Feb 09 2013

Vaccination Part 2 – Old Wives Tales About Vaccines and the Effect of Anti-Vax

Part 2 in this three part series will deal with old wives tales. In the (nearly 2 years) I have been blogging, I have run across all manner of (to me at least) wacky misconceptions about vaccines. So I figured it would be easier to put them in one place.

The vast, vast majority of these tales are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the underlying concepts of vaccination. But this ignorance has to be covered and explained otherwise it will keep existing.

And this is an ignorance that is deadly. The Taliban have killed vaccinators. And as I was writing this someone sent me a link indicating that between nine to twelve health workers in Nigeria were killed during an anti-polio drive. The anti-vax who target such campaigns often read into the “conspiracy” and “old wives tales” about vaccines. These are ideas flogged by anti-vax online and also by people such as the Taliban.

My personal tale involves a dead child and a mother desperately clutching a hand out about vaccines from people such as Jagannath Chaterji, Mike Adams and Viera Schiebner about the dangers of vaccines. Her son died of rabies, she waited in hope that he would live because she was so scared of the vaccine.

Anti-vax kills in more ways than one. The ignorance has a cost and the people who spread it are immune to criticism. They live in a bubble and never really leave it. However for those on the border, I present to you some of the more common arguments made.

You are Using it as a Weapon/Mind Control

The problem with this argument is that it is highly delusional. And bullets are faster, cheaper and better as a weapon than “vaccines” since those actually kill people while vaccines stop people from dying. It’s the exact opposite of a weapon.

The mind control thing is some bizarre scheme based on RFIDs that will get people to do our bidding. Really? You think the powers that be are going to invest billions in medicine to control you when all it takes is a chubby Korean guy doing a horsey dance to enthrall you? Think it through…

This matches the notion of things like “The Two Drops of the OPV indicate how many children you will have. It’s true! Look at all those western families with just two kids! We will die out that way!” (Remember the Infant mortality rate is one of the reasons for high birth rates. To ensure survival of a few of the kids at least…) and “HIV was spread in the OPV” and various other concepts that imply the vaccine itself is used to harm people.

My Child’s Immune System Will Get Overwhelmed

It’s a common enough argument, anyone who has talked to an anti-vaccination advocate has probably heard this.

The notion is simple. To them the body doesn’t have a mechanism to deal with the sudden influx of antigens from the antigens. This mainly is seen versus two vaccines. Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) and the Diptheria/Pertussis/Tetanus (DPT) vaccines. The combination vaccines are seen as a burden that would “overwhelm” the body. If a single disease feels so horrid, imagine three teaming up to mug you!

Except that’s not how the immune system works. If there are 3 separate antigen profiles your body will produce three different antigens in equal quantities because there is no “factory” mechanism.

The B-Lymphocytes responsible for antibody production are activated and they replicate. If there is one antigen then the initial response would be to that single antigen. If there are three then three different cells would be activated and since the cells themselves are responsible for their own replication they don’t require a “factory” to do their work. There is no bottleneck of production here. Even spacing out the vaccines won’t really achieve anything except create larger windows for disease to spread.

In addition you face down millions of bacteria and viruses on a daily basis with your body coping with all of them. Even a new born baby has to face off these teeming hordes and the immune system is easily capable of dealing with this.

These Disease Happen In Third World Nations, This is Not Africa

This notion is based on the idea that these are diseases you hear about that are far away and that they couldn’t possibly physically affect us. Or because these diseases have been eliminated as an entity from the west and people have plain “forgotten” about them. The stacks of iron lungs, the children crippled from rubella and the children dead from measles are all a distant memory because there exists an entire generation who don’t have to fear these diseases.

The notion that these diseases could easily return just like the polio resurgence due to Nigerian anti-vaccination efforts or measles in Europe is alien to them because the belief that a lot of the quackier alternative medicine folks flog is that somehow eating special vitamins or fruits will stop diseases from spreading which makes absolutely no sense if you understand immune systems.

