• Thu, Oct 18 2007

A Not So Religious Exemption?

Fear of a child becoming autistic from a vaccine or something in a vaccine has led to parents choosing not vaccinating their children and thus making outbreaks of infectious diseases possible. A story in today’s Associated Press reports that parents are now in effect using religion and even lying about their religious beliefs in order to seek a religious exemption from vaccination for their child:

Twenty-eight states, including Florida, Massachusetts and New York, allow parents to opt out for medical or religious reasons only. Twenty other states, among them California, Pennsylvania, Texas and Ohio, also allow parents to cite personal or philosophical reasons. Mississippi and West Virginia allow exemptions for medical reasons only.

From 2003 to 2007, religious exemptions for kindergartners increased, in some cases doubled or tripled, in 20 of the 28 states that allow only medical or religious exemptions, the AP found. Religious exemptions decreased in three of these states – Nebraska, Wyoming, South Carolina – and were unchanged in five others.

The rate of exemption requests is also increasing.

For example, in Massachusetts, the rate of those seeking exemptions has more than doubled in the past decade – from 0.24 percent, or 210, in 1996 to 0.60 percent, or 474, in 2006.

In Florida, 1,249 children claimed religious exemptions in 2006, almost double the 661 who did so just four years earlier. That was an increase of 0.3 to 0.6 percent of the student population. Georgia, New Hampshire and Alabama saw their rates double in the past four years.

Sample letters to request a religious exemption can be found online (here and here for example.

Is seeking a religious exemption from vaccination for a child out of fear of autism doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons?

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  • Julie

    It is sad that these families amy be lying about their religous beliefs because of fear that their child may get autism when there is no proof that there is any link. The risks from the diseases are death much worse than autism. I have said before I do not belive that my daughters autism was caused by vaccines because when we look back she showed signs as a newborn even. We did have our chidren not recieve certain vaccines and waited until they were older on others because of family history and close family members having reactions to those specific vaccines but by the time they started school they were all caught up and it was never and issue. We have lived in three different states and our doctors were always willing to work with us because they want the children vaccinated. If there is fear about the child being to young at 18 months than wait until they are older but to not vaccinate because of fear I find to be irresponsible.

  • Schwartz

    It is sad that our society forces parents to have to lie to avoid an otherwise forced medication on perfectly healthy children.

    If the government, doctors, and manufacturers refuse to take responsibility for the outcome of a vaccination, why should anyone be forced to have one. Remember, only the parents are ultimately responsible for the health of the child, and thus the choice should be theirs.

    Also, my children are not vaccinated, but not out of a fear of Autism. Rather, after rigorously studying the facts provided by both sides of the arguments, (and that meant purchasing studies NOT just reading abstracts — which I found out to be often misleading) to contain a lot of inconclusive and poor science.

    So why risk a medical intervention of non quantifiable risk or benefit?

    Julie,

    It’s good I don’t take it personally, but given the poor state of safety data, your accusation of irresponsibility is insulting.

    I noticed quite clearly, that the doctors and medical community are using fear and anger not science to promote vaccines, and that’s a red flag for me — just like insurance uses fear to sell their products.

    If the science is so overwhelmingly conclusive, why hide it in the small print, or gloss over it with fear mongering… the unfortunate truth is that it isn’t overwhelming at all and the safety aspects are unknown and grossly ignored.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Schwartz,

    Again, articulate this in terms of the data you have studied, please. You have suggested you have throughly studied something; what and the reasoning for your conclusion is left veiled.

    Note Julie does actually support her argument (signs of autism before vaccination, family history, the lethality rates of disease protected by vaccines). Can you provide something similar, or even more specific (after all, you studied the data extensively)?

    Cliff

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    It’s a sad statement on our society that claims of religious belief are being used to such ends.

  • Kathy

    Why can’t a parent be allowed to say how they really feel about vaccinations, and to refuse to have their child vaccinated without repercussions.
    Here in Australia, one only has to sign a conscientious objection form, witnessed by a doctor who also provides counselling.(pro vaccine)
    No religious grounds are necessary.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Because when you don’t vaccinate, you really increase the possibility that the relevant disease is going to be spread regardless. So it’s not an independent decision, because it may dramatically affect the lives of those around you.

    Cliff

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    Are there any webpages with the form?

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    I studied the safety trials and peer reviewed commentaries for Prevnar, DPT, DPTAeB. I’ve studied the Cochrane report on MMR, I’ve studied the Thimerosal data provided to the IOM in 2004, and I’ve read numerous critical reviews of all of these. I’ve also studied 2 of the recent Thimerosal studies (RhoGam) and the most recent one that studied non-Autistic correlations to Thimerosal exposure. I’ve read all of the transcripts from the recent hearing on the Cedeillo case, and I’ve read the Thimerosal meeting minutes from the CDC (2000?). From reading the latter, I found the lack of general knowledge and awareness of the Vaccinologists (who make all the recommendations) to be shockingly naive and dangerously limited. They had no concept of any of the biological effects of Mercury, and no one ever bothered to even use a calculator to add up the exposure levels they were recommending. You should read it. It was the beginning of my loss of confidence and skepticism about vaccines (one daughter actually got her first shot — off schedule like Julie before I did the appropriate analysis and we changed our minds after that)

    Here is more detail on my findings regarding vaccines, safety, and efficacy.

    A) You can’t get accurate risk assessments on either damage or death from diseases while living in a country with modern healthcare. The statistics given for the diseases by HC and CDC appear to be based on old historical death rates, or on worldwide numbers included very skewed results from the third world. So right off the bat, you can’t accurately judge the risk of harm from these diseases. This alone prevents anyone from making a logical or scientific decision.

    B) Vaccine safety data is derived only from very limited safety trials:

    1) These are not done by independent parties, but funded by parties who directly benefit from positive results of the studies. Conflicts of interest have been studied extensively (many peer reviewed articles and studies) and shown to introduce bias into the outcomes. Prevnar is a perfect example.

    You can also go read some critiques of the CDC and you will find out that many of the members of the decision making committees have declared financial interest in the vaccines they’re approving or recommending. Others have been hired by Big Pharma while investigating vaccine issues for the CDC (Vaerstrateen while investigating Thimerosal/Mercury was the most blatent)

    2) Safety studies on vaccines are not very thorough for the following reasons:

    a) They aren’t compared to placebo for reactions, but typically compared to other experimental vaccines. Rarely is testing ever done against unvaccinated controls. This is outrageous in my opinion.

    b) The followup period is extremely short, usually in the order of days and rarely over 25 days. I think this is one of the biggest gaping holes I have ever heard of. Long Term tracking is virtually non-existent and certainly not part of the protocol. To effectively measure true safety you would have to run a long term study WITH a control group that includes longer term followups. This never happens. That is the only way they find problems in drugs (like the HRT therapy, etc). Instead we get weak epidemiology studies (on both sides of the argument) based on databases with data of questionable accuracy.

    If you don’t want to look up these claims, all you have to do is go read the details in the Cochrane group’s study of MMR vaccine. They concluded after analyzing thousands of studies that the safety data on MMR was severely lacking and inconclusive (2005). Most of the studies were rejected for bias or poor science. What does that tell you when an independent body (despite the lead study author having a severe conflict of interest) concludes that the vast majority of safety studies done on a vaccine available for almost 2 decades (and under suspicion) don’t provide any credible evidence of safety? It sure shook my confidence in the system.

    c) Vaccines are often given to children of ages that they were never tested for. Gardasil is a perfect example of this.

    d) Efficacy is only ever tested based on anti-body production. That does not guarantee immunity because there are many other immune mechanisms that protect the body. Efficacy rates are most often over estimated as a result. This is pretty clearly illustrated when you get outbreaks, most of which occur in vaccinated populations at ratios well above the stated efficacy of the vaccines.

    e) Combining vaccine schedules together in short periods of time are not studied for their safety. (they even state this in their safety sheets) No long term followups are done, and of course they don’t use control groups — they can’t find them.

    The whole approval and tracking system right now is designed such that one can’t reliably measure any long term safety aspects of these vaccines. That’s why we’re all still debating the topic.

    C) If you want to talk about the Flu shot, there is certainly no overwhelming evidence that it is effective or healthy. Nor is there evidence that infants are at risk from the flu. There are several peer reviewed publications debating this topic now. I am personally outraged that my government is spending millions on a program (in Ontario) that is not based on solid science.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have not concluded that vaccines cause Autism, or any number of the other epidemic problems plaguing our modern society. But there is a general lack of safety data, there is definately a lot of money at stake in promoting vaccines (which never guarantees anyone’s health interests), and both sides of the argument are guilty of gross exaggeration on certain occassions. Given this environment, I continue to choose not to medicate in the face of any impending danger and I continue to track the science to see if any conclusive pops out.

    Kristina,

    I’m not sure who you think is sad, but I feel the sad part is that they have to resort to using religious reasons when they should have other avenues available to them. Fortunately, here in Canada we do.

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    From what I’ve read, Herd immunity is a theory, and certainly the levels are not well understood. I have yet to find any convincing scientific studies that discuss it — there are several that use very weak words like may, seem to, appears, etc.

    Do you have any evidence?

    And even if you do, you can’t force someone healthy to medicate and still leave them with the responsibility of the outcome. No doctor will sign responsibility for the outcome of a vaccine application. If I hold the responsibility, I certainly have the right to refuse treatment.

    On top of that, the safety data is non-existent, so I certainly have the right to refuse treatment in the face of unproven safety.

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    Let’s take a look at a hospital website for examples of FUD.

    http://www.chop.edu/consumer/jsp/division/generic.jsp?id=81553

    “Myth1: Getting so many vaccines will overwhelm my child’s immune system”
    “”Children have an enormous capacity to respond safely to challenges to the immune system from vaccines,” says Dr. Offit. “A baby’s body is bombarded with immunologic challenges – from bacteria in food to the dust they breathe. Compared to what they typically encounter and manage during the day, vaccines are literally a drop in the ocean.” In fact, Dr. Offit’s studies show that in theory, healthy infants could safely get up to 10,000 vaccines at once.”

    The study was not referenced and I can’t find one so he has little to no data to back this up. Additionally, it is stated as fact, and I highly doubt they tried it, so the claim is outrageous, yet stated as fact. Add to this that Dr. Offit holds a patent on a vaccine, and is a consultant to Merck while sitting on vaccine recommendation committees.

    “Myth 2: As long as other children are getting vaccinated, mine don’t need to be.”
    This myth goes on to discuss the great Herd immunity theory. Surprise, no references given. Although I don’t outright discount the theory, I would like to see credible scientific evidence to back up claims of people in conflict of interest since history has shown they clearly don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and do make unsubstantiated statements of fact.

    “Myth 3: Now that major illnesses have largely disappeared, we really don’t need vaccines anymore.”
    Now they talk about the childhood illnesses having disappeared due to vaccines. (They don’t provide any references of course). Fortunately, I have seen this data myself, and it is the only compelling data that vaccine proponents have that is credible. However, I also know it is presented in a misleading format (i.e. not showing that the incidence and death from most of the illnesses had mostly dropped off well before the introduction of vaccines). Unfortunately, that fact alone does not allow us to conclude anything for sure either. What really caused the reduction in disease incidence or damage? Clearly it wasn’t just vaccines, but how much did they really contribute? I have not seen vaccine proponents argue this case thoroughly (I would like to because I believe in some efficacy).

    “Don’t bet on it. Despite our relatively high vaccination rates in the U.S., many American communities still have outbreaks of diseases like measles and pertussis, a respiratory illness characterized by spasms of coughing that can last for weeks or even months. In 2003, 13 children died of the infection.”

    No details or references to the deaths. What did they die of? Were they receiving medical care? Did they have other pre-existing conditions? If you look at any of the studies around thimerosal and PDD issues or ticks, you’ll see massive numbers of exclusionary criteria from pre-existing conditions (like sleeplesness etc). If you did a study on many of these disease deaths quoted in the press and on medical sites like this, I’ll bet most of them would never have passed the study acceptance criteria (health children with no pre-existing conditions, under supervised medical care).

    WHERE IS THE CREDIBLE DATA to back up the claim?

    “Myth 4: Vaccines cause autism and other disorders.”
    Here they trot out Dr. Offit again.
    “”Not only is there no evidence that it causes autism, there’s evidence that it doesn’t cause autism,” Dr. Offit says.” In fact, there have been 14 studies that show your risk of getting autism isn’t any different if you got the MMR vaccine or if you didn’t.”"
    Although there are many studies on the topic, there are NOT 14 credible ones. In fact, I have read only 2 that have some credibility but they were hardly a slam dunk in conclusivity.

    Additionally, the mechanism proposed by Dr. Wakefield has not been disproven. His study was discredited officially by an unstated conflict of interest. There are several studies still investigating the mechansim, so Dr. Offit is misleading at best.

    “Myth 5: My baby might get the disease it’s supposed to prevent.”

    I love this one because I see it all the time: “”But the illness is much less severe than if a child naturally contracted measles or chicken pox.”"
    I have never seen this statement ever backed up by references.

    Evidence please…

    “Myth 6: Vaccines can contain preservatives that are dangerous.”

    This one is difficult of course:
    “Yet it’s become clearer since then that ethylmercury does not pose the same health hazard as its cousin, methylmercury, a metal found in the environment that’s known to accumulate in the body and cause harm to developing children. “The body is able to eliminate ethylmercury much more quickly than it can eliminate methylmercury,” says Dr. Offit. ”
    I know of this study (even though no reference is provided). There are known Variations in people’s ability to excrete mercury, and this study only looked a the blood mercury level of the children (and they didn’t measure it during peak period). They patently ignored the deposits within fatty areas (like the brain and muscles). They don’t really know the health hazard it poses, and the single study he refers to can’t back up the statements he makes with certainty.

    I’m getting tired now. I can continue tomorrow…

  • Kathy

    Come on Cliff, highly emotive language there.The fact is, around 90% of children up to 2 years of age were fully vaccinated here in Oz in 2005. Do not have current figures.

