Open thread: please share your thoughts!

Jennifer Raff —  April 6, 2014 — 1,271 Comments

My most recent post (“Dear parents, you are being lied to”) has sparked a very lively discussion. I encourage you to continue to share your thoughts on it, but I also want to follow up by asking for your reactions to one comment that I found particularly interesting. (I’ve edited it a bit for brevity)

As a pediatrician who’s spent extensive time working in the US and overseas and has seen children die from EVERY disease (except small pox) for which there is a vaccine I am appalled at the lack of education by the general public on the vaccine issue. This is my rant: I had two unvaccinated children in the US die from whooping cough, one from tetanus, and 2 from meningitis in the past few years. Perhaps this reflects our country’s generally poor understanding of math and science in general. A recent large study in the US showed that no matter how scientists try to educate US parents about disease and disease prevention, whether it is vaccines or hand washing, parents simply cannot follow the logic.

It’s devastating to see children die from preventable disease and despicable that it is happening here. I would like to know why those whose children end up in the PICU with tetanus or whooping cough now trust us to save the life of their child? Why do you run to a doctor when you are terrified your child has tetanus after refusing to vaccinate? Why am I now competent to save your child’s life when they have meningitis or epiglottis, but I wasn’t competent enough to keep them from getting sick? If there was no medical help for your unvaccinated child if they acquired a vaccine preventable illness would you think about vaccinating? If you’re not willing to run to your anti-vaccine friend, treat your child with advice from non-scientific sites on the internet, go to your chiropractor, or your holistic healer with your dying child perhaps you shouldn’t be taking their advice about vaccines. –Anonymous

To those of you who simply don’t trust the medical community’s use of vaccines, I am curious what you make of this physician’s point. Given your reservations about vaccines, do you trust an MD to treat yourself or your children for any medical issues at all? If so, why do you trust his/her education and experience on some points but not others?

I invite anyone, pro- or anti-vax, to share your thoughts on this. Please respect each other by following the commenting policies (and feel free to alert me if I miss a comment in violation of them).

 

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Jennifer Raff

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Scientist, fighter, reader. In pursuit of the extraordinary.

1,271 responses to Open thread: please share your thoughts!

  1. 

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/B/excipient-table-2.pdf And this isn’t even up to date. You all seem to be dilusional about what is safe and what’s not.

    • 

      Oooh, lots of things with long names. But a list of ingredients is not evidence that vaccines are harmful. I could cook you up some fresh tasty food from fruits and veggies grown my garden, then compile of list of the chemicals that make up those foods. I would be remiss if I did not include the formaldehyde and amygdalin (which turns into cyanide) that are included in many of them:

      http://jameskennedymonash.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/the-ingredients-in-food-phenomenon-continues/

      Here is a better list:
      Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence

      If you have evidence that any vaccine on the American pediatric schedule is more dangerous than the disease, then please post the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers with that data.

      • 

        Have you tested the soil quality where you’re growing those fruits and vegetables? You could have runoff water, chemicals, and worse. Science has a strong place in health. If anyone believes we’re less healthy than days when everyone was on a “paleo” diet, then clearly they don’t see the effects of science advancements.

        • 

          It is either rain water or very good city tap water from a mountain lake that is thoroughly tested. This city also does tertiary treatment on its sewage before returning it to the ocean.

          The “paleo” diet included eating acorns, which caused severe tooth decay.

  2. 

    Don’t question Big Pharma or Big Agriculture. Don’t question the government. Don’t question societal norms. Don’t question science. Don’t question whats in the vaccines. Don’t question why cancer and autism are exploding at an alarming rate from generation to generation. Don’t question why 1 in 3 will have diabetes by 2025. Don’t question why with all the modern advancement in medical technology there are no cures for cancer or STD’s and other diseases. Give up your freedoms, give up your liberties, and have no tolerance for anyone who asks questions. Like sheep led to the slaughter…

    • 

      Ever considered the possibility 1 in 3 people will have diabetes because of their unhealthy food pattern, with lots of soda’s/coca cola containing huge amounts of sugar, overburdening their pancreases?

