Adventures in Ethics and Science

In a post a couple weeks ago, I commented on the ethical dimension of opting out of vaccination against serious contagious diseases:

Of course, parents are accountable to the kids they are raising. They have a duty to do what is best for them, as well as they can determine what that is. They probably also have a duty to put some effort into making a sensible determination of what’s best for their kids (which may involve seeking out expert advice, and evaluating who has the expertise to be offering trustworthy advice).

But parents and kids are also part of a community, and arguably they are accountable to other members of that community. I’d argue that members of a community may have an obligation to share relevant information with each other — and, to avoid spreading misinformation, not to represent themselves as experts when they are not. Moreover, when parents make choices with the potential to impact not only themselves and their kids but also other members of the community, they have a duty to do what is necessary to minimize bad impacts on others. Among other things, this might mean keeping your unvaccinated-by-choice kids isolated from kids who haven’t been vaccinated because of their age, because of compromised immune function, or because they are allergic to a vaccine ingredient. If you’re not willing to do your part for herd immunity, you need to take responsibility for staying out of the herd.

Otherwise, you are a free-rider on the sacrifices of the other members of the community, and you are breaking trust with them.

(Bold emphasis added.)

In the comments on that post, Jennifer takes issue with the free-rider characterization:

My kids are not vaccinated, and I am not a free-rider. So far my kids have had chickenpox, pertussis, and measles. I expect my kids to get many of the diseases for which there are vaccines. By the way, the measles was from a child who had recently gotten the MMR, and was shedding the live virus.

Please stop the scaremongering. My kids got through those illnesses just fine, and are extremely healthy. I’ve chosen the possibility of occasional acute disease over the very real possibility of chronic disease. For example, 1 in 10 kids now has asthma! 1 in 67 now has autism.

I thought, therefore, that it would be worthwhile to examine at more length my claim that vaccination refuseniks are free-riders.


First, what’s a free-rider?

In the simplest terms, a free-rider is someone who accepts a benefit without paying for it. The free-rider is able to partake of this benefit because others have assumed the costs necessary to bring it about. But if no one was willing to assume those costs (or indeed, in some cases, if there is not a critical mass of people assuming those costs), then that benefit would not be available, either.

Thus, when I claim that people who opt out of vaccination are free-riders on society, what I’m saying is that they are receiving benefits for which they haven’t paid their fair share — and that they receive these benefits only because other members of society have assumed the costs by being vaccinated.

Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge that people who choose to vaccinate and those who do not probably have very different understandings of the risks and benefits, and especially of their magnitudes and likelihoods. Ideally, we’d be starting this discussion about the ethics of opting out of vaccination with some agreement about what the likely outcomes are, what the unlikely outcomes are, what the unfortunate-but-tolerable outcomes are, and what the to-be-avoided-at-all-costs outcomes are.

That’s not likely to happen. Really, I’ve read enough of the exchanges in the comments on Orac’s and Tara’s and PalMD’s blogs to recognize that people don’t even accept the same facts, let alone the same weightings of them in decision making.

But ethical decision making is supposed to help us get along even in a world where people have different values and interests than our own. So, plausibly, we can talk about whether certain kinds of choices fit the pattern of free-riding even if we can’t come to agreement on probabilities and a hierarchy of really bad outcomes.

So, let’s say all the folks in my community are vaccinated against measles except me. Within this community (assuming I’m not wandering off to exotic and unvaccinated lands, and that people from exotic and unvaccinated lands don’t come wandering through), my chances of getting measles are extremely low. Indeed, they are as low as they are because everyone else in the community has been vaccinated against measles — none of my neighbors can serve as a host where the virus can hang out and then get transmitted to me.

I get a benefit (freedom from measles) that I didn’t pay for. The other folks in my community who got the vaccine paid for it.

In fact, it usually doesn’t require that everyone else in the community be vaccinated against measles for me to be reasonably safe from it. Owing to “herd immunity,” measles is unlikely to run through the community if the people without immunity are relatively few and well interspersed with the vaccinated people. This is a good thing, since babies in the U.S. don’t get their first vaccination against measles until 12 months, and some people are unable to get vaccinated even if they’re willing to bear the cost (e.g., because they have compromised immune systems or are allergic to an ingredient of the vaccine). And, in other cases, people may get vaccinated but the vaccines might not be fully effective — if exposed, they might still get the disease. Herd immunity tends to protect these folks from the disease — at least as long as enough of the herd is vaccinated.

If too few members of the herd are vaccinated, even some of those who have born the costs of being vaccinated, or who would bear those costs were they able (owing to their age or health or access to medical care), may miss out on the benefit. Too many free-riders can spoil things even for those who are paying their fair share.

Now Jennifer replies that her unvaccinated kids are not free-riders on the vaccinated mass of society because they have had chicken pox, pertussis, and measles (and are not counting on avoiding the other diseases against which people are routinely vaccinated). In other words, she argues, they didn’t pay the cost, but they didn’t get the benefit, either.

Does this argument work?

I’m not convinced that it does. First off, even though Jennifer’s kids have gotten a number of diseases that their vaccinated neighbors have not, it is still unlikely that they will catch everything against which we routinely vaccinate. By opting out of vaccination but living in the midst of a herd that is mostly vaccinated, Jennifer significantly reduces the chances of her kids getting many diseases compared to what the chances would be if they lived in a completely unvaccinated herd. That statistical reduction in disease is a benefit, and the people who got vaccinated are the ones paying for it.

Now, one might reply that Jennifer’s kids are actually incurring harm from their vaccinated neighbors, since they contracted measles from a vaccinated kid shedding the live virus from the vaccine. However, the measles virus in the MMR vaccine is an attenuated virus — which is to say, it’s quite likely that Jennifer’s kids had a milder bout of measles than they might have if they had been exposed to a full-strength measles virus out in the wild.

A milder case of measles is a benefit, at least when the alternative is a severe case of measles. Again, it’s a benefit that is available because other people bore the cost of being vaccinated.

Indeed, even if they were to catch every single disease against which we vaccinate, Jennifer’s kids would still reap further benefits by living in a society with a high vaccination rate. The fact that most members of society are vaccinated means that there is much less chance that epidemic diseases will shut down schools, industries, or government offices, much more chance that hospitals and medical offices will not be completely overwhelmed when outbreaks happen, much more chance that economic productivity will not be crippled and that people will be able to work and pay the taxes that support all manner of public services we take for granted.

The people who vaccinate are assuming the costs that bring us a largely epidemic-free way of life. Those who opt out of vaccinating are taking that benefit for free.

I understand that the decision not to vaccinate is often driven by concerns about what costs those who receive the vaccines might bear, and whether those costs might be worse than the benefits secured by vaccination. Set aside for the moment the issue of whether these concerns are well grounded in fact. Instead, let’s look at the parallel me might draw:

If I vaccinate my kids, no matter what your views about the etiology of autism and asthma, you are not going to claim that my kids getting their shots raise your kids’ odds of getting autism or asthma. But if you don’t vaccinate your kids, even if I vaccinate mine, your decision does raise my kids’ chance of catching preventable infectious diseases. My decision to vaccinate doesn’t hurt you (and probably helps you in the ways discussed above). Your decision not to vaccinate could well hurt me.

The asymmetry of these choices is pretty unavoidable.

Here, it’s possible that Jennifer might reply by saying that it ought to be possible for her to prioritize protecting her kids from whatever harms vaccination might bring to them without being accused of violating a social contract.

The herd immunity thing works for us because of an implicit social contract of sorts: those who are medically able to be vaccinated get vaccinated. Obviously, this is a social contract that views the potential harms of the diseases as more significant than the potential harms of vaccination. I would argue that under such a social contract, we as a society have an obligation to take care of those who end up paying a higher cost to achieve the shared benefit.

But if a significant number of people disagree, and think the potential harms of vaccination outweigh the potential harms of the diseases, shouldn’t they be able to opt out of this social contract?

The only way to do this without being a free-rider is to opt out of the herd altogether — or to ensure that your actions do not bring additional costs to the folks who are abiding by the social contract. If you’re planning on getting those diseases naturally, this would mean taking responsibility for keeping the germs contained and away from the herd (which, after all, contains members who are vulnerable owing to age, medical reasons they could not be vaccinated, or the chance of less than complete immunity from the vaccines). No work, no school, no supermarkets, no playgrounds, no municipal swimming pools, no doctor’s office waiting rooms, nothing while you might be able to transmit the germs. The whole time you’re able to transmit the germs, you need to isolate yourself from the members of society whose default assumption is vaccination. Otherwise, you endanger members of the herd who bore the costs of achieving herd immunity while reaping benefits (of generally disease-free work, school, supermarkets, playgrounds, municipal swimming pools, doctor’s office waiting rooms, and so forth, for which you opted out of paying your fair share).

Since you’ll generally be able to transmit these diseases before the first symptoms appear — even before you know for sure that you’re infected — you will not be able to take regular contact with the vaccinators for granted.

And if you’re traveling to someplace where the diseases whose vaccines you’re opting out of are endemic, you have a duty not to bring the germs back with you to the herd of vaccinators. Does this mean quarantining yourself for some minimum number of days before your return? It probably does. Would this be a terrible inconvenience for you? Probably so, but the 10-month-old who catches the measles you bring back might also be terrible inconvenienced. Or worse.

An alternative, one which would admittedly required some serious logistical work, might be to join a geographically isolated herd of other people opting out of vaccination, and to commit to staying isolated from the vaccinated herd. Indeed, if the unvaccinated herd showed a lower incidence of asthma and autism after a few generations, perhaps the choices of the members of the non-vaccinating herd would be vindicated.

In the meantime, however, opting out of vaccines but sharing a society with those who get vaccinated is taking advantage of benefits that others have paid for and even threatening those benefits. Like it or not, that makes you a free-rider.

Comments

  1. #1 JohnV
    June 8, 2009

    I see that Jennifer never explained how autism rates jumped from 1 in 150 to 1 in 67. That’s probably a harbinger for the value of trying to engage her on any topic.

    But best of luck to you. That post and this one were really well done :)

  2. #2 LP
    June 8, 2009

    I found this to be a pleasantly lucid analysis of the implicit social contract of vaccination, which *ought to be* persuasive to those who do not vaccinate for reasons related to (arguably) increased risk of autism/asthma/polio/etc. However, almost all of the non-vaccinators I’ve talked with, after trying out and discarding some form of the vaccine-autism claim, turn out to be deep-down conspiracy theorists: they believe that the fact that the government *wants* them to vaccinate their children is an excellent signal that something else is going on here. They don’t know what, exactly, but they’re pretty sure it involves some kind of systematic manipulation of the genome (or whatever), and probably the pharma companies are in on it too, and they’re not going to fall for it. Can you suggest a debate strategy here?

  3. #3 DrugMonkey
    June 8, 2009

    Brilliantly argued, Dr. ummm… Free-Ride.

  4. #4 Pablo
    June 8, 2009

    Janet, you are being to kind in calling them “freeloaders.” I call them “selfish twits.” As you note, their decision to put their kids at risk also puts MY child at risk (even though he is vaccinated). But they don’t care about that, because hey, the risk for their kids is small enough for them.

    I don’t care what you do with your kids, but your actions affect me. And there I draw the line. My decision to vaccinate my child helps protect yours, vaccinated or not. Should I not expect the same in return?

    Non-vaccinators are the equivalent of the spoiled brat who insists that others share their toys, but when it comes to sharing their own, refuses. When we, as parents, we see that happen, we recognize it for what it is: selfishness.

  5. #5 Rev Matt
    June 8, 2009

    As always a well reasoned and honest presentation of the case. I have not considered the free-rider aspect up until now as my focus has been on the higher risks the non-vaccination group is forcing on those who cannot vaccinate rather than looking at the benefits they might be getting from those who do. I appreciate the broader view you’ve provided.

  6. #6 Michael
    June 8, 2009

    I reject the premise of the health of a human “herd” being the reason behind vaccination at all. Vaccination is a procedure that individuals may or may not choose to participate in, based upon a personal cost/benefit analysis. The overall health of the herd is an extra benefit that may or may not be real, based upon, as it is, a short term view of a long term procedure. The real benefit is increased personal immunity for those who choose to incur the costs, both real and imagined. The costs are not yet fully known.

    Even if I accept that we are all members of a herd whose health I am responsible for, how in the world do I opt out of this herd? All philosophical arguments have their hidden consequences and conclusions, so is Dr. Free-Ride advocating physical exile for parents and adults who eschew the latest trend of vaccination? The big problem here is we have a political idea masquerading as a philosophical one. It is a problem that infects academe to a large extent.