    It is highly unlikey that there will be any outbreak of disease due to some parents choosing not to vaccinate. If these parents have genuine concerns, and are fearful of an adverse reaction in their child, they should have the choice to refuse vaccination.

    And I’ll say this once again *sigh* I have had my daughter fully vaccinated.(she is not autistic)

    My son(who is autistic) is partially vaccinated.(read my previous post on another thread)
    I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT VACCINES CAUSE AUTISM.
    I do believe that some children DO have severe reactions to vaccines.

    I do believe that it is possible that some autistic children will have severe adverse effects, and in some cases regress.I have already mentioned this in a previous post.

    Oh, and Schwartz is right. My doctor could not guarantee that my son would not suffer any adverse effects from vaccines.(He already had a diagnosis of autism at that time)

    Hence my caution.

    The form is only available from GP’s here in Oz.(There are no web pages mentioned just phone fax and address)

    Here is what is on the declaration that I signed.

    “I have discussed the benefits and risks of immunisation with the provider named above and have considered the information given. I have also been given the opportunity to discuss any concerns about immunisation with the provider.
    I have a personal, philosophical, religious or medical belief involving a conviction that vaccination under the National Immunisation Program should not take place. On this basis, I choose not to have my child immunised.”

    It is my democratic right as a parent not to vaccinate, if I have serious concerns about said vaccinations.

    The government of Australia recognizes and supports this right!

  • sick o’ the antivaxers

    “Is seeking a religious exemption from vaccination for a child out of fear of autism doing the wrong thing for the wrong reasons?”

    Kristina, you have to ask?

    There will be children and adults who for health reasons should not be vaccinated. The reality is that if vaccination rates fall to below safe numbers there will be outbreaks, and hopefully not too many will die. Then there will be an upsurge in vaccinating, or more and more will die.

    In order to avoid the dying part, a goverment might enforce vaccinations (it’s been done before). I think that would be a bad thing, but probably not as bad as having dozens of babies of stupid parents dying of vaccine preventable diseases.

    Right now there are people who refuse vaccines for themselves and their children for very stupid reasons, reasons they “learned” on the Internet, just like Jenny. They refuse to take the very small risk of a vaccine and prefer to ride for free on the herd immunity. I think that’s immoral and inhumane. But then I think that unborn babies dying or becoming deaf or blind or deformed because of rubella exposure is a bad idea, even if rubella doesn’t do anything serious to the already born. I think the idea of a two month old baby dying of whooping cough is also a bad idea. Not keen on Hemophilus Influenza, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A, flu, pneumonia, measles, tetanus or diptheria or polio, either.

    Hey! they just found out that they have a vaccine for malaria! How cool is that? Antivaxers would rather see Sub Saharan African babies die of a good old natural disease than be saved with a vaccine.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Malaria_vaccine_kindles_hope/articleshow/2472303.cms

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Thank you. There’s much more to work with here.

    A) Well, yes, for the presence of a highly vaccinated populace, you aren’t going to find current statistical data without that presence. But I do not think it follows by any means that you can’t make logical inferences from previous data; though you’d have to look carefully at some areas of potential error, the trend would still be largely observable. It would breach ethics really to try and replicate that with the danger involved, though.
    B) In detail to the points specifically:
    1) I would agree that, in some cases, there may be a degree of issue regarding conflict of interest. But I don’t think that’s a universal or even that potent. There have been several studies that did not announce conflict of interest, and I’m sure you’ve come across those. Anyway, I remember Verstraeten (spelling?) and the Simpsonwood conference. The one detail was of conflict, that he had joined a major pharmaceutical company. The exact details of that were unclear, but as far as I understood, from the actual events, he had finished his work with the study, had gotten the job at the pharmaceutical company in question, and was related only in terms of advisory capacity. That’s not a clear conflict of interest in any way, and if it has any merit at all calling it the most blatant still would imply that the conflict of interests are dubious at best. And the “cover-up” was a screening study, right?
    Another thing is that these conflicts of interests, in the vague sense in which they exist, are to be expected; people work in the areas they are knowledgeable about. Someone who is a vaccines is probably going to be working in that regard, not at K-Mart. There’s, of course, a notable exception in those who specifically work against the field they are trained in.
    2) And in regards to safety:
    a. There are issues with this statement. One, it’s actually ethical breech to deny per se the vaccines, so it can be difficult to find a non-vaccinated control. But that doesn’t mean you can’t control for the substances involved, and all of the toxic substances themselves have had that control. If you have a control on the problem substances there’s no need to breach ethics and deny a (usually considered) valuable thing from kids. Even so, I recall a placebo study, though I won’t swear to it because I don’t remember the actual name of the study.
    b. The follow-up you are suggesting almost never happens. Why? Because you need to start dealing quickly with things like full random assignment, and the time that would be needed to accomplish all of those relevant factors that makes for the kind of science we are talking about over that long period of time would be tremendous. And considering both the toxicology regarding mercury (if it did have an effect, it wouldn’t be three months later) and the ability to screen within that period of time (well possible), we can draw conclusions without having that kind of support.
    c. True, as happens with many medications.
    d. Efficacy is often established in terms of statistical critical threshold levels, so exactly why the mechanism, which doesn’t play into the statistics themselves, is an influencing factor is not clear, if not a non sequitur.
    e. That’s true, though people have observed the components of the vaccines to see if they would conflict in some way with other vaccines, so the theoretical nature of this issue is dubious, at best.
    In terms of herd theory, it is debated, but the general mechanisms are grounded in statistical data and are mathematically shown as a general pattern so that the general theory, basically indirect protection, itself usually isn’t debated, though mechanisms are. The best review, I think, is this; Fine, P. E. M. (1993). “Herd Immunity; History, Theory, Practice.” Epidemiologic Reviews 15:265–302.

    The population outbreaks you describe are definitely the exception, not the rule. And in terms of liability, either way you run a potential risk, and so as the condition of the argument stands by the nature of the argument you are liable for something in one way or another. At some level, the responsibility you are talking about, the need to blame, is just harmful without direct correlation.

    Again, the safety numbers that you are looking for don’t exist with much of anything in long-term studies. Nor is the pharmacology really known about most of the medicines taken, but observed by outside effects in case studies, which is really the best balance of functionality and practicality that can be achieved at this time. There are some substances that do have those effects, but that’s the rarity.

    Finally, “the system”, as you have termed it, does not exist in the fashion you describe. There is no one who is honestly going to go around poisoning people just to line their pockets. A government is not a single entity with a single plan, and the CDC is not a single entity with a single plan. Even if a group did go to that, even another investigative panel in that government from, say, a Representative, is not going share that. There are other ways to line pockets without causing epidemics, and to think that not one person but an entire group of people, all from different backgrounds and with different motivations, are out to make money by poisoning children is unlikely.

    Kathy, a few things.

    One, around 90% isn’t far from dangerous effects. And if the numbers have anything of a serious drop (serious being maybe a few points), there’s an issue of passing threshold level. It’s a very real possibility, especially given the possibility of a continuous downward trend through media coverage. It’s not just an empty threat.
    Second, I don’t care if you think vaccines cause autism in this discussion. I really don’t. The post was about, in the end, the issue of people withdrawing from vaccination.
    And of course the doctors can’t verify, given the number of lawsuits. The doctor would continuously run the risk of asserting the science, having the person end up with the autistic kid, and facing a lengthy and expensive lawsuit, something that can’t be afforded.
    And that’s fine. Follow the governmental rights of your choice. But know that you are running the risk of killing someone when you do, how that is directly understood, and understand what you are really acting on. That’s your responsibility, as dictated under that law.

  • Kathy

    “Follow the governmental rights of your choice. But know that you are running the risk of killing someone when you do”

    Utter, unsubstantiated, emotive piffle, Cliff. If vaccines were completely safe the Australian Government would not be giving parents a choice.
    I am 49 years old. When I was a child I got the measles . My brother got the mumps. Countless other kids got these childhood diseases.
    Not one person I know died from these diseases. It is rare for people to die from these diseases in developed countries.

    ” Running the risk of killing someone.”?????

    Truly, I am shaking my head here!

  • http://club166blogspot.com Club 166

    I think that people should have the right to refuse vaccination.

    Just as long as society then has a right to relocate them all to a desert in the middle of Nevada, so their outbreaks won’t infect the rest of us.

    Joe

  • Kathy

    Hello!

    Anybody listening??

    People don’t usually die from these common childhood diseases. In fact their immunity is strengthened by them.

    Name one severe outbreak in the U.S. where people have died Joe? Thanks in advance.

    My son is turning seven soon, and I am not aware of any outbreak so far in Oz.

    Smart arse unsubstantiated comments are certainly unhelpful to the debate.

  • Julie

    I said I do not believe that every child should recieve every vaccine no matter what. My children did not always do that because I and other members of my family have have mild to severe reactions from certain vaccines so those were the vaccines that we were cautious about giving and when they got them. We had for all three of our children a very individual schedule which all of our doctors have been very happy to do for us. The issue I have is the unfounded fear that seems to be preading and how that could effect the health of children who do need to wait or can not recieve a vaccine because of family history. If more and more parents continue to not vaccinate I do believe that we could end up with an outbreak of something that is deadly. My doctors never hid from me the risks of vaccinating but explained the chances of those things happening with the risk of the disease as well as looking at how members of our family have responded to those vaccines. I did not intend to offend but I am offended at times when parents say that they would rather risk a deadly illness than have a child like mine. That to me and my daughter is offensive.

  • Kathy

    Julie, measles is not a deadly disease.

    In developing countries with poor medical facilities, where children are malnourished and have compromised immunity, sure.

    Not in developed countries like yours and mine though!

  • Julie

    Will everyone that gets the measles die of course not but can you? absolutely even in a country with great medical care like ours children can and have died from measles and chicken pox and other diseases that people consider minor. the risk may be small but why is that risk better than the small risk that your child could develop autism? I have said before if you believe strongly because of medical reasons or family history that your child should not recieve a vaccine I support that. My oldest son was born with Spinal menengitis and did not recieve many of his vaccines until he was older because of a comprimised immune system and the risk of a reaction. None of my children recieved the pertussus vaccine until it was no longer a live vaccine because of family history and people have reactions to that vaccine. But these diseases that we are trying to protect our children from can be deadly. My daughter has asthma and the respitory flu could most certainly be deadly to her one year she had pnemonia 4 times one winter so she recieves the flu vaccine. I do not give it to my sons because they are healthy and my doctor does not feel it is necessary. even the most minor disease can be deadly.

  • Kathy

    Julie I never said that I thought vaccines were a potential cause of autism.

    I do believe that every parent should be able to assess their own situations, and make their own decisions about vaccinating their children.

    I reiterate, the chance of dying from measles chicken pox etc is rare. Can it happen? Of course. But not in normal healthy children. And that’s a fact. Factors such as low immunity , malnourishment, and poor medical facilities are contributing factors to death.
    You have more chance of dieing in a car accident than from measles.

  • HCN

    Kathy said “I reiterate, the chance of dying from measles chicken pox etc is rare. Can it happen? Of course. But not in normal healthy children. ”

    Wrong.

    Look up what happened to Roald Dahl’s oldest daughter.

    Read the last few paragraphs of this article:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1055533.ece?token=null&offset=36 where it says “Naomi Pop, just 14 months old, was among the victims. Her mother, Maria, 20, was not unduly worried when Naomi contracted measles just four weeks before she was due to have the triple jab. She said: “I thought to myself, ‘Measles, so what?’ I mean, how bad could that be?”

    Within a few days Naomi had developed acute pneumonia. It took a year for her to die. She suffered several infections and progressive brain damage and finally died on March 14, 2001.”

    (are you under the impression that Ireland is a 3rd world country?)

    Go to Orac’s blog and read the comments from Catherina about an outbreak in Germany. Here is part of the webpage: eurosurveillance.org/em/v11n04/1104-225.asp

    One 14 year old child died.

    Is Germany a 3rd world country?

    Japan has closed many college campuses last spring due to a measles epidemic (I can find some news report numbers that they usually get about 50 measles deaths per year, but nothing official, and it was left blank in the WHO.int pages… and I’m at my two link maximum). Is Japan a 3rd world country?

    Between 1989 and 1991 there was an upsurge of measles in the United States, with over 120 deaths (you can read this in the CDC Pink Book chapter on measles). One of those deaths in my state was a nurse working in a hospital. Not exactly health compromised. Is the USA a 3rd world country?

    While you are correct in that MOST of the deaths are in developing countries, measles is still a dangerous disease even in Europe, Japan and USA. There usually about 1 to 2 deaths per 1000 cases.

    Mumps is milder, but not necesarily without complications. Last summer there was a mumps outbreak in the USA:
    cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm55d518a1.htm … there were a bit over 2000 cases with “However, complications have included 27 reports of orchitis, 11 meningitis, four encephalitis, four deafness, and one each of oophoritis, mastitis, pancreatitis, and unspecified complications. “

  • Julie

    Kathy,

    you may not feel that vaccines cause autism but I do believe that a lot of the parents who are choosing not to vaccinate are doing so because of that fear. These diseases are always going to be more deadly in developing countries where health care is not as good but it still happens here and in other countries that have excellent healthcare. It may not be the disease itself that is the cause but comlications because of the disease.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Kathy,

    Yes, as other people pointed out, people die from childhood diseases. Vaccines themselves are in this regard partially responsible for allowing the higher levels of human population that we see today. That’s not empty, either.

    Cliff

  • Chuck

    HCN,

    How many people have life long complications or die from vaccine failures/adverse reactions? I am quite sure that number is vastly larger then the number of deaths from measles and chickenpox.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Not really. The number is very insignificant, in the realm of exception, where the diseases themselves can significantly population numbers with a lack of vaccines.

    Cliff

  • HCN

    Chuck, can you please provide the vaccine damage data? Can you show us the study that shows that the MMR is more dangerous than measles, mumps or rubella?

    The MMR vaccine has been used in the USA since 1971. There have been some payouts to the rare reactions, but very very few. Certainly much less than the persons disabled and injured by measles in the last 30 years, and definitely less than the 120 people who died in the USA from measles between 1989-1991.

