February 8, 2015 - Misc

I tend to try to keep “political” type topics off of my blog, sticking to the technical stuff. But recently I saw an infographic on facebook that I thought could make an excellent topic through the construction of a response- and, I can write about whatever I want- that’s the great thing about having your own blog not controlled by anybody else!

At any rate, here is the infographic. I’ll be reiterating each point:

Willful ignorance is delicious

Willful ignorance at play

1. “Vaccine manufacturers produce vaccines they know don’t really work”

The infographic starts with a stupid claim already. Great. Since it discusses “repeat annually” we can safely assume it is the flu vaccine, since that is the only vaccine that a person would get annually. How effective a flu vaccine is depends on the health of the person in question, and, most importantly, on how well matched the virus used for the vaccine is to the circulating virii. Some years the match is good- in those years, the vaccine is quite effective and preventing an infection from causing symptoms. Some years, the match is poor, so effectively it is less effective not because it didn’t work, but because it worked on the wrong virus. After all, as we all should know, vaccines work by literally infecting you with a weak form of the virus, your bodies forms the antibodies and fights it off easily (because it’s weakened) and then if you get the visited by a virus that is “compatible” with those antibodies, they can be mobilized to destroy them without your body needing to effectively synthesize the antibodies as it would without prior exposure. The claim that “they don’t work” is ignorant by definition, because it is literally impossible for a vaccine to not work. A vaccine “not working” is different from it being effective for a given seasonal outbreak, and basically implies that it protects you from nothing, when, in actuality, it would be protecting you from the wrong thing, And, unless these manufacturers can look into the future, they aren’t going to have any knowledge about the effectiveness of the vaccine. The vaccines typically are constructed by using viruses that are expected to comprise the next years seasonal variation. They aren’t chosen randomly, but it’s still not going to be 100% accurate without being able to see the future.

2. “Children everywhere get injected with faulty vaccines, thinking they now have immunity”

This is a disingenous statement. As I established, a vaccine cannot be “faulty”; however, it can be ineffective for the reasons I’ve already noted. The problem with this statement is that nobody receiving a vaccine should assume they are now immune. That is, immunization doesn’t mean you can start letting people sneeze on you and stop washing your hands.

3. “Because of the failed vaccines, an outbreak occurs”

Even if we presume the worst-case of a ineffective Flu vaccine, the reason it would be ineffective is because it was created using a different flu virus; this means that the outbreak in such cases is comprised of a different virus entirely. This means that the claim that the ineffective vaccine causes the outbreak is unsubstantiated, since the outbreak itself consists of a different virus- which is why the vaccine was ineffective. What is troubling about the infographic at this stage is that the image shows a person with dots; this seems to imply an association with Measles. The problem with that is that the Measles vaccine is not given annually. You would get two shots in your entire life, usually as part of a set of shots which also immunize against Smallpox and Polio. This puts the idea that it causes the outbreak in a hard-to-support position, since it seems to imply the existence of an annual cycle for measles like we have for the flu. Thing is, there is no annual cycle for measles- there is no “measles season” just as there is no “Polio season” and part of the reason is because of the increasing availability of vaccines starting in the 60’s and 70’s for Strains of Rubella (of which Measles is one). Unlike the flu, the antibodies that can defend against measles are more “generic” and able to identify the virus with reasonable effectiveness, and the contagion levels are such that they are unlikely to develop a resistance.

4. “The media turns the outbreak into mass hysteria, falsely claiming that unvaccinated children are to blame”

This makes it abundantly clear that is not referencing The Flu, but Measles- which makes the idea of “repeating annually” almost comical. There is no evidence supporting the claims so far (that a “faulty” vaccine could cause an outbreak) and given the inability to even get simple facts right such as Measles vaccines not being given annually, I question the motivations for the creation of the infographic, if it is so willing to discard reality in favour of outright fabrications to make a point appear salient. When an ‘outbreak’ centers around an area with a very large amount of people not vaccinating their kids against the illness for which there is an outbreak, It is a bit difficult to claim that the outbreak is caused by those who are vaccinating. One could almost make a First-cause claim, such that, say, a child is vaccinated, and since vaccinations contain weaker, but still active virii and can still be contagious, and that can spreads to unimmunized children, in school, for example. As the virus is able to replicate the manipulations that made it weaker are lost, effectively making the virus stronger through the generations of it’s replication, at which point it may exhibit symptoms if it infects an already immunized individual depending on their own immune system and physiology. However, the unvaccinated individuals in this instance, while not truly a “first-cause” are effectively an incubator that allows the virus to break free from the shackles that make it weak. One issue with this idea, however- is that Measles And Rubella vaccines are given at the ages of 1 and and 1 and a half; at these ages, they aren’t going to be going to school, so the immunized children aren’t going to be spreading the virus to their classmates. However, if the parents are Anti-vaxxers, it seems possible that they themselves were not immunized, and in areas with a high percentage of those who are against the administration of vaccines, rather than unimmunized children being the “incubator” instead, unimmunized adults are the incubator; and from there it spreads. It is demonstrably the case that, with a small percentage exception, those immunized who are infected typically do not see anywhere near the number of symptoms, and furthermore, the time period where they are able to spread the disease is significantly lessened. So, the claim that unvaccinated individuals are the “cause” is perhaps technically inaccurate, since the virus does not appear spontaneously in individuals who are unvaccinated. However, because those without a vaccination have a 90% chance rather than a 3% chance of being infected if exposed and have a 100% chance of having the full contagious period, they are far more likely to spread the disease as a result to others. Shorter period of contagion means a person will infect fewer people. (the period of contagion is before any symptoms are evident, I should add). So while unvaccinated individuals (and arguably, the 3% of those who are vaccinated who experience symptoms when exposed) are not the cause, they are responsible for the outbreak by virtue of the extended incubation time, contagious period, and time of infection.

