vaccine controversy

Your comprehensive guide: Why are vaccines and Autism connected? The original "Research"

Your comprehensive guide: Why are vaccines and Autism connected? The original “Research”

Described as “the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years”, the 1998 research piece linking vaccines to autism drove vaccination rates in the UK to 79.9%, its lowest since its introduction, and in turn orchestrated widespread epidemics across the globe.

The Fib

In February 1998, Andrew Wakefield planted a seed into the minds of the British public. That seed was the publication of a paper in the medical journal the lancet, claiming a correlation between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and the development of autism. Before 1998 this claim did not exist and after its complete retraction in 2010, you’d hope it’s gone from our future, too.

Yet we still can’t seem to shake it.

This is emphasised by statements like these, spread by the prominent anti-vaccine campaigner Jenny Mccarthy: ”You ask any mother in the autism community if we’ll take the flu, the measles, over autism any day of the week. I think they need to wake up and stop hurting our kids”.

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There are a number of stories that have infectious diseases play a major role in the plot. It’s a great plot device, if used well—it forces isolation, people to work together, fear, panic, and death. The problem comes when authors don’t understand how diseases work. It is true that fantasy author do have more leeway when it comes to what they can do with their diseases, but there are still some basic points that should be kept in mind.

Infectious diseases come in the form of either viruses or bacteria. In fantasy, magic is a third choice, which will be covered later. In terms of general writing, unless you’re writing a medical thriller or something of the sort, you don’t need to know a whole lot about the differences between the two. There are some differences that are important to note, especially if you are writing about a time since the invention of vaccines and/or antibiotics. Vaccines exist for both viral and bacterial pathogens. That being said, some of the early vaccines were for viruses; the first vaccine was for smallpox. They are generally used as preventative measures to keep people from getting certain diseases, and some may require boosters to stay effective. Antibiotics (or antibacterials), on the other hand, only work for bacterial diseases, and they either kill the bacteria or inhibit its growth. This means that they will not work on things like the flu.

If your invented disease is magic, clearly these rules don’t apply. What that means, however, is that you shouldn’t have your doctors using antibiotics to fight the magical disease. They can attempt it if they don’t know that it’s magic, but as soon as they figure out that it’s not bacterial, they should not try to use it. Similarly, it would probably be incredibly difficult if not impossible to vaccinate against something caused by magic.

Infectious diseases spread in certain ways. This doesn’t mean that all diseases spread the same way. A few possibilities are as follows: though physical contact, though ingestion of infected water or food, through sharing of fluids, or through the air. Many of these are obvious. For sharing of fluids, this can include blood, seminal or vaginal fluid, or saliva.

Magical diseases are, of course, different. For one thing, as opposed to regular diseases, magical diseases can be set to specifically target or spare people, depending on the magic system of your world.

Drug-resistant bacteria are a real threat. To spare you the details, the more an antibiotic is used, the more likely it is that large sets of the bacteria will become resistant to it. This can appear in a number of different ways, with bacteria being resistant to varying numbers of drugs. Some are only resistant to one can be treated by simply switching to another drug. The bigger problem comes with things like XDR-TB (extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis), where the strain of TB is resistant to not only the first line drugs but also the second-line drugs.

Vaccines aren’t 100% effective. Boosters (getting a second or third shot of the same vaccine) help with this by boosting the immune reaction to the virus or bacteria, but even with this, there is never a 100% guarantee that someone who received a vaccine cannot catch the disease. Along with that, not everybody can receive vaccines for various reasons. These reasons can include weakened immune systems, such as those of people with TB or HIV/AIDS, as well as people with egg allergies. The second reason is because many vaccines are harvested in chicken eggs. Herd immunity helps with this problem. The basic idea behind herd immunity is that, if enough people have immunity, the disease won’t spread to those who don’t have immunity.

There are many controversies around vaccines and around disease prevention or treatment in general. In some religions, there is a feeling that vaccines and the like are circumventing God’s work and that, if God wanted someone to live or die, it should happen without other people getting involved. In some Muslim countries or communities now, there is a feeling that American doctors who are providing vaccines are instead trying to sterilize them.

Not all cultures are or always have been as knowledgeable about diseases as first-world countries are now. This may seem obvious, but it is important to remember for writing about any time or place with different levels of scientific knowledge than ours. Words like “bacteria” and “virus” might not be used. Vaccines may or may not exist, depending on when and where you’re writing about, as they were first invented (or at least finalized, as I’m using the introduction of the smallpox vaccine as the start date) in 1798. There have throughout the years and cultures been thoughts that bad smells, an unbalance of the humors, the theft of the soul by an evil spirit, or numerous other causes to have been the cause of disease.

