Six Myths About Vaccination And Why They're Wrong

Recently released government figures show levels of childhood vaccination have fallen to dangerously low levels in some areas of Australia, resulting in some corners of the media claiming re-ignition of "the vaccine debate". (You can check how your postcode rates here.) Well, scientifically, there's no debate. In combination with clean water and sanitation, vaccines are one of the most effective public health measures ever introduced, saving millions of lives every year.

Vaccination picture from Shutterstock

Those who claim there is a "debate" will cite a series of canards designed to scare people away from vaccinating, but, if you're not familiar with their claims, you could easily be convinced by anti-vaccine rhetoric.

So what is true and what is not?

Let's address just a few of the common vaccine myths and explain why they're wrong.

1. Vaccines cause autism

The myth that vaccines are somehow linked to autism is an unsinkable rubber duck. Initiated in 1998 following the publication of the now notorious Lancet paper, (not-a-Dr) Andrew Wakefield was the first to suggest that the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine might be linked to autism.

What he didn't reveal was that he had multiple conflicts of interest including that he was being paid by lawyers assembling a class action against the manufacturers of MMR, and that he himself had submitted an application for a patent for a single measles vaccine.

It eventually unravelled for Wakefield when the paper was retracted in 2010. He was struck from the medical register for behaviour classified as "dishonest, unethical and callous" and the British Medical Journal accused him of deliberate fraud.

But once the idea was floated, scientists were compelled to investigate, particularly when it stood to impact public health so dramatically. One of the most powerful pieces of evidence to show that there is no link between vaccines and autism comes from Japan where the MMR was replaced with single vaccines mid-1993. Guess what happened? Autism continued to rise.

After this door closed, anti-vaxers shifted the blame to thiomersal, a mercury-containing component (not be confused with the scary type that accumulates in the body). Small amounts of thiomersal were used as a preservative in some vaccines, but this never included MMR.

Thiomersal or ethyl-mercury was removed from all scheduled childhood vaccines in 2000, so if it were contributing to rising cases of autism, you would expect a dramatic drop following its removal. Instead, like the MMR in Japan, the opposite happened, and autism continues to rise.

Further evidence comes from a recently published exhaustive review examining 12,000 research articles covering eight different vaccines which also concluded there was no link between vaccines and autism.

Yet the myth persists and probably for several reasons, one being that the time of diagnosis for autism coincides with kids receiving several vaccinations and also, we currently don't know what causes autism. But we do know what doesn't, and that's vaccines.

2. Smallpox and polio have disappeared so there's no need to vaccinate anymore

It's precisely because of vaccines that diseases such as smallpox have disappeared.

India recently experienced two years without a single case of polio because of a concerted vaccination campaign.

Australia was declared measles-free in 2005 by the World Health Organization (WHO) — before we stopped being so vigilant about vaccinating and outbreaks began to reappear.

The impact of vaccine complacency can be observed in the current measles epidemic in Wales where there are now over 800 cases and one death, and many people presenting are of the age who missed out on MMR vaccination following the Wakefield scare.

In many ways, vaccines are a victim of their own success, leading us to forget just how debilitating preventable diseases can be — not seeing kids in calipers or hospital wards full of iron lungs means we forget just how serious these diseases can be.

3. More vaccinated people get the disease than the unvaccinated

Although this sounds counter-intuitive, it's actually true, but it doesn't mean that vaccines don't work as anti-vaxers will conflate. Remember that no vaccine is 100% effective and vaccines are not a force field. So while it's still possible to get the disease you've been vaccinated against, disease severity and duration will be reduced.

With pertussis (whooping cough), for example, severe complications such as pneumonia and encephalitis (brain inflammation) occur almost exclusively in the unvaccinated.

So since the majority of the population is vaccinated, it follows that most people who get a particular disease will be vaccinated, but critically, they will suffer fewer complications and long-term effects than those who are completely unprotected.

4. My unvaccinated child should be of no concern to your vaccinated one

Vaccination is not just a personal issue, it's a community responsibility, largely because of a concept known as "community immunity". This describes a level of vaccination that prevents epidemics or outbreaks from taking hold and spreading.

Some people question the validity of this concept, sometimes referred to as herd immunity, but the impact of it breaking down can be easily observed in places where vaccination levels fall dangerously low — take the current measles outbreak in Wales, for example.

The other important factor about community immunity is it protects those who, for whatever reason, can't be vaccinated or are not fully vaccinated. This includes very young children, immunocompromised people (such as cancer sufferers) and elderly people.

5. Vaccines contain toxins

A cursory search of Google for vaccine ingredients pulls up a mishmash of scary-sounding ingredients that to the uninitiated can sound like "franken-science".

Some of these claims are patently untrue (there is no anti-freeze in vaccines), or are simple scaremongering (aborted foetuses — in the 1960s some cells were extracted from a foetus to establish a cell line that is still used in labs today). Some of the claimed chemicals (and remember everything is made of chemicals) are present, but are at such low levels as to never reach toxicity.

