Indulging Idiots: TOO MANY TOO SOON!!!!!

  • Step 1-- Wooer makes some ridiculous claim about vaccines. This claim has no science supporting it, but it gets *worse*. There is actually not even a theoretical scientific framework where the claim could work.  Claim is antiscience right out the gates.
  • Step 2-- Repeat wooer claim ad nauseum online.
  • Step 3-- Scientists actually go to the trouble of officially debunking the claim in peer reviewed literature (even though there is not even a theoretical scientific framework where the claim could work!) because so many Average Joes/Janes think it might be true.
  • Step 4-- Wooer et ass ignore the official publication. Scientists investigating their claim reenforces/validates their claim. Negative results just mean theyre more right.

'Its the mercury in vaccines!' 'Its XMRV in vaccines!' Wait wait wait-- 'TOO MANY TOO SOON!!!!'

If you know nothing about immunology, this claim might make sense.

'Your immune system' could be 'overwhelmed' by trying to fight off too many 'invaders'/'vaccines' at once.

Except thats not how your immune system works.

You have B-cells and T-cells that, due to random chance/mutations, kinda-sorta recognize proteins from pathogens as 'foreign'. When they are actually exposed to those proteins, they go through even more random mutation to make B- and T-cells that are super good at stopping the pathogen.

But a B-cell that 'sees' a polio protein and a B-cell that 'sees' a tetanus protein and a B-cell that 'sees' microscopic aliens from Mars are independent entities. They dont even know the other cells exist. So, the B-cell that 'sees' a polio protein will just derp around if you are infected with influenza. He dont care. He cant see it.

You can get several vaccines at once (and be naturally exposed to countless pathogens the same day), and it doesnt matter. Your B- and T-cells have a specific job, and they do what they do regardless of other B- and T-cells doing their jobs.

So from my perspective, the 'best' vaccine would be one mega vaccine that would contain ALL the antigens to protect you from ALL the pathogens. It would reduce pain, reduce risk of complications from shots, reduce waste, reduce exposure to the fillers and preservatives in vaccines, reduce reduced immunity due to people forgetting to come back for booster-shot 2/3/etc, etc.

If we could combine all vaccines into one shot, I would be happy as a clam.

Unfortunately, due to differences in production and necessary adjuvents and such, that is not currently possible, but if it were (in the future), I would not be concerned about 'overwhelming' Babbys immune system. I would be concerned about immunodominance-- Babbys immune system would ignore most of the components in the vaccine, and fixate on, say, one of the mumps proteins. And then you wouldnt be protected from everything else in the mega-mix. Defeating the purpose of a vaccine mega-mix.

So the 'TOO MANY TOO SOON' claim doesnt make sense from a scientific perspective (not even mentioning the 'and then some kind of magic happens, and then, AUTISM!' part...???).

But it gets repeated all over the internet, so some scientists investigated.

Increasing Exposure to Antibody-Stimulating Proteins and Polysaccharides in Vaccines Is Not Associated with Risk of Autism (pdf)

Press release

SPOILER: Getting the recommended schedule of vaccines (TOO MANY!) at the recommended time (TOO SOON!) is not associated with autism rates.

I am so shocked.


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"the ‘best’ vaccine would be one mega vaccine that would contain ALL the antigens to protect you from ALL the pathogens. It would reduce pain..."

Do you really think so? I've had a number of [rationally chosen, so not in the least regretted] vaccines that each caused days of muscle pain and fever. My husband's "swine flu pandemic" vaccine prostrated him for two days - it's no wonder that people wrongly believe the vaccine gave them flu when it causes fever, fatigue and severe body aches. If all of those vaccines were wrapped up into one and no doubt with more attached "just in case", I imagine that it might feel like a full-blown case of dengue. Better perhaps to get what you need when you need them and spread the pain out. Also, many vaccines require two or three shots, so one shot will never be adequate.

I think an important question, which 'jane' started poking at, is: When your body learns to mount an immune response to the pathogens, does that response get amplified/exacerbated if there are many different pathogens running around together? Or will you feel the same level of sick regardless of how many of the buggers are in there together?

I have no idea which is the right answer. I tried to puzzle it out based on erv's info but I am not a biologist.

