Respectful Insolence

Whatever criticisms I may have had for prominent atheists like Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris otherwise, one area that I’m totally down with both of them on is their criticism of the undue respect and consideration we as a society give to religious ideas. This consideration is rarely, if ever, based on the merit of the ideas, but rather solely because they are religious ideas. Many of these ideas, if they were not based on religion, wouldn’t be given anywhere near the respect or deference that they are now. But, because they are based on a faith in the supernatural, for some reason we as a society tend to bend over backwards to show them “respect,” whether they deserve it or not, and accommodate those who hold them. One area where this is especially true is in the area of vaccines and religious exemptions. I’ve written before how this misplaced deference has resulted in a spate of laws that allow parents easily to declare a religious exemption and refuse to have their children vaccinated–all legally. In the last couple of months, news has come out that indicates that the problem of parents taking advantage of “religious exemptions to avoid vaccinating their children has grown worse than previously thought:

BOSTON (AP) — Sabrina Rahim doesn’t practice any particular faith, but she had no problem signing a letter declaring that because of her deeply held religious beliefs, her 4-year-old son should be exempt from the vaccinations required to enter preschool.

She is among a small but growing number of parents around the country who are claiming religious exemptions to avoid vaccinating their children when the real reason may be skepticism of the shots or concern they can cause other illnesses. Some of these parents say they are being forced to lie because of the way the vaccination laws are written in their states.

“It’s misleading,” Rahim admitted, but she said she fears that earlier vaccinations may be to blame for her son’s autism. “I find it very troubling, but for my son’s safety, I feel this is the only option we have.”

An Associated Press examination of states’ vaccination records and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that many states are seeing increases in the rate of religious exemptions claimed for kindergartners.

The magnitude of the problem:

From 2003 to 2007, religious exemptions for kindergartners increased, in some cases doubled or tripled, in 20 of the 28 states that allow only medical or religious exemptions, the AP found. Religious exemptions decreased in three of these states – Nebraska, Wyoming, South Carolina – and were unchanged in five others.

The rate of exemption requests is also increasing.

For example, in Massachusetts, the rate of those seeking exemptions has more than doubled in the past decade – from 0.24 percent, or 210, in 1996 to 0.60 percent, or 474, in 2006.

In Florida, 1,249 children claimed religious exemptions in 2006, almost double the 661 who did so just four years earlier. That was an increase of 0.3 to 0.6 percent of the student population. Georgia, New Hampshire and Alabama saw their rates double in the past four years.

The numbers from the various states cannot be added up with accuracy. Some states used a sampling of students to gauge levels of vaccinations. Others surveyed all or nearly all students.

Fifteen of the 20 states that allow both religious and philosophical exemptions have seen increases in both, according to the AP’s findings.

While some parents – Christian Scientists and certain fundamentalists, for example – have genuine religious objections to medicine, it is clear that others are simply distrustful of shots.

Some parents say they are not convinced vaccinations help. Others fear the vaccinations themselves may make their children sick and even cause autism.

In other words, the fear-mongering over vaccines of antivaccinationists, coupled with religious exemption laws in many states, are making it possible for more and more parents simply to lie in order to claim a religious exemption to which they are not (morally, at least) entitled, just as Sabrina Rahim chose to lie through her teeth to do so. (I reject her rationalization that she was “forced” to lie. She wasn’t.) It would be one thing if these parents lived in isolated communities, where they could exist without exposing others to the dangers due to their foolish choice not to vaccinate, but such is not the case. The children of these parents are going to schools or being cared for in day care centers with your children, and their children can and do serve as a nidus for outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease. This is because no vaccine is 100%, and those who fail to develop immunity are protected by “herd immunity,” the indirect protection of susceptible members of the population by the presence of a high percentage of immune individuals. Generally, if a certain percentage of the population is vaccinated, the exact percentage varying but usually around 90%, the spread of a disease in the unvaccinated proportion of the population is greatly inhibited. It’s like a firebreak against the spread of the disease. Those who refuse to vaccinate in essence take advantage of herd immunity, whether they realize ir or not.

Of course, if the percentage of people unvaccinated increases too much, then outbreaks become much more likely. Moreover, it does not take a lot of unvaccinated to result in outbreaks. In pursuing religious exemptions, these parents are not only lying, but they are endangering other children:

Unvaccinated children can spread diseases to others who have not gotten their shots or those for whom vaccinations provided less-than-complete protection.

In 1991, a religious group in Philadelphia that chose not to immunize its children touched off an outbreak of measles that claimed at least eight lives and sickened more than 700 people, mostly children.

And in 2005, an Indiana girl who had not been immunized picked up the measles virus at an orphanage in Romania and unknowingly brought it back to a church group. Within a month, the number of people infected had grown to 31 in what health officials said was the nation’s worst outbreak of the disease in a decade.

Although I’m dismayed at such behavior and the undue deference to religious ideas that allow such laws to make it easy for parents to lie, I can sort of understand why some parents, mislead by antivaccination misinformation, might decide that they have no choice but to lie to “save their children.” Sort of understand, but not condone. My contempt is more reserved for antivaccination activists who spread the misinformation that leads parents to fear the rare complications of vaccines more than they fear the diseases prevented by the vaccines. In particular, I have a special contempt for physicians who encourage parents to lie this way, physicians such as Dr. Janet Levitan:

Dr. Janet Levitan, a pediatrician in Brookline, Mass., said she counsels patients who worry that vaccines could harm their children to pursue a religious exemption if that is their only option.

“I tell them if you don’t want to vaccinate for philosophical reasons and the state doesn’t allow that, then say it’s for religious reasons,” she said. “It says you have to state that vaccination conflicts with your religious belief. It doesn’t say you have to actually have that religious belief. So just state it.”

Yes, that’s what I like in a physician, a willingness to violate the spirit of the law by hewing to its letter combined with a lack of compunction about giving people reasons to lie about their religious beliefs. Good job, Dr. Levitan! Encourage your patients’ parents to lie! No wonder she gets glowing recommendations on the Mothering.com discussion boards about antivax-supportive pediatricians:

We see Dr. Janet L. Levatin in Brookline (on Beacon St. right over the Boston city line, and on the green line). She does not vax at all except that she special orders single tetanus if you want it. She also prescribes homeopathy before jumping to traditional prescription meds.

In fact, there is a “Dr. Janet Levatin” of Brookline, MA listed as a speaker for the American Institute of Homeopathy and as a homeopathic doctor. I don’t know which one is the correct spelling, but all of the links above are likely describing the same pediatrician, a pediatrician who has been quoted in the homeopathic literature thusly:

There are dissenting points of view. Janet Levitan, MD, a Boston area pediatrician, writes in a recently published article (Resonance, Sept-Oct. 1992),” As a pediatrician I have seen a number of children suffering from both the acute and chronic sequelae (i.e. results) of vaccinations….I do not believe that the immature immune systems of the two-month-old infant is capable of responding effectively to vaccines…In addition to the fact that the vaccines many not ‘take’ well in young infants, I also have concerns about the possible deleterious effects of exposing such tender, young, delicate organisms, our newborns, to such an onslaught of bacterial and viral particles, as well as the potentially toxic chemicals with which they are processed (including mercury and formaldehyde.”

It’s another example of bad reporting that the newspaper failed to mention that Dr. Levitan is not just a pediatrician but a homeopath with a long history of being hostile to vaccination, who even used to write a regular column for The National Journal of Homeopathy in which she apparently parroted some of the dumbest antivaccination canards (the whole “toxic chemicals,” “mercury,” and “formaldehyde” schtick) for a long time. Clearly, she is an activist, not an expert, and her uncritical acceptance of such antivaccination talking points raises serious questions about her critical thinking skills.

Few religions actually explicitly forbid vaccination or even discourage it. Most mainstream religions, in fact, fully support and encourage it as a moral good that benefits the individual and community. However,the pernicious effect of undue deference for religion here is more than because of the few adherents of such religions that do forbid vaccination. Rather, it is due to the deference that society gives to such religious beliefs in forming policy, even if those beliefs are clearly irrational and have the potential to endanger public health. Undue respect for religious beliefs that clash with the scientifically demonstrated ability of vaccines to prevent disease safely enables parents who are either antivaccinationist or who have been mislead by antivaccinationist fearmongering a relatively easy method to bypass vaccination laws and an easy avenue for physicians peddling non-evidence-based attacks on vaccination to help them do so.

ADDENDUM: The California Medicine Man weighs in. Money quotes:

Some states, though not all, allow similar exemptions for purely philosophical reasons (read: reasons based on junk science). Therefore, as the above article reports, many parents are lying about their religious convictions and the state is de facto designating them criminals.

To me, this is unfair. If we’re going to allow parents to refuse the vaccines for their children for any nonmedical reason, it shouldn’t matter why they refuse. Patient autonomy is patient autonomy.

And:

Parents should either be allowed to refrain from the vaccinations for nonmedical reasons or not. If we decide that the decision can be left up to the citizenry then it shouldn’t be up to the state to decide if the belief system from which the decision arose is appropriate or not.

Exactly. Either non-medical exemptions should be allowed for any reason, religious, pseudoscientific, or whatever, or they should not be permitted at all. Why should religious objections to vaccination be privileged above any other objection, such as philosophical or plain “I just don’t want to”? There’s no rational reason why they should.

Comments

  1. #1 PalMD
    October 18, 2007

    That is shameful…shameful reporting, shameful doctoring.
    But of course, they have no shame.

  2. #2 vlad
    October 18, 2007

    Does anyone have any idea how far this stupidity has to go before we start seeing the effects? How big of a hole can herd immunity have before we start having outbreaks? Hell I’m all for vaccinating but these fear mongering dip sticks have me nervous about the Flu vaccine. I will still be getting it but even I had/have some lingering fears. I can imagine what some parents feel with exposure to this blatant lieing (yes CS I can’t spell).

  3. #3 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    Well, easy fix, implement a philosophical exemption for all states. No issue.

  4. #4 Matt Penfold
    October 18, 2007

    Sadly the pandering to religious sensibilities has become all to pervasive in both the US and here in the UK. Even sadder is the fact that some who should know better are going along with it. Ed Brayton recently posted about a kid, in the US, who was trying to claim a religious exemption from his school requiring male students have short hair. Brayton rather oddly seemed to be approve that the ACLU was taking the side of the kid. To my thinking the reason for wanting wear your hair long in school, or not having your kids vaccinated should not be contingent on religious, or anyother belief. Either everyone can wear their hair long or no one can, and either all kids should be vaccinated (with exemption for medical reasons) or there should be no requirement.

