Vaccines, trust and personal choices

I wrote a post about vaccines on my Norwegian blog earlier this week. Vaksineløgnen consisted mostly of links to articles that I believe balance the popular and indiscriminate view that vaccines are infallible. The truth is that neither doctors or the rest of us could possibly know whether medicines in general are safe (because research that show the opposite is much less likely to be published). There is nothing to indicate a better track record for vaccines.

Another thing is that vaccines don’t give you a 100% protection. I showed in the Norwegian post I referred to that there have been numerous cases where vaccinated people have been infected, and some have become sick from the vaccine. There are many debunkers claiming stubbornly that there is no evidence for a link between autism and vaccines. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is the responsible authority for vaccines in the US, together with FDA. They also have great influence in other countries, and Norwegian authorities often read and listen to advice from the CDC.

CDC‘s mission is to overlook research and then give their recommendation to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which then decides whether to approve a drug/vaccine or not. If CDC recommends FDA to pull a product from the market, that means a sort of admission that the original advice was wrong, or that they didn’t have enough information. This has  happened several times, among others with the first rotavirus vaccine in 1999, after discovering that the vaccine increased the risk of intussusception.

I may not have had any problems with vaccines if CDC did some solid research, but they are starting to get a shaky reputation. CDC has posted information on their website about vaccine safety in relation to measles, mumps and rubella (MMR vaccine). They are also trying to reassure parents about the risk of autism on this page. Something happened last year that raised doubts about how independent CDC is, however.

BioMed Research International published what seems to be legitimate research. This article analyzes the six studies CDC gladly refer to when they reject the link between thimerosal and autism. This article also refers to the 165 studies that concludes that thimerosal (mercurybased) can be harmful, and 16 of these reported “outcomes of death; acrodynia; poisoning; allergic reaction; malformations; auto-immune reaction; Well’s syndrome; developmental delay; and neurodevelopmental disorders, including tics, speech delay, language delay, attention deficit disorder, and autism.”

Now some might say that this is not a problem as thimerosal isn’t used much anymore (so they say). The question I have is why CDC is so intent on defending thimerosal as a preservative in vaccines when there’s so much research contradicting this view. The Public Health Service agencies, The American Academy of Pediatrics and vaccine panufacturers agreed in 1999 that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure, according to CDC. Why did they do that if it’s harmless? Knowing how dishonest Big Pharma is I wonder if they plan to continue using it elsewhere, like in Africa. The pharmaceutical industry seems to change adjuvants and preservatives in vaccines, although they claim that these are safe. Why?

CDC don’t seem to focus on medications that have been withdrawn from the market. I know someone who had just gotten a prescription for Vioxx when it was withdrawn worldwide because the medication gave an increased risk of cardiovascular events. That’s a eufemism for people are dying like flies, and one of the major newspapers in Norway reported that this drug could have killed as many as 400 people in Norway. FDA knew about studies that warned against this risk.

The cholesterol medicine Baycol was also withdrawn from the market after this drug had been linked to 31 deaths. There was also many who didn’t die, but who suffered serious liver damage. All types of cholesterol medicine have a risk, but sometimes you have to concider whether or not it’s worth it. I did that myself a couple of years ago after being on statins for a long time. Blood tests showed that my liver enzymes were off the scale, so I decided together with my doctor that I would try to keep my cholesterol down in other ways.

doctor administer vaccine
Doctors/nurses administer vaccines to children, but rarely have enough access to all the relevant information about the drugs they are pushing.
Foto: David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos.net

I mention this because it is about trust. The biggest mystery in all of this is how anyone can defend the pharmaceutical industry and health authorities who time after time make disturbing decisions. There are even some arrogant doctors claiming we don’t have the right to form an opinion because they are so much better qualified to assess this. I can see that argument, if they stop lying.

The researchers behind the article in BioMed Research International found it strange that the CDC could make the following statement on their website: There is no relationship between [T] himerosal [-] containing vaccines and autism rates in children.”

I also found this statement on the CDC-site: “There is no convincing evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines.” (this is from the page I have linked to earlier where they address the concerns about thimerosal.

The researchers behind the analysis of the 6 CDC-studies found this statement a bit strange as a study conducted by CDC’s own epidemiologists showed that there was a 7.6 fold increased risk of getting autism from exposure to thimerosal during infancy. When CDC claims there isn’t a correlation between thimerosal and autism, they lean on the 6 epidemiological studies they coauthored and sponsored. That sounds problematic to me. This table shows some of the flaws with these CDC-studies.

This isn’t a problem confined to the CDC and the US. Here are a couple of other cases I found in 5 minutes (which probably means there are many): The Daily Mail recently wrote about a scandal related to this year’s flu vaccine in the UK. Health authorities knew that it only worked on 3% of the patients. This was because the virus had mutated, which is common with the flu virus. In fact it mutates so often that many don’t think there are any effective influenza vaccines, but in this case everyone believed that they were protected. According to the newspaper, the mortality rate among influenza patients was higher than normal among old people and children in January, which perhaps had to do with people thinking they were safe.

But it’s not just that vaccines don’t give the expected protection. I also found many cases today where a defective influenza vaccine gave some children permanent brain damage. This is a case from Australia where they discovered that this vaccine was four times more likely to trigger fever in young children than other vaccines. It is therefore no longer used on children under 5 years.

I showed a talk from TED a while back where the British doctor Ben Goldacre talked about publication bias.One of several drugs he specifically mentioned was an antidepressant he concidered prescribing to a patient. He wanted to read the studies that had been done on that drug first. He found later that 6 of 7 studies where they had compared the drug with a sugar pill, had given a negative result. These 6 were not published, and according to Goldacre this is a common problem.

These are just a few of many cases and issues that I believe question the credibility of those that guarantee vaccine/medicine safety. For me as a parent it’s a question of what is an acceptable risk. There is a great deal of social pressure against us vaccineskeptics now, but the truth is that we can’t rely on the pharmaceutical industry (“big pharma“), CDC or health care workers alone. These have the work cut out for them trying to rebuild trust. However, there is one thing I agree with them on, the vaccines may not be dangerous. I am however not as confident about the adjuvants and preservatives.

There have been a number of cases in the United States recently where doctors say that they will not treat patients who have not been vaccinated. This could be linked to an outbreak of measles in California. According to the last update I heard there are 103 people infected with measles in a state with well over 38 million people. I believe the hysteria we see now could have been avoided if medical authorities and Big Pharma proved to be more reliable. I do wonder why so many get upset If the vaccine is so effective. This seemed to scare people more than ebola, as if it will spread uncontrollably from coast to coast. You can get scared people to do just about anything, so I hope this calms down.

You can find the list of what vaccines contain on the CDC-website (scroll down to reference materials). There are a lot of things on this list, some of the ingredients are problematic in terms of allergy.

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One thought on “Vaccines, trust and personal choices

  1. Seems wise to hold off on vaccines till children start in public school. That’s where the risks are at.

    Also odd here in the US that there’s a long summer vacation from school instead of a long winter vacation during RSV, flu, and cold season.

    ASDs seems like a blessing compared to the plague of crazy ideas that pass for public policies regarding drugs, sex, borders, and freedom from consequences.

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