@ Jane - Most of the immune response that causes side effects in vaccines is due to the adjuvants (things that non-specifically activate your immune system), not the principal components of the vaccine. Adding more proteins/peptides for your B-cells to see shouldn't increase the side effects - the question is how effectively would you mount an immune response to each constituent of the vaccine.

@ BaS - In a normal infection, more bugs = more and different types of immune system activation. If you have a bacterial infection, you're activating the bacterial sensors, and if you have a viral infection, your activating viral sensors etc. All of that is causing different (but overlapping) types of inflammation, and we don't have a great deal of understanding about how all those signals are integrated.

However, in a vaccine, you typically don't have live bugs (sometimes you do). You have a bunch of proteins (non infectious, not immune-activating) mixed up with a fixed amount of an adjuvant. That's going to activate inflammation the same way regardless of the proteins included in the mix.

@ Abbie - I mostly agree with you, but you're ignoring the innate immune activation caused by vaccines. If you inject a baby (or any person) with a couple of grams of CFA, you're going to cause massive inflammation and probably some tissue damage, so it's not completely implausible that giving a ton of vaccines could potentially cause some harm. My guess is that there is some upper limit of the amount of inflammation that we can safely induce.

That said, the evidence is overwhelming that typical post-natal vaccine schedules don't come anywhere near this potential upper limit, so yeah - antivaxers still crazy.

By Kevin Bonham (not verified) on 03 Apr 2013 #permalink

Aren't multiple vaccines one of the few replicated findings associated with Gulf War Syndrome? (1) The entire vaccines chapter in this report is pretty interesting.

Also, what about the increased risk of narcolepsy with the Pandemrix vaccine? Furthermore, if vaccines can result in narcolepsy, why would narcolepsy be the only ill health effect that could be expected to occur following vaccines? What if a putative ill-health effect arising from vaccines were something more subtle than overt narcolepsy and/or something which had never been documented before, ie a new clinical entity or entities? Doctors only know what they are taught in school, but new clinical entities by definition aren't taught in med school, which results in kind of a catch-22 situation for the recognition of such entities- ""That's a problem with all physicians — VA, military or civilian," Baraniuk said. "If it doesn't fall within their small world of known diseases, then the patient is nuts."" (3)

1. Gulf War Illness and the Health of Gulf War Veterans p.101-127-…

2. CDC statement on narcolepsy following Pandemrix influenza vaccination in Europe-

3. Researchers tie Gulf War illness to brain damage…

That's a new approach. "OK, vaccines aren't causing diseases that we know about , but suppose they're causing diseases THAT NO-ONE'S DISCOVERED YET!!!"

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 10 Apr 2013 #permalink

The "TOO MANY TOO SOON!" strongly reminds me of the old Caveman Science comic strip :)

By Corkscrew (not verified) on 12 Apr 2013 #permalink


Right now, in the UK, the outbreak of measles has reached epidemic proportions. Nearly 700 people have come down with the highly contagious disease in south Wales, and that number may double. Measles can cause a nasty rash and high fever, and in children can cause ear infections, encephalitis, and death.

By AndrewV69 (not verified) on 15 Apr 2013 #permalink

I doubt you'd recognize an immune system if one hit you in the face.

By Sid Offit (not verified) on 23 Apr 2013 #permalink

We give horses "Three-", "Four-" or "Five-Ways" -- one shot packing vaccines for Eastern & Western Encephalitis, Rhino, Flu, and/or Tetanus. Which is nice, as it leaves one side of the neck free for the West Nile.

By Matt Cavanaugh (not verified) on 30 Apr 2013 #permalink

I'm not an anti-vaxer in the usual sense, and I've gone and got my shots when it was called for, but I'm very curious about a big issue that I don't come across any thoughts about. (And I know that's mainly because I'm not reading immunology journals, and facebook doesn't tend to get beyond people spouting pseudo-scientific quackery, or smug atheists shouring them down. Don't get me wrong, I'm an atheist too, I just try not to be too smug about it.)

Anyway, my issue is that I don't really get where vaccination is aiming for. Or maybe where it's coming from philosophically. I mean, obviously, we try to prevent illnesses and deaths. And it's been working this past few decades, but is it the best approach for our species to take to this ancient process of evolving in concert with all the viruses and bacteria around us? I can't help feeling that in the long run we might be better off letting natural selection take its course.

