JANDO

I just got this email, via the blog's feedback mechanism, from someone calling themselves "Jando" (email address withheld).

Interesting reading about all points of view is available. I can't help but think that these blogs are a bit too personal (ie riddled with one-liners, insults, comebacks, counter insults etc) from both sides to provide any real mature context for the debate on wether to vax or not to vax. What everyone here needs is a good shot of rationale open debate. I suppose I also wonder why one side is SO pro and one SO anti, maybe the pro's should let the anti's be and because they are unprotected they and their children will all die of these horrendous preventable diseases and leave the world a better and safer place for the provaxers. The provaxers, by most of their rationale, would not have to worry about evil nonvaxers spreading diseases to them because they are safely vax'd up and fully protected. Let time and disease take it's course and we'll see who is left at the end...that is probably a better way to solve this conundrum. (I wonder what the 80%+ of people with Pertussis cases who were fully vaccinated would suggest we do?) food for thought...hmmmm.

OK, first of all, Jando, here's a little tip. If you have something to say about a post on the blog, use the comments mechanism. Don't email me directly, because all I'm going to do is post up your email for the world to see anyway, and the response, which you might not like, will be public anyway.

Now, that said, let's get to addressing the actual content here

I can't help but think that these blogs are a bit too personal [...] from both sides to provide any real mature context for the debate on wether to vax or not to vax

Here's another tip: This *is* my personal blog, and if you read the banner headline at the top, you'll see that it's not exactly advertised as a friendly, low-tension, happy clappy, let-all-get-along lovefest. I have an opinion, I'm going to state it the way I want to. If you want me tone down, well, that's just tough.

What everyone here needs is a good shot of rationale open debate.

Wait.

What everyone here needs is a good shot of rational open debate.

There, fixed.

If you'd actually like to look at the posts, the skeptics' side, generally speaking, provides the rational part. We cite reputable sources for our information, and we generally respond to ad-hominem attacks from the antivax side in a surprisingly civil manner. I mean, if you'd been told "may your next shot be a lethal one", what would you say, exactly?

And come to that, how *can* you have a rational debate with conspiracy theorists and science denialists who constantly delete counter-opinion?

Meh, whatever. Perhaps you're addressing my confrontational writing style, in which case I invite you, once more, to read the title at the top of the blog.

I suppose I also wonder why one side is SO pro and one SO anti, maybe the pro's should let the anti's be and because they are unprotected they and their children will all die of these horrendous preventable diseases and leave the world a better and safer place for the provaxers

Now you're just showing that you haven't read the full debate. At the risk of covering old ground, let's go through this again, and I'll do it in simple language, so you can understand.

This is not just about the unvaccinated kids.

Sure, to some extent I feel for them. They're the ones directly at risk from infection, but for the most part I'm not entirely bothered. I certainly don't care about adults who remain unvaccinated by choice: Theirs is a personal decision, made by them, and if they contract something nasty, well boo-fucking-hoo. 

The thing that I'm actually fighting for is the portion of society which cannot be vaccinated, for genuine reasons.

Newborns, for example, cannot be vaccinated early, so there is a window where a carrier can infect the newborn with a pathogen, and that newborn, being a relatively delicate little organism, will probably die.

The very old, also, can be vulnerable. It's one of those things old age can do to you. You get a little weaker, a little less robust, and then Mrs Smith's kid from down the road comes in and coughs on you. Next day you're being measured for a pine overcoat.

Third, there's another section of society that's very vulnerable. Genuine medical immune dysfunction. First and most obviously, HIV and similar conditions immediately damage the immune system*. Sufferers of auto-immune diseases are massively at risk from pathogens circulating in the general population.

In addition, and this is the segment I'm particularly close to, many people recovering from serious medical conditions have their immune systems deliberately attenuated, that is to say: suppressed. Anyone who's received an organ or tissue transplant, for example, will be on immuno-suppressant drugs for quite some time. Recovering cancer and leukaemia sufferers also have to live with compromised immune function. My girlfriend lives with this every day, and I, by extension, have an acute awareness of it.

So I want as large a population vaccinated as possible, so that these vulnerable people aren't exposed to potentially deadly pathogens by a segment of society too selfish to consider others.

Let me just emphasise this again: If you are anti-vaccination, you show that you are willing to put your own petty fears ahead of the wellbeing of vulnerable people. You would walk over a pile of corpses to avoid a jab in your own selfish arm.

The antivax lobby talks about the risks and dangers of vaccination. Even if what the AVN is saying wasn't bullshit, I would happily take those risks, and more, to safeguard the people around me.

The provaxers, by most of their rationale, would not have to worry about evil nonvaxers spreading diseases to them because they are safely vax'd up and fully protected. Let time and disease take it's course and we'll see who is left at the end...that is probably a better way to solve this conundrum.

Read the above again. Seriously. You haven't really been watching the debate. Oh, and additionally: How fucking callous are you? You're happy for people to die if it settles the question in a manner you consider definitive?

(I wonder what the 80%+ of people with Pertussis cases who were fully vaccinated would suggest we do?) food for thought...hmmmm.

[citation needed]

Seriously. When you cite a statistic, I want a fucking reference. Otherwise, it's just an assertion which you could have made up off the top of your head. An uncited statistic, and one which is irrelevant to the debate, but which looks scary if presented correctly. Forgive me if I'm not impressed.

OK, let's assume that 80% of pertussis reports are from vaccinated patients. Plausible, I guess, if you know anything about vaccination and immunology. How many of those resulted in mortality? How about compared to the unvaccinated 20%?

No-one is saying a vaccine is absolute, rock-solid, foolproof, 100% protection against infection**. Even if you're vaccinated, you may become symptomatic. Immune function is more complex than you seem to think. I've been vaccinated for a great number of things, but I could become vulnerable to any one of them if my immune system is compromised in some way, for example by another condition. Perhaps I'm just really, really run-down by all this antivax bullshit I'm having to fight every day. Ooops, now I have pertussis.

A vaccine primes the immune system to respond to future attack by pathogens, but if the immune system is napping, people will get sick. But here's the thing. If you're vaccinated, you have a massively improved chance of survival. And if the population around you is vaccinated too, your chances of contracting the pathogen in the first place are vastly reduced

The antivax lobby is running a fairly standard medical denial campaign by setting up a strawman of vaccination and then attacking it. The uninformed will see this and make their decisions, and people will die.

And it will be the fault of everyone in the antivax lobby.

The blood will not be on our hands, Jando.

 

*Of course, if you follow Meryl Dorey closely, you'll note she doesn't believe this
** Except perhaps the AVN, when they do a ventriloquist act with their vaccination strawman

posted @ Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:21 PM

 
 
 

Comments on this entry:

# re: JANDO

Left by Sean the Blogonaut at 8/20/2009 1:12 PM
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No we don't need open debate. We need only look to the evidence. Medicine and Health care isn't a fucking democracy where the best idea gets voted up. It's a consensus view based on the evidence. And quite frankly the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the effectiveness of vaccines.


# re: JANDO

Left by OzAtheist at 8/26/2009 3:20 PM
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What Sean said.

Whilst nothing in life is certain, and there may be the occasional ill-effect from vaccination, the overall positive effectiveness of vaccines has been proven.

This is a good article on Risk from Disease versus Risk from Vaccines - http://cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/6mishome.htm#risk
Comments have been closed on this topic.
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