Vaccinations

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Hoogstwaarschijnlijk
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Vaccinations

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2013-06-18, 9:25

At the moment there are measles in the Netherlands (http://nos.nl/artikel/517052-uitbraak-v ... ebelt.html), which made me wonder how many people in the Netherlands are vaccinated. Apparently this is more than 95%, so that's nearly everyone! Still some children are ill now, these are mostly children from religious parents.

Then I heard on the radio 75% or so of all the children in the world have received vaccinations. I thought this was quite a lot and wondered about the number of unvaccinated children in America, and their reasons. And I found this article: http://www.immunizationinfo.org/science ... d-children

Which made me wonder: is religion also their reason to not vaccinate their children, or is mostly fear that the vaccinations are doing more wrong than good?
What do you think?
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Levo » 2013-06-18, 12:14

I would vote for the last one. It is almost never religion that prohibits things, but habits and imaginations in people's mind (which might had come formerly - like hundreds of years before - from religious views too).
But let a more proper poster tell this.

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Re: Vaccinations

Postby linguoboy » 2013-06-18, 13:20

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:Which made me wonder: is religion also their reason to not vaccinate their children, or is mostly fear that the vaccinations are doing more wrong than good?

I haven't seen figures, but certainly attention in the mass media and the blogosphere is on those who refuse to vaccinate due to safety concerns about vaccines. The anti-vaccination movement really seems to have taken off with a 1998 paper published in respected British medical journal The Lancet which purported to link the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine to autism in children. Eventually, the article was declared fraudulent and, as a result of his role in the deception, its author, Andrew Wakefield, is no longer a licenced physician in the UK (or anywhere else). There's a fantastic introduction to the story of the fraud and its consequences here in comic strip form: http://tallguywrites.livejournal.com/148012.html.

Sadly, the official debunking didn't come until 2010. By then, a great deal of damage had already been done and the "anti-vac" movement has gained too much momentum to be arrested. Its leaders (particularly an American actress with two autistic children) are conspiracy theorists with the strange belief that there is big money in vaccinations. (In fact, the low profit margin is one of the reasons why research and development is commonly funded by state actors.) There's actually much more money to be made in treating measles (which can cost upwards of $30,000 per case in the USA).

The whole thing represents one of the most depressing trends I've ever seen in contemporary society, underscoring just how piss poor science education is in the USA and elsewhere. There was a heartbreaking story for New Zealand of a child who almost died of tetanus--tetanus! Who the fuck doesn't vaccinate for tetanus! He had to be put into a coma for treatment and then retaught how to walk. (Details here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10855638.) And arguable the worst part? Both his parents had degrees in science. Yet that wasn't enough to furnish them with the basic scientific literacy to distinguish reliable findings from alarmist balderdash. It's shit like that which makes me think our race is simply doomed.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby linguoboy » 2013-06-18, 14:37

By the way, if I come off as an asshole with my demands for citations and sources for claims made in these fora, well, this is part of the reason why. No, generalisations about vowels and consonants are not matters of life and death. But if you get used to evaluating the evidence critically even in these cases, then when it is a matter of life and death you'll do it without a second thought.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-06-18, 15:51

Which made me wonder: is religion also their reason to not vaccinate their children, or is mostly fear that the vaccinations are doing more wrong than good?
AFAIK it's mostly just stupidity. linguoboy beat me to it, but Andrew Wakefield and then Jenny McCartney started the hysteria over autism and mercury (never mind that decades of advances in neuroscience still haven't been able to tell us exactly what causes autism save that it's at least partly genetic and not all of the vaccines in question even have mercury in them) and it's never gone away despite his claims being thoroughly debunked. Parents of autistic children are understandably upset that their children have an incurable condition that's going to be a great strain on them all their lives, and some of them don't take it all that well. It's the same as batshit crazy people who are afraid that big government putting fluoride in water is a Communist plot to steal our precious bodily fluids - no amount of reasoning with them will convince them otherwise, because then the cognitive dissonance might be too great for them to handle.