  5. #5 Uncle Dave
    October 18, 2007

    Wow, your on the east coast I just read the Associated Press article out here.
    newspaper article buy AP in my local paper;

    “Parents using religion to stop vaccinating children”

    Dr. Paul Offit is is quoted quite extensively in our article and the article I read highlights a 1991 outbreak in measles that claimed 8 lives when a religious group chose not to immunize.

    “Do I think that religious exemptions have become a default? Absolutely”, said Dr. Paul Offit, Head of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital in Philiadelphia and one of the harshest critics of the anti-vacc movement. He said the resistance to vacccines is “an irrational, fear based decision.”

    Dr. Lance Rodewald, Director,CDC immunization Services Division is quoted in bold
    “When yo choose not to get a vaccine, you’renot jsut makding a choice for yourself, you’re making a choice for the person sitting next to you”

    The article I read our here in California was quite to the point about the rising dangers.

    Unfortunetly barbara Fisher was also sited as the co-founder and president of the National Vaccination Information Center one of the leading skeptic groups.

    This group supports parents in thier choice to not get children vaccinated.

    Small but growing number of parents….

    I have many friends the work as teachers in the public schools systems out here.

    First there is not enough money to employ enough school nurses. One nurse handles about 4-5 schools in the local district here. Now we have parents bucking the vaccine system.

    I hope this is not becoming the perfect storm….

  6. #6 Ruth
    October 18, 2007

    I assume that when their kids get sick from vaccine-preventatable disease, they will demand all that expensive hospital care modern medicine can provide. If we have outbreaks (it seems inevitable), I would have no problem with priority given to sick kids who were vaccinated. Not fair to the innocent children, as their parents make the choice to not vaccinate, but I would hate to see families that followed the rules having to wait for care after these deadbeats.

  7. #7 CRM-114
    October 18, 2007

    To protect the vaccinated children, the school should banish the unvaccinated children, and the community should follow suit.

  8. #8 sailor
    October 18, 2007

    “In 1991, a religious group in Philadelphia that chose not to immunize its children touched off an outbreak of measles that claimed at least eight lives and sickened more than 700 people, mostly children.”

    It would be nice to get the original source on this. It goes back to AP and stops. The trouble with any press report is that one has no idea whether it is true.

    “Generally, if a certain percentage of the population is vaccinated, the exact percentage varying but usually around 90%, the spread of a disease in the unvaccinated proportion of the population is greatly inhibited.”

    The priniciple seems obvious, but interesting to note that 90% is approximately the necessary number.

    One would hope, with an increase in people opting out of vax, that careful health studies would follow these people and the schools in which they are enrolled, to study the results.

    Even a Xtain “scientist” cannot deny its child appropriate medical health if they get really sick. Why should a religious exemption be allowed for immunization?

  9. #9 Wendy
    October 18, 2007

    Just to play Devil’s Advocate here for a minute, I must say that I don’t blame the parents who claim religious exemptions if that’s what they feel they must do to avoid vaccinations. (For the record, my own son DID receive all his vaccinations, and I’m in favor of vaccinating children). While part of me does find it troubling that people lie (and are being encouraged to lie by their doctors), and I wish they would choose to do the healthy thing for their children, I find it far more troubling that the government insists on dictating some of the decisions which I believe it is for the parent to make. Not to mention the double standard. If the government decrees that it’s okay to opt out of vaccinations because of your religion, then it should be okay to opt out for *any* reason. You’re right – religion carries too much weight in our society; we shouldn’t have to justify our decisions in this way.

    And yes, I realize that what I’m saying here opens the door for some parents to make stupid decisions for their children (and sometimes those decisions affect others, as well). But that’s true of a great many things, isn’t it? If we legislated against everything that was harmful, cigarettes would be illegal, because they kill people. All women should be forced to breastfeed, because it is absolutely the healthiest choice for their babies. While we’re at it, let’s get rid of alcohol, too, because even though it’s okay in small amounts, a great many people abuse it, harming themselves and others, so let’s just outlaw it, okay?

    Think about this for a minute. Do we really want to go down this road? As it is, the government is doing a great many things in “my name” which which I do not agree. We talk about freedom, and yet it’s being eroded right before our eyes. If we want parents to make healthy choices for their children, we need to educate the parents to make these choices willingly – not force them into compliance (or put them in a situation where they feel they have to choose to tell a lie). Forcing people to do things which scares them is not an appropriate thing to do. Especially when that coercion comes from the government.

    All this is just my humble opinion, of course. :)

  10. #10 Uncle Dave
    October 18, 2007

    P.S.
    Pardon my lousy spelling, but I am so freakin appalled at this rising phenomena that I can hardly type.

    I believe there is a book called “March of the Morons” that is about the advancement in technology and the simultaneous regression of intelligence amoung the general population. Technology advances to the point where most of the general population has not understanding of it.

    Hence the title “March of the Morons”.

  11. #11 sailor
    October 18, 2007

    “I find it far more troubling that the government insists on dictating some of the decisions which I believe it is for the parent to make.”
    Wendy,

    If you drink you effect yourself, of course if you drink and drive that is another matter, but there are strong regulations against it.

    Don’t breast feed you effect your kid not others.

    Immunization is more complex because, as Orac’s post points our you not only affect your kid’s health (in which case I would agree with you) but also, becase vax are not 100% effective, you also endanger others.

  12. #12 longsmith
    October 18, 2007

    So I wonder what would happen if a parent asked to make sure that at least 90% of the children in a school were vaccinated before they sent their child to that school.

    And what would happen if that was not the case and the parent then refused to send their child to school?

    I would gladly test the waters if my kids weren’t in their 20s (and fully vaccinated thank you very much).

  13. #13 Diora
    October 18, 2007

    Scary. It diden’t take that long for diphteria to re-emerge in Russia in 1990s (http://0-www.cdc.gov.mill1.sjlibrary.org/ncidod/eid/vol4no4/vitek.htm). Weren’t there also measles outbreaks in the UK not that long ago?

  14. #14 Superkuh
    October 18, 2007

    Governments should avoid using force to vaccinate the population in the first place, regardless of “the potential to endanger public health”. It is an individuals’ choice. All reasons to declining should be accepted.

    This isn’t a religious issue, only a loophole religion leaves open (in the USA) in a disgustingly authoritarian practice.

  15. #15 Uncle Dave
    October 18, 2007

    When the discussion of pandemics is the main topic, the free market or the theory of natural selection does not apply because the whole population is at risk, not jsut the ignorant ones! Making people breast feed is not even close to relevant in this discussion, it is protection from a known virus. Those whom get the vaccine will live, however those that don’t will swamp the health care system with life threatening disease.

    Your choice to set yourself on fire is not likely going to kill many other people or swamp the health care system, but the potential to allow a virus to spread will impact everyone else. That’s the difference in freedoms. Will it adversely affect the rest of the population either economically or otherwise, yes or no.

    As my wife says, a lotta people are gonna have to die before something is done.

  16. #16 chezjake
    October 18, 2007

    Maybe a little reverse pressure could help change this refusal to vaccinate. What would happen if health insurers refused to cover illnesses due to refusal to vaccinate? What would happen if those who were vaccinated but it didn’t take (and their insurers) and who then became ill due to exposure to a sick unvaccinated kid whose parents refused vaccination on phony religious grounds sued the parents of that kid for damages?

  17. #17 Matt Penfold
    October 18, 2007

    SuperKuh,

    The problem with your argument is that it only grants rights to the child, or parents, not being vaccinated.

    When a significant portion of the population is not vaccinated against an infections disease there is a sufficient population to maintain a resevoir of that disease in the community. In otherwords when enough people are vaccinated it provides protection even to those who are not vaccinated.

    Your position is that those who cannot be vaccinated are not be considered. Children under 12 months, and those with certain conditions, or an impaired immune system cannot be vaccinated on medical grounds. I cannot see why a parent has the right to make a decision that puts at risk the lives of others.

  18. #18 David B.
    October 18, 2007

    I think every day care center and public school should have the right to deny access to unvaccinated children, seriously. There’s no reason to indulge this kind of ignorance.

    http://www.theskinofmyteeth.com

    David B.

  19. #19 Uncle Dave
    October 18, 2007

    CDC site below highlights measles case in Indiana
    that AP story sited. This Girl whom had supposedly not been immunized had visited Romania. Brought back measles to Indiana and spread throghout the church group, 34 cases….

    Oops!

    http://www.cdc.gov/mmwR/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5442a1.htm

  20. #20 occasional visitor
    October 18, 2007

    But laws like these don’t give consideration to ideas, they give consideration to the people holding them. Forcing people to act against their principal beliefs harms them, even if those beliefs are utter bullshit. To get the feeling just imagine being forced to act in a commercial for some homeopathic remedy. Yes, your belief about homeopathy being bunk happens to be correct, but that’s not the point, the experience of being made to act against it would be the same.

    I realize, that public interest can outweigh that right, but I don’t think it does in this case. In Germany we don’t have compulsory vaccination at all, and while that is dumb it hasn’t so far brought down the nation. On the other hand most civilized countries even exempt conscious objectors from military service in times of war, where the states interest is massively more compelling. Now privileging “religious” objections over “philosophical” ones is wrong (and not done for conscripts), but i suppose that’s not the direction you would want to change the law. Perhaps the analogue of a draft board would help, I figure most antivax parents would be quite unable to explain what their religious objection actually is.

  21. #21 Texas Reader
    October 18, 2007

    I think that vaccination of children should be required just as car seats are. Our society needs to have laws that protect the health of children since they can’t protect themselves. Once a child becomes an adult, he or she should be free to make personal decisions about what risks to take, but until then its only humane for society to set standards that must be met to protect them. And yes, I’m totally in favor of laws that forbid people from smoking in cars where children are riding.

  22. #22 Matt Penfold
    October 18, 2007

    occasional visitor,

    I understand what you are saying but I can ask if you accept that a person deciding not to vaccinate their child should also accept there are consequences to that action ? Consequences such as schools being allowed to deny admission, play schemes, swimming pool etc likewise. And would you also accept that such parents should also accept liability if their unvaccinated child infects another child ?