    Why did it seem to only become a problem when it was introduced in the UK almost two decades later?

    Anyway, here is one report on those who did report adverse reactions:
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/110/6/e71

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    sick o’ the antivaxers,

    Definitely had to ask as I’ve seen too many people to do it!

  • Schwartz

    HCN,

    A journalist’s report hardly qualifies as a medical analysis, and these ones don’t provide enough information to make any judgements at all. One of the first clues, is that the parents admitted they did not treat the measles seriously. Mistake #1. I’m certainly not advocating measles is harmless. If any of my children contracted measles, I would be very quick to provide support
    for them and I would actively intervene to support their health immediately — like I do with any illness that appears serious. I wonder if these parents did. Given their comments, I suspect not.

    Pneumonia is also the one of the most common causes of childhood deaths in the world and significant numbers of deaths still occur in the developed world (10% of over 2 million according to WHO). Given that measles trigger probably less than the fingers on my hand, is it really the measles that caused the death?

    I find it interesting that if a child suffers a reaction to a vaccine, and then subsequently develops complications and dies (or remains damaged — i.e. ongoing siezures), people require extensive proof before they believe that the vaccine CAUSED the death.

    Yet, when a child dies from Pnuemonia after contracting measles, it is assumed that the measles was the primary cause of death. The medical community propagates that crap.

    So HCN, you’ll have to provide some credible evidence before you can claim that these diseases are as deadly as you claim. If treated seriously, the vast majority of incidences of these diseases are very mangeable in the developed world.

    As for the Germany outbreak, your link didn’t work, but what I can find gives no details of the actual cause of death, nor any information about the previous health of the children affected. Again, hardly enough data to prove anything. Are you really satisfied with so little information?

    The mumps outbreak has the same problem, in addition to the fact that > 50% of the people involved were actually vaccinated and it is likely a very small percentage were unvaccinated.

    In fact, this example tells me a few important things:
    1) The MMR vaccine is not very effective against the mumps for the age groups affected
    2) Older children were really at risk for mumps, so why vaccinate infants of

  • Schwartz

    In fact, this example tells me a few important things:
    1) The MMR vaccine is not very effective against the mumps for the age groups affected
    2) Older children were really at risk for mumps, so why vaccinate infants of

  • Schwartz

    Cliff

    “Not really. The number is very insignificant, in the realm of exception, where the diseases themselves can significantly population numbers with a lack of vaccines.”

    Data please? You can’t state that because you don’t really know. The appropriate tracking mechanisms are not in place.

    “Yes, as other people pointed out, people die from childhood diseases. Vaccines themselves are in this regard partially responsible for allowing the higher levels of human population that we see today. That’s not empty, either.”

    Evidence please?

    ———————————

    Deciding not to vaccinate does not mean one can ignore the risks of any disease. One must always be very aware and treat seriously any disease (even if you’re vaccinated because the vaccines don’t always work) your children contract.

  • Schwartz

    “Chuck, can you please provide the vaccine damage data? Can you show us the study that shows that the MMR is more dangerous than measles, mumps or rubella?”

    HCN,

    You’ve got it backwards. You are asking people to pay for a procedure known to have potentially dangerous side effects, yet has a lack of safety data (and efficacy data as well) to CHOOSE to vaccinate their children and take responsibility for it.

    Therefore, it is incumbent on YOU to prove that the risk of damage from the disease combined with the risk of contracting the disease is higher than the risk of damage from the vaccine. Since you can’t properly quantify any of those items factually, you can’t make your case scientifically.

    For some reason the orgnanisations promoting vaccines do not seem interested in really addressing any of those problems, because it would require changes to the regulatory and reporting systems. No excuse IMO. They should focus on tracking and reporting on the safety of the vaccines instead of using fear to force it down the throat of people who actually bother to investigate and find that the data is severely lacking.

  • Schwartz

    HCN,

    The study on MMR that you referenced was not deemed credible by the extensive Cochrane report in 2005.

    You need to provide credible data, not studies rejected by subsequent analysis.

  • HCN

    I provided the eurekaalert, and the MMWR report on the mumps, and yet you attack the newspaper article. The mumps outbreak in the American Midwest was mostly college students.

    Infants are NOT given MMR, it is only done for children over 1 year old.

    The information you want can be found at the CDC Pink Book chapters of mumps and measles, with cross referencing. If you do not like the CDC, then provide links to resources that you find acceptible.

    Also, it seems that the deaths in the USA were underestimated:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=pubmed&cmd=Retrieve&dopt=AbstractPlus&list_uids=15106092
    …. and “Preexisting conditions related to immune deficiency were reported for 16% of deaths in the NCHS system and 14% in the NIP; the most common was human immunodeficiency virus infection. ” So more than 80% were healthy before contracting measles.

    Not only are you moving goalposts, I find it interesting that I have given resources and articles found on PubMed, and yet none of you have offered information on how the MMR is more dangerous than the diseases.

    Where does it say that measles and mumps are harmless diseases? What documentation do you have that only health impaired people suffer with measles or mumps?

  • Chuck

    HCN,

    You only answered HALF of my question with your supplied report. How many MMR vaccines have FAILED since 1971 and how many associated complication and deaths can be attributed to those FAILURES?

  • HCN

    Sure, Chuck… but first you have to answer this question: Which is more dangerous, the MMR vaccine or the actual diseases it provides an 80 to 90% protection for, mumps, measles and rubella.

    Remember to provide documention to show that the MMR adverse reactions were worse than the diseases. Show the link to the study that shows getting measles is better than getting the MMR.

  • Schwartz

    Cliff

    A) So you admit now that we’ve left the realm of evidence and are entering the realm of theory. I don’t see how it would breech any ethics given that you’ve basically admitted you can’t adequately provide factual data to make an evidence based decision. I would argue it is unethical to treat vast numbers of children to a large experiment. Even more unethical is to run such an experiment without rigorously monitoring for problems over the long term.

    B1) See my other post regarding evidence showing both the prevelance and effect of COI in medical studies.

    I don’t think I spoke of a “cover-up” so I’m not sure what that one is about.

    As for Verstraeten, his initial results discussed at the conference in 2000 were subsequently changed and published a couple years later. Immediately after publishing the final modified results, he left the CDC to work for big Pharma. Given the immediacy of his move, he was clearly in discussions with big Pharma during his study and this was not stated as a COI. I make no further allegations of wrongdoing, just of failing to note a conflict of interest.

    It is one thing to work in a related field and switch jobs. It is quite another to hold a direct financial interest in the outcome of a committee you are serving on.

    2) I never advocate that anyone be denied vaccines. It is unethical to withold treatment from anyone that has been proven to be safe and effective. Until the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, it is perfectly ethical to conduct a study with controls just like every other type of drug trial around. Additionally, it is also perfectly ethical to study long term differences in health between vaccinated and unvaccinated populations after the introduction of the vaccine. They do this for other drugs, and lo, have discovered problems in some cases. Why not vaccines?

    I believe you are right on the placebo study, but I can’t remember which one. However, the vast majority are not compared to placebo, certainly not the ones I looked at.

    b) I would argue, that you can’t reliably draw firm conclusions without the proper data. MOst of the studies to date have not been able to find good data on which to base quality studies. Additionally, with the proper mandate, these things can and have been done in the past. (HRT therapy comes to mind again…)

    d) The efficacy I need to have in order to make a scientific decision is based on the odds that the vaccine application will actually protect my child from disease X. This data is not reliably available (again, read the Cochrane report for MMR). It is not a non sequitur at all.

    e) It is well known that hazardous drug interactions are only found after the analysis of adverse events. Most clinical trials study patients over the period of an extended protocol, not a mere 20 days. They can actually detect adverse events that way. Again, with the admitedly poor tracking and analysis of vaccine ADRs, this is not happening, so I don’t accept your opinion on the matter. I would like to see evidence.

    I guess I’ll actually have to buy that damn textbook because it is the one always quoted as a reference. I sure hope it backs up the theory with data.

    Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think the vast majority of the people are purposefully lining their pockets at the expense of the health of the population. But I do know that the health of the population most certainly takes a lower priority to the operation of Big Pharma than do profits. This is pretty evident.

    However, your arguments still have not provided me any data that I need to make a logical/scientific decision. It only contains reasons/excuses as to why the data is impractical to get. At best, this is unacceptable, because better data can be gathered if the government wanted to mandate it. However, if you claim that the a decision to not vaccinate is not based on evidence the exact same statement applies to those who chose to vaccinate since you’ve basically admitted the data doesn’t exist to do a proper risk assessment.

    PS: I used to work for Big Pharma in the area of study data collection and analysis so I am quite familiar with how much of the process works.

  • Schwartz

    HCN,

    You continue to ignore the evidence. Please read the Cochrane report:

    “The design and reporting of safety outcomes in MMR vaccine studies, both pre- and post-marketing, are largely inadequate. The evidence of adverse events following immunisation with MMR cannot be separated from its role in preventing the target diseases.”

    Again, the burden of proof is on you to prove safety, not the other way around.

  • Schwartz

    B 1) RE: Conflict of Interest “But I don’t think that’s a universal or even that potent.”

    Please read the following studies, then present your evidence to back up your statement. The evidence would suggest that the problem of conflict of

    interest is far greater than you propose.

    “Drug Company Payments to Doctors Often Exceed Recommended Limits; Data Widely Unavailable to the Public”

    “Pharmaceutical Company Payments to Physicians”

    “Conclusions The Vermont and Minnesota laws requiring disclosure of payments do not provide easy access to payment information for the public and are

    of limited quality once accessed. However, substantial numbers of payments of $100 or more were made to physicians by pharmaceutical companies.”

    “Ghost Authorship in Industry-Initiated Randomised Trials”

    “We conclude that ghost authorship in industry-initiated randomised trials is very common, and we believe that this practice serves commercial purposes

    . Its prevalence could be considerably reduced if existing guidelines were followed; in particular, journals should list the contributions of all

    authors . In addition, journals could ask for the name and affiliation of the statistician who analysed the data, if this information is not clear.”

    “The association between funding by commercial interests and study outcome in randomized controlled drug trials”

    “Conclusion: An association was found between the source of study support and the published outcome. Though the reason for this association cannot be

    determined from the data collected, future studies may clarify the importance of this finding for readers concerned with the relationship of funding

    bodies to the publication of research outcomes.”

    “An analysis of the effect of funding source in randomized clinical trials of second generation antipsychotics for the treatment of schizophrenia”

    “CONCLUSIONS: While the retrospective design of the study limits the strength of the findings, the data suggest that industry bias may occur in

    randomized controlled trials in schizophrenia. There appears to be several sources by which bias may enter clinical research, including trial design,

    control of data analysis and multiplicity/redundancy of trials.”

    “Industry Sponsorship and Financial Conflict of Interest in the Reporting of Clinical Trials in Psychiatry”

    “… In sum, our results suggest that financial conflict of interest is at least as prevalent in psychiatry as in other specialties in medicine.

    Industry sponsorship and author conflict of interest are prevalent and do appear to affect study outcomes.”

    “Association of funding and conclusions in randomized drug trials: a reflection of treatment effect or adverse events?”

    “CONCLUSIONS: Conclusions in trials funded by for-profit organizations may be more positive due to biased interpretation of trial results. Readers

    should carefully evaluate whether conclusions in randomized trials are supported by data.”

    “Industry Sponsorship and Authorship of Clinical Trials Over 20 Years”

    “Pharmaceutical industry–sponsored and mixed-funding clinical trials are common, and the relative incidence of published trials with these declared

    funding sources in the 5 journals reviewed has increased. Industry employees are appearing as coauthors of clinical trial publications with increasing

    frequency.”

    “Prevalence of articles with honorary authors and ghost authors in peer-reviewed medical journals.”

    “CONCLUSION: A substantial proportion of articles in peer-reviewed medical journals demonstrate evidence of honorary authors or ghost authors.”

    And this story is a real kicker:
    “http://www.slate.com/id/2133061/”

    “Why did Sheffield, a top-flight research university, try to silence and get rid of Blumsohn? The answer appears to lie in the complex and increasingly

    compromised relationships that have grown up between some research universities and the pharmaceutical industry. In 2001, the editors of nearly a dozen

    prominent medical journals warned that growing industry interference with academic research (from study design to data analysis and publication) was

    threatening the objectivity and trustworthiness of medical research. The editors issued new guidelines requiring all authors publishing in the journals

    to verify that they “had full access to all of the data” related to their studies and that they took “complete responsibility” for “the accuracy of the

    data analysis.”

    But in the years since, universities with medical schools have become dependent on drug companies for an ever-larger share of their research

    budgets—roughly 80 percent of clinical research is now privately funded. And drug companies, in turn, have pressed for greater control over the research

    process, making it easier for them to obscure or delete negative results from published academic papers. Earlier this month, the New England Journal of

    Medicine accused Merck of failing to report three patient deaths in the trial that led to FDA approval of the painkiller Vioxx, which was pulled from

    the market last year because of its association with heart attacks and strokes. The careful record Blumsohn kept of his dealings with Procter & Gamble

    and Sheffield suggests that P&G didn’t control academic research on its own. It needed Sheffield University to permit incursions on scholarly

    independence.”

  • Schwartz

    Sorry about the bad formatting. I tried to post links, but it kept ignoring them. sigh.

  • http://club166blogspot.com Club 166

    …Smart arse unsubstantiated comments are certainly unhelpful to the debate.

    Well, Kathy, there are two well accepted methods of preventing large outbreaks of disease, vaccination and quarantine. I merely suggested that if people chose not to get vaccinated, then society collectively (for its own protection) should reserve the right to quarantine all those who would not vaccinate, allowing them to live in a remote location by themselves. Cuba, which has no money for expensive antiviral medicines, has used quarantine effectively to keep the rate of HIV infection on the island much lower than its neighbors. I don’t think that this is the ideal way to treat people, but it works.

    Others have already pointed out that measles can and does kill, even healthy individuals. As far as Australia goes, as recently as the period between 1988 and 1998 there were over 16,000 cases of measles in Australia. By raising the vaccination rate to about 93.6% measles has been mostly eliminated from Australia. In 2007 there were only 11 cases in the first half of the year, while over 1000 cases had been reported in Japan over the same time period (Source).

