The devastation that is the anti-vaccination movement

African children with polioIn pre-modern times, an average of 50% of all children born in the Western world died before the age of five.  They died from bad milk, spoiled food, infections, accidents, and epidemic disease.  Nowadays, in theory, the only reason children anywhere in the world “should” die is unavoidable accidents.  Otherwise, we have pasteurization for milk, refrigeration for food, antibiotics for infections, and vaccinations for epidemic diseases.

The problem is that theory only gets one so far.  In poverty-stricken parts of the world, pasteurization, refrigeration, and antibiotics simply aren’t available, so children die . . . and die . . . and die.  Even in America, the anti-pasteurization “raw food” movement puts children at risk of contracting the horrible diseases that Louis Pasteur’s insights ought to have ended.

And as for that vaccination thing . . . oy!  In the Middle East and Africa, as well as in Muslim enclaves in Europe, imams preach that polio vaccinations carry AIDS (planted by Americans and Zionist agents), and insist that children not get vaccinated.  They’re willing to enforce this ukase with murderous violence.  Measles vaccinations are treated with equal disrespect and are, in any event, often unavailable in African and Middle Eastern hinterlands.

Sadly, in America, vaccinations are also missing.  They’re not missing because of violence or poverty but, instead, are missing because of a malevolent strain of ignorance, fully comparable to that the imams preach from their pulpits.  Middle class American parents have bought into fully debunked and discredited studies about vaccination’s association with autism.  In addition, a generation of parents that has never seen the scourge of an epidemic disease is more afraid of the small likelihood that a child might react to a vaccination than appropriately fears an actual epidemic.

There’s not doubt that, every time I vaccinate my children, I am taking the 1/10,000 or 1/50,000 or 1/100,000 risk that my child might die from that vaccination.  Of course, every time I put my child in a car, I’m also taking a risk, and a significantly larger one (1/84 chances of that happening).  Somehow, though, we manage to discount the car driving risk, but freak out over the vaccination one.  These freak-outs blind modern parents to the fact that a good epidemic, once it gets a foothold in society, can kill at rates between 10% and 50% before it burns itself out.  (In the 16th century, measles killed half the population in Honduras.)

Thanks to this all-American ignorance, measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping cough, all of which can be fatal in the short or long term, are on the upswing in America.  They’re not on the upswing because vaccinations don’t work; they are rising because American parents are exceptionally poor at risk evaluation.  They’re also on the upswing in Africa, Europe and the Middle East (along with polio) thanks to both war and prejudice:

The Council on Foreign relations prepared this graphic to show measles outbreaks around the world

The Council on Foreign relations prepared this graphic to show measles (purple) and whooping cough (green) outbreaks around the world

Learn more about the terrible dangers of the anti-vaccination movement here.

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  • Kevin_B

    While I do not necessarily advocate or favor everything that the sciences and more specifically the medical sciences do, I have a relatively large amount of admiration and respect for the (medical) sciences. There are some debatable issues surrounding the (medical) sciences, sure, but in general the medical sciences have done and continue to do a lot of good. The medical sciences are largely a good and valuable thing and we should be thankful for them.
    Vaccination may carry some degree of risk, but I estimate that risk to be relatively, if not almost negligable, and far outweighed by the benefits. Also, what is risk-free? Is anything risk-free? Certainly not. As you rightly say, Bookworm, participating in traffic, regardless what method of transport you use, carries significant risks that are far higher than those of vaccinations, and yet these risks are almost universally accepted. We may have certain forms of insurance against amongst others the risks of participating in traffic, but besides that and perhaps taking certain precautions, we do not tend to think a lot about these risks – because all of us have to participate in traffic on a more or less frequent basis. Participating in traffic is a normal aspect of life we cannot do without. Here’s some news: we live in a risk society. Risks are inherently and inextricably contained in life and society. Risk is a part of life. We can manage it, deal with it and try to mitigate risk in various kinds of ways, but we cannot do away with risk. And we shouldn’t, because a risk-free society would also be an unfree society.
    Objection to vaccination comes from a number of different sources, from crazy and false claims about health risks over opposition to vaccination being compulsory to objections of a moral-religious nature by some religious groups. I for example remember reading about some reformed Christian churches in the Netherlands objection to vaccination. This Wikipedia article covers some of the groups for opposition to vaccination:
    By the way, and to conclude this post, here is an interesting Wikipedia article on the vaccins and autism link controversy – which was started by and based on fraudulent science.

  • Karl

    Four words:
    Bad theories kill people.

