Open thread: please share your thoughts!

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).


1,569 thoughts on “Open thread: please share your thoughts!

  1. notnearlysoanonymous January 29, 2015 / 7:09 pm

    Officials: Up to 1K possibly exposed to measles in Ariz.

    With as many as 1,000 people across three Arizona counties potentially exposed to the measles, state public-health officials are asking people who think they may have come in contact with the virus to isolate themselves.

    In addition, they are asking those who may have been exposed not to show up at doctors’ offices, emergency rooms or urgent-care centers, where others could be exposed to the highly contagious virus, which can linger in the air for two hours.

    The possible exposure rate of 1,000 people is tied in large part to those who may have come in contact with 195 children who Maricopa County health officials say were exposed to measles between Jan. 20 and 21 at the Phoenix Children’s East Valley Center in Mesa.

  2. Jenny Miller January 30, 2015 / 5:49 pm

    Best article I have read about vaccinations. It gets straight to the point, and does so without being confrontational. I hope this will at least provoke some to question the anti-vaxxer movement. Thank you for writing this. It is more important than ever.

  3. Carl February 3, 2015 / 5:10 pm

    Why isn’t the chicken pox vaccine routinely given with other vaccines in the UK? I didn’t even know there was a vaccine for chicken pox until my sister told me that my nieces were vaccinated (they live in Canada). Also, would it provide immunity against shingles in adulthood too?

    • Carl February 9, 2015 / 2:18 pm


      • Chris February 9, 2015 / 3:04 pm

        Perhaps you should direct this question to the relevant authorities in the UK.

    • Chris February 4, 2015 / 11:50 pm

      Just a word of advice, never believe press releases from folks who advocate special diets that include raw milk. They tend to cherry pick studies, and that one is a doozy.

      Though you could answer one question: if the vaccinated spread disease, how come the outbreaks always seem to be started by someone who was not vaccinated. Like one in San Diego a few years by an unvaccinated kid coming back from Switzerland, and the one last year by unvaccinated Amish missionaries who went to the Philippines?

      From this report:

      In the three largest outbreaks of 2014, which account for over a half of all cases this year, transmission occurred after introduction of measles into communities with pockets of persons who were unvaccinated because of philosophical or religious beliefs. Although high population immunity throughout the United States (through maintaining ≥90% MMR vaccine coverage among children aged 19–35 months and adolescents) prevents spread from most importations (7,8), coverage varies at the local level, and unvaccinated children tend to cluster geographically, increasing the risk for outbreaks (9).

    • Andrew Lazarus February 7, 2015 / 11:56 am

      So far something like 80% of the Disney cases are not vaccinated (this is about the same as other outbreaks). And they are about 5% of the population. So even if you knew nothing at all about the science, it would be pretty obvious which group is more responsible for spreading the measles.

  4. Leon Kammer February 17, 2015 / 1:48 pm

    To anyone who is unwilling to vaccinate their kids…

    I challenge you to visit one of the second world countries in SE Asia / Africa and helplessly watch the horrible death of a child from Measles, Mumps, Whooping Cough, Diphtheria or Tetanus,

    You refuse the immunisation, but demand treatment? Grow up.

  5. Jennifer Raff February 6, 2015 / 8:16 pm

    You ask a good question–it’s absolutely true that one of the most important skills in science is to be able to critically evaluate information. My approach to this issue is outlined in this post: If you have additional questions about how I evaluate information after reading this, I’ll do my best to answer them, but that’s a pretty thorough summary of my process.

    Now, the fact that you presented these particular two websites as credible sources of information (as well as your other points which have been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked in the comments on this piece, so I won’t bother to rehash them), is curious coming from someone who claims to have a medical degree. May I ask where you did your training?

  6. Jennifer Raff February 6, 2015 / 8:24 pm

    By the way, there’s no need to post identical comments on multiple posts. I just responded to this one.

  7. Chris February 6, 2015 / 9:04 pm

    “U.S. measles mortality data shows that deaths from measles rapidly declined prior to the introduction of vaccination due to improved sanitation and better nutrition in making measles a non-problem.”

    You forgot improved care for pneumonia, which is the biggest reason measles kills. So how is one in twenty measles cases resulting in pneumonia a non-problem? Is it really cost effective to hook about one out ten kids who get measles to respiratory support? Please provide the cost savings it the USA suspended all vaccine programs, basically prove that it is cheaper to treat instead prevent measles.

    Also before the vaccines, there were still four to five hundred deaths from measles each year in the USA, and the population has increased by at least a hundred million since then. So how is that many pediatric deaths per year a non-problem?

    Why should we care about a the opinions of a cardiologist who claims vaccines cause leukemia, so it is the parents fault? What we care about is the actual evidence. So please share the PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers that show the MMR vaccine that has been used in the use since 1971 (with a rubella change in 1978) causes more harm than measles.

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