Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Looking at the vaccine controversy.

The vaccine debates and controversies are well known throughout the world. There are the fanatic “scientists” who say they’re completely safe and effective and the greatest thing since sliced bread, there are the fanatic “alternative” people who say that they’re 100% poison and have never worked at all, and then there are a wide variety of people in the middle.
I put “scientists” in quotes, because a lot of these people are simply reciting what they’re told by the FDA and other such organizations, which is not science driven, but profit driven. The scientific method is amazing, and it is one of the crowning inventions of the human pre-frontal cortex, but unfortunately the mainstream medical establishment is not really doing science. They’re doing business. There are often good-intentioned scientists working within the system, but what ends up being pushed and marketed and endorsed is what will make the most money, not what will make the most health. It’s as simple as that.
In the case of vaccines, the classic argument of the “scientists” is that the disease rates dropped dramatically after the vaccines were introduced. The classic argument of the anti-vaxers is that the disease rates were already dropping rapidly before the vaccines were introduced. This argument can be settled by facts and numbers. The disease rates were not dropping rapidly before the vaccines were introduced. When the vaccines were introduced, reported cases dropped dramatically. So, the scientists are right here. There were up and down trends in the reported cases prior to vaccines, but vaccines dramatically reduced the reported cases when they were introduced. Vaccines do “work.” Some better than others, as you can see in the charts below.
But this isn’t the end of the story. When the anti-vaxers say that the disease rates were already dropping rapidly before the vaccines we’re introduced, they’re wrong of course, but there’s a truth that is similar to what they’re claiming that should not be ignored.
The death rates were dropping rapidly before the vaccines were introduced.
Most of the statistical charts and data talk only about the number of cases reported. There is no mention of how many of those cases died. By the 1960s, when the vaccine for measles was introduced for example, there were only a tiny fraction of the amount of deaths from it than there were in the late 19th century or early 20th century. A lot of children were still getting measles, but hardly anybody was dying anymore, because of improved nutrition and hygiene practices.
So, if improved living conditions resulted in a massive decrease in deaths from measles between 1900 and 1960, how much more would that death rate have been reduced, with or without the vaccine, between 1960 and 2011? In first world countries, if we ceased measles vaccinations right now, how many people would actually die? Is it more or less than the occasional death or crippling adverse reaction from the vaccines? We don’t know. And we don’t know what the vaccines do to people long term. Auto-immune diseases run completely rampant throughout America now, in absurdly high amounts of the adult population, unheard of in previous centuries or even before the 1960s. Vaccines mess with the immune system in an artificial way. I think there is a logical reason to suspect a possible correlation there.
And could it be healthy for children to go through the childhood diseases and build natural immunity to them? If our modern hygiene and nutrition eliminate the possibility of death from any of these diseases, is it better to let children get them and naturally build immunity? This is a valid question, especially considering that vaccines do cause crippling and death sometimes (rarely), as well as their unknown long-term effects.

Below are some snapshots from the 1978 edition of "Health, United States." The full document can be found here, though it's a large file and may be difficult to load:

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