  • Ymarsakar

    A car is controlled by the driver and risk is mitigated via individual control or allowing more foolish people to get hit first by others at a traffic light. Don’t be the first in or the last out.
    Vaccination success and non-success is a matter more like a lottery. Somebody else is controlling those odds.
    What humans need are individual judgment and power. What humans don’t need, because it makes people into livestock, is authorities telling them what to do, for their own good. People who do the “right” thing because society tells them so, will also do the evil thing when Obama tells them so. They will Obey. That will be it.

  • Seanroconnor

    Back in the late 1990’s/early 2000’s the town I lived in in MA had a problem when the local school system discovered that two students had not been vaccinated against measles.  The students were sent home and the parents notified that they needed to be vaccinated in order to attend public school.
    The parents responded by threatening the school/town with a lawsuit as they did not believe in vaccination.
    The school caved and allowed the students to return.
    The town medical officer/doctor raised the obvious protest that some parent’s irrational disbelief in vaccination should not trump the public safety of the entire school children population.  This was a straight public safety issue with the law being settled decades ago.  No vaccination – no attendance in a public school.
    When he was ignored, he publicly tendered his resignation.

  • Matt_SE

    The herd has a way of thinning itself out.
    Seriously, this is Darwin Awards stuff. Too bad the children have to suffer and die for their parents’ ignorance, but that’s always been the way of the world too.

  • Ymarsakar

    Statistics and charts are merely propaganda. They are not allowed to influence a free human’s perspective.
    Experience and only experience can determine truth from illusion. Everything else is just what experts post online and on tv.
    Nobody has died and nobody has lived, until you see the bodies. And even then, it is not 100%.

  • Ymarsakar

    In order to make this very clear, I’ll say something with most of my filters up. Instead of Unfiltered Ymar time.
    Karl, who the hell do you actually know have been killed and killed by what and whom?
    Matt, and you. Who do you know that is in a herd which thinned itself out and by what? Additionally, give me the names of the children and parents you claim to have died and list their causes of death.
    Let’s hear what the “experts” like to think. Unless I’m going to get sent to the bureaucratic office and told to look up these “experts” in City Unknown and Bureaucratic Branch division Z that is only open from the hours of 2 to 5.

    • Karl

      <blockquote>Karl, who the hell do you actually know have been killed and killed by what and whom?</blockquote>
      Palestinians who believe Jewish blood is tainted and refuse transfusions and die as a result.
      Cancer patients who opt for alternative medicine until it’s too late for Western medicine to do any good.
      Vast numbers of people treated under the “four humors” theory of disease and were bled to bring their humors into balance.
      If you want a list of people I know personally, I don’t know anyone personally who’s been killed by bad theories.  So maybe those cases I cite don’t really exist.
      But then again, I don’t know you personally, so maybe you don’t exist either. :-)

      • Ymarsakar

        It’s good that you are trying to find examples to portray a certain group as X, an Other outside the tribe. It’s unfortunate that you lack individual examples though.
        However, this framing won’t be enough for certain extreme actions. Without extreme actions, nothing will change, the world will not change.
        If you had a name though, you might have enough to back up a policy against the person and his group. If you do not have a name, I doubt it’ll be enough to convince the non weak-hearted that action needs to be taken.
        In that sense, it’s a free pass for feeling superior. Nothing needs to be done and nothing can be changed, so thus there’s no way to be wrong. That’s a nice state of affairs for some.

  • Matt_SE

    I don’t know any, personally. But then, I’m not employed in epidemiology so why would I?
    I could turn around and ask you for the names of the victims killed by “supposed lightning strikes” every year. I doubt you could provide even one name (unless you Googled it), but that doesn’t change the fact that people die from lightning every year.
    I think there’s a name for this specific type of logical fallacy, but once again I’m not a logician.

    • Ymarsakar

      So you think people win the Darwin award and are hit by lightning, but you have no personal proof or name to back it up. Okay, I get it.

  • Matt_SE

    Oh, and by the way: the entire Democratic party is a herd. The lower-level members of which in Chicago are thinning themselves out every day because they believe the lies of their overlords.