    • 

      Anonymous, seriously? Science is continually questioned. And continually, the questioning of the science shows that vaccines DON’T. CAUSE. AUTISM.

      And I love this little snippet: “Don’t question why with all the modern advancement in medical technology there are no cures for cancer or STD’s and other diseases.” You couldn’t be more factually wrong about that statement if you tried. There are cures and treatments for various different types of cancers, STDs and other diseases. In fact, the “cure” for many of the most deadly diseases are the VACCINES that you absurdly claim are unsafe or maliciously harmful.

    • 

      Don’t question the conspiracy theorists, because you’ll be led away from interventions that work.
      And worse, you’ll be called a “sheeple!”

      Of course you’re allowed and encouraged to ask questions, but we expect those questioning the known science to either understand the answer or utilize someone who does (and does not have a financial interest in selling you an alternative with NO science to back it up) to help you understand it. Someone like, maybe, Jennifer Raff.

  3. 

    We are over populating this planet… and destroying the natural balance to nature so trying to save everyone and prolonging our lives is completly pointless if we dont even keep ourselves in check and take responsibility of ourselves and our race

    • 

      Unfortunately letting children suffer, become disabled and die is not an answer to over population. The areas with the highest population growth are those with higher child mortality numbers, because a woman will have ten kids in order for a few to live to adulthood.

      The best ways to curb population is by educating women and providing assurance that their children will become adults. Watch as Hans Rosling explains (the other videos on that site are also worthwhile):

      http://www.gapminder.org/videos/will-saving-poor-children-lead-to-overpopulation/#.VB9DjhaK2So

    • 

      If you have everybody in the world a small space they could all fit inside Texas.

    • 

      i believe our lifestyles are what puts the natural balance of nature at risk, not overpopulation. It’s the global elite that put that sort of idea out there, they want to depopulate the planet. Most people buy it unfortunately.

      • 

        “It’s the global elite that put that sort of idea out there, they want to depopulate the planet”

        How?

        Have you watched any of Hans Roslings videos?

    • 

      Ya, you try telling that to the people who have lost children to preventable disease. I hope you don’t have children. Taking responsibility, is to vaccinate so that preventable disease does not run rampant again.

  4. 

    I’ve always wondered; how does an unvaccinated child put vaccinated children at risk?

    • 

      Well, kirsty, how would you protect an infant under the age of one year from measles? Do tell us, since that is before they are old enough for the vaccine.

      Plus read this comment from Sally:

      Please get your children vaccinated my son was born with SCIDS(google it) .

      Show you care about children, make sure they do not have to suffer from something that is preventable.

    • 

      kirsty, how would you protect an infant from measles? They are too young to get the MMR vaccine, and with each outbreak there seems to be an infant who gets measles. Also an infant is very vulnerable to pertussis and Hib, but do not have full protection until they are at least nine months old since multiple vaccines are needed to build immunity.

      Also, how do you protect a child or adult who has an immune disorder like SCIDS or is going through cancer treatment? Do you care if your child infects someone else who has medical issues just because of bad luck?

      • 

        well, what happens when you give the pertussis vaccine to your child and she gets pertussis from the vaccine? I personally feel that one should not vaccinate. I have six children and two had there first vaccines but none after that. The last four had no vaccines, rarely get ill and are extremely healthy. My second child got pertussis right after she received the vaccine, as pertussis was in the vaccine.
        At 3 I had Rubella, I was not vaccinated for it. I now have a natural immunity and all six kids have it also.

        • 

          You have no scientific proof that any of your claims are valid. Your experience could be the result of your specific circumstances or even blind luck.

