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I was sent the following link by a friend and they were concerned that someone was passing it around on Twitter. What would be some good refutations for its content? http://www.infowars.com/vaccine-deaths-and-injuries-skyrocket-as-cover-up-implodes/

"Cases of debilitating illnesses, soft-kill side-effects and even instant deaths as a result of vaccinations across the world are skyrocketing as the cover-up of deadly inoculations implodes and more people than ever become suspicious about what they are being injected with by health authorities who have proven they cannot be trusted. The implosion of the vaccine cover-up is sure to discourage more parents from vaccinating their children in the coming months, with the swine flu shot now being combined with the regular seasonal flu jab.

A recent Rasmussen poll found that 52 per cent of Americans were concerned about the safety of vaccines as we approach the start of school and college terms, where many children and teenagers will be “required” to take shots before they can attend..."

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    Some anti-vaccine myths may be strengthened by obvious pro-vaccine myths. E.g in Czech Republic a parent refusing TB vaccine to be given to a a newborn child (the vaccine is routinely given 4.th day of the life here) is treated almost as a criminal and e.g. advised not to go out with the baby at all until he is vaccined, in spite of TBC being very uncommon here for quite some time. – Suma Feb 25 '11 at 13:28
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    Very likely, the reason that TB is so uncommon is because of the vaccines. By limiting possible exposure, and making sure that vaccines are up to date, it helps protect even those without the vaccine. When parents choose to not have their child vaccinated, they are not just putting their child at risk but other children. Vaccines are all about prevention. "But no one is getting sick" is not an argument against vaccines, but for them. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity – Ustice Feb 25 '11 at 15:33
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    @AndrewGrimm: Yes, it is filled with conspiracy theories and other garbage, but I would choose to disregard that for the purpose of addressing this specific question, lest we commit the genetic fallacy. – Jason Plank Feb 26 '11 at 15:34
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    @Suma When did "advised not to go out" become an example of being "treated like a criminal"? Is that how criminals are punished in the Czech Republic? Being advised not to go out? – DJClayworth Mar 9 '11 at 20:47
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    Vote to close (subjective and argumentative). – user1043 Mar 24 '11 at 19:05
61
+50

Well, the facts are that the process of vaccination involves injecting you with an antigen very similar to the thing you are to gain immunization to, so that your immune system may familiarize with it in a controlled environment. Ideally, this similar antigen should be harmless, but so similar that your immunity towards the injected antigen will transfer to immunity to the actual disease. It is known that this is not entirely without side effects. It is indeed possible that you become ill from the very antigen you're injecting.

This is not at all what the anti vax people are stressing up about, however. Probably because it's well documented that there's a significantly greater risk in not getting vaccinated.

Now, the article you're referencing is problematic because it bundles together several completely different issues. For one part, it deals with the case of the H1N1 vaccine and the alleged links to narcolepsy which is an actual scientific debate regarding a brand new vaccine, and the claims are currently being investigated rigorously. There's one report going on in Finland from which we've only seen preliminary results (!) which seem to vindicate the connection, and there's another study in Sweden hopefully to be published within a few months. Until those studies are published, I wouldn't dare comment on the likelihood of a connection. If you're in the H1N1 high risk demography, at least Swedish government still recommends the vaccine.

For these guys, this just confirms their assumption that all vaccines are dangerious and should be avoided. But the H1N1 story says nothing that will validate the links between the MMR vaccine and autism, for instance. This is an entirely different claim, it is about a vaccine that's been in long use, and it's been refuted countless times. The alleged autism claim is based solely on an Andrew Wakefield study that's been shown since long to be a complete scam.

