you might have been exposed to the Hepatitis B virus, call your health professional or your health department. If a person who has been exposed to Hepatitis B virus gets the Hepatitis B vaccine and/or a shot called “HBIG” (Hepatitis B immune globulin) within 24 hours, Hepatitis B infection may be prevented.”

          So, first note that if a baby born to a mother with Hep B receives the immune globulin (which provides temporary passive immunity) or begins the Hep B vaccine series within 24 hours of birth, it MAY prevent the infection. So, the immunization decreases the risk, but does not eliminate all risk. Whereas, if the mother had been immunized effectively, no exposure would have occurred during birth. Next, note that, since for most people, once the series is completed boosters are unnecessary for decades, perhaps for life, that if the vaccine is effective (there are a few people who don’t test as protected after the full series is given), risks of getting the disease, regardless of exposure, are significantly reduced. Now, maybe you know a way to assure that each child you parent will only ever have sex in a monogamous relationship with a person who has also only ever had sex in that same monogamous relationship with your child. I, personally, have never known parents who could guarantee that, regardless of how and where their children were raised, but perhaps my limited experience is different from yours. It’s the partners your children acquire that I’m pretty sure you can’t guarantee, although huge numbers of parents throughout history have been surprised when they discover that their children have had sex at ages and at times when the parents were positive they couldn’t possibly have even been interested in the activity.

          So, by immunizing children before they ever get exposed to the blood or other infectious body fluids of others, we prevent the too common consequences of chronic Hep B which can lead to liver failure and death unless a liver transplant is possible. To me, it’s cheap at twice the price. I know you will say “You wouldn’t say that if it was YOUR child who ended up disabled or dead from the vaccine.” Perhaps, though I doubt it. You see, I’ve never been under the illusion that life is or can be made safe. There are risks to everything — and often the worst risks come from doing nothing. Therefore, when offered odds that my child had maybe a 1 in 1,000 risk of a permanent problem from an illness versus a 1 in 10,000 risk of a permanent problem from a vaccine, I chose the vaccines every time. The odds were in my (and my child’s) favor, you see. So, just as I attempted to keep them safe by teaching them to look both ways before crossing the street while I knew that it wouldn’t necessarily protect them from death from a drunk or impaired or distracted driver, I also had them immunized, while knowing that the vaccines weren’t perfect and that there was always a minor risk involved.

    • Kevin August 30, 2013 / 8:34 am

      You are right that the age of the paper doesn’t mean that it’s a good paper.

      However, it does mean that the paper could be based on outdated information and concepts. Or that the paper may no longer be applicable.

      For instance they may have revised the formula, and method of vaccination for HEP B in the last 10 years. So it’s highly probable that you are comparing apples to oranges.

      You have to also remember that you have only read the abstract. Not the papers results. From the abstract the person is saying that the HEP vaccine has more dangers than other vaccines. However, since other vaccines have limited dangers it’s doesn’t mean that we should run for the hills.

  5. carolyn August 28, 2013 / 7:20 pm

    There is no vaccination to prevent tuberculosis!! and the flu does not “prevent ” you from getting the flu…it just diminishes your chances of getting it

    • carolyn August 28, 2013 / 7:23 pm

      i meant to say the flu vaccine doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu

      • carolyn August 28, 2013 / 11:40 pm

        yeah there is the BCG vaccine which is completely non-effective

      • Sullivanthepoop August 29, 2013 / 7:36 am

        While it is true that the BCG vaccine has low efficacy compared to other vaccines, it does protect against the most severe effects of the disease.

      • Kevin August 29, 2013 / 7:40 am

        From my understanding the TB vaccine is mostly used for people at high risk and has a 10 year life span. It does not confer full immunity.

        However, that is still far better than no immunity and an infection outbreak.

        So in short there is a vaccine.

    • Sullivanthepoop August 29, 2013 / 7:32 am

      Ummm …. there is a vaccine for tuberculosis we just do not give it in the US because monitoring works just fine here. Which goes to show we are not as vaccine happy as the anti-vaxxers would have you think.
      Influenza is a virus with an RNA genome. All viruses with RNA genomes have a high rate of mutation. Getting the flu does not prevent you from getting the flu again in the same season it just diminishes your chances. Fighting off a natural influenza infection leaves you with a weakened immune system so you are more likely to get other respiratory infections. It is better to get the flu shot.

      • Jennifer Raff August 29, 2013 / 2:32 pm

        +1. The only years I don’t get a flu vaccine are when the supply is too low for low-risk, healthy adults.

    • M September 4, 2013 / 1:20 pm

      In Mexico, all children now receive a TB vaccine. so there is one, it just isn’t on OUR regular vaccine schedule in the US

  6. Luke Skywalker August 28, 2013 / 7:50 pm

    Oh! All hail the scientific, moral and intellectual superiority of extensively brainwash medical students.
    The sleep deprivation of the author did not hamper this high minded tour de force, of well reasoned logic, propaganda, emotional appeal and character assassination. Bravo, bravo.
    I eagerly await your dissertation of the nutritional benefits of aspartame.

    • Kevin August 29, 2013 / 7:42 am

      All hail the dunning Dunning–Kruger effect.

      Seriously please look it up.

    • Ziva August 29, 2013 / 8:01 am

      Good one Luke!

    • Ross August 29, 2013 / 8:16 am

      You should pray to God for their souls.
      Meanwhile, I’ll ask Superman to send you any invisible, flying badgers that manage to survive the TB cull.

    • Otto Mäkelä August 29, 2013 / 8:31 am

      Is there a correlation between being an antivaxxer and not being able to spell properly?

    • Aka August 29, 2013 / 12:34 pm

      You should read up on debate skills, common logical fallacies, and critical thinking, so that you could make a more convincing argument for that. You see, you’ve shown contempt for the author’s position, but shown absolutely no reason to take what you say seriously.

      I eagerly await your reasoned explanation of why centuries to millennia of trial and error experimentation is inferior to “what some guy says,” typically some guy with a book to sell and no medical practice.

  7. inkyspider August 29, 2013 / 8:37 am

    Reblogged this on Thoughts, musings, and ramblings and commented:
    This is a great article about vaccinations and the dangers of not vaccinating as well as information surrounding the autism vaccination debate.

  8. Robz (@Robdoggz) August 29, 2013 / 8:50 am

    I had Whooping Cough 2 years ago and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It was the most depressing three months of my life outside of an actual episode of depression. I’d have given ANYTHING to have been able to stop the seemingly incessant coughing, to not wake up in the middle of the night in blind panic because I had stopped breathing, to not be treated like a pariah because I’d got this illness from the child of a friend who does not believe in vaccination.

    All this is how I felt as an adult with full awareness of what I had and how long my recovery would be… It was absolutely distressing. I hate to think how it would feel for a child or an infant to have this completely preventable illness.

    • Jennifer Raff August 29, 2013 / 2:38 pm

      Ugh, how awful. I’ve never had it, but I’ve taken care of a child who did. Heartbreaking to see him suffer.

  9. Agent Phoenix (@agentphoenix) August 29, 2013 / 9:05 am

    Sorry, but I was NEVER vaccinated…because my mum is a DOCTOR. I am also the healthiest person I know. I travel the world and expose myself to all sorts of things…and I still won’t get vaccinated. Practice healthy living and raise your children to be aware of their bodies. I don’t believe that vaccines cause autism, but I also would never vaccinate my kids. The proof of my own health is all that’s needed. Build up your immune systems, practice “cover your nose/mouth when you sneeze and cough”, properly wash your hands frequently, etc. And for criminey’s sake…LET your kids get sick with the cold/flu. The only people who need immunization are people who have weakened immune systems!

    And wasn’t there something about the safety of Gardasil (the HPV vaccine) in recent years?

    • Kevin August 29, 2013 / 11:21 am

      I’m pretty sure that every parent thinks the same things of their kids.

      Remember thanks to vaccines being in effect for the past 40 plus years you have been protected from the worst of it by everyone else. There are very few people or places where you would be exposed to the various viruses. In short weather you have taken the vaccine or not you have been protected by it.

      I also hope that you are aware that you can carry, transport and infect others without every getting sick yourself. I recommend you do some research into this. It was found some time ago that a mother who carries measles or mumps can pass it on to the child within the womb causing birth defects and spontaneous abortion (one of the primary reasons the MMR vaccine was created) And as noted above someone who choose not to get vaccinated infected someone else costing them 3+ months of their lives and countless problems. I doubt they had a weakened immune system.

      And also to be clear…… Everyone gets a weakened immune system at some time. You get stressed, tired, sick from the flu or some other illness. You don’t even have to catch the virus at this time. The virus remains in your system for years once you’ve been exposed. It just needs an opportunity.