  7. #7 smc
    June 8, 2009

    Continuing with the Dr. Free-Ride kudos: an excellent explanation! I’ll only add that I can hardly imagine that many of the non-vaccinating parents would be willing to take the “well, they’ll get over it” approach with their children when the disease of choice is something more severe than the typical case of chicken pox such as smallpox or polio. The extremely low incidence (and virtually non-existent probability of contraction in the US) of those diseases results almost entirely from generations of rigourous vaccination regimens.

  8. #8 Brian
    June 8, 2009

    Thanks for this post. I think too few parents generally realise the risks created by those opting out of vaccinations. Free-riding is an apt description. School boards perhaps have a role in keeping unvaccinated children out of public school.

  9. #9 perceval
    June 8, 2009

    Michael, you state that
    The overall health of the herd is an extra benefit that may or may not be real, …

    It is very real. This is how smallpox was extinguished, and this is why even tiny outbreaks of polio are aggressively contained.

    Infectious disease spreads. If an infected person only has contact with immune people, the disease cannot spread beyond the social network of the infected person. This process is highly amenable to mathematical modelling – and has been observed in the real world
    countless times. This is how vaccination protects not just the vaccinated person – it interrupts the chain of transmission to people that are not immune to the pathogen in question.

    I hope a revere stops by soon to explain this in more detail.

  10. #10 Tsu Dho Nimh
    June 8, 2009

    Jennifer FreeRider’s children had chicken pox, pertussis, and measles. How many of the unvaccinatable members of her community (infants, immunosuppressed, etc.) did they infect while they were shedding viruses and spewing bacteria all over the immediate environs? What did their free ride cost other families?

    One of the hospitalised victims of an unvaccinated child in San Diego was an infant … infected at the pediatricians when a free-riding mommy brought her sick kid in to see what was wrong with him.

  11. #11 D. C. Sessions
    June 8, 2009

    I reject the premise of the health of a human “herd” being the reason behind vaccination at all. Vaccination is a procedure that individuals may or may not choose to participate in, based upon a personal cost/benefit analysis. The overall health of the herd is an extra benefit that may or may not be real, based upon, as it is, a short term view of a long term procedure.

    I eagerly await your debunking of the “herd immunity” theory of smallpox.

  12. #12 D. C. Sessions
    June 8, 2009

    Dr. Stemwedel, I’m wondering why (brevity aside) you didn’t directly address the application of the Categorical Imperative in this case — it’s one of my favorites.

  13. #13 arvind
    June 8, 2009

    A friend of mine once said antivax-ers are like libertarians in that they want to take from the public pool without giving back. :-)

  14. #14 Cynic View
    June 8, 2009

    I agree with what Michael is saying to at a different level. The decision to immunise should be a personal one; I will immunise myself to benefit from protection against diseases – not specifically for the betterment of the human herd.

    If an individual is not rationale enough to make correct decisions, he or she still has the right to act on that decision, bar it does not cause too much harm. If it does cause an unacceptable level of harm, the public will have to enact fair measures to contain it. If this is not done at all; if the perceived threat of outbreak is believed to be low enough that mandatory vaccination need not be enacted, then the individual opting-out of vaccination has not really offended despite incorrect reasoning behind the act.

    In the end, the freedom of choice here might actually be a good thing. The spreading of diseases constantly through a population and development of natural immunity, might lead to a stronger herd of humans in generations to come. Sure, the cost will be borne by this current generation, but at least the pay out is fair when received by the next. That is what you are driving at isn’t it? Fairness?

  15. #15 Sarah
    June 8, 2009

    Curious- what do you consider the “costs” of getting vaccinated? It seems like if you don’t think there are risks to getting vaccinated then there is really no “cost” other than the annoying trip to the health clinic.

    A lot of people benefit from others’ actions without paying for them. That doesn’t mean they should be forced to pony up. The trees in my yard reduce flooding and air conditioning costs for my entire street. I don’t consider my neighbors free riders because they’re not planting their own.

  16. #16 HCN
    June 8, 2009

    Cynic View said “In the end, the freedom of choice here might actually be a good thing. The spreading of diseases constantly through a population and development of natural immunity, might lead to a stronger herd of humans in generations to come.”

    That is called eugenics.

  17. #17 HCN
    June 8, 2009

    Sarah said “I don’t consider my neighbors free riders because they’re not planting their own.”

    What would you say to them if they came over and helped themselves to the flowers or fruit*? Like the folks picking the figs in a neighbors tree I saw yesterday (apparently they think that since the owners are not living in the house in the remodel, it is okay to take the fruit).

    My son required herd immunity as an infant because he could not get vaccinated for pertussis (which is now known to be from bad science, thanks Barbara Loe Fisher!, note to arvind, she is a libertarian, as is some other anti-vax folks like Phyllis Schlafly and her sons, Roger and Andy). This was at a time our county was having a pertussis epidemic, and I had to very careful of who he came into contact with.

    That was at a time when over 120 Americans died from measles, so that was another thing he could have caught as an infant. Just like the babies in San Diego.

  18. #18 PalMD
    June 8, 2009

    It’s not eugenics, HCN, it’s just wrong. Pre-vaccination we had the same situation. Not so pretty.

  19. #19 bsci
    June 8, 2009

    Cynic View,
    While I’ll let others dispute other portions of your comment, I want to focus on what I see as a key aspect Janet’s original post. She isn’t writing anything about what people are required to do. She is outlining what is ethical and what does or does not define a free rider. There is nothing illegal about being a free rider in this case and there’s nothing in the argument that puts forward the idea of mandatory anything. It’s primarily about calling things as they are. If you don’t vaccinate you are benefiting from others’ decisions to vaccinate and you pose a real risk to others. The logical progression of this argument is that ethical people should vaccinate or isolate themselves from the rest of society, but that is the ethical, not legal choice.

  20. #20 HCN
    June 8, 2009

    Point taken, PalMD.

    I usually react that way when it is suggested that the “healthy kids” do okay with the diseases. Since I have one child with several medical issues I get a bit upset when I am told his life is not as valuable as other children.

    Also, the diseases do not just kill, they cause disabilities (in other words: welcome to my world!). Back in the “good ol’ days” it was common for children to be blinded, deafened or made into “imbeciles” by a bout with measles, Hib, mumps, diphtheria (choking and losing oxygen can do that), pertussis, and other diseases. Which is why there were all these special schools that have slowly disappeared (a book about the plight of deaf schools is “Train Go Sorry” goes into this a tiny bit). Here is a paper on the effects of certain medical interventions (including vaccination)on mental retardation: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/160/3/302

    There was a comment posted on June 7th (#95) on Orac’s blog titled “Dr. Jay tries the pharma shill gambit” by a Dr. P, who has a young patient who was healthy and “is now completely deaf and is reduced to an infantile state with no guarantee of recovery”.

    Also, the diseases cost money. No one really wants to let their child die without a fight. Apparently a vaccine program actually saves money: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/159/12/1136

  21. #21 HCN
    June 8, 2009

    By the way, in the original comment by Jennifer she said “So far my kids have had chickenpox, pertussis, and measles.”

    How did she definitely know it was those diseases?

    Chicken pox, perhaps (my kids did get that, in 1994, a year before the vaccine, I know it by my daughter’s birth year… and it was horrible, especially for the six month old baby). But there were a couple of times I thought each of my sons had it, when they did not.

    And what about pertussis? I saw Meryl Dorey of the Australian Vaccination Network say her kids got pertussis, and it was no big deal — which cause several to comment that they just got a bad cold (go to skepticzone.tv podcasts of early May and http://scepticsbook.com/2009/05/02/a-brief-report-from-todays-debate/ for information on her and the AVN’s reaction to the baby who died from pertussis there). Pertussis is more than a week of cough, it can last for weeks. Sure the severity of the cough goes down — but what parent would stand by while a child has such a severe cough that could cause loss of oxygen, or could break a rib?

    And how does she really know her kids got measles? There are other milder illnesses that cause rashes, including fifth’s disease. Before my kids got chicken pox, my older son had a rash that I thought was chicken pox. One of the times he was hospitalized with croup, he had the rash and even the hospital staff took chicken pox precautions with him (he got it for real two years later).

    I noticed she did not mention rotavirus. Almost every kid gets rotavirus. It landed one of my kids in the hospital. And to make it worse, I got it. Talk about a need for herd immunity! Why would you not want to prevent a week of horrible leaky diapers and the possibility of dehydration, and the very real possibility of getting it yourself while dealing with the rivers of diarrhea?

    Does she also expect her children to do well if they get tetanus, something there is no herd immunity for?

  22. #22 Bree Hill
    June 9, 2009

    Immunizations or not, I have a great tip. I tried this innovative program with my kids called Germy Wormy Germ Smart. It helped even my 3 year old understand how germs spread and how to NOT spread germs. It was so much fun, and it was amazing how quickly they learned healthier hygiene habits!

  23. #23 Avrom Roy-Faderman
    June 9, 2009

    I actually don’t think you emphasize the following nearly enough: “If too few members of the herd are vaccinated, even some of those who have born the costs of being vaccinated, or who would bear those costs were they able (owing to their age or health or access to medical care), may miss out on the benefit. Too many free-riders can spoil things even for those who are paying their fair share.”

    This is actually really important, because lots of vaccines aren’t actually all that effective on a per-case basis (e.g., the polio vaccine only provides about 99% protection vs polio–and a one in a hundred chance of getting polio is pretty horrible). The reason these vaccines have worked so well to nearly eliminate the diseases they’re vaccines for is that nearly everyone has taken them: 99% protection for you, plus 99% less chance of exposure because all your friends have taken it too, means an overall risk reduction of 99.99%–*per potential transmission*; after 3 or 4 “generations” of the disease, protection is more or less perfect.

    But if lots of people, say, opt out of the polio vaccine, that could trigger a polio epidemic–which would mean that even if you *are* vaccinated, you still run a (small, but big enough to be really scary) risk of getting it.

    Vaccine free-riders aren’t just taking advantage of the rest of us; they’re making the rest of us run a substantially higher risk of getting sick.

  24. #24 llewelly
    June 9, 2009

    I reject the premise of the health of a human “herd” being the reason behind vaccination at all.

    “Herd immunity” is an inescapable consequence of the fact that these diseases are (a) spread primarily by human-to-human contact, and (b) reproduce primarily (or entirely) within humans. In other words – when you ‘reject the premise of the health of a humans “heard”‘, you implicitly reject the germ theory of disease, and you may as well apply for membership in the Flat Earth Society.

  25. #25 Michael
    June 9, 2009

    Clearly the cost/benefit calculation skews lower for Polio, but the risks of contracting Measles are slight. Healthy American children with good nutrition are far more likely to survive the disease than residents of poorer countries. The salient fact is that there is no law that one could devise that would make it a crime for me to protect my children. It is all well and good to act smug at the foolish and ignorant fools who would deny their children vaccines, but my own understanding of all the issues is my business, and in our constitutional republic eschewing the imposition of these vaccines in my children or myself is one of the few freedoms we still have left. I never take new drugs unless and until one of two things happens. One, decades pass and their safety is proven, or two, I have a severe acute condition and the risks even out. Few vaccines have been around long enough, IMHO. I did take the Salk Polio vaccine, since my father had contracted the disease and the risks were clear to me and mine. You see? A free man has the perfect right to assess the risks and make a decision. Groupthink is a powerful substitute for thought, thus the herd will always follow directions.

    Thank goodness so many of you are willing to take these vaccines (that should be considered experimental) so that I can be safe. I rather feel that those in the medical profession who prescribe or take antibiotics freely are making our biosphere more dangerous without any consequence to themselves, by encouraging the development of resistant strains. Sort of the opposite problem, no? But a problem of selfish action, instead of selfish refusal to act. Medical professionals should know better, yet the problem persists.

  26. #26 isles
    June 9, 2009

    Thank you, Dr. Free-Ride. It’s not okay that people purposely put their own children at risk of vaccine-preventable diseases; it’s REALLY not okay that they elevate the risks for mine.

  27. #27 Shay
    June 9, 2009

    “So far my kids have had chickenpox, pertussis, and measles.”

    I never had pertussis, but I had chickenpox and measles because at the time there was no vaccination for them. Had I ever found out my parents had deliberately and unnecessarily inflicted that misery on me, I would have taken an axe-handle to them.

    As I hope Jennifer’s kids do to her when they’re old enough to realize what she did to them.