  23. #23 HCN
    October 18, 2007

    occasional visitor said “In Germany we don’t have compulsory vaccination at all, and while that is dumb it hasn’t so far brought down the nation. ”

    There really isn’t compulsory vaccination in the USA… it is often a requirement to attend certain schools (public and some private schools), but as noted above this can be circumvented. There isn’t even a requirement that a child MUST attend a public school (though once upon a time in the early part of the 20th century a law was passed in Oregon outlawing private schools… this was pushed through by the Ku Klux Klan to close Catholic school, it did not last long).

    What really needs to be addressed are exposing folks like Levatin as medical frauds giving out wrong information.

  24. #24 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “I figure most antivax parents would be quite unable to explain what their religious objection actually is”.

    Actually, it’s quite simple. I believe in God. God taught me that my body (and therefore my kids’ bodies) are sacred. I am opposed to injecting toxins into my children’s bodies. Simple. Enough said.

  25. #25 Matt Penfold
    October 18, 2007

    “Actually, it’s quite simple. I believe in God. God taught me that my body (and therefore my kids’ bodies) are sacred. I am opposed to injecting toxins into my children’s bodies. Simple. Enough said.”

    Well that is a pretty piss poor argument.

  26. #26 mtarnowski
    October 18, 2007

    The reporter calls the doctor’s 1992 article “recent” publication? Resonance, claims to be refereed, BUT, here’s what else it says about itself:

    “‘Resonance’ is a journal of science education, published monthly since January 1996 by the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, India.

    “It is primarily directed to students and teachers at the undergraduate level, though some material beyond this range is also included.

    “Each issue contains articles on physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics and computer science.

    “The format is attractive and easy to read, with pictures, illustrations, marginal notes, boxes and space for comments provided.

    “The articles are of various types: individual general articles, series made up of several parts; concise article-in-boxes; classroom pieces; Nature watch pieces; research news; book reviews; and Information and Announcements useful to students and teachers.

    “A chosen scientist or mathematician is specially highlighted each month, with a portrait on the cover, and articles describing his or her life and work.

    “In some cases an article written by the scientist on a general theme is included as a Classic or a Reflections item at the end of the issue.

    “Some of the personalities featured so far are — Einstein, Schrodinger, Pauli, Chandrasekhar, Raman, S N Bose, von Neumann, Turing, Darwin, Mc Clintock, Haldane, Fisher, Lorenz, Mendel, Dobhzansky, Pauling, the Bernoullis, Fermat, Harish-Chandra, Ramanujam and Weil.

    “‘Resonance’ has a council of editors drawn from institutions all over in India, with a Chief Editor and Associate Editors located in Bangalore.

    “Articles may be submitted to any of the editors. All submissions are refereed. Students and teachers are particularly encouraged to submit articles to Resonance.”

    http://www.ias.ac.in/resonance/aboutResonance.html

  27. #27 speedwell
    October 18, 2007

    @Common Sense: So your bodies are sacred, but God refuses to intervene to protect you against toxins? Come again?

  28. #28 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “As my wife says, a lotta people are gonna have to die before something is done”.

    Well, of course, we believe the same thing. Look at the after-effects of the Prevnar vaccine:

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,297168,00.html

    We are creating superbugs in children due to this vaccine.

    Then’s there is this article:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/16/AR2007101601392_pf.html

    “The researchers attributed the emergence of the strain to a combination of the overuse of antibiotics and the introduction of a vaccine that protects against the infection.

    “The use of the vaccine created an ecological vacuum, and that combined with excessive use of antibiotics to create this new superbug,” Pichichero said”.

    So, here we are today… between the Hib vaccine and the Prevnar vaccine we have now created these “superbugs”… Sounds great, doesn’t it?

    Never mind the fact that the Prevnar has a horrible record on VAERS (go ahead and take a look at the *deaths* associated with that vaccine).

    Never mind the fact that in 1999 and 2000 a doctor testified in front of the FDA in regards to the Prevnar vaccine having the possibility of creating 7x the amount of type 1 diabetes as typically would happen. So let’s see… The Prevnar vaccine causes super-bugs, kills babies and can trigger type 1 diabetes in young children. Sounds like a winner to me. LOL!

  29. #29 viggen
    October 18, 2007

    I doubt anybody will notice this, but I have a related topic that I’ve been meaning to broach somewhere for a long time.

    I understand that the habit of smoking does significant damage to the respiratory system, including to the natural defenses of the lungs and airway surfaces. I also have observed, in passing in my surroundings, that smokers tend to get a lot more sick, more easily and for a lot longer when they contract the common cold. That being the case, a smoker who has contracted a cold has a longer period of time where they can inoculate fomites with their illness, or in general saturate the air around themselves with the infected vapors of their coughing. As such, a non-smoker will be exposed to a pathogen (like a cold) more frequently in the presence of one or more sick smokers, and is therefore more likely to contract the illness themselves.

    I guess I’m simply claiming this: smoking as a prevalent habit disturbs herd-immunity to an illness for which there is no vaccination. As such, I would further be wondering if our population isn’t being subjected to undue misery because of this stupid, addictive habit come cold and flu season when these simple illnesses are being most readily propagated.

    Anybody have any thoughts, or am I making an erroneous deduction? I apologize that I’ve deviated from the anti-vaccinationist topic.

  30. #30 vlad
    October 18, 2007

    “God taught me that my body (and therefore my kids’ bodies) are sacred.” Do you like it when people take pot shots at you? Does it give you a sense of purpose by making your self a martyr to the stone of rational people?

    He actually came down and told you directly that your body is sacred? He also told you the safe level of “toxins” to use. You stated that all 3 of your children are vaccinated to various degrees. So if you have information from God about what vaccines we should be using please share.

  31. #31 Uncle Dave
    October 18, 2007

    Taken from the editorial note on the CDC publication I listed above;

    “Ongoing measles transmission has been eliminated in the United States by high vaccination levels (4). Of 540 measles cases in the United States during 1997–2001, 362 (67%) were linked to imports (i.e., 196 imported cases, 138 cases epidemiologically linked to imported cases, and 28 cases associated with an imported measles virus genotype), and most measles cases could have been prevented (5).”

    Living in Southern california brings up the issue of large numbers of Central American children entering this region.
    I’m not speaking of an immigration issue here, just a puplic health issue, and the importance of public health immunization programs. We share this section of the US with those that come from regions that do not have public health programs like ours.

  32. #32 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “Well that is a pretty piss poor argument”.

    LOL! That’s perhaps the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

  33. #33 Manduca
    October 18, 2007

    I can’t find the CDC report of the 1991 Philadelphia outbreak, but it is mentioned in this article:

    http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/laws/fatal-exemption.htm

  34. #34 SoCal
    October 18, 2007

    Actually I think medical exemptions should be examined as well. I have heard from a parent in Los Angeles that local vaccine skeptic and pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon gave her son a medical exemption because she felt his “immune system” was “weak” in some unspecified manner. I wonder if there is any way to systematically review medical exemptions and see if the fishy ones are all from the same few vaccine skeptic MDs — most of whom are in private practice for cash only and have an incentive to please the customers.

  35. #35 Matt Penfold
    October 18, 2007

    Refusing to allow any toxin into your body is going to mean a pretty restricted diet. Most food, if not all, contains toxins in invarying degrees. For example the biggest source of pesticides in the diet is not those that are sprayed onto crops but those that occuer naturally.

    In otherwords the toxin argument is not an argument at all but an admission of ignorance and stupidity.

  36. #36 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “He actually came down and told you directly that your body is sacred”?

    Why, yes she did. No one ever told you that your body was sacred? I’m sorry … Talk to your mommy about that.

    Two Hail Mary’s and five Our Father’s for your ignorance.

  37. #37 JimC
    October 18, 2007

    I don’t know what Oracs disagreements with Dawkins are but I think one thing is painfully obvious religion hurts alot of people and the more you have of it the more hurt it seems to cause.

  38. #38 Uncle Dave
    October 18, 2007

    Next time you talk to “Her” ask her why the vaccine
    theory doesn’t fit. Have her explain the identical twins, one with autism the other not thing to you.
    Personally, I think “She’s” play’n ya myself.

  39. #39 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “In otherwords the toxin argument is not an argument at all but an admission of ignorance and stupidity”.

    How moronic… I don’t want toxic substances INJECTED into my kid’s body due to the fact that you are correct they get enough anyway due to eating and breathing….

    5 Hail Mary’s and 2 Our Fathers for you.

  40. #40 HCN
    October 18, 2007

    SoCal said “Actually I think medical exemptions should be examined as well. I have heard from a parent in Los Angeles that local vaccine skeptic and pediatrician Dr. Jay Gordon gave her son a medical exemption because she felt his “immune system” was “weak” in some unspecified manner”

    Whoa, a blast from the past. I remember when he was a frequent topic on Orac’s old blog:
    http://oracknows.blogspot.com/search?q=jay+gordon

  41. #41 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “Personally, I think “She’s” play’n ya myself”.

    You mean Jesus did not walk on water? You mean Jesus was not born to the Virgin Mary? You mean women were not created out of the ribs of men? Crap, you’ve devastated me. LOL!

    Now after one Our Father for myself… I have come to the conclusion that I can no longer carry on this line of discussion for fear of being struck down the next time I enter a Church. Thankfully My God has a sense of humor.

    Obviously the philosophical exemption would be the best fit for me and my family but without that option… the religious exemption works just fine. Again, though, if the “powers to be” weren’t so careless in the vaccinations that the recommend and/or mandate perhaps there would be other options. As an example, I once had a pediatrician (VERY pro vaccine) say to me that the worst thing that the CDC ever did was to mandate the Hep B vaccine. He said he knew that that vaccine was completely unnecessary for 99% of infants. By mandating it, he felt that he had to agree with many parents who refused the vaccination for their babies. In order to refuse, he accepted that they had to get a religious exemption… He said that he simply could not in good faith argue with them about that. It is what it is…

  42. #42 JimC
    October 18, 2007

    God taught me that my body (and therefore my kids’ bodies) are sacred.

    God didn’t teach you anything. Someone who pretends to know something about God told you something and you bought into it.

    Even if what you say is true(and thats doubtful) it doesn’t come close to the multitudes of lives saved due to vaccines.