If you are thinking of implementing a specific disease into your story, you should obviously research that disease and how it works at more depth. The important thing to remember is that you should attempt as much as you can to get this correct. Magic is an okay excuse if you have magic as the reason for your disease, but you should still know about how diseases work before writing about them.

anonymous asked:

Hi there :) I've been following you for quite some time and very much value your outspoken opinion, so I wanted to ask you a question. What caused vaccines to become controversial? I've googled this (I promise!) but nothing really seems to come up that isn't biased completely one way. I'm 19 and my mom always made sure I was vaccinated on time. But to be honest after hearing claims about diseases and autism I'm only like 90% sure that I would vaccinate my child when I have one.

Hey there, anon! So, I want to first point out that there is nothing wrong with being skeptical or having concerns. Some people will try to say your being silly for fearing vaccines, but I think it’s completely natural to have questions and be weary. I’m glad that you have been doing your own research in an attempt to become educated on the issue.

What started the vaccine controversy is a publication by Dr. Wakefield in which he interviewed something around 8-12 sets of parents who stated their children started to show signs of autism after receiving vaccines. Not only is this a statistically insignificant group to base a conclusion on, but it is also anecdotal evidence which is a no-no in the field of research. The study is further basing conclusions on a group that is not educated on the matter (the parents.) This study has been debunked multiple times, and the MMR vaccine has showed no correlation with autism, let alone a causation. Here is a pretty short and sweet summary by the CDC on the matter:

Now, I want to move on to another issue and talk about the safety of vaccinations. Vaccines are not 100% free of adverse effects. This isn’t to say that they are harmful, but rather like any other medical procedure, medicine, supplement, herb (literally ANYTHING in medicine) there is a infinitesimal chance of a negative outcome.

However, the positives from vaccines far outweigh the negatives. Many people argue that measles and mumps aren’t really worth vaccinating against because they’re mild diseases. However, mumps is not only a miserable illness to endure but it can also result in permanent hearing loss and sterility. This is just one example. Other preventable diseases, such as pneumococcal meningitis, are incredibly deadly. I personally would rather risk the 0.0001% chance of an adverse vaccine reaction versus dying of meningitis.

I’ve provided a few more sources as well as a link to a podcast that I think is really great and puts the vaccine controversy in layman’s terms if you’re interested in learning more. I highly suggest listening to the podcast because it’s short and fairly interesting. They reiterate many of the points I made above.

2 Docs Talk: Vaccines Past, Present and Future <<< It’s really good, I promise!

And if you have any more questions or concerns, always feel free to shoot me a message.

“The vast majority of scientific and medical literature about vaccines is the product of the pharmaceutical industry itself. Parents should understand what this means. This is an industry that routinely engages in criminal behavior.

In 2012, GlaxoSmithKline, the maker of at least 25 different vaccines, admitted to bribing doctors and encouraging prescription of an inappropriate anti-depressant to children, for which it paid $3 billion in penalties

In 2009, Pfizer, maker of the vaccine Prevnar, agreed to pay a $2.3 billion criminal fine, the largest in history. Pfizer admitted mislabeling the painkiller Bextra with “the intent to defraud or mislead.”

In 2008, Merck, maker of the controversial HPV vaccine Gardasil, paid $650 million for Medicaid fraud and kickbacks.

In 2012, Sanofi-Aventis, maker of at least 18 different vaccines, paid $109 million for “illegal sampling arrangements” after a former Sanofi sales agent contacted the Justice Department. The list goes on and on, with fines in the hundreds of millions the rule.\

In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Bruesewitz v. Wyeth that, since vaccines are by nature “unavoidably unsafe,” pharmaceutical corporations cannot be sued even if a plaintiff claims that an avoidable design defect had caused injury or death. Since then, there has been a steady increase in vaccine marketing, complete with industry-funded “Astroturf” groups and an aggressive nationwide campaign to eliminate exemptions.

Having secured near complete protection from liability for their industry, mandatory vaccination proponents are now asking whether censorship is the right answer to continuing vaccine controversies. It is not. As Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas succinctly stated, “Effective self-government cannot succeed unless the people are immersed in a steady, robust, unimpeded and uncensored flow of opinion and reporting which are continuously subjected to critique, rebuttal and re-examination.”“

Credit: Tom MacLachlan

Lessons in humanity, chapter 1

Lecture: how not to become an asshole

So you made it. You are in medschool. All that hard-work and time sacrificed, all that sweat and blood, all that frickin money. 

You did it. 

Now….medschool is a tough place to be in. Here are some of mine tips of how not to become an asshole in this harsh environment and how to basically keep your humanity. But still trying to keep it real. 

1. Competitive but not murderous 
A healthy dose of competitiveness is a normal part of growing up. Some people are more competitive than others. Some are not competitive at all (me). Whatever flies your kite. But there is one special type of a person who actually wanna make your miserable, who reminds you of their good grades and results every chance they get. Plus usually they don´t care about other people and/or are intentionally (sometimes) tend to bring them down.

