Refuting anti-vaccine arguments

Well folks, here we are again, talking about vaccines. You’d think that this wouldn’t have to be a conversation we still have in the 21st century, but…diseases that were hitherto on the rapid decline are now making a rapid comeback. Undoubtedly, most people have heard about the measles outbreak in Disneyland. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. Certainly, it’s a large incident. But by and large things like this are becoming more frequent. Of course, there’s an easy way to fix this problem.

Vaccination.

In the last twenty or so years, somehow vaccination went from well established science and life-saving medicine to the pariah of medical advancement and technology. This is, of course, due in large part to the completely fabricated study produced by Andrew Wakefield about how the MMR vaccine causes autism. This isn’t the only reason people decide not to vaccinate their children, though, and since my job is vaccinating people, I figured I would take the time to actually read some anti-vaccine arguments. So I googled “reasons not to vaccinate children” and vactruth.com was one of the first sites to pop up, and they have an article giving 10 reasons why people should not vaccinate their children.

I thought I would take the time to go through each of the points that the website alleges, and talk about what we actually know. Get your hip waders ready, everyone…

1. Vaccines have never been proven safe or effective. Biggest line of BS? This quote: “Effectiveness cannot be determined unless one is then knowingly exposed to the disease entity following vaccination.”

Okay, I’ve been over this before. Absolutely zero medications are completely safe. There’s no point in just singling out vaccines. Every single drug available (including “natural” ones, btw) has the potential to cause a deadly allergic reaction in a certain statistical portion of a population. Okay? Get that? So what’s the argument, then? That nobody should ever receive any medication, ever, for any reason, because of potential adverse effects? Well that’s clearly bullshit. Just ask the myriad of people who died of curable infections before the advent of antibiotics.

Now, let’s address that stupid line about efficacy. First of all, I don’t know how the people who wrote this think that germs work, but they don’t just magically disappear. You’re exposed to them all the time. Hell, I’ve probably been exposed to whooping cough a bazillion times. I’ve never caught it, though, because–surprise!–I’m vaccinated against it! When a disease is prevalent in a population and you first introduce a vaccine, people are still going to be exposed to the disease (at least until a high enough number of people are vaccinated that the disease can no longer reproduce and spread).

But there’s another, way more obvious way to determine whether vaccines are effective or not: look at how many people got the disease before and after the vaccine. Duh. This is so stunningly basic, I have to question the sanity of the people who wrote this drivel. Take a look at this:

Science, aka fact
Science, aka fact

And if you still don’t believe that, there’s the small fact that nobody gets polio anymore, even people who live in places without clean and running water and any modern sanitation. Same thing with smallpox.

2. Vaccines do NOT work. Biggest lines of BS: “Vaccines, with all of their toxins and their unnatural way of introducing disease directly into one’s blood stream, decrease cellular immunity, which is more critical for one’s immune system.” and “When there are outbreaks of disease, unvaccinated children are often blamed. Whenever the outbreaks are examined more closely, the data show that the majority of those suffering have been vaccinated for the disease.” and “What is truly responsible for most communicable disease elimination is clean water and improved sanitation.”

A lot of the information I gave from the first point could be used to refute this one as well. So let’s just focus on the two quotes. “Unnatural way of introducing disease directly into the bloodstream.” Sigh. All disease ends up directly in the bloodstream. If you think that your body cares whether it got in through a cut or through your nose or through a needle, you’re wrong. What constitutes “natural” is purely subjective and in this case extremely misleading. Do these people think that if they cut themselves the germs stop and say to themselves, “Whoa! We can’t go directly into the blood stream! We HAVE to go through each and every one of the body’s defenses first!” Get real.

“Unvaccinated children are often blamed. Whenever outbreaks are examined more closely, the data show that the majority of those suffering have been vaccinated.”  It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s no data to support this, and there’s a conspicuous lack of citations here. Probably because there isn’t any actual data showing this to be true.

As for the idea that sanitation is the true culprit behind decreasing disease rates, I won’t argue that this helps stop the spread of some diseases. But answer me this: how does a sewer system and a flushing toilet protect you against airborne diseases?

3. The very first vaccine was a disaster. Biggest line of BS: “Vaccine safety and effectiveness is a created myth, strongly embedded in Americans’ psyche and reinforced by the health care system.”

picard

And here we go with the conspiracy theories. Didn’t take very long for the full crazy to come out. Here’s all you need to know about the “myth” of vaccine effectiveness:

Immunization-Vaccine-Effectiveness

If these data are mythological, then please explain to me why I don’t know anyone who suffers from polio. Because that used to be pretty fucking common back in the day. Even one of our presidents had polio, for crying out loud. And yet, you can go anywhere in this country, and nobody has fucking polio. You know why? Because vaccines work. Oh, the very first vaccine didn’t work very well? Well thanks to something called “science” they work pretty damn well now. The first airplane only flew for, like, 104 feet barely off the ground. Now you watch a movie at 35,000 ft while flying at 600 mph. Science. It improves things. And it works.

4. Vaccines are highly profitable for pharmaceutical companies and the health care industry. Biggest line of BS: “Strong financial incentives exist to continue this practice, not effectiveness.”