  43. #43 viggen
    October 18, 2007

    Common Sense, while I can see some of the points you are trying to make, I think you are touching on a few other problems that are not related to vaccination.

    Antibiotic problems are coupled to the misuse of medicines by patients who might not finish their perscriptions or share their medicines out to other people when they shouldn’t be (among other issues, including physician negligence, which I won’t get into). The issue surrounding the superbug problems are more complicated than blaming one vaccine, and much of the blame probably should fall not on the medicines currently in use themselves, but on their misuse resulting from the ignorance of the users (both of those prescribing the pills and those popping the pills).

    I would also point out that your references are not primary literature, but citations through the media, which tend to misunderstand the problems they are reporting and distort issues in sometimes critical ways. It’s a folly to take one bad case and inflate that to be the norm or to generalize and say, “Because one person had a bad reaction to a vaccine that all vaccines are bad.” The incidence may not in reality even be that statistically significant. I’m not saying that there aren’t problems… I’m saying that you should watch out that you aren’t cherry-picking for them, which the popular media–especially the internet–thrives upon.

    I do understand people having strong emotional reactions to something going violently wrong. It does happen, and nobody wants to be the person it happened to. Nobody will argue that the failure tends to end up the sensation while the success (as with vaccination) is ignored. Small Pox anyone? People in the US have forgotten when this disease was killing people and the one sensational vaccine reaction in a million inoculations looks a lot more threatening than something that really was nasty. But, a world without bad things happening doesn’t exist. In my opinion, subjecting yourself to a real threat in order to avoid a threat that has been artificially inflated is a bad bet.

  44. #44 Uncle Dave
    October 18, 2007

    “As an example, I once had a pediatrician (VERY pro vaccine) say to me that the worst thing that the CDC ever did was to mandate the Hep B vaccine. He said he knew that that vaccine was completely unnecessary for 99% of infants. By mandating it, he felt that he had to agree with many parents who refused the vaccination for their babies.”

    Clearly he was against the HepB for reasons other than toxins. He was Pro vaccination, but the fact that he did not agree with that particular one becomes another issue entirely, not one of general vaccination danger.

    We tend to go round and round here much as Orac warned about.

  45. #45 vlad
    October 18, 2007

    “No one ever told you that your body was sacred?” Yes they did but it wasn’t God. You never said someone told you that your body is sacred, you specifically mentioned God.

  46. #46 Christ Davis
    October 18, 2007

    Uncle Dave,

    The book is titled The Marching Morons by Cyril Cornbluth. PZ has a post from May 8, 2007 here: http://tinyurl.com/32hklz discussing it, and an article by Ben Bova.

  47. #47 Maybe too many
    October 18, 2007

    Most of the pro-vax posts mention the societal toll if these “vaccine preventable diseases” were to re-occur. Did you ever consider that maybe parents use these exemptions to refuse only certain vaccines – like maybe the varicella vax? Or the Hepatitis A vax? Or the Hepatitis B vax? Simply because there is a vaccine does not mean that the disease is of deadly, epidemic proportions.

    Parental doubt about the varicella vax preventing chickenpox has come to fruition, and a second dose has been added to try and boost efficacy through middle school. Next will be the adol/adult boosters, given that chickenpox actually is deadly in those age groups.

    The birth dose of HepB, designed to protect our young children from an STD, is not showing to have much efficacy by the time they reach adolescence – maybe a booster dose will be added soon (before they reach their sexually active 20s?).

    Just because the CDC recommended it (and we all know that there is no conflict of interest with the pharms there), does not mean that refusing the vaccine is going to pointedly put other children at risk.

    Disclaimer: I use a philos exemption to decline the Varicella, but my daughter has received all other vaxes that were on the schedule at the time….

  48. #48 T_U_T
    October 18, 2007

    Common sense, do you also think that inhaling toxic, corrosive gases is a sacrilege too ?

  49. #49 jen_m
    October 18, 2007

    Sailor, the original source of the measles outbreak in Philadelphia may be found here:
    Rodgers DV, Gindler JS, Atkinson WL, Markowitz LE. High attack rates and case fatality during a measles outbreak in groups with religious exemption to vaccination. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1993 Apr;12(4):288-92.

    It reports 6 rather than 8 deaths in the church groups, but it might be that other deaths associated with the outbreak but outside of the church groups were reported in other media.

    I think religious exemption is entirely appropriate. After all, these people have demonized vaccination, and have faith their children will neither be fall ill nor infect others with childhood diseases.

  50. #50 jen_m
    October 18, 2007

    Uh, I mean the source for the *report*, of course, not the source of the outbreak.

  51. #51 Ahistoricality
    October 18, 2007

    To protect the vaccinated children, the school should banish the unvaccinated children, and the community should follow suit.

    As the parent of a fully-vaccinated child in a community with a high woo-ratio (and a lot of contact with diverse germ pools due to tourism/travel), I find myself very sympathetic to this position. I had a friend, again fully-vaccinated, affected by the Iowa outbreak, too.

    I keep thinking that there’s something ethically and practically wrong with the idea, but if my child gets measles, I’m subpeona-ing the medical records of the whole school and anyone who’s got a fraudulent religious exemption is getting sued.

  52. #52 Uncle Dave
    October 18, 2007

    Christ Davis

    Thanks for the link!!
    It figures I screwed up the title, I might be in that subgroup ;)

  53. #53 Uncle Dave
    October 18, 2007

    I agree with PZ Meyers in his review of the book.
    Don’t take my reference as an elitist additude by any means.
    However much of this “contrarian, never mind the data, I’m convinced” movement reminds me of that book concept.

  54. #54 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “Yes they did but it wasn’t God. You never said someone told you that your body is sacred, you specifically mentioned God”.

    God never came and told you that your body is sacred? I must be truly blessed. I’m sorry that your God has forsaken you.

    ps. Are their any Catholic priests here? I have a question. Does the overuse of sarcasm as it relates to God buy me a ticket to hell? (I’m somewhat concerned).

  55. #55 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “I’m subpeona-ing the medical records of the whole school and anyone who’s got a fraudulent religious exemption is getting sued”.

    What’s a “fraudulent relgiious exemption”? Don’t hold your breath on winning that case.

  56. #56 Andrew
    October 18, 2007

    If an outbreak occurs in a school, and the infection can be tracked to the source child, can legal avenues be pursued against that child’s legal guardians, at least in the United States? It seems to me that that ought to be an option.

  57. #57 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “If an outbreak occurs in a school, and the infection can be tracked to the source child, can legal avenues be pursued against that child’s legal guardians, at least in the United States? It seems to me that that ought to be an option”.

    Who did that “souce child” get the infection from? I bet they could end up tracking it down and they would find that the original infection led back to a vaccine strain of the disease… which was caught by some poor kid at the pediatrician’s office.

  58. #58 Sastra
    October 18, 2007

    The thing which particularly surprised me in this story was that many of the parents who tried to get out of vaccinating their kids apparently admit that their religious exemptions are fraudulent. This surprises me because, as Common Sense shows, it’s incredibly easy to think that anything you consider “noble” on your part is in some way inspired by God.

    Most religious people seem to be used to interpreting all important events and decisions in terms of what God or Spirit has in store for them. “What’s a fraudulent religion?” I’ve no idea. If there’s any intensity of emotion, where’s the line that divides where God did and didn’t get involved? And yet some people feel as if they are “lying” when they claim a religious exemption. They don’t easily slip into rationalization.

    As an atheist, I’m surprised. But in a strange way, it’s a bit encouraging. By admitting they’re lying, these folks have refused to lie to themselves, when they so easily could have. Interesting combination there, honesty and dishonesty.

  59. #59 Serenity
    October 18, 2007

    This country was founded on religious freedom. To state that those who practice their faith are wrong, goes against all we stand for. So, some misuse this exemption. Is it not normal for some to misuse priveleges? Just because some do does not mean we should do away with a vital freedom this country was founded. Just because some do not believe in relgion does not mean we can rip it from others. To say our government cowtows to relgion is just ludicrous. Of course this government is going to bend over backwards to uphold religios beliefs. We don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    With that said, I firmly believe in vaccination. I have seen photos of victims of Small Pox, have a relative who was crippled for life, and read history of how disease swept through villages taking first the old and young, and then healthy adults lives. These deaths were horrific, and they suffered greatly before they died. How many want to lay odds on how many of those hundreds of thousands who died whould jump at a vaccination?

    We walk a thin line here between the greater good of society and the religious freedoms we were founded on. We would do away with this now? I don’t think so.

    I strongly believe the answer to this delema rests in education. If these parents misusing the exemption were properly educated, could invision what their child’s death could be like, the fear mongers would be out of jobs.

    Education will aid parents in truly making informed desicions for their children. We must work to educate young adults of what these vaccinations achieve, and all the various positive and potential negitive outcomes could be. I knew exactly what I was doing when I vaccinated my children. I knew I was taking a real risk with their lives. However, I also fully knew that the risk was much smaller than the benifit. I choose to risk the chance of contagion for the very real chance of healthy and happy lives.

    If we add education of vaccinations to our health requirement in middle and high school, we can dispel the fear monger’s campaign. We can greatly reduce those children who are at risk by going without vaccination, and stop this growing trend of parents who succumb to fear and making irrational decisions about vaccinations.

    I never placed my child in a safety restraint due to fear of a ticket, but fear of their deaths in an accident when they were NOT restrained. Education showed me the benifits of safety seats and seat belt use, and I used them everytime I placed my child in a vehicle. They are grown now and use seat belts everytime they get into a car. They too will place their children into restraints, not because they fear a ticket, but because they know the benifits.

    Force is not the answer. It can only be of use while we educate the masses. Education is key. If a person with real religious beliefs still wishes to withold vaccinations after fully educated, then they should have that right. They also should be held fully accountable for that decision. Children should never be held accountable for decisions out of their control and never excluded. If an unvaccinated child sickens another, then by all means the parent is liable. Not the child. Exluding children from school is counter productive. We are then denying the very education they need to break the cycle and make informed decisions for their own children. While these children are raised in the relgion of their parents, this by no way means they will grow to accept those beliefs blindly. Education is key in stopping fear mongers, and ignorant decisions of uneducated individuals.

