Friday, August 05, 2005

SupportVaccination.org

While perusing my referral logs, I came across this. I don't normally plug a blog that only has one post thus far, mainly because I have no idea whether or not the blog will evolve into something worthy of my recommendation. (No sarcasm, please, I usually have a pretty good track record recommending blogs. Yes, I know I used to have Wizbang and LaShawn Barber's Corner on my blogroll, but nobody's perfect.)

However, this one intrigued me:
As someone who suffered through some of the "benign" childhood diseases like chickenpox and whopping cough. While I obviously lived to tell the tale, in the former case I ended up with pneumonia and in the latter I was miserable for months on end. I would not wish those diseases on anyone, and I don't pretend to understand why someone would leave their child unprotected from those diseases - and in a few cases, intentionally expose their child to said disease.

The opposition to vaccination is one of the most well-organized, well-funded "alternative health" movements I've ever seen. It is important to speak out against those who would use questionable science and fallacious arguments to influence parents not to vaccinate. The consequences of those actions can be potentially devastating.
Indeed it is, as I've blogged on before. And then later:
So what I ask of anyone - whether they support vaccines or not - is to show up with evidence that passes scientific muster. That's all. Anecdotes, ad hominem, or other logical fallacies need not apply.
Given that that is exactly the philosophy behind Respectful Insolence, I'm cautiously optimistic that I could be witnessing the birth of something good. Certainly this article leads me to think that I'm correct. An excerpt:
You will be hard-pressed to find anyone out there - other than hardcore anti-government conspiracy theorists - that claims to oppose vaccination. Rather, they’ll claim that they support “parental choice” (also referred to as being “pro-choice”) and “informed consent”.

Now being “pro-choice” sounds great, doesn’t it? Nobody wants to have their decisions on how to parent their child taken away from them. I certainly wouldn’t. And any parent would want to have a reasonable amount of information before they made decisions regarding the health of their children.

But what if I was told that my choice to vaccinate could cause my child to be paralyzed, brain damaged or die of SIDS? What if I was told that vaccines really didn’t have a whole lot to do with getting rid of disease? And what if I was led to believe that there were other alternatives to building up my immune system that didn’t require vaccines? If I were to base my decision on those criteria, I certainly wouldn’t have anything to do with immunization. I can’t imagine any rational person would.

That is the common thread that runs through many so-called “parental choice” websites. They tell you that you can choose to vaccinate. But by doing so, your child is at risk of getting a whole host of other diseases, and the vaccine isn’t really going to work anyway.
That's exactly how anti-vaxers operate. They grossly and often deceptively exaggerate the risks of vaccination while downplaying or even denying the benefits, sometimes going so far as to deny that vaccines prevent disease. Another favorite tactic is to claim vaccines "don't work" because they are not 100% effective in preventing disease. Never mind that virtually no medical interventions are 100% effective. In actuality, vaccines are one of the safest and most effective medical interventions there are. Sadly, JP already knows that the ad hominem "pharma shill" attacks are coming, as he shows:
I'll get this out of the way right now. I work as a marketing manager for a large technology concern that has no known ties to any government agency or drug company. Before that, I worked for a newspaper; before that, a radio station; before that, a chain of music stores. At no point in my life have I ever worked for a drug company. My wife doesn't work for one. None of my family members do, either. I have some acquaintances who are doctors, but they don't work in pediatrics nor do they (as a rule) administer vaccines to children.
(More on the "pharma shill" gambit beloved of alties--particularly online alties--next week; somehow I never got around to writing about it this week.)

I'll be keeping an eye on this new blog, to see how it evolves.

10 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 8/05/2005 11:49 AM, Blogger JP said...

Orac,

Thanks for the kind words. I hope to keep my blog as honest as possible.

While I don't entirely dismiss some of the more cogent arguments of the anti-vax groups, the evidence they provide (even in those cases) is so flimsy and so incomplete that at best, you can say it rises to the level of being "inconclusive".

There's a far more substantial body of evidence surrounding the safety and effiacy of vaccines. But as illustrated in Britain and elsewhere, all it takes is a concernted public relations effort on the part of activist groups, lawyers, and alternative medical practitioners to lower immunization uptake and put people in danger.

 

At 8/05/2005 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am loving the blogs I've found starting from R.Athiest - rational, intelligent people blogging about very important stuff.

That Ad Hominem stuff really chaps my nethers - since now that you've spent good prose establishing that you're not a "drugco shill," the anti-vaxers can just turn around and claim you're not educated _enough_ about vaccines to have an opinion any more valid than theirs.

I look forward to more.

 

At 8/05/2005 1:57 PM, Anonymous Michelle Dawson said...

I don't know if someone has posted this before, but I saw it a while back and now there's a news story http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/
health/article.jsp?content=20050804_154549_5032 describing this study, whose abstract (I haven't read the whole study) is here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=15811647&query_hl=9

I don't know how good the study design was, but they seem to have empirical evidence that presentation of evidence supporting vaccination is counter-productive in a sample of "alternative medical students".

They also may have evidence for the "pharma shill" effect. The popular article notes: "Some suspected pharmaceutical firms must be behind the study even though they were not."

