One link to pwn them all

Aug 24 2009 Published by under Public Health, Science Communication

Anti-vaccers, that is. I was recently sent this by a reader.
Why we immunize at the Making Light blog.

There's a manual that every Navy gunnery officer was required to read or re-read every year: OP 1014; Ordnance Safety Precautions: Their Origin and Necessity. It's a collection of stories about, and photographs of, spectacular accidents involving big guns and ammunition. Gun turrets that have fired on other gun turrets on the same ship. Holes in the coral where ammunition ships were formerly anchored. That sort of thing. It's simultaneously grim and fascinating.
Nowadays there's some kind of movement afoot for claiming that immunization against common childhood diseases is unnecessary. That they cause disease. That they're harmful. It is true that rare adverse reactions to immunizations occur. It is also true that adverse reactions to the diseases themselves are not at all rare if you don't immunize. So let's call this post Immunizations: Their Origin and Necessity.

Read. Bookmark. View the linked pictures (Not for the sensitive).

9 responses so far

  • D. C. Sessions says:

    Totally unimpressive to those who insist that the diseases themselves were spontaneously on the wane before vaccination, or that the diseases would have been mild and harmless but for the intervention of Evil Organized Medicine.
    In fact, there are plenty of the vaccine denialists who insist that the diseases themselves were caused by vaccines or who deny germ theory entirely.

  • Vince Whirlwind says:

    When my first child was born, an anti-vaccine friend gave me a book about vaccines.
    I knew her to be a lunatic hippy, but after reading said piece of literature I became puzzled that such glaring stupidity could be present within individuals of the same species as I.
    The anti-vaccine "arguments" are risible. They would be amusing if you can forget for a moment the suffering these morons cause...
    Since then I discovered Homeopathy (which I had always assumed to be a synonym for Herbalism) the "arguments" for Homeopathy are similarly risible and are also very amusing.
    Then came the Creationists. Good grief.
    And now we have another brand of Denialists who cling to some sort of vague and amorphous fact-free view of what the Earth's climate is doing and will do in the future.
    Humanity is just so chock-full of stupidity I give up.

  • Beaker says:

    Can anybody explain to me why we seldom hear about vaccinating males against human papilloma virus along with the females? Seems like a no-brainer. Reduce carriers by an additional 50% and you obviously prevent spread of infection, no?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Excellent question Beaker, excellent question. Anyone?

  • nails says:

    Gardisil is only approved for females because the trials were only run for females. The claim was that it prevented HPV that causes cervical cancer so obviously women were needed for the testing of it.
    Now the research has been expanded to claims of preventing other hpv issues, and hpv has been linked to some kind of dude/unisex cancer (can't remember which kind). Trials have been started for dudes.
    Anyway, you will see an interesting shift in the commentary about Gardisil from when it was proposed for girls- at first it was all about if the vaccination would encourage girls to be sexually active or careless, and now that it is proposed for boys all I read about is questions about the safety of the injection that were not there when girls were getting injected.
    I have had gardisil (and have had MMR/varicella/tetnus/hep b shots in the last 5 years) and it is the most painful one I have ever experienced. It was hard to drive a stick afterwards. Its really thick and its a huge amount of liquid for a vaccine.

  • antipodean says:

    In addition to what nails has said... The other argument may have been primum non nocere. Men don't get cervical cancer therefore they cannot benefit from the vaccine and it could be seen as unethical to give it to young boys. The same argument may have been attached to the rubella vaccine for instance.
    More pragmatically HPV caused adverse outcomes are probably less common in men than women (because of the cervix). Therefore, it's harder to show an economic public health benefit. The less common the disease outcome (i.e. cancer) given the endemic infectous agent (HPV) then the harder it is to show the vaccination program is worth the cost for men.

  • TeaHag says:

    Oh hai.... it's not the vaccine that's objectionable this week... it's the adjuvantz!
    Specifically the WHO recommendation to use H1N1 vaccines formulated with adjuvants. European influenza vaccines have been incorporating adjuvant for years, even if they are sold with similar formulation here in the US ('cos we've already surrendered to "teh crazy").
    The panic has already started with my neighbors and fellow parents of elementary school children. We'll just overlook that these self-same children were immunized in infancy with other vaccines formulated with these same components.
    Seriously, what happened?

  • TeaHag says:

    that should have been a without not with... stupid is contagious!

  • Cloud says:

    A side note on the HPV vaccine for men thing- some gay men are now asking to be vaccinated, because apparently HPV can cause anal cancer, too.
    I can't even begin to imagine the public relations mess that would be created in certain parts of the country by trying to argue that boys need to be vaccinated in case they are gay.
    On the general vaccination thing- I had a 10 month old (so not yet vaccinated with the MMR vaccine- that is given at 12 months) during the 2008 measles outbreak in San Diego. The outbreak got disturbingly close to us, but luckily our daughter did not get the measles. Even so, I was really, really mad at the vaccine-deniers out there for awhile, and have since read up a bit on the nonsense that people like Jenny McCarthy spout. It is really hard to argue against these people, because they make up their own "facts".
    I now see it is my responsibility as a parent and a scientist to speak up with some actual facts when I come across these crazies on parenting blogs. It is interesting that I have had people email me and say that I've convinced them where their pediatrician couldn't, because they "know" me (they don't- they just know my previous posts on a blog's comments site) and trust me as a parent. It is a real "WTF???" sort of thing for me. Why would someone trust a random person posting on the internet more than the doctor they have presumably carefully picked out for their child? I don't even use my real name!
    There is some fertile ground for sociology studies in this.

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