    The best and most productive way to stop ignorance and innoculate against fear, is education and enlightenment. Anything else is counter productive and a waste of our time and resouces.

  60. #60 Matt Penfold
    October 18, 2007

    Serenity,

    It seems you do not think people should be held accountable for their actions. If a parent refuses to have their child vaccinated then they have to accept the consequences that arise from that choice. One consequence of refusing to have your child vaccinated is that the child catches a disease that has a vaccine, such as measles. Measles is not a pleasant disease. We have forgotten in now, but it killed children, and left others with life long disabilties. Now taking that risk for your own child is one thing, but putting at risk other peoples children is another. Children under one are not vaccinated for very sound medical reasons. As a result they a susceptible if there is measles in the community. There is a real possibility that such a child will be infected with measles and die. In fact, they do. We are beginning to see children die from measles again. And the reason ? Stupid, ignorant parents who think they know better and are willing to lie in order to not have their children vaccinated.

    At the start of your post you say “This country”. I assume you mean the US. Please keep in mind that not everyone who reads this blog is American, and that in Europe talk of “founding” a country often makes little sense.

  61. #61 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “Measles is not a pleasant disease. We have forgotten in now, but it killed children, and left others with life long disabilties”.

    Ah, vaccinations can also leave children with life long disabilitites…

  62. #62 sailor
    October 18, 2007

    jen_m, thank you for the reference.

    Common Sense. one link you give is about a killer staph infection. It is hard to see that this has any connection with vaccinations. Contributory factors probably include overuse and improper use (on animals) of antibiotics.

    Your second link also does not in any way suggest that vaccinations are the cause of the superbugs. Again misues of antibiotics are more likely – the new bugs are just not covered by the vaccine, not caused by it.

    Finally “Ah, vaccinations can also leave children with life long disabilitites…” Even if true in a minute number of cases, it would be way less than if the population were not being vaccinated.

    You wear your name like an ill-fitted cloak.

    And by the way I really like the idea of an earlier poster that insurance companies should refuse to give coverage for diseases children get where the vaccination is intentionally withheld by the parents for religious or other reasons. (Not if the kid is allergic and may not have them).

  63. #63 Alison
    October 18, 2007

    Actually, it’s quite simple. I believe in God. God taught me that my body (and therefore my kids’ bodies) are sacred. I am opposed to injecting toxins into my children’s bodies. Simple. Enough said.

    OK, so no chemo if they develop cancer, right? (Note: I would not wish this on anyone, this is simply a point) No immunosuppressive therapies, no antifungal medications, etc. There’s a pretty long list of toxic injections that cure disease. I don’t have a whole list, but you should probably get cracking with the research so you don’t let any of those things get injected into your kids, either, no matter how sick they get.

    How moronic… I don’t want toxic substances INJECTED into my kid’s body due to the fact that you are correct they get enough anyway due to eating and breathing….

    Oral vaccinations OK, then? Hmmm. Very curious. I had my kids vaccinated without compunctions because I was aware of what could happen if they got any of the diseases. It was a simple risk/benefit analysis. OTOH, I see no benefit in feeding them a diet loaded with sodium benzoate, potassium benzoate, high fructose corn syrup, more salt than any human being needs, etc. I’m much more concerned that what goes into them provides no benefit for the harm it potentially does. In fact, consider that a child who gets most of his or her calories from processed foods is more likely to have a weaker immune system, throw in no immunity from preventable disease, and it’s almost like you want your kids to get sick.

    Who did that “souce child” get the infection from? I bet they could end up tracking it down and they would find that the original infection led back to a vaccine strain of the disease… which was caught by some poor kid at the pediatrician’s office.

    Any reputable verification that anyone has caught a disease from a vaccine? Source? Link? I’m sure the CDC keeps track of where the outbreaks came from and tries to track down the sources, as in Uncle Dave’s example, so if people were getting diseases from vaccines, it would be easy to trace. After all, they’re made in batches, and all the information on where they go and who gets them is recorded, so it should be pretty easy to show hundreds of people suddenly getting sick and finding out it was the vaccine, right?

  64. #64 Pencil Vane Yeah!
    October 18, 2007

    I see Common Sue M and her antivax extremism is holding court again. Bravo! I would have thought that with all your time online would have produced a cure for diabetes given your Google Ph.D.

    Ladies and gentlemen, you are shadowboxing with an anti-science, anti-government zealot who places the care of her immune-compromised children in the hands of a homeopathic quack. She is completely impervious to reason and will comment faster than most seasoned bloggers. One thing of note – she will play the sympathy card right before bugging out — don’t fall for it because she will be right back the next time Orac posts about antivax quackery.

    G’nite Sue, you vile biatch.

  65. #65 Common Sense
    October 18, 2007

    “OK, so no chemo if they develop cancer, right? (Note: I would not wish this on anyone, this is simply a point) No immunosuppressive therapies, no antifungal medications, etc. There’s a pretty long list of toxic injections that cure disease”.

    This line of questioning always throws me… It defies logic. If (God forbid) my kid developed cancer – yes I would follow the typical treatment options given by mainstream doctors. Yes, it would be toxic… What does that have to do with injecting toxic substances into a healthy newborn infant? The key to your sentence is “cure disease”. The last time I checked, the Hep B vaccine isn’t curing any diseases in a day old baby. Go figure.

    Using your head and limiting certain vaccinations and perhaps using a different schedule from the overly crowed schedule suggested by the CDC is a smart idea. It’s really not too difficult to understand.

    ps. Antifungal medications … (giggle) …

  66. #66 Schwartz
    October 18, 2007

    It is well engrained in the freedom of rights to not enforce medication upon healthy members of society, so vaccination should remain a choice. This is especially true since neither the government, doctors, or pharmaceuticals will accept responsibility for the outcome of the vaccination. Ultimately, the parents are responsible for the health of the child, and thus, they have every right to choose.

    Secondly, it would help the vaccination cause, if real reliable and credible scientific data were provided on the balance of risks regarding vaccination or no vaccination. These are just not available. Sure, you can find super generalized death rates for the diseases, but these numbers are not based on people under healthy conditions with modern healthcare. The government does not provide the real risks of the diseases and so a proper risk comparison can’t be made.

    It would also be helpful if credible safety studies were done on vaccines, but again, this is not happening.

    Third, I do not understand why vaccinated parents insist on banning unvaccinated children from schools, since their children should not be at risk due to vaccination.

    “Generally, if a certain percentage of the population is vaccinated, the exact percentage varying but usually around 90%, the spread of a disease in the unvaccinated proportion of the population is greatly inhibited. It’s like a firebreak against the spread of the disease. Those who refuse to vaccinate in essence take advantage of herd immunity, whether they realize ir or not.”

    You know, I’ve never seen any evidence supporting this statement. It always sounds like conjecture to me. One day, I would like to see the science behind it, but I’ll bet it’s just a hypothesis.

    As for complaining about biased press reporting, your argument against this doctor is ad hominem, so it doesn’t really hold much merit. Should the press make sure they point out the numerous conflicts of interest of the board members sitting on the CDC councils that recommend the vaccine schedule? I don’t notice you complaining about that.

    The abundance of misinformation is astounding as well. I notice that no one deems to mention that only one of the deaths in the 1991 outbreak occured in a person receiving medical care. Doesn’t anyone think that small fact is a little bit important? 3 of the 7 cases, had underlying medical conditions as well. I wonder if the one case under medical care was one of those 3. Interesting that no one is providing that information and that every reference ommits those little details. I also noticed that the two subsequent outbreaks resulted in no deaths in the documentation I could find. Funny, I don’t think these numbers mesh with the risk numbers quoted by the CDC.

    For people who claim to have science as their support, many of you are very liberal in omitting key facts.

    Ruth,
    I guess we better make sure we start billing all the smokers and overweight americans for their future (or actual real current) cost to the health care system. Oh, wait, that would be the majority, that threaten to lower the average lifespan of Americans in the most modern of times. I think if you’re worried about getting a better return for your health care money, you ought to direct your vehemence elsewhere like the government, and the masses of unhealthy people. I am certain that lack of vaccination is responsible for American’s piss poor cost/health ratio. Why don’t you provide real monetary facts before spouting off garbage rhetoric like that.

    chezjake,
    Did you ever think that maybe they actually did the analysis and decided there was no increased risk? It is very unlike insurance companies to miss an opportunity to measure risk and raise rates appropriately.

    PS: My children are not vaccinated, and are quite healthy. During the last outbreak of Pertussis in the area, nearly 100% of the affected were among the vaccinated population, and my children were not affected. Both of them have attended daycare and school since they were 1 year old. We decided against vaccination not because of a fear of autism, but because the science is far from conclusive, the safety data is acknowledged to be lacking, and the risks of injury due to diseases in a modern society with healthcare are minimal. I’ve actually paid for, and read many of the studies referenced by the government, and I was amazed at how often the conclusions or abstract misrepresent the data in the study body. The quacks are not the only ones who exaggerate outcomes in clinical trials.

    I also noticed that it’s the doctors and medical community that are using fear and anger (as evidenced here) not science to promote vaccines, and that’s a red flag for me — just like insurance uses fear to sell their products. If the science is so overwhelmingly conclusive, why hide it in the small print, or gloss over it with fear mongering… the unfortunate truth is that it isn’t overwhelming at all.

  67. #67 DuWayne
    October 18, 2007

    I am all for letting people avoid vaccinating their kids. Just keep them out of public schools. I feel bad for the kids, but segregating them, may help keep them from getting sick too. I certainly don’t think that it’s right for them to put others at risk, for their poor choices, however they might have been arrived at. Some people never develop anti-bodies, regardless of vaccine schedule. Parents who don’t vaccinate their children, put those kids at risk.

    Screw em.

  68. #68 HCN
    October 18, 2007

    Schwartz said “The abundance of misinformation is astounding as well. I notice that no one deems to mention that only one of the deaths in the 1991 outbreak occured in a person receiving medical care.”

    ??? Outbreak of what?

    Is it measles? In Philadelphia? Where most of the chilren were part of a church that eshewed medical care?

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D0CEFDA1F3BF933A15751C0A967958260&n=Top%2FNews%2FHealth%2FDiseases%2C%20Conditions%2C%20and%20Health%20Topics%2FMeasles

    He continues “PS: My children are not vaccinated, and are quite healthy. During the last outbreak of Pertussis in the area, nearly 100% of the affected were among the vaccinated population, and my children were not affected. ”

    Where? When? Which outbreak? What documentation shows that 100% were vaccinated?