Vaccination Does Not Work! More Vaccinated Children Fall Ill in Epidemics than Ours

Vaccination like all things isn’t 100% effective. Nothing in life really is. Let’s take seatbelts as an analogy. Seatbelts reduce mortality in accidents by a fair bit but people still die in them. If we compared the sum total of people who died in car accidents then you would see that most people who died did so wearing a seatbelt.

Does this mean seatbelts are ineffective or possibly dangerous?

We never compare sum totals of anything because it’s just a value. It doesn’t tell you anything apart from “totals”. What we are interested in is the rate of deaths.

If we compared the rate of deaths in 100 car crashes at a specific speed where everyone in one cohort wore seatbelts and everyone in another didn’t you would see more deaths in the side with no seatbelts. In our society since the majority of us wear seatbelts as a norm, the total number of deaths may exceed the unseatbelted but the rate of injury is a lot lot lower.

In vaccination terms? Let’s get this straight. Vaccinated people grossly (for now) outnumber the unvaccinated. However their numbers are rising because “Anti-vax arguments are easy to make because arguments from ignorance are easier to make than arguments form a scientific perspective”.

Let’s take an example. There are 1000 people in a village. The vaccination rate is 90% (900) and therefore the unvaccinated (100) are in the minority. Let’s say that the vaccine is 80% effective (so if 100 vaccinated people are exposed to the disease 20 get it if the disease has a 100% infection rate). Now let’s say this village is subject to a hypothetical pathogen which they are all in contact with. Let’s say it’s in the food served up at a big village party…

Now in the unvaccinated section, 100 people are infected. However in the vaccinated section 180 people are affected (20/100×900). (You can do the mathematics too). This means that MORE vaccinated people are infected than unvaccinated people.

Now this is where the anti-vax stop their mathematics. 180 is clearly a bigger number than 100, ergo vaccination doesn’t work. However you have to remember the RATE is important. In this hypothetical scenario 100% of unvaccinated would fall ill in exchange for 20% of vaccinated fall ill.

Hygiene and Nutrition are more Responsible than Vaccines for the Drop In Disease Rates

There is a bit of truth to this one but only if you cannot distinguish diseases.

Hygiene and Nutrition can lower the incidence and lethality of some diseases. Clean Drinking Water and Sewerage stops the spread of Cholera. Proper diet reduces the mortality rate of Measles. Okay. Medicine accepts this.

However the majority of vaccines are aimed at diseases that aren’t controlled by hygiene. The only diarrhoeal disease on the western vaccine list is Rotavirus. During travel a Cholera and Typhoid vaccine can be issued but honestly that’s more for personal protection rather than a non-standard vaccine.

Vaccines do not drop mortality rates of diseases as much as they drop the incidence of disease.

Let’s take 3 examples.

In 1960 the USA had around 800,000 to 1.2 million cases of measles a year. It followed a predator prey relationship with variations based on the prior year’s infection rates (since if you got Measles you effectively became immune to it). The vaccine was introduced in 1963. By 1965 the vaccine use began to be widespread and the rate of infection dropped like a rock. In 1968 the CDC reported 22,000 cases. A fall of over 97%… The only real change in this period was the vaccine. And measles is airborne. Clean water and proper food won’t stop it from spreading.

The second example is the elimination of Smallpox. A disease that historically has killed millions. Prior to universal vaccination Europe had a Smallpox Death Toll of around a million deaths a year. Roughly 8 million people died every year. It was estimated to kill close to 800 million people this century alone. It was eliminated by vaccination. Even though smallpox vaccination is relatively transient due to the mildness of the disease it was noted that if everyone got vaccinated simultaneously the disease would be effectively “starved” of it’s prey. If the entire world did it simultaneously then it would go extinct… And it did. Smallpox is a footnote in medicine. A triumph of science over evolution.

The last example is Polio. Just 6 years ago India had a third of the world’s Polio. It was the biggest source of Polio on the planet and thousands of kids a year suffered from paralysis. The geared vaccination drive is the only real change. India has had no wildtype polio cases in 2 years. And remember during the 1950s when people in the USA had access to clean drinking water and proper sewerage they still caught polio. That’s because polio can travel as a droplet in air or via the faeco-oral route and you would be surprised how easy it is to spread diseases from that route. Hygiene slowed down the spread but it certainly didn’t stop it.

