Vaccinations Save Lives

I came across this article a few days ago.  Religious or ideological exemption is a confusing development. A typical case of putting religion above the safety of children, the elderly and the sick. This is more support for the absolutely critical idea that religion should not be given such special privilege. Religion should not be a licence to endanger other people’s lives.

Despite years of research refuting the claims of anti-vaccination conspiracy theorists their websites are still up and a few screwball celebrities still preach of their non-existent dangers. Mainly because they believe it to be a vast pharmaceutical conspiracy. This is is easy to refute by looking at how many people would have to be bought. The following is a list of health organizations that support vaccinations and an approximate number of employees:

World Health Organization: Employs over 8,000 doctors and nurses. This does not include support staff or volunteers in its 197 offices around the globe.

Center for Disease Control: Approximately 16, 000 employees.

American Medical Association: Approximately 215,000 members

Some others:

Pharmaceutical companies would have to pay off all these people in the United States alone, all the way down to the part-time janitors.  Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, government, special interest groups and anyone who can read a scientific study around the world would have to paid off or manipulated in some way. This is just not possible for any pharmaceutical company even if they wanted to.

Yet they persist and put people at very serious risk. In light of this here is the research I did last year:

I asked myself  some questions:

Do they even work?

I took a look at the numbers before and after vaccinations in Canada (courtesy of the Public Health Agency):

Disease Reported cases before vaccinations Reported cases after vaccinations
Mumps 34,000 cases per year in the 1950s During the period 2000-2006, an annual average of 79 mumps cases was reported1
Measles 300,000-400,000 cases per year Between 2002 and 2006, the number of measles cases reported annually ranged from 6 (2005) to 16 (2003) with a yearly average of 10.2
Rubella Approximately 5,300 (1971-1982) Approximately 30 cases per year (1998-2004)3
Diphtheria 9,000 cases in 1924 In 1983 fewer than 5 cases were reported and no deaths. 4 “In Canada, there are 0 to 5 isolates reported each year.” 5
Tetanus During the 1920s and 1930s, 40 to 50 deaths from tetanus were reported annually6 Between 1980 and 2004, the number of cases reported annually ranged from 1 to 10, with an average of 4 per year.6
Polio In 1959, with 1,887 paralytic cases were reported. Canada was certified polio-free in 1994 7
Hepatitis A 3,562  cases in 19918 396 cases in 20038
Hepatitis B In 1990 there were 10.8 cases per 100,00 people9 In 2007 there were 3.3 cases per 100,000 people9

Certification of polio free:

“Certification only occurs when all countries in the area demonstrate the absence of wild poliovirus transmission for at least three consecutive years in the presence of excellent surveillance.” (Global Polio Eradication Initiative)

Seems fairly clear they are, in fact, working and in most cases they are nearly wiping out the disease entirely. Some would argue that the fact the disease and has virtually disappeared as to why they are no longer necessary. These diseases still exist, they are just controlled and without regular vaccinations will easily reappear. For example, in the Soviet Union diphtheria was virtually eliminated but anti-vaccination myths caused the immunization to be suspended and from 1993-1997 more than 5,000 people died from the disease. The death rates dropped again after immunization was reestablished.

So what harm can they cause?

Vaccinations are not without their issues, no system is perfect. The shot itself, depending on what you are getting vaccinated for, can cause many things from soreness and redness to a mild fever. Some people have had allergic/severe reactions but it’s very rare (depending one the vaccine it ranges from about one in 100,000 to one in a 1,000,000 or less). Needles hurt; some more than others and in very rare cases a person may end up very sick. It is definitely not a perfect system but it works very well and saves millions of lives.

Does it cause Autism?

The belief amongst the anti-vaccination campaign is that a mercury type preservative called thimerosal causes Autism. (Even though it was taken out of vaccinations in 1995 as a precautionary measure). Turns out there is no connection between Thimerosal and Autism; none, zip, zilch, notta….

The idea got a foothold in 1998 when Andrew Wakefield had an article published in a British medical journal called The Lancet that suggested a link between vaccinations with the ingredient thimerosal and Autism. The article and the author are now discredited and disgraced. Wakefield manipulated the data and misreported the results. Turns out Wakefield was working for a law firm looking to sue the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine. (no bias there!). In May 2010 the General Medical Council (The group that regulates and licenses doctor’s in the United Kingdom) found Wakefield guilty of serious professional misconduct over unethical research and banned from practicing medicine in England after investigating the research into the article. The Lancet retracted the article saying the statements of the article were “utterly false”.

The scientific community has since investigated the matter since and in October 2010 the medical journal Pediatrics published a study showing no connection between vaccinations and autism. In it they concluded “Prenatal and early-life exposure to ethylmercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and immunoglobulin preparations was not related to increased risk of ASDs (Autism Spectrum Disorder). (Price, Thompson 4)

Other researchers have conducted studies and found no connection between vaccinations and Autism. Here is a short list:

  1. Robert Schechter, MD, MSc; Judith K. Grether, PhD “Continuing Increases in Autism Reported to California’s Developmental Services System” Archive of General Psychology (2008)
  2. Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen, M.D., Anders Hviid, M.Sc “A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism” New England Journal of Medicine (2002)
  3. James A Kaye, Marie del Mar Melero-Montes, Jick Hershel “Mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine and the incidence of autism recorded by general practitioners: a time trend analysis” BMJ (2001)
  4. Anders Hviid, MSc; Michael Stellfeld, MD; Jan Wohlfahrt, MSc; Mads Melbye, MD, PhD “Association Between Thimerosal-Containing Vaccine and Autism” Journal of the American Medical Association Volume 290. Number 13 (2003)
  5. William J. Barbaresi, MD; Slavica K. Katusic, MD; Robert C. Colligan, PhD; Amy L. Weaver, MS; Steven J. Jacobsen, MD, PhD “The Incidence of Autism in Olmsted County, Minnesota, 1976-1997: Results From a Population-Based Study “ Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Volume 159 Number 1 (2005)

You can’t find a credible public health export that doesn’t support vaccinations. The Center for Disease Control’s Immunization safety director Frak Stefano told WebMD “I don’t think there is much worthwhile to study anymore with regard to thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism,”

In conclusion, there are dangers to vaccinations but the benefits far outweigh any risk. Far fetched claims such as the possibility they cause Autism, just aren’t true.

A ‘fun’ look at the issue: (caution: contains strong language).


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