  69. #69 Davis
    October 18, 2007

    The last time I checked, the Hep B vaccine isn’t curing any diseases in a day old baby.

    Ironic that someone using the moniker “Common Sense” isn’t familiar with the old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

  70. #70 Davis
    October 18, 2007

    During the last outbreak of Pertussis in the area, nearly 100% of the affected were among the vaccinated population, and my children were not affected.

    This may or may not be surprising. What percentage of all people are vaccinated? What’s the failure rate of the pertussis vaccine? If (say) 99% of people are vaccinated, and (say) 10% of those vaccinations don’t “take”, then you’d expect most of the affected to be within the vaccinated population — there are still far more in the vaccinated population who lack immunity.

  71. #71 Davis
    October 18, 2007

    You know, I’ve never seen any evidence supporting this statement. It always sounds like conjecture to me. One day, I would like to see the science behind it, but I’ll bet it’s just a hypothesis.

    Funny, a Google search on “herd immunity” turned up some references to scientific papers which give some of these percentages for various diseases. I haven’t dug up those papers to check their methodology, but that’s because I didn’t see a reason to spend more than 3 minutes checking on something you apparently couldn’t be bothered to check at all.

    This is what is known as “talking out of one’s ass”; but I think you’re more interested in denigrating public health researchers than in being accurate.

  72. #72 leandra
    October 19, 2007

    If (God forbid) my kid developed cancer – yes I would follow the typical treatment options given by mainstream doctors. Yes, it would be toxic… What does that have to do with injecting toxic substances into a healthy newborn infant? The key to your sentence is “cure disease”. The last time I checked, the Hep B vaccine isn’t curing any diseases in a day old baby. Go figure.

    So, if your kid got sick you’d follow “typical treatment options” from doctors, but not the typical treatment options to prevent illness. Because, you know, toxins are so much better for someone as a treatment and not a preventative.
    It’s interesting that you trust doctors and scientific informations regarding “toxins” and diseases for treatment, but not for preventative care. Which is a lot easier on your kid than having to go through chemotherapy, cheaper, and better for society as a whole.

    Also, statistics and research procedures for scientific research on populations who are being treated for a disease vs. given preventatives – you’re dealing with similar types of uncertainty. Yet, you assume one type is far more reliable, when it isn’t.

  73. #73 eugene_X
    October 19, 2007

    If my kid catches measles (or worse) from an unvaccinated school-mate, can I sue their parents for reckless endangerment of my child?

    If not, why not? I mean, if they had a pool in their backyard and they didn’t take proper safety measures, there is plenty of precedent for me to sue them if my kid fell in and drowned; why is this any different?

    I don’t think the government should mandate vaccines, but I do think that they should be required to enter public schools, without exception. If one’s religious or philosophical objection to vaccination are so strong, then one would surely be prepared to home-school one’s children, or send them to a private school that accepted unvaccinated shildren.

    And private day care providers should absolutely have the right to refuse unvaccinated children; I don’t know if that is the case now, but it’s unthinkable if they couldn’t. I mean, if I owned a restaurant, I could refuse to serve any person I like if I thought they had some health condition or behavior that would endanger (or even mildly inconvenience) my other customers. The potential risks of unvaccinated children are a lot higher.

    Like I said, if people are really opposed to vaccination, great, that’s their right. But the rest of us should have equal rights to know who they are, shun them and bar them from our immediate vicinity if we choose, and hold them legally responsible for endangering the health of our children. You get the freedom to choose, you accept the consequences of your choice.

  74. #74 Catherina
    October 19, 2007

    Germany is actually a perfect example for what happens when vaccination rates go down (or were never high enough in the first place). Last year, Germany saw a measles outbreak in Northrhine Westphalia with about 2000 cases and 2 deaths, 5 encephalites – one 7 year old retained permanent damage. Since about 80 babies were among the infected, we are still waiting for any cases of SSPE. You can do the maths: if 2000 cases equal 2 deaths and several severe courses/permanent disabilities, how many deaths would we have without vaccination with an annual birth cohort of 600’000? How would hospitals cope with thousands of cases of measles in a large epidemic? What would happen to immunosuppressed?

    Outbreaks usually start in Waldorf (Steiner) schools and/or daycares where as many as 50% of the pupils can be unvaccinated and measles are seen as a welcome step in shedding miasms and ‘becoming human’ (Menschwerdung), following Steiner’s strange philosophy.

    What do unvaccinated children mean for the rest of the population? An extreme case from Germany illustrates that. In 2000, a family took their unvaccinated preteen to the pedatrician with a fever. A couple of days later, the child was diagnosed with measles. At the initial doctor’s visit, the child infected NINE other, very young and hence unvaccinated children, who all then had clinical measles. Fast forward to 2005. Micha, one of the babies infected in 2000 comes down with SSPE at the age of 5. With very aggressive treatment, his disease has stabilized. He is blind, severely disabled by hundreds of myoclonic seizures every day. Fast forward to the summer of 2007. Another child from the 2000 outbreak, a 7 year old girl, comes down with SSPE. The decision of ONE family not to vaccinate their child is effectively costing TWO other children their lives. Germany still has about 8 new cases of SSPE every year as a legacy from outbreaks in the early and mid 90ties. Austria, with a birth cohort of just 75’000 just had their 16th case of SSPE since 1995.

    Germany is indeed the perfect example for what happens in a developing country if there isn’t some sort of vaccine mandate and there have been several demands by pediatricians and politicians to introduce a vaccination mandate for school attendance (which is difficult legally, because children have a right to schooling, but it will come if casualties keep coming in like this).

  75. #75 Catherina
    October 19, 2007

    oops – that should read “developed country” although regarding measles “developing” is not at all wrong.

  76. #76 Peter Barber
    October 19, 2007

    Common Sense said:

    What’s a “fraudulent relgiious exemption”? Don’t hold your breath on winning that case.

    Are you saying that it is impossible to distinguish a fraudulent claim for exemption on religious grounds from a genuine claim?

  77. #77 Ruth
    October 19, 2007

    My insurance gives us a discount because we are nonsmokers and within normal weight parameters. That means smokers and the overweight are paying a finacial penalty for unhealthy behavior. My sister had organ transplant surgery a few years ago. If she had abused alcohol or street drugs, she would have been placed on the bottom of the priority list (rock stars and old baseball players seem to get around this rule). Nonvaccinated kids do pose a risk for the rest of the population-I used to work in a cancer center. A simple childhood virus would land a chemo patient in serious medical trouble.

  78. #78 Joe Shelby
    October 19, 2007

    The crap continues and the media does not help.

    The TodayShow today had a bit on it around 8:10am (EDT – if on the west coast you might still have a chance to see it) about the religious exemption, and they had one mother of two on there convinced that her kids got developmental diseases, one she accidentally let slip out was genetic, that she insisted were caused by vaccination merely on coincidental grounds, and she ended up getting the last word in with NO chance for any reasonable pro-science person to counter that anecdotal claim with any proof, nor was she asked to present proof from doctors that they actually think the vaccines did it.

    The pediatrician they had on there was totally unprepared for the emotion-laden attack this mother gave and made the science side look very poor and unknowledgeable. The most she could manage to say was that the internet was full of misinformation, but gave little details to support that.

    The worst thing? The woo side continues to insist that they are making “informed” decisions.

    *sigh* the problem with the debate mentality, 30 seconds each side, is that the real facts take more than 30 seconds to present properly so they can be comprehended. it happens in evolution debates, it happens in most global warming debates, and it happens again here…

  79. #79 Zagreus Ammon
    October 19, 2007

    In 1905, a Supreme Court decision reinforced the power of the State to impel vaccination of people with a religious objection. Perhaps the horrible epidemic of a debilitating disease had something to do with it.

    How soon we forget the horror of the diseases we have succesfully prevented.

    It is wise that we do not frequently use the “Police Powers” of public health, but it must be said sometime that “You don’t have to get your child vaccinated, but you also don’t have to live here and your child cannot sit in school, with mine.”

  80. #80 Maybe too many
    October 19, 2007

    What horrible disease are you afraid that these “unvaccinated children” are going to spread in public school? Are you really putting Chickenpox in the same category as Smallpox? Or Hepatisis B in the same category as Polio? Just because many vaccines have/had significant, life saving impact, does not mean that ALL the vaccines on the current childhood schedule are of the same caliber. Vaccines should not be an all or nothing proposition.

    It seems a little more reasonable to be concerned with a parent sending their child to school with a fever or diarrhea – something that happens ALL THE TIME. Are you going to track down and sue the parent that caused your kid (and then whole family) to get a stomach virus over the holidays? In reality, that is way more likely than an unvaxed child contracting (and then spreading) one of the 50 or so measles cases that occur each year in a US population of over 300 million. And by the way, pertussis is spread by unvaccinated adults – has everyone here had their booster?

  81. #81 Orac
    October 19, 2007

    Just because many vaccines have/had significant, life saving impact, does not mean that ALL the vaccines on the current childhood schedule are of the same caliber. Vaccines should not be an all or nothing proposition.

    Strawman alert!

    No one here has said anything of the sort. Moreover, concerns about whether individual vaccinations are or are not necessary from a public health standpoint is a different question, because we aren’t talking here about the parent who wonders whether the Hepatitis B vaccine (or other specific vaccine) is truly necessary. The parents who lie about their religion in order to gain a religious exemption, by and large, are not these sorts of parents. They tend to be parents who are against all vaccines. After all, a religious exemption probably wouldn’t fly if the parent said that she’d let her child be vaccinated with, say, MMR but not Hep B.

    No, you’re attacking a very obvious strawman in the hopes that you can transfer the skepticism that some have over the utility of one or two specific vaccines to a defense of these lying parents who don’t want any vaccines.

  82. #82 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “Ironic that someone using the moniker “Common Sense” isn’t familiar with the old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

    An ounce of prevention for Hep B? I’m sure that you probably know (or perhaps you don’t) that the risk factors for Hep B are from having unprotected and/or being a drug addict. Show me a day old infant who partakes in such activities and I will join your cause… otherwise, use your head. On the off chance that you have a mother who tests positive for Hep B … fine, different story. The fact is that when your child would be apt to start engaging in such activities as unprotected sex and drug use it is very likely that the all important (cough, cough) protection from the Hep B vaccine is gone. I suppose no one here finds that the least bit pathetic?