The simple thing to remember is the poison is in the dose — in high enough doses even water can kill you. And there's 600 times more formaldehyde in a pear than a vaccine.

Also, if you ever read the claim that "vaccines are injected directly into the blood stream" (they're not), be sceptical of any other claims made.

6. Vaccines will overwhelm kids' undeveloped immune systems

The concept of "too many too soon" was recently examined in a detailed analysis of the US childhood immunisation schedule by The Institute of Medicine. Experts specifically looked for evidence that vaccination was linked to "autoimmune diseases, asthma, hypersensitivity, seizures, child developmental disorders, learning or developmental disorders, or attention deficit or disruptive disorders", including autism. The researchers confirmed that the childhood vaccination schedule was safe.

The amount of immune challenges that children fight every day (between 2,000 to 6,000) in the environment is significantly greater than the number of antigens or reactive particles in all their vaccinations combined (about 150 for the entire vaccination schedule).

So the next time you hear these myths about vaccination, hopefully you'll have some evidence up your sleeve to debunk them. Rachael Dunlop is a Post-doctoral fellow at University of Technology, Sydney. She receives funding from The Institute for Ethnomedicine, WY. She is a Vice President of Australian Skeptics Inc. and an administrator of the Stop the AVN Facebook page.

The Conversation This article was originally published at The Conversation. Read the original article.


Comments

    Fantastic article, great work Rachael!

      Adding my comment here because the Vax doubters seem to have taken on with correspondents below.

      Vaccination saves lives, especially those too young to make their own life-saving decisions.

      Not long ago the diseases we now get vaccinated against were virulent in the community causing mortality, morbidity, lifelong disability and widespread suffering. We only need to go back 50 to 60 years to see this:
      http://stopavn.com/Documents/MediaStatementKenMcLeod12July2010.pdf

      Unfortunately, those days are returning directly due to the anti-vaxers!

      I am happy to take aim at the loudest anti-vaccination proponent in Australia, Meryl Dory, who has run the misleading (and misleadingly named) website "Australian Vaccination Network" rather than the "Australian Anti-Vaccination Network".

      Rather than spend hours scientifically shooting down her anti-vaccination claims, I'd like to help you really understand this anti-vax person! This person is the very source of the mis-information and is the source and not the messenger, so is perfectly allowed to be shot down. The best website I have found debunking her claims, her science, her knowledge and her understanding is this one http://meryldorey.org/ And what a beaut it is!

      But this is not the only website targeting her and her claims as plenty of other exist:
      http://stopavn.com/index.html
      http://www.stopavn.com/vaccination-saves-lives/woodford-folk-festival.html
      http://reasonablehank.com/category/stop-the-australian-vaccination-network/

      So concerning is her approach, that others have taken action at her speaking events:
      http://www.scribd.com/doc/76694369/SAVN-Media-Release-Banner-Tow

      AVN has managed to evade being shutdown and loosing its charity status due to legislative technicalities (limitations) that when created, did not foresee such an organisation as the AVN. The legislation WILL be subject to change. Unfortunately we all well know that a legal victory or loss does not always mean truth or justice prevailed.
      http://www.medicalobserver.com.au/tags/Australian%20Vaccination%20Network

      Even Wikipedia has her covered:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Vaccination_Network

      However the AVN remove doubters' and challengers' comments from their website's blogs & comments meaning they are perfectly happy to censure anything that doesn't fit their message and objectives. In other words they do not believe in Voltaire's doctrine!

      Voltaire said "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it". In relevance to the AVN, he did not extend his death defence by implying "I will also defend to the death your right allow you to kill young and innocent members of our community because of your ideas"!

      I know Voltaire would fight to the death for my comments here, which include not allowing someone like this to peddle such medical mis-information that can cause the mortality and morbidity of the young and innocent in our society without question. However the AVN would certainly try and censor my comments.

      Read about her and form your own independent opinion. As adults you do have Voltaire's choice. Babies and children do not!

      Last edited 27/04/13 8:43 pm

    This is exactly why people wanting children should get approval from me first.

    Great article. Well reasoned. Non aggressive; and good credentials:
    "Rachael Dunlop receives funding from The Institute for Ethnomedicine, WY, Is Vice President of Australian Skeptics Inc. and an administrator of the Stop the AVN Facebook page"

    Hello Rachael
    I must say I did enjoy reading this article and do think that the information provided is valid. But the way it is presented that the article in itself is a little scare mongering ??. I cant help but see that for all the research and opinions for vaccinations and them being at dangerously low levels that there is just as much evidence that is valid that people should not vaccinate.