So there's no simple answer to the vaccine story, because it's not one story. These guys are cross-pollinating the news in a manner that doesn't make sense, to try and validate a long debunked theory. What can be said is that all of this is very tragic. The vaccine scare has given us an increase in pertussis morbidity, which is a disease we can avoid entirely. I know this'll come off as an argument from emotion here, but I really think it's a shame that people are still dying from pertussis, due to ignorance and fear mongering alone, when we have the very simple means to defeat it.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Saying that vaccination is nothing more than injecting antigens is inaccurate. You also have adjuvants which don't react with the immune system the natural way. – Christian Mar 7 '11 at 13:41
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    +1, @Christian, that's a fair point. I over-simplified, in that regard. – David Hedlund Mar 7 '11 at 13:44
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    @David - From a factual non-argumentative perspective: Do you have any figures to back up your claim that "The vaccine scare has given us an increase in pertussis morbidity"? Is that claim also worldwide or in a particular geographical region? – going Mar 10 '11 at 22:09
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    I run factsnotfantasy.com/vaccines.php and one consistent thing I see is that the anti-vax crowd is all about appeals to emotion and will outright lie for their cause. – Larian LeQuella Mar 11 '11 at 21:27
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    Look, it takes more effort for me to look into and identify the problem with your low quality studies than it does for you to disregard that answer and blurt out a new low quality study, and there's nothing in it for either of us. But you have no reason to worry, even the already accepted vaccines are being continuously monitored and evaluated. We definitely haven't quit looking into vaccines' effect on the nervous system, and if there's reason for concern, we'll pick up and react on it. – David Hedlund Jun 18 '12 at 6:52
19

The article you link to is all over the place and largely references itself rather than linking to primary sources. It's hard to mount an argument against such a profligate barrage of claims. The best you can do is patiently take claims one at a time and search the scientific literature for studies that refute the various hypotheses presented. The worst thing you can do in an argument (in which you wish to convince the adversary) is dismiss their concerns without evidence.

There are simple things to point out about the article. For instance,

Health professionals and doctors with government ties were also blamed in Finland and Sweden after a H1N1 vaccination program was halted following a 300 per cent increase in cases of the neurological disorder narcolepsy amongst children and young people who had received the shot over the last six months.

A 300% INCREASE! Responsible epidemiologists, I believe, would report something like "4 times greater risk of developing narcolepsy". If you look at the data, you see that this "300% increase" amounts to 20 patients, it appears. 1 So, instead of 20 in 100,000, you might expect 80 in 100,000. It's still worth a look and worth striving to improve; but, this fact alone might not justify violent revolution.

Gardasil appears to be safe, according to my brief look at the literature. Although, I'm not a pediatric neurologist and, at least one thinks that Gardasil was brought to the market too soon and that it is causing serious long-term side-effects.

I have a humble degree in mathematics with a concentration in epidemiology. I'm very interested in vaccine safety and cost/benefit. I would like to be strongly pro-vaccine. However, dismissive statements implying that there is no debate do not push me in the pro-vaccine direction. Flatly saying "there's a significantly greater risk in not getting vaccinated", "it's been refuted countless times", "the claim ... is based solely on .. a complete scam" without any reference is unbecoming of a true skeptic. Use references to peer-reviewed papers.

The case of universal Hepatitis B vaccination for newborn Americans may put me slightly at odds with those who would suggest that following the AAP schedule to the letter is the absolute best approach to vaccination.

The incidence of HepB before vaccination in the United States for those under 15 was on the order of 1 in 100,000. At $100 a series, we are spending $10,000,000 to prevent 15 cases of HepB when we vaccinate 100,000 low-risk Americans? (please correct me if this is not the right ballpark).

Edit: the low incidence reported in the above paper might be due to the fact that those under 5 are far less likely to suffer from an acute HepB infection. People who are infected as children, on the other hand, are more likely to develop chronic life-long infections resulting in severe outcomes such as liver cancer and death. The CDC reports that 45,000 children < 10 were infected with HepB every year before universal vaccination. Meanwhile, the CHOP reports "18,000 children were infected with hepatitis B virus by the time they were 10 years old". These numbers suggest an incidence rate more on the order of 70/100,000 and 30/100,000, respectively. According to the CHOP report, 1/2 of these infections were from infected mothers, while the CDC's numbers have about 1/4 coming from infected mothers. Using the CDC's high number of vaccine-preventable incidence, it looks like vaccinating 100,000 children could prevent as many as 1,000 cases of HepB.