    The only way (in a world where there are travelers to and from everywhere) to keep large outbreaks from occurring is to keep the immunization rates very high, especially for highly communicable diseases like measles and pertussis. People like to say that its a personal choice, but its a choice that has consequences for others in the community, as was illustrated when the MMR rates of immunization in Great Britain fell with the autism anti-jab scare, and measles cases started occurring again.

    So you may think me flip, but I don’t believe in putting the very young and those who are immuno-compromised and can’t receive vaccines at risk just because of the “gut feelings” of certain individuals that don’t want to vaccinate. As I said, I support that decision as long as they don’t live in my community.

    Joe

  • Schwartz

    club166,

    The previous examples of measles deaths were not shown to have occured in healthy individuals. The actual detailed data is lacking, unless you have access to something that wasn’t published.

    Perhaps we should also quarantine all people who live unhealthy lifestyles (bad diet, overweight, etc), because they are more likely to contract and transmit dangerous diseases to my children.

    Give the rhetoric a break.

    Provide credible evidence, and maybe you can convince some of us. At least provide credible evidence of safety. That is really what I’m looking for. You accuse people of going with “gut feelings” despite the clearly laid out reasons posted above. Applying labels to people is a pretty poor way to argue any position, let alone a logical one.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    I’m going to get to the FUD site in just a bit when I have a little more time, so I’m not ignoring it.
    a) This is asking into the conceptual realm of data which don’t need to be answered in so far as you are suggesting. The Pope can make this argument, using your standard; “We don’t have any accessible recent data regarding how often condoms stop pregnancy. Therefore, it is unethical to use condoms and thus people are not responsible when a pregnancy occurs.”
    Plus, the age of the data does not invalidate said data entirely. So long as you understand the mistakes, you can use where there wasn’t a mistake.
    B1) The “cover-up” would be “introducing bias into the outcomes”, in so far as the actual data when performed isn’t going to change by simple will of character but by adjusting the pool. This can’t really be done with success prior, so it’s implied.
    And your statement of Verstraeten is not correct, in so far as I can tell. He announced the conflict of interest prior to the conference, and was an adviser and didn’t actually work on the project prior to the final release.
    2) You’re missing the point, slightly. You’d have to do a random sampling, without COI, and get a population from time of vaccination. To do this in effective terms, you’d have to deny many of the people in the study from vaccinating their kids. Thus, a cross on the ethical line.
    B) If you create a subjective bar on “reliable”, you can always find something that the study didn’t find, or say that it has to go back further. “Reliable” data, in the sense you are talking about, exists for only for a very select number of drugs, perhaps of the Prozac class. But usually you can determine safety well enough to use the drug well before hand. If you want to be honest, and universal, you’d have to deny virtually all medication that wasn’t proved almost certainly true (and that’s giving you the benefit of the doubt; if you are looking for certainly true, it’s not happening in this world).
    d) Yes, but it’s still a non sequitur because the objection is mechanism. Mechanism plays no role in statistical data.
    e) I won’t say it’s not happening for vaccines, but I will say that it’s actually not common in any real sense for something of the type. Plus, the threshold where the damage would have been done is well detectable in a short period of time, on the basis of the general toxicology of mercury. That’s done longer for some drugs where the toxicology is more subtle and drawn-out, and even they don’t face some of the issues regarding full random assignment and the like which affects some clinical medicine.
    The one I mentioned was a review, with data from a variety of other sources.
    And, yes, I can’t give ultimate evidence to a complete skeptic. Just as I can’t really prove the sky is blue, the grass is green, an apple red. There’s a point where you go over”reasonable” in a world where you can always look for an objection if you want it, and I think we’ve passed that point. We don’t need clinical studies that do nothing but raise the time past when we could already establish no effect, and we don’t need to prove that someone might, in some indirect way or another, benefited, so long as the logic behind the study is good.
    Similarly, in regards to whether vaccinations are really responsible for a significant decrease in population numbers, it’s a widely recognized fact, so much so that I didn’t think I needed to. I’m going to direct you to a book that has a general overview on the field of of immunocology, because I don’t I want to review the entire precepts; Goldsby RA, Kindt TK, Osborne BA and Kuby J (2003) Immunology, 5th Edition, W.H. Freeman and Company, New York, New York, ISBN 0-7167-4947-5. It’s simplistic, yes, but it should generalize what you need to know and have the references you probably want.
    And you have the burden of proof wrong. It’s been sufficiently established in terms of the scientific community (supposing you don’t want to go after the general scientific community) that vaccination is a safe practice. The burden lies with those who wish to disprove that. In fact, there’s now entire fields of science dedicated to that, so you need to pretty much disprove immunology along the way.

    Cliff

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Sorry for some really bad typing there.

    Cliff

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    I just saw the second post regarding conflict of interest, but I need to reformat that post before I can really read it.

    Cliff

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    NP with the typing. These blogs are not well suited to long discussions.

    a) In terms of the data being quoted for these diseases, significant contributing conditions are quite different since the statistics were originally collected and thus the argument here is much more pertinent than the analogy you provided.

    1b) Taken from a letter from DAve Wheldon MD of the House of Representatives:

    “Furthermore, the lead author of the article, Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, worked for the CDC until he left over two years ago to work in Belgium for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a vaccine manufacturer facing liability over TCVs. In violation of their own standards of conduct, Pediatrics failed to disclose that Dr. Verstraeten is employed by GSK and incorrectly identifies him as an employee of the CDC. This revelation undermines this study further.”

    2) Maybe I’m still missing the point, but since you haven’t yet proved safety (or efficacy), you’re not denying a known beneficial treatment yet. Additionally, people enter studies of their own choice, just like they choose to vaccinate or not to vaccinate.

    B) I agree that these things are difficult. But the FDA often requests post-acceptance tracking and followup. A study done Last year showed that less than 3% of these requests were ever fulfilled. There is a regulatory mechanism to deal with this, but it’s being ignored. I’m not demanding absolute truth, because I’m well accustomed to shades of grey, but the level of rigour today wrt to vaccines appears to be on the level of wreckless IMO.

    I think when dealing with mass medication, it is incumbent to do a decent amount of safety testing. Even worse in these cases, the immune system is not that well understood by medicine, and so I feel that a lot more caution is merited. I also think it’s really stupid to take these experimental risks on children at such a young age when the risk of disease at that particular age is not very substantial in most of the cases.

    I also think that it would be not be that difficult, if we were tracking the results more carefully (even without doing control group studies) to identify at-risk children BEFORE giving them the shots. But in general none of this is occurring.

    d) I think we might be crossing points on this one. My position is that they are measuring efficacy by testing anti-body production, not actual immunity to disease. The assumption here is that anti-body production = immunity and I am positing that this is not always true. Therefore using efficacy data on anti-body production can’t be stated as efficacy of immunity to the disease.

    e) This one is going to remain a theoretical argument I suppose, but one point I will make is that I’m not necessarily focussed on Mercury but the general unknowns of combining so many differing things at the same time. Since it is unnecessary, it also appears to be an unneccessary risk.

    I will get the book, because I am interested in reading some counter arguments to the overall history of vaccine efficacy.

    However, we will differ on opinion of the threshold. My skepticism of the system is well rooted given the pervasiveness of conflict of interest. I just read two new articles today on related topics:

    Drug Companies’ Ties to Schools Common (JAMA)

    “But Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a former New England Journal of Medicine editor and frequent critic of industry influence over doctors, called the study eye-opening.

    “I was appalled by the results,” Kassirer said. “No one knew that so many chairs of medicine and psychiatry were paid speakers. We’ve never had that data before.”

    So yes, I am extremely skeptical of the system as it stands today. I am also convinced that the health of the vaccine program itself takes a higher priority than the health of the children it’s trying to protect. This trend is pervasive throughout the CDC transcript.

    I don’t think my position at this time is unreasonable given the current state of available data and the state of the system in general.

    As for the burden of proof, we will have to disagree here as well. There are numerous instances where general scientific community have been wrong — it will almost always self correct, but that takes time. I think that our recent history is showing us the combined problem of industry influence into every aspect of the medical community, will result in more instances of errors in the “general medical establishment”. I still go back to the HRT therapy which was a real shocker to most of the community. I think the cough medicine fiasco announced today borders on criminal. That would be another instance of general failure.

    For the record, I’m not completely skeptical of the efficacy of every vaccine either. However, I believe that the schedule (young age), and number of recommended vaccines is questionable and unnecessarily risky.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Ok, managed to fix that post adequately. Looked at the individual articles. By the way, are you pretty much only getting JAMA? All of the articles that I could tell were from there.

    Anyway, onwards.
    a) No, the conditions haven’t changed in that regard. They may have temporarily for the vaccinated population, but the general precept holds and the analogy stands.
    (1b) I’ll look at his letter, but I don’t think the Representative is right. At the Simpsonwood Conference, in 2001 or so, I thought that he had announced conflict, but not during the study. Up until 2003, then, he didn’t actually work on the study. Here’s the Senate release on the Verstraeten case, which has no reason to hide evidence; http://help.senate.gov/Min_press/autism.pdf
    2) Vaccines are considered to have been found reasonably efficient by the scientific community (I would point to the immunicology book, because it will have better references that I will). Regardless of the truth value, to deny something commonly known to be potentially life saving is a cross. Also, people enter clinical trials, but the sampling needs to be random in regards to that control group.
    B) The FDA usually asks that when there is a delayed effect, like perhaps like a new SSRI that potentially affects brain states over time. The effect in regard to themerisol, which is at issue here, doesn’t have that effect. Mercury is in and out of the system in a few days, and the effects are seeable at that point. So the long-term you are looking for doesn’t exist for things of that kind of sort, and because of the nature of vaccination, the follow-up for random assignment is difficult, at best. Also, the risks aren’t low for childhood diseases; in 1964, CRS alone claimed 1% of the population of the United States.
    D) My point is that the mechanism is not parlayed at all. The resistance is shown based on statistical data regarding the resistance of those; I.E it’s an effectiveness measure, and the effectiveness measure cares nothing for whether it’s caused by antibodies or angry green gremlins.
    E) Scientists would argue that the combined schedule is necessary to make sure that all of the protection that children need goes into place.
    And I won’t say that corruption is absent in the scientific field. But, at a high numbers, it’s maybe at 20%. Thus, you need to disprove the other 80% to state that the position is because of corruption in and of itself.
    And I do think the standard of “innocent until proven guilty” applies here very heavily. Let’s be honest, there have been a lot of investigations into this. Independent ones, those of the government, those of the companies themselves. Nothing has been found. You’d have to make an assertion that not only did pharmecutical companies decide to actively hide a major health crime, risking what they would know to be equivalent to war crimes, but that the Senate and various independents have also an active interest in substantiating a major health crisis. And the money just isn’t that great. It may be significant, but not that significant.
    There’s nothing to suggest negatively of the vaccination schedule. That’s not just in casual observance, but in the observance of conflicting compounds that would have to exist to make such a practice an issue.
    Finally, the JAMA studies. They were interesting, and I don’t doubt that there is something there. But it was exaggerated, most definitely in some cases. One of the studies qualified a ghost writer as someone “who had made a contribution not listed”. That qualifies virtually everything. A disclosure of a friend giving you an idea after you’ve been talking about it gives a ghost writer right there. Also, the over 100$ payments tend to be exaggerated in all fields, not just in medicine. The claims tend to exaggerate influence, in that if someone does the social right of say paying for dinner, that creates an outlandish manipulation of an official.

    And I’m not sure how to address Blumsohn, despite some research into it, because there’s no evidence either way. The claims are from Blumsohn’s personal letters (e-mails, actually), which are dubious as any personal letters. And many of his actual requests were made, just he didn’t interpret the things he saw the same way. As far as I can tell, it’s a media representation of two opinions stacked against one another. So I’m not really sure how to address that in an objective manner.

    Cliff

  • Chuck

    HCN,

    The MMR vaccine is as dangerous for the 10%-20% of the people who are vaccinated. Please provide the source for each disease that substantiates your failure rates.

  • Amanda

    There’s an incredibly disturbing undercurrent to some of these comments, which is that it doesn’t matter if people who are not healthy already die. So, those of us who are asthmatic, immunosuppressed, whatever, protecting us doesn’t count for anything? Since “healthy” people supposedly don’t die of these diseases (something that isn’t even true in itself), it’s okay to let “unhealthy” people die?

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    A question hovering at the edges of thie discussion might be, is someone with autism healthy? (This being a question that relates to questions of whether autism is a “disease” or “disorder.”)

  • Matt

    Trying to claim that vaccines don’t work is a (small) step short of trying to claim that the tide won’t come in tomorrow.

    Probably the coolest news of the last week is the success of the pase II trial of the malaria vaccine. It isn’t 100% effective, but, dang, a vaccine against malaria? I thought Gates was nuts to ask his foundation to try to tackle it.

    Should it work, the question is whether the nominations will be strongest for the Nobel Prize in Medicine or Peace.

    The fact that a few (note few) more people are deciding to forgoe vaccinating their kids only makes me more steadfast in getting my kids vaccinated. Having my kid die of something like measles (or pass it on to someone else who dies) would be like letting him die of appendicitis because I don’t believe in surgery. People have tried religious exemptions for that as well.

  • Matt

    Geez, Are people still debating Simpsonwood?

    http://www.autismspeaks.org/government_affairs/help_thimerosal_report.php

    People can and do complain that the HELP committee is “corrupt” as well. That only serves to demonstrate the lengths of conspiracy theory that are needed to support the supposed link.

    Take a look at what they say about Vaerstaeten. Looks to me like he was a post-doc (or had a similar appointment) at CDC. The great things about post-docs is that they bring really tallented people into the US and we get to keep many of them.

    Wouldn’t it have been nice to get another autism researcher into the US? I mean, rather than scaring him (and probably many others) away?

    So he went back to Europe. Can you blame him? He held a temporary position at CDC. People twisted his words, misinterpreted his preliminary findings, plagarized his work…

    The whole Simsonwood witch hunt has given the US autism community a big black eye.