        • 

          The vaccine against whooping cough does NOT contain live Bordatella pertussis bacteria but just a piece of the killed bacteria which your body “sees” as a foreign substance, and thus responds by making antibodies. The next time it “sees” this protein sequence, it will be already primed to produce those antibodies which will attack the live bacteria which have entered your body. You CANNOT get whooping cough from the vacccine. Your child caught whooping cough from someone else who had it, at a time when your child’s body had not been primed to react quickly to the exposure. And I’m just curious as to how you know that all six of your children are immune to Rubella. Did you have them all get blood tests to check their immune status to Rubella? If you are thinking that they are immune because you are, you are wrong. They probably had a short lived immunity right after birth from your antibodies having been transfered to them. But after the first year of life, those antibodies will have died out, and having been host to them in no way teaches their immune system to make those same antibodies on their own. They would only be immune IF they either had the disease or had the vaccine.

        • 

          Why do you think your unvaccinated children have immunity to rubella? Looking forward to your deaf, retarded grandchildren? That’s rather weird.

        • 

          “The last four had no vaccines, rarely get ill and are extremely healthy.”

          Please thank your responsible neighbors who vaccinate. They are protecting your children by bolstering your community’s immunity to many diseases.

          “My second child got pertussis right after she received the vaccine, as pertussis was in the vaccine.”

          But it is not perfect. Your child was probably exposed to another child who was contagious with pertussis before she got the vaccine. As Helen says, you can’t get pertussis from the DTaP. Because of parents like you, some diseases like measles, mumps and pertussis are actively circulating.

        • 

          Sorry Heidi, you are mistaken. Pertussis is not a live vaccine and cannot transmit pertussis following vaccination.

          Your children do not have protection against rubella. You are depending on others in the community to vaccinate their children against measles, mumps and rubella. You are a free rider.

    • 

      Several years ago I had a friend who was pregnant and babysat for a woman’s children. These children apparently were unvaccinated due to the family’s religious beliefs. They came down with German measles and gave it to my pregnant friend(who thought she had already had it as a child, since back when she was young they didn’t have vaccinations against measles). As a result, my friend’s baby was born deaf…something that she has learned to adapt to, but something that could and should have been prevented.

    • 

      Kirsty, my cousin’s daughter has lupus, which is an auto-immune disease. She is only able to receive vaccines that contain killed viruses. Some vaccines only have a live virus form and she cannot be vaccinated against those diseases. Her only protection against those types of diseases is herd immunity of otherwise healthy people.

  5. 

    As a ER RN for 17 years I have not meet or heard of an autism case that has not been vaccinated. It has always been curious to me. In fact, sick children are all screened in the ER for their immunization history. Living in Cali I would think I would see many sick unvaccinated children but I do not. I am not against the development of vaccinations and I am sure they have their place, but just because the scientist have not found the link does not mean there is no link. As humans, we can sometimes be egotistical.– thinking we know it all. We are all still learning new things from the world daily. I support continual testing on the vaccines as well as a parents and individual freedom of choice. I am done being bullied to believe that vaccines are safe and I should just comply. This video was a strong example of the current bulling in the medical community.

    • 

      We have the numbers on sick unvaccinated children, and they are much more likely to be sick with vaccine-preventable diseases than vaccinated children. Maybe sick people stayed away from your ER because with nurses like you, it probably has a low standard of care.

      • 

        Another attempt at bulling. Please Andrew without insulting…. Give me information on an autistic unvaccinated child. I again state vaccines have their place but I am concerned with the safety. Science change and discoveries are made all the time. I am allowed to share my observations without being bullied or put down.

        • 

          Stephanie, here’s a study of 498 autistic children retrospectively comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated groups (the vaccine in this case being MMR):

          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673699012398 .

          The authors found no differences in autism rates among vaccinated and unvaccinated children. There are many, many other studies confirming this result.

          Do you believe that your personal experience is more authoritative than scientific studies of thousands of autistic children to test this very question? If so, why?

        • 

          Kim Stagliano’s youngest is not vaccinate. There are several mentioned in the <a href="comments of this article.

