As some of you may have noticed, the nonexistent controversy over whether or not vaccines cause or contribute to autism (They don’t) has pretty much become the most common theme on this blog, well above what is probably my second most common theme: Creationism/Intelligent Design. the nonexistent controversy over whether or not Evolution is true (It is). Well, that’s because it’s fast becoming the largest medical pseudoscience of our time and with almost daily news stories on it, it’s almost impossible for anyone who follows the news to avoid the topic. And incidentally it also draws a lot of traffic to this blog. Many of my most visited blogs have been those addressing this subject. Let’s face it; this autism “debate” is as sexy a news topic today as Global Warming.
This one comes from my friend, Brian: Vaccine refusals fuel jump in measles outbreaks: cases at highest level in a decade; many sparked by home-schooled kids.
For a MSNBC video that I can’t embed for some reason, go here:
Of course we’ve known for a while about the measles epidemic. And those of us who form conclusions based on evidence and reason instead of “mommy instinct” knew this problem was going to inevitably get much larger. Fortunately, unlike many other countries there have still been no recent measles-related deaths in the United States. That’s largely due to our superior medical facilities, still possibly the best in the world, unlike our shoddy healthcare system because a bunch of rich people don’t like the thought of waiting on lines. But that’s another issue.
Another major factor that has prevented measles epidemics in the past and measles-related deaths in this country has been herd immunity, which Wikipedia excellently defines as:
Herd immunity (or community immunity) describes a type of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a portion of the population (or herd) provides protection to unvaccinated individuals. Herd immunity theory proposes that, in diseases passed from person-to-person, it is more difficult to maintain a chain of infection when large numbers of a population are immune. The more immune individuals present in a population, the lower the likelihood that a susceptible person will come into contact with an infected individual
This is one of the main reasons why we keep the unvaccinated out of our public schools, to protect the kids from the children of stupid parents. So it’s no surprise that it’s mostly hitting the home-schooled child population, which in this country pretty much means children of crazy religious and anti-scientific parents:
In a way vaccines are suffering from having been too successful. Having all but defeated measles, mumps, influenza, and polio among many others, humanity has seen an unprecedented rise in our lifespans (unlike alternative medicine, which hasn’t defeated anything). And since my father had polio it’s safe to say I probably would have never existed if it weren’t for vaccines. In fact, most of us owe our lives to vaccines in one way or another.
That’s why now that anti-scientific superstitious fears of vaccines have become ubiquitous it’s safe to conclude that this will inevitably lead to demonstrable harm. And when that harm comes we’ll fortunately know who’s largely to blame, misguided false prophets like Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield, J.B. Handley, David Kirby, Kim Stagliano, Dan Olmsted, Barbara Loe Fisher, Dr. Jay Gordon, Dr. Rashid Buttar, who have campaigned tirelessly against one of humanity’s best weapons for fighting disease because they couldn’t be bothered with actually studying the science…or rather because they didn’t care what the evidence said. Without wishing to be a doom-sayer or fear-monger, I’d say it’s only a matter of time now before children start dying from easily preventable diseases like the measles in this country. And that’s reason to be very, very concerned about this issue.
The MSNBC site also included these helpful related links:
Antibodies still protect 1918 flu survivors
Lax vaccine laws blamed for whooping cough
Vaccine case no proof of autism link
“From time to time, rumors circulate that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative once used in several vaccines (and still used in some flu vaccine), could contribute to ASDs. However, valid scientific studies have shown there is no link. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), the CDC, and the Institute of Medicine (IOM) agree that science does not support a link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism.” -American Academy of Pediatrics (http://www.aap.org/healthtopics/Immunizations.cfm)
“The author concludes that recent studies have found no association between MMR vaccination and autism. The frequent embryologic neuroanatomic abnormalities found in children with autism lessen the likelihood that MMR immunization is a major risk factor. The Immunization Safety Review Committee of the Institute of Medicine and a special American Academy of Pediatrics panel have concluded that evidence does not support MMR immunization as a risk factor for autism.” -RICHARD SADOVSKY, M.D., American Academy of Family Physicians (http://www.aafp.org/afp/20020301/tips/14.html)
“On May 18th, 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released its eighth and final report from its Immunization Safety Review Committee. Based on a thorough review of clinical and epidemiological studies, neither the mercury-based vaccine preservative thimerosal nor the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine are associated with autism, says the new report. Furthermore, the hypotheses regarding how the MMR vaccine and thimerosal could trigger autism lack supporting evidence and are theoretical only. Further research to find the cause of autism should be directed toward other lines of inquiry that are supported by current knowledge and evidence and offer more promise for providing an answer, said the committee that wrote the report. The American Medical Association (AMA) lauds the process that went into the creation of this scientific report and applauds the IOM and the CDC for their strong efforts in continuing to ensure the safety of the vaccines that are administered in the United States through post-market surveillance and studies such as this.” -American Medical Association (http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/13703.html”
“Some people believe increased exposure to thimerosal (from the addition of important new vaccines recommended for children) explains the higher prevalence in recent years. However, evidence from several studies examining trends in vaccine use and changes in autism frequency does not support such an association. Furthermore, a scientific review* by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.” CDC supports the IOM conclusion.” –Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/thimerosal.htm)
“There is much debate regarding the correlation of childhood vaccines and the occurrence of autism in children. The weight of currently available scientific evidence does not support the hypothesis that vaccines cause autism. We recognize there is considerable public interest in this issue.” -U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Resources (http://www.hhs.gov/autism/)
http://www.csicop.org/si/2007-06/novella.html – Neurologist critiques of Kirby