Using the incidence estimates from the CDC, universal HBV looks like a slam dunk in cost/benefit. BUT.

There is a lot of scary stuff out there, at first glance.

If any of those peer-reviewed papers have one grain of reality in them, then universal HepB vaccination may not be best thing to do in terms of risk and benefit. A high-risk child going immediately into daycare in NYC who has an infected father should almost certainly still bear the risk of receiving HBV in the first month. On the other hand, a child with a stay-at-home mom, living in a rural area in the US, with almost no chance of contracting HepB, may be better off not getting HBV within 12 hours of birth. If HBV within the first day of birth does indeed put the child at greater risk of autoimmune disorders and special education needs, the extremely low-risk child perhaps should not receive HBV at such a young age.

(*) UPDATE: I wanted to check on the "9 times higher risk of needing special education given HBV" numbers. The NHANES database is available as csv here . Doing a simple model in R to look at the relationship between HBV and special education, adjusting for age, health and neonatal ICU (TL; DR: Any claim of 9X from this data is highly misleading.):

> summary(hbv)
2or3    1 NA's 
 228  678   65 
> summary(spec_ed)
   Not SpecEd   NA's 
   912     58      1 
> cs(spec_ed, hbv)

          Exposure
Outcome    Non-exposed Exposed Total
  Negative 221         632     853  
  Positive 7           46      53   
  Total    228         678     906  

           Rne         Re      Rt   
  Risk     0.03        0.07    0.06 

                                         Estimate Lower95ci Upper95ci
 Risk difference (attributable risk)     0.04     0.01      0.08     
 Risk ratio                              2.21     0.98      5        
 Attr. frac. exp. -- (Re-Rne)/Re         0.55                        
 Attr. frac. pop. -- (Rt-Rne)/Rt*100 %   47.52                       
 Number needed to harm (NNH)             26.92    12.69     149.36   
   or 1/(risk difference)                                            

> cc(spec_ed, hbv)

        hbv
spec_ed  2or3   1 Total
  Not     221 632   853
  SpecEd    7  46    53
  Total   228 678   906

OR =  2.3 
Exact 95% CI =  1.01, 6.12  
Chi-squared = 4.27, 1 d.f., P value = 0.039
Fisher's exact test (2-sided) P value = 0.049 

I don't understand how these numbers are stretched for an 8.6 OR with p=0.0003!

When I make a model with their covariates, I can come up with a 2.77 OR:

> model = glm(spec_ed ~ hbv + ecq + age + health, family=binomial)
> print(summary(model))

Call:
glm(formula = spec_ed ~ hbv + ecq + age + health, family = binomial)

Deviance Residuals: 
    Min       1Q   Median       3Q      Max  
-1.0094  -0.3549  -0.2697  -0.1989   2.9430  

Coefficients:
            Estimate Std. Error z value Pr(>|z|)    
(Intercept) -4.08455    0.68606  -5.954 2.62e-09 ***
hbv1         1.02191    0.45226   2.260  0.02385 *  
ecqNot      -1.51885    0.33112  -4.587 4.50e-06 ***
age          0.16108    0.05827   2.764  0.00570 ** 
health       0.40134    0.14618   2.746  0.00604 ** 
---
Signif. codes:  0 ‘***’ 0.001 ‘**’ 0.01 ‘*’ 0.05 ‘.’ 0.1 ‘ ’ 1 

(Dispersion parameter for binomial family taken to be 1)

    Null deviance: 391.85  on 899  degrees of freedom
Residual deviance: 351.47  on 895  degrees of freedom
  (71 observations deleted due to missingness)
AIC: 361.47

Number of Fisher Scoring iterations: 6

> exp(1.02)
[1] 2.773195

But, it's worth noting that using only those who got the triple series ("1") and those who got no HBV ("3") (instead of putting "2" -those who got some- in with those who got none, "3"), a statistically significant correlation is not achieved. Also, learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder are uncorrelated with HBV in this NHANES data.