  28. #28 Sokratis
    June 9, 2009

    I agree and admire the simple (not simplistic) analysis of this post. Having read the comments, I want to say that “free riders” of herd immunity share all the characteristics of other free riders.
    If you disagree with public transportation and could be able to opt out of paying (taxes) and using public transportation, you would still enjoy the positive effects. Should you then be excluded from enjoying less congestion, less energy consumption or less pollution? Thus, a special tax should be paid by those who decide not to pay the taxes connected with the building of a public transportation system!
    Generally, freedom is not refusing you are a member of society. Even if you lived in complete isolation you would be a member of the human kind. Aristotle said that man is a social animal. Freedom is non-sense, if you think you can live in complete isolation; you can’t.

  29. #29 ScienceWoman
    June 9, 2009

    Excellent post, Janet! Should be required reading for parents in the pediatrician’s waiting room.

  30. #30 Sabio
    June 9, 2009

    Is there a more nuanced view of vaccines or does it have to be a love-it-or-leave-it mentality?

  31. #31 D. C. Sessions
    June 9, 2009

    Does she also expect her children to do well if they get tetanus, something there is no herd immunity for?

    Cognitive dissonance kicks in.

    Basically, the ones who have decided that Vaccines are Bad then end up having to butress their position by:
    a) denying that the diseases are all that bad [1],
    b) claiming that the diseases are gone, and
    c) denying that the vaccines work anyway.

    In that context, Our Hostess’ analysis doesn’t apply because it’s predicated on factual assumptions that the denialists don’t accept. IMHO, that’s why they end up inventing their own facts: to avoid the conclusion that Our Hostess reaches.

    [1] Seriously. If you check out suppositories like whale.to you’ll find claims that smallpox was harmless unless the horrible physicians killed the patient and blamed it on smallpox. Then there’s the whole “measles is necessary for proper development of the immune system” fantasy.

  32. #32 David
    June 9, 2009

    excellent post.

    There’s another piece to the ethics jigsaw, besides the asymmetry between the vaccinating and non-vaccinating families you describe so well. Some children are immunosuppressed, and unable to survive the diseases in question. This aspect of the issue provides no benefit to the vaccinating family, but protects the vulnerable members of society. They should vaccinate because it helps others.

  33. #33 Govt. Bureaucrat
    June 9, 2009

    I found a simple herd immunity simulator here…
    http://science.education.nih.gov/Demos/diseases/diseases_2.htm

    It appears to be part of a high school lesson plan called “Protecting the Herd”…
    http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih1/Diseases/guide/activity4-2.htm

  34. #34 Gabbahey
    June 9, 2009

    The people who don’t vaccinate aren’t thinking “Oh, wow, cool! I don’t have to vaccinate and I still get all these benefits!”. They seem to have genuine concerns. Yes, yes, I know that “a whole bunch of MAJOR STUDIES” showed no connection between thimerosal and autism; I’ll get to that in a moment. Whether it causes autism or not, if thimerosal contains mercury, that’s not good! Then again, maybe even mercury isn’t as bad as its made out to be. My father and many others of his generation had no idea mercury was poisonous, and handled it all the time, and most of them don’t seem to show any ill effects from it. Or, maybe it is poison, because, after all, more major studies(!) show that it is.

    What these people are looking for is a fair amount of certainty that vaccinations don’t contain substances like mercury. Personally, I do believe the studies that showed no connection between thimerosal and autism/mercury and autism. But, from what I gather, it’s an accepted fact that thimerosal contains mercury, and even it it doesn’t cause autism, mercury causes other ill effects.

    These studies don’t look for other ill effects from vaccinations besides autism, which could be there. Maybe other studies have been done about this, but I don’t know. To me, the most important question is: can we trust these studies?

    Many, many scientists are employed by the companies that produce the products they are testing, hence they are biased. Don’t think that happens? Watch the documentary “Life Running Out Of Control” (which is about genetically modified food). In that film, a microbiologist, whose name I don’t recall, talks about how he was involved in the early days of genetic modification of plants. He explains how he and other scientists only thought about the potential positive effects of genetic engineering, and how he was happy to be a part of it, making history. Then he looked further into the potential negative effects of genetic modification of plants, and found that there were many. He has since changed his view and now speaks out against genetic engineering. He goes on to explain how only maybe 5% of scientists involved in genetic engineering research are, as he says “truly independent” researchers. The rest are employed by Monsanto and other companies who want to patent and control our food sources. No, they couldn’t be biased, not at all!

    So the real question to resolve this issue is: Who do the people who conducted the studies work for? If they work for the companies that produce the vaccines, then their results can’t be considered credible. In examining modern medicine, we have to remember that doctor’s offices and pharmaceutical are just businesses, and their bottom line is profit. And they don’t make a lot of profit from healthy people.

    I can already sense all the M.D.s and such ready to flame me for suggesting such a thing. But that’s ok. We can just ignore the fact that Baxter released flu vaccine “accidentally” contaminated with live H5N1 avian flu virus (link: http://www.torontosun.com/news/canada/2009/02/27/8560781.html). We can forget that this incident happened just before the outbreak of the so-called “swine flu”, which, according to Dr. Leonard Horowitz, was undeniably created in a lab and purposefully released.

    The above information is what vaccine deniers are concerned about, not the ethical implications.

  35. #35 rkdemay
    June 9, 2009

    Sabio, your article is thoughtful, reasonable and, I believe, not likely to engender a great deal of argument. That is, in part, because no one is proposing making vaccination mandatory (at least, not in this thread).

    The rights and roles of dissenters are not in question. Just their arguments, and the implications of those arguments. Concluding that anti-vaccinators are getting a free ride does not equal proposing any sort of enforcement abrogating their right to do so.

    Our society, and the nature of social contract theory encompasses extending benefits to those who cannot or will not contribute to the creation of those benefits. The threshold of that tolerance is decided on a case-by-case basis. This can be easily illustrated looking at seat belt and motorcycle helmet laws as broken down, historically, by state.

    There is, however, nothing in that toleration which exempts the reasoning of dissenters from facing the rigorous scrutiny of the majority and, where it fails to withstand such, being held up as faulty. That’s not the tyranny of the majority. That’s another of the benefits of living in a free society. Quality checking!

  36. #36 Sid Offit
    June 9, 2009

    @Dr. Free-Ride

    I don’t risk my child’s health to remove all risk from the lives of others. Numerous painful injections, three hours of non-stop high pitched crying, projectile vomiting and exposure to 100x the EPA’s limit on mercury is a price I have no intention on paying to “protect” your precious herd. If you want to lap up all the vaccine Merck can produce that’s fine. And if I receive some benefit from your actions I have no problem with that.

  37. #37 Sid Offit
    June 9, 2009

    Is this thing on?

  38. #38 HCN
    June 9, 2009

    Michael said “learly the cost/benefit calculation skews lower for Polio, but the risks of contracting Measles are slight. Healthy American children with good nutrition are far more likely to survive the disease than residents of poorer countries.”

    The reason that measles is low in the USA is due to high vaccination rates.

    While it is true that health American children are more likely to survive measles, the rate of death to case for measles is still at least one in a thousand (versus about one in ten in developing countries). If you look at the tables in http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/appdx-full-g.pdf you will find that measles is not a happy fun disease.

    I took some of the numbers and created a file with some of the numbers about fifty years apart:
    Measles:
    Year_Cases_Deaths__Year___Cases____Deaths
    2000____86___ 1____1950__319124____468
    2001___116___ 1____1951__530118____683
    2002____44___ 0____1952__683077____618
    2003____56___ 1____1953__449146____462
    2004____37___ NA___1954__682720____518
    2005____66___ NA___1955__555156____345
    2006____55___ NA___1956__611936____530
    Total__460___3 or more__3831277___3624

    The rate of death per case for measles was and is still one in a thousand. Plus there is a significant number of that thousand that come out with permanent disability.

    Plus, since Japan has stopped vaccinating for mumps, mumps is now endemic there. A recent office showed that mumps causes deafness in about one in a thousand cases:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19209100

    There has been a safe vaccine since 1971 to prevent both of those diseases, along with rubella which caused a significant increase in deafness, blindness, mental retardation and stillbirths during an epidemic in the early 1960s… it is called the MMR.

    My question, is why do you think that a real one in a thousand risk of disability or death is acceptable?

  39. #39 D. C. Sessions
    June 9, 2009

    Whether it causes autism or not, if thimerosal contains mercury, that’s not good!

    Breast milk contains mercury.

    What these people are looking for is a fair amount of certainty that vaccinations don’t contain substances like mercury.

    And if not mercury, then some chemical name with “ether” somewhere in it, or with “ethylene glycol” somewhere in it, or (horrors!) viruses in it.

    Any excuse will do.

    These studies don’t look for other ill effects from vaccinations besides autism, which could be there.

    There are an infinite number of “maybes” available if you’re looking for something not yet ruled out.

    Maybe other studies have been done about this, but I don’t know. To me, the most important question is: can we trust these studies?

    That depends on whether they agree with you.

    So the real question to resolve this issue is: Who do the people who conducted the studies work for? If they work for the companies that produce the vaccines, then their results can’t be considered credible.

    Or of course, if they work for the government since we know that the government is in the pocket of Big Pharma. Academic researchers are also funded — if not by BigPharma, then by the government (which is the same thing) or by their universities, which of course are also funded by Big Pharma and the Government, or by private foundations which are fronts for Big Pharma.

    In fact, it seems that every single researcher in medicine is directly or indirectly funded by Big Pharma, so you can’t trust any of them. Your only hope is the Brave Maverick Doctor, such as Mark Geier or Andrew Wakefield.

  40. #40 Lilia Lyssak
    June 9, 2009

    When I was younger I almost died from a vaccine. There can be certain components within vaccines that can harm people do to certain serve allergic reaction! Look at the Gardsil Vaccine over 20 girls have died from it. Vaccines should go green and the harmful components like Mercury should be take out!

  41. #41 Michael
    June 9, 2009

    HCN, that is an easy one. We have decades of research and the one in one thousand risk of death is well established. That most likely includes the deaths of weaker individuals who might well succumb to another disease if prevented from ever getting Measles. That risk is reasonable, when compared to the unknown risk undertaken by being injected with a melange of virus particles and God knows what else. Americans are a strange breed, combining the liberty of the individual with the herd impulse of humanity. I am amused to see so many erudite American posters in this thread who pretend to not understand that you are all willingly participating in a massive medical and social experiment, and then clucking knowingly at those who choose to make their own choices.

    So sorry, but you guys can experiment on your children alone. I will continue to make my own independent decisions on health matters. When I was in the Army they said that “studies” had determined that Agent Orange was good for us. Many of my comrades found out that these “studies” were wrong. Now Big Pharma shows us “studies” that show all the wonderful benefits to taking their pricey vaccines, and I for one will be very careful before believing them.

    It must be wonderful to be so superior and smart, but idiots like me are very glad that no academic can mandate the imposition of vaccine injections on me and mine – yet.

  42. #42 Frank
    June 9, 2009

    Well, if they don’t vaccinate against mumps, and late-onset mumps can cause sterility, perhaps we can hope that the problem of free-riders will cure itself in a few generations? ;}

    On a more serious note: It’s interesting that the anti-vaccine crowd is repeating arguments that were used by anti-smallpoxers in the 18th century (e.g., that “natural immunity” is somehow superior to vaccination, or earlier innoculation). Some of Benjamin Franklin’s most poignant writing is about the death of his son from smallpox, after he decided against innoculation.

    And what will the freeriders blame when their non-vaccinated child dies of a preventable disease, or gets autism?

  43. #43 D. C. Sessions
    June 9, 2009

    Look at the Gardsil Vaccine over 20 girls have died from it.

    Your “over 20 girls” includes several who were passengers in auto accidents. Pardon me if I don’t consider this terribly persuasive.

  44. #44 Pablo
    June 9, 2009

    Frank asks

    And what will the freeriders blame when their non-vaccinated child dies of a preventable disease, or gets autism?

    According to the link below, apparently it will still be mercury (apparently leeching into breastmild from mom’s amalgam fillings) or maybe fluoride.

    CAUTION: Reading the discussion in this link can be dangerous to your desk due to all the pounding on it you will do with your head; remember, these people are SERIOUS. You’ve been warned.

    http://www.mothering.com/discussions/showthread.php?t=1077468

  45. #45 Jim
    June 9, 2009

    Just a note about the Big Pharma comments… Big Pharma hates vaccines. They are cheap, compared to drug treatments. You take them a handful of times in you life, and if the whole population is vaccinated, you do not get the disease.

    Big Pharma loves pills – taken 4+ times a day to combat symptoms and not cure the disease. Academic scientists are working on a vaccine for HIV, while “Big Pharma” is making a new anti-viral drug cocktail for you to take the rest of your life.