I don't mean that in just a simplistic way, like "oh it's natural, it must be better." I mean it as part of a conversation that we've seemingly never been in a position to need to have before, about whether there might be a point where we've taken our survival skills too far. Even without being individually selfish, simply our ability to feed ourselves and overcome disease has meant that we're pushing ecosystem limits in ways we're not used to having to deal with.

I'm not going to go sabotaging vaccinations (or farms...) to make anyone conform to my view - I don't even have a firmly fixed view - but I'd really like to hear of anywhere that this kind of stuff is discussed rationally and frankly.

By Paul Spencer (not verified) on 01 Jun 2013 #permalink

Well Paul, first off what you should probably spend a bit more time actually thinking about what you're saying here, because what you're suggesting is that we just let all those people around us die from easily preventable diseases. Secondly you don't seem to have a very good grasp of how evolution and natural selection work. If you think vaccines mean that we've removed the evolutionary pressure of these diseases from socity you are sorely mistaken, even in places with high herd immunity, we are for the most part still exposed to many of these diseases, we just don't die from them. If the rare case that we actually wipe something out through the use of vaccines I think it's fairly safe to say that no one will shed a tear for polio or small pox. additionally, to be clear, there is no "best" way to evolve. Evolution isn't about "bests", it's about what works right this second, and then throwing a bunch of stuff at a wall to see what works enough to keep going. There is no plan, there is no right or wrong to it and you can't "stop" it with vaccines or anything else. Now go think about the disgusting eugenics BS you just spouted off and see if you can't think of a few reasons that you haven't seen many people "rationally discussing" some of the points you brought up.

So I'm guessing that you (Zack) aren't interested in discussing things like a reasonable human being. But for anyone else who might be, that post did raise one substantial point among the vicious attacks, so I'll continue the conversation.

"If you think vaccines mean that we’ve removed the evolutionary pressure of these diseases from society, you are sorely mistaken; even in places with high herd immunity, we are for the most part still exposed to many of these diseases, we just don’t die from them"

This is the point that I'm trying to understand more about. The details here are crucial in answering my main question about whether we're going down the right path in the long run.

I presume it's clear to everyone here that evolution is a totally directionless, goal-less process where everything that allows for survival is 'selected for' and everything that dies out, well, it dies out. So when we talk about the aims or intentions of a species as it evolves, we're really just using our own values as a metaphor for what a species may want if it could plan these things.

With that in mind, most diseases aren't aiming to kill their host. The ideal outcome, for an evolving disease, is to become something that its host benefits from and, ultimately, depends on for survival. You're probably aware of mitochindria as the celebrated example of this, where what was once an invasive life-form became an integral part of every cell of our bodies.

Not only do diseases place evolutionary pressure on us, but we do on them as well. We've been involved in a complex process of evolution along with all the other life forms, obviously since life began. And diseases that were once deadly to us are now no longer usually fatal, for example the common cold. My question is about whether vaccines are slowing the process of our own and diseases' evolution towards a situation where we can live beneficially together.

By Paul Spencer (not verified) on 04 Jul 2013 #permalink

I think what you're asking is "are vaccines slowing down or inhibiting host-virus co-evolution towards a symbiotic relationship" (correct me if I'm wrong).

I don't think that vaccines are "slowing down" our trek towards a symbiotic relationship with other bugs. Partially because evolution is an ongoing event that cannot be slowed down. Not saying that it's guaranteed to happen with bugs that we vaccinate ourselves against (after all, smallpox was declared eradicated by the WHO in 1979 due to a rigorous attempt to get the disease under control), but it's possible that the bugs we vaccinate ourselves against could evolve to a point where we enter into a symbiotic relationship with them even while staying on the vaccination schedule your doctor recommends. I guess one could say that vaccinations and our immune system act as pressures on an invading bug, where the bug could be exposed to these pressures on a regular basis due to our almost regular exposure to them. Therefore, it's left up to the whole population of the bug to evolve enough where the population survives the pressures placed on it, or to succumb to the pressures put on it. So for example, smallpox wasn't capable of evolving with the pressures the vaccine and our attempts at controlling it placed on it, and therefore it was eradicated. There are a few other requirements needed before a symbiotic relationship could be established, but I thought that fitness was a more important issue to discuss.

By faro myrrh (not verified) on 03 Aug 2013 #permalink