Science

11 Things I’m Going to Keep Saying in the Vaccine Debate … and 4 We Shouldn’t

 

Kate Tietje, at Modern Alternative Mama wants to thank the trolls.

CaptureKAte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She is referring to the response to her recent article, 15 Things We Need to Stop Saying in the Vaccine Debate.

It’s become common on the internet recently for Article A, “An Odd Number of Reasons why Celery is the Great Satan” to inflame someone to write counter-Article B, “No, Celery is not the Great Satan.” Then everyone who already knew how they felt about celery gets to read the one they agree with in comfort, and reads just enough of the opposition to get their blood boiling, or even safer, reads just the headline.

But Kate doesn’t want any of that; she wants to move the rhetoric forward. She wants to clear the air and I’m all for it. Let’s have The Vaccine Debate. Neither of us has an unfair advantage, neither of us has a motive; we’re both just parents who want to do what’s best for their child.

 

So Kate (and this is not rhetorical), let’s talk. I’m not going to troll you. I’m going to rigorously disagree with you. If you don’t acknowledge that difference then you can stop reading now. If however, you stick with me, both of us might actually learn something, or come to an understanding, or find some common ground. There might be a few swears because I think they’re funny, but I promise, I’ll keep it civil.

Let’s set some ground rules before we start:

1. Whenever I make an assertion of fact, I will back it up with a link proving it. I’d ask you to do the same in response. Throughout your entire article, there is not a single external link. Nothing to support what you are saying other than the weight of your conviction. We can’t have The Vaccine Debate that way. If we did, it would degenerate into “Yes it is!” “No it’s not!” and we would completely waste our time.

2. After you’ve considered my arguments, whatever response you’d like to make from your platform, I’ll give it my full, fair attention and a reply. And so on until we are sick of each other or everyone in the world agrees with one of us.

Let’s get started. From your article:

The vaccine debate is real.  And it’s rough. I, for one, am sick of it.  (The ‘rough’ part.)  I want all parents to have access to important information on vaccines.  I want all parents to know that they have a choice.  I want all parents to feel confident with their decision and not be shamed, whether they choose all, some, or no vaccines.  It’s your choice.  And no one else’s.

We’re off to a great start, because I agree with all of this. I also feel strongly that parents, not should, but MUST have the right to choose whether or not to vaccinate their children. There are consequences to choosing not to vaccinate, but we’ll discuss that later. Of course, I don’t know of anyone who is putting forth mandatory vaccination laws (other than perhaps in true public health emergencies) so it’s unfair to claim that you are for parental choice and imply that we are not.


 

Unfortunately, a lot of harsh things are said when people are arguing about vaccines.  And it’s not okay anymore.  You guys hear me?  I’m declaring that over.  Right now.  Everyone is free to ask questions, share information, and debate respectfully, but no more rudeness.  No more shame.  Over!!

#1: “You don’t love your children if you don’t vaccinate.”

#2: “Shame on you.”

Let me be the first to apologize, Kate. With all sincerity, if people who disagree with you are rude or harsh when they discuss vaccines, that’s not productive. Please chalk it up to argumentative human nature and I will agree to call it out when I see it happen. If people have said those things to you, they are wrong and they do no credit to our efforts.


 

#3: “You’re putting your child at risk.”

There is no way to eliminate all risk.  Choosing to vaccinate is a risk (an immediate one).  Choosing not to vaccinate is a risk (a future one).  Getting out of bed in the morning is a risk.  Anything at all places your child at risk.

Just because there is no way to eliminate all risk does not mean you should not reduce risks where you can. If it did, you would have just talked us all out of using car seats, which I assume you use. Trading a risk for a risk only seems like a wash if you don’t use any numbers. From 2006 to 2014, there were 1.98 billion doses of vaccines given in the United States and 2,566 people claimed vaccine injury. Only 1,440 were found injured, and even if we give each injured petitioner the benefit of the doubt, this is still a risk of .0000013, that’s roughly the same risk as getting hit by lightning in a given year. So let’s compare that to the risk of disease. Even TODAY with the majority of people receiving vaccinations, the risk of a child being hospitalized for vaccine preventable disease is 1 in 600, .0016. You aren’t trading immediate risk for future risk; you’re trading an extremely low risk for much a higher risk.

When I was growing up, my friend’s father was a truck driver. He used to never wear his seatbelt, and he said it was safer not to. He would tell a story about a man who he saw get thrown through the windshield of his car and land safely away instead of being crushed in the collision. Obviously, the extremely rare cases where seatbelts cause harm (rather than prevent it) do not make them unsafe.