  • Julie

    Healthy people can get and die from these diseases. Sick people diserve to be protected from them the same. I am not upset by Jenny speaking about all of the things that she has tried with her son. Our daughter has been dairy free for some time and is able to communicate better when she is. The problem that I have is that she says things like I would never vaccinate another child and she does not discuss the therapies that helped him as well as the bio med treatments and although my daughter is doing much better I wuld not say that she is cured or that she does not have autism at this point. On Oprah she started out saying that he will always have autism and by the time she got to Larry King He did not. That has been my problem with her all along I think it is good to share our experiences so that parents can have hope but her experience seems to carry more weight and she is look at as an expert on Autism when she is as all parents are just an expert on her son.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Amanda, you are right regarding health and worth. I chose to ignore it to try and keep a tone of civility overall, but it’s right to be disgusted.

    Cliff

  • Matt

    “I also think it’s really stupid to take these experimental risks on children at such a young age when the risk of disease at that particular age is not very substantial in most of the cases.”

    Tell me that doesn’t say what I think it says. Please.

    It strikes me that it is difficult to ding medical researchers who spend their lives studying the immune system as no having a good understanding when you appear to be basing your discussions on a clearly fatal flaw in reasoning.

    People who forget the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them. When it comes to public health, they are doomed to take others with them.

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    a) Do you really think the risk of damage from measles is the same for a child in a third world country as it would be for an unvaccinated population in North America?

    The death rates (and I believe incident rates) for measles were dropping long before vaccines were introduced. That previous reduction was brought about by factors not related to vaccines so clearly other factors can drastically affect the rates of outcomes from the disease or the incidence. I will check your book to see if it appropriately addresses these things. But I am not yet convinced that . I will certainly agree that it is very probable that the extremely low risk in our currently vaccinated population would change if the vaccination wan’t done, but I am not at all convinced the rates would be as serious as people are theorizing.

    1b) The complaint in the letter appears to be an accusation of violation of the rules of the COI guidelines for the journal which published the study. However, based on that document you provided and the letter referenced inside, he does appear clean. However, that document you provided did substantiate other instances of COI within that IOM commitee member… sigh.

    2) Don’t get me wrong. I am not totally anti-vaccination, just like I’m not anti-medication either. I think that each vaccine needs to be analyzed for it’s own merit, just like any drug. Anti-biotics are also generally accepted as being effective and helpful, but each specific case must be analyzed and specific anti-biotics are very dangerous to specific individuals. I believe the same applies to vaccines, yet no investigation is done to determine which individuals are succeptible. Instead huge amounts of funding are pored into pressuring people to just get it done without a second thought.

    You better check that CRS number. In 1969 65K cases of RUBELLA were logged — and for non-pregnant women, it is a completely benign disease. The largest number of CRS cases in a single year was ~ 69 in 1970. Where did you get your outrageous number from? If I really believed those numbers to be true, I would be worried too.

    I would also be interested in what you think the rate of CRS incidence is amoung women infected with rubella during pregnancy.

    This is actually a good case example where one can avoid mass medication, and only vaccinate those at risk since it is such a small percentage.

    D) So, let me ask this then: Can you scientifically quantify how effective the vaccine will be in preventing me from contracting said disease? My impression is that you can only guage the effectiveness of producing anti-bodies in the individual vaccinated. You would then need to determine in what percentage of cases, anti-bodies alone provide adequate protection against said disease.

    E) I think if you want to FORCE mass medication upon a population it is incumbent to prove safety first, not assume innocence. Again, every case is specific. Just because vaccine X works, does not mean that vaccine Y will. There are many failed vaccines.

    Taking a very targeted study group, and then applying the results to a whole non-homogenous population is also known to be fraught with problems — we’ve seen this with the cough medicine, we’ve seen it with Vioxx. Given that people want to mandate vaccination for everyone, even a small percentage of problems for certain types of people still impacts a significant number of people.

    Additionally, small numbers of affected people won’t show up in an epidemiology study — which is the type of study that is favoured by the CDC etc. Again, you state that lots of analysis has been done, but I urge you to read the Cochrane report, which basically concluded that there was no credible evidence to determine the safety or efficacy of the MMR vaccine. And they looked at thousands of studies. Now they concluded as you do that “General Scientific Consensus” states that it is safe. The irony is that none of the Analysis done to date in the form of studies was deemed credible.

    So that brings us back to the same place. The general medical community’s consensus is that they are safe and effective, but we lack credible evidence of safety and efficacy, and in certain instances, the risk rates quoted are inflated or at a minimum debated.

    Again, if you intent to force or mandate mass medication it is incumbent to prove safety for the individuals. When someone experiences death or damage after a vaccine is given today, it is rarely followed up and often the association is immediately disregarded.

    There is certainly no clear cut answer IMO. It is clear if you place blind trust in the general medical community. My experience with this is that the general medical community does not merit blind trust. Specific doctors, and treatments certainly do. The data (and the doctors I trust) have not been able to convince me with the evidence available today that the vaccines are safe for my children at their current age (very young) and they have not convinced me that the risks of not vaccinating are larger.

    I find the situation very frustrating as well.

    As for the Ghost writing, the study results are almost definitely underestimating the problem because the disclosure for the study was voluntary. Additionally, the danish study (where many of the Thimerosal epidemiology come from) found that most often it was the statistician who was the ghost writer donated by the funding party. We all know that the statistician ultimately provides the data that will determine the outcome of those types of studies.

  • Schwartz

    Matt,

    Why don’t you stick to Analogies that actually apply. It’s outrageous statements like yours that chip away at the other credible statements you might actually make.

    “Having my kid die of something like measles (or pass it on to someone else who dies) would be like letting him die of appendicitis because I don’t believe in surgery. People have tried religious exemptions for that as well.”

    Let’s examine the starting point here:

    Case 1: Healthy Child

    Case 2: Child with Terminal Illness

    Hmm, we’re off to a bad start already.

    Case 1:
    * Unquantified risk of medical intervention
    * unquantifiable efficacy of medical intervention
    * Unquantified risk to health of non-intervention

    Case 2:
    * Quantifiable risk to health (near 100% terminal)
    * Quantifiable risk of medical intervention (low)
    * Quantifiable effectiveness of intervention( very high)

    Boy, that’s a tough one. Stick to the facts.

  • Schwartz

    Amanda,

    Unfortunately, a completely logical decision boils down to risks. You can’t quantify the risk to my healthy child of this medical intervention. Even worse, the system isn’t properly tracking the safety to determine the risk.

    I’m going to assume for this discussion you have a child with a known health problem like asthma. (just for discussion purposes)

    People with known health problems face risks from all illnesses, but you also can’t quantify the risk my unvaccinated child posses to your unhealthy child.

    Let’s look at some more logic. The death rates and acquisition rates of some of these diseases are very low and the effects on different people vary quite a lot. I think it is fair to say if you are healthier, than your odds of contracting and/or suffering damage are reduced.

    So it is in your best interest that I keep my child as healthy as possible so that your child will be exposed to far fewer problems. I pay a lot of attention to my child’s diet, exposure when sick, exercise etc, so there are a lot more factors involved in health than vaccination status. In fact, I would even be bold enough to state, that your child would likely be much safer spending time with mine than with many of the other kids, because she is in fact above average health.

    Philosophically, I think you bring up an interesting issue as well. HUGE amounts of money are being invested to eliminate all diseases in order to protect a growing number of vulernable people in our modern populations. I think that this is a flawed approach since there is no evidence at all that all threatening infectious diseases could ever be effectively eliminated. Yet you and others advocate an approach that requires putting healthy individuals at risk for such an intervention even though they don’t need it.

    Why not spend the money on helping determine why your child is actually at risk, and possibly addressing the health problem directly without putting healthy people at risk?

  • Schwartz

    Matt,

    “Tell me that doesn’t say what I think it says. Please.

    It strikes me that it is difficult to ding medical researchers who spend their lives studying the immune system as no having a good understanding when you appear to be basing your discussions on a clearly fatal flaw in reasoning.

    People who forget the lessons of the past are doomed to repeat them. When it comes to public health, they are doomed to take others with them.”

    Please stick to facts. Publish your numbers and we can debate something. Otherwise your comments are pure rhetoric.

    But just for fun: What is the risk to my 2 month old of Hepititus B? How about the Flu? How about Rubella? How about Tetanus?

    Give me a break.

  • Schwartz

    Matt,

    Did you ever read the simpsonwood transcripts through? After you’ve read them through, come back and we’ll have a frank discussion about the quality of CDC decision making.

    You’ll also note, my allegations were only of conflict of interest, not of misconduct of fraudulant behaviour. I have conceeded with Cliff, that Vaerstaaten was probably not in conflict of interest in this case. However, my other comments on the conference still stand.

    Don’t go finding rhetoric posted by others and attribute them to me.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Can you provide a link to the proceedings, please?

    Cliff

  • HCN

    Apparently I am not allowed to participate. One of my comments is still awaiting moderation.

    So be it.

    Still no one has given any real scientific documentation that measles and mumps are typically mild. Those of who think they are mild feel and that those children who die from vaccine preventable diseases deserve their fate smacks of eugenics. “Let only the strong survive.”

  • nym-d out

    “But just for fun: What is the risk to my 2 month old of Hepititus B? How about the Flu? How about Rubella? How about Tetanus”

    Before that could even begin to be assessed we’d need to determine in what location/s your two month-old is living/visiting.

  • Amanda

    Schwartz, I have asthma, as do my brothers and parents. I have been on Prednisone for asthma, which depresses the immune system (just finally got off of it). I have a friend who is on Prednisone for something else, permanently. She got whooping cough from someone’s unvaccinated child. It came close to killing her and she dislocated five ribs coughing (she also has Ehlers-Danlos, a connective tissue condition that causes easy dislocations), and had a number of seizures because of dehydration from the coughing.

    The risk to people like her or me is death. The supposed risk most people are talking about with vaccinations is autism. If someone has a documented severe reaction to vaccines, they shouldn’t take them, and I’ve never heard anyone argue with that (I actually get warnings about that whenever I get a vaccination, they tell me what to watch out for and where to go and what to do about it). But yes I can quantify that autism is not worse than death and that even if vaccines caused autism (which they don’t) it would be easily worth not spreading diseases that kill people.

    I continue to find the idea that people like me and my friends can simply be written off because we’re in poor health (I’ve been in and out of emergency rooms all year for reactions to things like the common cold, which are much less serious than many of the diseases vaccinated against) incredibly offensive.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    I’m going to respond a little of the thing you said in regards to Amanda’s post.

    In the terms you are asking for, you can’t quantify much of any medical research. The data in specifics to the observance of effects on kids does exist, but not in the long-term, ultimate status you are asking for, as I noted above.

    Yes, you can quantify it in statistical terms, but again not in any ultimate state. But you can’t do it the other way either. Thus, we have to rely on the admittedly vague and non-ultimate “reasonable conclusion”, and in the realm of childhood diseases we have enough data for that (again, I’ll reference the review).

    I’d counter that “The death rates and acquisition rates are low for some of these diseases” with “The death rates and acquisition rates are high for some of these diseases”, because it actually follows reasonably from the statement prior. That’s logic from your statement in a very direct sense.

    And now I’m going to bring full attention to the point protecting “a growing number of people”. I’m going to leave aside that this growing number of people who can catch these diseases are a majority. Let’s look at the assumptions themselves, and the full application of that logic.

    Ok, so the statement basically is that money should not be spent to prevent diseases from harming a minority, because it draws away fund that could be used to help the majority. It makes the assumption of the value being placed on the general contentment of the entire majority, because the money is not such that giving the relevant amount to the minority actually harms the entire majority and perhaps creates a smaller risk for a few (autism is not worse than death) than that facing the minority, over the clear safety of the minority. That puts the value of life with the majority over the minority; I.E people with diseases are less valuable than healthy ones. They have less to contribute, are not as good of people, and can be worked away if needed.

    Following that, all cancer research must be halted. That’s a ton of money being given to a minority that could be used for the majority. And we might never be able to find a cure for all cancers. Therefore, cancer treatment should receive no money.

    Also, in a broader context, money shouldn’t used in ways to aid the poor in an effective way. After all, we might not be able to make all people not poor, and the poor are not a majority. Therefore, no money should be given to the poor.

    This could go onto to largely any social issue. Most situations involve a minority of some kind. Frankly, we all have aspects of ourselves that make us minorities in that regard. And those issues, as stated through that logic, aren’t to addressed. Only things that fall strictly above 50% can be given funding.

    I’m not going to attack the truth value of these statements, because in doing so I would be stating a personal moral belief. But do the following implications really fit in with your morality?

    Cliff

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    HCN, sorry about your comment not going through—if you include a lot of links, the comments sometimes end up needing moderation and I was out all afternoon. Please let me know if that happens again and I apologize for the delay.

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    I appreciate the frank and patient discussion. Using text alone it is sometimes difficult to convey the appropriate ideas.

    I read yours and Amanda’s post, and I guess I’m surprised on how you see my point of view from your perspective.

    I’ll try to address this first from the high level:

    1) Although I certainly feel a strong mandate to help other people (and I’m very active in other aspects), the health of my child is my primary concern as dicated by society and the law.

    I personally feel that the safety of vaccines, the risks of the original diseases to the vaccinated populations, and the efficacy are all overstated — to what degree is what I am constantly trying to find out. So where one person sees a high risk to their unhealthy child due to my child’s vaccination status, I don’t see a high risk at all.

    So it’s not really a problem of morality, it’s an issue of perception. You and others feel very strongly that my child and I (I will not get any booster vaccines, or the flu vaccine, or any of the new vaccines) are introducing a lot of risk.

    I and others feel very strongly that we are not introducing any substantial risk and that we are actually protecting our own children from an unacceptable level of risk.

