Tag: natural immunity

Is It Rational to Be Anti-Vaccine?

Why do some people think that they are making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children’s vaccines?

Are parents making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children's vaccines?
Are parents really making a rational decision when they skip or delay their children’s vaccines?

Is it because they “know” that they are right?

Or because others reinforce their beliefs?

Is It Rational to Be Anti-Vaccine?

Whatever the reason, we should be clear that skipping or delaying vaccines, leaving your child at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease and putting others at risk, is really not a rational decision.

“It is not the case, of course, that people make decisions about vaccination based solely on rational, evidenced-based, scientific perspectives.”

Timothy Caulfield et al on Injecting doubt: responding to the naturopathic anti-vaccination rhetoric

Instead, people often seem to skip or delay vaccines after fear helps a number of cognitive biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies take hold and change their perception of risk into something that is much different from reality. That fear is stoked by misinformation and propaganda they see on the Internet or hear from friends and family.

Or they become influenced by the idea that their child has been damaged or injured by a vaccine, even though in the great majority of cases, it has been shown that vaccines do not cause those problems.

“Well, if you’re going to inform yourself about vaccines, I think anybody who’s truly informed will realize that getting a vaccine is much better than not getting one. If you’re choosing not to vaccinate your child, it’s because you’re getting, frankly, bad information about vaccines.”

Paul Offit, MD

So call it what you want, but no, in general, it is not rational to be anti-vaccine, especially considering that:

Do you know what the biggest clue that it isn’t a rational decision in most cases?

Changing Your Mind About Vaccines

When a rational person is given new evidence or information that not only challenges their worldview, but blows it out of the water, what do they do?

They change their mind.

“It is irrational to hold any view so tightly that you aren’t willing to admit the possibility that you might be wrong.”

What would it take to convince you that you were wrong?

When do anti-vax folks change their minds?

“I don’t feel I’m putting my child at risk. There’s nothing that’s going to change my mind on this on that specific vaccination.”

More often than not, it is after one of their kids gets sick or there is a disease outbreak nearby.

Instead of changing their minds in the midst of disease outbreaks and immunization mandates, some parents decide to break the law

If you are not vaccinating and protecting your kids, what would it take to get you to change your mind about vaccines?

Do you need to see double blind placebo controlled studies, studies with saline placebos, studies with vaccines tested together, or long term safety studies?

Do you need to remind yourself what the pre-vaccine era was like? Or understand what will happen if too many people stop vaccinating their kids?

Don't wait until it's too late to vaccinate your child.
Don’t wait until it’s too late to vaccinate your child.

Whatever it takes, hopefully you don’t wait too long and regret your decision.

Of course, no one wants to intentionally harm their children. But you can’t do what’s right and make a rational decision if you are relying on bad information and advice.

More on the Idea of Rational Anti-Vaccine Beliefs

Risks and Benefits of Vaccines – Anti-Vax Edition

Anti-vax folks like to say that they are doing their research, even collecting that research into handy binders. And they like to think that they are looking at both the risks and benefits of vaccines when they make their decision to skip or delay their child’s vaccines.

When anti-vax folks look at the risks and benefits of vaccines, they see lots of risks and few benefits.
When anti-vax folks look at the risks and benefits of vaccines, they see lots of risks and few benefits.

Like their research, their method of considering the risks and benefits of vaccines is very flawed

Risks and Benefits of Vaccines – Anti-Vax Edition

What’s the first thing you notice when you look at Ashley Everly‘s chart?

She doesn’t have a column for when a child Should Be Vaccinated!

Although there are no optional vaccines, there are some situations in which getting vaccinated and protected is truly essential, including:

  • a child bitten by a dog, coyote, or bat with rabies
  • a completely unvaccinated teen who gets a deep puncture wound while playing in a field
  • a baby born to a mother with hepatitis B
  • an unvaccinated older teen living in a dorm on a college campus where there is an ongoing outbreak of meningococcemia
  • a preschooler with a cochlear implant
  • an unvaccinated 1st grader who’s sibling is starting chemotherapy for leukemia
  • unvaccinated kids traveling out of the country to parts of the world where vaccine-preventable diseases are still endemic
  • a child with asplenia

Does she really think that the benefits of the rabies vaccine don’t outweigh the risks? Does she understand what happens if you get rabies, even if your child has access to nutritious food, clean drinking water, and emergency medical care?

Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?

What else is wrong with Ashley Everly‘s risk and benefit chart?

Most of the things on her list of who should not be vaccinated are not true contraindications.