    • Anonymous August 31, 2013 / 5:04 pm

      Are you traveling to places like rural Pakistan, Somalia, Central or West Africa, Afghanistan, India?

      Are you visiting places where the sanitation systems are virtually nonexistent? Where there is the serious risk of cross exposure between fecal matter and drinking water?

      Or are you visiting places where vaccination rates are higher, sanitation is good, no insect vector diseases? Even within countries there are differences, where you have a developed population center where tourists visit and then the crowded slums or rural villages where they don’t have access as easily to vaccinations or good healthcare.

  10. Louise August 29, 2013 / 9:20 am

    All I have to say is… my neighbours children got whooping cough real bad one winter when they were small. They were both immunised against the disease. My own pre-school age son was not immunised and even though he was in daily contact with the infected children, he luckily did not get sick.

    This was the first of many examples of contrary vacination indication which I witnessed over a period of 20 years as a mother.
    I have closely observed the differences between immunised and non-immunised children, especially where there is close contact between the two groups. I can state that almost without exception, the immunised children tended to get much more severe bouts of illness.

    I have seen some very sick children who have been immunised against the very diease they suffered through. Although my initial idea was to hold off immunising my children until they were older/ stronger, I eventualy decided entirely against. My children were always the ones who suffered the mildest symtoms of chicken pox etc.

    My very strong suspicion is that vacination may actualy weaken the immune system in many cases. It is also my opinion that the issue of immunisation is nowhere near as important as adequate living conditions and proper available nutrition.

    Lets not forget that it is in fact poverty which is the real culprit in the outbreak of disease.

    • A guy August 29, 2013 / 10:11 am

      When should be expect your peer reviewed paper to come then which backs up this anecdotal evidence?

      • Anonymous August 30, 2013 / 6:53 am

        What makes you think that your, or any other opinion or evidence on here is any less Anecdotal than that of anyone else? Do you hold a full dossier on all and every Scientific appraisal, theory or Evidence based article? Do you think that a Scientist cannot be any more, or less biased than any man in the street?
        Do you not think that someone who owes his living to a Company is more likely rather than less likely to tout the Company Agenda?
        Are you any more an expert by having more people at your disposal who say one thing rather than another? Was Galileo not ridiculed fro his beliefs that the World was round? What makes you think that most people are as likely to be wrong, if not more wrong as right? Has Science grown to such incredible advances that we can now conquer every known disease? Do doctors Cure every disease or do they simply treat them? Should not Doctors be paid only for Cures as a result of Treatments or simply for the application of them?

        • Kevin August 30, 2013 / 4:37 pm

          If you think the random guy on the street is more knowledgeable than people have spent year studying the topic than I recommend quit your job now. Because apparently none of your knowledge and experience is worth anything at all and you do not deserve the wage or job you currently have.

          No doubt you are good at your job and have some experience but please understand how hypocritical and rude it sounds when you so easily dismiss the knowledge and experience of others.

          As to the doctors and an agenda. I find this farfetched. If this was a single country or along certain political or party lines you could swing a point. However, when it’s EVERY COUNTRY, no matter the doctors political affiliation, or economic situation this idea moves from opinion to suggesting a farfetched massive worldwide conspiracy. You may as well say magic/aliens and be done with it.

          The US is not the only country on earth, and your private for profit system is not the norm in the developed world.
          You wouldn’t accept massive worldwide conspiracy as a trial defense or even for your child’s homework not being done. There is no reason you should take the lazy way out and accept it here.

          • Ariana January 4, 2014 / 11:53 pm

            According to the CDC’s own website they put formaldehyde, aluminum, and mercury in the vaccines which are known neurotoxins. But Im sure I don’t know what im talking about cause I don’t have credentials and the CDC told you the poison helps the vaccines work better.

            • Anonymous January 5, 2014 / 1:11 am

              Ariana, are you cognizant of the concept of a dose related response to a substance? ANY substance you add to your body in a great enough excess will be poisonous, including pure water and pure oxygen. Equally true, I can think of no substance that is unsafe in minute enough amounts — the minute amounts of arsenic present in “pure well water” in many parts of the world, for instance, or the mercury found in sea food. Avoiding these substances completely would often lead to an unbalanced diet and very poor health. It is also impossible to avoid all exposure to radioactivity, as it is present, in minute amounts everywhere we are. So, the presence of minute amounts of substances that, in larger amounts, are neurotoxic (you know, like oxygen and water in extremely excessive amounts are either directly toxic to nerves as oxygen is, or cause changes in physiology that cause damage to the central nervous system as water can) is immaterial to the safety of a vaccine. They simply don’t matter. A careful review of the scientific literature will give you an idea of the levels of these compounds necessary to create an effect in the human body. Chances of a lifetime of exposure to the recommended doses of vaccines isn’t going to get you even close to the levels of exposure necessary to create problems.

            • Anonymous June 3, 2014 / 6:37 pm

              Hmm, their is more mercury in tap water than most vaccines, just maybe … minute amounts aren’t bad for you? seriously though, everyone get vaccinated. Scientists conduct tests which are done in controlled enviornments, where every environmental factor is the same, besides what they are studying. Watching one child’s (or even 20 children) life fot a short time, in a random place is not solid evidence.

        • j April 9, 2014 / 7:56 pm

          Galileo was not ridiculed for his belief that the Earth is a sphere. Magellan even made his famous voyage around the Earth decades before Galileo was born. Galileo was ridiculed by the church for his theories on a heliocentric solar system. The reason he was ridiculed was because very few people possessed the ability to look at the sky and translate it all into complex math equations. If I’m not mistaken his equations were incorrect, also; but, he had the right idea. Today we have many researchers capable of studying diseases and vaccines and the effects of each.
          Not going to bother citing here because these dates and theories are common knowledge, learned in almost any high school – or middle or elementary school – Earth Science class.

        • John April 10, 2014 / 2:36 am

          “Was Galileo not ridiculed fro his beliefs that the World was round?”

          Um… no, he wasn’t. See, that’s what lack of reseach gets you!

          • Anonymous April 14, 2014 / 6:32 am

            People knew the world was round by then. The debated the size. Common misconception. That is why life-long learning is important, we discover new things about old topics all the time.

        • Makinson September 21, 2014 / 2:51 am

          Mr Anonymous, everybody is allowed an opinion. But until it is the result of an accepted method of study, it is peer reviewed and goes through a whole system of verifications, re-testing by others and vetted by a significant portion of the scientific community concerned with the subject, it remains just that: an opinion. In this particular case, a few people who form the social environment of Louise are not of statistical significance. The problem is that never in history have humans relied so much on science but most are ignorant about what science is. Science is not just knowledge, it is the method of obtaining it and the rigorous discipline destined to keep opinion from influencing the observation of hard observable and reproductible fact.

    • jofish August 29, 2013 / 11:27 am

      The plural of anecdote is not data.

      • Jennifer Raff August 29, 2013 / 2:40 pm

        My postdoctoral advisor has that written on a sign right above his desk.

      • KHandcock September 11, 2013 / 10:58 am

        I have never heard that before, and now I want it on a plaque for my wall!

    • Kevin August 29, 2013 / 11:41 am

      Louise do you know what confirmation Bias is?
      You had an opinion and your mind seeks out ways to prove it without considering the other factors. For instance you cannot say that every kid who was immunized got sicker… you have a few examples and probably didn’t notice all the other occasions. It’s like how you feel like you hit every red light on the way home. This not an uncommon practice for people. Hence why we do large studies to avoid bias.
      Afterall you wouldn’t declare someone guilty of murder without a proper unbiased investigation of all the facts.

      Also have also considered that those parents who didn’t vaccinate their kids were extra careful due to their fear of infection?

      As to the whooping cough……. Where you neibours kids over 10? The Whooping cough vaccine is ONLY effective for less than 10 years and is also 70-80% effective. They give it to babies because it is especially dangerous to newborns. After that they have to receive a booster, and

      In short you have an extremely high and unrealistic expectation to what a vaccine does, how long it lasts and what it is for. I’m sorry to say but your neibours were the 20% ineffective portion while the rest of there class and friends were part of the 80% who didn’t have to suffer along with them.