  83. #83 isles
    October 19, 2007

    Catherina – that is a horrifying story. I fully it will take something like that happening in the US for some of the nutjobs here to figure out why vaccines are important.

  84. #84 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “So, if your kid got sick you’d follow “typical treatment options” from doctors, but not the typical treatment options to prevent illness. Because, you know, toxins are so much better for someone as a treatment and not a preventative”.

    Wow, no offense but I really can’t believe that I am reading this. A ‘treatment’ for a possibly deadly disease is *very* different from injecting toxins into a perfectly healthy infant with vaccinations which have no long term studies done on them and which contain toxic ingredients and (also very important) are sometimes very unnecessary (see Hep B vaccine). Hypothetically, if a study comes out tomorrow that says that injecting your child with a low dose of chemotherapy may prevent them from getting cancer down the road… Would you be willing to do that to a perfectly healthy young child as a preventitive measure? Sure this is huge stretch but frankly so is your chemo/vaccination example.

  85. #85 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “The parents who lie about their religion”…

    I have used a religious exemption and I don’t consider it lying at all… :)

    Sure I would prefer the philosophical exemption but barring that … I have not an ounce of guilt for using a religious exemption. If people do… they can take their uppity religious morality and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

    There are people who choose the religious exemptions over vaccinating their children for very good and sound reasons. Many do so out of necessity — they have older children who have been injured by vaccinations. Many didn’t start out believing that vaccinations could do so much damage to children but learned it the hard way by living with the experience… Many have done more research on this topic than what I have seen from people on this list *combined*. Very often, life experiences guide people to where they are and for people who have not walked in their shoes, they cannot understand or appreciate the situation…

  86. #86 Orac
    October 19, 2007

    I have used a religious exemption and I don’t consider it lying at all.

    You can “consider” it whatever you like, but that doesn’t mean it’s not lying. Unless your religion states as part of its teachings that vaccines are forbidden, it is.

  87. #87 Maybe too many
    October 19, 2007

    “you’re attacking a very obvious strawman in the hopes that you can transfer the skepticism that some have over the utility of one or two specific vaccines to a defense of these lying parents who don’t want any vaccines”

    I am not trying to attack anything, just point out that not all parents using exemptions are refusing all vaccines. I use a philosophical exemption for the varicella vaccine. I guess if that was not available to me, I might have “found religion” right after completing all the other vaccines in order to decline varicella.

    Yes, it is wrong to lie… but when given no other options…

  88. #88 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “You can “consider” it whatever you like, but that doesn’t mean it’s not lying. Unless your religion states as part of its teachings that vaccines are forbidden, it is”.

    Nope, not lying… my religion is “my” religion :) I guess Catholics who get divorced, or who are on the Pro-Choice side of the issue can’t say that they are Catholic. It would be “lying” if they said they were, wouldn’t it? People can have their own opinions on the matter but ‘forced’ vaccinations should not be allowed in this country. If the government does not provide another option (ie philosophical exemption) then all is fair. If this supposed “lying” bothers you so much … why don’t you discuss the “lying” which goes on within the CDC to scare parents into vaccinating their children? Why must they lie and say (or at least suggest to uneducated parents) that your children must have the Hep B shot or else terrible outbreaks of Hep B may occur (please)? Why must they lie and deceive about the issues surrounding thimerosal?

  89. #89 Dawn
    October 19, 2007

    Well, I have to say that “I” am dependent on herd immunity for measles because I am one of those persons who does not develope immunity through vaccination for it. I’d rather not have pertussis, I’ve had coughing spells hard enough to cause me to vomit. Can’t imagine what it would be like to do it for hours.
    I may not agree with all vaccines. I did not have to decide about the varicella vaccine since both of my kids HAD chicken pox. We waited until the kids were middle school age for Hep B, since they were not at risk. At their own decision, they are undergoing the Gardisil vaccine.

    Oh for god’s sake, Sue…thimerosal has been out of most vaccines for YEARS now. Let it GO. ALL single dose vaccines have no thimerosal in them since it was only used in multi-dose vials as an antibacterial. There have been no studies linking it with autism.

    One day, when I have time, I’ll post my grandmother’s letters written when my mother and uncle had measles and mumps. I’d rather my children had the vaccines to prevent these diseases then deal with the fears she had to cope with (and the polio scares)

  90. #90 Christophe Thill
    October 19, 2007

    Religous exemption ?

    So if I start a religion where it is stated that food comes from the devil and that people should it as little as possible, preferably white rice ;

    And if some of my followers starve their children to death according to this line of thought

    Then they can claim religious exemption, and get away with it ?

    Or did I get it wrong ?

  91. #91 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “Well, I have to say that “I” am dependent on herd immunity for measles because I am one of those persons who does not develope immunity through vaccination for it”.

    I wonder why you wouldn’t develop immunity through vaccination? (sigh). It sounds like there must be something genetically wrong with you?? Apparently my kids have issues with vaccinations… Why would “your” health be more important than “their” health? Here’s a hint: It isn’t.

    That was probably a smart thing that you held off on the Hep B vaccine until they were in middle school. Gee, I wouldn’t be able to do that with my kids without a “religious exemption”… How did you manage that one? (sigh again)…

    “Oh for god’s sake, Sue…thimerosal has been out of most vaccines for YEARS now. Let it GO. ALL single dose vaccines have no thimerosal in them since it was only used in multi-dose vials as an antibacterial. There have been no studies linking it with autism”.

    If you knew my position, you would also know that it’s never been all about the thimerosal for me (although admittedly it is the issue which leaves me the most aghast at our medical community.

    No need for me to see any letters from your grandmother. Keep them in your scrapbook. What do they have to do with having a safer vaccination schedule today in 2007?

  92. #92 Orac
    October 19, 2007

    If you knew my position, you would also know that it’s never been all about the thimerosal for me.

    It’s never been all about the thimerosal for most antivaccinationists, either. Now that thimerosal has been removed from nearly all childhood vaccines, antivaxers like yourself are more than eager to find other things in vaccines that they don’t like. It’s all about vaccination itself; claims of “supporting vaccination” but being worried about this or that ingredient or of “supporting vaccination” but just not these vaccinations are nothing more than a smokescreen for their antivaccinationist views.

  93. #93 David Marjanović
    October 19, 2007

    Actually, it’s quite simple. I believe in God. God taught me that my body (and therefore my kids’ bodies) are sacred. I am opposed to injecting toxins into my children’s bodies. Simple. Enough said.

    So? Toxins?

    Explain what substances in the vaccines are toxins (hint: not all contain the same adjuvants, conservants etc.), explain why they are toxic, and explain why you think they are in a dangerous dose range (hint: the dose makes the poison — we’re talking about poisons, not about cancerogenic stuff).

    See? If I were on the suggested draft board analogue, I could make you flunk within half a minute. Come up with something better.

  94. #94 sailor
    October 19, 2007

    Catherina, thanks for a good and very educational post.

  95. #95 Alison
    October 19, 2007

    This line of questioning always throws me… It defies logic. If (God forbid) my kid developed cancer – yes I would follow the typical treatment options given by mainstream doctors. Yes, it would be toxic… What does that have to do with injecting toxic substances into a healthy newborn infant? The key to your sentence is “cure disease”. The last time I checked, the Hep B vaccine isn’t curing any diseases in a day old baby. Go figure.

    So. . .you’d rather your child be deaf and/or blind for life from measles than prevent it. You’re all in favor of injecting toxic substances, but the kids should suffer a bit first? Would you wait until your child had sepsis to tell him about washing and covering wounds? Warn them about looking both ways before crossing only after one had been hit by a car? What defies logic is not taking steps to prevent something that can be prevented and just hoping it never happens.

    ps. Antifungal medications … (giggle) …

    Ah, yes, how silly. Just because you need to take a liver function test before you can get a prescription to clear up even a toenail fungus doesn’t mean it’s actually a serious medication. And heck, if you’re an infant or have a compromised immune system, the Candida Albicans could kill you, so worrying about fatal liver disease from fluconazole is pretty humorous, right? Hey – you know, while mucormycosis is pretty rare, it sure would be funny if they cut out the parts of your brain, lungs, or skin that had turned into mushroom, but you died of kidney failure from the amphotericin B, dontcha think? Tee-hee.

  96. #96 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “Now that thimerosal has been removed from nearly all childhood vaccines, antivaxers like yourself are more than eager to find other things in vaccines that they don’t like”.

    You mean like aluminum, antifreeze, msg, mouse brain, EDTA (you agree that’s dangerous, don’t you)?, formaldehyde, Neomycin, 2-Phenoxyethanol, etc. etc?

    “It’s all about vaccination itself”

    Wrong. How could it be about vaccination itself? It isn’t. My older children were fully vaccinated. I had no clue or concept of any of this previously. I trusted the system. I believed in your false “religion”. The idea is good about vaccination and I wish it were simple… it isn’t. There are dangers involved and our children aren’t being properly protected by those who are pushing vaccines. Let’s face it… the same organization which promotes vaccination for *all* children are also the same ones telling us how perfectly safe these vaccinations are… No conflict there at all, huh?

    Many of us have seen first hand how the system has failed…

    How does this sound… A doctor should be forced to sign a waiver when they are vaccinating children. If a child has an adverse reaction to any shot, the doctor (or the medical establishment) needs to step up and take on any medical expenses which occur. It will be up to the parent to decide whether or not the ‘injury’ was vaccine induced? (switching it up from the typical doctor knows all about what is considered a vaccine reaction or not)… Put your money where your mouth is.

  97. #97 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “See? If I were on the suggested draft board analogue, I could make you flunk within half a minute. Come up with something better”.

    The good news is… I don’t have to deal with people like you in regards to this issue. You are irrelevant.

  98. #98 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “So. . .you’d rather your child be deaf and/or blind for life from measles than prevent it”.

    Are those the only options? It seems to me that the majority of people who got the measles did perfectly fine. There’s also the issue that perhaps the mmr could be safer if we didn’t combine the three diseases into one vaccine. Did you ever consider that? Maybe you should. At least then you would actually be *thinking* instead of simply regurgitating the standard line.