    You are right to question the motive of “Big Pharma”, like any industry. But the big money is not in vaccines.

  46. #46 D. C. Sessions
    June 9, 2009

    Look at the Gardsil Vaccine over 20 girls have died from it.

    Your “over 20 girls” includes several who were passengers in auto accidents. Pardon me if I don’t consider this terribly persuasive.

  47. #47 HCN
    June 9, 2009

    Lilia Lyssak said “Look at the Gardsil Vaccine over 20 girls have died from it.”

    …Out of over 23 million doses given, and many turned out not to be associated with the vaccine (like pre-existing cardiac conditions and a drug overdose). From: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/recs/acip/downloads/mtg-slides-oct08/12-3-hpv.pdf … “As of December 31, 2008, there have been 32 U.S. reports of death among females who have received the vaccine. There was no common pattern to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine”

    Michael said “That most likely includes the deaths of weaker individuals who might well succumb to another disease if prevented from ever getting Measles. That risk is reasonable, when compared to the unknown risk undertaken by being injected with a melange of virus particles and God knows what else.”

    You are both evil and incredibly stupid. The risk from the MMR is well known, and it is in the one in several millions for adverse side effect. Look at each one of your children and tell me truthfully which one you would sacrifice to a disease. Which one will it be? The oldest? Or perhaps the little girl, because boys are better? Or how about the one who is getting the lowest marks in school? Perhaps the one who will need the most orthodontia?

    If one of them ended up in the hospital hooked to equipment that helped them breathe, would you seriously pull the plug and let them suffocate because they were too weak to fight off the pneumonia from measles, or pertussis, or diphtheria or Hib?

    Tell the truth.

    Go up and read both of the studies I posted, the one on the causes of mental retardation and the other on costs. Try to get it through your skull that death is not the only bad consequence, and disability is a higher probability than death.

    Now I want you to read this article (with comprehension), and explain to me very very carefully why they deserved their fate:
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1055533.ece

  48. #48 Hap
    June 9, 2009

    1) I think you mean “idiots like you” are secure because other people are vaccinating their children. Hence the free-rider problem – the risks of vaccination don’t exceed the benefits because you get the benefits anyway. However, if enough people cease vaccinating, the benefits cease (while imposing other varieties of costs on society). You have your freedom not because it was given to humanity but because it was earned, at least in part through the efforts of people who helped to make society safer and life longer and less brutal. We are free (well, as much as we are so) because others have made it safe to be so. When the safety disappears (something that free-riding vaccinations will play a part in bringing about), I don’t believe your freedoms to choose much of anything else will long persist.

    2) So, pharmaceutical companies, governments, and academics can be wrong (and, at least in some cases, wrong for their own benefit), so they shouldn’t be trusted. (I wonder how that standard would work for the rest of life – if you’re wrong, you can be ignored. I have a feeling that that would be an unpopular principle for you if your children applied it.) That’s why there’s the whole concept of evidence – I don’t have to trust them necessarily, because the presence of evidence allows one to decide matters (at least partly) independently of authority. In many cases (such as in my last argument with an antivax person) the data that people use to argue against vaccination is provided by the people they claim loudly your mistrust for. If the data is accurate, then your cost-benefit analysis is fatally flawed. If it is not, then you must have some other source of data to show that the other data is unreliable and which gives more useful answers. In the absence of such data, I am trying to figure why I ought to consider Andrew Wakefield and ilk more reliable as a source of trustworthy data than the pharma industry, doctors, and the government.

  49. #49 Tsu Dho Nimh
    June 9, 2009

    @ 39 – Lisa says “Look at the Gardsil Vaccine over 20 girls have died from it.”

    Of the 20 cases that the CDC was able to follow (many VAERS reports are pure rumors, duplicates or don’t give enough information to find a patient for followup)

    2 of the deaths were from drug overdoses.
    2 were from heart problems in women with a previous history of heart problems.
    1 was from a seizure, in a woman with a history of seizures.
    1 was from diabetic ketoacidosis (diabetic coma).
    3 were from various viral illnesses.
    1 was reported as Gardasil-related even though it was 288 days after the vaccine.

    I’m looking for the data on the others, but it takes time to wade through the VAERS crap.

    The most dangerous part of the vaccine is fainting and hitting your head – like happens often with the yellow fever vaccine. That’s easy to prevent by sitting down for 15-30 minutes after the shot.

  50. #50 Tsu Dho Nimh
    June 9, 2009

    @41 Benjamin Franklin wanted to vaccinate his son (it was variolation with live smallpox vaccination in 1736) but was unable to do so because Franky was suffering from diarrhoea.

  51. #51 Adrienne
    June 9, 2009

    Doctors and Big Pharma make much MUCH more money off of people with full-blown diseases than they do off of vaccines. Think about it, which costs more: vaccine vs. hospitalization due to severe illness vs. courses of antibiotics and other drug treatments to control disease symptoms.

  52. #52 Pat Cahalan
    June 9, 2009

    @ rkdemay

    > That is, in part, because no one is
    > proposing making vaccination mandatory
    > (at least, not in this thread).

    You mentioned this over at Orac’s place, so I thought I’d point you to this thread:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/06/03/should-vaccines-be-compulsory/

    We’re going around the maypole over at Phil’s on just this topic.

  53. #53 Gabbahey
    June 9, 2009

    D.C. Sessions and Jim, you both make very good points. Perhaps the comparison I made to the microbiologist in the film “Life Running Out Of Control” is not a good one. The genetic engineering field is not the same as the medical field. I didn’t mean to imply that all such researchers are not to be trusted, but rather question the intentions of some “Big Pharma” as Jim said.

    I am not anti-vaccine. But it does seem odd to me that Baxter made such a mistake not long before the swine flu outbreak. even if there were a vaccine for that variant, it seems pharma companies wouldn’t stand to make a lot of money from it, but what about all the Tamaflu they sold? Probably no small sum there. I am not saying that this incident was certainly planned, there isn’t evidence to support that. But it did seem odd to me. We might never know the truth behind that.

    Another thought: If we could achieve a herd immunity with flu vaccinations, would it be possible to see it almost completely gone? Or at least, have only very small, easily managable outbreaks? Is that even possible given that (at least to my knowledge) current flu vaccines aren’t effective for nearly as long as others like MMR?

  54. #54 Pat Cahalan
    June 9, 2009

    > I am not saying that this incident was
    > certainly planned, there isn’t evidence
    > to support that. But it did seem odd to
    > me.

    Illicit minor.

    Why does this seem odd to you? What is your justification for terming it, “odd”… other than a rhetorical device to suggest something that you have no rational basis to assume is true?

    Alluding to an allegation is a very common rhetorical device, and it’s the first refuge of a bad argument. See last night’s Daily Show for a humorous example… “I’m not saying your mother’s a whore… I’m just saying she has money.”

    > We might never know the truth behind that.

    We most likely won’t know the truth about many things. This doesn’t imply that a conspiracy is a reasonable default assumption.

  55. #55 Pat Cahalan
    June 9, 2009

    @ Sid

    > I don’t risk my child’s health to remove
    > all risk from the lives of others.

    Er; this is a false dichotomy. Made all the more false by the fact that the primary benefactor of a vaccine is the person taking the injection.

    > Numerous painful injections, three hours
    > of non-stop high pitched crying, projectile
    > vomiting

    Life is hard. I have two kids. They’ve both had similar symptoms from disease, eating tainted food, hurting themselves learning how to ride a bike… I can go on. If you’re afraid of watching your child in pain, you really picked the wrong job… parenting is tough.

    > and exposure to 100x the EPA’s limit on
    > mercury

    Please read: http://factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.html

    Lots of good references on mercury, the EPA, and why the 100x figure is not correct.

    > is a price I have no intention on
    > paying to “protect” your precious herd.

    Considering you’re part of the herd, it seems odd for you to regard it so pejoratively.

    > And if I receive some benefit from your
    > actions I have no problem with that.

    You seem to. You see, you’re admitting that you’re a free rider (you seem to be relishing in this fact)… and yet you feel compelled to come and justify yourself anyway. Why? If you “have no problem with that”?

  56. #56 gwen
    June 9, 2009

    “20 women died after receiving the HPV vaccine”. There is NO proof that they died FROM the HPV. There is continuing investigation to find out WHAT they died from–correlation is NOT causation. If I received a vaccination, then was hit and killed by a car crossing the street, the vaccination did not kill me, but I am still dead—get it…no connection there, just coincidence!
    The anti vaxers are draining valuable resources from autism research as scientist are forced again and again to debunk the lies of Andrew Wakefield et al and the misinformation spread by the well meaning air heads such as a playboy centerfold and talk show host. For the life of me, I have no idea why you will believe that scientist will make your cars stop when you apply the brakes, the airplane fly, surgery to remove your appendix, but will listen to uneducated idiots when it comes to vaccination.
    Meanwhile, as a health care professional, I have had to care for the ‘collateral damage’ of the antivaxers, children to young to be vaccinated dying of preventable diseases given to them by people who have made the decision not to vaccinate their children. I really wish that some of these parent would sue the pants off those parents. We need a MAD organization to fight the parents who do not vaccinate and their decisions kill someone elses child.

  57. #57 HCN
    June 10, 2009

    Excuse me, but I am still bugged by Michael thinking that death from vaccine preventable diseases at a rate of one in a thousand cases is okay-dokay.

    Michael, a few days ago a doctor posted this on Orac’s blog:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/06/orac_gets_comments_dr_jay_tries_the_phar.php#comment-1686907

    He says “I also happen to have just gotten back from the rehab hospital where one of my very real and formerly normal patients was taken down by strep pneumo meningitis (you know, one of those vaccine-preventable diseases)..snip…I’d like to see him look into the eyes of this family whose child is now completely deaf and is reduced to an infantile state with no guarantee of recovery ..snip..”

    Now, why do you want to wish that on any family?

  58. #58 Rogue Medic
    June 10, 2009

    Being a libertarian does not mean being irresponsible and creating hazards for your neighbors. That is anarchy.

    These clowns would have been the ones complaining about public sanitation a century or two ago. Why should I pay any attention to where I dispose of my feces? These diseases people get are from miasma. Only the weaker lower classes get sick, because disease doesn’t affect healthy people.

    They did not understand the germ theory of disease then. Their philosophical heirs, those who prefer to endanger their neighbors to satisfy their delusions, continue to be immune to science and ethics.

    Taking new medications is significantly more risky than taking the generic medications. Waiting decades after approval is taking things to a silly extreme. That is what the anti-science, anti-vaccine movement thrives on – silly extremes. If a little is good, mote is better, and if more is better, then too much is not enough.

    Not vaccinating because you don’t take any new medications, is not a logical argument. The same is true for the tiny amount of chemicals in the vaccines. There is a saying in toxicology that is very true. The dose makes the poison. This means that a dose that is too small to have any effect is also too small to be toxic. People who do not understand toxicology should not be throwing tantrums over chemical names they do not understand. Being paranoid is not a gift.

    The ones experimenting on their children are the vaccine denialists. The ones sacrificing their own children are the prodisease movement. The ones selling people out for money are Generation Revenue and other frauds.

    The free riders are no different from those who want to send others overseas to fight America’s wars, but hide from any real sacrifice for the freedoms so many died to provide. They are the ones who talk big, but run away faster. Always willing to hide behind someone else. Weak.

  59. #59 Brian Miller
    June 10, 2009

    I’m appalled at the display of disrespect and self-righteousness by the heads of the herd. Anti-vaxers, free-riders…call us what you want, but we’re taking no more of a chance than you are.

    Pharma doesn’t make much money off of vaccines?

    http://www.fiercebiotech.com/story/glaxo-makes-34m-leap-chinese-vaccine-market/2009-06-09 Morons.

    http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/stories/2009/06/01/daily63.html Morons.

    “A friend of mine once said antivax-ers are like libertarians in that they want to take from the public pool without giving back. :-)” True libertarians don’t send their kids to public schools, Moron.

    http://www.examiner.com/x-6258-Huntsville-Natural-Parenting-Examiner~y2009m6d9-Vaccine-safety-issues-spur-rise-in-vaccine-refusal-rates

    “Before the internet, most American families did not have access to information about vaccine safety at their fingertips. Today, the demographics of vaccine refusing parents are mostly highly educated, white families.”

    http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/supremes-ask-obama-view-vaccine-case/2009-06-09

    Just how far does the vaccine shield law go? The U.S. Supreme Court wants to know. It’s eyeing a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that allowed a liability suit over vaccines made by Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline. The drugmakers want the Supremes to review that ruling; in their view, the 1986 vaccine shield law should have precluded the suit. But the Georgia high court said the 1986 law, while protecting vaccine makers from frivolous suits, doesn’t prevent claims that they should have used a safer vaccine formula.

