The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About Vaccines

"Some people ignore the overwhelming evidence and still believe the connection [to autism] exist because it was given credence in 1998 by the publication of a fraudulent research paper in the British medical journal The Lancet. That paper was later retracted when it was discovered that the chief researcher, a British surgeon named Andrew Wakefield, had manipulated the data and failed to disclose that he had been paid more than $600,000 by lawyers looking to win a lawsuit against vaccine manufacturers." - TGC

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Vinny's picture

The court evaluated Deisher's claims and issued a 94-page report (https://www.skepticalraptor.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/JM-Mini-...). The medical expert who evaluated her theory essentially said that she didn't know what she was talking about. For example: 
 

Many of Dr. Deisher’s hypotheses are pulled from medical articles and are taken out of context. Petitioners’ counsel argues that it is acceptable for experts to “extrapolate from existing data,” and that the “weight to be given to an expert’s opinion is based, in part, on the size of the gap between the science and the opinion
offered.” Pet. Prehrg Br. at 7 (citing Cedillo, 2009 WL 331968). However, the gaps between the science and the opinion offered in this case are too large and too many. 

Bert Perry's picture

It's worth noting that even if we attributed all autism to vaccines--about one in 59 children--it pales beside the rate of child mortality that was common just a century ago, and a great part of that improvement is due to vaccines (along with clean water, good food, etc..).  As recently as 1900, many U.S. cities recorded 30% mortality by age 1, and if the nationwide rates from 1915 held today, we'd see about half a million children dying annually--whereas now it's a bit below 30,000.  

And to the question of whether vaccines cause autism, note in the source that Dr. Deisher more or less suggests possibilities, but the peer reviewed statistical data simply do not bear her contentions out. 

I'd argue that what we're seeing today regarding autism is a combination of being more aware of it to diagnose it, along with perhaps a bit of "kids who didn't clue in to other people used to get run over by trolley cars and the like."  

Back to the question of vaccines, what I'd like to see more is discussion of the reduced likelihood of getting the disease, and what that means for epidemics.  What is the effectiveness of vaccines, and what does that mean if a certain percentage of the population is vaccinated or otherwise immune?  Run through the numbers and show how herd immunity works, etc..

(really, a lot of us who have no memory of polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and the like are open to arguments that our grandparents would have rejected out of hand)

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

It's worth noting that even if we attributed all autism to vaccines--about one in 59 children--it pales beside the rate of child mortality that was common just a century ago,

[...]

(really, a lot of us who have no memory of polio, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis, and the like are open to arguments that our grandparents would have rejected out of hand)

For the diseases you list at the end, it's really hard to argue.  If, however, the 1 in 59 were an actual risk, then for a vaccine like chicken pox, which doctors try to convince you is as important as the others you list, the doctor would have been hard-pressed to convince me to take that risk, given with *my* personal experience I didn't know anyone in my generation who didn't get chicken-pox, and we all survived it with no issues.

The biggest issue I see is that science can't prove a negative (i.e. "vaccines will *never* cause autism"), and with the cranks out there misusing statistics and actual research, it's altogether too easy to convince a generation that never learned any critical thinking skills that there must be some truth to what those opposing "the establishment" are saying.  The only antidote that may have an effect is the truth, so doctors need to not hide *any* facts, even those that aren't helpful to their case.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

Here's the CDC on chickenpox.   Now granted, it's not a rate that compares with 1/59, but believe it or not, there were deaths.  Plus, you've got "shingles" (secondary/tertiary infections of varicella)--about another 100 deaths per year--and getting chickenpox as an adult can render one sterile.  Another one that fits the same basic mold is HPV, where about 4000 cases of cervical cancer death occurred prior to Gardasil--and the same virus is also implicated in penile and anal cancers.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

Here's the CDC on chickenpox.   Now granted, it's not a rate that compares with 1/59, but believe it or not, there were deaths.  Plus, you've got "shingles" (secondary/tertiary infections of varicella)--about another 100 deaths per year--and getting chickenpox as an adult can render one sterile.  Another one that fits the same basic mold is HPV, where about 4000 cases of cervical cancer death occurred prior to Gardasil--and the same virus is also implicated in penile and anal cancers.  

I'm sure there were deaths, just as there *are* bad reactions to vaccines, even if they are rarer than chicken-pox deaths.  I made it clear I was speaking of *my* experience.  But as you note, the rate is nowhere near as bad as 1/59.  And I had certainly not met or heard of anyone who had had that bad a reaction to chicken-pox,  In fact, when I was a kid many of my parents' generation gave chicken-pox parties to kids my age to make sure all the kids got over it early, so that there would be no problems later.  So if my child had actually had a 1/59 chance of autism from vaccine, chicken-pox vaccine would not have been considered.  At that high a rate, I'd have probably wanted actual statistics on measles and pertussis too before making up my mind, since I wouldn't have known actual numbers in my head, and I didn't have instant internet access in the 1990's.

And as we discussed before, I skipped HPV for my kids, the only vaccine they didn't get.  I haven't read all about HPV and the methods of transmission, or what has been learned since 20 years ago, but when the doctor's main argument at the time was that it was a good idea because kids could be sexually active, I basically bailed on it, since it sounded a lot more like social engineering than anything else.

In any case, parents just want to make the best decisions they can.  If they can see from multiple sources that the risk of a bad reaction from a vaccine is somewhere around thousands of times less likely than death or incapacity from one of those diseases, more of them will make the right decisions.

Dave Barnhart

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

MF wrote:

I am with Bert on this one. Just ask the indians.

Bert and I are pretty much on the same side regarding vaccinations.  Our differences (if any) come from my, let's call it "partial sympathy," over what is causing anti-vaxxers to make the decisions they are, as well as experiences I had with pediatricians when the time came to get my own children vaccinated.  I'm not sure I know anyone from my generation who could be described as "anti-vax" (I was born in 1963), though I'm sure there are some.  However, as I meet more friends of my grown children, I can see that there are quite a few from their generation that could be described as anti-vax, and surprisingly, quite strongly so.  Mostly it's from bad information and their trust of their "research" on the internet, but some could definitely be described as reaction to a medical community that being afraid of causing or helping anti-vax sentiment has been less than forthcoming with new parents when discussing the risks (very slight, but not non-existent) of vaccination, and treating those new parents as children in need of obedience rather than partners in need of persuasion.

The world has changed regarding people's opinions of supposed experts, and that needs to be recognized and dealt with in a non-adversarial way, which much of the medical community has been slow to do.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

Nah.  I share his thoughts for the most part about vaccine promotional literature really not making the case, and quite frankly I share the suspicion that some adverse events could occur.  That's why the government runs a vaccine adverse events reporting system called "VAERS".  Because of that, my wife and I spaced out some vaccinations, and while we haven't withheld Gardasil from our children, we do explain the pros and cons to them and let them make the decision when they hit about 15-16 years old. 

My logic regarding the risks is that even if my kids are completely chaste, a lot of even Christian young people don't make it to wedlock with virginity intact.  That noted, most of the really adverse effects of HPV can be at least controlled with chastity, circumcision (no kidding, and of course just for sons), and pap smears.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.