With every vaccine, the fall of it’s disease has always been precipitous. Now this cannot keep being a coincidence.

And to put the final nail in the coffin? Consider the arrival of the Varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. The vaccine was introduced in the middle of the 90s. It’s one of the most recent vaccines out there. The CDC reports roughly 4 million cases of chicken pox a year prior to the vaccine. In just 10 years after it’s introduction (remember the Varicella vaccine was fought tooth and nail by anti-vax so uptake isn’t universal) the total cases dropped to 600,000 per year (A difference of 3.4 million… an astonishingly large number). The USA didn’t magically see an improvement to hygiene during that point that would stop an airborne disease from spreading.

Vaccines Are Poisonous and Have Some Vaguely Established Deletrious Effects

There are SOME side effects to vaccinations. It’s mostly pain, fever, irritation. SOME people are allergic to them. Their immune systems respond inappropriately to them. These people generally are advised to avoid vaccinations or take alternative forms (eg. Nasal Spray vaccines).

However we aren’t discussing this. These affect a small proportion of people who get vaccinated.

What we are discussing is the notion that everything in a vaccine is deadly without realising that the “dose” is important as is the reason for it’s inclusion. To cover every single argument here is difficult. People happily claim that vaccines contain aluminium (they contain aluminium hydroxide which is DIFFERENT) and mercury (again thimerosol is not the same as pure mercury). You don’t see them claiming that 50% of a normal table condiments is sodium and you shouldn’t eat it because it explosively reacts with moisture. The very concept of dosage, clearance (rate of excretion) and mechanism (why something is poisonous) is lost to them.

For instance, formaldehyde IS poisonous. If you drink it in a glass you will probably be very very sick and may die.

However your body actually MAKES formaldehyde. The amount in a vaccine is miniscule and is easily processed by your body. The dosage here is the key.

Again Thimerosal is often confused with the much more dangerous methyl mercury which is an entirely different compound.

To point out how chemically silly this argument is. It would be like telling you to avoid eating eggs because they contain cyanide bonds.

Natural Immunity is Better Than Unnatural Immunity

There is a consistent and common notion that surviving an infection is better than vaccination with the purpose of protection.

But the problem here is that the entire point of a vaccine is to avoid an infection and the complications that ensue. That’s like suggesting that if you are in hospital with a head injury you are less likely to get into a motorcycle accident so you shouldn’t wear a helmet. I know that sounds stupid but trust me when people say the first line that’s how I feel.

But here is the thing. Even in our western society roughly 1 in 1000 to 2 in 1000 cases of measles end in mortality. Encephalitis, Pneumonia and Meningitis… Plenty of childre with measles require hospitalisation. And this is a disease many anti-vax flog as “harmless”. Measles was once near universal. Everyone got it once. At one point in the USA roughly 800 to 1000 children a year died from a disease the anti-vax flog as “harmless”.

And that’s saying a lot. Even when boosters are required the benefit of avoiding the actual disease far outweighs the actual benefit from getting it.

There are also diseases like Tetanus, Meningococcus Meningitis, HiB Meningitis, Diptheria and Rabies whose diseases are inherently a lot more lethal than even the most fantastic fantasy of the anti-vax lobbyist can depict the vaccine as. Rabies has an effective 100% mortality rate and indeed the only reason we have nearly zero cases is because of our vaccination of pets and our prophylaxis using our vaccine.

It’s Profit For Big Pharma

I am apparently a shill for big pharma. I apparently have been accused of getting funded by massive pharma companies/NWO/WHO/Jews/Freemasons/NWA/DMX/DegenerationX/Reptilians to flog vaccines because it makes stellar profits.

Not really, the big profit makers are anti-hypertensives and anti-cholesterol drugs. Vaccines actually LOSE profit.

It’s simple.

Let’s Take Measles as an Example. Where I am working it costs around $15 for the MMR vaccine. Let’s only take measles into account.