You need only an elementary school education to see that this is clearly a steaming pile of bullshit. Vaccines are not a cash cow for anyone. Certainly not for the pharmaceutical companies. You’re vaccinated and then immune for life. How is lifelong immunity profitable? It’s not. The drug companies would make waaaaay more money if they didn’t vaccinate you and then just let you get sick over and over and over, and then sold you drugs that treated the symptoms but didn’t prevent the disease or its recurrence. By vaccinating you, pharmaceutical companies are basically ensuring that you’ll never need to buy that product again. 

And it sure as hell isn’t profitable for the healthcare system either, for much the same reasons. I work for a health department, and it’s illegal to turn away children who can’t pay for vaccines. Even if they came in and racked up a $500 bill and couldn’t even pay a single cent, we have to vaccinate them. That’s the opposite of highly profitable.

5. All vaccines contain a number of toxic poisons and chemicals that are linked to serious neurological damage including aluminum, thimerosal (methyl mercury), antibiotics, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and formaldehyde.

Ah, mercury. This is certainly an argument that you hear a lot when it comes to vaccines. There is more mercury in fish than there is an vaccines. If you ate fish your entire life, you’d be exposed to tons of mercury. So are these people also willing to boycott fish? I doubt it. I mean, look at this:

169f8-fish-chart

There are now certain breeds of fish that are so full of mercury that they’re toxic to pregnant women, and we tell people to NEVER eat them. That’s pretty bad. And formaldehyde? Did you know that our own bodies naturally produce small amounts of formaldehyde? dun Dun DUN!

6. Every study comparing unvaccinated to vaccinated children demonstrates that unvaccinated children enjoy far superior health.

What study? There are no studies linked or provided here. This is an unsubstantiated claim at best and an outright lie at worst.

7. Vaccines cause a host of “chronic, incurable, and life threatening diseases,” including autism, asthma, ADHD, auto-immune disorders, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, food allergies and brain damage. [1]

A citation!

…which takes you to another anti-vaccine website’s homepage, and not specific evidence for this claim. Gee, the people at this other anti-vaccine website just happen to have information that the original site agrees with. What a coincidence! Again, no proof of these things whatsoever. Like the MMR-autism link that was completely and totally fabricated and later retracted.

8. The only way to create true life-long immunity to a disease is through natural exposure to the disease in which the body creates true antibodies and immunity on many levels.

Just what the hell is a “true” antibody? We’ll never know, because there is no information provided. Of course, in real life, the body doesn’t make “fake” antibodies. And again, all the numbers showing the rapid decline of disease incidence after vaccines are introduced and the fact that multiple diseases like polio and smallpox have been eradicated from the face of the earth would seem to prove otherwise.

9. Vaccines kill infants, children and adults. Biggest line of BS: “Strong evidence links vaccines to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). [2]”

Again, I wouldn’t say that this isn’t possible. Anyone who is receiving vaccines for the first time could have a deadly allergic reaction. But that’s an incredibly small number of people. The benefits far outweigh the risks.

Oh, and that second citation? http://vactruth.com/2012/11/08/brainwashed-police-ignore-vaccine-injuries/

Yeah, they cited themselves in this article. The paragon of science and knowledge here…

10. If you or a loved one suffers from a vaccine injury, pharmaceutical companies and physicians hold no medical liability.

This point mentions the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. They talk about it as if it’s some evil thing. Yes, it limits medical provider liability (which is another issue altogether and a large part of why the cost of healthcare is so high in this country). But it’s not evil, and it also protects consumers and patients.

For example, it legally mandates that all medical providers report adverse vaccine reactions. It also sets up a payout system for people who are injured by vaccines. Which, again, can happen with ANY medication. It also mandates that information on each vaccine–including risks and side effects–be given at each visit.

So far from being evil, you’re actually given MORE information as a consumer thanks to this law.


It seems like a lot of the arguments that we hear against vaccines stem from what’s “natural” and what isn’t. Look, I wouldn’t argue that natural immunity isn’t good and in some cases may even be better than a vaccine. But as a parent, why gamble with your child’s life? We’re not talking about the common cold here. We’re talking about meningitis. And polio. And a whole host of other diseases that are either deadly or incurable.

Sure, your child might gain natural immunity against some of the diseases that we vaccinate against. But then again they may not–they may die or suffer permanent injury. So how would you know? You wouldn’t. Unless you can magically peer into your child’s body and evaluate their genetics and their immune system, there’s no way to know whether or not your child would survive being infected by a disease or whether they’d fight it off. Or whether the kid next door could fight it off.

And that more than anything upsets me the most about this argument. It’s not just about your kids. It’s about ALL the kids. Your reckless decisions could harm or kill other susceptible children. Children with weakened or compromised immune systems, children who couldn’t get vaccinated because of known allergies to vaccine ingredients (like yeast or gelatin). Aside from being a stupid decision, not vaccinating your children is also an inherently selfish one as well.

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One thought on “Refuting anti-vaccine arguments

  1. Good article. Really it’s quite incredible having to provide arguments pro-vaccine, because benefits are totally obvious. Anti-vaccines, creationism, … it seems humanity is returning to those ages of magical thought.

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