IMG_1695

Through the transitive property of adorableness, this picture will make my argument adorable.

#4: “You’re putting MY child at risk.  You should vaccinate to protect babies/elderly/immunocompromised.”

This is really two separate arguments.  First, if you believe that not vaccinating places your vaccinated child at risk, then why do you trust vaccines?  If they work, then you don’t have anything to fear.  Second, babies, the elderly, and immunocompromised people are at risk (potentially) from anyone who is sick… It’s up to the parents of those people (or the people themselves) to protect them, not ask everyone around them to do it.

Vaccines are not a magic bullet. They are very effective, reducing the risk of infection by 35 times compared to those unvaccinated. But biology is a complex system, and only 85-95% of people who receive vaccines are protected by them. I have a 1 week old son at home right now. You’re telling me that it is my responsibility to keep him safely at home away from anyone who might be sick? That’s literally an impossible task, so yes, I expect that when I’m in the grocery store the man next to my child isn’t communicably sick.  How would I even know if I interacted with someone at work who was not visibly sick and then brought it home? Believe me, if you showed me data that vaccines had high rates of injury it might be a different story. But given the statistics above, isn’t it the unvaccinated who are actually asking everyone around them to protect them through group immunity? As long as enough of us are vaccinated, it becomes increasingly less likely that a sick person will meet an unvaccinated one.


 

#5: “Mothers in third world countries would be grateful to have vaccines.”

I’m sorry, I just don’t think this is a good argument for or against vaccination. Comparing our lives to people of the third world is such a nebulous and difficult task; this only confuses the issue. With your permission, we’ll call this one a draw.


 

#6: “You just don’t really understand science or you would vaccinate.”

This is so unnecessary.  It’s an elitist point of view.  The only way that a person would opt out or disagree is if they’re too stupid to get it?  No.

Understanding science and being stupid are two very different things. Science is difficult and often not straightforward, and don’t even get me started on statistics. But it’s not elitist to say “The scientific consensus is that vaccines are not harmful.” It’s just accurate.

There are parents on both sides who might have made a choice because they didn’t look into the facts much — maybe their friend or their doctor told them to, so they just went along with it.  But there are lots of people who’ve done incredible amounts of research and have come to a careful conclusion. Saying that their research “doesn’t count” because they don’t have a science background is just insulting — and wrong.  People are smart enough to do their own research.

You’re right. A scientific background is not required to understand the issues at play in vaccination. However, when people ignore or dismiss the information that is available to them, or disregard the credentials of the people they get information from, is that really doing good research? Googling “Are vaccines safe?” then disregarding the first 6 results while you look for the one that supports your existing beliefs is not research, good or not.


 

 

(Plus, there are lots of doctors and other medical professionals who question vaccines or don’t vaccinate!  And they clearly understand the science.)

 

#7: “You should listen to what doctors tell you; they went to medical school and you didn’t”

This is an extension of the last point.  Having been to medical school doesn’t make you an expert on vaccines (the average pediatrician or family-practice doctor — the doctors most people are getting their advice from — get only a few hours of education on vaccines).

I had to put the end of 6 next to 7 because you went immediately from praising doctors that are opposed to vaccines for their understanding of science to claiming that doctors who recommend vaccination are not knowledgeable. This is a double standard. It would be fair to say many doctors are more knowledgeable than the lay person due to their extensive training, including more than a few hours training on vaccinations. However, they are also not correct simply by virtue of being a doctor.


 


#8: “Just walk through a graveyard and see all the babies that died 100 years ago because we didn’t have vaccines.”

This is not a factual argument.  It’s fear-based, and it’s not even accurate.

Many of those babies died because we didn’t have access to basic medical care.  … There are a whole bunch of reasons why babies died more frequently 100 years ago, most of which are not related to vaccines.

(In fact, death rates for most diseases had fallen by more than 99% before the introduction of vaccines.)

U.S. Measles Statistics Year- Cases- Deaths, Click Image for Source.

Of course children died for many reasons other than vaccine preventable disease. This is not a good argument, because as you said, medical care has advanced greatly, and trying to determine the difference between the causes of death from very old records is futile. However, it’s inaccurate to claim disease rates fell by 99% prior to the introduction of vaccines. The measles vaccine was introduced in 1963. By 1968, infections and deaths had fallen by 90%. There was certainly some reduction due to better cleanliness and medical care, but it was a slow, gradual decline. With each vaccine introduced, we see a separate rapid decline in infections in the years immediately following it’s release, and nearly every vaccine has been over 90% effective at reducing cases. If cleanliness was at the heart of disease prevention, why did Varicella(chicken pox) only rapidly decline after the vaccine was introduced in the 1990’s?