      • Jennifer Raff August 29, 2013 / 2:45 pm

        Louise, I second what Kevin says. Individuals are very fallible witnesses. Humans are extremely good at seeing patterns, and conflating correlation with causation. The way to circumvent our biases, so that we can tell if something caused something else, is to test it in carefully designed studies of many subjects. That’s what the papers I linked to are about. Your personal observations of your (and others’) kids made an impression on you for sure, but without a greater understanding of the context (like a physician has) your “suspicions” aren’t good evidence. I’m sorry if that seems harsh, but the truth is that relying on anecdotes has genuine consequences, like this outbreak in my own state (

        • Dr. D February 12, 2014 / 9:48 pm

          If NBC news reported it then it must be unbiased. You article did a poor job of presenting facts from both sides and simply reinforced your opinion using articles, studies ect that share the same opinion. I do consider myself to be educated, I am a physician with a masters degree, and I have my own opinion that happens to be against vaccinations for children, for annual flu and even for my pets. I could paste dozens of links supporting my opinion and write an article that anyone who disagrees with my opinion is wrong but I realize that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Lets agree to disagree, I will not get my children vaccinated and you will have nothing to worry about because your children’s vaccines will protect them from harm.

          • Henry April 9, 2014 / 5:33 pm

            You have no right to hold an opinion that is misinformed and plainly wrong. You clearly are not a physician with a masters degree, as any scientist would know what NBC reports ‘stories’ not facts, that dozens of links do not make a fact, and an article written by someone who is an idiot doesn’t make a fact either.

            By not vaccinating your children you are failing them and frankly social services should taken them from you. It is knowingly putting them in harms way. Otherwise called abuse.

            By not protecting your children you are putting neighbours children at risk as *they* will bring infection into the community.

            You should’ve ashamed of your stupidity, your abuse if your children and get them vaccinate immediately. You should also beg your neighbours for forgiveness and convince them to vaccinate their children if they aren’t already.

          • ATeenagerWhoknowsmorethanthis^guy(man, isn't that sad) June 1, 2014 / 6:05 pm

            I tink all i need to do is put 1 quote that should be on every website that talks about scientific facts.

            “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”-Niel DeGrasse Tyson (a badass scientist)

            also, in THIS VERY ARTICLE it says that science has no sides. again, NO SIDES!!! the facts are the facts, whether it is true or false is proven through the scientific method. By the way, I think it is illegal to be impersonating a doctor, which you clearly are because NO DOCTOR WOULD SAY WHAT YOU ARE SAYING!!! they would not be approved to become a doctor if they believed in what you are believing in (you can look that up yourself, assuming of course that you are smart enough to run google. which i am having serious doubts about your ability to do so, i am amazed that you knew how to use a keyboard to type up this lame, half-assed, unintelligent comment that showcases your stupidity for the world to see for all of time. the fact that you are now experiencing this much punishment is made even worse by this one fact:

            You have just been owned by a 16 year-old kid in high school. I clearly know more than you do which is sad, nay, PATHETIC since you must be in your late 20s-early30s at the time of this comment.

            it’s people like you who i want to become the subject to Darwin’s law, survival of the fittest, and you, and others who think like you, are not the fittest of the human race, you are the farthest from the fittest.

          • Anonymous September 21, 2014 / 11:43 am

            Doctor? Ha!

    • Anonymous August 30, 2013 / 7:29 am

      My brother got hooping cough in the same house as I.
      I did n’t get it. I got measles. He Got German Measles.I did n’t.
      i got Mumps. He did n’t. I got chicken pox. He did n’t !

      What gives? We all lived through the Vaccination Era but i was never Vaccinated against any of the Above nor was my brother.
      I was vaccinated against Polio and TB. Thats all .I have lived through having Flu without Vaccination. I have lived through Bird Flu epidemic and Swine Flu as well as the Egg and Cow scares. I am still fairly healthy and am 63.
      Why should i be any different to anyone else?

      • Kevin August 30, 2013 / 4:58 pm

        Because we prefer not to have the common and longer term negative health effects assocaited with the virus. Many of these viruses have up to a 5% chance of causing fertility issues, nerve damange, cronic pain, spontanous abortion and brith defects. I also prefer having a low infant mortality rate and knowing that a single virus will not infect or hurt all the children in my kids daycare.

        and remember your parents didn’t have access to cancer treatments, advanced medical care, the current drugs and diagnositic tools.

        They lived through it why should you be different than anyone else?

        Sorry to throw your words back and your face but every generation improves on the others knowledge. You cannot fault the current generation for learning from the previous generation. Just as I will not fault you for being treated by the current generations knowledge when you parents also managed to survive without it. (just for not as long or as well)

        • He has never been right about anything January 20, 2014 / 10:12 pm

          You really love yourself – in that kind of spiritually unhealthy way. Um, oh yeah….you’re wrong about everything…always.

      • Anonymous January 28, 2014 / 3:46 am

        I’m an ER physician and have watched young otherwise healthy people die horrible deaths from vaccine preventable illnesses. Most recently a 39 year old who died in front of me from complications from the flu which likely would have been prevented by a simple vaccine. He’s DEAD. I think about him all the time. I’m glad you have been healthy and have never had a bad flu, many aren’t as lucky.

      • Zana Mar March 9, 2014 / 11:48 pm

        Well… because people are different. Some people contract flu and die from it. In fact, so many people contract flu and die from it that it has exceeded epidemic proportions.

    • Anonymous June 1, 2014 / 12:16 pm

      Louise, you can’t even spell ‘vacination’ correctly, so how are we supposed to take anything you say seriously?

      By the way, it’s vaccination. I hope your kids die so you can see the light.

      • mfd32 June 1, 2014 / 8:57 pm

        A stupid comment from someone who isn’t brave enough to use even a first name.

    • Mark June 1, 2014 / 8:54 pm

      “…he luckily did not get sick.”
      Yep, he really was lucky.

      “I have closely observed…,” therefore, ” I can state that almost without exception, the immunised children tended to get much more severe bouts of illness.”
      Based on my observation of the abnormally cold and snowy winter we had in my area, I can state with almost absolute certainty that the earth is not warming.
      Who cares what science shows? It’s my observation that is correct.

      “Lets not forget that it is in fact poverty which is the real culprit in the outbreak of disease.”
      Let’s not forget that immunization levels are lowest in poverty-stricken regions.

    • Callum Henderson September 20, 2014 / 6:27 pm

      I’m sorry but your insistence is painful to me. As a young child I was incredibly sick until i was vaccinated i suffered further until we discovered a close friend of mine(at kindy) had been passing the viruses constantly to me and others he of course was not vaccinated and ended up dying because his mum didn’t trust modern science. her reason? “Oh everybody knows vaccines are in fact designed to kill you and spread the disease.” She then turned on us claiming my immunizations had given HIM the viruses that killed him, pretty traumatic for an 8 year old.

    • Avice September 22, 2014 / 2:12 am

      First, it is immunized, then vaccination, and symptoms. If you really want to be a good parent, try to learn something. You need to be a good role model. Stupidity and laziness are ruining this country. Wake up and GET YOUR KIDS VACCINATED!

      • David September 24, 2014 / 7:49 pm

        Actually immunised is a correct way of spelling the term, depending on the English you subscribe to.

  11. anonymous August 29, 2013 / 9:56 am

    Has a study been done to see how many children developed autism despite not being vaccinated?

    • Tom West August 29, 2013 / 12:01 pm

      Well, sort of. The studies showed that vaccination doesn’t increase the risk of autism. If it decreased the risk of autism (i.e. non-vacciantion increases your risk), then that would show up in the data. I can’t imagine a scientist saying “no increase in risk” if the data showed “decrease in risk”.

  12. jane August 29, 2013 / 10:26 am

    The thing that really infuriates me about the anti-vaxxers is their willingness to take appalling risks with their children’s health. I’m willing to bet that their parents made sure they were vaccinated.

    I also wonder if any of these idiots would be happy to be exposed to rubella during the first trimester of a pregnancy.

    Unfortunately, I fear the only thing that will convince anti-vaxxers of their irresponsibility is if their children fall victim to the diseases.

    They obviously don’t have the wit to learn from history, when epidemics of what are now preventable diseases swept through communities leaving devastation in their wake.

    • Scott Nelson August 29, 2013 / 11:04 am

      I agree with Jane. Anti-vaxxers must think that we humans are a species apart. We vaccinate dogs for rabies routinely, with the result that there are 75 (2008) and 81(2009) (per CDC) cases of rabies in dogs. Human cases are very rare in the US. In India, where dogs are not routinely vaccinated, there are 15,000-20,000 in HUMANS-primarily a result of dog bites (per CDC). By the way-if you are bitten by a rabid animal-the treatment of choice is vaccination against the virus-called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP)-with near 100% certainty that you will not come down with rabies if treatment is started before symptoms express. Sounds to me like it works. Also, India doesn’t have nearly as good access to PEP. Sounds like a reasonably controlled study to me.