    The companies argue in their appeal that the Georgia court ruling “threatens public health by inviting a litigation deluge even bigger than the one that spurred Congress to urgent action in 1986,” Bloomberg reports. Wyeth and Glaxo argue that vaccine makers already face 350 lawsuits over their shots; meanwhile, almost 5,000 families with autistic children have filed claims for compensation from a $2.5 billion government fund for those injured by vaccines.

  60. #60 Brian Miller
    June 10, 2009

    And before you go judging me any more than you already have, my son who is now 16 got his vaccinations (he had to have them to get into his public school) and he still came down with whooping cough. He also had a severe case of pneumonia (I know there is not a vaccine for that) and has had bronchitis and strep throat. He has come out of all of it OK. My toddler, however, has not had and will not get vaccinated, and she will be taught at home. If you do not believe there are very likely long-term and quite obviously short-term, very real and very possible side-effects of today’s vaccines that are pushed by both government, big pharma and its lobbies then that is your own sheep mentality issue to deal with. Don’t blame me.

  61. #61 Deb
    June 10, 2009

    Thank you for coming out and saying this. The selfish parents who are so scared of side-effects but can’t even count the numbers and have never had to look at the real effects of the diseases.

  62. #62 Pablo
    June 10, 2009

    Big Pharma loves pills – taken 4+ times a day to combat symptoms and not cure the disease. Academic scientists are working on a vaccine for HIV, while “Big Pharma” is making a new anti-viral drug cocktail for you to take the rest of your life.

    I have recently started taking fish oil supplements (on advice from the doctor). 4 pills a day. Big Supple loves me.

  63. #63 Sid Offit
    June 10, 2009

    @Pat

    Life is hard. I have two kids. They’ve both had similar symptoms from disease, eating tainted food, hurting themselves learning how to ride a bike

    Er, there’s a difference between teaching them how to ride a bike and pushing them into a bush while there doing it

    As to the ridiculous “kids got the safe mercury” argument based on the Pichichero study, mercury’s departure from the blood is quite different from its departure from the body

    According to the EPA (and common sense):
    All forms of mercury are quite toxic
    http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/mercury.html

    And finally it laughable that you see ilovemercury.com’s assertion that ethylmercury was never studied before it was injected into children as reassuring.

  64. #64 Pat Cahalan
    June 10, 2009

    @ Sid

    > Er, there’s a difference between teaching
    > them how to ride a bike and pushing them
    > into a bush while there doing it

    Absolutely. Why is this relevant? You’re confusing possibilities with probabilities. Let us assume that every case submitted to the VAERS database is directly attributable to vaccinations (which is on the face of it an utterly absurd claim, but work with me here for a second). The probability that your child will be harmed by a vaccination, given the number of vaccinations given in a year, is laughably small in comparison to your child’s probability of being harmed by a communicable disease.

    Note, of course, that in your particular case this may not apply. If you home school, don’t frequent public parks, don’t visit doctor’s offices, and wear an NBC suit out in public you’ve corrected for that difference using another method. I’ll hazard a guess you don’t do those things, but that is admittedly an assumption on my part.

    > According to the EPA (and common sense) All forms
    > of mercury are quite toxic.

    Certainly. Also according to the EPA (and the CDC, and the NIH), the amount of mercury in vaccinations is not a health risk. You cannot accept an organization as an expert reference without accepting that organization as an expert witness. So which is it? Is the EPA trustworthy, or not? If not, why are you citing them? If so, why are you claiming that vaccinations pose a risk?

    > And finally it laughable that you see
    > ilovemercury.com’s assertion that
    > ethylmercury was never studied before
    > it was injected into children as reassuring.

    I don’t understand the reference to “ilovemercury.com”, but that’s not particularly germane.

    We still study the effect that *water* has when it is consumed, but people still drink it all the time, and did before we had science… or spoken language, for that matter.

    Before somebody should spend money studying something, they need to have some reasonable cause to suspect that studying that something is worthwhile. Unless there is a reason to reasonably suspect that the amount of any substance represents a toxic threat, studying it is a waste of money.

    When (in 1999) it was proposed that the amount of ethylmercury available during the course of vaccinations might represent a threat (as opposed to a single dose, which was never above toxicity levels), it was studied appropriately. http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/topics/thiomersal/statement_jul2006/en/index.html

  65. #65 Pat Cahalan
    June 10, 2009

    @ Brian Miller

    Regarding Glaxo’s $34 million dollar entry into the Chinese vaccination market, you realize that the supplement market, which is not required to perform FDA tests to prove the efficacy of its products, represents a worldwide $68 billion (with a “b”) market, right? (http://www.glgroup.com/News/Overview-of-the-Nutritional-Supplements-Market-20182.html).

    So… how is a market whose overall value is .05% of a comparable market qualify as “a lot”? You realize that Glaxo could be making multiple orders of magnitude *more* money in a market other than vaccines?

    $34 million dollars sounds like a lot; in the context of the world health market it’s barely enough to qualify as statistically *interesting*.

  66. #66 Chris
    June 10, 2009

    Sid, your EPA link has nothing on ethyl mercury.

  67. #67 Sid Offit
    June 10, 2009

    @Pat

    ilovemercury.com = factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.

    I found the fantasy part but are the facts on a different site?

    Anyway, you state:

    Let us assume that every case submitted to the VAERS database is directly attributable to vaccinations (which is on the face of it an utterly absurd claim, but work with me here for a second).

    No, lets assume underreporting is massive under VAERS. Heck lets not assume lets see what the Institute for Vaccine Safety has to say

    Underreporting is an inherent problem of passive surveillance systems, including VAERS. The degree of underreporting varies according to the adverse event. For example, one study estimated that 68% of cases of vaccine-associated polio are reported to VAERS, but only 4% of MMR-associated thrombocytopenia are reported. This variability in undereporting can make it hazardous to assume that the relative frequencies of adverse events in VAERS reflect their relative rates of occurrence

    http://www.vaccinesafety.edu/VAERS.htm

    also:

    One study found that the completeness of reporting varies widely, from 68% reporting efficiency for vaccine-associated polio to less than 1% for rash following MMR vaccine.

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=17712091

  68. #68 Sid Offit
    June 10, 2009

    @Pat

    No money in vaccines???

    The Worldwide Market for Vaccines to reach US$50.7 billion in 2013, forecasts New Report

    http://www.prlog.org/10232681-the-worldwide-market-for-vaccines-to-reach-us507-billion-in-2013-forecasts-new-report.html

  69. #69 Sid Offit
    June 11, 2009

    @Pat

    Before somebody should spend money studying something, they need to have some reasonable cause to suspect that studying that something is worthwhile. Unless there is a reason to reasonably suspect that the amount of any substance represents a toxic threat, studying it is a waste of money.

    I think I’ve found a reason:

    ALL FORMS OF MERCURY ARE QUITE TOXIC!!!
    http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/mercury.html

    Also:

    Limited data on toxicity from low-dose exposures to ethylmercury are available, but toxicity may be similar to that of methylmercury

    …and this was after the 1st Pichichero / mercury half-life “study”

  70. #70 Chris
    June 11, 2009

    Sid wrote “ALL FORMS OF MERCURY ARE QUITE TOXIC!!!”

    Is methylmercury as toxic as dimethylmercury?

    Does the dose matter?

    Is chlorine toxic in all its forms? Like when combined with sodium?

  71. #71 Brendan
    June 11, 2009

    @51 Gabbahey wrote:

    “If we could achieve a herd immunity with flu vaccinations, would it be possible to see it almost completely gone? Or at least, have only very small, easily managable outbreaks? Is that even possible given that (at least to my knowledge) current flu vaccines aren’t effective for nearly as long as others like MMR?”

    Actually, the influenza virus is really promiscuous and mutates often and easily. The flu shot (which changes yearly) combats the most common strains with the idea that the fewer people carrying the virus, the less likely it is that multiple strains will mingle to form a superflu that will cause a pandemic. See John Barry’s last couple chapters in _The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History_ for an easy-to-digest discussion of the problems in coming up with a permanent flu vaccine.

  72. #72 Chris
    June 11, 2009

    Of course, mercury is really a non-issue.

    It has been removed from all standard pediatric vaccines. It was removed earlier in other countries, and yet the levels of autism diagnosis still increased.

    The biggest bad guy vaccine is supposed to be the MMR. Which upon further study reveals that it has been around in 1971 (only really introduced in the UK with the Urabe mumps strain in 1988, and switched to the American version with the Jeryl Lynn strain in 1992), and has never contained thimerosal (or the new “bad guy” aluminum salts).

    Sneaking over to ScienceBasedMedicine, we encounter a new term: “Manufactroversy”.

  73. #73 Pat Cahalan
    June 11, 2009

    @ Sid

    You’re doing it again.

    If Johns Hopkins is a credible authority on vaccinations, they’re a credible authority on vaccinations. You can’t point to the Johns Hopkins website to make a point about VAERS, and then turn around and ignore the volumes of data *on the same site* about vaccine safety. Homie don’t play that. If you’re going to state that Johns Hopkins isn’t a credible authority on vaccinations, I’m going to state that you aren’t allowed to cite that site for any purpose, whatsoever. You’re also not allowed to cite any site that cites Johns Hopkins. Now go find me another medical research organization that makes the same claim about VAERS, and I’ll accept your evidence.

    You might want to check and see what they say about vaccinations, while you’re at it, or we’ll just go back ’round this maypole.

    I’ll note, you didn’t concede the point about the EPA.

    Also, while underreporting is a problem with passive systems, you’ll note that the staggering majority of cases that are included in the VAERS database have nothing to do with vaccine related damage. So, while you can easily reject my proposal, I reject yours. Under reporting to VAERS is not the same as under reporting vaccination side effects, since VAERS includes non-side effect reports. You have no grounds to state anything about VAERS, therefore, without further evidence.

    > No money in vaccines???

    I obviously did not say that. Are you unhinged? I pointed out that unregulated “natural” remedies and supplements are a market that is *2,000 times larger* than the vaccination market, as it currently stands.

    If Big Pharma is inherently evil and out to profit off of misery as you seem to believe, they’re also categorically the stupidest collection of evil overlords in recorded history.

    Even assuming they could, without detection, why would they *bother* to spend money suborning the CDC, the NIH, and the medical research community when they can simply start producing products that don’t fall under the regulatory oversight… especially when they stand to make thousands of times the profit? Care to explain?

  74. #74 Avrom Roy-Faderman
    June 11, 2009

    @Brendan

    Yeah, but we may be getting there anyway:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124185522.htm

    I mean, just because a vaccine passes phase I doesn’t mean much, but the theory behind it is pretty promising.

  75. #75 Sokratis
    June 11, 2009

    On toxicity: EVERYTHING is toxic. Inject yourself with a 50g vitamin C solution. There will be not enough time to get to hospital for dialysis.
    Go on eating oranges as if you didn’t know the risks!
    Big Orange pushes orange juice in the street whithout caring about the overdose risk small children are exposed to.
    Chrome, copper, gold, iron, etc. are part of a balanced diet. And they are extremely toxic. Anyone cares for “healty” nuts?

  76. #76 Brian Miller
    June 11, 2009

    @ Pat

    Well, if that’s all you got out of everything i posted – trying to convince me that Big Pharma doesn’t make much money off of vaccines – then I guess I made my point.

  77. #77 D. C. Sessions
    June 11, 2009

    Chrome, copper, gold, iron, etc. are part of a balanced diet. And they are extremely toxic. Anyone cares for “healty” nuts?

    Iron in particular. It’s the #1 cause of heavy metal poisoning fatalities, by a margin that’s so wide that #2 isn’t even on the same lap.

    Damn stuff, and anything containing it, should be banned.

  78. #78 Pat Cahalan
    June 11, 2009

    @ Brian

    I wasn’t responding to your post. Aside from tossing out a couple of references and implicitly calling everyone who doesn’t automatically agree with you a “moron”, I wasn’t really sure *what* your point was.

    What *is* your point, Brian? I can’t tie your links together into a cogent argument.

    So companies that produce vaccinations make money. What does that mean? How is this a sign of evil? Are they supposed to be a non-profit? What are their costs of operation? What’s their actual P/E ratio? Have you analyzed their profit history and found something that isn’t easily explained by existing information?

    Or are you just saying, “Gee, this is a lot of money, they must be corrupt?”