 

At 8/05/2005 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orac,
I have been some time , following your adventures in cyberspace and noticing how prolific you are. Everything you post on your own blog and others, is so well though out and and the research is obviously top notch.
So how do you do it? You have been thoughtful enough to post descriptions of what a surgical oncologist does, and you volunteer that you hold a academic appointment along with those responsibilities. Let us consider that, we know that you are active in research, teaching, patient care and procedures, and the business end of your partnership. The amount of material that you must absorb in so many different specialties to stay current ( I know that you must stay current, because to do less would mean providing your patients with less then your best) must be staggering. Then there's your family life, certainly your wife and parents want to speak or otherwise interact with you on occasion.
So in addition to all this, you are actively producing your own blog, you are also a frequent commenter on more blogs and forums then I can count (actually I probably could but you keep adding more to the list). So how many thousands of words a day are you producing? I spoke to a very talented writer/editor about this and he say that to produce as many words a day as you do, would require him to work 8-10 hours a day, including proof reading and the research.
So why the intense interest in “de-bunking” the Autism-Thimerosal link? Way outside your area of specialization, as broad as that is. The number of words you produce regarding it, and the amount of research studies, journalistic pieces, and other blogs you cite and tell your readers that you have read in detail. . All this would require as many hours a day as you must devote to your profession at the minimum. By the way it's not me saying this, it's the numbers saying this. You see this is the way I look at things, always by the numbers.
Another question I have is why no response to the Will O. post? It's not like you to take that kind of shot without a response.
Just some observations I wanted to make. There are portions of your blog I find highly entertaining. If you are curious, I have many more observations about you and some of your pro-thimerosal pals.
Tell your newest blog buddy, his hosting service has dismal security.

 

At 8/05/2005 4:34 PM, Blogger JP said...

Tell your newest blog buddy, his hosting service has dismal security.

Wow, my first vague, likely vacuous threat based solely on my position on a controversial topic. Remind me to buy a frame.

 

At 8/05/2005 5:25 PM, Blogger T.H.E.Probe said...

Dear Anonymous:

No one is pro-thimerosal. At one time it was thought to be useful. Now, it is not. Medicine and science marched on.

Intelligent people prefer to use facts, unlike those who demonize vaccines and thimerosal by exaggeration, lies and deceit. AFAIAC, they are purely anti-vaccination.

 

At 8/07/2005 2:00 PM, Blogger Kev said...

Tell your newest blog buddy, his hosting service has dismal security.

His hosting service being Blogger IIRC. Are you admitting to cracking a professional business server?

Where's you l33t name d00d?

 

At 8/08/2005 4:33 AM, Blogger M said...

Something that has always intrigued me is that chickenpox vaccine seems to be accepted in the US, while in the UK it is not (except in non-immune adults working with children or in healthcare):
http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/innerpage.asp?Area=73&Topic=512&Title=Why%20isn%E2%80%99t%20the%20chickenpox%20vaccine%20available%20in%20the%20UK?
Yet is a common part of the pro-vaccine discourse in the US. Thoughts?
(PS: am pro-vaccine in general, but not pro-chickenpox vaccine because I do view it as a mild illness and part of childhood)

 

At 8/09/2005 6:58 AM, Blogger Kev said...

Don't forget M - over here there's a cost/benefit to consider. The NHS is not well funded at teh best of times so anywhere we can make a legitimate saving on a mild disease that 90% of people develop immunity to naturally has to be good business sense.

 

At 8/10/2005 5:10 AM, Anonymous nancy m said...

howdy M,
am pro-vaccine in general, but not pro-chickenpox vaccine because I do view it as a mild illness and part of childhood

Have you considered the high liklihood that you may after your "mild" childhood Varicella bout, in these times of longevity, experience an attack of shingles - and even get lumbered with Post Herpetic Neuropathy for your twilight years?

I've nursed a few family elders with shingles and have been watching the development of the very heartening theory that booster Chickenpox vaccinations for us older people might just reduce the severity of shingles episodes.
This article covers the bases pretty well:
http://www.news-medical.net/?id=10601

I'm going to get my GP to look at my getting a booster Varicella vacc. as soon as another good study like the New England J one comes out.

I live in Australia and was just a few years too old to benefit from triple antigen vacc - consequently had a Measles bout which left my throat scarred and always reactive to any irritant. I thank heavens that my ma was a registered nurse for my not experiencing a worse outcome.
She tells me I had Chicken Pox mildly - I don't remember childhood bouts, like most people.

My reasoning for wanting to get a Chickenpox booster is simple: I know that vaccination is the safest medical procedure yet, so even if it doesn't win me a bit more protection from a severe shingles episode I am confident that I won't be harmed by it.
And if it works against severe shingles? Hooray!

And since I don't live or work with littlies, I go and get a dose of Polio vacc every ten years or so. I have several friends who had Polio and one who is right now going through Post-Polio hell.
And I really wish that the Yahoos of this net world would cover the Indonesian Polio outbreak as fully as this new rubbish:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/huffpost/005316
A poll run by a newspaper is accepted as the basis for scientific hypothesising!? Heavens forfend.

Tetanus boosters seem to be the only widely accepted procedure these days. I wonder why the acceptance there and not otherwise?
Is it only the money cost that prevents more attention to adult boosting against more diseases?

Thanks for the opportunity to ramble on, Orac.
Nil carborundum.

 

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