No Vaccine? A Different Risk

Paul Offit is one of America’s most-hated scientists. He’s been called a “biostitute” for the pharmaceutical industry and been threatened with death for his advocacy of one of medicine’s greatest innovations: vaccines. In recent years, anti-vaccine sentiment has spread like, well, an epidemic, with frightening results. In 2004, there were 26,000 reported pertussis (whooping cough) cases in the U.S., up from only 1,000 in 1976. A new article in Wired profiles Offit’s crusade and the interesting risk psychology of the anti-vaccine movement. Offit’s mission is really a mission to educate parents about the true risks their children face: “The choice not to get a vaccine is not a choice to take no risk. It’s just a choice to take a different risk, and we need to be better about saying, ‘Here’s what that different risk looks like.’ Dying of Hib meningitis is a horrible, ugly way to die.” [%comments]


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  1. David says:

    I am not sure where I stand on the whole vaccine issue, but I am sure that the people who came up with the Polio vaccine had better intentions than those who are pushing each and every wonder vaccine that comes out today with their multi-million dollar ad campaigns telling us to ask out doctor about it.

    PS: I am not naive to the fact that Saulk and company were not interested in profits.

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  2. di says:

    My friend’s son has autism. She has been told many times that it is her fault, because she had him get the MMR vaccine.

    She responds that her cousin is deaf because her aunt had measles while pregnant.

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  3. Maurine says:

    It’s hard to believe there are so many uneducated people in the US regarding vaccines. Whose going to be responsible for our children who lost all speech within a week after having 5 vaccines? You all seem to forget that we did vaccinate and that’s why we have very sick children.
    Is there no compassions left in this world?
    BTW Offit’s comments are without any basis. He claims people want to attack him (not ture) for attention.

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  4. Nathan says:

    I know more autistic kids than kids with rubella.

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  5. LaraK says:

    I have patients with health-related anxiety who present with very poor abilities to measure and calculate the risk of calamitous disease in their lives. They come in with a definite attention bias that does not respond to the best arguments. The best approach is cognitive-behavioral, however they must be prodded into seeing their own thinking as irrational without being told so directly. Oftentimes there is an unconscious fear that is driving their rigid belief system–one that the anti-vaccine movement may similarly have and seem to ignore.

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  6. ray bans on my face says:

    I had no idea there are actually people out there against vaccines.

    So more people are getting ill and dying because they’re refusing vaccines? Well if these people actually believe this anti-vaccination hog wash, then they’re holding society down and perhaps should drop off. I feel bad for their children though. It’s not their fault that their parents are idiots.

    Why would anyone ever work against the progress of medical science? Vaccines were developed to protect us from getting sick, for crying out loud! Who cares about whether or not the companies making the vaccinations are getting richer? That’s called business! We all do business to earn money to live!!! There is clearly a very large market for vaccines, and if someone gets rich for capitalizing on keeping people healthy, then they deserve it. Someone refusing a vaccine because they don’t want to add to a drug company’s profits is like refusing to eat food because you might get fat, and fat is baaaad. This has to be quite possibly one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of.

    I agree with some of the others that have commented on this page. The anti-vaccination group is just another modern day equivalent to the luddites.

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  7. ray bans on my face says:

    -Bensmyson: Your information about the flu shot is very incomplete. Its not just like every strain of flu is the same. The virus constantly evolves, so every year a different strain of influenza is chosen to be used in the flu shot vaccine. The strain chosen to be used in the vaccine from year to year isn’t always the same strain(s) that make its way around the population each season, hence the large amount of people that get sick, and the small amount that die. The success rate of predicting which strain(s) will make its way around the population isn’t very good, something around 70% accuracy, but it’s still better than nothing.

    The flu shot still prevents the flu, as long as the right strain is chosen to be in the vaccine from year to year. So what this means is that all the people that got sick or died from the flu died because the flu shot they got didn’t contain the right strain. That means they also would have got sick and died anyway.

    And Vitamin D does not (entirely) prevent the flu. Vitamin D deficiencies predispose people to respiratory infections, while getting more Vitamin D in one’s system lowers the risk of becoming infected. But it won’t keep a person from contracting the flu unless they had a vaccination with the right flu strain. It may help mitigate the flu’s effect on the body, because they body is healthy enough to withstand it and fight it off, but it will not prevent the body from contracting the virus.

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  8. Joe Smith says:

    The substantial majority of those currently alive are only alive because of vaccinations and public sewer systems.

    To say that you are against vaccinations is to say that 50% to 80% of us should be dead.

    You first.

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