    Some information is not entirely correct on Thiomersal or ethyl-mercury. The inclusion of this additive in vaccines did indeed stop in 2000 but only ceased being administered in 2004, these products do have a shelf life. I don't know why they stopped including it but I do know that there are still studies currently being conducted to assess the impact that this additive has had on adolescent children specifically males as there is evidence to suggest that it may impact on the development of certain areas of the brain.

    As for the statement that vaccinations are at dangerously low levels.... that is an opinion which you are more than entitled to have and I have nothing to compare these levels to so I cant really say that they are or are not. I can say that from what I understand people still have the right to make there own decisions oh how they treat there bodies and what they put into them and that it is personal choice. I haven't read anything recently that leads me to believe that anything we vaccinate for that are at dangerously high levels of occurrence.

    As for vaccinations and the companies that develop and sell them they are there to make money. That is what companies do and it is in there best interest to promote there products to the consumer and those who administer them that they will be good for you and not harm you. This is how they make money. There have been many products from these companies which have been released, prescribed and removed from sale due to the ill effects they have the human body. So I don't entirely have trust in these companies that they have my best interests at heart.

    I believe should make there own choices based on the best information they can get at the time. I would never tell anyone to get vaccinations or not to get them. Just to research from both sides and make an informed decision.

    As with everything there is a good side and a bad and its great we still live in a country where we can still choose.

    Good article though
    Troy

      Dear Patient Zero,
      Thank you for capably demonstrating exactly why this article is necessary.

      One can only hope that the vague fears and amateur 'investigation' of vaccination sceptics will be ample protection in the unlikely event of an outbreak of these preventable diseases.

      Good reply though.
      Society

        Well "This is Why" as guest

        My what you call my "amateur" investigation and that of my wife has not been just days, months but in fact years of reading various published works and talking to professors and physicians on both sides of the fence.
        The thing is that there is just as much information for as there is against and by a lot of people who are lot more qualified than me. As I have 2 children and love them very much I go to great lengths to try and do the best for them.
        In the industry I work in " Which funny enough is health" all be it in a support role I am lucky enough to have access to people who have all sorts of knowledge on this subject.

        I have had both my children vaccinated with no issues but have been there when others have. At the time my children were vaccinated I was very fortunate to have the choice of the vaccination with out "Thiomersal " and very glad i did as with most things hindsight is wonderful thing.

        As for your reply from "society" if I was to go totally on the information and believe that levels are dangerously low??? "Would like to see the info on this and the numbers that qualify it" Society would seem to be heading away from it. Maybe you should have signed minority ??

        Either way you look at it we are either getting smarter and investigating more or what you were eluding to that people are getting stupider and not.

        Lets hope we are getting smarter :-)

        Last edited 26/04/13 11:20 am

          Duration of research is no guarantee of correct outcome, particularly in the Internet Age when every crackpot has a voice.
          If you google "the earth is flat" you get 260M hits and I'd suggest that millions of those are in support of that particular hypothesis - the fact that one could spend years studying their cases and coming to the conclusion that they're correct doesn't make it less wrong.

          I'm not clear what you're trying to say in your "society/minority" point but am fairly sure it just shot you in the foot.
          The link to the Measles outbreak in Wales exemplifies what happens when vaccination levels in a group become 'dangerously low'; if civilisation as a whole took the path they've chosen we'd be in trouble.
          That's the crux of this issue - does the individual 'right to choose' exceed the right of society as a whole not to be exposed to a greater risk of disease?

          I'd like to analyse your compelling argument further but your grammar makes my eyes bleed.

          Well, unfortunately we aren't getting smarter. The world is now full of highly educated fools who can use computers and the internet to 'investigate' and 'research' complete garbage so they can make their 'informed decisions'. Every time somebody writes apparently measured responses like yours that are soooo carefully, deliberately and subtly crafted to continue to instill doubt in people it's a kick in the face for reason and science and people's wellbeing. There's nothing to 'investigate' or 'research', immunisation is safe and effective and protects me and my children. I suppose you still want to 'investigate' and 'research' to ensure that the Earth orbits the Sun, because it's 'great we live in a country where we can still choose'. The science is done, nothing to see, move along.

          I won't make a secret of the fact that I disagree with you, and I don't really need to argue specific points as the Doctor pretty much has it covered (Great article!).

          I'm not sure what you refer to as scaremongering and I'd make the case that the examples where vaccination is low are entirely truthful and valid. Demonstrably, outbreaks of preventable diseases (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, Hep C, various influenza strains) occur when vaccination is not widely adopted.

          Don't worry, if you're scared by that, it's because you're still sane. It's like your mother telling you not to cross the road without looking or you get squished like strawberry jam. A frightening fact, but a fact nonetheless. I also find it hard to believe she's saying that to make money off you. People doing this, especially the WHO and Rotary International, do it with a view to improving public health. As much as I'd love to be blaming big pharma with you - I can't - because they contribute by researching and manufacturing these things that save lives. Someone qualified/equipped needs to do it and it costs a lot of money. They're a business, they want to grow. I'll also point out that India is a developing nation and $5.5bil were spent in vaccinating for polio so it didn't pass to other communities. Ironically, now it's complacent first-worlders that are in danger of becoming new reservoirs for spread of these preventable diseases.