 

 


 

#9: “My family member died of/was disabled by __________.  They would have loved to have vaccines!”

Any death or disability is tragic.  Absolutely.

But.  There’s no guarantee that vaccines would have prevented the death or injury. Vaccines themselves don’t come without risks (yes, people can and do die from vaccination, too).

I answered this in my previous responses. Vaccination would have reduced the likelihood that people in the past would have contracted the disease. The lack of a guarantee does not make reducing risks any less worthwhile.


 

#10: “Parents who don’t vaccinate are just listening to that debunked 1998 study or Jenny McCarthy.”

For the record — the 1998 study was on bowel disease in children with autism and had nothing to do with vaccines.  …  They did not say that the MMR caused autism.  Ever.  And the original results have been replicated…more than 25 times.  (A bunch of us in the vaccine choice movement have actually spoken to Dr. Wakefield…myself included.  Trust me, that’s not what the study was about.)

I don’t need to take your word for it. I can read the report myself. And you’re right, the report concluded they “did not prove an association between the MMR vaccine and the syndrome described (autism).” Wakefield manipulated and falsified data to imply that it MIGHT, and then suggested that further study was needed. But if further study was what he called for in the report, his actions showed otherwise, as he immediately went to the media to report his conclusions as fact. So has the study been replicated? Yes. It’s been repeatedly replicated and shown that there was no association between MMR and Autism.

As for Jenny McCarthy, I know her son has autism.  I know she believes it was caused by vaccines.  …  This is just a dismissive saying, it’s clearly wrong, and it’s said to shut down the discussion.

I agree. Let’s not talk about Jenny McCarthy, or even Wakefield for that matter. Neither has contributed anything of substance to this debate and the facts stand for themselves. The case for or against vaccines will be made without either of these figureheads obfuscating.


 

#11: “The CDC/AAP/etc. wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t safe.”

Eh…I’m just going to mention smoking and cocaine.  The medical establishment used to recommend those, too, and we now know they are harmful.  Sometimes, the medical establishment is wrong.  Maybe they mean well, maybe they are making a recommendation based on how they interpret the available evidence, but our understanding of these issues evolves constantly.  Just because they currently recommend it doesn’t make it right.

LuckyStrikeDoctor

That happy little asterisk is the most important thing in this ad.

The medical establishment, to my knowledge, has never recommended smoking or cocaine use. But I can’t prove a negative, so I’ll ask you to provide evidence it did. Not a lone doctor, not an ad for cigarettes, you said the establishment, so I’m looking for a medical body recommending smoking.

In any case, yes, the medical establishment is sometimes wrong. It’s happened in the past, and it may happen again in the future. But we are talking about thousands of professionals who have the best training available, spend all day working in the field, and have the best access to all information on the topic, coming to an agreement. When they make a recommendation, it generally represents the best available interpretation. And while updated constantly, it does not change constantly. So while, yes, doctors are not always right, short of jumping 20 years forward and finding the compelling (but yet undiscovered) data that shows it, I don’t know how a parent can justify ignoring their recommendations.

 

 

 


 

#12: “Vaccines are the only way to protect your children; without them they WILL die, become deaf, become sterile, etc.”

You need to know that whether or not you vaccinate your children, they could get sick.  If they’re vaccinated, they could be injured by vaccines.  There are no guarantees.  These dire outcomes are rare, but they are possible.

Most people won’t go deaf from mumps or measles.  1 in 10,000 or fewer (of cases).  And fewer than 1 in 10,000 typically die.  To say it “will” happen is absolutely false.

I have to give you this one. I don’t feel like it’s really a fair point, since I’ve never heard anyone actually say it, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. There are plenty of uninformed people who are pro-vaccine. I wouldn’t put it past one of them to be a hyperbolic dick. So it’s settled. Children will not ALWAYS become disabled or die without protection from vaccines.


 

#13: “You have to vaccinate to go to school.”

You do not have to vaccinate to go to school. 48 states (all except MS and WV) offer religious exemptions.  About 20 states also offer philosophical exemptions.  All 50 offer medical exemptions, but they’re harder to get in some states than others.  Most of the time, all you need to do is sign a waiver and your child can attempt public school without some or all vaccines.

No, you don’t have to vaccinate to go to school, but that may be changing. As increasing numbers of children are reporting for school unvaccinated and outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases increase in size, states may very well make it more difficult for parent’s to get an exemption. And for reasons we’ve already discussed, given the extremely low risk of injury from vaccination, setting reasonable standards for the health and safety of all children does not strike me as particularly insidious. Parents have a choice whether or not to vaccinate, but that choice may have consequences, like schooling outside of the public system. I might feel bad about it if vaccines were shown to be anything other than extremely safe.


