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).


1,588 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.

    • mebluewolf2 October 1, 2015 / 11:51 am

      What a bunch of hog wash!! All lies!! Just ANOTHER bought and paid for LIAR!! VACCINES KILL !! End of story

      • gewisn October 2, 2015 / 5:47 pm

        When you wrote, “What a bunch of hog wash!! All lies!! Just ANOTHER bought and paid for LIAR!! VACCINES KILL !! End of story,”
        how did you reach that conclusion?

        What was your decision-making process?
        What evidence did you evaluate and how did you decide how to weigh that evidence?
        What evidence did you evaluate that was contradictory to your final conclusion, and why did you decide to discount it?

  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.

    • Anonymous May 11, 2015 / 12:54 pm

      No, it can cause shingles in children after getting the vaccine

      • Chris May 11, 2015 / 2:33 pm

        Citation needed. How often? Severity? Compare both to actually getting chicken pox.

    • Kali Kross (@KaliKross) July 25, 2015 / 8:41 am

      No, it’s a fairly useless vaccine. I had it, yet I still suffered through chicken pox and shingles as a child. So much for efficacy.

      • Colin July 25, 2015 / 8:51 am

        Is your singular experience a better guide than the overall efficacy rate?

      • Chris July 25, 2015 / 1:13 pm

        The varicella vaccine came out in 1995. I know this because all of my kids got in the fall of 1994, including the baby who just turned twenty one years old a couple of months ago..

        So you must be very young, or singularly unlucky to get both chicken pox and shingles before turning twenty one years old! Perhaps your experience is just one reason why the second dose was added in 2007.

      • Chris July 25, 2015 / 1:15 pm

        Sorry, wrong Boolean operator, it should be “young, and singularly unlucky”

    • 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.

    • Kali Kross (@KaliKross) July 25, 2015 / 8:53 am

      Comparing a place with advanced plumbing, sanitation, irrigation, waste disposal and treatment, and water treatment (industrialized) to a third world country? Yep, no faulty comparison there. o_O

      • Chris July 25, 2015 / 12:41 pm

        Yes, you are creating a false comparison. Measles, mumps, pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus are not water borne diseases. All except tetanus are airborne.

        A little boy recently died in Spain from diphtheria. Is that a third world country? There have been several deaths from SSPE (which is caused by measles infection) in Germany, and now a little boy is dying from it in California. Are either of those third world countries?

        Is Japan a third world country? Please explain, with verifiable supporting documentation, what changed in their sanitation practices to cause this (from Measles vaccine coverage and factors related to uncompleted vaccination among 18-month-old and 36-month-old children in Kyoto, Japan):

        According to an infectious disease surveillance (2000), total measles cases were estimated to be from 180,000 to 210,000, and total deaths were estimated to be 88 [11,12]. Measles cases are most frequently observed among non-immunized children, particularly between 12 to 24 months.

  5. Chris May 25, 2015 / 9:07 pm

    You’re right, we are being lied to. But not in the way you think. I encourage you to watch this documentary trace amounts. I have been in the vaccine conversation for years now and even I learned quite a few new things from this film. It is well worth the watch.

    • Chris May 27, 2015 / 9:47 am

      Where did the film maker get his relevant scientific education? And why is he so concerned about something that was removed from pediatric vaccines over a decade ago? That seems to be a bit late. Really, what vaccine on the American pediatric schedule is only available with thimerosal?

      “But not in the way you think”

      Prove it. Provide the relevant verifiable documentation. That should be in the form of PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers.

      And who in their right minds thinks a small scale documentary cancels out all of the studies by real scientists that show vaccines are safe, and much safer than getting the diseases?

  6. Biel Cortadellas June 4, 2015 / 1:47 pm

    Hy I’m Biel Cortadellas,

    Sorry cause i don’t speak propper english. I write down this message cause i’m really confused about all this matter, and honestly, how more i try to undertund and more information i read about it, more confused i get.

    I’m not specially paranoic about how the world works but i’m aware innoff to know certenly that in our western system all it’s a matter of money, and the pharmaceutyc industry is one of the first economy markets of the whole world. I dont’ belive their goal is to keep people helathy but to get each time more reach, this is how the companies work.

    That under my point of vew, it makes me doubt about the real independency that the investigators have when they do their studys, as many times are directly or indirectly sponsored by those companies. So my question in this point is, are they really free to make investigations searching from an open perspective for the real results about it?

    Besides that, it seem’s to be professional doctors, I guess with the same credibility as you or any other who is pro vaccination, that defend oppostie positions about vaccination, positions that seem to be also sustented in to cientific research for example this woman:

    Honestly, i thing that science is amazing, it allow us to explain and to know how many things work, but at the same time i feel we steel have a long path, constantly we descover trhough scientific research that things we had been doing for a long time, things that where sustented by science some years ago, all of a suden we realise that where tottally wrong. That it’s happening every day. so my point is, if there is really no doubt about the vaccination why there is many people (doctors) sayng the opposite?

    I’m shure every body is tryng to do their best wither the one’s are pro or against vaccination, but you know, probably most of the people in this world are tryng their best, and look at the world we live, i don’t thing humanity is such a referent. That mean’s that even tryng our best we fail many times not cause we want but cause we are ignorants in many aspects and some times we expend more energy tryng to defense our personal points of vew about something than really tring to be open in understunding the thruth that is inside each other.

    I think it’s really complex to understund the big picture about it, till know i found innoff information in both directions to write many books about it, and i steel not knowing certenly what to think about it.

    Hope my pillow is gone a reply my questions!

    • Chris June 4, 2015 / 4:38 pm

      “I’m not specially paranoic about how the world works but i’m aware innoff to know certenly that in our western system all it’s a matter of money, and the pharmaceutyc industry is one of the first economy markets of the whole world.”

      At this time there is a child in Canada in the hospital with tetanus, and another small child in Spain very seriously sick with diphtheria. The Russian ambassador arranged to have very hard to get diphtheria anti-toxin delivered from Moscow. They had it because about twenty years ago they an epidemic with hundreds of thousands of cases, resulting in thousands of deaths from diphtheria:
      Diphtheria in the former Soviet Union: reemergence of a pandemic disease.

      Also, recent outbreaks of measles about one in twelve needed hospital treatment, because one thing measles causes in one out of five cases is pneumonia.

      Why is it better and cheaper to treat these diseases instead of preventing them?

      By the, not all doctors are reliable or qualified. You need to be careful about about their agenda. See:

      You are better off contacting the Public Health Agency in your area and talk to someone instead of asking strangers on the internet for help.

  7. Debbie Shaw July 20, 2015 / 1:48 pm

    I truly find it hard to believe that anyone would say that Whooping cough isn’t such a big deal for children. It is a terrifying, horrific disease to suffer, whatever your age. The name comes from the sound of the poor infant trying to catch their breath after a bout of coughing. My brother had it, and was barely able to breathe. When he could breathe he would cry, and who wouldn’t. Breathing is all but impossible, and the pain from almost constant coughing must be unbearable.
    I pity any child who isn’t vaccinated from preventable diseases. I’ve had measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox (as have my brother and sister). I remember how horrible they were for all of us in a time where vaccinations were not readily available.
    I had my daughter vaccinated as soon as she was old enough to have them, and I would advise anyone to do the same for their children. There may be side effects, but they are nothing to the suffering the diseases themselves cause. Something you could never understand if you have never had those diseases yourself.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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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