      • Allan August 29, 2013 / 11:35 am

        Ah, but if only those Indian dogs had moms who were doctors and who let them get colds when they were puppies, their immune systems would be strong enough to fight off rabies.

    • Tom West August 29, 2013 / 12:08 pm

      My parents were born in 1950 and 1951, before most vaccines were available. My mother told that it wasn’t unsual at school to be told someone wouldn’t be around any more because they had died of some disease (now vaccine-preventable). My was quite horrific (enough to make not want to watch the video in this post). My mother’s younegr brother had whooping cough, and my mother’s decsription of it. Their experiences certainly weren’t unique.

      Consequently, when that generation had childen, they made damn well took advantage of every vaccine available. However, my generation grew up without these deadly diseases, and so the threat seems much more abstract and thus easy to ignore…. hence the lower vaccination rates amongst our generation’s chlidren.

      Personally, if any parent says they don’t want to vaccinate against whooping cough, they should be shown that video.

    • Corinna January 21, 2014 / 4:38 pm

      Hi there – first of all, calling a whole group of people “idiots” is well, idiotic. They have their beliefs just like you have yours. I happen to be in a family that doesn’t vaccinate. Neither my sister nor I have ever gotten seriously ill, neither has my mom (who is an “idiot” who, by the way, was ALSO not vaccinated by her “idiot” mother). We have wit, probably more than the next person, we simply choose not to put icky things in our succeptable children’s bodies. Which brings up another point… If you vaccinate YOUR children, then it shouldn’t be a problem if I don’t vaccinate MINE. Your vaccinated child should be safe from the disease my child MAY have; or are you afraid your vaccine won’t work? Plus, if you’re careful with your child, who is not vaccinated (don’t put them in daycare when they’re very young, etc) then the chances they’ll get a preventable disease is very small.

      • Anonymous January 28, 2014 / 3:49 am

        Please refer to the article where it explains equivalence.

      • Zana Mar March 9, 2014 / 11:54 pm

        First of all, that’s not how vaccines work. They aren’t bulletproof; they work by slowing the spread of disease. The more people that are vaccinated, the less the virus is able to get a foothold.

        Second, “belief” isn’t really the issue. Objective tests, that have been repeated many times, show the data that scientists work with. They do not “believe,” they test and test and test to find out. If I believed that putting salt in coffee made it sweet, no matter how many people had actually tested it, what would I be?

      • Adam April 14, 2014 / 6:45 am

        Vaccinations increase the immune systems response to a disease, they do not guarantee immunity. Vaccinations require herd immunity, meaning the fewer infections, the limited number of possible mutations the disease goes through, and the more likely a vaccinated individual will be resistant to the current mutation. By not vaccinating your child, all children the come into contact are by proxy weakened.

        True, isolation will prevent some spread of disease. Hopefully us all shelling up in our homes is not the alternative.

        I would like to point out that the large number of cases were non-vaccinated individuals having “more mild” or the “mildest” symptoms of community diseases compared to the vaccinated individuals is a gross generalization implying you saw a majority or all of the vaccinated individuals and evaluated their symptoms. When you don’t know, its safest to be specific versus generalized. Also, consider vaccinations do not make a person’s immune system a certain level of resistant, it improves it overall. You probably have very immune-strong genes. Good for you.

      • ATeenagerWhoknowsmorethanthis^guy(man, isn't that sad) June 1, 2014 / 6:11 pm

        I…I… cannot express/describe the level of how stupid this person is… for once, I am lost for words. You deserve an award for stupidity,nay, the CROWN so you can be the queen of stupidity. (if you know how to read, refer to the part of the article that describes herd immunity, again, that is if you have the mental capacity to be able to read.)

    • Angelina January 23, 2014 / 6:36 pm

      If you are so sure your vaccinations work why would it bother you if I didn’t vaccinate my kids because I believe that they do more harm than good? It’s not like your kids would get sick from mine.. If vaccinations work… Are you aware of how many young girls died from the gardasil vacc? Google it. And yes my kids are vaccinated but I’m not so convoluted by my beliefs that I can’t see the other side of an argument.

      • Anonymous April 13, 2014 / 8:43 pm

        44 in >100 million

        • Anonymous June 1, 2014 / 5:02 pm

          And all of those were explained away in autopsy. There was no connection between Gardisil and death.

  13. Tom West August 29, 2013 / 12:10 pm

    Another point: I have a friend who is allergic to eggs, and thus can’t receive many vaccines (often the culture is grown in eggs). If enough people *choose* to not have vaccines, then the herd immunity disappears, and she would be at risk. (If she dies as a result, I will hunt down the source and make sure they know their choices resulted in someone’s death)

    • He has never been right about anything January 20, 2014 / 10:17 pm

      You’re a child.

      • Anonymous January 21, 2014 / 10:41 am

        Please review my comment policy. This adds nothing to the discussion.

        • Jennifer Raff January 21, 2014 / 10:42 am

          Apologies, I was logged out when I posted that. It’s me.

  14. Www. August 29, 2013 / 12:34 pm

    There is no vaccination to prevent tuberculosis, isn’t it true??

    • Marni August 29, 2013 / 2:23 pm

      There is a vaccination for tuberculosis — it’s called BCG (for bacille Calmette-Guerin). BCG is NOT used much in the US as a vaccine against tuberculosis.

      According to Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary (2009) 21st Edition, F.A. Davis Company, Philadelphia, PA, USA, page 2424:

      “BCG v. Bacille Calmette-Gur=erin vaccine, a preparation of a dried, living but attenuated culture of Mycobacterium bovis. In areas with a high incidence of tuberculosis (TB), it is used to provide passive immunity to infants against disseminate TB or TB meningitis, and it affords some protection against leprosy, it is not effective prevention, however, against pulmonary infection with tuberculosis. Among its other shortcomings, the vaccine cannot be used in pregnant women or in immunosuppressed individuals. It also produces hypersensitivity to TB skin tests, making them unreliable for several years. The vaccine can be used in caner chemotherapy, e.g., to treat multiple myeloma and cancer of the colon, or as a bladder wash in patients with carcinoma of the bladder.”

    • Ivan August 30, 2013 / 3:59 am

      Quoting someone from above: ‘The plural of anecdote is not data.’

  15. Marni August 29, 2013 / 2:56 pm

    All of the anecdotal information in the world that seeks correlation doesn’t prove much unless it is of the category of “I saw the car hit the walking, breathing, person and the person died. Even then, an autopsy MIGHT show that the actual cause of death was the heart attack or stroke that occurred right before the car hit. If, by chance, every time I turned on the overhead light in my kitchen the refrigerator compressor came on — and this happened every time I turned on the light for the first week I lived in my new dwelling — with your logic I would be justified in reporting that turning on the light in my kitchen made my refrigerator compressor turn on. I could say this without ever checking the wiring or turning the light off and on several times in an hour to see if my hypothesis was correct. Obviously, that kind of “fact” would not be satisfactory to most people who had any understanding of how refrigerators turn the compressors on and off to maintain a certain temperature within or for people who understand how electrical wiring is usually done in the USA.

    That’s the problem with anecdotal evidence about immunizations, medications, in fact, about anything science tries to explain. That’s why ethical scientists are so darned careful about designing their studies. They want an honest answer to an honest question (unlike the phone call surveys I occasionally agree to participate in where the questions are worded to “corner” the respondents into giving answers that support the agenda of the group making the calls). So, until you have more than anecdotal evidence to offer I won’t be convinced — in fact, I won’t read much of your evidence. People who love other people will usually, when the loved one suffers a devastating health problem, seek to identify the cause of the problem, and, generally, they want the cause to be external to themselves. This is human nature and is not to be ridiculed. But, it isn’t science, even when done by a scientist.

  16. Quinn August 29, 2013 / 3:42 pm

    Very good article, thank you.
    Does anybody know about a study or survey where vaccination or non-vaccination was correlated with desinfection routines? My collegues and I realized that non- or little-vaccinated students (nursery school) seem to be more prevalent to use desinfactants and antimicrobial wipes than fully vaccinated pupils. 2 students exhibiting compulsion to wash are not vaccinated. Some of students parents routinely use laundry detergent advertised as anti-microbial.

    Quite knocks the “raising strong, healthy children” argument down…

    • Linda Jordan April 12, 2014 / 3:22 pm

      Not to mention their ill advised quest to create “super bugs” by their continuous use of ant-bacterial products.

