Anti-Vaccination = Pure Fraud

Hopefully this will be the final nail in the coffin of the anti-vaxxers. Turns out that the original study linking vaccinations to autism was not merely shoddy or erroneous, but out and out fraud:

An investigation published by the British medical journal BMJ concludes the study’s author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, misrepresented or altered the medical histories of all 12 of the patients whose cases formed the basis of the 1998 study — and that there was “no doubt” Wakefield was responsible.

“It’s one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors,” Fiona Godlee, BMJ’s editor-in-chief, told CNN. “But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.”

Why We Vaccinate Redux

The latest Wired has a great article on vaccination (emphasis mine).

There is no credible evidence to indicate that any of this [vaccines harm America’s children] is true. None. Twelve epidemiological studies have found no data that links the MMR (measles/mumps/rubella) vaccine to autism; six studies have found no trace of an association between thimerosal (a preservative containing ethylmercury that has largely been removed from vaccines since 20011) and autism, and three other studies have found no indication that thimerosal causes even subtle neurological problems. The so-called epidemic, researchers assert, is the result of improved diagnosis, which has identified as autistic many kids who once might have been labeled mentally retarded or just plain slow. In fact, the growing body of science indicates that the autistic spectrum — which may well turn out to encompass several discrete conditions — may largely be genetic in origin. In April, the journal Nature published two studies that analyzed the genes of almost 10,000 people and identified a common genetic variant present in approximately 65 percent of autistic children.

I am proud to say that Emily had another round of vaccinations the other day. Her risk of dying from a host of fatal childhood diseases has gone down significantly.1 Her risk of developing autism has increased by an amount so small it would take a scanning electron microsocope to detect.

We evaluate risks every day. There is a small but non-zero chance that I will be run over by a truck while biking to work. Should I then refuse to get out of bed?

My extremely fetching orange and yellow reflective vest is made of plastic, which is flammable, and might melt itself into my skin if it catches on fire. Is the risk of my vest catching on fire (perhaps from static electricity generated by rubbing against my jacket) greater than the risk of a truck driver not seeing me on a dark rainy evening if I don’t wear it?

Sounds crazy, but that’s how anti-vaxxers sound to me. Is the infinitesimal (and in fact made up out of whole cloth) risk of autism greater than the risk of brain damage or death from rubella or measles, or pertussis?

  1. However, if enough people in her community refuse to vaccinate their children, her risk of dying from an infectious disease actually goes up. The more people in a community who are vaccinated against an infectious disease, the less chance the infection has to spread. Not rocket science, people.

Why We Innoculate

I should have noted this earlier, but the last month has been pretty busy. Turns out that the original research used to support the idea that vaccinations cause autism was based on falsified data.

That’s right. Made up out of whole cloth.

I feel tremendous empathy for the health-care professionals in places like the UK and Minnesota, where childhood diseases are making a comeback due to the idiocy of anti-vaccinators.

In case you wondered why we vaccinate, Jim McDonald has a whole list of reasons:

  • Hepatitis B
  • Polio
  • Diptheria
  • Pertussis
  • Tetanus
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Chicken Pox

You may not even have heard of these diseases, because we were this close to wiping them out. Now, thanks to a few noisy idiots, you may come accross them all to often in the future.

On tiny little gravestones.

A Pet Peeve

Something that gets me steaming is the current fashion opposing the vaccination of children. Some perspective:

Even if the myth [that vaccines cause autism] were true, not vaccinating your children would be a poor solution.

It has been such a long time since we’ve had to deal with polio and smallpox, that people have forgotten just how scary they were. In 1952, at the height of the polio epidemics, around 14 out of 100,000 of every Americans had paralytic polio. 300-500 million people died of smallpox in the 20th century. Add in hepatitis A, hepatitis B, mumps, measles, rubella, diptheria, pertussis, tetanus, HiB, chicken pox, rotavirus, meningococcal disease, pneumonia and the flu, and no wonder experts estimate that “fully vaccinating all U. S. children born in a given year from birth to adolescence saves an estimated 33,000 lives and prevents an estimated 14 million infections.”

There may indeed be dangers with vaccinations. But the dangers of not vaccinating far, far outweigh them.