 

#14: “Vaccines do not cause autism.  End of story.”

It’s recently come out that a key study that the CDC used to “disprove” a link between vaccines and autism was falsified.  Statistically significant data was omitted from the results.  That data showed a 340% increase in autism among African-American boys when they received the MMR prior to 36 months of age, instead of after.  One of the lead researchers, Dr. Thompson, admitted this in a public statement. …

It’s also true that we’ve done very few studies on the link, the studies have been (generally) poorly designed, and that we have never done a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study.  This question is far from settled, but from the evidence we do have (scientifically and anecdotally)…we can say, yes, vaccines do cause autism.

This is very important: Vaccines do not cause autism. End of story. The study that was recently “re-evaluated” by Brian Hooker, an antivaccinationist biochemical engineer, was a case-control study. When Hooker re-evaluated it, he treated it like a cohort study, and in so doing, he was able to create the appearance of statistical relevance where there was none. The 340% increase is smoke and mirrors. Separately from this, Dr. William Thompson, one of the lead researchers seems to disagree with the original methodology of the study and wants to investigate it further, but has not been descriptive about what those problems might be. I welcome that, as I do all science that seeks to answer a question rather than prove a pet theory. But even if this study was found to be flawed in some meaningful way, there are still so many other studies that found the same results.

And I freely admit that we’ve never done a vaccinated vs non-vaccinated study. If you would like to volunteer your children to not receive a vaccine and then be exposed to measles or mumps, or polio… actually, we still couldn’t do it because that would be unethical. No doctor in the world would perform that study, which is why it has never been done. When you ask for it, you ask us to violate basic human rights. There are lots of other ways to study vaccines and their safety and effectiveness.


Diphtheria_vaccination_poster

He looks like a goblin because he is full of aluminum.

#15: “We were vaccinated, and we’re all fine.”

The 1980s schedule and the 2014 schedule aren’t even remotely the same.

Most of the vaccines in the 1980s contained quite a few more antigens and no adjuvants (aluminum).  Most of them have been removed from the market (OPV polio and DTP definitely have).  The schedule consisted of MMR (1 dose), DTP (5 doses), and OPV (4 doses).  All in all, children received around 10 shots in their first 6 years, covering just 7 diseases.  Up to 4 different diseases are addressed at just one visit (DTP + OPV).

Today, vaccines contain aluminum.  Children receive up to 6 shots in one visit.  They receive 36 shots in their first 6 years, covering 14 different diseases.  Up to 8 different diseases are addressed at one visit.

No, vaccines being safe in the 1980’s does not necessarily make them safe now. Vaccines being repeatedly shown to be safe now makes them safe now. Aluminum adjuvants have been in vaccines since the 1950’s. And although the vaccine schedule has increased it’s pace, there has been no indication that this is at all detrimental, partly because vaccines have become more effective with lower volumes, less antigen, and are easier on the immune system.

Plus, honestly?  We’re not fine.  Many people have autoimmune disorders.  Many people are overweight.  A lot of people have allergies.  A lot of people have learning disabilities.  A lot of people (1/3) have cancer!  I don’t know about your definition of “fine,” but it’s not mine.  We don’t fully know if these things are related to vaccines or not, but I’d investigate that a lot more closely before we declare they’re not related and keep vaccinating so heavily.  No other country does it, and no other country has rates of these chronic illnesses quite as high as we do.

Europe’s vaccination rates have long been higher than the U.S., and our rates of chronic disease are pretty similar to every other developed nation where most people die of old age. In fact, even autism rates may not be rising, according to unconfirmed research. Vaguely asserting that so many myriad health issues MIGHT be related to vaccines simply doesn’t make a good argument. They MIGHT be related to the phases of Neptune, but I’ve yet to be shown that correlation.

 

I’m not here to tell you that you shouldn’t vaccinate.  Any choice comes with its own set of risks.  I am here to make sure that I share accurate information, including the information that isn’t easy to find.  I want parents to know what’s out there before they make this very important decision.

I am here to tell you to vaccinate. Inform yourself, then choose to vaccinate. There isn’t a conceivable, credible reason not to. If there is, tell me about it, because I genuinely want to know. I have corrected your “accurate information” with accurate information, and actually spent quite a bit of time getting it, so I genuinely hope that you respond Kate. I understand you’ve had some family issues lately, so I won’t hold it against you if it takes a while. Just give me a heads up with the contact form above. Don’t worry, I’ll be here, gauntlet down, waiting, and vaccinating.