And let’s ONLY take encephalitis into account. Let’s assume every other case of measles doesn’t require ANY medication or medical intervention (It’s not true. Many measles cases require hospital care and intervention). Roughly 1 in 1000 cases are encephalitis.

A thousand vaccines with boosters cost $15000. The care for encephalitis is two weeks long and priced at around $10,000 a day. For 3 days of ICU care (A must for encephalitis) you could vaccinate 2000 people for life. If the patient is lucky and makes it out in 12 days then you could vaccinate around 8000 people. If we didn’t vaccinate 8000 people you would have 8 such cases.

Now you tell me which is more profitable? And this is without all the people who require medical care.

Now here is the other problem. Doctors are paid salaries. No one pays them by the patient. Whether you treat 20 or 200 you get paid the same per day. Obviously you have targets to meet or people start asking questions about your efficacy. But we aren’t paid per patient we admit. We don’t benefit from vaccines.

So it’s “not about the money”.

Tomorrow’s piece will deal with the top questions that I have been asked about vaccines and some answers to them.


Skip to comment form

  1. 1

    Well said!

  2. 2
    Tsu Dho Nimh

    “To point out how chemically silly this argument is. It would be like telling you to avoid eating eggs because they contain cyanide bonds.”

    They do? OMG we’re all gonna die!

  3. 3

    Has anyone considered the possibility that the anti-vaxers themselves are part of a Reptilian plot to kill humans so that they can take over the planet?
    It makes about as much sense as anything that the anti-vaxers say.

  4. 4

    I just realized……Jenny McCarthy wears an awful lot of makeup. What do you suppose she’s hiding?

  5. 5

    “Old Spouses’ Tales” … we are up to date in Kansas City! ;)

  6. 6

    Great article. Small quibble, B-lymphocytes make antibodies, not T-lymphocytes (although to be fair, a T-helper cell has to also recognize a given antigen for the B-cell to avoid anergy). And I’m no immunologist, but you’re definitely oversimplifying things when you say that just three lymphocytes are activated instead of one. TB-positive kids with a recent MMR won’t always have a positive tuberculin test, for example, so it’s definitely putting a larger strain on your immune system than you’re allowing for.

  7. 7

    Oh it’s a massive over simplification. I think I mentioned the problem in the first place. That this is the “simplest” way of explaining things as previous attempts have gone over people’s heads.

  8. 8


    I love this series, Avi. Anti-Vaxxers are a perfect example of just how dangerous ignorance can be, and I’m learning a lot about how to combat their stupid arguments.

    I didn’t know eggs contained cyanide bonds. Last time I came across the “Vaccines have toxins in” argument and I replied with the “lethal doage” argument, I used apples. They contain some cyanide compound I forget the name of which is metabolised to hydrogen cyanide.

  9. 9

    Almost every living thing contains a few cyanide bonds. Again remember we regularly consume both sodium and chlorine. Some of the thing we eat are deadly poisons too. I mean sugar and salt are responsible for more deaths in western society than the diseases we vaccinate for.

    And remember, a lot of them are fans of Laeterile. That’s pretty cyanidey too…

  10. 10

    Avicenna, when you mention smallpox deaths, did you mean to write ‘last century’?

  11. 11

    I mean this century… Smallpox was a proper murder machine… Remember that in Europe with our high vaccination rate, in the 19th century we had a million deaths a year from the disease. It was a real killer in the 1940s. HOWEVER… Post WW2 we really got our arse in gear. It was the project of hope. My parents were involved in the last vaccinations for smallpox as trainee doctors and put it this way…

    There were very very few smallpox anti-vax. Wars stopped for the vaccine. I have seen pulse polio in action where you roll into town and everyone stops what they are doing to get kids vaccinated but that was industrial. It was astonishing…

    We forget that at one point 30% of all human deaths were due to Smallpox… And that we can plot the actual unfettering of human population growth to it’s vaccine spread. It used to kill around 12 million people a year and that’s “bloody scary numbers” since HIV only kills 1 million…

  12. 12


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