  17. Rona Topaz August 29, 2013 / 6:36 pm

    I was vaccinated as a child. I was also severely abused and neglected. I caught almost every illness going, including some I was vaccinated against, probably because of my abuse and neglect. Ill every week, missed out on education, near fatal enzyme counts, the works. Without the knowledge or consent of the parents from hell I somehow managed to register with a more competent GP who started giving me boosters for my immune system. Finally managed to get parent’s permission for a tonsillectomy age 15, as they were shot to pieces from my coughing and vomiting. Had them removed, started haemorrhaging, lost hearing in right ear. Slowly got healthier and healthier. Have had no vaccines since 1979. Have had 1 cold every 2 years for the past 20 years of my life. Just saying…

    • Ivan August 30, 2013 / 4:02 am

      Sorry to hear that, but remember, me and a couple of billion people are regularly vaccinated and are healty because of it.

  18. Anonymous August 29, 2013 / 6:44 pm

    I Have not had a flu shot or vaccine in over 20 years. I have not had one problem.

    • Ivan August 30, 2013 / 4:04 am

      may I suggest a trip to the Amazon of Panama, a 3-4 week vacation during the rain season, without the advised vaccinations of course.

      • Anonymous August 30, 2013 / 7:10 am

        If you dont expose yourself to danger; then you must be less likely to be in danger.
        Is not the Flu everywhere these days?What evidence is there of people who had all the required Vaccinations and yet still came back with a disease? Is prevention not better than sure, or is it as Good or Much Better or not so Good at all? That depends on whether you are able to prevent it not .
        Are you not being anecdotal ; even when you relate to Scientifuc Articles? Can you not pick and choose your Science and Scientist arguments too?Arguments are all about gaining Victories and not about the truth. The Truth Seeker does not ridicule but question.
        He always takes in,(and entertains ) all the evidence before him before he swallows any of it.
        He does not state what other people say,( and that includes Scientists.)because even that itself is anecdotal evidence! Just because Billions of people believe or follow one Faith, it does not mean that they all believe it exactly the same way either or at all.
        “If a man knoweth anything he knoweth nothing; yet as he ought to know’

  19. ali August 29, 2013 / 10:12 pm

    Me again! I greatly appreciate you writing about how to read and understand scientific papers. Since I’m feverishly trying to do as much research as possible before the arrival of my 2nd baby, I wanted to pass this along for your thoughts:
    I know it has nothing to do with autism but many on-the-fence parents are not only concerned with that possibility. This study is in PubMed and thought the study size is small, its enough for me to be concerned. Thanks in advance!

    • WomanWhoWeaves September 9, 2013 / 10:05 am

      The study does not mention the rate of premature ovarian failure in the non-vaccinated publication. Documentation of anti-ovarian and anti-thyroid antibodies. No mention of thyroid issues or not. No testing of asymptomatic individuals for the same antibodies. In short, inadequate evidence. Interesting, yes. But large scale follow up of group of vaccinated vs. un-vaccinated (possibly a historical cohort in a country with good record keeping) necessary before any causality even possible to assess.
      As others have said: The plural of anecdote is NOT data.
      Correlation does not equal causation.
      Having cared for a # of women with cervical cancer, prefer vaccine. My colleagues with children have all vaccinated their children and many vaccinated their sons at their own expense before FDA approval.

    • Marni August 29, 2013 / 11:41 pm

      Ali, your first article had a sample of 3 and, from the abstract, which was all I could see, seemed to show they couldn’t determine the cause of the young women’s autoimmune disorder and thought it could be the vaccine. However, they said they saw an association as I remember, but not that they found evidence for causation. Also, I have no ideas how common or uncommon autoimmune diseases, and specifically autoimmune destruction of the ovaries, might be in the part of the gene pool from which the young women came; nor do I know how many young women got the HPV vaccine during the time frame that the 3 young women received it. There’s also no information that I saw regarding presence or absence of autoimmune disorders in the young women’s family trees. So, there isn’t enough information in the abstract to draw any conclusions from. If there were reports showing statistical significance for the occurrence of the 3 discussed cases, the findings would be more compelling.

      The second article identifies some correlations — things that happened at the same time but the only conclusion in the abstract is that further studies need to be done to see if there’s any information that would support causation.

      Again, as I’ve said several times during this discussion, correlation is necessary for there to be causation but can never prove causation. You have to prove that the outcome identified (autoimmune destruction of the ovaries in one study and a rise in diagnosed cases of autism in the other) occurs only when the hypothesized stimulus is present and WHILE you have statistically controlled for all other possible confounding factors. So, in the aluminum study, I’d want to see comparisons based on similar levels of socioeconomic status of entire populations with similar levels of education, access to health care, and immunization but with some countries having vaccines that included the identified forms and amounts of aluminum products while in other in countries the vaccines didn’t have those compounds. Also, I’d want clear definitions of the diagnostic criteria used in diagnosing autism spectrum disorders in each setting. If the diagnostic criteria have evolved over the time period of the study, until that is accounted for in the statistical analysis, none of the other findings are going to tell me much. If the diagnosis is a moving target comparisons over time become invalid.

      • ali August 30, 2013 / 12:36 am

        Marni, there is a link at the bottom of each abstract for the full text. In that text you may find some answers to your questions, especially for the second link I posted regarding aluminum. (Please especially read Section 4: Discussion) Thanks for your input! I guess my point here is that even in respectable scientific journals there can be different findings, so again us parents trying to learn and inform ourselves are finding it difficult to choose a side. Just because something isn’t proven doesn’t mean the opposite is true. I remember reading something once about how it took decades and tons of court cases (of course I have no sources to reference!) for there to be found a link between smoking and lung cancer… just keeps me thinking. ..

        • Marni August 30, 2013 / 1:46 am

          Ali, I went back to the aluminum article — I don’t have time to investigate both — and found that many of the facts on the autoimmune effects of the aluminum in vaccines are based on studies in macaque monkeys, rats, mice, etc. While animal studies are an important lead up to studies in humans it is difficult to predict which will translate to human physiology. In addition, while they made excellent use of the data available, they apparently had no way to separate the population level data so as to determine differences in the rates of autoimmune disorders, autism, etc. in fully vaccinated children from unvaccinated children or any variations based on the numbers of vaccinations children in any group had received. Until such data is available and is analyzed appropriately I think we would be jumping to conclusions to decide on causation. There are so many environmental factors that would be in common in the various countries from which they received data — the US, Canada, Iceland, the UK, Australia, Finland, and Sweden. Population data is very valuable for many purposes — but when you’re trying to detect differences in outcome of a small proportion (the unvaccinated, in this case) portion of the population, data on the incidence of a diagnosis in the entire population won’t show whether the vaccines were definitely the cause of changes — unless, and this would be difficult if not impossible to do — you can statistically control of every feasible confounding variable. We still don’t know enough about the causes of autoimmune disorders and we know little, indeed, about possible causes of autism.

          By the way, separate research is pretty clear that the increase in some disorders, I remember specifically the discussion of childhood asthma, is directly related to too much cleanliness and not enough exposure to normal dirt and the components thereof, by very young children. Children who were allowed, among other activities, to make mud pies, were less likely to have asthma than children who were kept clean all of the time. So, when you look at disorders without obvious causes (obvious as in, for instance, streptococci and staphylococci that cause sore throats) the search for causes must range far and wide — and include even some counter-intuitive variables. Again, correlation does not equal causation, no matter how close the correlation may be. Also, studies looking for causation must be incredibly well designed if bias is to be avoided.

      • Jennifer Raff August 30, 2013 / 2:26 pm

        Ali–does that answer your questions? Marni–You’re wonderful. Thank you for your contributions here!

        • Marni August 30, 2013 / 6:30 pm

          thank you for hosting this interesting discussion and for the original post from you on the subject. In addition, the article you wrote on how to read scientific papers is a gem and I wish I’d had it when I was trying to learn the process. I am a 66 year old masters prepared nurse and have seen a LOT of change in healthcare knowledge and practice since I graduated in 1969. I’ve even had the honor of working around and with some world class physicians who added significantly to the body of knowledge on causes of hypertension and in the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine abnormalities.

          Some of the research done there led to dead ends. I remember a VERY promising cholesterol reducing drug that was in the second stage of testing on humans — when it was being tested for efficacy as well as safety. It was extremely efficacious in treating the kind of familial hypercholesterolemia that killed people with heart disease at an average age of 15 — but after a few doses a young woman patient lost nerve control in one wrist. When the drug was stopped, the nerve function was restored. At the patient’s insistence they might have tried a second time with the drug — I can’t remember as it was back in the 1970s, but the studies, nationwide at several research centers were stopped and no more of the substance was studied in humans. Unless one has had an opportunity to see ethically done medical research in action, it can be difficult to believe how truly moral and ethical the researchers are. They want so desperately to find ways to prevent, if possible, or cure, if that’s the only currently available option, diseases and disorders that plague mankind. To read some of the inflammatory comments about them, stereotyping them based on awareness only of the few bad apples among them, hurts us all. We need their knowledge and dedication. And since most of them work in university medical centers and are employed, primarily, as faculty in a school of medicine, while they are affluent, they aren’t and won’t ever be what most people who are contributing to this discussion would describe as wealthy.

