Vaccination is demonstrably effective.
Study(1) after publication(2) has demonstrated that vaccines are effective in their basic function; stimulating an individual’s immune system to develop adaptive immunity to a given pathogen. In simple terms, this means that vaccines reduce the incidence of disease. And, of course, historical data demonstrates this(3)(4). As can be seen in the graphs(3,4), the implementation of vaccination corresponds to a rapid decrease in death and incidence of various diseases, and is supported by evidence of statistical significance (i.e. not simply a case of correlation being confused with causation).
Meta-analyses of some types of influenza vaccines have shown reduced effectiveness during some seasons, however, this is almost ubiquitously a result of the rapidly mutating nature of the influenza virus, and not the efficacy of the vaccines themselves. Individuals may still become ill after being vaccinated, as individual vaccination effectiveness is, of course, only approaching 100% (about 98% for measles, for example)(1). However, the absolute majority of individuals achieve functional immunity once immunised against most diseases, and it is this vast majority that, when coupled with high community vaccination rates, confers the additional benefits of herd immunity and the eventual eradication of disease.
The eradication of poliomyelitis in the Western world and smallpox globally is one of the greatest public health achievements to date. This came about through a disciplined vaccination schedule and years of research and dedication; the almost-total destruction of these diseases is testament to the efficacy of vaccination(5).
Vaccination is demonstrably effective in reducing the incidence and death rates associated with disease.
Vaccination is safe.
As a rule-of-thumb, no biological agent can ever be considered 100% safe, and all types of medicine have side-effects. However, the propensity of the evidence towards their safety is absolutely clear and except in a very limited number of exceptional cases, are almost always safe. I will demonstrate this assertion here, first discussing the ingredients in vaccines and then using the example of the autism controversy surrounding vaccination, specifically the MMR vaccine.
Some children (and adults) have medical conditions which cause them to be immunocompromised, or may have a specific allergy to an ingredient in a vaccine. These individuals should not be vaccinated; however, these individuals provide even more reason for others in the community to become vaccinated; immunocompromised children rely on the heard immunity of their immediate and extended community to prevent them from becoming ill.
Controversial ingredients include:
– Thimerosal, what most anti-vaxxers claim as the origin of autism, is an organic mercury-based compound that consists of just under 50% ethyl mercury(6). Thimerosal is not in the MMR vaccine(9). It has been omitted from almost all vaccines since 1999(6), there is no evidence of it causing any adverse health effects with the exception of minor swelling and redness at the site of injection(6), and it has never been implicated in causing autism. It was used as a preservative, but the amount was so thoroughly insignificant that one’s risk of mercury bioaccumulation from the entire childhood vaccination schedule is nine-times less than a single tuna sandwich(7). And anyway, if it did cause autism, you’d expect autism to drop after it was taken out of vaccines. Which it didn’t.
– Formaldehyde, also used as a preservative and to prevent runaway pathogen replication. 70-80 times more can be found in the human body by natural production than in a jab(8).
– Aluminium Hydroxide is in such small quantities in vaccines that you can literally get 1000 times more of it from a single ant-acid tablet and is the most common metal in nature(7)[around 9:00]. Breastfeeding puts a child at greater risk(8).
MMR and Autism
The MMR vaccine does not cause autism. In fact, none do(7)(10)(11)(12)(13).
Time and time again, studies and meta-analyses have found no correlation between vaccination and autism. In 1998 Andrew Wakefield conducted an illegal test (it wasn’t even an experiment) on 8 children (which is a pitifully small sample), doctoring the evidence of those measurements, and presenting them to be published in the Lancet(12). The paper was later retracted and Wakefield lost his licence to practice medicine. Before looking for more evidence, frightened readers and the 24-hour news cycle regurgitated the hokum and established the current fear of vaccines. What the public didn’t know was that Wakefield had been hired to find evidence of the correlation for a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company responsible for the production of the vaccine; and Wakefield was developing his own vaccine which he wanted to force into the market as a competitor(12). Follow the money.
Failure to vaccinate elucidates measurable counter-benefits.
Decreasing vaccination rates have been implicated in the recent resurgence of measles(14). In fact, failure to vaccinate has caused hundreds of thousands of preventable cases; this interactive map is absolutely critical in examining the extent of diminished benefit due to failure to vaccinate(15). This topic will be explored more thoroughly in the following rounds, but the key factor here is that deaths which would otherwise have been prevented occurred. Diseases which should be relegated to the nightmares of history such as polio and measles are resurging. And all of this based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever. This amounts to biological warfare, and those responsible for the anti-vaxxination movement, primarily the charlitain and corrupt Andrew Wakefield, should be held accountable for their heinous crimes against humanity.
The depths of moral turpitude and depravity of the anti-vaccination movement have demonstrated themselves to be limitless. It is up to us to fight superstition and pseduo-science with evidence and reason. If there were sufficient funding at our disposal, I would recommend taking the lot of them to The Hague on charges of crimes against humanity and mass infanticide.
(1) New England Journal of Medicine, Markowitz, L. (et. al), Immunisation of Six-Month-Old Infants[…]
accessible at: http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199003013220903
(2) Journal of Infectious Diseases, Weindberg, G & Szilagyi, P, Vaccine Epidemiology: Efficacy, Effectiveness, and the Translational Research Roadmap, accessible at: http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/201/11/1607.full
(7) Go to 10:30:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLcOz4EKrxg
Transcribed from a debate I had, which can be found here: http://www.debate.org/debates/Resolved-Vaccination-is-on-balance-both-safe-and-effective/1/