 

Featured Image and Vaccination Poster used under Creative Commons License from Wikimedia Commons. Smoking Poster under CC from NY Times.

All other images rights reserved.

9/10/2014 16:00 CST Edited to accurately reflect HRSA data was over an 8 year period, not a single year.

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Erich Bacher

Erich Bacher

Erich Bacher is a father of two boys and an IT professional. He owns copies of Transformers: The Movie (1986) on DVD and VHS, frequently misspells certain words, and has an extensive collection of ideas.

53 Comments

  1. September 10, 2014 at 6:52 pm —

    ” I want all parents to know that they have a choice. I want all parents to feel confident with their decision and not be shamed, whether they choose all, some, or no vaccines. It’s your choice. And no one else’s”
    No, I disagree.
    Vaccination should not be the parents’ choice. I’m not given the choice to put a seatbelt on my kid or not. Because if I chose not to do so I would greatly endanger my child unnecessarily. To me, vaccinations are the same. Adults can decide for themselves, but I think that children have a right not to get sick from vaccine preventable diseases. I used to have an anti-vaxxer, anti-antibiotics fanatic in the family. Her younger son first got the scarlet fever (yay antibiotics) and because all he received was homeopathy he got pneumonia as a follow-up (vaccine preventable). He was in bed for 6 weeks, he couldn’t walk anymore afterwards. If she had actively inflicted all that pain and misery on him she’d have gone to jail, but since it was the result of her “choice” it was suddenly all OK to let the little guy suffer like that.

  2. September 10, 2014 at 7:27 pm —

    I’m with Gileill. I’m in favor of mandatory vaccinations, and I’m in favor of mandatory health care for kids. Mandatory doesn’t mean no exceptions for medical reasons, but that’s it.

  3. September 10, 2014 at 7:44 pm —

    If a parent refuses to treat a medically diagnosed ailment and causes their child harm, that is unethical to me. But giving any government the right to determine what preventative treatments must be followed and then telling the parent they have no right to refuse them goes against my core concept of freedom and bodily autonomy, even if it would benefit the children.

    • September 10, 2014 at 10:01 pm —

      The right to bodily autonomy is violated whether it is the parents or the government mandating a vaccine. The child’s right to bodily autonomy is outweighed by their inability to make decisions for themselves in both cases. In addition, the public good is heavily weighted in favor of vaccination, so the government has both the child’s safety and the obligation to protect the safety of others acting on it in favor of mandating vaccinations.

      • September 10, 2014 at 10:06 pm —

        A parents rights as guardian of the child are not given by the state, they are inherent and are only revoked in cases of proven neglect. I do not care what the governments intentions are nor what the outcomes might be. The ends do not justify the means. I do not think this should be a power of the state.

        • September 10, 2014 at 10:07 pm —

          Bu don’t let me give you the impression that I am uninterested in the debate. I am. I am just unconvinced so far.

          • September 11, 2014 at 10:12 pm

            Erich, please don’t think that my lack of response today means I’m uninterested in the debate. I am, I’m just busy at work. I hope to read and post tonight/tomorrow, and I appreciate spirited disagreement without ire.

        • September 11, 2014 at 3:59 am —

          See, I don’t believe in parental ownership or rights. Justr because you successfully managed to pass on your genes or because you adopted does not give you automatic rights. Children are people. They should be granted the same human rights adults get. In my view parents are stewards, not owners. Why is their right to make decisions about their children inherent? inherent in what? In the western social contruct of the nuclear family with two biological parents?
          I also don’t like the strict distinction many people make between directly causing the harm and just letting the harm happen as if the latter was totally OK.
          Again, there are many areas where the government ALREADY sets limits what you can or cannot do with your child. I meantioned seatbelts, which are a very good comparison I think:
          -Not everybody who doesn’t wear a seatbelt gets into an traffic accident
          -Not everybody dies
          -Rarely, some people die BECAUSE they were wearing seatbelts
          Do you think it is OK that the government insists that parents buckle their children in appropriate seats even though the individual risk for an individual journey is very small? Is the obvious, tested and proven benefit of the seatbelt worth the trade-off that parents are forced to do something they might want to do or not?
          Vaccinations are not NOT treatment. They are preventive treatment, just like seatbelts are.
          I understand getting all cringy about the idea of the government having too much authority and frankly having a wonderful tool to blackmail parents and bully them into a certain behaviour, but I am also an advocate for children’s rights and parents are proving that quite often they’re not the people who best look out for these rights.
          I think that children have a right to healthcare. This means the government has to provide it and guardians have to make sure the kids can access it.
          I think that kids have a right to an edequate education.
          I think that kids have a right to adequate sex education.
          I frankly don’t give a fuck about the parents’ hurt fee-fees. Vaccination, healthcare, sex ed are not an issue of “both sides” like breast vs. formula, co sleeping or not and all those million other things people can turn nito a religion, even though the debate might look similar and the players might be the same.
          Children are not life-style accessoirs on whose backs parents can fulfill their personal dreams.