          This comment is alarming:
          "The thing is that there is just as much information for as there is against and by a lot of people who are lot more qualified than me..."

          I'm a third year molecular biology student and I don't imagine that in and of itself makes my opinion more valid than yours. It's my understanding of vaccinations and how they work (because I've studied them formally) that informs my opinion about their public use. Wakefield was a surgeon, and was discredited in the wider scientific community for being fraudulent and wrong, not because he didn't have a PhD. Scientific consensus is not a democratic process and should not be. Young Earth creationists will argue the "diversity" of opinion in the scientific community while claiming that modern evolutionary theory (one of our most well supported working theories) is totally wrong. There is no debate here in the scientific community. There is investigation because we have an obligation to be vigilant and find validation for the claims such as MMR-linked autism and thiomersal danger. If those claims were given wide support by scientific evidence, they would (as Dr. Dunlop mentioned) be taken into account, not idly dismissed because it doesn't agree with preconceived notions.

      Hey Troy,

      The removal of thiomersal from vaccines in North America and Europe around the Dreamcast era was the result of a global initiative to reduce environmental mercury. It is a fairly well documented event, and at least in Europe (I researched all of this a while back when a friends of mine became new parents and were deciding whether certain vaccinations were necessary, a whole other kettle; but didn't look too much at North America's decision) there were no references in the official documentation to thiomersal in vaccinations holding any sway in the decision.

      My personal opinion is that we should endeavour for the safest and most effective preservatives in vaccines, while maintaining regard for sound basic and clinical science findings. In saying that, I do not wish to infer that your opinion is to the contrary.

      Cheers,

      Chris

      You need to read Ben Goldacre - he is anti big Pharma but also the king of the septics. An article he posted (he writes for The Guardian in the UK) http://www.badscience.net/2013/04/how-vaccine-scares-respect-local-cultural-boundaries/ talks about how vaccine scares only seem to be locally based.

      There is a great line that sums up the anti-vaccers:
      "After all, as any trendy MMR-dodging north-London middle-class humanities-graduate couple with children would agree, just because vaccination has almost eradicated polio – a debilitating disease which as recently as 1988 was endemic in 125 countries – that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing."

      When an unvaccinated child ends up suffering lockjaw, polio, rubella, measles, mumps, the flu and whatnot regularly all because of the paranoid delusion that a vaccination has a great chance of killing them, my child will go on living a healthy life because I chose to get him two simple needles in his life followed by an occasional follow up vaccination once in a very blue moon. I'll put this in perspective for you. While you sit around in your parental coffee groups debating over wether to get the latest vaccination because facebook told you not to or you 'read somewhere on the net' (I don't put any credit at all in the idea a credible physician told you not to) not to get a vaccination, not one person in a third world country would ever turn down a vaccination for their child. Why? Because they're not morons. They don't gamble with their childrens lives.

      But hey...

      Enjoy gambling with your childs life, just remember, the harm you do them now due to your ego cannot be undone.

      Last edited 26/04/13 11:27 pm

        I'm sure the recommendation against vaccination came from the very BEST practitioners of homeopathy and Chinese traditional medicine.

          dont forget the "reiki practioners"

      References please?? If the references come from peer reviewed articles or even if they just make sense and I cannot fault their methodology, maybe we can meet somewhere in the middle. But all these extraordinary claims require evidence and sadly the only evidence most people give is "I know a doctor who said...". A single doctor is no expert in the entire field of medicine. There are still heaps of doctors and nurses who think homeopathy works.

      Hi Troy, the more I Look, the more I find anti vaccinationists starting their comments with "i'm not anti vaccination but ..." as you have done. You have countered points of fact with points of opinion, that's not the same thing.

      I to believe people need to make their choices based on information, however where we differ is that I do not agree we should put misinformation, opinion and conjecture up against facts.

    Thanks. I've assumed a lot of the anti vaccine scaremongering was rubbish, but its nice to see scientists have in fact looked into and discounted the misinformation.
    A follow up article on how to deal with staunch anti vaccine parents would be interesting!

      Bevan its a little worrying at least to some people like me that your assumptions can be verified by one article. There is a lot more to this and even touches on a person right to choose. Some of the people who have been labelled as scaremongers are people are well informed people who have done there own research and are satisfied that there is enough evidence to not vaccinate there children.

      There are people in all walks of life who have opinions that are extreme and I am sure you have your ways of dealing with them or ignoring them.

      :-)

        This article is written based on scientific fact and clinical analysis, not on scare-mongering or correlation presumed to be causation, nor on "Drug companies make money oh no stop the vaccines!"