          You said: ” Living in Cali I would think I would see many sick unvaccinated children but I do not.” Please read the impact on California’s Medi-Cal by the 1990 measles epidemic: Pediatric hospital admissions for measles. Lessons from the 1990 epidemic.

          I am sure you are sincere in your observations, but they are colored by prior bias. You obviously did not work in the hospitals which handled the several babies who suffered from pertussis in 2010, or the ones dealing with the present measles outbreak in Southern California. Vaccination is very common, so you would logically see more vaccinated kids, and in a big state like California only a few hospitals would have very sick kids come through the emergency department. Add a bit of confirmation bias on your part, you could have simply forgotten if a child with a vaccine preventable disease was treated in your hospital.

          “I am allowed to share my observations without being bullied or put down.”

          Though it would help to remind you that your observations are not verifiable data. For that we would rather depend on entities like the California Department of Health, which with a quick look shows sixty one cases of measles and over eight thousand cases of pertussis for this year.

        • 

          Others have posted personal acquaintance with unvaccinated autistic children. I don’t know any, or, rather, I haven’t inquired of the medical histories of autistic adults I have known.

          Science certainly changes, but there isn’t any scientific reason to believe measles and polio will injure fewer people now than they did before the vaccines were invented. I am sure you can find some older now-retired colleagues who will tell you how unpleasant that was.

          There isn’t any reason to prefer your unverified observations to statistics collected by public health authorities. They show unvaccinated children are much more likely to get sick, and what’s more, unsuccessfully vaccinated or immunocompromised kids getting pertussis is happening disproportionately in counties with high rates of vaccine refusal.

        • 

          Stephanie,
          What if your opinions are demonstrably wrong and your opinions are leading pepper to be directly harmed? If you came to believe that was the case, how would you go about correcting the mistake?

          What if every single doctor and nurse you ever worked with told you your opinion is incorrect and dangerous, and they showed you overwhelming scientific evidence to prove the point? Would you then change your mind?
          I’m sure you are open minded enough to do that. So if evidence that extreme would change your mind, what evidence that’s not quite that extreme would change your mind?
          Would a hundred highly regarded studies change your mind? A thousand? Ten thousand?

    • 

      As a recently retired public health nurse clinician-epidemiologist, who actually investigated cases, clusters and outbreaks of vaccine-preventable-diseases, I know of cases of measles who were not screened for vaccination histories in hospital Emergency Rooms and in physicians waiting rooms…and who infected patients in hospital Emergency Rooms.

      Dr. Bob Sears, a California physician who is a “vaccine friendly doctor” (code for a physician who fails to follow the AAP Standards of Care for childhood immunizations), had a 7 year old deliberately unvaccinated patient who traveled to Switzerland where he contracted measles. The child return home and exposed children in two physicians’ waiting rooms and during two visits to a hospital waiting room. Dr. Sears’ patient was the “index case” responsible for the large 2008 San Diego measles outbreak:

      http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/03/27/dr-bob-sears-vs-seth-mnookin-measles-out/

  6. 

    Lost in the controversy and semantics over vaccines is the fundamental devaluing of the lives of ASD individuals. The underlying implication that a child is better off risking death than being autistic points to a very ugly prejudice on the way we approach mental and neurological health. As a woman with overlapping neurological disorders, it angers and frustrates me to see a generation of children taught to define themselves by what’s wrong with them instead of how they be part of the social equation in their own way. I’m less than a year from my bachelors, am working toward my doctorate. I work in a hospital. I do good work, competent work. I help save lives every day. I know that for all the ways I’m not “normal” that my life is valuable, my contributions meaningful. But had grown up in the age of the “autism scare,” I might never have believed I could do any of that.

    • 

      This is an extremely important point, and thank you for making it. A few other ASD individuals have also commented along similar lines. I was thinking of writing a post that featured YOUR perspectives. Any interest? If so, please email me: jenniferraff (at) utexas (dot) edu.