5. “Everybody get’s vaccinated with the same flawed vaccines that failed to work the first time. This achieves the goal of vaccine compliance and medical obedience”

I’m not even entirely sure what to make of this; We still have the obvious confusion about when and how often measles vaccines are given, such that the author has apparently confused Influenza with Measles. Also, The author themselves would show that the first word- “Everybody” is false- “Everybody” /doesn’t/ get vaccinated, And furthermore, if dealing with yearly vaccines (the Flu, not Measles!) one years vaccine is not going to be the same as the one previous or the one after. This step also raises further questions- “Vaccine compliance”? Who’s goals are they? for what purpose? Is this used to substantiate some idiotic conspiracy theory based on an understanding of chemistry that should claim Salt to be a dangerous substance because it contains corrosive Chlorine and Dangerous, explosive Sodium? Probably- whatever the case, this is definitely conspiracy nutter-type claims.

6. “When the outbreak naturally burns itself out, the media claims vaccines achieved the victory against disease, thus ‘proving’ they work”

Vaccines do not cure illnesses- they prevent them. Outbreaks don’t “Naturally burn themselves out”; this is true for seasonal illnesses (like the flu) however Measles has no “Season”; an outbreak will continue until no new individuals can be infected- simple as that. If an individual is contagious and is in contact with somebody who has not been infected, with the vaccine there is a low chance of being infected and even if they are the period of contagion is far less. If unvaccinated, there is a high chance of being infected, which means a longer incubation cycle and period of contagion, and, if the slides here are to be believed, many Anti-vaxxers are also “freemen” and “sovereign citizens” who dislike authority, so when a medical professional tells them they are being quarantined, they’ll probably show them one of their fingers and go home anyway, possibly returning once they experience symptoms, all the while spreading the infection in their daily interactions, causing more infections, and so on.

The problem with the central claim here- that the vaccines themselves cause the outbreak, is that the claim is inconsistent with observations. if this was true, than the outbreaks would be centered around areas with very high immunization rates. However, it is centered around areas with low immunization rates and large percentages of those who oppose immunization. This is wholly inconsistent with the claim.

This infographic is really an illustration of many of the problems with the entire movement. One the one hand, it denies a connection between the introduction and delivery of vaccines and the significant- near-eradication of diseases like smallpox, polio, measles, and Rubella; Yet, at the same time, it attempts to claim that vaccines cause diseases; one need look no further than the still oft-believed and long-debunked and discredited ‘study’ which linked MMR vaccines to Autism, which was produced by an individual with a history of professional fraud. Third- in this infographic, it talks about the “medical obedience” which is a illustration of the common advocation of things like isopathic preparations and “natural remedies”.

Some of the top “experts” who are opponents of vaccination make some pretty eyebrow raising claims. For example, Robert Mendelsohn (M.D) claims, and I quote, “There is no convincing scientific that mass inoculations can be credited with eliminating any childhood disease”. This is eyebrow raising for two reasons- Polio and Smallpox. It seems odd that the massive elimination and reduction of Polio and Smallpox- which paralyzed and killed hundreds of thousands of Americans every year before a vaccine was developed in the 50’s – going from those hundreds of thousands of fatalities and cases of paralysis and significantly dropping each year after the vaccine was introduced was purely a coincidence. I guess Smallpox just disappearing entirely after a vaccine was introduced and a effort was made to try to eradictate the illness was completely a coincidence.

If everybody in a given population is vaccinated, the chances of contracting the disease is very low- near zero. As more people aren’t vaccinated in a population, the more the entire population is jeopardized. Imagine a healthy, uninfected individual who has not been immunized get’s Mumps. Before he shows symptoms and get’s sick, and his parents keep him home from school. Some have been vaccinated and are not affected; others are vaccinated, and show minor symptoms which clear up quickly. Some have not been vaccinated. They get mumps too. Given the fatality rate, maybe 1 kid dies. (one more than I think SHOULD die from a preventable disease, but apparently children dying is A-OK to some people). Maybe there is also a vaccinated, child with a compromised or less robust immune system. She contracts it. Let’s say she dies- or get’s infected at any rate. Does this mean the vaccine doesn’t work? Of course not. What it means is that if some people don’t get immunized, they can jeopardize those who do.

This is why immunizations should not be optional, IMO, at least when it comes to diseases like Measles, Rubella, etc. One of the many claims of the anti-vaccination movement is that there should be a choice in getting immunized. This seems entirely reasonable- but in reality it isn’t, because those who do not get vaccinated jeopardize those who do, and it prevents eradication in a population of the causal agent of the disease.

Further, I have been shocked at some of the cold-hearted statistics fungling that I have seen to justify opposition to vaccinations. If at any point you find yourself trying to utilize statistics and morph them in some way so that you can effectively say “Children dying of a preventable disease is perfectly fine, because it means there is only a 0.00003% percent chance that anybody I know will get it” You need to rethink your argument. Any non-zero number of children- or any people- dying of a preventable disease is not OK, ever.

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