        • September 13, 2014 at 4:34 am —

          I’m more interested in the rights of the child and society than in the rights of the guardian. In any case where a guardian is making decisions which endanger the child, the state certainly can step in. You are suggesting that the line is further than not vaccinating, but I think that in most cases it isn’t. Certainly the state should be conservative on the issue of which vaccines to approve, but we have all this evidence, how is it morally justified for parents not to vaccinate, and if it isn’t, what makes this not a case of criminal neglect?

  4. September 11, 2014 at 6:05 am —

    A child is born into this world. At that moment, decisions need to be made about it’s health and wellbeing. Does that stewardship (I said guardian not owner) belong to the state and is given to the parent or to the parent unless revoked? I’m arguing the latter, hence the stewardship is inherent. And if we want to get technical about it, I’d say it belongs to the birth mother since the father or genetic mother may or may not be the same person. Seatbelts are a good analogy in some ways, but not others. What would happen if a parent refused to vaccinate? The child would be brought in kicking, put on a table and injected? I don’t ever want my government to do that.

    And I assure you this is not about hurt feelings. This is about keeping government power in check. Yes, if you gave them the authority to mandate vaccination you could probably improve immunization rates. I’d rather have a nation of intelligent individuals arriving at that decision but left the freedom to make a choice the state deems bad.

    • September 11, 2014 at 7:36 am —

      I think your language reflects that this is something we need to talk about
      The stewardship “is given”
      Who gives it? Who does it belong to so it can be given in the first place?
      Human rights are a moral consensus. As Humanists we base our arguments for them on the realities of human existence, so we should base our arguments on who should be allowed what on that as well: What about the wellbeing of the child? I don’t see why anybody should get an automatic right over the life of somebody because of biology. For inherent stewardship you need an argument, one that goes beyond biology
      Many of our ideas about parentship go unreflectedly back to the idea that children are their parents’ property. That’s why I consciously use the word owner, even though most people would adamantly deny that children are property.

      ” What would happen if a parent refused to vaccinate? The child would be brought in kicking, put on a table and injected?”

      Well, there are sure many models how to do that. There can be fines. For example, I am obligated to present my child for certain check-ups. If I fail to show up at my paediatrician within a certain time window, I get a friendly reminder. If things are still not happening, I’d get a visit from CPS. I guess in extreme cases the right to make medical decisions would be revoked.
      BTW, many children have to be dragged kicking and screaming for their vaccinations.

      “This is about keeping government power in check.”
      You draw the line in a different place than I do, because in general you do not disagree with me that the government has the right to make certain rules about what parents can do with their children and what not. You seem to agree on seatbelts. You probably agree that parents shouldn’t be allowed to tatoo their favourite band on a child’s arm. You probably agree that children should be given blood transfusions and chemotherapy regardless of the beliefs of the parents. You have so far failed to convince me why vaccination should not be on that side of the line.
      ” I’d rather have a nation of intelligent individuals arriving at that decision”
      Who’d disagree with that?
      “but left the freedom to make a choice the state deems bad.”
      That’s cool, as long as they’re making that decision for themselves. In the very beginning you frame this as an issue of freedom and bodily autonomy, and I ask you whose freedom and bodily autonomy? The body of the adult is not concerned when talking about a vaccination given to the child, so it can’t be their bodily autonomy if you accept that children are in fact different human beings from their parents. Whose freedom? The freedom of the adult to make bad and potentially lethal decisions for the child who is the person who will pay the price.
      I think you see it as a conflict between government and parents. I see it as a conflict between children and authorities.

    • September 11, 2014 at 9:08 am —

      There is also the issue that a parent who does not vaccinate her child is not only (potentially) harming that child. By destroying herd immunity, that parent, and parents like her, are harming other children, and our community as a whole.

      It’s very much like seat belt and helmet and other driving regulations. They aren’t (only) there to protect you and your kids. They are also there because if you or your kids are badly damaged, we as a community end up paying for your life-long care.

      Well, if your kid gets measles, and infects half the grocery store, including my two month old infant, and 82 year old Aunt Helen, and so on, that’s a problem. And our society, through our government, has an obligation to provide for the health — the general welfare — of its citizens.