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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Varislintu » 2013-06-19, 6:50

I second linguoboy -- the anti-vaccination movement is among the most disappointing phenomena of the modern day. Even my boyfriend has a colleague who is "vaccination skeptical" and wants to vaccinate his kids "later". And that's an educated programmer. It's everywhere by now.

I read this article in a British online newspaper where a woman described her "conversion" from being against vaccinations for her kids to having them vaccinated, after her child caught and suffered through pertussis, i.e. whooping-cough. Thing is, even after this, she didn't really convert. She still couldn't take the kids to be vaccinated herself, because she said she just had such a strong feeling/hunch against them (whatever that means). She had them go with grandma. Another gem in the article was that she said she didn't realise pertussis actually meant whooping cough. So, she felt she had enough medical knowledge to make such a hugely impacting decision on behalf of her kids that she didn't have them immunised, but she hadn't bothered to inform herself about the very basic facts.

Indeed, it's some kind of stupidity, I think.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2013-06-19, 8:01

I've had pertussis, even though I was vaccinated, hm...

Anyway, your answers surprised me! Obviously some people in the Netherlands are sceptic too, because they don't trust the medical industry that much and think that it's still not clear what vaccinations exactly do, but this is mostly related to the vaccination for cervical cancer. I would have expected that in the USA, where religion is so much more important and vived, more people would be against vaccinations because of their religion than because they just don't trust science. I think in the Netherlands this is the other way round, here people who are against vaccinations usually say: 'Let God decide about my child to be healthy, we shouldn't influence it like this.' But I've heard that secretly these parents sometimes vaccinate their children anyway these days, they just don't shout it around.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Varislintu » 2013-06-19, 8:17

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:I've had pertussis, even though I was vaccinated, hm...


You can still get it, even if you're vaccinated against it. Wikipedia says one of the vaccine types is 71-85% effective. Still, it's better than hoping for the best. Also, the effect of the vaccine wears off, so adults are usually not covered anymore, and can thus carry and spread the disease. I wonder if pertussis bacteria could be eradicated if adults were also given booster shots? Perhaps not, maybe that's why it's not something that's encouraged.

EDIT: I should have read al the Wikipedia article, as it says this:

Immunization against pertussis does not confer lifelong immunity. While adults rarely die if they contract pertussis after the effects of their childhood vaccinations have worn off, they may transmit the disease to people at much higher risk of injury or death. To reduce morbidity and spread of the disease, Canada, France, the U.S. and Germany have approved pertussis vaccine booster shots. The pertussis booster for adults is combined with a tetanus vaccine and diphtheria vaccine booster; this combination is abbreviated "Tdap" (Tetanus, diphtheria, acellular pertussis).
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2013-06-19, 9:00

Varislintu wrote:
Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:I've had pertussis, even though I was vaccinated, hm...


You can still get it, even if you're vaccinated against it. Wikipedia says one of the vaccine types is 71-85% effective. Still, it's better than hoping for the best.

Yeah, I guess so. Still, I understand a bit why parents think about not vaccinating their children (immediately). Because you can't avoid all diseases anyway. Because vaccination hurts (I cried so hard when I was nine or so, I remember it vividly, if I could have chosen then... Glad my mother forced me to stay :wink: ) Because vaccinations can make you ill (well, feverish).
I'd still vaccinate my child though. And that you would get autism of it, that's just stupid, how can anyone believe such a thing :|
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Varislintu » 2013-06-19, 12:56

Hoogstwaarschijnlijk wrote:Still, I understand a bit why parents think about not vaccinating their children (immediately). Because you can't avoid all diseases anyway. Because vaccination hurts (I cried so hard when I was nine or so, I remember it vividly, if I could have chosen then... Glad my mother forced me to stay :wink: ) Because vaccinations can make you ill (well, feverish).
I'd still vaccinate my child though. And that you would get autism of it, that's just stupid, how can anyone believe such a thing :|


Sure, I can understand a parent stopping for the first time in their life to think about vaccines, what they are and why we give them. I can understand it might create a feeling of ignorance that alarms or worries them. That they'd want to educate themselves about them. I can't, however, understand increasing the risk to your child of painful, crippling and deadly diseases for years. For their most vulnerable years, no less. On very flimsy grounds.