          • Jennifer Raff September 3, 2013 / 11:05 am

            Thank you so much. I’m not teaching this year, so I’m able to prioritize blogging and scientific outreach as my non-research activities. I’m really, really enjoying the chance to interact with thoughtful people such as yourself.

        • ali September 1, 2013 / 8:59 pm

          Kind of. But in your article above you quote a science blog as saying ,“At this point, the evidence is so utterly overwhelming that there is not a whiff of a hint of a whisper of a correlation between vaccines and autism…” But this study I found in PubMed that Marni read proves there is certainly a hint of a correlation. And while that is not causation it’s enough for parents like myself to think and weigh options. I don’t think anyone here is saying a link has been proven. Just that even in reputable scientific studies in scientific databases that you say are reputable, there are contradicting studies. Does that make sense?

          • Marni September 1, 2013 / 9:18 pm

            Ali, as in almost all areas of life, proving a negative is much more difficult that proving a positive. That is, how does a woman who has at some point had sexual intercourse with one man PROVE she hasn’t had sexual intercourse with more than one man? Short of the woman having been in a locked in environment where only one man has a key and only that man is ever in the building, she basically can’t. It is much easier to prove that a woman or a man has had sex with more than one partner if that has happened. It isn’t always possible to prove it even if it has happened, but it is much easier to prove than proving the absence of such an event. So, in medicine, research only very rarely can come up with “always” and “never” answers to questions. Therefore, studies will say “No causal association was found” but not “No causal effect is possible”. And, unless one can test one’s hypothesis on the entire possibly affected population — not just on increasingly large samples of that population — you’re not going to find many times when a researcher will guarantee absence of correlation or causation in every person, every time. What medical researchers can do is do enough testing and follow enough patients for long enough to reduce to incredibly small levels any questions remaining on causation in the presence of correlation. So, as long as most infants and children are immunized from very early ages on, and as long as the less severe forms of autism can only be diagnosed based on behaviors that can’t be evaluated until the child is walking and talking, almost all children diagnosed with autism will have had multiple vaccinations. There just isn’t any good evidence available now to implicate vaccinations in the causation of autism or any of the many other difficulties or disorders that have been named or hinted at in this discussion.

    • ecmangreg January 4, 2014 / 5:24 am

      Sounds wonderful Ali & very professional and informative to boot. However, if one delves a little deeper you will find that the journal in which this article was published has no requirements, or even mechanisms in place, for reviews of submitted work by appropriately qualified and experienced peers in the relevant field. Therefore, while such an article may look impressive, there are no checks and balances in place to ensure the accuracy of its content.

      Unlike most of the data published about how there is no causal link between vaccines and Autism.

      I am not going to get into a debate into this with you. You will either accept the limitations of the article you provided a link to or you won’t. If you don’t than you are likely to not be swayed from your position no matter how much sense and how many facts people bring to your attention.

  20. reader August 30, 2013 / 1:27 am

    Hmmm. Dr. Paul Offit or former Playboy model McCarthy. The National Institutes of Health or drama queen Oprah. Such a dilemma deciding whose medical evidence to accept.

  21. Pipeta August 30, 2013 / 3:58 am

    You could have written a junk post, which you didn’t, and just because of the title it would still be great. Not commenting on the issue itself, though. Popular interpretation of science usually gets a rise out of me.

    • Jennifer Raff September 3, 2013 / 11:07 am

      Thanks! Hope you feel like commenting on future posts :)

  22. First Officer August 30, 2013 / 7:42 pm

    There once was a McCarthy named Jenny
    when nude, earned quite a pretty penny.
    She thought it would be green
    to declare vaccines mean.
    Never mind the lives saved are many!

  23. Susan August 30, 2013 / 11:30 pm

    I don’t know how you can watch that video of children suffering from pertussis, and not be driven to take action to protect your own kids. That video was hard to watch – but powerful. Thanks for your post.

  24. Roxanne Williams August 31, 2013 / 7:21 am

    This article was too long and you’re trying too hard to convince… So let me be brief: One size does not fit all and sorry but there IS a link between vaccinating and autism, it just can’t be definitively proven. Peer reviewed in the AMA? Laughable! I’m glad the ‘tonier’ folks are taking a stand and opting out.. The poor folks have no choice and are offered cash vouchers to get their jabs.

    • Kevin August 31, 2013 / 4:18 pm

      You mean that the article was accurate, provided sources and information and you have nothing intelligent to counter otherwise. But you would have been more convinced if it was provided to you as a 30s commercial and soundbite. Maybe with a little jingle?

      and FYI there is more than one country on earth. I’m sorry that America has a pay for use system and a heavily active pharmaceutical lobby. However, not all countries are like that.

      You deserve better. However, so do the many professionals that you like make up massive world wide conspiracies about.

    • Jennifer Raff September 3, 2013 / 11:10 am

      “there IS a link between vaccinating and autism, it just can’t be definitively proven.”

      I don’t understand what you mean. Either it can be proven or it can’t. If you can demonstrate this link, using scientific methods, then please share your work.

      “you’re trying too hard to convince”

      I will never apologize for “trying too hard” on this issue. It matters.

    • ecmangreg January 4, 2014 / 5:38 am

      If the link hasn’t been proven Roxanne then you can’t claim that there definitely IS one. Why is peer reviewed in the AMA laughable? if that is not to your satisfaction why not try any one of numerous other publications around the world that use suitably qualified and experienced professionals to check on the reliability of the content of any material submitted before it gets published. That is much more than can be said for magazines, periodicals, blogs, etc which published unsubstantiated claims.

      Most countries don’t offer people money to receive vaccines. What many ‘tonier’ folk, as you call them, choose to do with their lives should not be a guide for the greater population. As far as I’m aware there has been about as much evidence of the link between wealth and intelligence as there is for the vaccine/autism link = NIL!

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  26. Forrest Bowman September 2, 2013 / 6:45 pm

    Vaccines are a joke, cause basically a vaccine is you are infected and givin the antidote the same time. Sounds good right, get the disease and cure i same time. I have only had one vaccine in my adul life and its cause of the scare this virus caused, the swine flu. I had the H1N1 vaccination and a year later I have been diagnosed with narcolepsy. It is related who knows but after I had my vaccination, reports started coming out linking he H1N1 vaccine and narcolepsy. Before this vaccine I had taken, I had perfect health for 35 years. After it I have constantly been sick and my immune system has been failing to fight off simple things. I use to be a advocate for vaccines, now to me they are worthless and cause more harm then good.

    • Forrest Bowman September 2, 2013 / 7:19 pm

      let me rephrase some things, vaccines are good if they work. enough said.

    • Kevin September 3, 2013 / 11:43 am

      1. vaccines do not provide the sickness and cure. All they do is infect you with a castrated version of the virus. this causes your body to fight the virus, learn how and produce anti-bodies. In short it takes your immune system to school.

      2. The H1N1 vaccine is ONE vaccine. one that was by all reports produced rather quickly to counter a potential threat that had already killed more people in a short per infection than anything else going around at the time. You really cannot compare it to other vaccines. Nore can you state all vaccines are bad based on one.

      3. I find it hard to believe an “advocate” for vaccines would have only had one vaccine in there life. Usually when someone agrees with something they don’t go out of there way to avoid it.

      4. I’m sorry that you are suffering these side effects. I know to you personally this vaccine did more harm than good. For most vaccines it’s one in every 1,000,000 people. There is more danger in wearing a seatbelt.

  27. qn September 3, 2013 / 11:53 am

    I agree that vaccines do work but, you cant deny the fact that many vaccines contain toxic chemicals such as mercury and aluminum. There are also thousands of documented cases of people be permanently injured from being injected from contaminated vaccines.I just find it so frustrating how people are so binary in their thinking ending at one extreme or the other.

    • Marni September 3, 2013 / 1:32 pm

      If there are “thousands of documented cases of people be[ing] permanently injured from being injected from contaminated vaccines”, please provide the references from the scientific, peer reviewed literature that includes the form of contamination because if the injury was due to improper storage of the vaccines or improper use of equipment, that will be no evidence whatsoever that properly maintained and administered vaccines are dangerous, so that I may evaluate the level of the evidence provided. Thank you.