        You can do your own research but that does not make you "well informed" if the research you read was utter rubbish to begin with.

        You can do your own research, but if you're coming to the conclusion not vaccinate, you are not 'well-informed'. Usually when people look into issues like this and come to a demonstrably false conclusion, its because they are mistakenly giving equal weight to peer-reviewed research (which is pretty much unanimous in support of vaccination) as to stuff a guy wrote on the Internet.

        I also find it unbelievable that you have spoken to a 'Professor on both sides of the fence' with regards to this issue. If this is true, your going to need to name the Professor who spoke against immunisation, so we can determine if the have a good publication record in relevant journals. Frankly, I don't this this person exists.

          The problem is that the vast majority of experts in things like anti vax, climate change and a whole lot of conspiracy theories are an expert in a field completely unrelated to the subject in question.

        For gods sake, their**.

        Parent's children, not over there children!

        You have made this error 5 times in the comments here. If you are going to comment on a thread and try to come across intelligent, learn there/their/they're to/two/too etc stake/steak.

    Very interesting Article.

    I always thought the main argument against vaccinations was that it's better to allow the body to fight off illnesses itself & that vaccinations/antibiotics would over time lower the bodies ability to fight new threats on its own. Something in-line with War of the Worlds.

    Has anyone looked into that theory ?

      Yes - it is incorrect. As I understand it, vaccines produce the same physiological immune response as getting the illness, without the risk of weakening the body due to severe illness.

        +1

        The concept of a vaccine is to induce an immune response from the human body with a chemical analogue of the virus synthesized specifically to emulate the viral targetting mechanism without the severe side effects associated with the actual virus (i.e. getting sick)...

        think of it like sophisticated fight simulator training for pilots ^_^

      As far as I know, this concept only applies to flu vaccines.

      I had to do some independent research (including speaking to several doctors) on this regarding the flu vaccine, because I'd often been told the same thing (any mistakes in what follow are holes in my research, sorry, not the doctors'). The answer was yes and no - but mostly no, you shouldn't wait to get the flu instead of getting the vaccine. The idea of it being better to catch the flu than to get vaccinated comes from the nature of the flu vaccine development process.

      Essentially, the flu vaccine in any given year protects against what is predicted to be the (usually three) most common forms of flu in that year. So, for 2013, when you get the shot, you are getting vaccinated against:

      A (H1N1): an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1) - like virus
      A (H3N2): an A/Victoria/361/2011 (H3N2) - like vírus
      B: a B/Wisconsin/1/2010 - like virus
      Source: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/immunisation/seasonal-influenza-vaccine.htm

      There are more flu viruses than those going around, though, but they're less common (there's no definitive number, but they are likely thousands, of which some can be contracted by humans - if you want to terrify yourself, start reading the CDC's flu monitor at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/). So, if you come into contact with a strain other than those three, you might still get a full-blown flu infection. If this happens, you build up a broader immunity to similar strains to the one you caught, on top of the ones you were vaccinated against (or, if you weren't vaccinated, instead of the ones you would have been vaccinated against).

      Now, if you get exposed to a similar strain again, you're more likely to shrug it off, because your body had to produce loads more antibodies to fight the previous big infection, some of which will be useful in the fight against the new one, which is great. However, you might come across a not-all-that-similar strain, and the whole getting-sick-with-the-flu-thing kicks off again.

      As to antibiotics, that's a separate issue, and there is a campaign to try and get doctors to only prescribe them when they're actually necessary, as opposed to when they might possibly eventually be necessary (more info at http://www.health.gov.au/internet/ministers/publishing.nsf/Content/sp-yr12-ck-cksp210312.htm). As a rule, doctors prefer to be more thorough than right (because being "right" kills more people than being "thorough"), so they'll often prescribe antibiotics "just in case", which does seem to be leading to antibiotic-resistant viruses (quite rare, for now, thank goodness, but the number is going up, which is very scary). I wouldn't know - I tend to have to take them all the time, because I have very severe asthma, so a head cold can put me on a respirator if I get unlucky (which is far too often). The advice from the campaign is, if a doctor prescribes you antibiotics, ask if you really need them and why - which you should probably be doing with any prescription, anyway.

      tl:dr - yes, it has been investigated; no, you should probably still get the vaccination.

      Last edited 26/04/13 4:21 pm

        As a rule, doctors prefer to be more thorough than right (because being "right" kills more people than being "thorough"), so they'll often prescribe antibiotics "just in case", which does seem to be leading to antibiotic-resistant viruses (quite rare, for now, thank goodness, but the number is going up, which is very scary)

        Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on this topic and am happy to be corrected, a large portion of my knowledge has come from my wife who is an immunologist.

        I feel it's worth pointing out that antibiotics do not combat viruses and that their prescription when you have 'the flu' is often for other reasons. Also, the stated concern about antibacterial resistant viruses is incorrect, the overuse of antibacterials is creating antibacterial resistant bacteria. Golden Staph is a good example of this.