    “Warn them about looking both ways before crossing only after one had been hit by a car”.

    Hmmmmm? Could warning them about looking both ways before crossing the street cause them serious and permanent damage? Let me know on that…

    “And heck, if you’re an infant or have a compromised immune system, the Candida Albicans could kill you…”

    People who follow the autism/vaccination/biomedical treatment debate know why I am giggling/laughing here. I’m sorry that you don’t get it… So Candida Albicans can kill someone with compromised immune system, huh? Interesting…. Thank you.

  99. #99 Dawn
    October 19, 2007

    Sue…Actually, I HAD the measles once, as a child, (at least, if you believe my mother and my medical records) along with being vaccinated for it years later since I had no antibodies develope, either from the disease or from 2 vaccine attempts. My doctors haven’t been able to figure it out, since I developed quite nice antibody levels against most other diseases I either had or were vaccinated against (except Hepatitis B..3 vaccines, no antibodies…figure that out…). Something in my system just won’t develope antibodies against those diseases so I am at risk for catching them.

    Yeah, Candida can kill you, if you are severely enough immunodepressed. Enough oral lesions, extending into the throat and intestines and they can lead to bleeding and death. And I’d rather not go into further detail about how I know that.

    When my children were born, Hep B was only given routinely to infants who had mothers with positive titers. I had good doctors who were willing, with mutual discussion and respect, to wait till they were older and more likely to be exposed. But if there had been a reason to give it earlier, as, for example, if my husband or I had developed Hep B (possible as we were both hospital workers), we would have given it.

  100. #100 Sarah Meir
    October 19, 2007

    Way back at the beginning of the comments someone asked how long it would take for an outbreak to occur among unvaccinated children. It’s happening right now, among the ultra-Orthodox population of Jerusalem, who don’t vaccinate. YOu see, two tourists, unvaccinated, and harboring the measles virus, came to visit from the UK for the Jewish holidays…

  101. #101 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “Yeah, Candida can kill you, if you are severely enough immunodepressed. Enough oral lesions, extending into the throat and intestines and they can lead to bleeding and death”.

    Oh, I believe you. Trust me. It’s interesting that some of the posters aren’t calling you a crazy nutjob for bringing up Candida and the effects that it can have on people. You see, that is a rather controversial topic. When parents of children with autism who have very compromised immune systems bring up the notion of Candida they are routinely mocked. I wonder why no one here has mocked you? Interesting.

    “When my children were born, Hep B was only given routinely to infants who had mothers with positive titers”.

    That’s of course the way it should be… Conversely now, my children would need to show proof of having the Hep B before entering pre-school. Foolish, isn’t it? Hence the need for fine tuning my religion.

  102. #102 Common Sense
    October 19, 2007

    “YOu see, two tourists, unvaccinated, and harboring the measles virus, came to visit from the UK for the Jewish holidays…”

    Oh, really scary… what’s the update?

  103. #103 Dangerous Bacon
    October 19, 2007

    CS: “A ‘treatment’ for a possibly deadly disease is *very* different from injecting toxins into a perfectly healthy infant with vaccinations which have no long term studies done on them and which contain toxic ingredients”

    As you’re hung up on the idea of “toxins”, have you ever considered that diseases prevented by vaccination PROTECT children from toxins – i.e. either the toxins directly produced by pathogenic microorganisms, or the toxins produced by the body as organ systems fail due to infection?

    But I forget the standard antivax line about how diseases are “natural” and “rev up” the immune system in a good way, while immunizations are “toxic” and “damage” the immune system.

    I hate the idea of lawsuits on behalf of children damaged because they caught a preventable disease from another child whose parent lied about a religious exemption. But maybe something like this is needed to jolt parents into behaving responsibly.

  104. #104 HCN
    October 19, 2007

    Which is a more deadly toxin, tetanospasmin or thimerosal?

  105. #105 Schwartz
    October 19, 2007

    Ruth,

    Sorry, insurance is an optional purchase you choose to participate in. I don’t see the government taxing anyone for the added drain on the extremely inefficient healthcare system you have, and I didn’t hear you advocating for it. If you were really interested in saving money than you should be advocating that long before you worry about the unvaccinated.

    You need to back up your statements with monetary facts, or it just remains rhetoric.

  106. #106 HCN
    October 19, 2007

    Schwartz, I noticed you are asking for folks to back up their statements… yet you have failed to back up your statements further up.

    Could you try to back up your statements that I asked here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/10/using_religion_to_avoid_vaccination_revi.php#comment-607343

  107. #107 Freddy the Pig
    October 19, 2007

    Orac said “her uncritical acceptance of such antivaccination talking points raises serious questions about her critical thinking skills”

    I think raises serious questions about her competence to practice medicine, but doing homeopathy – she should be struck off or whatever it is they do to decertify a doctor. Imagine a civil engineer deciding to use cooked spaghetti instead of steel mesh/rods/cables to carry tensile loads in a concrete structure – that would be the equivalent. I guess the difference is incompetent doctors quitly kill only one person at time while incompetent engineering usuallys kill several people at a time in a public and spectacular manner.

  108. #108 ozzy
    October 20, 2007

    No Common Sense:

    Just because HBV Ab titers of teens who were immunized at a young age come back below the level of detection does not mean that they are not protected. It just means that the test is not sensitive enough. In fact, a booster dose (similar to being exposed to the virus) results in a quick and strong Ab response indicative of immunity against infection. Yes no baby is having unprotected sex or sharing used needles but there is no way you can guarantee that they won’t in the future.

  109. #109 Common Sense
    October 20, 2007

    “Yes no baby is having unprotected sex or sharing used needles but there is no way you can guarantee that they won’t in the future”.

    Ok, so you want to make the argument that teenagers can get Hep B and should be protected because some day they may engage in unprotected sex and/or sharing used needles (gulp)… Fine, make that point. Of course trying to make the point that they should be required and/or mandated to have that vaccine when they are *hours* old is quite a different story. Anyone who suggests that this is in the best interest of a baby should have their head examined.

    How about some critical thinking and common sense put into the vaccination schedule people… too much to ask, I suppose.

  110. #110 ozzy
    October 20, 2007

    Actually, I think it is in the best interest of my child and public health in general. HBV infection, soon to be surpassed by HCV, is the leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide, and HCC is one of the fast incidence increasing cancers in the US.

    Here’s some facts on HBV vaccination:
    1. Vaccination is only against a single viral protein, the surface antigen, not attenuated live virus. The number of pathogens that a newborn is exposed to just in the process of childbirth is astounding, so I don’t think exposure to a single viral protein is very threatening.
    2. Vaccinating high-risk adults was not a very effective strategy for controlling infection. It’s hard to ascertain who, besides IV drug users and people with multiple sexual partners, are at high risk since the cause of infection is unknown in ~30% of adults with HBV infection.
    3.~90% of adults develop immunity while 98-100% of infants develop immunity.
    4. It has been estimated that the vaccine has prevented ~ 30,000 kids from being chronic HBV carriers. Most childhood HBV infections occur in children whose mothers are NOT infected. It is hard to ascertain how they got infected. 1 in 4 of chronicly infected children will die from HBV-related liver disease and cancer.
    5. Serious, not minor, adverse effects, mainly allergic reactions, have been reported in less than 1 in a million. The minor side effects occur at the same rate as placebo injection so they’re not due to the vaccine but instead due to the injection itself. That’s pretty safe in my book.

    “Anyone who suggests that this is in the best interest of a baby should have their head examined.”

    BTW, I participated in a brain imaging study when I was in grad school and my brain looked just fine.

  111. #111 Common Sense
    October 21, 2007

    “Actually, I think it is in the best interest of my child and public health in general. HBV infection, soon to be surpassed by HCV, is the leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide, and HCC is one of the fast incidence increasing cancers in the US”.

    Well, by all means… go for it. I’m not telling you what to do and when to do it… I would suggest that you do the same. Simple.

  112. #112 The Crack Emcee
    October 22, 2007

    I just saw this today and wondered (of course) how many of the parents are new agers? It does seem that this is a new age phenomena – their war on doctors – and their capacity to lie about religious affiliation is typical (Hillary Clinton anyone?) Isn’t there a way to poll them for their “spiritual” leanings?

    When I was in France, I saw tons of kids with their hair falling out and stuff and wondered what was going on, could anti-vaccination be the cause? (They ARE steeped in the occult there.)

    It’s shameful that no reporter mentioned we’ve seen this, in England, already,…

  113. #113 Common Sense
    October 22, 2007

    “When I was in France, I saw tons of kids with their hair falling out and stuff and wondered what was going on, could anti-vaccination be the cause? (They ARE steeped in the occult there.)”

    Huh? You have no clue …

  114. #114 Star
    October 25, 2007

    “To protect the vaccinated children, the school should banish the unvaccinated children, and the community should follow suit.”

    If the vaccines are so great and do what they are supposed to do, why the need to PROTECT the vaccinated children? Protect from WHAT?

    Orac, please, how did you come up with that name? ( I ask for a reason). And why are you against homeopathy? I mean, obviously, seems like it’s not “scientific” enough for you and thus, so bellow you. Why?

  115. #115 Andrew Dodds
    October 25, 2007

    Star -

    Vaccines work both by direct protection and herd immunity. No vaccine can be 100% effective, but as long as enough people are protected this does not matter, because the disease cannot spread. If lots of parents decide to gamble with their children’s health by not vaccinating, then the herd effect is lost and the disease can spread – both to the unvaccinated children and those in whom the vaccination did not take.

    Oh, and Orac, along with myself and, quite frankly, anyone who cannot thread a knitting needle from one ear to the other without encountering resistance, is against homeopathy because it is a load of quackery designed to separate the gullable from their cash. And occasionally endanger people by telling them not to take conventional medicine.

  116. #116 Orac
    October 25, 2007

    Orac, please, how did you come up with that name? ( I ask for a reason). And why are you against homeopathy? I mean, obviously, seems like it’s not “scientific” enough for you and thus, so bellow you.

    You apparently haven’t read the “About” section of this blog if you don’t know where the name came from.

    As for homeopathy, it’s not just “not scientific enough,” but it’s not scientific at all. Period. It’s nothing more than magical thinking and an elaborate placebo. It is quackery, pure and simple, and I only occasionally use that word to describe “alternative medical” treatment.

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