Do not be that person. Being exceptional in one thing doesn´t mean you will be special in everything. Some of us are great in tests and some of us are great in OR and some of us have to work their butts off to be half as good as the rest. Be fracking supportive of your future collegues and if you are good and they are struggling, offer your help. 

2. Sharing is caring but…
This doesn´t belong to the “asshole” pile, more like “beware of this asshole” but I felt like I should mention it.
There will always be people who will take you for granted and who will try to be nice to you just to to get something. 

Let me give you an example -  you work hard on your notes, you attend classes, you spend your evening working on your presentations and suddenly here comes this “nice” classmate who asks you to borrow your notes. Now if it happens once becuause they were sick or because of something real, it´s cool, be a sport and help them out. If it happens again and again over the years and you know they don´t attend classes and over the years of clinical training they still suck because they just don´t care at all, and they talk to you only or mostly when they need something, well fuck them. You are not their assistent. You are not their personal typewriter and that person is definetely not your friend.

3. Don´t ask about the meaning of the universe when there is 5 minutes of class left

YOu wanna start a debate about the controversy of vaccines or you wanna ask about the statistics of a child abuse or you wanna ask about the embryonic evolution of an elephant. Well be my guest. But in a class you are taking over the time that was left for you, or for the teacher but also for EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the class. Don´t be that person.

Also from my experience these questions are rarely questions you need to get answered, more like the person asking them is trying to show the professor and the whole class how smart he is. While not realizing the only feeling everyone feels towards  him in that moment is actually an annoyance.

4. Everyone has opinions. 
But not everyone has to know yours.

I have more than few deeply orthodox christians in my class. They don´t support  abortions, contraception, sexed, condoms, any safe sex methods and homosexuality and many many more. 
Let me just say that I think everyone is free to think whatever they want unless it starts influencing other people and in that case I am suddenly becoming my alterego called The Mama Bear. 

Let me give you another example. Few years ago our state passed this law freely translated as “Exceptions in faith” which says that if a doc doesn´t wanna give a woman an abortion/contraception/sexed etc he is free to do so because he has his faith that says it would be a sin or whatever.  
What the fuck. Well some people took this as an permission to bully everyone who doesn´t share these opinions.
So if you wanna spend your days arguing about these issues with people, there are many sites, forums, freacking tumblr where you can do so. Not in class. And definitely not with a patient. 

5, Girls  who judge girls
Dear ladies, if your classmate wanna wear heels and skirts and painted nails and perfect hair and make up every morning let her be. Girl on girl hate because of our looks have been going on for too fracking long and you know why we hate each other and compare each other? because we think
That woman will get noticed
That woman will get more attention and more procedures
That woman spends all this time putting shit on her face instead of studying like me
That woman is a slut

What the hell ladies! Stop that RIGHT NOW.
Instead think:
Oh wow look at her how nice she looks
Hi there darling you look super cute today! Can you show me how to do my eyebrows like that?
Look she got picked for this procedure! I bet it´s because she has been working really freacking hard lately and they noticed! Good for her! 

You get it right? 

6. Boys who judge girls
Don´t . 

7. Paris Hilton vs. Me
There are two types of people in medschool:

Those who sold their souls to the devil and/or sacrificed a virgin to pay for the school and rich kids. 

You will make friends with both. They will go on super exciting trips around the world why you sit in your room reading books. You will see their pics on instagram wondering when will my time come? You might become jealous and bitter. It´s not nice. Or healthy.

They won´t know how it feels, the crippling fear of dept or the fact that you rather wait till you get home to eat ramen AGAIN instead of over-priced city food. These relationships are not easy but they are manageable. Sometimes.

If you are the other sort and you really care about your poor friend and you wanna ask them for night out or something, think simple! Movie? Maybe if it´s a cheap cinema. All you can eat buffet? Sure. 
That five stars restaurant on the corner of a….NO. NOpe. If the evening requires your friend to change into fancy shoes than the answer is NO. This is not the way to go, you will make them super uncomfy. 

8.Know your limits and listen to your friends
Medical school is a marathon, not sprint. You will have bad days, awful days and I am gonna kill myself fuck this shit I am worthless days. 
You will make everyone around you miserable. 
This is a time to take a break. If your friend tells you that you look/sound tired - take it as a sign that maybe this weekend you should sleep in, don´t go to the library, don´t revise.
Go out, get drunk, see friends, binge watch that show you wanted to see forever, read trashy magazines, take a long bath, light a candle, read a book, take it easy.

Nobody else will take care of you but you. 
The physical, emotional, spiritual and intelectual needs are to be taken seriously or you will become, well, a monster.

Ok kiddos that´s it for tonight. Stay fresh. 

