Vaccinations

The BBC 'Have Your Say' on potential compulsory vaccinations has the usual ill-informed rants, such as this from Astrid:

If more parents would actually do some research into the effects of vaccinations and their non-existing benefits there would be a lot more outrage against proposals like this. If anybody has problems due to a disease it is much more likely due to a weakened immune system and an unhealthy lifestyle (fast food etc), when is the government going to make that illegal?

I'd rather not get child benefits than poison my child with totally unnecessary and unsafe vaccines.

Whilst I'm with Astrid that compulsory vaccinations aren't the answer, and whilst I admit the possibility that some new vaccinations may do more harm than good, her reasons are ill-informed at best for the existing vaccines.

Why on earth would so much cash be spent on non-existing benefits? Why would they push it so much?

Compare the (now eradicated, except in labs) Smallpox with the vaccination for smallpox. Smallpox was a contagious disease which killed roughly 30% of those infected. The vaccine wiped it out.

The controversial MMR vaccine has been linked to Autism on anecdotal evidence. 'My child was vaccinated and then got autism' runs the argument. Well, correlation doesn't imply causation. How does that person know that the autism wouldn't have happened anyway? It manifests at about that age in many cases.

When people do a proper study, looking at the incidence of autism in those who have had the MMR against the incidence in those who haven't had it, there is no statistically significant difference.

Couple this with the now forgotten fact that measles is a particularly nasty disease, which used to be prevalent. The rate of complications occurring was low (at least in developed countries), but the rate of transmission is so high that it caused problems. Complications can include encephalitis (swelling in the brain) and corneal scarring. In the last 150 years, it has caused about 200million deaths.

I've had the MMR, and it might be tempting to think "sod 'em, I'm covered". The trouble with this attitude is whilst I'm not going to get measles (unless it mutates), once the incidence of vaccination in the population goes down an outbreak becomes more likely. An outbreak can totally overwhelm local medical services - and as a result has knock-on effects.

The trouble for people deciding about vaccinations is they have two options. Have the jab, or don't. They obsess about the risks of having it, and neglect the risks of not having the jab. It seems to be that people think: 'If I give the jab and there are complications, I'll never forgive myself - but if I don't give the jab and there is a disease then it's act of God'.

Ridiculous reasoning.

If you don't give the jabs and the child is exposed to complications surrounding measles (including brain damage and death), they're exposed to mumps (which can cause sterility), they're exposed to tetanus (which can occur if they're injured, not uncommon for kids)

Inaction is not making no choice. It is choosing to do nothing, and that has risks, just as taking the jab does.

Being the one person not vaccinated if everyone else is vaccinated is the best option - however, being a group of unvaccinated people is the worst option. It's the classic prisoner's dilemma. Being an iterated prisoner's dilemma, the best solution is vaccination. (In a one-off dilemma, non vaccination wins).

Yes, demand the scientific basis for a vaccine. Demand that it has passed clinical trials and doesn't cause more problems than it helps solve - but, Astrid, the vaccinations on offer at the doctors have done this. Look at it this way: The NHS would be spending a lot more money to help care for a sick child than it would to vaccinate, and at the end of the day, they'll do whatever is cheaper. In this case, it's in the interest of their bottom line to spend less and this coincides with your child being healthier.

It's win-win.

Additional: This whole 'debate' has many articles which are prime candidates for spEak You're bRanes!