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Antivax; the legacy of Andrew Wakefield





quex
This article about Andrew Wakefield's unqualified testing on children reminded me that I've wanted to have a discussion about the Antivax movement for a while now...

There is a big argument (here in the US, anyway) about whether or not one should vaccinate one's children against the traditional major diseases; polio, smallpox, measles, rubella, mumps, tetanus, etc. The reports of one Mr. Wakefield linked the preservatives (or other elements) in the vaccines to the rising rate of autism, a crippling psychological/developmental syndrome. Fearing the vaccinations would put their children at risk of this second condition, a movement began among parents to refuse vaccinations.

Most of us aged 16 and older living in the modern world were automatically given these shots as part of our pediatric care. In many cases, one must submit a complete vaccination record to attend public schools, work in hospitals, or travel overseas. Increasingly, however, parents are refusing to vaccinate their children (or demanding their children be granted admittance to schools/study abroad programs without required vaccinations), and even taking the makers of vaccines to court when their vaccinated children develop autism.

It should be mentioned that prevailing science has examined Wakefield's claims and found them to be not only inaccurate, but that they were likely motivated by Wakefield's own financial interests, as he was advancing an alternative to the MMR vaccine at the time.

Despite this evidence and continuing research into autism, the modern Antivax movement continues to persist. Many doctors fear the damage that could be done by a minority of unvaccinated persons. As an example, cases of measles, a disease nearly obliterated in the US and most modern countries by the year 2000, are already on the rise in the US and the UK. This and other diseases would likely form new strains if exposed to a vaccinated population via an unvaccinated minority for any considerable length of time -- strains that would then render the current vaccines useless, and then threaten the entire population.

Do you agree with the Antivax movement? Do you think it is the parent's right to refuse vaccination for their children, or is it the child's right to receive standard protection against diseases? Is this an issue where you live?

Personal opinion: the population as a whole has the right to insist upon the vaccination of any person who chooses to be a member/citizen of said population, on a geographical basis rather than a political one. If you want to remain unvaccinated or deny vaccinations to your children, you are surrendering the rights to share space with those who have chosen to have the vaccines. Furthermore, it is the human right of all people to have access to these preventative vaccines and other directly preventative medicine, regardless of ability to pay.
deanhills
Excellent posting quex! Also excellent thread. Very difficult problem. And a real concern. As there have been proven cases where it has been demonstrated that vaccinations have been responsible for autism or serious allergies. Yet there is of course a good case for eradicating the diseases for the population as a whole as if a minority is to be exempted they may threaten the whole? So we probably now have to debate whether it is OK for the few "allergy" and "side effects" cases to be sacrificed for the majority? Like the justification of destroying a village of people with an infectious disease so that the world population could be protected? I'm all for that, but in moderation. As in the days when I was given all kinds of vaccinations, there were not near as many as there are today. Are all of the vaccinations really necessary. And are they safe? So I am happy for the Antivax movement for the simple reason that it would keep the vaccination authorities on their toes. Make sure that those vaccinations are given are really safe and really necessary.
quex
deanhills wrote:
Very difficult problem. And a real concern. As there have been proven cases where it has been demonstrated that vaccinations have been responsible for autism or serious allergies.


Really? I know there are allergic reactions to certain vaccines or the preservatives in them, but I was of the understanding that, with Wakefield's research disproved, there were no plausible cases of causation between vaccinations and autism... can you cite other cases that have not since been discounted?

Quote:
Yet there is of course a good case for eradicating the diseases for the population as a whole as if a minority is to be exempted they may threaten the whole? So we probably now have to debate whether it is OK for the few "allergy" and "side effects" cases to be sacrificed for the majority?


This is the case with practically every medical advancement since the bandage. A minority of people have latex allergies, but latex gloves are still used in medical procedures. There are also persons with extreme reactions to common OTC analgesics, but they remain on the market. Peanut allergies make the world a hazardous place for anyone with a severe nut-oil allergy, but you don't see a movement to ban peanuts. There is always a small section of the population who are very seriously threatened by advances in medicine and every other field; the US has consistently chosen to allow such advancement in spite of the danger posed to the minority if two conditions are met:

1) The advance offers considerable benefit to a substantially greater number of persons than it poses a threat.
2) The advance can be avoided (albeit with difficulty in some cases) by those risking the negative effect.

These two rules can even work retrospectively; see the modern anti-smoking legislation enacted across the US.

Quote:
Like the justification of destroying a village of people with an infectious disease so that the world population could be protected? I'm all for that, but in moderation.


Terminal quarantine is considered a poor approach to any outbreak these days. Rather, modern medicine prefers experimentation-for-broke. That is, send teams of doctors and researchers to observe the proverbial infected village, hypothesize cures, and offer these experimental measures to the otherwise doomed subjects. This way, you have a chance of understanding the disease, should it somehow reappear elsewhere or spread, and the villagers also have a chance of survival.

Quote:
As in the days when I was given all kinds of vaccinations, there were not near as many as there are today.


How many did you have, as part of the standard routine? Mine are:

Polio
Tetanus
Measles
Mumps
Rubella
Meningitis
Shingles
Hep A
Hep B

...and Japanese Encephalitis (not standard) to get into an overseas study program in college. I understand that smallpox was on the list for the generation before mine. Did you have the smallpox vaccine, and were there others?

Quote:
Are all of the vaccinations really necessary. And are they safe? So I am happy for the Antivax movement for the simple reason that it would keep the vaccination authorities on their toes. Make sure that those vaccinations are given are really safe and really necessary.


There are no vaccination authorities. There are scientists, doctors, and the FDA. And they aren't being kept on their toes, they're being drowned out.