Of course, the one about having a “previous vaccine injury or serious reaction” would likely be a reason to not get that vaccine again, as long as the injury or reaction was really caused by the vaccine.

Are there situations in which the potential benefit of vaccination might not outweigh the vaccines risks?

“Events or conditions listed as precautions should be reviewed carefully. Benefits of and risks for administering a specific vaccine to a person under these circumstances should be considered. If the risk from the vaccine is believed to outweigh the benefit, the vaccine should not be administered. If the benefit of vaccination is believed to outweigh the risk, the vaccine should be administered. Whether and when to administer DTaP to children with proven or suspected underlying neurologic disorders should be decided on a case-by-case basis.”

ACIP Contraindications and Precautions

Those situations are called precautions.

Fortunately, most are temporary, such as having a “moderate or severe acute illness with or without fever.”

These precautions do not include having a family history of cancer or autoimmune disease.

When Vaccination May Be Unnecessary

Are there any situations in which vaccination may be unnecessary?

There are a few, including:

  • when a disease is eradicated
  • when you aren’t at risk to get a disease and there is little risk that there will be an outbreak in your community or a return if folks stop vaccinating – that’s why we don’t routinely vaccinate against yellow fever, cholera, and typhoid fever, etc. in the United States
  • when you get sick and develop natural immunity

Vaccination is still necessary if a child’s mother is breastfeeding (which doesn’t protect against most vaccine-preventable diseases), has natural immunity to wild type infections (passive immunity quickly wears off), and even if the child has access to nutritious food and clean drinking water.

Nearly two months in the ICU vs getting a tetanus shot… How do the risks and benefits stack up now?

And yes, getting vaccinated and protected is even necessary if a child has access to emergency medical care.

What to Know About the Risks and Benefits of Vaccines

While you should certainly consider the risks and benefits of getting vaccinated, understand that vaccines are safe, with few risks, and very necessary.

More on the Risks and Benefits of Vaccines

A California Pediatrician Who is Not a Hysterical Anti-Vaxxer Wrote a Letter to the Governor…

Did you think it was over, now that SB 276 has been passed and Governor Newsom said that he would sign it, as long as a companion bill with a few added amendments also gets passed?

I'm glad Elisa Song vaccinates some of her kids, but I wonder how many exemptions she has written since SB 277 passed...
I’m glad Elisa Song vaccinates some of her kids, but I wonder how many exemptions she has written since SB 277 passed…

Of course, it’s not…

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

While many of us wanted Governor Newsom to sign SB 276 in its original form, as he had promised, without the added amendments that weaken the law, most see it it as an acceptable compromise.

And then there are the anti-vaccine folks who want Newsom to veto SB 276 so that kids can continue to get inappropriate medical exemptions and remain unprotected and at risk against vaccine preventable diseases.

“I am a pediatrician trying to do the best I can for the children in my practice. And the best is not simply repeating that vaccines are “safe and effective.” Because they’re not 100% safe. Because they’re not 100% effective. Because parents are asking questions. Because parents are afraid and want to do the best for their children. And because we, as primary care physicians, need to be able to practice the art and science of medicine to the best of our abilities, for the child sitting in front of us, without bureaucratic handcuffs and fear of retribution.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

No one says vaccines are 100% safe and effective, but they are very effective with few risks.

Parents are afraid because of the anti-vaccine rhetoric and misinformation they see and read on the Internet and sometimes from holistic type doctors who pander to their fears.

“SB 276 continues to place the decision regarding an individual child’s vaccine risk/benefit assessment and whether or not that child qualifies for a vaccine medical exemption in the hands of the government.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

This is not true.

SB 276 simply says that you can’t make up your own reasons for why kids can’t get vaccinated and protected.

“SB 276 continues to too narrowly limit the criteria for “appropriate” vaccine exemptions to those contraindications detailed by the CDC, AAP and ACIP. These criteria do not take into account the emerging field of vaccinomics pioneered by the Mayo Clinic and the latest research on increased risk for various chronic illnesses including autoimmunity after vaccination in certain vulnerable populations. Epigenetics is making it increasingly clear that the one-size-fits-all CDC schedule will not work. “

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

As other states have done, SB 276 and SB 714, set rules on what counts as a medical exemption.