    • Kevin September 3, 2013 / 4:33 pm

      I agree that people shouldn’t be going from one extreme to the other. Vaccines like any medicine has its risks including if it has been improperly applied. For instance I’m not going to run around getting every vaccine in existence.

      However, that being said people need to keep that risk in perspective.
      By a quick estimation over 3 BILLION vaccines have been administered in Europe and North America.
      The people that have been negatively affected are literally 1 in a million. You have a greater chance of greater injury driving your car each day than by the vaccine. (The anti-vaxiers say they won’t take the vaccine because of the risk, however, by that logic they probably shouldn’t be driving either)

      I did a statistical estimation in response to someone else in this thread and it works out that you are about 39 times more likely to die from the virus than you are to experience long term side effects. You are also about 133 times more likely to catch the virus and be severely sick for 6+weeks vs. having a fever for a few hours with the vaccine. (this was assuming every infection statistic in the anti-vaxers favor the real stats would probably be 10-100 times this.)

      As for the items in the vaccine……. These items are at such a low dose that it almost becomes pointless. There are exposure thresholds. Afterall if mercury or aluminum were really that dangerous do you think people would make light bulbs and paper clips out of them?

      So in short I don’t think people are binary in there thinking. They have just properly weighted the risks and that comes out in there writing.

  28. Kevin September 3, 2013 / 8:04 pm

    The more and more I read on this topic from various sources and news articles the more shocked I am at the Anti-Vax crowd.

    Even in this forum. The majority can’t even show the posters here enough respect to provide a name. They couldn’t even manage a fake one.

  29. AJ September 4, 2013 / 4:45 pm

    Interesting how it is not mentioned that these “trained physicians” giving advice are also often getting money/payments/etc from the same companies that make the vaccines. Where is that discussion, I wonder?

    • Anonymous September 4, 2013 / 4:51 pm

      Funny how the people you get your advice from like write and sell books and other products.
      If you are going to accuse people of only being in it only for the money you should start closer to home.

      And FYI not all healthcare systems are like America’s.

    • womanwhoweaves September 9, 2013 / 10:20 am

      I am middle-aged physician who does not receive a dime from Pharmaceutical Companies. Go forth and vaccinate. Vaccines have saved more lives than anything but sewer systems. Not sexy, I know.

    • Mark April 8, 2014 / 12:44 am

      There is no discussion because they are not getting paid. That is internet rants based on nothing. As has been mentioned here numerous times, the US is the only private healthcare system. Every other industrialized nation has a British style NHS. Where no docs are salaried in any way based, or linked to profit. It doesn’t exist there. And yet every one of those countries vaccinates. Please. Facts. It’s not hard to find them.

  30. VanishaRDailey September 6, 2013 / 1:19 pm

    I got shots when I was really young, but thats it. I’m overdue for all of them, yet I need a few shots to get into school (I do not like this idea of this). I’m 26, had a very small case of chicken pox as a child, never had the flu or flu shot, I often go years without getting sick. I have no idea how I will go about this situation if I ever had a child.. I would prefer not to..

    • Marni September 6, 2013 / 2:44 pm

      Healthy young adults rarely get terribly sick with the flu and generally have been immunized against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, and generally are not at high risk for bad outcomes from other contagious diseases. However, you are probably due or past due for a booster on your tetanus vaccination. While tetanus doesn’t strike a high percentage of the people exposed, it is impossible to avoid exposure if you are ever exposed to dirt that isn’t sterile. It is also difficult to diagnose in the early stages unless the physician (or other emergency room care provider or primary care provider) has a high index of suspicion. It is difficult to treat after established in the body, it affects the nervous system, and even when cured can leave a person with permanent neurologic deficits.

      Children, especially infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, have immature immune systems and cannot readily fight bacterial or viral infections as efficiently as do young adults. People CANNOT entirely protect children in those age groups from exposures to contagious diseases unless, with the exception of the tetanus which is ubiquitous in the dirt of this planet, the family lives in a remote area and avoids all contact with the outside world. In addition, there’s research supporting the concept that the WORST two things, health wise, that parents of healthy young children can do in regard to hygiene is keep them too clean or keep them too dirty. There’s a broad middle ground there, but it almost always includes playing in the dirt or mud and getting it all over one’s body — and probably eating just a bit of it. These exposures are necessary so that the immune system of a very young child can develop as human immune systems are meant to develop. Children who lack adequate exposure to dirt are at increased risk for certain hypersensitivity reactive disorders, like asthma and eczema.

      Hygiene levels in a contemporary population cohort are
      associated with wheezing and atopic eczema in
      preschool infants
      A Sherriff, J Golding, and the ALSPAC Study Team

      “Results: Increasing hygiene scores were independently associated with wheezing (OR = 1.04; 95% CI: 1.00 to 1.08) and atopic eczema (OR = 1.04; 95% CI: 1.01 to 1.07) between 30 and 42 months, but not in the first six months. The odds ratio was higher for atopic eczema if the rash was reported to have become sore and oozy (OR = 1.09; 95% CI: 1.02 to 1.16).
      Conclusions: High levels of hygiene at 15 months of age were independently associated with wheeze and atopic eczema reported between 30 and 42 months, and there was an increased risk for children
      with more severe eczema during this period. The importance of hygiene in public health should not be dismissed; however, the creation of a sterile environment through excessive cleanliness may potentially
      be harmful to the immune system.”

      Found via the NIH in a Google Scholar search. The study was published in 2002, by the way.

      So the parent (or parents) who claimed they could keep their children healthy with cleanliness and good hygiene, depending on how clean they actually meant, could be exposing their children to increased risks for uncomfortable, sometimes life threatening, and sometimes difficult to treat, and incurable with modern medical interventions (though some children “outgrow” them) disorders.

      This world is NEVER without risks. There are ALWAYS risks to acting and ALWAYS risks to inaction. The challenge is to find the pathways through life that optimize ultimate outcomes. Public Health goals are to minimize threats to the population as a whole (the public) while maximizing opportunities for good health for individuals (in part, by minimizing their risks). So, when you think about your own health, remember to look carefully at the numbers. You’re a healthy young adult, from what you’ve said. How much time can you afford to miss from work or school if you get the flu? Depending on the strain of flu involved, you could be looking at an average number of days being too sick to get far from your bed for from 3 to 7 (or more) days. Then look at the numbers of healthy young adults who, having caught the flu, get pneumonia as a complication. This is unlikely if you are not only healthy, but also consistently well nourished with a balanced diet and consistently well rested. However, most young adults at least occasionally have periods lasting from days to weeks when life piles up on them and either their diet deteriorates or they are consistently sleep deprived, or both. So, how positive are you that, this winter, you won’t get exposed to the flu when your immune system is compromised by, say, several days of running on 2 or 3 hours less than you need each night of sleep? I have clear memories from the days prior to effective flu vaccinations — this would have been, I think, 1967 or 1968 — when I, as a healthy young adult nursing student, got what was called the Hong Kong flu. Several days of a fever of 104 degrees F in spite of full doses of aspirin (I don’t remember Tylenol — acetaminophen — being readily available or valued for fever control back then) and sick as a dog. In addition, have you seen what a severe case of bacterial meningitis can do to a healthy young adult? With the best modern medicine can do, it can kill. With the best modern medicine can do, it can leave the survivors deaf, with decreased cognitive abilities, or otherwise physically disabled. Check the numbers to see what percentage of young adults who get meningitis end up with permanent disabilities or die, and compare that to the percentage of young adults who have those outcomes directly related to the vaccine available. Remember, always, when you look at risks for yourself, never assume that you’re other than within the middle 75% of the bell curve. You MAY be, because of your genetic make-up, at much less than average risk for getting or being left dead or disabled from an infectious disease for which there is a usually effective vaccine, but there are NO tests available to determine that status prior to your decisions about getting vaccinated and the fact that you haven’t had problems YET doesn’t have much predictive value. So, assume you’re among the average unless you KNOW (from experience or medical advice) that your risks are higher than the average.

      Take care and best wishes for optimal health given your genetic make up,


  31. Sofia September 6, 2013 / 5:45 pm

    Thank you for this excellent post. I am from the healthcare community and it really angers me when ignorance takes over from medical knowledge and people/parents are against vaccines because of something they have read or been told by a friend putting their child and other childrens’ health in danger.