    If that’s what you’re saying, my question is totally apropos. If making a “lot of money” automatically means you’re corrupt, well snookers maybe we should all be communists after all. I mean, *that* actually follows from your premise.

    In order for this to actually *mean* anything, you have to take this somewhere. For example, you could actually write something like this:

    * Vaccination companies make $N off $M in sales.
    * Vaccination companies can reduce $N or maximize $M
    by paying off regulators.
    * The FDA regulators make a pittance.
    * I have a bunch of citations showing cases of FDA
    regulators accepting payoffs.
    * Ergo, we can’t trust these guys.

    You have a lot more legwork to do before your links about Glaxo (or anybody else) making money mean anything.

    Regarding “highly educated, white families”, you might want to include the previous sentence from that article: “There is a significant increase in the number of parents who refuse vaccines, and it is blamed mostly on parents trying to “read up on everything they can.”"

    Note, the article doesn’t say, “scientifically trained” families. We have no idea what “highly educated” means; a college degree in Art or Literature is very worthwhile, but it does not automatically grant you the ability to parse scientific information critically. It also doesn’t say, “blamed mostly on parents who are reading scientific literature”. Do you have any idea how much dreck there is on the Internet? Google “Time Cube” for one stunning example. Since the article actually doesn’t cite any studies, or give any references, we don’t know *where* they’re getting their information from, in any event.

    Since Katie Dinkard, the author of the article, is self-labeled as “Huntsville Natural Parenting Examiner”, don’t you think this might indicate some sort of bias? Have you looked at her overall body of literature? Do you see anything in there that might indicate that she has, you know, a bias against science? From another article:

    “Some Americans think that modern science is God’s gift to man. They assume that just because the FDA has approved a certain treatment, that it will work miracles for them and cure their every ailment.

    Now I do not discount all forms of modern medicine, I just think that people really need to look at what a treatment consists of as well as its possible side effects before submitting themselves to it.”

    Well, there, Ms. Dinkard, that’s a pretty little bit of rhetorical character assassination. She uses “some Americans” and their lack of critical thinking skills to imply that the FDA doesn’t just approve, but *pushes* potentially dangerous treatments on those people. Oh, and of course, anyone who thinks modern science is useful is clearly associated with these uncritical thinkers. She then nicely sets herself up as the oracle of wisdom by saying that people ought to understand the side effects of treatments, without acknowledging that anyone who *is* a critical thinker *and* thinks modern science is useful clearly doesn’t need her powers of wisdom.

    Well, there is actually a very well established practice in medical treatment. It’s called “informed consent”. No doctor who wants to keep their license (not to mention their medical malpractice insurance) is going to sign off on any dangerous treatment without getting a signed informed consent form from the patient.

    So, uh, Ms. Dinkard? The *medical community* agrees with your proposal, and has enshrined it in practice for quite some time.

    Now, if she wants to say that some uncritical Americans will sign off on something without understanding it fully, I agree with that. If she wants to say that medical doctors don’t always have enough psychology training to give *clear* advice to distressed patients, I’ll agree with that, too (although the advice is probably still correct).

    But her article is clearly designed to imply that the FDA (and the medical community) is the bad guys, which is just dishonest.

  79. #79 Pat Cahalan
    June 11, 2009

    In the interests of clearing up an ambiguity, I must correct my post #71:

    > I pointed out that unregulated “natural”
    > remedies and supplements are a market that
    > is *2,000 times larger* than the
    > vaccination market, as it currently stands.

    This actually is bad writing on my part; I’m comparing the worldwide market for natural remedies and supplements to the *Chinese* market for vaccinations as linked in Brian’s post above. The numbers imply something very different than what this paragraph implies :)

    A better and clearer analysis is the worldwide market for natural remedies and supplements to the worldwide market for vaccines.

    Here the numbers are ~$100 billion to ~$10 billion, which is a much different relationship.

    (note: it still implies that the unregulated market for “natural medicinal” products is huge, in comparison to the regulated market for vaccines).

  80. #80 Pat Cahalan
    June 11, 2009

    For more on parental reasons for not vaccinating, here’s a timely analysis – http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rja14/shb09/downs2.pdf, from the Second Interdisciplinary Workshop on Security and Human Behavior, at MIT… going on right now as we blog.

    FTA:
    “Consistent with this perception of incompleteness, many parents reported seeking additional information, often saying that they would use the Internet rather than ask their doctor. Most said that they would use a general search engine rather than consult a medical or official website. Searches using the terms that interviewees offered led to both public health and anti-vaccination sites. Those offering the simplest search terms, who might be the most easily influenced, were most likely to reach anti-vaccination sites.”

    So, Bruce, there’s a possible explanation for “well-educated” parents choosing not to vaccinate. Well-educated parents are more likely to have computers, Internet access, and a knowledge of search engines. However, they’re not necessarily going to start looking for information in the best places. Small sample size with generalization problems, of course.

  81. #81 Rogue Medic
    June 11, 2009

    Another point the refusniks ignore. By delaying eradication of vaccine preventable diseases, they prolong the amount of time children need to receive the vaccines.

    When was the last time anyone, outside of the military, received a routine smallpox vaccination?

    The smallpox vaccine had horrible side effects, but compared to the illness, any parent would be insane to refuse to vaccinate. The risk/benefit ratio has not changed that much for the vaccines against diseases not as bad as smallpox, but without the palpable fear of death, many make the mistake of choosing the increased risk for their children and the children of others.

    If only we had a vaccine for ignorance.

  82. #82 Brian Miller
    June 11, 2009

    @Pat

    Look, there is a ton of proof that Big Pharma makes huge profits from vaccines. That is the point I was making from a previous poster’s comments that Big Pharma “would rather people get sick and take medication” or something retarded like that. Does it mean that they are corrupt? Not necessarily. But with lobbyist pull, they have politicians in their back pockets. I am fully aware that many vaccines are and have been a hugely positive thing for health care throughout history. But a lot of what even the almighty FDA passes as golden is questionable, be it vaccines or regular medication.

    Those of us that don’t FULLY vaccinate our children were completely lambasted in this article and called worse things than “moron” throughout the comments by otherwise seemingly intelligent people.

    Have you heard a Big Pharma commercial lately, for FDA approved medications? Essentially, there’s a chance you might die from this, but one of your symptoms might be healed in the process. Don’t get me wrong – I’m highly invested in a couple pharmaceutical companies. You can’t go wrong with them.

    So, my original post full of responses from people who were using absurd if not pure fallacy. Worse than the less complete examples I drummed up in the short time I had.

  83. #83 Rogue Medic
    June 12, 2009

    Don’t get me wrong – I’m highly invested in a couple pharmaceutical companies. You can’t go wrong with them.

    Approximate prices of the drug companies from a 10 year chart of stock price all splits of the stock are factored into the chart. Dividends are not.

    Drug company . . . 10 years ago. 5 years ago. today

    Novartis (NVS) . . . 37 . . . . . . . 43 . . . . . . . 40

    Glaxo (GSK) . . . . . 60 . . . . . . . 40 . . . . . . . 36

    Merck (MRK) . . . . . 63 . . . . . . . 43 . . . . . . 26

    Lilly (LLY) . . . . . . . 72 . . . . . . . 69 . . . . . . 35

    AstraZeneca (AZN) . . 39 . . . . . . 48 . . . . . . 43

    Sanofi Aventis (SNY) . – . . . . . . . 32 . . . . . . 33

    Roche (RHHBY) . . . . 28 . . . . . . . 25 . . . . . . 34

    Did I miss any of the vaccine manufacturing companies?

    As you can see from the prices, buying a drug company is not a guarantee of profits. If it were, everybody would just buy drug companies (or start ups trying to make more money).

    If you bought these companies 5 or 10 years ago, you may have received $10 in dividends, making some of these profitable. OTOH, if you invested the dividends back in the stock, you would not have done so well.

    The drug stocks have generally followed the rest of the market. You can go wrong investing in them. Otherwise even Generation Revenue would buy drug stocks. After all, Generation Revenue is all about the money.

  84. #84 Rogue Medic
    June 12, 2009

    If it is unclear what the prices are, they are stock prices in dollars per share. The prices are not meant to indicate the total asset value of the company, although taking the total number of shares of that stock and multiplying that by the share price will give you the market value of the company.

    For example GSK, which is having a good day today, is up over a dollar and a half. There are 2.6 billion shares of GSK. The market value of GSK is up about $4 billion compared to yesterday’s closing price. OTOH, compared to one year ago, the market value is still down about $14 billion, even after the big jump in price today.

    GSK is only down $14 billion compared to the price a year ago, but that does not account for dividends. They paid out almost $5 billion in dividends, so factoring out dividends, GSK is down only about $9 billion.

    How about Merck? Up over a billion dollars today. Over the past year down about $16 billion. After you take out the dividends paid out, only down about $13 billion.

    Losses of value of $9 billion and $13 billion are not exactly what I would call can’t go wrong investments.

    OTOH, I do not send money to illustrious representatives of Nigerian millionaires, who are just experiencing temporary money flow problems, even though I could not possibly lose money. :-)

  85. #85 mgmyers
    June 12, 2009

    You have assumed that herd immunity is a scientifically validated concept (i.e. rigorously tested versus science by consensus), which it most certainly is not. The onus is on science, and you, to prove it is valid, as you well know there is no proof for a negative. You start with the no and work your way to yes, not the other way round.

    So, pull out the studies that show herd immunity, that prove prevention without manipulating statistics, that show the causative mechanism(s) by which this happens, or try reading the histories of the various diseases that vaccines supposedly cured. To do the former, you’re going to have to find proof that vaccinations create long-term immunity. Good luck.

    It’s fine if you want to believe in something, but don’t call your beliefs science.

  86. #86 mgmyers
    June 12, 2009

    Couple other funny points
    #61 and #71 Pat says, if you reject some evidence from one source, then you must reject all evidence from that source. I.e. if Pravda is not the be all end all of understanding the USSR’s party leadership, then we actually can learn nothing about the machinations of the Communist Party from Pravda. The CIA would disagree.

    This whole argument over whether non-vaccinating parents should be strung up by the herd is such a product of mob mentality. There is no science to show that herd immunity is anything more than conjecture. There are no studies that show any immunity gained through vaccines is long-term (despite Roche et al having had decades and billions to do such studies, which you would assume would be in their interest).

    What we do know is that infectious diseases got a lot worse with the advent of industrialisation and colonialism and during the 20th century most infectious diseases were halted in prosperous countries. The evidence does not point to vaccines being the cause of this decline, yet it does suggest that vaccines may have something to do with the advance of chronic diseases, especially those affecting children. Regardless, there is no science for either case, only conjecture.

    Oh yeah, and rampant distrust of public health organizations which they brought on themselves. Mercury is supposedly safe for infants at low doses, yet secondhand smoke is dangerous at any level. Fluoride has been tested consecutively for 50 plus years, mostly unpublished. A few years ago optimum levels were 4 ppm, now over 2 ppm is considered too much. Too much doesn’t add up, and public health has become just another bureaucracy on the take.
    http://www.riversideonline.com/health_reference/Articles/CA00080.cfm Dangerous secondhand smoking
    http://www.ada.org/public/topics/fluoride/infantsformula.asp You are assuredly getting more than your daily dose of fluoride, even if your water is fluoride-free.

  87. #87 Chris
    June 12, 2009

    mgmyers:

    You have assumed that herd immunity is a scientifically validated concept (i.e. rigorously tested versus science by consensus), which it most certainly is not.

    I know that you have already made up your mind, and no amount of information will penetrate your closed mind, but I will endeavor to note some places where those who are willing to learn can find information on epidemiology and herd immunity.

    First, there is this post from the EpiWonk:
    Epidemiology is a Hot Topic for Undergrads

    Then for a general overview of how disease spread and how they affected civilizations there is:
    Guns, Germs and Steel

    and a bit more difficult to read, but does explain disease transmission, and effects (especially to how over 90% of the native people of the Americas succumbed to disease), it is referenced in the above book and is a must read for anyone who wants to be familiar with diseases and their spreads:
    Plagues and Peoples

    Now, if you go into PubMed and put the terms “herd immunity” in the search box, you will find over 900 papers going back to 1963. They include (just by doing a cut and paste of selected papers on the first page of the results):

    Epidemiological and economic impact of human papillomavirus vaccines.
    Jeurissen S, Makar A.
    Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2009 May;19(4):761-71.

    Expanding prevention of invasive meningococcal disease.
    Pelton SI, Gilmet GP.
    Expert Rev Vaccines. 2009 Jun;8(6):717-27.

