The CFR has just released a map showing the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases worldwide. You can click by VPD to see how different countries are doing by preventable illness. I find it entirely shameful that the UK ranks lower than most developing countries – but how can this have happened?
Ever more studies like this one published by the CDC in the Journal of Pediatrics [sic!] confirm fears of a link between vaccines and autism are unfounded – this one just backs up the conclusions of so many other studies.
In the absence of any good data showing harm from vaccination, why do so many people still expose their and others’ children to preventable diseases that risk significant morbidity and even death?
For example in the USA 1/3rd of parents believe vaccines cause autism, and 1 in 10 parents refuse or delay vaccinations because they think they know better than the CDC and medics expert in the field.
Let me state my biases up front.
I believe that sanitation and immunisation have transformed public health; more so even than antibiotics. And this isn’t blind faith; science is a culture of doubt, not faith and I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone working in microbiology, public health or infection control who would disagree with me.
Yes, better nutrition, education and lots of other things also play a part in our life expectancy being ~80 and rising whereas 100 years ago the average lifespan was only 45 – but the correlation between the disappearance of VPDs and the introduction of their respective vaccines cannot be explained away by hand washing and better sewerage.
Also I tend to give more weight to published data that I can review for myself so I can check for biases and fallacious arguments. And I can do that – there’s a world of difference between being able to understand a scientific paper and being able to critically evaluate it.
Also some journals are better than others and just because something has been published doesn’t necessarily make it relaible.
That’s how science works – we publish our data so others can replicate and agree or challenge. It’s like a polite bar brawl and that’s why so many of us like it. Some studies are better than others and there is some utter nonsense published in ‘learned’ journals – take a look at this for an example; it argues that quantum theory provides a model for the effectiveness of homeopathy (water). Lots of science-y words but it’s quite simply – to use the proper scientific term – Utter, Utter Bollocks (µ²B). More examples later.
Anyway, back to the point. There were recent cases in the American National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (aka the ‘Vaccine Court’) that compensated two individuals based on gossamer-thin evidence which is being hailed as a ‘vindication’ of Andrew Wakefield. It isn’t and I’ll dissect that argument if anyone’s interested – but let’s start with the MMR / autism link and the former Dr Wakefield.