At IFL Mad Scientist, we don’t believe in sides. We don’t believe in teams. We think there are valid points to each side. Because we are a bit mad and don’t believe in teams, dogma, culture, or politics we try to have our own perspective.
We don’t claim to be right or wrong. We don’t claim our articles are perfect. However, what we do claim is there are risks and benefits to conventional medicine, natural medicine, and vaccines.
There is misinformation and disinformation about vaccines everywhere. The conventional model uses deception, and many advocates of natural medicine use fear mongering.
What’s the truth? Are vaccines safe or dangerous? Are vaccines life saving? Do they prevent or cause disease? Or do they do both?
The case for vaccines
Vaccines can be very life saving. Take the DTaP and Tdap vaccines for example. These vaccines offer protection against Tetanus, Diptheria, and Pertussis. Tetanus can be lethal, and if you lucky enough to recover, you’ll still likely end up in the ICU with symptoms such as elevated blood pressure, rapid heart rate, severe muscle spasms, and lockjaw. Muscle spasms typically last 3-4 weeks and recovery takes anywhere from 1-3 months. This vaccine can literally save a life before and even even shortly after the tetanus toxin enters your body.
If you haven’t been vaccinated, the only treatment available is Tetanus immune globulin (TIG). However, this treatment can’t remove tetanus that is already bound to nerve endings.
And then there is Diptheria toxin. This is one toxin not to mess with. About 40-50% of untreated patients die from severe complications that included symptoms like airway obstruction, muscle paralysis, heart and kidney failure.
Poliomyelitis caused no symptoms in about 90% of people, but about 1% would get a central nervous system infection that destroyed motor neurons and caused a terrible paralytic disease. A global effort to eradicate Polio began in 1988, and was declared eradicated in the Americas by 1994.
While the eradication of polio was declared in 1994, there are some controversies surrounding the Polio vaccine that I will talk about later in this article.
While I used DTaP and Tdap vaccine as an example, there are other vaccines that are life-saving. However, I chose to write about these vaccines since are great examples of how life-saving vaccines can be.
I do believe that both vaccine skeptics and vaccine alarmists can agree that these are life-saving. However, while these are great examples of benefits and vaccines, it may be hard to change perspective of those who are completely opposed to any vaccination.
The case against vaccines
While typical vaccine side effects include symptoms such as fever, swelling, and malaise, much more serious side effects can occur. Vaccination can lead to allergies and autoimmunity. Severe reactions can trigger chronic neuro-immune disorders and can even result in anaphylaxis or death.
Above, I used the DTaP and Tdap as examples of life saving vaccines. However, early vaccination of these vaccines will lead to IgE production. The DTaP in particular drives Th2 responses, and delaying this vaccine lowers the incidence of asthma. So while these vaccines are very life saving, there are risks, and the benefit/risk should be weighed accordingly.
The Wakefield study on MMR and Autism is what caused a lot of the controversy about the MMR vaccine. While the evidence does not show a link between this vaccine and Autism, the MMR is not without serious side effects. The MMR can trigger anaphylaxis in rare cases from the gelatin in the vaccine.
Update: There has been news about a CDC whistleblower about how the CDC hid data about a 240% (no not 340%) increase in Autism in African American boys after the MMR vaccine. However, the mainstream media hasn’t covered this issue much.
Since vaccines exacerbate Th1 and Th2 immune responses, they can induce autoimmunity in various ways. If someone has an autoimmune disease, increasing the Th2 response can increase pathology. Furthermore, adjuvant can increase the amount of CD86 on antigen presenting cells which can lead to a cascade of autoimmune pathology. There are reports that vaccines can cause temporary autoimmunity as well, but as of now, the cause and effect cannot be established.
Three vaccine related autoimmunity relationships have been accepted. There is a relationship between the measles vaccines Guillain-Barré Syndrome, MMR and thrombocytopenia, and Rubella with arthritis.
The Hepatitis B vaccine has been associated with Multiple Sclerosis triggering lawsuits in 2005. In Israel, there was a case series demonstrating Hepatits B vaccine induced Lupus.
The adjuvants and preservatives in vaccines can trigger autoimmune-like conditions as well. Aluminum can trigger Macrophage Myofaciitis. There is a correlation between intramuscular vaccinations of Hepatitis B and the development of Macrophage Myofascitis. Some symptoms include impairment of cognitive function, memory, and fatigue which can lead to the diagnosis of of a very debilitating illness (but with a poor name) Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Patients can go on to develop demyelinating disorders, neuromuscular disorders, and thyroid disorders. While the cause or causes of Gulf War Syndrome haven’t been fully established, there has been a link between the aluminum – particularily in the anthrax vaccine.
So while evidence doesn’t show a link between vaccine and Autism (Update: There might be an increased risk in African American boys) in , there is evidence that vaccines and their adjuvants can induce a wide arrange of serious pathologies. As I demonstrated, there is also evidence that adjuvants other than thimerosal can cause or trigger disease.