  • jj

    All of us of a certain age – and our parents – were free to ignore a lot of stuff, it seems.  I was never in the kid business, but obviously a lot of people around me were/are, so it was interesting to watch some of the gyrations as an outside and disinterested observer.  The ladies, these days, on being informed they’re pregnant, instantly begin a maniacally strict regimen of what they allow into their bodies, which means that they withdraw, painfully cold turkey in some cases, from nicotine, caffeine, aspirin, alcohol – the usual stuff.  On the other hand, where once a pregnancy meant you gained whatever percentage of weight you were allowed to gain, now they all seem free to turn into walruses, waddling around cranky from not having had a cup of coffee in five months.  And, of course, having noticed the amazing (and it is amazing) rise in autism, there are long discussions about whether or not to have the kid that results at the end of all this vaccinated.
    Knowing from first-hand nothing about it, I find it all a little surprising, and I wonder about the efficacy of some of it.  The family I know best is my own.  My mother was young: she turned 20 in July, I was born at the end of September.  She also had her family’s genes, and was 5’10” tall.  Carrying me, from start to finish she gained 17 lbs, and had her figure back in about eight days after my birth.  (I was 9 lbs, 11 ozs., 22 inches.)  When I was inside her she had a cocktail when she felt like it, smoked pretty regularly, took an aspirin when her head hurt, and had coffee every day.  She was on the tennis court six days before I popped out.  And I popped: she was in labor for under an hour.  I am 6’3″ tall, at the moment weigh about 205, have stayed overnight in a hospital three times in my life – never more than overnight and never for a ‘condition,’ it was accidental each time – and have been in MENSA for the last thirty-some years.  And, of course, when born, was subjected to all the vaccinations going.  (And, as I got a little older, when at the pediatrician for a booster for something or other, he’d whack one into her arm just as cheerfully as he did me.)
    Four years later – she turned 24, her birthday remained in July – my brother arrived in October, under very much the same conditions.  He was 9 lbs 9 ozs, 22 inches – and she gained a total of 19 pounds with him from start to finish.  As a seasoned pro by that time, she was in labor for around a half hour.   (Yes: her gynecologist always said she should have had 17 kids.)  And continued to drink, smoke, imbibe caffeine, indulge in aspirin, and generally behave in what today would be regarded as a completely irresponsible manner.  He finished up at 6’2″ and a bit solider than me: he always weighed a bit more.  He was, of course, there being no discussion about it, vaccinated for everything you could be vaccinated for.
    So it’s anecdotal evidence, and it’s obviously a very limited sample, but I imagine most of my generation, and maybe the one after, didn’t bother with all these absurd restrictions on behavior when carrying, and didn’t question the appropriateness of taking on board whatever life-saving measures were available for the kid.  I suspect I am not the only person of my generation who’s mother behaved appallingly by today’s (I can only regard them as absurd) standards for being pregnant.  I also wonder if these evolving standards might themselves be contributory to the rise of autism.  Maybe a fetus needs an occasional snork of wine or bourbon when in utero, and an aspirin the next morning.  Possibly it contributes to general health – I don’t know.  (I do know that nobody else knows, either.)  I also know that these contemporary girls who walk around trying to keep their systems flushed of all evil substances and their kids in an unvaccinated state of nature are producing autistic kids in alarming numbers.  Their grandmothers, who smoked, drank, got the kids shots, etc. as they felt like did not.  Maybe all this good behavior is itself the root of the problem.  Maybe it just isn’t very good for the health of the race.
    Another thing that old-time pediatricians did was let kids get sick.  Our parents expected us to get measles, mumps, and chicken pox – and we did.   The pediatrician angle on it was that it was good exercise for a developing immune system to have something to fight now and then.  You kept an eye on it, you didn’t put the kid into a fight he was going to lose – therefore you vaccinated against polio, tetanus, rubella, etc. – but you didn’t jump into the jar of antibiotics at the first sign of a fever or cough, either; the way they do today.  (Which has had the effect, you’ll notice, of having rendered most common antibiotics useless.)
    But vaccinations?  Of course, without a second thought – for my cranky old Texan-who-ended-up-on-Long-Island pediatrician, who had also been my mother’s.  My brother and I would go in to get some kind of booster, she’d get it too, if she wasn’t quick on her feet.  He pumped stuff into her arm when she was five, he kept right on doing it until she was 35.  No problems.  Stupid not to.  But, on the accumulated evidence in many areas, I would never say the current generation is not stupid.

    • Karl

      One can make a case for a “use it or lose it” model of the immune system. There are some indications that the best way to prevent, for example, peanut allergies, is to make sure people are fed peanuts as soon as they start solid food.  (Of course, that could also be a survivor bias showing up.)
      I heard an interview with the author of a book on polio who pointed out that polio tended to affect rich nations where kids were raised in the cleanest possible environment.  Result: kids who contracted polio did so in their teens.  In poorer, dirtier conditions, kids who contracted polio did so as toddlers or younger, and had very mild symptoms if they had any at all.
      In other words, they were “vaccinated” with the disease at an age when it was mostly harmless and immune to it from then on.  I know, at least anecdotally, that many childhood diseases are far more serious if contracted in adulthood.  Same phenomenon?
      Vaccination is just a tool.  It’s a way of exposing people to diseases under carefully controlled conditions in order to minimize the damage and maximize the immune response.  Because of the complex nature of biological systems, sometimes vaccines don’t work quite as expected.