        Doctors typically issue antibiotics when you have 'the flu' for 2 reasons, one is to prevent or fight secondary infections which some people contract when their immune system is fighting something else and is common in people that are immunocompromised like cancer patients or people suffering with HIV. The other reason is that the patient demands them or guilts the doctor into issuing them; some developed nations actually have an attitude that if the doctor doesn't send you home with a cocktail of medications then they are a bad doctor!

        Further to this, another contributing factor towards the development of antibacterial resistant bacteria is that people don't complete the 'course' of antibiotics that the doctor issues when they do actually have a bacterial infection.

        Influenza is often best fought by your own immune system with bed rest and any medications you care to take to alleviate your symptoms (Codral, Lemsip etc.). If you have a compromised immune system or you have a particularly bad reaction to the virus then antivirals may be prescribed if there is one available to fight your specific infection. Unfortunately antivirals are still in their infancy and work quite differently to antibiotics so only the most high risk viruses typically have an antiviral available.

          the stated concern about antibacterial resistant viruses is incorrect, the overuse of antibacterials is creating antibacterial resistant bacteria

          Sorry - you're quite right - I did mean antibiotic-resistant (or, more broadly, antimicrobial-resistant) bacteria, not virus. The CDC has a quite informative page on the issue at: http://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/index.html, while the Victorian Government's Better Health channel has moderately informative write up on it at: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Antibiotic_resistant_bacteria.

      Some illnesses can be fought off naturally by the flu, but some, like rubella, polio, smallpox etc, are not. If a child were to come into contact with those, the devestation wrought on their bodies would be immeasurable.

        Oh, it's measurable. Horrific, but still measurable: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs114/en/

      Other responses to your questions are great, I just want to make it clear that the secondary immune response to the antigen - when you're exposed to the disease causing agent in the wild - is much faster and stronger (http://scienceaid.co.uk/biology/micro/images/lymphocytegraph.png) than the primary response. If you're unvaccinated, you'll get a primary response that may leave the door open for a debilitating persistent infection. If you're vaccinated, your immune system is prepared to eliminate the threat that would make you sick.

      They tried this before vaccines and lots of people died etc... That is why people invented vaccines.

    Good article. Thanks.

    However, on the postcode link in the text I went to check my home state and found the following line on http://www.nhpa.gov.au/internet/nhpa/publishing.nsf/Content/Child-immunisation-rates-Postcode-level-data-2011-12

    Please note: The following information can only be viewed in Internet Explorer

    Huh? Is this 1990? I hate to tell the owners of the site but IE doesn't run on my tablet (Android) or my phone (Android) or my wife's phone (IOS) . Likewise, I choose not to use it on my PC.

    Fail, people at NHPA.

    This is flawed logic, and a biased approach. Scientifically there IS still a debate going on about a) the effectiveness of some vaccines, and b) the impact of the vaccine drugs on the body.

    Drug companies make a lot of money selling vaccines, and they also fund 'research' and 'studies' that produce justification. However, the research and studies that are not funded by the drug companies produce results that often differ considerably and therefore keep the debate alive. Personally, I'd rather believe an independent study over one funded by a drug company any day.

    There is also far too much of scaremongering around vaccinations, unnecessarily so, just as there is around water fluoridation. It amounts to a form of blackmail, trying to make people feel they are putting others at risk, when there is no evidence to prove that they are.

    Then there is also the matter of personal choice. One could argue that people driving their cars pose a greater danger to the community than those who don't vaccinate. The driving risk is statistically provable, but the vaccination one isn't, it can only be studied using epidemiological data, and is thus less certain.

      Also there is an ongoing research whether jumping with a parachute does in fact save your life compared to free fall. There hasn't been many studies done where people have jumped without a parachute to prove that it always kill them. Also there are a few people who have survived when their parachutes didnt deploy. The results are skewed by parachute makers as most people have always used parachute. For a proper study there should be comparable numbers of matched population on either wing. I suppose we need quite a few volunteers for the free fall arm

      Actually, whilst it doesn't consider the paranoid 'we are getting lied to by drug companies' approach, it does actually address the root cause of these myths.

      And you obviously don't know that they test vaccines. Vigorously. Not epidemiologically, in a lab.

        Yeah sure they "test" them but nothing a bit of money can't sway.

          You mean like the guy who claimed that the measles vaccine was bullsh*t because he wanted more money?

          .. oh wait.

      Non vaccinators do put others at risk. The disease that we (responsible members of society) immunize against are communicable.

    Good article - doesn't try to hide any actual debate, but points out that there isn't very much, and it is mostly at a tangent to the issue of whether or not you should get vaccinated against something.

    I sometimes wonder if that Wakefield guy considers - or even cares - that people have almost certainly died as a result of his bogus research.