I made a little tool to test hypothesis of any variable in NHANES with a simple contingency table. The protective effect of HBV on females is actually more pronounced than the supposed negative effect on the boys.

The girls were clearly protected by HBV:

In [12]: ct, p, nhanes = test_kwargs(NHANES, only_test={"riagendr": ["2"]}, float_limits={"ridageyr": [0,9]}, imq020=(["1"], ["3"]), pfq040=(["1"], ["2"]))
    pfq040 in ['1'] pfq040 in ['2']
imq020 in ['1'] 12  559 
imq020 in ['3'] 10  140 

p = 0.00381724204472

Whereas, the boys were only borderline statistically significant.

In [13]: ct, p, nhanes = test_kwargs(NHANES, only_test={"riagendr": ["1"]}, float_limits={"ridageyr": [0,9]}, imq020=(["1"], ["3"]), pfq040=(["1"], ["2"]))
    pfq040 in ['1'] pfq040 in ['2']
imq020 in ['1'] 46  632 
imq020 in ['3'] 4   147 

p = 0.0535442211328

I believe you should isolate each claim and judge it on the evidence. Even peer-reviewed articles can be misleading, sadly.

  • 1
    cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/whatifstop.htm#hepb Put the infection rate of children at 33,000 new cases per year before the widespread introduction of Hep B vaccination. Those were new infections (uninfected mothers). The total new infections "has declined from an average of 450,000 (Americans per year) in the 1980s". It's difficult to speculate on what could have happened here, isn't it? – John Lyon Jun 19 '12 at 11:58
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    @jozzas thanks for pointing that out and making me look at those numbers more closely. I have amended the answer. Much appreciated. – Skylar Saveland Jun 19 '12 at 20:13
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    @curiousguy Again, post this French research. I also don't seem to understand what you're getting at - if they stopped vaccinating and infections have since "skyrocketed", how is that proof that the vaccine was the cause? In unvaccinated people? You need citations here. – John Lyon Aug 19 '12 at 9:25
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    @curiousguy You need to post some evidence to back up what you are saying. As it stands it's just unsubstantiated ranting. – John Lyon Aug 22 '12 at 6:18
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    @curiousguy post an answer with references. – Skylar Saveland Aug 22 '12 at 15:39
-4

The vaccine that are commonly used do use adjuvants. Often that leads to adverse effects. The study that approved the Pandemrix® vaccine noted that the vaccine gave 21.5% of children between 6 and 9 headaches.

When the vaccine was used under live condition in Germany for swine flu the general monitoring system wasn't sensitive enough to pick up the adverse effects. Given the fact that the general monitoring system isn't working we don't know about the real extend of the damage that the vaccine has done under live conditions.

  • I'm sorry that the link is German, but I don't have a good English link handy. – Christian Mar 11 '11 at 21:17
  • Google Translate for convenience: translate.google.com/… – Lie Ryan Mar 24 '11 at 19:16
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    Simply doesn't address the question which asks about "skyrocketing deaths" and a "cover up". – dmckee Jun 30 '12 at 17:04
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    Because failing to record kids getting headaches is the same as failing to noticing dead people all over the places. Right. The questions makes a specific and fairly scary claim and you haven't addressed it. – dmckee Jun 30 '12 at 21:36
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    @dmckee: They do more than fail to record something. They falsly claim that their number represent reality. They are covering up side effects. It's not about failure to notice deads but about failure to notice causation. If there's no source that accurately reports side effects of vaccination there no way to address the claim directly. The evidence to decide how many get killed doesn't exist. At the moment the highest rated answer to this question basically says that vaccinations has no side effects which is clearly false. – Christian Jul 2 '12 at 11:07

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