    Reviewing the cost effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination: the importance of uncertainty in the choice of data sources.
    Bilcke J, Beutels P.
    Pharmacoeconomics. 2009;27(4):281-97. doi: 10.2165/00019053-200927040-00002.

    Parental refusal of pertussis vaccination is associated with an increased risk of pertussis infection in children.
    Glanz JM, McClure DL, Magid DJ, Daley MF, France EK, Salmon DA, Hambidge SJ.
    Pediatrics. 2009 Jun;123(6):1446-51

    Epidemiology of pertussis and Haemophilus influenzae type b disease in Canada with exclusive use of a diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-inactivated poliovirus-Haemophilus influenzae type b pediatric combination vaccine and an adolescent-adult tetanus-diphtheria-acellular pertussis vaccine: implications for disease prevention in the United States.
    Greenberg DP, Doemland M, Bettinger JA, Scheifele DW, Halperin SA; IMPACT Investigators, Waters V, Kandola K.
    Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2009 Jun;28(6):521-8.

    Impact of transmission dynamics on the cost-effectiveness of rotavirus vaccination.
    Shim E, Galvani AP.
    Vaccine. 2009 Jun 19;27(30):4025-30. Epub 2009 May 3

    The strategy for prevention of measles and rubella prevalence with measles-rubella (MR) vaccine in Japan.
    Ihara T.
    Vaccine. 2009 Mar 5. [Epub ahead of print]

    Maintaining protection against invasive bacteria with protein-polysaccharide conjugate vaccines.
    Pollard AJ, Perrett KP, Beverley PC.
    Nat Rev Immunol. 2009 Mar;9(3):213-20.

    The last one on the first page is a Plos, that looked interesting:
    Social Contact Networks and Disease Eradicability under Voluntary Vaccination:

    When infection is transmitted only through close contacts in the network, then an outbreak can be quickly contained using only voluntary vaccination. However, when infection can potentially be transmitted to almost everyone in the network (such as for measles), a disease outbreak can never be contained using voluntary vaccination. This latter observation may have some relevance to the Measles–Mumps–Rubella autism “vaccine scare.”

  88. #88 Pat Cahalan
    June 15, 2009

    @ Brian

    > But a lot of what even the almighty FDA
    > passes as golden is questionable, be it
    > vaccines or regular medication.

    and

    > Have you heard a Big Pharma commercial
    > lately, for FDA approved medications?

    Do you not see that there is an inherent contradiction in these two observations?

    When the FDA approves *anything*, it’s in a particular context. Yes, oftentimes side effects are substantial in scope (if not scale); this is why you make informed decisions as to the tradeoff of taking a medication or dealing with a disease in a discussion with your doctor.

    Commercials include those caveats and provisos *because* they’re demonstrated side effects, and the FDA requires you to inform the public as to the effects of your medications. So, if anything, the presence of these commercials is direct counter-evidence to the claim that Big Pharma has disproportionate political pull; why would they go to great lengths to cover up side effects of vaccinations (which again, are a relatively smaller market than say, Viagra or Cialis), and not follow the same procedure for those medications with all the scary warnings?

    > Those of us that don’t FULLY vaccinate
    > our children were completely lambasted
    > in this article and called worse things
    > than “moron” throughout the comments
    > by otherwise seemingly intelligent people.

    No, Janet was pointing out that you were (properly, by the ethical definition) taking a free-rider stance towards vaccinations. That’s hardly being “completely lambasted”; note she made no moral judgment of the behavior in question. She also bears no (or very little) responsibility for the views of the people who comment here.

    @ mgmeyers

    > Pat says, if you reject some evidence
    > from one source, then you must reject
    > all evidence from that source.

    On the contrary. I said, if one side of an argument refuses to acknowledge the expert standing of what is generally regarded as an expert organization (particularly without robust justification), I will not allow them to use that organization as an expert on other affairs.

    I’m not saying that I reject the evidence; I’m saying that I will not allow my opponent in a debate to cherry pick which evidence he (or she) will or will not use from a particular expert source, without justification.

    Since nobody is providing justification, this is a perfectly valid stance.

    Put another way, *I* will generally accept the EPA, the NIH, and the CDC as an expert source for environmental and chemical analysis and health safety. If you will accept that stance as well, you just lost the debate, since they all say vaccines are safe. I retire from the intellectual battlefield, covered in glory. :-)

    If you will *not* accept that stance as well, it is *certainly* within your rights to establish a set of criteria for evaluating those organizations towards their expert standing. However, you *must provide this criteria and evaluation*, and I reserve the right to challenge it.

    I *will not* allow you to pick and choose which evidence you will allow from the CDC, NIH, or EPA on a whim; you must first state, baldly, which sorts of evidence you will accept from those organizations as being untainted, and which evidence you will not accept as being potentially tainted, and you must defend this characterization. Once we’ve agreed on a mutually acceptable characterization of the expert standings of these organizations, then we can proceed to allowing evidence.

    > Regardless, there is no science for
    > either case, only conjecture.

    On the contrary, a simple Google scholar search for herd immunity yields 35,000+ results. For something that has “no science”, there seems to be an awful lot written on the subject.

    I will grant you this, herd immunity is actually a *mathematical* concept, not a “scientific” one, per se. Building a statistical model and running it through iterative numerical analysis shows quite easily, with pretty graphs and charts, how the concept works. Given a population with a given threshold for infection to a disease and an outbreak of the disease, you can determine the overall population’s immunization rate just by looking at the rate of disease transmission.

    If you honestly believe that there is no reasonable justification to accept the herd immunity theory, you obviously haven’t read much about the topic.

  89. #89 Chris
    June 15, 2009

    Pat Cahalan:

    If you honestly believe that there is no reasonable justification to accept the herd immunity theory, you obviously haven’t read much about the topic.

    That was obvious.

    I recently read an older interesting book called Mosquitoes, Malaria and Man, which started off with the biography of Ronald Ross, a doctor with a keen interest in mathematics. But there is a more compact biography because he won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1902, which I will quote:

    He made many contributions to the epidemiology of malaria and to methods of its survey and assessment, but perhaps his greatest was the development of mathematical models for the study of its epidemiology, initiated in his report on Mauritius in 1908, elaborated in his Prevention of Malaria in 1911 and further elaborated in a more generalized form in scientific papers published by the Royal Society in 1915 and 1916. These papers represented a profound mathematical interest which was not confined to epidemiology, but led him to make material contributions to both pure and applied mathematics. Those related to «pathometry» are best known and, 40 years later, constitute the basis of much of the epidemiological understanding of insect-borne diseases.

  90. #90 mgmyers
    June 17, 2009

    Pat and Chris. Me thinks you have done exactly what I charged you with. You rely on PubMed and Google respectively to show aa scientific consensus. This consensus is not backed up by evidence. Herd immunity is an assumption. It is made more tenuous by the fact that not a person or expert organization has an understanding of how long immunity from a vaccination lasts.

    Pat

    You will not allow, you will generally accept…Well, go ahead. I think the CDC and EPA make valid points and contributions when there is not money and risk involved. Their number one job though has been consistently narrowed to protecting the economic interests of polluters and pharmaceuticals.

    Thimerasol is still claimed to be perfectly safe within vaccine-moderated dosages, yet cigarette smoke is claimed to be harmful at any level. First fluoride is great for everyone at 4 ppm, then it shouldn’t be given to infants, now the optimum dose is 2 ppm of drinking water.

    Besides the obvious dosage flaws, there also exists the fact that NONE of these changes in policy have been publicized. When those agencies lose the public trust, it is not the public’s fault. When parents do not trust the CDC’s claims to safety, this is the parents’ right.

    Make all the rational rules about argument you want, but claims that so and so should be hung and their kids vaccinated just because the CDC says it’s safe…that’s stupidity and totalitarianism, even if you put it in the guise of “We’re doing what’s best for you.” The state always takes liberty at this excuse.

  91. #91 Pat Cahalan
    June 17, 2009

    > Me thinks you have done exactly what I charged
    > you with. You rely on PubMed and Google
    > respectively to show a scientific consensus.

    I’m not, but okay. The only way for me to show this is for me to first understand what you mean by the term “scientific consensus”, and what methods you will accept for establishing that this concept exists.

    What do you mean by “scientific consensus”, and how do I show that “scientific consensus” exists, to your satisfaction? Will you accept peer-reviewed citations? Or am I required to go and survey medical researchers? What confidence interval do I have to have in my survey?

    > This consensus is not backed up by evidence.
    > Herd immunity is an assumption.

    No, herd immunity is *not* an assumption. Herd immunity is a statistical concept. You’re correct, in the sense that to get a *completely accurate* measure of herd immunity you need to have *precise* measurements as to the efficacy of the vaccination process vis-a-vis your population. However, I dispute the idea that completely accurate is a necessary precondition to having a “usefully close to accurate” measure.

    If you are going to contest this, you’re going to have to give me some sort of credible reference to back up your claim.

    > It is made more tenuous by the fact that not a
    > person or expert organization has an
    > understanding of how long immunity from a
    > vaccination lasts.

    See, here’s a claim you have to back up. What makes you believe this? Your adjective use frames this point rather clearly… correct me if I’m wrong, but what you’re saying is that you believe:

    A) The current understanding of the duration of vaccination efficacy is limited.

    B) Moreover, this limited understanding is *great enough* to provide a critical level of ambiguity as to the assumptions used when calculating herd immunity rates.

    C) Therefore, we may be plugging numbers that have significant error into the models used to determine what is an effective vaccinated/unvaccinated ratio in the general population.

    See, *that’s* an argument. Here’s the counterargument:

    Given A, B, C, we have two possible outcomes: either our predictions for desirable herd immunity rates are:

    D) too low

    or

    E) too high.

    Counterargument to D:

    If our calculated herd immunity rates for a given disease are too low, we expect to see a higher incident rate for occurrences of that disease. This incident rate is not reflected in our measurements. Therefore D is likely not the case. D is unlikely enough that spending money or time researching the issue is a waste.

    Counterargument to E:

    While we may be aiming “high” in our herd immunity calculations, E is only relevant if

    F) the vaccinations themselves are significantly costly

    G) the side effect rate of the particular vaccination yields a corresponding significant greater risk to the population (given the number of extra people we are vaccinating)

    or

    H) the possibility of an individual infection “outside the herd” is marginal.

    I will state that I believe the cost of E to be insufficient to result in F being a concern. You are welcome to dispute this, but please do not do so unless you actually believe this, since it’s off-point to the rest of our discussion.

    Reading the data sheets on the vaccination side effects on the CDC website, I do not accept G as a significant concern. If you do not accept the CDC as a expert in vaccination side effects, you’ll have to give me your criteria for measuring expertise in this area.

    The recent swine flu outbreak (not to mention other disease outbreaks) does illustrate that international travel is a vector for disease transmission, so H is unlikely to be a suitable concern.

    > I think the CDC and EPA make valid points and
    > contributions when there is not money and
    > risk involved.

    So, that’s “never”, then, right? When does this occur?

    Your notes about thermisol, fluoride, and cigarette smoke are supposed to convey what point? Shouldn’t the adjustment of fluoride’s dose over time be evidence that standards evolve towards “more safety” as time passes and more information comes to light? If money is involved, wouldn’t fluoride producers (chemical companies) fight to keep the level of fluoride high over time, instead of allowing it to be dropped?

    Since vaccinations have been around longer than fluoride in drinking water, wouldn’t this be an indicator that they ought to have a smaller differential between “safe” and “currently understood to be safe”? Sure, that’s an oversimplification, but you’re not laying out an argument here so I don’t understand what your data points are supposed to be conveying.

    > Besides the obvious dosage flaws, there
    > also exists the fact that NONE of these
    > changes in policy have been publicized.

    You need to define “publicized”. I don’t know what you mean by this term. The CDC, EPA, NIH, etc., update their normal channels of distributing information to the medical community, which in turn distributes it to the general public. I don’t think most people have enough chemistry to read a material safety data sheet in context, witness the internet prank about dihydrogen monoxide.

    Are you saying that the CDC/NIH should have an advertisement budget? How should they publicize? More to the point, since you seem to be worried about totalitarianism, how could they do this without you turning around and saying, “It’s just propaganda!”??

    > When those agencies lose the public trust,
    > it is not the public’s fault. When parents
    > do not trust the CDC’s claims to safety,
    > this is the parents’ right.

    That depends. Trust is a tricky issue, it’s to some extent dependent upon a bidirectional mechanism. If an agency has a position of trust, and it abuses it, it’s the agency’s fault. When an agency has a position of trust, and it loses that trust due to the actions of a group with an agenda, it’s the agency’s *responsibility*, certainly… but it’s the *fault* of the group. There has been an increasingly vocal campaign of disinformation regarding vaccinations. The fact that national health organizations haven’t responded to it effectively is a valid criticism, but let’s not forget where the problem is coming from.