A lot of parent who want to vaccinate later talk about how they don't want to expose their kids to pathogens (from vaccines) before their immune system has developed more. I don't understand the reasoning for this, however. Young children, new to the world, are exposed to pathogens on a daily basis. That's what makes their immune system develop. The few additional ones in vaccines can surely not be the most dangerous ones that'll break the child's health, considering the greater picture.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby linguoboy » 2013-06-19, 15:45

Varislintu wrote:I read this article in a British online newspaper where a woman described her "conversion" from being against vaccinations for her kids to having them vaccinated, after her child caught and suffered through pertussis, i.e. whooping-cough.

I think one on the key factors in the growth of the anti-vaccination movement is the extinction of many of these diseases from living memory. Dr Salk's celebrated polio vaccine was introduced here in the US in 1962, only a decade after a serious polio outbreak which resulted in 93,000 new cases. Even apart from that, the number of new cases diagnosed each year was running about 20,000. Everyone knew someone with polio, so they had direct experience of just how awful and crippling paralytic poliomyelitis could be. But by 1994, polio had been declared eradicated not just from the USA but the Americas as a whole. Around the same time, measles and mumps were wiped out as well.

Meanwhile, autism diagnoses have skyrocketed to 2% of all children in the US. The result is that the threat of autism is very real--you see cases and hear horror stories all the time. But old childhood scourges seem remote; you only hear about them from elderly relatives or travelers to neglected corners of the developing world, if at all. Because of the various cognitive biases these experiences are filtered through, it's all to easy for caregivers to draw dramatically wrongheaded conclusions. In the words of Alijah Williams' father in that article linked to above, "The mistake that we made was that we underestimated the diseases and we totally over-estimated the adverse reactions".

One way of looking at it is that vaccinations are becoming a victim of their own success. It's a crying shame that we have to see thousands of kids suffer and sometimes die from easily-preventable illnesses in order to remind the sheltered generations of the last several decades just how indispensable they are.

Varislintu wrote:A lot of parent who want to vaccinate later talk about how they don't want to expose their kids to pathogens (from vaccines) before their immune system has developed more. I don't understand the reasoning for this, however. Young children, new to the world, are exposed to pathogens on a daily basis. That's what makes their immune system develop. The few additional ones in vaccines can surely not be the most dangerous ones that'll break the child's health, considering the greater picture.

This is another sad consequence of poor science teaching. The "folk model" most individuals carry in their head of how the immune system develops and functions doesn't reflect reality.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-06-19, 17:53

As I've been saying, it has little or nothing to do wth religion, and it would be wrong for a foreigner to arrive at that conclusion. It's just a classic case of mass hysteria and scientific illiteracy. I doubt autism rates have truly gone up at all - more likely it's just that it was either underreported before or overdianosed now. And if autism rates really are going up, it's due to some other factor and not vaccinations, making it a perfect example of correlation not equaling causation.

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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2013-06-19, 17:58

mōdgethanc wrote:As I've been saying, it has little or nothing to do wth religion, and it would be wrong for a foreigner to arrive at that conclusion.

My conclusion before I started this thread was that it didn't have much to do with religion, since it wasn't mentioned in the link I posted in the openingspost. But I wanted to check because I found it surprising, and I still do, because in the Netherlands it's almost always because of religion. That's why there are now measles only in the villages with lots of religious people.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby linguoboy » 2013-06-19, 17:58

mōdgethanc wrote:And if autism rates really are going up, it's due to some other factor and not vaccinations, making it a perfect example of correlation not equaling causation.

I'm not even sure there's much of a correlation. After all, vaccination has been nigh-universal in this country for at least half a century, whereas autism diagnosis rates only began to take off in the late 80s.

Hoogst wrote:But I wanted to check because I found it surprising, and I still do, because in the Netherlands it's almost always because of religion. That's why there are now measles only in the villages with lots of religious people.

