Monday, February 09, 2009

On Vaccines, Liars and Ranting

What follows may turn to ranting. I apologise. It may also run long, so be 'serialised' as it were.

Jeni Barnett is a radio commentator, or radio personality, or something. She seems, to me, to represent the ill informed middle classes. A recent broadcast on her show has re-ignited the debate on vaccination, and in particular, the MMR.

Dr Crippen, always a worthwhile read, has waxed lyrical on the subject. His posts can be found here and here and here. He links to several,other sites, also worth reading, so I won't replicate his work. Ms Barnett's take can be found here, and here.

As ever, this is a subject fraught with peril. Tempers flare on both sides, and there is considerable risk of simply degenerating into name calling.

It is however a subject that makes me particularly angry. Actually, having listened to excerpts from Ms Barnett's show, I think everything about her may make me apoplectic with rage.

To clarify my position, I am an Orthodox practitioner, Western trained and educated. I have little experience of alternative therapies, but have made some study of what effects they purport to have. I do have strong opinions on this, but I try to be open minded where I can. (Altho LBF may not believe that)

It's worth saying that I am, unreservedly, in favour of vaccinations.

They work. This is simple fact. It is not opinion, it is not anecdote. It is cold, hard fact.

Part of the problem, however, is how one defines "fact".

Some people will always question fact; this is, in general, a good thing. But there seem to be a breed of folks who will continue to refute evidence that is contrary to what they believe.

Ms Barnett suggested that the figures for measles cases might be being spun - that there were figures being withheld. She admitted she did not know what these figures were, "because they are being withheld" For what reason, or by whom, I am not sure. But if you forever believe that the truth is being concealed from you, my words will carry little weight.

If vaccines do not work, where is small pox? When did you last see a child dying of diphtheria?

Are they solely responsible? No; of course not. Hygiene has played a part, increased sanitation, better nutrition all play a part. But if better hygiene were all it took, why do we still get viral infections? Glandular fever hasn't been banished by the teachings of Semmlweis, nor the common cold.

I have seen a few comments suggesting that germs do not cause disease, and that this is why vaccines cannot work. I really don't know how to answer that. I would find it equally hard to convince someone that the Earth is round. Koch must be spinning in his grave.

By "work", do I mean 100% effective, 100% safe? No; that isn't true either, but, on balance, they're safer than having the diseases.

4 comments:

Cusanus said...

"Jeni Barnett is a radio commentator, or radio personality, or something. She seems, to me, to represent the ill informed middle classes." Nice jab, and vaccines seem ok to you. They would. But no, she represents me, the parents (and also victims) of children who are victims of the vaccination fraud. I am also well educated in biology/chemistry/statistics, enough so to state with absolute scientific certainty that they cause severe, lasting injury, including autism...

DrShroom said...

I am, of course, sorry if your children are affected by autism. I am curious on what evidence you base your absolute certainty, or on what grounds you refute the evidence that there is no link to autism.

DrShroom said...

And as for "ill-informed", she freely admitted to not knowing what was in vaccines, yet felt in a position to opine on their safety, and expressed surprise that a caller had not received immunity to the common cold from his 'flu vaccine

Marc Bernard said...

Some more related commentary here:

http://www.epmonthly.com/whitecoat/2009/02/one-vaccination-argument-gone/