      Religious objections are one thing. But objections because someone is just ill-informed are quite another. One we should respect. The other we are not obligated to.

  5. September 11, 2014 at 11:21 am —

    Erich, I must say I appreciate that you were rather polite about this debate. I agree with Kate. After years of prayerful research and having a child with an adverse reaction to the vaccine and with autism, I’ve made a decision which I think is best for my family. Most of the people who weigh in on this debate, however, are not so polite as you. I disagree with the conclusions to which you came, though I am so grateful that you actually took the time to research it and come to an educated decision. That, essentially, is what we are doing as well. I think you acknowledged that in your post. You don’t agree with our position, but parents get to decide. As a parent who has had a great deal of vitriol spewed my way, I found it ironic that you posted this sentence: “Of course, I don’t know of anyone who is putting forth mandatory vaccination laws (other than perhaps in true public health emergencies) so it’s unfair to claim that you are for parental choice and imply that we are not.” You see, as I read the comments here, I’m seeing those very arguments. Those are the arguments that we hear all the time.

    I’m not pointing out this irony in order to be snarky, but in an effort to show you that we truly do deal with these people all the time who really think that parents don’t have a right to make these decisions. They think vaccines should be compulsory. There are even politicians and political pundits and commentators who have the philosophy that the children do not belong to the parents, but to the state. It’s a collectivist mentality. That may not seem pertinent to the vaccine debate per se, until you think of all the parental rights that would erode if such policies were implemented. Homeschooling or school choice, vaccinating, issues on medical care (such as the Justina Pelletier case, et al), not having parents notified and give permission before procedures for minors (abortions, vaccines), parents not having the right to opt out of explicit sex ed that may violate their beliefs or religion, etc.

    I agree with you, Erich. Parents still are the ones who are responsible for making these decisions for their children. With such a wide range of differing beliefs, religious convictions, and intellectual opinions, it’s only fitting that we decide what is right for our own families. My only correction to you would be that there ARE people pushing for mandatory vaccines and taking away parental rights. As for the rest of your post, I won’t try to counter your points. Kate did that, you countered her, it’s the same old debate and neither one of us will change the other’s mind (and that’s okay!). I respect your opinion and applaud you for being much kinder than others (you know, those “you shouldn’t be allowed to have children, you should be in jail for child abuse, you got your degree from Google U, etc.” types).

    • September 11, 2014 at 2:14 pm —

      rlmeals: I believe the position most of us here are taking is that children belong neither to you nor to the state. Children are not possessions. They are human beings. They have rights. Your belief system — whatever it is — should not outweigh the right of the child to health or safety or to a decent education.

      And yes, the problem with the anti-vaccination stance is that it is not just your child you put in danger.

      This is also the problem with the anti-sex ed stance, of course. If the mis-educated children were only harming themselves, then maybe it would be less of a problem. But those children have higher rates of teen pregnancy, and higher rates of STDs, and thus cost the state — that would be us tax-payers — more money.

      You may think what you do is your own business. But you don’t, in fact, live in this isolationist world you claim to think you do. You live in the actual world, with the rest of us, and what you do effects the rest of us.

      • September 11, 2014 at 2:45 pm —

        I disagree. I am a Christian woman, and my children belong to the Lord and are entrusted to me to train up in the ways of the Lord. You may not understand that concept if you are not a Christian, but seeing as I still have the freedom to practice my religion, it’s the way I will handle my children’s upbringing. Even our founding documents recognize that all our rights come from Him (endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights). The way in which I choose to teach them about sex does not affect you or society. If you want to say that the taxpayers having to pay for something makes it your business, then I suppose the government can force anybody to do anything since this ACA is now becoming mandatory. They should control your salt and sugar intake, whether or not you’re allowed to smoke or drink, how much food and what types of foods you should eat, how much exercise you are required to do, which risky activities you should avoid lest you break a bone and require treatment on the taxpayers’ dime.

        You assume something about vaccines that we don’t all agree on: that the unvaccinated are a danger to the vaccinated. This is one of those points that people debate over. I don’t need to re-hash that debate, I’ll just say that I believe God gave us an immune system that works very well in most cases. I don’t just “not vaccinate” and hope for the best, I have adopted a healthy lifestyle that is important in maintaining a healthy immune system. That includes clean, whole foods in our diets, natural supplements, the use of herbs, using food as medicine and medicine as food (Hippocrates), among other things. It is my freedom to do such things. You have the right to think I’m a wacko nutjob and do things completely differently! I’d rather trust in my Lord and listen to my convictions and obey.