    For an even further clarification, I am very surprised that parents of vaccinated children feel my child introduces a risk to them — they must not have confidence in the vaccine. If they were seriously concerned that their child was in the published small percentage (which I personally believe is understated) for whom the vaccine doesn’t work, they could easily get their child tested and get another shot. So blaming me or my children for increasing risk to them seems pretty illogical and represents a serious flaw in their logic somewhere. The only people who actually might be able to accuse me of putting them at higher risk are those that can’t have the vaccine — an extremely small minority according to the “established Medical community”. And my argument to Amanda still holds in that case, because I believe that my strict attention to overall health make my child safer to associate with than the average vaccinated child. That is because these people are usually succeptible to a wide variety of normally benign illnesses and an overall healthier child means much less risk. I would actually ask if those parents would feel comfortable questioning the diet and sanitary conditions of these other children? Maybe they do?

    I can rephrase your exact morality question to those who want to force vaccines on others without investing appropriate amounts of effort into discovering and protecting those at risk from the vaccines themselves.

    So we are left with arguing over the evidence in the hopes of altering the perception of the other side.

    I don’t believe that everyone who is fanatically pro-vaccine is amoral, despite my repulsion of the ideas they espouse and promote — probably very similar to your feelings from the other perspective.

    I will immediately agree with your statement: ““The death rates and acquisition rates are high for some of these diseases”” because that is exactly how I intended to word it. I am not anti-vaccination. Given the option, I would have vaccinated my daughters for specific illnesses that I feel fall into this category. There is also a high likelihood that I will vaccinate them for some of these things as they get older.

    However, I feel very strongly that the age of vaccination, and the growing combination of illnesses (many unneccessary) included in the vaccines introduces an unnecessary risk/reward especially for infants and young children.

    I am trying very hard to find out as much credible data about a couple of these illnesses, and I am finding it very difficult given my lack of trust in the established medical community.

    I also think you misread or misinterpreted my post, or perhaps it was a bit misleading. I’ll go through a specific example:

    Disease A is extremely mild in the population but causes people to miss a couple days of school/work. There are a growing number of people with asthma (but no where near a majority of people — even a full percentage point is significant but no where near majority), who have an increased percentage risk of suffering more serious consequences of disease A. We invest a lot of money into a vaccine for disease A in the hope of eliminating it. The vaccine has a risk of causing damage in a small percentage of the applicants.

    So we just spent a lot of money on a vaccine, caused damage in a percentage of previously healthy individuals and the Asthmatics although theoretically protected from disease A, still suffer all of the other effects of the disease and are still undoubtedly at risk from other diseases that healthy are not at risk from.

    What I proposed was to invest that money into helping the MINORITY asthmatics solve their asthma. That would be a net benefit to everyone, and certainly more beneficial to the Asthmatics and the healthy people.

    I hope you can see that your long slippery slope didn’t represent what I was saying.

    PS: I have the proceedings on my computer in PDF form so I’ll look to see where I can find a link.

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    Alas, I can only find a link on an anti-thimerosal site. Probably because the CDC resisted releasing the transcript in the first place, and only after requests through freedom of information did they release it (or so the story goes).

    But then, even the pro-Mercury people seem to use the same link.

    I hope it doesn’t offend your sensibilities :)

    http://www.safeminds.org/legislation/foia/Simpsonwood_Transcript.pdf

  • Schwartz

    Amanda,

    I hope you read my last post to Cliff. In no way am I writing off people like you. My position is that more money should be spent on fixing your problems, rather than vaccinating a non-at-risk population (and putting them at an undefined risk) for a small fraction of the illnesses that could endanger you.

    I would also be curious on how you knew the child who gave your friend whopping cough was not vaccinated, or if you know how they contracted it themselves. The last 2 outbreaks of Pertussis (which occurred in my neighbourhood daycares here in Toronto) went right through the vaccinated population of children. Even more telling was that the Department of Health treated all children (vaccinated or not) with the same quarantine/treatment rules (stay home for 20 days, or go on anti-biotics for 10 days). What does that tell you about the confidence in the vaccine? And these are children that were recently vaccinated too, so it’s not like they were lacking a booster shot.

    If the unvaccinated child acquired pertussis from a vaccinated child, you can’t even state that they are to blame, because clearly the vaccine wasn’t working in that case anyways.

    It would be good if you could provide a bit more data behind your example so I can feel confident that the appropriate analysis of the outbreak was done.

    Additionally, I will repeat that it is not fear of Autism that drove my decision. In fact, my decision is not fear based at all. It is a lack of credible numbers that allow me to make an informed decision. And given the lack of safety data, I choose to not engage in a medical intervention. And BTW, death among other things is also a rare complication of vaccination.
    One thing about your post that disturbs me is that you appear to indicate that it would be better to cause some unnamed number of otherwise healthy individuals to become autistic in order to possibly save another set of unnamed number of individuals.

    So do you hypothetically care to put real numbers to that statement? How many children of other parents would you be willing to sacrifice to Autism in order to possibly (because you don’t know if you’ll ever interact with them, or if you’ll be attacked by something else) protect one person who is immunocompromised?

    (DISCLAIMER: This is a hypothetical statement. I am not claiming there is credible evidence to suggest a correlation between vaccination and autism at this time)

    “I continue to find the idea that people like me and my friends can simply be written off because we’re in poor health”

    I would like you to point out the place in my posts where I stated that immunocompromised individuals should be written off because I never intended to state anything like that at all.

    I find it incredibly ironic that you hold such vehemence to my position, when I espouse applying the research money to helping your specific condition rather than an (what I consider futile) attempt to eliminate every infectious disease in everyone you interact with.

  • Schwartz

    nym-d out,

    I live in Toronto. Very modern state of the art medical facilities but high immigrant population as well.

    I am curious which set of numbers you’ll choose to use.

  • Schwartz

    nym-d out

    I should add that the air quality is probably poorer than average for North America.

  • Schwartz

    HCN,

    I debated whether to respond to your inflammatory remarks, but I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt for trying to post references.

    It is indeed difficult to find published numbers on the actual affects of mumps, but if you look up any of the “general medical community” (which you seem to treat as biblical in nature) you’ll find that they all say mumps is a relatively benign disease for people ages 7 and younger. Apparently it is extremely rare for someone under the age of 2 (according to Wikipedia I think) to contract the disease at all. People can contract the mumps and not even know they had it (kind of like West Nile Virus that way).

    I believe contracting the mumps as a child provides a lifelong immunity unlike the vaccine. I recommend you read the following link discussing the huge mumps outbreak in the US in 2005/2006.

    http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/1031002654.html

    It is amazing how little the “established Medical community” understands what happened. I find it amazing that they all prescribe MMR as a solution, yet in the same breath note it’s failure in the one state that applied the appropriate strategy yet still suffered an outbreak.

    If you keep reading, you see some experts referring to the “real world”. They are practically coming out and saying that the published numbers don’t apply to the “real world”. Amazing.

  • Schwartz

    HCN,

    I appologize for missing your earlier post to the links.

    The CDC link contains the information you were looking for yourself (mild childhood illness), so I wonder if you asked the question in bad faith?

    Alas, the risks are not really discernable from their data either for similar reasons as mentionned before. Since there are so few deaths due to mumps, I find it strange that they do not deign to provide information as to how many people were already compromised or died of complications. You would have to re-evaluate all of the Vaccine AE’s if you included deaths due to complications.

    It’s also pretty clear from recent history that some of their numbers aren’t right given the followup from the outbreak that occured recently in the US.

    Looking at the study you provided, it provides some more information. It does give us a purportedly better number of death ratio, but also notes that the vast majority of the people died of pnemonia or were immunocompromised. As I stated earlier, one should treat any disease very seriously, and a lot of people contract (and die from) pnemonia for a variety of reasons. As outlined in the article earlier, there was an indication that the original illness was not taken seriously until it developed into something much more serious. The problem is that mumps is also asymptomatic and resembles other illnesses, so the number of deaths / cases is bound to be overestimated.

    Additionally, no ages were given in the abstract or by the CDC so I still can’t determine the risk to my infant or young child. Please remember, I’m not blanket anti-vaccination. I think the schedule and quantity of vaccines introduces undue risk. That would require age specific data, which they choose not to provide for some unknown reason.

    Even if we ignored those problems, and pretended we could quantify the risk for a child of a specific age in modern North America, you have no data to quantify the risk of reaction to MMR and this was proven quite thoroughly by the Cochrane report.

    We’re still missing one half of the equation. I would also propose that the Vaccine events are vastly underreported in the poor tracking systems that do exist, and that rarely would the vaccine be blamed if a child died from a complication (because the doctor would never even suspect the vaccine as being responsible) unlike the Mumps cases where clearly the vast majority of deaths are due to complications (likely similar for varicella).

  • Schwartz

    Well, it seems I mixed up measles and mumps in the previous post. But most of the post still applies with the exception of the Asymptomatic part. I don’t think that measles is ever asymptomatic.

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    If I may (no pun intended) inject a question in the spirit of the original post: Given all of the studies and research cited, it would seem that parents ought to draw on all those in defending a decision not to vaccinate a child to a school district. Why, instead, can parents claim that their religious beliefs are the reason for not vaccinating? Why are they allowed to “use” religion in this way?

  • Schwartz

    Kristina,

    I can’t speak for them, but in certain states religious exemption is the only exception available. No other exemptions are allowed.

  • Matt

    Mr. Schwartz,

    sorry if you felt I was attributing comments to you that weren’t there. I am glad that you would want to distance yourself from many of those. However, keep in mind that it is a blog response. As you have very well demonstrated, people tend to bring in new information in responses.

    It is great that you are going to source material rather than relying on the often really bad analyses that are published. However, to imply that you have and others haven’t does not make for a good discussion. This is especially true when you make blatant errors.

    “Others have been hired by Big Pharma while investigating vaccine issues for the CDC Vaerstrateen while investigating thimerosal/Mercury was the most blatent)”

    Verstraeten was on a temporary position to the CDC. He was not “hired away”. That was made clear in the HELP committee report.

    If you want to discuss Verstraeten’s report to the Simpsonwood conference, you will keep in mind that he had only been working for CDC for a year, right? Having read the trascripts you know that. Puts things in a new light when you consider that he was presenting

    You are aware of the transcription errors? Oddly enough quotes from groups that made their own transcriptions tend to get it correct. When you get that one, you will see that one of the most famous quotes in Simpsonwood was made by someone who later signed onto the IOM report. You do know who I am talking about, right?

    See how much better this is that what could have happened given your tone of “I’ve read the sources, come back when you have” (or however you phrased it)? Your tone would invite a response that was much more direct towards you than the simple corrections.

    You also call for more facts and citations while not giving them yourself. You also avoided the main question

    Mostly, however, you are not addressing what is the real question on a blog such as this: what is the connection to autism? Discussing “known differences in excretion” of mercury, and “toxicology” and the rest doesn’t connect vaccines and/or mercury to autism.

    What it does is make it seem like there is a connection by discussing them on the same page.

    It is very common. I think often the people using it aren’t even aware of it.

  • Amanda

    You’re acting as if there can either be research into conditions like mine and my friend’s (which there already is plenty of) or vaccines, but not both. That’s why I’m having trouble taking your viewpoint seriously. There already is research and they’re a long way from curing every possible condition that can be aggravated by diseases that they already know how to reduce the incidence of greatly. So you’re just not making sense in that regard.

  • Schwartz

    Kristina,

    Test post — the system doesn’t like something in my next post… sigh.

  • Schwartz

    Amanda,
    Money and research effort are not unlimited. How much research money is being spent on vaccines vs research into your condition or others that are similar? I can guess the answer, because research dollars will be directed where the most profit can be made. Vaccine makers will make a lot more money off of medicating everyone vs helping a minority.

  • Schwartz

    Response Part 2

    It just doesn’t make sense to invest money to slowly eliminate every infectious disease in the world. That is what will be required, and if you follow your logic, that is effectively what you’re promoting.
    It’s not a realistic objective. I haven’t seen any credible theory to show that it is a reasonable goal. And increasing vaccines will cause more children to suffer adverse reactions, including serious ones causing permanent damage.
    I’m actually quite surprised that someone in your situation seems to take such a cavalier attitude to the real damage that does occur due to vaccines, and I’m not talking Autism.

  • Schwartz

    Matt,

    I am hopefully not the first person to admit that I do make mistakes, and you are welcome to point them out. You’ll note that I did adjust my statements on Verstraaten in my discussion with Cliff. You’ll also note, that the HELP report only published their findings in the last month and I had not read the whole report through. The Simpsonwood conference was 7 years ago. You’ll also note that they did confirm several points of conflict of interest in the subsequent IOM conference on Thimerosal. That was the main point of my reference in the first place: conflict of interest, not allegations of fraud.

    My other comments about simpsonwood do not refer to issues with Vaerstraaten and I think restricting the “Autism community’s” complaints to that issue alone is doing it a disservice.

    My particular issues are how poorly informed the members of these committees really were about basic biological toxins and their effect. Several members had a very Cavalier attitude with which they approached safety issues. Others were very clear that their first priority was the protection of the program, not safety.

    You see, it wasn’t a particular finding, or even an attempt to hide something that I’m referring to so any subsequent findings of fact regarding vaccines will not change what I learned from reading the transcript.

    I read that transcript because I was reading a discussion on the conference by someone who was concerned about a link between thimerosal and vaccines. As I read the critique, I was quite skeptical that some of the quotes were being taken out of context, but the critique linked directly to the report. So I read it, and found to my dismay, that most of what was being reported was true. Transcription errors will not change the overall attitude exuded by doctors at that conference, and it is not an attitude of rigour around safety, my first and biggest issue with the whole vaccine program. The lack of knowledge on some basic concepts by some members was astounding, and even worse, the lack of perception that there was even a possible problem completely changed my impression of that organization. Overall, given the wide breadth and impact of any national vaccination program, there should be a lot more people that have a broad based knowledge of health rather than restricting the decision making to a bunch of extremely narrow focussed researchers.