    I have a question for the author - I heard but haven't been able to verify that some vaccines contain animal blood - specifically pig blood.

    Is this true? If so, it would be a good enough reason for many people to avoid vaccines as it offends many religious beliefs (and vegetarians, I suppose).

    Seems too obvious, though. Surely this is a myth?

    Sadly, I think it'll require a severe (worldwide) pandemic and millions of deaths before the anti-vaccination crowd decide to yield.

    Where will they turn to when this (IMO it's inevitable) happens?

      I think they'd probably just turn around and blame our dependency on vaccinations and modern medicine, claiming that drug companies set us up for a fall. I think half this debate stems from people feeling like society isn't working and a desire to pin that blame on the things that have improved over the past century. To a lot of people a global pandemic and millions of deaths would prove they were right all along.

    I have a 1 year old and she is kept up to date with all her vaccines. I believe its necessary and while there may be risks to taking vaccines there are also risks in not taking them and I believe the later is more serious.

    Sadly, that will be the day when everyone who believes that their imaginary friend created the planet in a week acknowledges that they were wrong. So much stupid, so little time...

    I have never received a vaccine in my life my parents never let me get them I've turned out fine, Never have received a major disease, I mean I've gotten sick and pretty badly sick but my IMMUNE system fought it off that's why humans have immune systems. before we had vaccines sure people died from diseases but they were the lowest people ( not bad or anything) the worst off living on the streets and among filth. nowadays we have a more sanitary society. I honestly don't believe in vaccines and never will my kids will not have vaccines. if you eat the right foods and get the vitamins and minerals your bodies need then there is no need to put in a virus that was never there.

      I suggest you thank the millions of people who got their small pox vaccines before you that allowed you to have a vaccine free life.

        Hope he never ever ever scrapes himself on a rusty nail...

      I guess you're lucky. My friend is deaf from contracting measles as a child. She completely blames her mother for having the same attitude as you. Cross your fingers for your children - this is just as effective as relying on a healthy diet. Do others a favor and keep them at home too.

      I have been a passenger and a driver of cars all my life, but I have never been in a car accident and therefore there is absolutely no evidence that wearing a seat belt would potentially save my life were I to be in an accident. Therefore I believe that wearing seat belts has no effect on my safety while in a car, and I will never wear one, and I will never allow my kids to wear one.

      That's the equivalent of the logic you are using.

      Do you even realise how ridiculous it sounds?

      You should perhaps turn your attention to the part in section 4 that refers to herd immunity. You were lucky enough to avoid mumps, measles, rubella etc because everyone ELSE was immunised and you never had the opportunity to be infected. Your parents took a gamble on your health and won. You doing the same to your kids is grossly irresponsible.

      Well said. Nice to see some common sense in this non-debate. Its always interesting to see how the herd mentality responds to being challenged.

    Many people point out that drug companies fund research. Very few of them think to apply the same logic to the alternative 'independent' research.
    Idealogues and antivaccer's fund research too, but often without the constraints of needing to be accurate. they have an outcome in mind and they "keep the debate alive". So you can't trust the drug companies OR the independent research apparently.
    And this shows the wrong approach of the people trying to look into this issue. You can't apply a motivation category and expect that to separate into good and bad research. Motivation is irrelevant. Only the quality of the work matters. And how many of you that reject Drug company research are measuring the quality of their work before you reject them?
    Of course the drug companies NEED at least some accurate research. Otherwise they couldn't possibly make any money. The same is not true for the so called independents.

      This is true to a point. But you say drug companies need at least some accuracy. Other wise they couldn't possibly make any money. When you pay the right money for the right result for your study and then get the approval required and then simply offer doctors sweeteners for selling your products. Its really possible that you could get prescribed something that can seriously hurt you.
      But again its your choice if you take what they give you and don't do the research.

      I have never that you shouldn't get vaccinated. Have stated that the science is still being done on many fronts to prove or disprove the effects and over time will yield the truths that we all need to know.
      It is good to see there is good live debate about this and only pointed out that all information should be considered. Have even stated that my children are vaccinated.

      We can use what ever analogies we want to suit which other argument you are for. I never said I was for or against. Just that you should research for yourself and not blindly trust anyone " Be it government, Doctor or even friend" about what gets administered to you as drug, vaccine or any other type of medicine. Research it and decide for your self like you have the right to.

      Have a good day all

      More flawed logic. The independent researchers don't have so much to gain as the drug companies, if anything they face huge resistance and criticism, and certainly don't make any money, but contrary to your view they actually do have a need to be much more 'accurate' and rigorous because they know they will be subject to higher levels of scrutiny.

        Except guys like Andrew Wakefield. He had tons to gain and lied through his teeth.

    And yesterday there was another death thanks to parents refusing to vaccinate:
    http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/baby-dies-whooping-cough-orange-co/nXXqP/
    Andrew Wakefield should be charged with another murder!!!