Vaccine controversy is nothing new. In fact, You can argue vaccine controversies started all the way back to 1721 when they used variolation (inoculation) to deliberately induce a mild infection of smallpox. Variolation is not quite the same as vaccination and it was banned in England in the 1840 Vaccination Act. In 1853 parliament introduced compulsory vaccination. This wasn’t met without controversy. By 1855 there were several thousand prosecutions and a rally with over 20,000 protesters.
The Anti-Vaccination Society of America was started in 1879. Vaccine, controversy in the United States reached the supreme court by 1905. Since then there has been controversy over vaccines such as the Diptheria antitoxin, Tuberculin vaccine, Salk polio vaccine, DPT, and MMR.
The controversies weren’t necessarily without cause. In 1901, antitoxin contaminated with tetanus killed 13 children in St. Louis Missouri. Around the same time there were 9 deaths from contaminated smallpox vaccines which triggered the Biologics Control Act of 1902. Tuberculin caused serious reactions and death in those with latent tuberculosis. In 1955, a serious incident called The Cutter Incident caused 40,000 incidences of polio from Salk polio vaccines contaminated with live polio virus.
In 1998, publication of a medical journal in The Lancet sparked the MMR/Autism controversy. Despite retraction, accusations of fraud amongst study authors, and lack of evidence that this vaccine causes Autism, the MMR controversy and concerns of the associations between vaccines and Autism is still ongoing.
There are also several controversies surrounding the polio vaccine. A cancer causing virus called SV40 contaminated the vaccine, and it has been found in several cancers including some types of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
There has been controversy since the late 1980′s over whether or not the polio vaccine caused HIV/AIDS (the OPV AIDS hypothesis). While there is confirmed evidence that HIV-1 was in human tissue from 1959, this doesn’t rule out that there weren’t contaminants such as nanobacteria that are known to trigger AIDS in HIV-infected individuals. However, the “hunter theory” remains the most widely accepted HIV/AIDS theory.
Vaccines can kill you… and save your life.
If you get anything out of this article, perhaps you’ll understand that everything isn’t so black and white. There is both truth and irrationality from vaccine-skeptics, vaccine-alarmists, and even people completely opposed to vaccination.
Like any medication, vaccines aren’t without side effects. Some vaccines carry more risk than others. Some can cause, trigger or worsen autoimmunity and neurological syndromes.
And adverse effects aren’t as rare as the vaccine advocates want you to believe. In fact, in 2013 alone, there were 29,091 reported adverse side effects according to the VAERS database. Out of these, 1,786 were determined to be severe, and 4,579 of these people did not recover. Obviously, since 4,579 people didn’t recover, the severity of adverse events was probably never determined or underreported. These patients, according to their reports, suffered from permanent and severe neurological neuromuscular problems, anaphylaxis, autoimmune disease, heart problems, joint pain, fatigue, and much more.
From 1990 to the end of 2013, there has been a total of 380,214 adverse events reported to the VAERS database with 48,310 people reported as not recovered. The CDC wants everyone to know that “VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that vaccine caused the event.” Nevertheless, whether or not these events were caused by vaccine, these are still significant numbers. You also have to realize that there will be cases that aren’t submitted to VAERS as well as true vaccine injuries that aren’t recognized or not submitted to the VAERS database.
Nevertheless, despite all these numbers and statistics, vaccines do save lives. Unfortunately, like everything else, vaccines aren’t perfect, the human body is complex, and adverse effects are to be expected.
It’s true that there is no evidence to support that vaccines cause Autism (Update: MMR might increase risk in African American boys). However, at this point, while many associations have been demonstrated between Autism and various environmental and genetic factors, no single cause has been established.
It’s also true that not everyone should be vaccinated. In fact, those with egg allergy, immune problems, or certain chronic medical conditions should avoid certain vaccines. While there are flu vaccines without egg protein today, all other flu vaccines should be avoided in the case of egg allergy. It is not recommended that those with “immune suppression, certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, heart or kidney disease, and pregnancy” receive the live attenuated flu vaccine according to the CDC and ACIP.
I believe that each parent (along with their physician) has the duty and obligation to determine what they think is best for their children. Some may agree and others may disagree with their stance or beliefs. Some believe in natural immunity, and others believe that prevention through vaccines is best thing you can do. I think some vaccines are much more important (and safer) than others, so I would personally vaccinate my child with the vaccines that are most important with a vaccine schedule that I think is best for my child’s immune system. Not all brands are created equal, so I would also choose vaccines that have the safest adjuvants and best safety track record. I also understand the arguments of herd immunity, but I don’t like the idea of state mandated compulsory vaccination (even though it sort of more or less exists to some degree). However, it doesn’t matter what I perceive to be the right or wrong way of doing things, because others may have a different perspective that is valid in its own right.
This article is a work in progress and is not fully edited. Citations and links will be added and the content may be edited accordingly.