    Kristina posted this article around why people would use religion to exempt themselves from vaccinating their children. Your assumption is that it is only due to fear of Autism. I am pointing out that (in the spirit of the original post) that the safety aspects of vaccines are not fully understood, and that Autism is not the only concern among those of us who choose not to vaccinate their children. It is ironic, that it was not my primary concern 5 years ago when I started researching vaccines and made my initial decision. The past few years have brought Autism to the forefront of the vaccine debate, so that it why I became more informed about it. If Kristina thinks I’ve wandered too far off topic, then I will be happy to stop here in deference to her Blog.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    No, I’m enjoying this discussion, if you don’t mind, Ms. Schwartz.

    1) I guess if you didn’t recognize some general principles of immunology, you wouldn’t have to recognize that there were serious associated dangers. The efficacy, statistically, has been shown now and again, and vaccines certainly were efficient enough to eradicate smallpox (different from eliminate). And smallpox in 1964 contracted 15 million and killed another 2 million. So I do think there are very serious risks that are prevented by vaccines. And, on the converse, it hasn’t been strongly scientifically that vaccines harm. We’re talking contingencies when talking about vaccine danger. We’re talking about facts when talking about vaccine safety (in large part, anyway).

    And in your example you still trip the morality question, though I admit I have to disagree with part of the analysis; the fact that they aren’t protected seems a little random, where in fact they are protected. The morality trip, however, is at still at risk from other diseases. Does that validate allowing them to die from this one?

    And helping asthma and every other disease that would be susceptible (because asthma isn’t the only one that will be such) would be an idea, but for that the money may not work. There is a guaranteed way to help them, or to hurt them, and throwing it into research might help, but reasonably may not, and thus the money was then spent in a futile manner while people die. That’s at least dangerous, and again it assumes that we must remove the quality in order for the right to be equally protected.

    Thing is, the diseases get bounced around and induced, you are possibly going to see an evolution of that strain that goes through the vaccine. So it is a danger to the vaccinated, as well, if things get beyond threshold levels. And I’m not sure how much you can really keep your child in a bubble, but such conditions are made even less safe by avoiding the conditions all together, because the vulnerability becomes high in years when the introduction happens.

    The morality question actually doesn’t work in terms of forced vaccination, because the harm to the majority is a slight contingent, at best, with a very tangible threat those with certain disorders. So it actually doesn’t quite work.

    But, at that point, aren’t you playing Russian Roulette, to use your terms, with your child’s life? Chose this disease, let my child catch another? That seems to be dangerous, certainly, for what arguably is a contingency, and mere possibility argument (after all, we are at the point of arguing possible effects, not effects).

    Also, you need to clarify the statement regarding the unvaccinated getting it from the vaccinated, because as it sits it doesn’t specify the vaccinated in regards to, because in one sense it can be correct and another isn’t likely.

    Also, hold off on the “healthy people not autistic” thing, will you, for now? I’m healthy, autistic, and proud, and I have my reasons for saying so, but that’s another discussion.

    And yes, autism is a whole lot better than many an individual dying from a childhood disease as made worse by another condition.

    And, no, they aren’t directing because vaccines are more profitable, directly anyway; vaccines are known to directly help, where research does not.

    Also, having read through that transcript, will you point out exactly what attitudes? As far as I could tell, the scientists did have a good grasp on the biotoxic effects. Would you demonstrate how you know more in this regard?

    Cliff

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    Schwartz, HCN, Cliff, Matt, nym-d, I really mean it when I say that I appreciate your providing all this information and responding so carefully to others’ comments.

    From the time of their discovery and first use, vaccines (from my reading on their history) have been viewed with suspicion and their use challenged. The notion of injecting some foreign substance into someone—-into a child, in particular—with the aim of making the person healthier, does seem counterlogical, but then much that sciences teaches us could be said to be, too (to make a very broad generalization). But I still think the recent attention given to a possible autism-vaccine link is excessive and that it has potentially distracted too many from what we needs to be focused on in regard to autism and services, education, and understand for autistic persons. I don’t think vaccines are the main issue for autism.

    Whatever links between autism and vaccines might continue to be posited, and as we learn more about vaccine safety, I continue to think that this particular theory of autism causation is problematic in actually helping autistic persons. It puts too much emphasis on the issue of cause, when so much needs to be done for an autistic person today, and I don’t mean recovery. I mean basics of education and teaching.

    That said, I really do appreciate this discussion; there is a reason why this issue has taken the attention and concern of so many and I’d rather be informed about every angle. For myself, I’ve known too many parents now who have gotten very “stuck” on trying to uncover some biomedical cause for why their autistic child does this or that, or is not doing this or that, and I am the kind of person who does best in helping with the here and now. And I’m very grateful that others can focus on other topics—-I’ve been accused of only “talking about autism,” as if it is a narrow topic, rather than one that extends to many, many things.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    I would agree that they have been generally challenged; indeed, the point seems counter-intuitive. But I do think that, in general, science has reached a consensus to say that vaccines work and are helpful, and actually the logic when looked at an immunological perspective is not nearly so counter-intuitive.
    And I certainly understand the emphasis on helping autistics really is best served in education, just like everyone else. Of course, in this case it doesn’t necessarily harm to talk about vaccination safety, since it is at least a tangential issue. But I certainly agree that identifying the cause isn’t as important as the education.

    Cliff

  • Julie

    I do not worry that my children will get the diseases that they have been vaccinated against. I worry about the children who can not recieve the vaccines because of medical reasons who will be at risk because more are choosing to not vaccinate. The cahances of having a reaction to vaccines is rare enless you have a family history and if you take autism out of it I do not recall much about reactions at all. I am aware of them because I have always had to sign a release for my children to recieve them and I do have a family history of severe reactions to the pertussus vaccine when it was still live since then there has not been a problem. I am not sure why they have to use religion in my state ny you can only opt out for religous reasons but I have gotten dr’s notes explaining why medically it was not advisable to give the vaccine at this time. I have found that as long as you are seeing a doctor and they know that you are making a sound medical decision it has not been a problem. I never had to use religion. I find that to be a easy way of saying I am afraid I do not know the facts I do not want to discuss but I will not vaccinate. I do not feel that is in the best interests of anyone.

  • Schwartz

    I agree with Cliff. I actually do support the concept of vaccination and I believe it is useful and beneficial in specific cases, but that we must use the judiciously.

    I can also sympathize with Kristina about the huge amount of emphasis on vaccines regarding Autism. I do not believe that vaccines cause all cases of Autism, and I’ll reserve judgement for now on some possible weaker correlations as more data comes in. Medical problems can be very convoluted and complicated, and I doubt all analysis has been done.

    I think that as a society we need to support both people with Autism, and the families that support them because even if we find and eliminate a cause, they are a significant part of today’s society and will be for at least a couple generations.

    I do think that the safety aspect of vaccines (and drugs in general) have been treated very casually for too long, and people are only starting to find this out as they investigate further. I think what we’re experiencing is a very strong backlash. People get very angry when something goes wrong, and when they try to find out what happened, they get defensive responses and stonewalling. Bullying parents doesn’t help.

    So the pendulum is swinging wide. It believe it will eventually swing back to a more moderate position, and I believe that safety will be improved. Perhaps the medical community will be able to restore some of the confidence it lost from the public. But changes will have to occur first.

    One last thing on the safety aspect (Julie’s point reminded me). I would love to know what the percentage of occurences of bad/hot batches of vaccines. I’ve read that a company in the UK got charged several years ago for spreading a hot batch around to different locations to avoid detection.

    In Canada, we don’t even track reactions and I’ve read about exasperated parents here banging their head on the wall trying to extract the information from Health Canada (after their child had a serious reaction). That is another thing that needs fixing.

  • http://www.rettdevil.org Kassiane

    I’m the person who got pertussis and nearly died from it.

    I know the kid I got it from. And the other 10 kids at the point of infection who got it. I was the only one to get really ill…and the only vaccinated one.

    But theyre all immunocompetant NOW. In 20 years time, who knows?

  • anon

    Kristina, thank you for this valuable information. I’ve posted before regarding my child’s reaction to the Pertussis vaccine.

    Autism arguments aside, there are medical reasons for not getting a specific vaccine.

    Here is the link for contraindications according to the CDC:

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/vac-admin/contraindications-vacc.htm

    I can’t remember where I first found the link for this chart, perhaps here on your site.

    My point is that in my child’s case, for medical reasons, he should not receive the pertussis vaccine again. He should not have received it after the first one but our pediatrician did not think that our child’s reaction was anything to be alarmed about. By the CDC’s own standards, he was wrong but because we were a military family and he was a military doctor, he can’t be sued by us. My son went on to have two additional pertussis vaccines with an increasingly worse reaction to each one.

    Eventually he was hospitalized with encephalitis after his final pertussis vaccine.

    Even the CDC recognizes situations in which individuals should not be vaccinated and I’m not sure that all pediatricians are even aware.

    If I had it to do over, my son would never have been vaccinated. I had mumps, measles and chicken pox as a child and every other kid I knew did too. I’ve never known anyone who had a horrible reaction to the actual diseases.

    There are some vaccinations worth the risk – polio, etc.

    I should have been more responsible and not have been intimidated into allowing him to be given shots that would send him to the ER.

    Frankly, I’m so tired of this whole argument. Parents know their own children more than any doctor does and should be able to make decisions accordingly.

    I’d home school my child before ever having him subjected to a vaccination containing mercury or a pertussis vaccine.

    I don’t have any responsibility to other people’s children. Oh horror! When I think of all the nasty crap that goes around the schools that there are no vaccinations for.

    They found lead in the drinking fountains at the schools in our county. That’ll be the day when the school system can tell me what shots to give my child, I don’t care if I have to join a cult, if it means that I spare my child encephalitis.

    It’s my decision. After following bad advice from the experts, I now do what I think is best for my child.

    And what about people minding their own business? That should be mandatory when you have a child, worry about your own kid, let everyone else worry about their own.

    This whole topic just brings out the worst in me.

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    Your post is long, I’ll try to get through it all, but my kids may interrupt so it may be a couple of posts.

    First, it is actually Mr. Schwartz, not Ms. :)

    I’ll state where I think we agree first:
    1) Vaccines can be beneficial and efficacious to the general population
    2) They can help eradicate certain diseases

    I know we disagree on the topic of vaccine safety, and I also don’t agree that taking one successful vaccine and applying it’s success to all vaccines is valid. Just like using one successful drug as an example and assuming that all drugs are effective and safe is not valid. The strategies of different vaccines vary and I do not agree with certain strategies (Prevnar, and HPV are examples) and I don’t believe that type of strategy has even come close to being proven to be safe or overall effective to date.

    I also disagree that the efficacy of all of the vaccines has been statistically proven. The flu vaccine efficacy is still widely debated, as is the new HPV – we won’t know for years. I don’t think your examples of disease mutations appropriately explain the recent failures in MMR or Pertussis vaccine because they did not discover any new strains to my knowledge.

    On the safety issue, we are solely relying on the “General Medical Community’s” word on the matter because the safety analysis in not adequate and the tracking is not adequate at all and the short term tracking is acknowledged by that same community to be insufficient for any meaningful analysis. You feel we’re dealing with facts, but if the analysis hasn’t been done, then we’re only dealing with educated guesses. In many of the cases, that is not good enough for me. IMO, there is also ample evidence of conflict of interst so the purported facts require extra scrutiny. The russian roulette scenario all depends on the risk rates you happen to belief (because there is a lack of facts). I can just as easily view getting a vaccine shot as playing Russian roulette.

    We probably also disagree on which vaccines are really required for the whole population (mumps, rubella, Hepititus B) etc and I think that’s pretty much because we don’t agree on the statistics. We also need real statistics on manufacturing issues with vaccines. There is a real history of failure on that front as well. For how many years was the FDA warning Chiron to fix their problems until the Brits stepped in and put a stop to things? But who is going to fund a study into vaccine manufacturing processes — so it will forever remain unscientific. How many years did it take fully understand the impact of SV40 many decades ago? Again, I feel the attitude is skewed away from safety. There are transcripts from Australia where the doctors decided to continue shipping vaccine batches even knowing they were contaminated. This is similar to the attitude I observed in the CDC conference.

    As for the morality issue, we’re arguing over statistics again. Yes, they have an elevated risk from most diseases. You can’t quantify the risk that they will die because my child isn’t vaccinated. And I still can’t get accurate numbers from specific vaccine risks. Again, the only numbers I have are for the most part taken from an industry funded safety study with a very short followup. So without those numbers we can’t weigh the balance of the risk and as I’ve explained the “general medical community” has not earned my trust. The morality question eventually boils down to a balance of risk, the actual risk to immunocompromised people being extremely difficult to calculate. We would also need accurate numbers of how many immunocompromised people there are.

    “and thus the money was then spent in a futile manner while people die. That’s at least dangerous, and again it assumes that we must remove the quality in order for the right to be equally protected.”

    Again, you ignore the real damage that vaccines cause to a small number of children (not Autism). These are not hypothetical scenarios, but a known and measured events. Yet you callously disgard them as a casualty of war on the assumption the minority’s medical problem can’t ever be solved. You can’t even determine the overall risk reduction to the immunocompromised from the reduction in disease X. That scenario does not appear any more moral than the one I’m proposing. (It also touches on one of the main philosophical flaws that I feel allopathy has fallen into, but that’s a much different discussion)

    “Also, hold off on the “healthy people not autistic” thing, will you, for now? I’m healthy, autistic, and proud, and I have my reasons for saying so, but that’s another discussion.”

    Noted. I apologize for the offensive statement.

    “And yes, autism is a whole lot better than many an individual dying from a childhood disease as made worse by another condition.”

    Interesting, but I don’t believe all Autistics are anywhere near the same in their symptoms or quality of life. My understanding is that many of them suffer from painful symptoms throughout their lives. But this argument goes straight back to the same balance of risks and numbers of people affected, which we don’t agree on.

    “And, no, they aren’t directing because vaccines are more profitable, directly anyway; vaccines are known to directly help, where research does not.”

    That statement is not at all true. Profits directly affect areas of research, that is a well known fact. There was a decline in vaccine research for many years for this actual reason. Recently, the research has surged mainly because of the profit potential from Gardasil and the proven profitability of Prevnar.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/26/business/yourmoney/26ping.html

    As for the conference, I read it through around 5 years ago, and I’ll look it up again, but I have to finish some work tonight. From my memory though, I’m pretty sure the responsible scientists familiar with chemical toxicity were imported into the conference and were not usually involved in vaccination decisions.

