More on Vaccines

I can’t stay away. I picked up the new issue of U.S. News & World Report last night, which contains an article titled “A closer look at vaccines” by Deborah Kotz. The article doesn’t appear to be available online, but the U.S. News website has a companion piece about taking a flexible approach to the vaccination schedule, with Dr. Lawrence Rosen of the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Complimentary and Alternative Medicine taking the pro stance and Dr. Margaret Fisher of the AAP Section on Infectious Disease taking the con stance.

I find the article biased. Kotz touches on adverse reactions early, but saves the tidbit that the VAERS (the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) is not necessarily the most accurate way of tallying incidents caused by vaccines for the last page. Kotz spends a lot of time talking about Hannah Poling, and discusses the way in which vaccines caused her autism, but the article ends up reading like mitochondrial disease caused by vaccination is common.

There is also a bit of information which the antivaccine groups often bring up to make themselves seem less monsterous. This is the “what’s the harm in getting sick?” argument:

Menactra, for example, protects against bacterial meningitis, which strikes about 1 in 100,000 people per year and kills about 1 in 1 million.

Wow! Only strikes 1 in 100,000 ? We should let people get this then! Of course, bacterial meningitis causes irritability, delerium, photo- and phonophobia, and a bulging of the soft spot on the head, as well as rashes and legions. They also don’t bother to mention that 1 in 100,000 means 3030 people per year in the United States. 303 people will die from it. Keep in mind that untreated meningitis has a much higher mortality rate, and that there is a cost for treatment. The article also states:

But [Menactra] also may cause Guillain-Barré syndrome, a temporary but severe paralysis triggered by an overactive immune system, in 1 to 2 teens per million who are vaccinated.

However, from a statement from the CDC:

This finding suggests that the rate of GBS among MCV4 recipients based on the number of cases reported within six weeks of administration of MCV4 is similar to what might have been expected to occur by chance alone. However, the timing of the onset of neurological symptoms (within 1.5 to 5 weeks of vaccination) is of concern.

If we don’t vaccinate, thousands of people will likely get one disease, and about 300 will die. If we do faccinate 300-600 may get a another disease, and far fewer will die. Lets also not overlook cost of treatment. It is great to advocate chickenpox parties if you can afford doctor visits and medication. It’s also great to advocate expanding the vaccine schedule so that children have more doctor visits, which low-income parents have to pay for. This article even advocates giving your kid the thimerosal-free flu vaccine, a recomendation with about as much scientific backing as “stay away from toads to avoid warts.”

The irony is that the “too much, too soon” argument is easily refuted by the same studies which show that the rise in autism is due to the expansion of diagnistic criterial in the DSM-IN in 1994. The reason that the AntiVax people don’t want you to hear that is that guys like David Kirby and JB Handley make too much money lying to you about the dangers of vaccines.

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