I recently had an email conversation with an anti-vaxer. I enjoy critical thinking exercises like this, and thought my response might be useful to publish.
The anti-vaxers key points (I’ve paraphrased here as it was a private email) were:
“An Australian TV program A Current Affair (ACA) screened a segment around a family who was awarded a $10M settlement after their baby had a serious adverse reaction to a vaccination. The ACA article claimed 200 other similar cases, and that a cover up by professionals was involved. The Anti-vaxer knows Doctors, Nurses, and Microbiologists who share the same anti-vaxer views, and considers the list of ingredients in vaccines to be horrible.”
Here is my response:
I researched the case you mentioned and there is indeed evidence (Link) that the poor child sustained brain damage as a result of that vaccination procedure. It’s food for thought:
If true, that’s 1 serious adverse affect out of perhaps 10M vaccinations in this country (my guess) last year. I understand there are often adverse but minor reactions (e.g. fever). It also appears the authorities dropped the ball on that vaccine. However it has been noticed, and corrected. That’s why I love science.
When was the last time an anti-vaxer said “Oh, you know what – I was wrong”.
- Mumps (alone) very badly hurts 2 children out of 1000 (Ref).
- If you get in a car your risk of death is 5 in 100,000 per year (Ref). So when your drive to your anti-vaxer meeting you have a 500 times greater risk of stone cold death than a possible risk of injury from vaccination.
- “A Current Affair” is not known for reputable science journalism. That doesn’t mean their claims are not true, but it would be prudent to look further rather than accept a tabloid TV story just because it fits your world view. Do you have any evidence for the claims of the other 200 cases? If it’s truly a criminal cover up involving harm to a child, are the Police investigating? Why not?
- Dr/Nurses having an opinion is called an “argument from authority”. Their view has some validity, and is a good source of a hypothesis (i.e. an untested idea or theory). But it doesn’t prevail over evidence. It’s not a fact – merely an opinion. The gold standard for evidence is peer reviewed journal papers. If you really want to know – go Google a few of them. I was surprised to find the medical ones quite easy to read.
- There are horrible substances in nature (like animal faeces spread on my vegetables to fertilise them, or nasty bacteria in milk). Doesn’t make vegetables bad for me. Oh wait.
- However it’s a lot of work to read up on all this, and we seem to get one health “risk” shoved at us after another from friends (“They say…….”), Facebook, and the media.
So I have a very quick test I use to filter claims. Do you personally know anyone who has sustained any permanent damage from a vaccine? Ever been to a funeral where some one has died from a vaccine?
David’s very simple test of what’s really a health risk and what’s not – “who do you know who has died from this?”. I know many people have died in a car accident, or from suicide, heart disease, old age, and cancer. So they are real risks for me.
These graphs from the CDC say it all. Infectious disease. Nailed. Deaths halved. Life spans doubled. IFL vaccinations and anti-biotics!