“SB276 continues to essentially eliminate all medical exemptions, even those consistent with the CDC, ACIP or AAP guidelines. By arbitrarily limiting the number of medical exemptions a physician may write to 4 in any calendar year before triggering investigation, SB 276 will deter physicians from writing ANY exemptions for fear of irreparable damage to their professional reputation, financial security, and emotional trauma, even if ultimately found innocent. How will a physician decide which 4 children are “deserving” of medical exemptions each year, in order to prevent an automatic investigation once they write that 5th exemption?”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

Since few children should actually need a true medical exemption, the limits in SB 276 are hardly arbitrary. And since what counts as a true medical exemptions is rarely arbitrary either, doctors who write five or more true medical exemptions in a year will have nothing to fear when those exemptions are reviewed.

“A Harvard study has found that 2.6% of people vaccinated will have a vaccine injury. California’s current medical exemption rate of 0.7% falls far below this number, implying that there are many children whose vaccine injuries could have been avoided if an appropriate medical exemption were written by their physician.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Inc. report did not find “that 2.6% of people vaccinated will have a vaccine injury.”

It actually found possible reactions in 2.6% of vaccinations. And I hope that everyone is aware that a possible reaction is not the same as a vaccine injury…

Also, in addition to the fact that current rate of medical exemptions in California is far higher than 0.7%, it is the clusters of medical exemptions in many schools that are the problem.

“Until such time when vaccine risks and benefits can be clearly defined in broader terms that take into account personal and family history and epigenetics, this risk needs to be taken on by each parent and each child. And where there is risk, there must be choice. And where there is uncertainty, the BEST person to help that parent navigate vaccines is the person who knows that child’s medical and family history best – THEIR PHYSICIAN.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

Elisa Song talks a lot about the risks of vaccines, or at least what she thinks puts kids at risk, including family history and epigenetics.

“I believe in public health, yet I care for individual children and families who sit across from me everyday, trusting that I am giving them valid, scientific, evidence-based information that will keep their individual baby safe and healthy, and believing that I am providing them with true informed consent.”

Elisa Song’s Letter to Governor Newsom

It would be great if she truly were giving her patient’s “valid, scientific, evidence-based information” and “true informed consent.”

She’s not…

“I learned how to integrate conventional pediatrics with functional medicine, holistic nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, herbal medicine and essential oils – and it changed my life!”

Elisa Song

Notice anything missing?

$267 for a home remedy kit filled with homeopathic treatments???

She never talks about the risks of getting a vaccine-preventable disease.

And she overstates the risks of vaccines.

“While the media and common public opinion are quick to say that the link between vaccines and autism has been absolutely disproved, they have not done their due diligence research.”

Measles: Know the Facts by Dr. Elisa Song, M.D.

It is hard to make a truly informed decision when your doc downplays the risks of natural disease, makes you afraid to get vaccinated, and tries to sell you natural therapies that we know won’t prevent infections and won’t actually boost your immune system.

More on Anti-Vaccine Pediatricians

Which Part of the Herd Gets Protected by Community Immunity?

You are a part of the herd.

“I don’t care that you call people a herd. And I don’t care that some people consider themselves to be part of a herd. I am not in a herd. I am not a farm animal.”

Del Bigtree

Of course, we are talking about herd immunity.

Which Part of the Herd Gets Protected by Community Immunity?

What if you aren’t vaccinated and protected?

Del Bigtree is a "free thinking human being," who whether he appreciates it or not, benefits from herd immunity protections.
Del Bigtree is a “free thinking human being,” who whether he appreciates it or not, benefits from herd immunity protections.

Then you are protected by those who are!

“A situation in which a sufficient proportion of a population is immune to an infectious disease (through vaccination and/or prior illness) to make its spread from person to person unlikely. Even individuals not vaccinated (such as newborns and those with chronic illnesses) are offered some protection because the disease has little opportunity to spread within the community.”

CDC Vaccine Glossary of Terms

That’s what herd immunity is all about.

In a community, “the herd” includes those with immunity and those trying/needing to “hide in the herd:”

  • those with natural immunity
  • folks who are vaccinated and protected
  • some people who are too young to be vaccinated or fully vaccinated
  • the people who’s vaccines didn’t work
  • anyone who can’t be vaccinated, because they have a medical contraindication

And it also includes those who are intentionally unvaccinated. The free-riders. Those who could be vaccinated, but simply choose not to, often because they have been scared by things they have heard or read about vaccines.

Baby deer need protection from the adults in the herd, but that doesn't mean that they aren't a part of the herd too.
Baby deer need protection from the adults in the herd, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a part of the herd too.

This all makes even more sense when you think about it as community immunity, the term that is more commonly used today.

Don’t want to think that you are in the herd?

That’s OK.

The herd still protects you. At least it does if enough folks in the herd are vaccinated and protected.

More on Community Immunity