To V or not to V?

Every single problem, question, or moral argument in life should be divided into a black/white divide, right? At least that is how it seems when the talking heads, extremists, and numbskulls from both sides of any argument get involved.

The vaccination argument is no different. Either pump your kids full of every vaccine known to man or leave them completely shot free.

To hell with logic. To hell with thinking a problem out. To hell with spending a little time using common fucking sense.

It pisses me off when intellectual blowhards spout off against any parent who chooses not to vaccinate, calling them ignorant or paranoid or some combination of the two.

I am equally pissed off by the ban all vaccination crowd, mostly because it includes Einsteins like Donald Trump and Jenny McCarthy. Despite the fact that credible anti-vaccine data exists, they continually choose to site the less than respected sources that better serve their own individual goals.

So, they both piss me off. And I plan on having kids relatively soon. So what should I do?

How about I use my fucking brain for a second. I mean, it is just my kid–the human being I plan on bringing into this world–we are talking about. I think the subject deserves a little more than a knee jerk reaction.

I could look at each vaccine on an individual basis and decide if the documented risks of vaccination outweigh the documented risks of non-vaccination.

What a novel fucking idea.

I know what you are thinking: That is too hard. You’re going to be a parent, not a rocket scientist. Juice that kid up like Joel Shumacher’s Bane and hope to hell he doesn’t come in contact with one of those paciulli-soaked hippi’s kids.

Or: Don’t let the blood-soaked criminals trick you. Keep your kid vaccine-free. They just want to kill your child and give him/her autism and anything else I can blame on them.

But, maybe, I could not do any of those things.

Maybe, just fucking maybe, I could make an intelligent, well-thought out decision.

I could look at the recent Pertussis outbreak in California where vaccinated kids contracted the illness more than unvaccinated kids. That, combined with the data that shows the vaccine can cause brain inflamation and modern pertussis may have evolved to be vaccine resistant, may cause me to avoid that one.

Now,doesn’t that sound better than saying “Those Godless autism lovers want to kill my baby. FUCK YOU!”?

In a similar fashion, I could look at all of the other recommended vaccines, study the data associated with them, and determine if the very illnesses they protect against are really credible threats and, if so, whether the vaccine is the best method of prevention.

So, the next time you decide to be a complete asshole to someone who disagrees with you about vaccines…

Just fucking do it.

And they will return the favor.

Because y'all deserve each other.

You’ve been told “the truth”. Multiple times by multiple people who have spent multiple years studying such things. But please, what we really need is more dipshit celebrities who don’t know anything weighing in on this “controversial” subject 🙄

Vaccination and Autism (It's long, but please educate yourself and others)

After seeing a lot of stuff floating around about vaccinations, Jenny McCarthy, just general discussions about whether they are good or bad, and even the controversy being addressed in my psych class while we covered autism, I felt like I needed to look more into the whole thing. So, this is everything you need to know about the vaccine controversy.

This all began in 1998, when formerly Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a research paper in a medical journal. In this report, he concluded that the MMR vaccine (Measles, Mumps, & Rubella) was directly linked to autism in children.
This was big news in 1998, but further investigation and research by the rest of the medical community led to the discovery that Wakefield manipulated the evidence so that it appeared that autism was linked to the vaccine.
Studies by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences, the UK National Health Service, and the Cochrane Library all found no link between vaccination and autism. 

Therefore, in May 2010, Wakefield was struck from the medical register. Meaning the man who did the 1998 research that concluded that vaccines cause autism had his medical license revoked and he can never practice medicine again.

So, the research all shows that vaccines don’t cause it. Then WHYdo the statistics show that autistic children used to be about 1 in 1000 and are now closer to 1 in 150? 
The answer for this is very simple. While the numbers may indicate a rise in autistic prevalence at first glance, this is simply not true.

In Psychology, there is a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental DisordersThis book is the standard by which disorders are diagnosed and recognized by psychologists. This is in it's 4th edition, and it will continually be revised and edited to better diagnose and treat mental disorders.
One of the revisions was the addition of the Autistic Spectrum. Where two decades ago, autism was strictly defined as woefully inadequate social skills (unable to interpret facial expressions, interacts poorly with others, severely withdrawn, poor language ability, etc.), while others were diagnosed with a “pervasive developmental disorder”, when they were less severe.
What this revision did was simply redefine what constitutes being “autistic”.Currently the three signs of Autistic Spectrum Disorder are delayed language, impaired social responses, and unusual play, with an underlying emotional blindness, or a difficulty understanding the emotions and feelings of other people. This spectrum includes those with Asperger’s Syndrome.

So, there has not been an increase of autistic children, only a redefinition that includes more than the extreme cases of autism.

Hopefully this may clear some things up. Thanks for reading the whole thing, if you did.