    I can't believe that there are still people around who believe "research" by some Joe Bloggs they found on the Internet instead of the whole scientific community... But I suppose some people will believe what they want to believe and selectively keep finding the truth that matches their views. It is easy to do so nowadays thanks to the Internet.

    For all the people who are still trying to decide:
    1. Look how many deaths we had before vaccination started.
    2. Look how many deaths we have now.
    3. The benefits are obvious.
    So, even if you believe that vaccines can be harmful, the benefits outweigh the risk. Your child playing sports can be harmful as well (broken bones etc) but you still let them play. Again, benefits outweigh the risks.

    You were lucky thanks to people around you being vaccinated, I am just hoping your children will be just as lucky.

    I pointed out on the TC website that some of the writing in this article uses techniques that the anti-vaccers tend to be accused of!

    Attributing the eradication of smallpox solely to vaccination is not really honest - in the 20th C in many regions it got to a point where the vaccinations were not working and they had to use containment, quarantining and medical treatment of sufferers to get rid of it properly.

    "Remember everything is made of chemicals". Yes, and CO2 is harmless because everyone breathes it out. A frivolous comment and very poor argument.

    "The amount of immune challenges that children fight every day (between 2,000 to 6,000) in the environment is significantly greater than the number of antigens or reactive particles in all their vaccinations combined (about 150 for the entire vaccination schedule)." Uh, yeah, but those daily immune challenges aren't injected deliberately beneath the skin in a medical dose. A poor comparison, and in my opinion deliberately worded in a sensationalist manner. Maybe she should write for ACA.

    "One of the most powerful pieces of evidence to show that there is no link between vaccines and autism comes from Japan where the MMR was replaced with single vaccines mid-1993. Guess what happened? Autism continued to rise."

    Guess what? Kids were still getting vaccinated. Wasn't the first part of your comment "no link between VACCINES and autism"? In fact, the title of "Myth number 1" is "Vaccines cause autism". Aren't you trying to make a point about MMR and Wakefield's claims rather than about vaccines in general? Maybe a job writing headlines for News Ltd would be up her alley as well.

    For that matter, is the concept of causality lost on these people?

    Finally, I always find it amusing when the assertion "We don't know what causes autism ... but we KNOW IT'S NOT VACCINES!!!!1!!" is made. If you don't know, then you DON'T KNOW - that's it! By all means say "no evidence has yet be found to show a link", but that's different to drawing a line under ALL vaccines (which is also an unscientific attitude, in my opinion).

    For the record, my kids have DPT only (on the advice of their GP). I was gobsmacked at our first's birth when they were looming with the Hep B jab. Hep B?!? To a newborn!??!? Calm down, people! I have no problem with the SCIENCE of vaccination research, but have BIG issues with the politics and the application of it in public health - the latter seems to be decreasingly scientific and introspective with each passing year.

      "Remember everything is made of chemicals". Yes, and CO2 is harmless because everyone breathes it out. A frivolous comment and very poor argument.

      The point isn't that chemicals are all harmless, it's that you need to be mindful that scary sounding names don't make chemicals dangerous. My Coco Pops have 'dextrose' listed in the ingredients. That doesn't sound like something that should be in food. I had a really bad headache a few nights back, I took some paracetamol. According to the box it has hydroxybenzoates in it. Do a survey on the street and see how many people think it's illegal to put hydroxybenzoates in something. When asked why a lot of people will say 'duh, because it'll kill you'.
      There is a strong bias against the unnatural sounding names we assign chemicals. We don't trust anything that sounds like it's been built under a microscope to the point where we demonise it. That's bad but it's understandable. Especially in the modern world where because we don't pick our own food we can no longer picture dying because we ate the wrong berries. There's a sort of unconscious belief that anything with more than ten letters in the name is used in rat poison while the worst thing that would happen if you went into a forest and ate everything you saw is a little tummy ache.
      We know it's wrong but it's one of those feelings in our gut that unconsciously sways our opinions.

      That's the importance of number 5 and it applies to a lot more than just vaccination. Don't follow anything that dumbs anything down to broad 'because it has toxins' type statements.

    Our non vaccinated children both got the measles. Oh I forgot to mention - after about 30 other vaccinated children in the Sydney public school they attended in the 80's. The well meaning health nurse - whose income depends on being able to inject and inject and inject .... scolded me. See what you have done to your children? I said "Nurse Cratchet - will my children ever get the measles again?" silence ... "Well" I insisted? No was her reply. One more question Nurse Cratchet - she new what was coming .... "Will these other vaccinated children ever have the measles again?" Silence - Nurse cratchet knows that vaccinated children can have measles repeatedly. - She reads pub med and the Lancet.

    Maybe she is like Dr Oz. He promotes vaccines for other children but said that he does not vaccinate his own.

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