    I think this quote from the conference sums up part of the issue nicely:

    “As an aside, we found a cultural difference between vaccinologist and environmental health people in that many of us in the vaccine arena have never thought about uncertainty factors before. We tend to be relatively concrete in our thinking.” Then he says, ” One of the big cultural events in that meeting —was when Dr. Clarkson repetitively pointed out to us that we just didn’t get it about uncertainty, and he was actually quite right.”

    The other pervasive issue was the constant referal to lack of safety data:
    “We held the aluminum meeting in conjunction with the metal ions in biology and medicine meeting, we were quick to point out that in the absence of data we didn’t know about additive or inhibitory activities.”

    They also have no idea on the effects of ethylmercury despite having used it for decades and knowing that strongly related compounds were known to cause significant issues.

    This one is a kicker:

    ” My mandate as I sit here in this group is to make sure at the end of the day that 100,000,000 are immunized with DTP, Hepatitis B and if possible Hib, this year, next year and for many years to come, and that will have to be with thimerosal containing vaccines unless a miracle occurs and an alternative is found quickly and is tried and found to be safe.”

    This was after basically stating that they should never have done the research in the first place.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    I do agree that forgoing vaccines in cases of a contraindication is a very wise thing to do.

    However, I do note that it does follow something of a tragedy of the commons; too many people chose to benefit (assuming their is a benefit) by not vaccinating, it will create circumstances that can harm a whole lot of people.So it’s not really a fully independent decision, in my mind. The argument works a whole lot like the tragedy of the commons used in environmental sciences. That doesn’t go against contraindications, though; there can reasonably be exception for those who clearly need it per circumstance.

    And I also challenge, in degree, parents knowing more about their children than anyone else on the planet in the realm of physiology. Honestly, parents don’t have that kind of access. They have been around their child such to have a reasonable intuition into their child’s motives and thoughts, but no such access to the child’s immunological system.

    Cliff

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Bah, more bad spelling in the post awaiting moderation.

    Cliff

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    These interfaces are definitely challenging.

    “I do agree that forgoing vaccines in cases of a contraindication is a very wise thing to do.”

    Damage is done to children who don’t have any known contraindications and I challenge you to determine conclusively if a 2 month old is sick and when in doubt they vaccinate. I can speak from experience, that it is nearly impossible until children are quite a bit older to really understand what is going on (doctor or parent) and I pay close attention to these things.

    This goes back to one of my main issues with the ages in the vaccine schedule.

    I suspect that many immocompromised children are only discovered after reacting to vaccines since doctor’s don’t ever test for that kind of thing beforehand. And I also suspect specialized followup would only occur if the parents insisted, since reactions to vaccine are often just accepted without further analysis.

    If the system worked in a way where children were actually analyzed and tested before vaccine application (assuming we had actually studied why certain people react, but no such analysis is actually done), there is a good chance I would be participating.

    I can’t totally disagree with the tragedy of the commons point. I suppose if the safety aspects weren’t yet addressed, and I felt confident that the overall vaccination rate was dropping and I also felt confident that there was a real danger of increase in incidents that would harm a significant number of people, then I might change my mind with regard to specific vaccines. But that decision would require significantly different circumstances than we have today.

    And yes, that is a sort of experiment on it’s own (as someone will undoubtedly point out), but it is not any riskier than the mass experimentation that is currently ongoing IMO.

    As for parents knowing more than the doctors point. In many cases I’m sure you’re right, but on the other hand, the doctors never know that much anyways. For parents who pay attention, I guarantee they will be far better atuned to the health of their child, and they will also know how to effectively leverage their doctor to gain insight or analysis into areas that medicine excels in. For the majority of parents that don’t, the verdict is debatable, I agree.

    However, I don’t believe we would ever as a society be able to remove responsibility for children’s health from the parents. Until that happens, it has to remain their choice as no doctor will take that responsibility and neither will the state. Kind of like removing the right of ignorant people to vote. We’re stuck with that reality in our democratic society.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Bah, I apologize on the name; that’s actually a typo, not a conception error.

    Actually, I’m not sure that all vaccines aren’t harmful per se. In fact, if you would point to a specific vaccine, give me the numbers for it, and let me have a look, there might be a specific issue. However, the discussion has been, as far as I could tell, over perhaps many of the vaccines that might not be “necessary”.

    What we more really do disagree on is what counts as adequate. You want a whole different level of access than what in my opinion is practical and possible, given constraints. Things can be demonstrated in clinical, short term studies, and we have a disagreement there too.

    I’ll be a little honest with you. I do agree we are arguing over statistics, and I’ve given you a resource that might help in that regard, but some of the childhood diseases have been traditionally known to manipulate populations on a large scale. The elimination (note not eradication; that term only applies to smallpox) of many childhood disease were linked to populations being able to grow and sustain current size. That’s why, when comparing it to complications occurring with vaccines, I tend to fall with the vaccines being more safe.

    In regard to the number of recording vaccine-caused deaths, that’s true, I do seem to dismiss that. I do think that the numbers are higher for asthmatics and others like them than for those complications. But I don’t really dismiss them; I would be all for people looking more for contraindications and how they occur.

    Ah, autism, yes; I was low-functioning, of the self-damaging caliber, of what me considered the worst level. And it was frustrating. But was it death? Nooooooo… I don’t even think it would be fair. Not at all. I had a life, there were times to enjoy in it, it probably looked worse to my parents than to me. So I don’t think that’s true at all. I will hold, from personal experience from what is considered the worst, that autism is better than death.

    I mentioned looking into contraindications, and I think there is evidence, of the genetic sort, which allows us to look ahead to that with some success.

    I do think conditions are such that we do have a relative degree of safety issue that’s not far off. Many of the vaccination rates are in the high eighties/low nineties. That’s pretty damn close to the threshold levels (again, see the review).

    I would say if you have a doctor who is clueless in that regard, get another. There are plenty of doctors that are good, and plenty that aren’t, and I do think it is important to make sure of that. Especially so if you care as much as you do about your child. If anything, it is good for the parent to raise concerns and see if the doctor knows of scientific data to back up his point. I don’t think that, if the doctor is much of a real doctor to be making these distinctions, the parent will really know more about the immunological system.

    Here in the U.S, there is a tendency both ways on that, in different circumstances. “Emergency” can be used for a whole lot of things, like taking property away.

    I do agree, except that the argument for “health” can go both ways. But if you have an issue of the tragedy of the commons at stake, then government control can occur. It’s not something out of reach, because we (in the U.S, don’t remember or know where you are) have things like State of Emergency and quarantine, where the government really can take control in face of a potential crisis.

    Cliff

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Oh, the Simpsonwood Conference. Those two statements were right at the beginning, no?

    I do think that some of the uncertainty issue was addressed, but I think it wasn’t as much a sweeping effect as suggested, but limited to barrier-passing levels.

    And not knowing the additive and inhibitory effects aren’t as drastic as suggested per se, because there’s still a lot that can be known. Neither addresses the general metabolic rate, which was demonstrated to be faster and with less damage than methyl mercury (but, again, let me find that study). So there are inferences that can be made from the numbers on methyl mercury, which would have a more drastic effect, as means of using the worst case scenario. Cast in that light, the lack of data can only get better, not worse.

    But let me see if I can find that mandate quote again, from who, and in what context before I address it.

    Cliff

  • passionlessDrone

    Hi Schwartz –

    Your unwavering logic and refusal to jump into rhetoric is very refreshing for this topic.

    Though I can do very little to add to the remarks already left, one particular quote has bothered me quite a bit, from none other than the frequently quoted Paul Offit.

    In regards to the Denmark study on MMR and measles, wherein a drastic change in diagnostic criteria occurred in mid study and were not corrected for, he says:

    “It is difficult to conceive of a larger, better constructed, more definitive study than that
    performed in Denmark.”

    http://www.immunize.org/safety/boxa.pdf

    Why on Earth should we trust this person to make good choices regarding the health of our children?

    Take care!

    - pd

  • Schwartz

    Cliff,

    The mandate quote comes from near the end. It is the representative from ACIP (?) who was just listening in on most of the discussion. (I’m at work, so I don’t have the minutes here)

    The first quote is just one of many, where when asked about possible problems (and this conference was shortly after another conference discussing the toxicity of aluminum I believe) regarding metals used in vaccines, where they had no idea of the potential impact.

    It am very concerned that no one had ever deemed to look into any of these toxicity issues, nor had they considered an issue. It is surprising, because these substances had been used for a long time, and evidence that they are toxic and harmful biologically has been accumulating for decades.

  • Chuck

    PD,

    There was a double whammy in the Danish study. There was the one that you mentioned. Another was the change in population criteria. Population criteria were changed from in-patient hospital care, which is highly restrictive, to both in-patient and out-patient care. This change was mid study with no control or correction.

  • http://crimsonthoughts.spaces.live.com/ Cliff

    Thanks for the specifics. I’ll look at that.

    Cliff

  • Schwartz

    passionlessDrone,

    I am familiar with that quote, and I guarantee you will find many other researchers who treated that same paper with a high level of credibility when it was first published. You find exactly the same pattern with the MMR studies in the UK. The irony in the UK is that most of those studies were deemed not credible within a couple of years by the Cochrane Group. In one case, a study author (of the lastest study) admitted that the previous studies were inadequate (the one he/she authored). So this is not unique to Dr. Offit. The sad part is that people continue to reference these studies, because they do not get marked or tagged as non-credible even if the author admits it. Even more amusing is when new studies continue to reference them.

    Dr. Offit is definitely a repeat offender. You’ll notice the FUD examples I quoted earlier were mostly from Dr. Offit and there are more outrageous ones that aren’t even worth printing or discussing.

    However, one person’s bad quotes don’t make a scientific argument nor do they prove the opposite of what their saying. All you can do for people like him, is ask for and track down the evidence provided and prove the inaccuracies.

    If someone presents you with referenceable facts, you have to analyze them independent of the person delivering them. This is a trap that many people fall into on both sides of the debate. Many people refuse to look at studies not published by people with a PhD. Others assume that peer-review = credible. More people immediately disregard any study published by the CDC. None of these are a good critical approach. If presented with evidence, one must evaluate the evidence independent of those that present or generate it.

    Reputation only comes into play as it can help you prioritize where you will apply your resources in critically examining presented facts, or when someone expresses an opinion.

    That is why I am drawing a line in the sand with the General Medical Community on this topic, because I do not trust their opinion without supporting facts which are sometimes glossed over. My personal experience and research have eliminated any benefit of the doubt they once had on most topics (not all mind you). Thus, I am currently stuck with relying on raw data to make decisions.

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  • Schwartz

    Kristina,

    Not to beat on old horse, but I just read this:

    “In Virginia the issue of religious exemption was taken to the state Supreme Court by a Virginia Beach resident, Waleen James. She chose natural health care for her grandson and fought it in court. The court ruled that if it was a strong personal belief that vaccinations could do harm to the child then it could be considered a religious belief and a parent did not have to belong to an organized church that does not practice medical intervention to submit the “religious exemption.”"

    http://www.dailypress.com/news/opinion/dp-ed_sunltrs_11110nov11,0,891228.story

    It would seem that in Virginia at least, the courts have determined that strongly held beliefs against vaccine legitimately qualify as a “religious belief” and therefore they don’t need to be a member of an organized church to qualify.

    That would certainly explain the actions of many parents, especially when they’re being instructed by the courts to do this.

  • http://www.autismvox.com Kristina Chew, PhD

    That’s really interesting and I can see the connection—-but here in New Jersey, it has become much harder to claim such an exemption: School districts are saying that you may have to speak to their attorney if you seek such an exemption.

  • Schwartz

    It is very interesting. Strangly I recognize the name Waleen James, but I can’t place where it’s from (I thought it was a health book author). I’m wondering if the name is spelled incorrectly, because I’m only finding the single reference to vaccines in that one article, hardly a good enough reference on it’s own. It’s interesting how differently the states treat the matter.

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  • Jessie

    I think that being able to opt out of medical care for religious reasons only is irresponsible. How could you as a parent, watch your child die of a perfectly treatable disease because of religious beliefs. I also think that it should be known that according to these exemption laws if your child does end up dieing, you the parent is held liable. I think this is also irresponsible. If you are going to put the parents in jail anyway for murder why don’t we save three lives and just treat the child. All together this is a very touchy issue. Peoples beliefs are strong, impenetrable, and sometimes dangerous. I think if we just kept religion out of medicine all would be well.

  • Marie

    People choose not to vaccinate for many more reasons besides wanting to avoid giving their children autism. If vaccines were side effect free, made of completely harmless materials, and widely researched for safety other than by the people that promote and make money off of vaccines, then yes, it would be irresponsible not to vaccinate our children. However, that is not the case. I can’t speak for everyone, but most people that I know that choose not to vaccinate have made a decision based on many hours of research, and really know their stuff. These are not all ignorant people making impulsive decisions to get vaccinated just because they heard a rumor about autism. These people care enough about their children to look into issues for themselves and stand up for that what they feel is the best thing for their child, despite the hate and abuse and hardships they may go through to do so. It’s really not fun to go against the crowd, why would parents go through all that trouble just based an uneducated whim?

    but to answer the question directly, say a parent solely chose not to vaccinate because they heard vaccines caused autism. Do I think that is insufficient reason? NO. I think that until we know EXACTLY how safe vaccines are, the default needs to be NOT to get them. If there is any doubt, why should we take that risk? What about the risk that vaccines themselves carry?

    Before anyone claims that its riskier NOT to vaccinate, for fear of spreading disease, they must first research such specific diseases, and just how dangerous they are. Also, they need to research exactly what is in vaccines and how effective and long lasting they are, and weigh that risk for themselves. It’s a right we should all have. It’s hardly a right now, considering how much bullying people get for it.

  • Lindsy

    All would be well had we just kept religion in, and not just when it was convenient.