  32. reader September 9, 2013 / 7:11 am

    i didnt find your post convincing. you used graphics and videos to convince your reader. your writing alone should do. i want to feel informed and taken seriously rather than scared into any opinion. i think it doesnt belong into a subject like this. there have been too many others using these “tactics”. you have not explained the “other side” enough and taken those opinions into consideration and treated them with respect. there are many parents out there that have actually lost their children (and at this point it doesnt matter if they are right or wrong) and believe it was because of a vaccination. they deserve to be respected and treated with dignity because they have suffered enough. you have not mentioned the problem of funding or the bias it creates nor have you mentioned the problems created by the pharma industry that is a considerable force in this subject. politics and sience are not the same but unfortunately financial profit blurres the lines. any lines… you have not mentioned the problems parents will face if they suspect a vaccine injury of their child and the loops they will have to jump through to get acknowledgement and the way they are treated. you have not explained that no doctor is obligated to report any adverse reaction to a vaccine given by him or her (and why would they…) and the effect this has on statistics… you have not mentioned that vaccine reports are often not filled out properly so that any trace back to the original vaccine is impossible. you have not mentioned the financial interests of vaccine producing companys and the way they conduct but you have mentioned the “profit” of some person that seems to be against vaccination. apart from all the sience your view seems biased and onesided to me and is therefore not credible or trustworthy to me. here is a website that i would suggest that tries to be what i mentioned above: provide information in a respectful way
    please excuse any wrong typing as i am not a native speaker..

    • Kevin September 9, 2013 / 8:00 pm

      Just to be clear. You decided to link a professional done page with pictures of small children all around. That continues to insinuate that Vaccines cause Autism while having no proof and hardly playing lip service to the other KNOWN factors.

      There are more graphics on a single page from the site you linked than there are in this entire blog.

      This seems to be an interesting double standard that you have.

      I also have to point something else to you. science isn’t about being fair. There is not 2 equal sides to every idea. Science is not like American politics.

      There is what you can prove and then there is what you can’t.

      So of course we could talk like the 1 in 1,000,000 as if it was equal to the 999,999. But that would hardly be honest either.

      • Clarity September 10, 2013 / 2:38 pm

        Prove vaccines do not cause autism. I have had many patients that are pro-vaxxies notice vast declines in health and wellbeing in their child (ie. loss of speech, loss of motor control, emotional detachment, and stomach/ eating disorders) set in immediately following a vaccination. Personally knowing these children from birth and watching their development not only stop, but regress immediately following a set of pokes, literally starting that night or next day in most cases, makes it difficult as a practitioner to ignore the cause and effect. While I do not have epidemiological studies, there is no denying the credibility of what I have observed.

        • Scott Nelson September 10, 2013 / 2:49 pm

          It has been shown that the incidence of autism is no greater in unvaccinated than in vaccinated children.
          DeStefano F, Price CS, Weintraub ES. Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism. J Pediatrics 2013, doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2013.02.001.
          We analyzed data from a case-control study conducted in 3 managed care organizations (MCOs) of 256 children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 752 control children matched on birth year, sex, and MCO. In addition to the broader category of ASD, we also evaluated autistic disorder and ASD with regression. ASD diagnoses were validated through standardized in-person evaluations. Exposure to total antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides from vaccines was determined by summing the antigen content of each vaccine received, as obtained from immunization registries and medical records. Potential confounding factors were ascertained from parent interviews and medical charts. Conditional logistic regression was used to assess associations between ASD outcomes and exposure to antigens in selected time periods.

          The aOR (95% CI) of ASD associated with each 25-unit increase in total antigen exposure was 0.999 (0.994-1.003) for cumulative exposure to age 3 months, 0.999 (0.997-1.001) for cumulative exposure to age 7 months, and 0.999 (0.998-1.001) for cumulative exposure to age 2 years. Similarly, no increased risk was found for autistic disorder or ASD with regression.

        • Jennifer Raff September 10, 2013 / 2:53 pm

          Clarity, that’s exactly the problem. Typically, symptoms of autism are first noticed right around the same time as children are getting their vaccinations. Now, the question is: did the vaccines CAUSE autism, or do they just occur at the same time. (The difference between correlation and causation). We humans are extremely good at seeing patterns, and inferring causes from them…even if we’re wrong about it. It’s precisely why those epidemiological studies are needed–to test the null hypothesis that vaccines cause them. You have to look at large populations, ruling out confounding factors (like genetics, or stomach/eating disorders caused by other conditions) to test whether there’s robust support for that hypothesis. You simply can’t do this by intuition alone. Study after study after study, looking at thousands of children, has shown that there is no causal association. So long as we’re fixated on the wrong thing (vaccines), we’re going to hinder progress in finding out what DOES cause these symptoms. They’re very real, and the conditions are very real, but we’re doing parents and children a disservice by using anecdotal data to extrapolate cause.

          ps If you’re interested in how vaccine safety studies are conducted, I go through one in great detail here:

          • Clarity September 10, 2013 / 4:07 pm

            After reading 500+ publications about ASD/vaccines there is not proof that the vaccines do or do not cause or trigger ASDs.
            Can you tell me that for 100% certainty vaccines, in a perfect storm ( genetic predisposition, comp. immune , bad batch of vaccine, improperly stored and or not timely administered), can not trigger or cause ASDs?

            • Marni September 10, 2013 / 4:42 pm

              can you tell me that for 100% certainty consumption of apple by infants, in a perfect storm (genetic predisposition, comp. immune, bad batch of applesauce, improperly stored and or not started at the right time in the infant’s life), can not trigger or cause ASD? Proving such a negative is difficult, if not impossible. Even if I showed a huge study of people worldwide who had or hadn’t ever eaten applesauce, even if I showed that there was no causation apparent, people could still present all kinds of anecdotal evidence of infants/toddlers who had been fed that noxious substance and subsequently developed ASD. So, you either have faith in the scientific method and the usefulness of testing hypotheses or you don’t.

              Prior to the development of the body of scientific knowledge currently available (as inadequate as it is compared to what I think will be available in a few more decades) the only “logic” people could access for ascribing causation of illnesses and sources of cures was the personal observations made by themselves, their friends, and their relatives. When my mother-in-law grew up and was first married she lived in rural northeast Alabama. Her perceptions of causation and cures for many illnesses were “intriguing”. Certain people could, when standing near a particular bush in the woods with another person suffering from a certain viral illness, by reciting specific verses from the King James Bible, cure the afflicted person. She knew this because her neighbor’s cousin had been cured that way. Or, so-and-so who lived across from us when we lived at such-and-such a place died last year because his “asthma dog” (the special breed of dog that would take his wheezes away from him) had died and he had an attack before he could get a new one. Your anecdotal information carries as much weight with a person with a scientific way of examining evidence as do the anecdotes from my mother-in-law.

          • Kevin September 10, 2013 / 7:07 pm

            Clarity…..I have to be straight with you here. As a person with ASD and a professional I actually find your insistence on this issue insulting.

            You’ve been spoon fed the exact study that shows you that there is NO statistical correlation between Vaccines in autism. You have the opinions of professionals the WORLD over. From a thousand different political, economic and religious backgrounds. You apparently think that they are all incompetent liars. Or you think they are trying to poison you with expired vaccines.

            You are purposely and knowing ignoring the other factors that have KNOWN effects. Like,
            Age of the mother (on the rise) (are you having yours young?)
            Certain types of pollution (also on the rise) (are you avoiding cities? farmers fields?)
            Detection methods and trained teachers (also on the rise)
            Heredity (the main factor)

            Since you are so afraid of the perfect storm possibility.
            I have to honestly ask.

            Do you own a car? walk down the street? Every used birth control? Had drink?

            Because if your fear and efforts to avoid random perfect storm was consistent across your entire life I could understand it.

            However, if your efforts are ONLY about vaccines and ASD. Than I would really have to ask what is your problem with ASD what is your problem with people like me? Just like 2/3rd of people with ASD I have an above average IQ, strong sense of right and wrong and the ability to look at and solve problems in new and exciting ways. I have a wife and family but you certainly seem so afraid of me.

          • KHandcock September 11, 2013 / 11:19 am

            @Kevin, I want to thank you specifically for saying this:

            “As a person with ASD and a professional I actually find your insistence on this issue insulting….what is your problem with ASD what is your problem with people like me?”

            I have said to many people that even IF the autism/ASD and vaccine link were proven, I would still have vaccinated both my children. That does not make light of ASD at all, because I know that it IS a spectrum and that there are individuals on one end of it who have serious struggles to face. But most people with ASD can work, can have friends, can marry, can do everything you would hope your child could do — in some cases, better than a neurotypical person! I often wonder if the supposed link had been to, say, Type 1 diabetes, if the response would have been quite as dramatic.

            So I am glad that you stepped forward to say, “This is me, this is who I am, and to treat me as if my condition is the whole of my existence is offensive.”

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