Selected Links Regarding Vaccinations
We jumped into the vaccination debate with our eyes wide open, fully-aware that we would lose many members when we addressed this untouchable subject. We did so because we this issue is simply too important to ignore. We could not, in good conscience, remain silent on the topic any longer. You can read Pam's positions on vaccines here, and Amy's follow-up post on the anti-vaccine debate here.
To support the discussion, and because so many moms have asked for it, below is a list of links related to the pro-vaccine side of the debate.
I therefore set the following criteria for selecting links for this post:
- Rather than citing actual studies, I would cite articles about those studies. Reason: because I don't have the knowledge to read those studies accurately. (Do you? Really?) Science journalists, however, like those who reviewed the original studies, interviewed key figures, and wrote the articles below, certainly do.
- The articles must be from reputable, highly-respected journalists and journals. Such journals and journalists have their work submitted to editorial review and fact-checking before being published.
Notably, articles about studies that show the risks of vaccines do not appear in respected news sources. Why? Is this a great conspiracy? Of course not: it's because reputable news sources and their journalists -- particularly science editors and science journalists -- are committed to the facts, and believe in the scientific method. They will not risk their reputation by publishing the findings of studies that don't meet the grade.
So without further ado, here it goes, and in no particular order.
Articles and Websites that Support Vaccination
- In an eerily timely fashion, this just-posted article lays out our concerns perfectly, and includes tons of links to reputable sources: Dear Parents, You Are Being Lied To
- The History of Vaccines is a site sponsored by the The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, one of the oldest medical societies in the United States.
- WebMD has responded to the vaccine debate with a special report on vaccines.
- And before you say, "Well, WebMD gets advertising money from Big Pharma", please consider this in-depth segment, The Vaccine War, by PBS's Frontline, (highly recommended) one of the last true investigative journalism programs around. You can watch the video online.
PBS is hardly known for its conservative views, so if anyone was going to sniff out a Big Pharma conspiracy and expose the evils of vaccines, this supposedly-liberal outfit would have been it. But they didn't:
"'Scientifically, I think the matter is settled,' says Anders Hviid, an epidemiologist at the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark. In one of the largest and most comprehensive epidemiological studies available, Hviid and colleagues analyzed data on more than a half million children and found no link between the MMR 'triple shot' for measles, mumps and rubella and an increased rate of autism -- a link that's been strongly asserted for years by anti-vaccine activists. Similar epidemiological studies in Denmark also failed to reveal a link between the mercury preservative thimerosal and autism. In fact, around the world, peer-reviewed epidemiological studies have found no link between autism and either the MMR shot or thimerosal."
- The Journal of Pediatrics agreed, and published this article that affirmatively dismissed any relationship between autism and vaccines.
- The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a similar report which found no connection between vaccines and autism.
- Recent studies show that increased rates of autism are probably related to increased environmental pollution or parental age:
- Harvard draws link between autism and air pollution (Daily Herald)
- Growing Evidence That Autism Is Linked to Pollution (Time)
- Autism, Pollution, And Genital Malformations: The Missing Link (Forbes)
- Mental Illness Risk Higher for Children of Older Fathers, Study Finds (New York Times)
- Father’s Age Is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia (New York Times)
- Meanwhile, the The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), a national medical organization representing more than 110,600 family physicians, has this to say: Childhood Vaccines: What They Are and Why Your Child Needs Them
- Regarding suggestions in the Facebook thread that the CDC doesn't track negative or adverse effects of vaccines. That's simply not true. The CDC has be tracked this since 1990 via the Vaccine Safety Datalink, and its Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
- Regarding the request for long-term studies that show the risks of vaccines on vaccinated kids, see Vaccinated Kids Show No Long-Term Ill Effects (Scientific American; see full study here)
- And since I am a techie who puts great faith in hard data, consider this article in (of all places) Forbes magazine: Big Data Crushes Anti-Vaccination Movement
- Scientific American, one of the most reputable magazines around (and published since 1845!) also weighed in: Straight Talk about Vaccination
- Even the guys over Popular Mechanics (!!) were alarmed enough to publish an article debunking the so-called studies that the anti-vaccine movement has relied upon: The Truth About 9 Anti-Vaccine Studies
- Need more? There is a wealth of handouts here, from the Immunization Action Coalition.
Articles that Support Not Vaccinating
Again, I limited my search to reputable news sources which will only pick up and publish stories that have merit.
Notably, I could not find any articles in these reputable journals or news sources to support the anti-vaccine position.
You can duplicate my Google searches:
- vaccine risks + usa today
- vaccine risks + new york times
- vaccine risks + scientific american
- vaccine risks + discover magazine
- anti-vaccine studies
To the extent that there are articles about the perils of vaccines, they live exclusively on anti-vax sites, and usually are blog-style articles (as opposed to journalistic quality articles, which are subject to editorial review and internal fact checking before being published.)
The articles cite dubious studies sponsored by anti-vaccine activist groups which have never been subjected to peer review (see the Popular Mechanics article mentioned above.)
The few-and-far-between doctors who support these sites cite anecdotal experiences of seeing kids in their practice, rather than referring to real, peer-reviewed studies.
And few-and-far-between they are. The International Medical Council on Vaccination -- a highly dubious organization -- was able to get a whopping 80 signatures from physicians to sign to a petition stating that "vaccines pose a significant risk of harm to the health of children." There are roughly 200,000 family practice doctors and pediatricians in the U.S., and all this petition would gather was .04% of that group to sign the petition? See here.
Compare the quality of information on these sites with the selection from above:
- www.vaclib.org: you'll find a whole directory of sites dedicated to the antivaccination cause. Look at the quality and content of the sites carefully.
Finally, I leave you with these...
Without further comment, but worth the read:
Antivaccination Parents Dig In Heels Even after Receiving Medical Info (Scientific American)
Inside the Mind of Worry (New York Times)
This article describes a study that explored why intelligent, well-informed people sometimes make decisions that are not in their best interest. It uses the vaccine debate as a case in point.
Key take aways:
"Researchers in neuroscience, psychology, economics and other disciplines have made a range of discoveries about why human beings sometimes fear more than the evidence warrants, and sometimes less than the evidence warns. That science is worth reviewing at length. But one current issue offers a crash course in the most significant of these findings: the fear of vaccines, particularly vaccines for children.
Based on the evidence, these and most other concerns about vaccines are unfounded. A comprehensive report last year from the Institute of Medicine is just one of many studies to report that vaccines do not cause autism, diabetes, asthma or other major afflictions listed by the anti-vaccination movement.
Professor Slovic and Professor Fischhoff and others have found that a risk imposed upon a person, like mandatory vaccination programs (nearly all of which allow people to opt out), feels scarier than the same risk if taken voluntarily. Risk perception also depends on trust. A risk created by a source you don’t trust will feel scarier. The anti-vaccination movement is thick with mistrust of government and the drug industry. Finally, risks that are human-made, like vaccines, evoke more worry than risks that are natural. Some parents who refuse to have their kids vaccinated say they are willing to accept the risk of the disease, because the disease is “natural.” "