I think before about fifteen years ago, that was also the case here. One of the few instances I came across of a US polio outbreak after the introduction of the Salk vaccine was within an Amish community.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Hoogstwaarschijnlijk » 2013-06-19, 18:07

linguoboy wrote:
Hoogst wrote:But I wanted to check because I found it surprising, and I still do, because in the Netherlands it's almost always because of religion. That's why there are now measles only in the villages with lots of religious people.

I think before about fifteen years ago, that was also the case here. One of the few instances I came across of a US polio outbreak after the introduction of the Salk vaccine was within an Amish community.

Yeah, but you know, the biggest difference may not be the amount of people who are against it because of religion, because that's relatively small here anyway (but enough to cause a epidemic), but that in the USA much more people than in the Netherlands don't trust science and are suspicious about vaccinations.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby mōdgethanc » 2013-06-19, 20:27

linguoboy may well be right that there has always been religious opposition to vaccination, but but would have been on a much smaller scale than today. I know the JWs don't even allow blood transfusions, so I doubt they'd be okay with injecting pathogens directly into the bloodstream.

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Re: Vaccinations

Postby linguoboy » 2013-06-19, 20:34

mōdgethanc wrote:linguoboy may well be right that there has always been religious opposition to vaccination, but but would have been on a much smaller scale than today. I know the JWs don't even allow blood transfusions, so I doubt they'd be okay with injecting pathogens directly into the bloodstream.

The Wikipedia article has some interesting tidbits about the relationship of religion to anti-vaccination movements. In some cases, there's a substantial levelling of anti-government/anti-foreign conspiracy theory in the mix (e.g. "vaccines are a CIA plot to sterilise Muslims!"). In others, objections related to details of the process (e.g. use of cells from human embryos). However, they don't explicitly mention any Christian groups opposing all immunisation on general principle.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby johnklepac » 2013-08-16, 7:01

As someone on the autistic spectrum, I'm more than a bit offended at the sentiment that I would be fine if my mom hadn't gotten vaccinated. To some extent, I'm not sure I'd want to be "fine" (though in a more Emilie Autumn than autistic pride way), but I'm just as rankled by the scientific blindness and implied insult to my mother, who has a graduate degree and spent unusual amounts of time preoccupied with the health of me and my brother.

linguoboy wrote:By the way, if I come off as an asshole with my demands for citations and sources for claims made in these fora, well, this is part of the reason why. No, generalisations about vowels and consonants are not matters of life and death. But if you get used to evaluating the evidence critically even in these cases, then when it is a matter of life and death you'll do it without a second thought.
I've since realized that I was an idiot for thinking months ago that it was pretentious and pedantic for you to ask for them. Sometimes it's easy to forget just how disastrous empirical ignorance can become.

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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Babelfish » 2013-08-23, 19:32

linguoboy wrote:Its leaders ... are conspiracy theorists with the strange belief that there is big money in vaccinations. (In fact, the low profit margin is one of the reasons why research and development is commonly funded by state actors.) There's actually much more money to be made in treating measles (which can cost upwards of $30,000 per case in the USA).

I need to keep that in mind in case I encounter someone sceptical about vaccines - just recently some wild type polio viruses were found in the sewers of several Israeli towns and now they're vaccinating all young children with a weakened virus, and of course there's an extensive public debate about this. This actually reminds of my dentist jokingly complaining that I'm ruining his livelihood, every time I came in for a routine check and was found to have no holes or other trouble. It seems so damn obvious that treating a disease would be more costly (and hence more profitable) than preventing it in the first place... And having said that you should be left only with hard-core loonies who believe the disease doesn't exist at all, if there are such.
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Re: Vaccinations

Postby Psi-Lord » 2013-08-24, 0:12

As far as I can tell, anti-vaccination movements are unheard of in my part of the world – I first heard of them when an acquaintance of mine moved to the Netherlands and met a family that advocated it. When children around here aren’t vaccinated, that’s usually out of parents not being educated enough into knowing how important it truly is, but it’s not that they’re against it per se.

We’ve come a long way since Rio’s Vaccine Rebellion after all. :)

P.S.: One of my coworkers is a Jehovah’s Witness, but she always has her child properly inoculated, so they’re probably not against it.
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