The trouble with the Antivax movement, you see, is that it is undermining what headway has already been established with proven vaccines, largely by ignoring and avoiding the science. There is nothing that any authority can do to satisfy the large core of the Antivaxxers; they have already eschewed all vaccines and related preventative medicine as dangerous, their decisions made on false reports and fabricated science. The Antivax movement might inspire vaccine producers to recheck the safety of their products, but even if this safety is reaffirmed, those who are anti-vaccine still do not trust the results and choose to vaccinate themselves or their children. This is not a watchdog group, it is a true "anti" group; that is, a movement to abolish the institution of vaccinations.
deanhills
quex wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Very difficult problem. And a real concern. As there have been proven cases where it has been demonstrated that vaccinations have been responsible for autism or serious allergies.


Really? I know there are allergic reactions to certain vaccines or the preservatives in them, but I was of the understanding that, with Wakefield's research disproved, there were no plausible cases of causation between vaccinations and autism... can you cite other cases that have not since been discounted?
I took this from the second paragraph of your posting quex.

quex wrote:
There is always a small section of the population who are very seriously threatened by advances in medicine and every other field; the US has consistently chosen to allow such advancement in spite of the danger posed to the minority if two conditions are met:

1) The advance offers considerable benefit to a substantially greater number of persons than it poses a threat.
2) The advance can be avoided (albeit with difficulty in some cases) by those risking the negative effect.
Agreed. Like penicillin that is life-threatening to some people.
quex wrote:

How many did you have, as part of the standard routine? Mine are:

Polio
Tetanus
Measles
Mumps
Rubella
Meningitis
Shingles
Hep A
Hep B

...and Japanese Encephalitis (not standard) to get into an overseas study program in college. I understand that smallpox was on the list for the generation before mine. Did you have the smallpox vaccine, and were there others?
Yes, I had smallpox vaccine, also yellow fever, plenty of malaria medication from time to time, also polio, tetanus, measles.

quex wrote:
The Antivax movement might inspire vaccine producers to recheck the safety of their products, but even if this safety is reaffirmed, those who are anti-vaccine still do not trust the results and choose to vaccinate themselves or their children. This is not a watchdog group, it is a true "anti" group; that is, a movement to abolish the institution of vaccinations.
I can see your point here. Can almost work like the anti-abortionist groups and create real damage. For myself, I can see the benefits of vaccines, but at the same time I am not that trusting either. Especially when they come with new vaccines, such as for the Swine Flu epidemic.
quex
deanhills wrote:
quex wrote:
deanhills wrote:
Very difficult problem. And a real concern. As there have been proven cases where it has been demonstrated that vaccinations have been responsible for autism or serious allergies.


Really? I know there are allergic reactions to certain vaccines or the preservatives in them, but I was of the understanding that, with Wakefield's research disproved, there were no plausible cases of causation between vaccinations and autism... can you cite other cases that have not since been discounted?
I took this from the second paragraph of your posting quex.


That was Wakefield's research. It has been disproven, and was quite possibly motivated by monetary gain. (see paragraph 4)

deanhills wrote:
quex wrote:
There is always a small section of the population who are very seriously threatened by advances in medicine and every other field; the US has consistently chosen to allow such advancement in spite of the danger posed to the minority if two conditions are met:

1) The advance offers considerable benefit to a substantially greater number of persons than it poses a threat.
2) The advance can be avoided (albeit with difficulty in some cases) by those risking the negative effect.
Agreed. Like penicillin that is life-threatening to some people.


Excellent example. :D

deanhills wrote:
quex wrote:

How many did you have, as part of the standard routine? Mine are:

Polio
Tetanus
Measles
Mumps
Rubella
Meningitis
Shingles
Hep A
Hep B

...and Japanese Encephalitis (not standard) to get into an overseas study program in college. I understand that smallpox was on the list for the generation before mine. Did you have the smallpox vaccine, and were there others?
Yes, I had smallpox vaccine, also yellow fever, plenty of malaria medication from time to time, also polio, tetanus, measles.


Malaria? Goodness, where did you live?

deanhills wrote:
quex wrote:
The Antivax movement might inspire vaccine producers to recheck the safety of their products, but even if this safety is reaffirmed, those who are anti-vaccine still do not trust the results and choose to vaccinate themselves or their children. This is not a watchdog group, it is a true "anti" group; that is, a movement to abolish the institution of vaccinations.
I can see your point here. Can almost work like the anti-abortionist groups and create real damage. For myself, I can see the benefits of vaccines, but at the same time I am not that trusting either. Especially when they come with new vaccines, such as for the Swine Flu epidemic.


Herein lies another major misunderstanding of the vaccination development process... the H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine was not at all "new", it simply contained a different deactivated virus. The method to create, stabilize, and preserve all influenza vaccines is identical -- only the viral information (that is, WHICH virus the immunization will provide resistance to) is changed. If you have had a seasonal flu vaccine without incident in the past, there is absolutely nothing in the H1N1 vaccine that will harm you.
quex
Since the foundation (and I say that casually) of the Antivax movement, many celebrities who had children with autism -- including those who were not at all celebrities until they joined the movement -- came forward to speak out against vaccinations, believing them to be the cause. One of the most famous is Jenny McCarthy, who commonly spoke on national television advising mothers to avoid the MMR (measles mumps rubella) combo vaccine, as she believed it directly responsible for her son Evan's autism.

Now, it appears that Evan may have been misdiagnosed, and in fact never had autism at all.

In the dangerously gullbile portion of our society, all those who give their complete trust to celebrity and will do whatever Oprah or any other big name suggests that they do, how many children do you suppose have gone unvaccinated because of Jenny McCarthy's advice...?
quex
Oh wait, I found it. The Jenny McCarthy Body Count. Thanks, Internet.
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