    • 

      Of course. One reason we have seen a jump in autism diagnoses is self-sufficient, capable individuals are receiving it. I don’t think that was always true. As I’ve mentioned, there were two boys in my school who would now be called autistic, but we never heard that word, but there was also the brother of one of my friends. I don’t know if he had autism or some other congenital condition, but given that he was completely non-verbal, nor did he respond to words, it’s possible. (He wasn’t deaf.) Eventually his parents placed him in an institution, which was more common back then. I think a lot of fear parents have is that the 1:68 will be like the brother was, beyond parental resources and, frankly, not ever a source of any joy.

      Kids who died from polio don’t post their experiences on the Internet. Vaccines are responsible for millions of lives saved.

  7. 

    Those who scream the loudest can’t be taken seriously. You scream and yet you were protected by your parents! This issue has got to stop Babies are dying because of the result of a Dr (and I use the term loosely) doctoring his results so he can stand in the light of Fame. He had no love or caring for children. He has inflicted a diseases that could of been cured by a vaccine. Today with technology and all the evidence, Yet still young parents won’t vaccinate their their bundle of joy. Please if you love your BABY show it protect him-her from suffering from some ugly disease. Carry their life till grown, don’t carry flowers with tears to their grave.

  8. 

    “I’m pro-science, but I’m against what I’ll call “Spock-ism,” after the character from the TV show Star Trek. I reject the idea that science is logical, purely rational, that it is detached and value-free, and that it is, for all these reasons, morally superior.”
    -http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2014/09/12/348002248/why-atheists-need-captain-kirk

  9. 

    The study that showed a link between vaccination and autism has been proven time and again to be a complete fraud. Please vaccinate your children.

  10. 

    I am a trained physician in Anesthesiology and after seeing what we were doing in hospitals with pregnant women, i cousciously decided, knowing what i was “exposing ” myself to, to labor naturally without pain medication, with a midwife. It did not make sense to many people around me but it did too me. So for many years, i was stuck in the same position as you seems to be: it did not make sense to me why so many women would expose themselves to the controle of the medical establishment in such a delicate and life transforming moment in there lives… It has taken me much humility to put myselves in there shoes and accept that all of these women, they are not ME and they are not in the same location as i am. When it came time to consider vaccination for MY kids, as an educated physician, interested in ethics, i read on the issue but what confirmed me in my decison not to vaccinate(appart from my mother bear instinct), was to learn about the facts related to Pasteur apparently discovery of the rabies vaccine(Louise Lambrichs: La verite Medicale).

    If you are a “rigourous” physician, you cannot deny the lack of incongruencies…. And you have to syay critical…

    That beeing said, i am not saying vaccination is not working in some way BUT, if i decided not to vaccinate my 4 children, it is because i thought i could offer them all that was necessary for them to develop a strong immune system(good hygiene, balanced nutrition, balanced life, love, respect of their rythme)preparing them progressively to face whatever may come in their life, never denying that they might need the medical system but not depending on it.

    As i see my four kids groing up into themselves, balanced and autonomous(but not invicible), i know that there is no science that can tell my mother bear instinct it was wrong.

    • 

      You realize that the rabies vaccine is not on the standard American pediatric schedule, and that it has gone through refinements over the last century.

      Please thank your responsible neighbors that vaccinate. They are protecting your children by maintaining your community’s immunity to diseases by not letting them circulate.

      “as an educated physician,”

      You might try working on some basic English grammar style for us to believe that.

    • 

      I remember that same argument, “you can’t know better than the mother what is best for her child,” when it came to seatbelts. Should those women be permitted to drive with an infant on their laps?

    • 

      Anonymous (I wonder why), drop the faux humility. You aren’t the least bit humble, you have deluded yourself into believing that your clean living and your love are stronger than polio and measles viruses. (All the kids who were crippled or died, their mothers didn’t love them enough to give them sufficiently strong immunity?)

      You are wrong. People like you and your children died like flies in the pre-vaccine era.

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