    And while the parents certainly have a right to question the validity of the CDC as an authoritative source, I reject the implied assertion that this means they have an absolute right to make up any random baloney and state that this is their “informed opinion”. You have a right (and an obligation and responsibility) to question experts, but the process for this.. is to learn how to evaluate experts, not pick random other agencies or agents and decide they’re experts without critical evaluation.

    > Make all the rational rules about argument
    > you want, but claims that so and so should
    > be hung and their kids vaccinated just
    > because the CDC says it’s safe…that’s
    > stupidity and totalitarianism

    Er, you obviously haven’t read my blog.

    I don’t think that people should be hung because they don’t vaccinate. I don’t believe that Janet does either, for that matter, although I should let her speak for herself. However, they *certainly* deserve critical evaluation of their actions.

    I don’t think parents should be forced to vaccinate their children, unless there is a pressing public health concern to do so (and I’m not convinced that we’re close to being at that stage, although anti-vax campaigners are certainly making inroads in several areas). In fact, I’ve argued pretty vociferously against them as being inefficient, albeit not on this thread.

    Note, however, that sort of a program is certainly *not* totalitarian, and using that term damages your credibility in this debate. See, a totalitarian regime would be one that would give you no choice: vaccinate or we shoot you. One of the defining characteristics of a totalitarian regime is that you don’t get to opt-out as a citizen. That’s *hardly* the case here, even if the government *required* vaccinations.

  92. #92 Leanne
    July 6, 2009

    My first child was vaccinated, and has autism. I chose not to vaccinate my second. I don’t know if the vaccinations caused my son’s autism, but was not willing to use my daughter as a guinea pig when her vaxs were due. Would you, in my position?

    Regardless of this, you’re all missing the point. If you are seriously concerned about risk factors, the real disease risk in our society is not small – or even large – percentages of unvaxed individuals against known diseases.

    As the current swine flu pandemic is illustrating, the real risk in disease and pandemic management is the massive number of intercity and international fights that occur daily around our planet.

    Swine flu is turning out to be mild and will probably be insignificant in overall numbers of serious cases. But imagine a much more severe virus – one that kills or sterilises, or causes birth defects in the unborn – and you have a real issue worth fighting over.

    I think it’s a bit pitiful that you think it worth attacking your neighbours, labelling them “free riders” when all they are doing is what they deem best for their families, in the way they see fit – whether it agrees with what you happen to think or not.

    Instead, if you are *that* concerned about disease transmission, take on an issue worth fighting about. Start attacking the hundreds of thousands of people who seem to have nothing better to do than fly around the world several times a year, spreading disease from country to country faster than it ever could naturally. If you are truly concerned about the danger to your children, attack your grandparents who holidayed in Mexico last year and brought swine flu back with them to share with the rest of us.

    If we’re serious about disease management and containment, a small percentage of unvaxed people is the last thing we need to worry about. Border quarantines and the serious containment of disease within countries and states is a far more pressing issue.

    And for god’s sake, stop picking on the autism community, who make up a sizeable proportion of the unvaxed and partially vaxed. We’re doing the best we can, we love our kids more than you can ever imagine, and we’ll fight to the death for them. Especially against ratbags who label us “free riders”.

  93. #93 Carl
    July 31, 2009

    That has to be about the most idiotic communist/socialist way of, and I use the term loosely, ‘thinking’ I’ve run across in awhile. Just goes to show you the extent to which education in this country has declined. An associate professor of philosophy at San Jose State University, with a Ph.D. no less? Idiocracy come to life. Sad, truly sad…..

  94. #94 chris
    July 31, 2009

    There is utterly *NO* positive coorelation between the measles vaccine and incidence of measles outbreaks, this was a finding of New England Journal of Medicine study in 2000.

    In 1995 56% percent of those who got measles had the measles vaccine, whereas 46% of those who got it were not vaccinated.

    So to say those who do not vaccinate are free riders of those who do is pure bunk.

    See here…

    http://www.whale.to/vaccines/mmr34.html

  95. #95 Watson Ladd
    August 30, 2009

    @Lenene

    Measles causes sterility, Rubella horrific birth defects in infants, Pertussis death, and dysentery kills very quickly. All of these can be eliminated by vaccination.

  96. #96 Kristina
    September 16, 2009

    The free rider argument is based on the belief that non-vaxers:

    * wish to benefit from others being vaccinated
    * only choose not to vaccinate because most other people do
    * are just as afraid of VADs as vaxers

    Most non-vaxers are happy to see their ranks grow and hope for exposure to typical childhood diseases.

  97. #97 Kristina
    September 16, 2009

    “I never had pertussis, but I had chickenpox and measles because at the time there was no vaccination for them. Had I ever found out my parents had deliberately and unnecessarily inflicted that misery on me, I would have taken an axe-handle to them.

    As I hope Jennifer’s kids do to her when they’re old enough to realize what she did to them.

    Posted by: Shay”

    I have never met an unvaccinated adult who regrets the fact they were not vaccinated by their parents. However, I have met many adults that have suffered chronic illness as a result of their parents vaccinating them. Though they have not taken up an axe, they are angry at having been vaccinated and made to suffer YEARS of discomfort and/or misery.

    I can’t imagine what a mess you must be if you were so traumatized by having “suffered” through a temporary illness that your body is well designed to deal with.

    So, if your child becomes paralyzed by the HPV vaccine or the Swine Flu vax, or develop Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis from the MMR, or develops vaccine induced encephalitis, will they be allowed to pick out their own axe handle?

  98. #98 lillystarz6@yahoo.com
    September 17, 2009

    If those of us who chose not to vaccinate our children( and refuse to pay this “price” the author speaks of) pose such a risk to these vaccinated children, then why are you even bothering to vaccinate them in the first place? Isn’t that your point for vaccinating them, protecting them? And if you are speaking of your children that are too young to yet receive the vaccines, are you not also just as in fear of the recently vaccinated as you are of those who might carry diseases? My younger brother had chickenpox TWICE from catching it from a recently vaccinated child. I think if you are going to be blaming the unvaccinated for putting your children at risk, you should be expecting the same responsibility of those who chose to use live virus vaccines and then walk around in society shedding the virus.

  99. #99 Pat Cahalan
    September 17, 2009

    @ Kristina

    > I have never met an unvaccinated adult who
    > regrets the fact they were not vaccinated
    > by their parents.

    That’s not terribly germane. The web is full of anecdotes of people who weren’t vaccinated and got a vaccine-preventable disease.

    > However, I have met many adults that have
    > suffered chronic illness as a result of
    > their parents vaccinating them.

    You have? Whom? Which diseases? What were the vaccinations? The causal link between their vaccination and their chronic illness was established by whom? Have they registered with VAERS? Has their damages claim been paid?

    According to this (http://www.restministries.org/invisibleillness/statistics.htm), 1/2 the population of the U.S. has a chronic illness. I suspect that this may be not entirely thorough, but regardless for some definition of “chronic illness” it’s evident that a very large percentage of the U.S. qualifies.

    If 153 million people have a chronic illness, it would truly remarkable if *many* of them had not also had vaccinations. That does not mean that the vaccination is the cause of their chronic illness.

    > Though they have not taken up an axe,
    > they are angry at having been vaccinated
    > and made to suffer YEARS of discomfort
    > and/or misery.

    No, they’re angry because they have suffered years of discomfort and/or misery. They believe that this is because of the vaccines, so they are angry at the vaccine. That doesn’t mean the vaccination is the cause of the problem, or of their anger.

    > I can’t imagine what a mess you must be
    > if you were so traumatized by having
    > “suffered” through a temporary illness
    > that your body is well designed to deal with.

    50,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable illnesses (http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20090724/us-adults-dying-of-preventable-diseases). The 1918 flu epidemic killed somewhere between 50 and 100 million people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic). Cholera has killed millions. Measles killed 197,000 children worldwide in 2007, virtually entirely due to a lack of vaccinations (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/). 600,000 people die each year from Hep B (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs204/en/index.html).

    So, I reject the characterization “your body is well designed to deal with”.

    > So, if your child becomes paralyzed by
    > the HPV vaccine or the Swine Flu vax,
    > or develop Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
    > from the MMR, or develops vaccine induced
    > encephalitis, will they be allowed to
    > pick out their own axe handle?

    There is no clear-cut evidence that the HPV vaccine can cause paralysis (http://hpv.emedtv.com/hpv-vaccine/hpv-vaccine-side-effects.html). There is no clear cut evidence that the MMR causes JRA.

    Out of 48 million varicella vaccinations, there were approximately 1056 reported cases of severe reactions (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/varicella/vac-faqs-clinic.htm), *not all of which can be attributed to the vaccines*. It is possible to test and discover if the vaccine is at fault, although this was not followed in every case.

    Even if all of those adverse reactions were deaths, and they were all directly attributable to the vaccine (clearly ridiculous), it would still be more than three times *more likely* that your child will be killed by an automobile accident than a vaccination.

    Tell me, do you own a car seat?

  100. #100 Kerrie Wendt
    September 27, 2009

    If vaccines work, how can an unvaccinated child be a health risk to a vaccinated one? If a vaccinated child contracts a disease that they have been immunised against…doesn’t that mean that the immunisation simply didn’t work?

  101. #101 Kerrie Wendt
    September 27, 2009

    As for the Herd immunity excuse….baaaaa Sorry, but i’m not a sheep.

  102. #102 Pat Cahalan
    October 20, 2009

    > If vaccines work, how can an unvaccinated child
    > be a health risk to a vaccinated one?

    You need to bone up on your research (or just read the comment thread above, actually). Vaccinations are not a universal panacea. You can still get a disease after getting a vaccination, for various reasons.

    However, that does not mean that vaccines “don’t work”. The point of vaccinations is that they dramatically lower the infection *rate*, which affects both how many people *can* be infected by a particular virus, and (in population constructions) whether or not the infection frequency can overcome the lifecycle of the virus itself.

    > As for the Herd immunity excuse….baaaaa
    > Sorry, but i’m not a sheep.

    Sorry, but humor aside you are a part of the social herd. You interact with other people.

    Now, if you want to opt-out of the herd, that’s okay with me. There’s plenty of places you can go where you won’t have to interact with people.

  103. #103 Jill
    November 13, 2009

    Where did anyone ever get the idea that just because your vaccinated you cant be a carrier, no you may not get sick but it doesnt mean your not a carrier and making other people sick. As well there is no science to back up herd immunity, its made up ! Sounds good I’ll admit, wish things really worked that way, but they do not. The numbers are made up just like the numbers of H1N1 cases. They dont know because they stopped testing they are guessing based on symptoms. VERY broad symptoms. I am afraid that the vaccinated are offering themselves up as petri dishes for virus mutations, just like the overuse of antibiotics created super antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is nature for a virus to try to adapt to survive, if we keep trying to kill these mild viruses (when handled properly) they will keep adapting to survive, into more deadly viruses that we should be afraid of. I am afraid of what the herd will do to my children. I am taking responsiblity, and am not free riding off of anyone. Shame on a society that has become so materialistic that we cannot stay at home with our children so they are not in day care and school which become breeding grounds for poor health, nutrition, stress etc etc.

  104. #104 twocents
    March 20, 2010

    II’m not a free-rider, I’m a free-thinker! I have done the research and have thought for myself and my children with regard to refusing to vaccinate them. I have studied the ingredient list of the vaccines and realized that I could never EVER inject that solution into my children’s perfectly clean, healthy blood. Not only once, but over and over, for years!! NEVER!! I find it ASTOUNDING that more parents haven’t done the same!! If you ever read an ingredient label on a syringe, you would hopefully reject being part of the vaccination herd immediately. The most disturbing is the Hep B vaccine administered to children on their day of birth in America—straight into a new born babies pure blood. If you think this is doing a good deed for the herd, by all means DO IT. Follow the herd!!
    But I don’t, never will, never want too. I see the mistakes you are making by joining the herd. The real problem is the herd itself doesn’t realize what they are doing to themselves.
    Herd immunity might sound true in theory, but the reality for what you are choosing to inject into your children is the REAL consideration, not a theory or a philosophy, but a reality, a real poisoning of a child’s blood. You might claim my unvaccinated radiant, super healthy glowing children put yours at risk on some level. But I think the parents who choose to follow the herd and are not thinking for themselves and not reading ingredient labels are without a doubt putting their own progeny at risk.