        And I’ll tell you another thing, this herd immunity thing is a myth. Do you think if we had 100% vaccination rates among children that we would have herd immunity? Because adults are not getting their booster shots. The CDC reports that the rates are dismally low. See for yourself: http://consumer.healthday.com/public-health-information-30/centers-for-disease-control-news-120/adult-vacciness-684651.html

        So, when you look at the population as a whole, do you really think we are hitting that magical 75-94% (depending on the disease) of vaccination? We are not. The vaccination rate among children nation wide is over 90% (depending on which study you look at…plus it varies state to state, county by county…but all the numbers I found were in the 90s, so I’m giving a conservative estimate of 90 for sake of argument). Shouldn’t that be sufficient for herd immunity? Then why are y’all arguing over the less than 10% of children whose parents refuse them? If we have herd immunity with over 90% vaccinated, and you believe in the science of vaccines, then you shouldn’t be worried about us. You may still disagree with us, as Erich does; however, at least he still recognizes parental rights, unlike you.

        • September 11, 2014 at 6:27 pm —

          That’s an interesting point of view, rlmeals.

          I’m curious, though. If you are not interested in evidence-based reasoning, why are you over here, on a site dedicated to evidence-based reasoning, making arguments?

          A few other points: The argument that God has given us an immune system and therefore that immune system is all we need to handle disease — and oh yes, proper nutrition and clean living — won’t work. If that were true, then a third of the world would not have died in the Black Death back in the 14th Century; and half of all children would not have died prior to their fifth birthday before we figured out antibiotics and vaccines. Immune systems are imperfect. You can’t make them perfect with a better diet and vitamins and clean living.

          This is why we *have* vaccines. They help the immune system handle ailments that immune system doesn’t know how to fight, such as measles and whooping cough, and so on. They teach the immune system what to do when the immune system encounters that disease. We have known this since 1796. It’s not even controversial anymore. It’s why smallpox doesn’t exist.

          As for your point about herd immunity, I fear you are making a common mistake in regard to the data. Yes, overall the rate of immunization in the USA is about 90%. But immunization is not uniform. By this I mean that it is not as though everywhere in every town and city and little cluster of houses in the USA do we find that exactly 90% of the people are immunized. (10 people in a house and 9 of them have vaccinations…) No. In some places, 98%. In some places, 96%. In some places, such as in Southern California, only 80%. In some places, such as Oregon, 85%.

          So yes, in those places where people like you have decided that Jesus is better than modern medicine, my children and other people’s infants and six year olds with heart transplants who have to have their immune systems suppressed — those people are all put in *mortal* *danger* by people like you, who think that vitamins and herbal supplements are a substitute for giving their children actual responsible medical care.

          Do I think this is a crime? Sorry. Yes, I do. Do I think it’s your right as an American citizen to be as irresponsible and wicked as you want, no matter what danger you cause to your children and those around you?

          So far it is. Here’s hoping your children, and all the people they come in contact with throughout their lives, live through it.

          • September 11, 2014 at 7:19 pm

            I’m on this site because I found Erich’s post countering Kate’s original post. I wanted to read it. I commented to thank him for his civil discourse and for acknowledging that, even though we disagree, he believes in parental rights. You, on the other hand, clearly do not. The thing about freedom in America is that we are all entitled to our own views, religions, ideas, and opinions. You seem to think that mine is crazy. That’s fine. I think a lot of other people’s views are crazy. But guess what? I still believe they are allowed to have those crazy opinions. What you are describing is a very statist style of government akin to Communism, where the government has power to compel the citizens to behave in ways that violate their core beliefs. That’s all there is to argue here. We can go back and forth until we’re both blue in the face, so to speak, about which studies say what and about the vaccine debate in general, but what it really boils down to is that you don’t think someone who read the same evidence but came to a different conclusion based on their beliefs and convictions should be allowed to act on those beliefs. You think that your way and your view is right and that it’s the government’s job to force everyone to comply. I vehemently oppose that thinking. It certainly is in opposition to the ideals on which our nation was founded. Maybe you’re one of those who wants to change those principles in our country, but I for one still believe in them.

          • September 11, 2014 at 8:43 pm

            A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)
            Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19 NLT)
            From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. “Go up baldhead,” they shouted, “go up baldhead!” The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces. (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB)
            Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)
            “Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all – old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple.” So they began by killing the seventy leaders. “Defile the Temple!” the LORD commanded. “Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!” So they went throughout the city and did as they were told.” (Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT)
            Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)
            The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

            This is who your children belong too!

            And does God not care about children in third world countries?

          • September 12, 2014 at 10:46 am

            I guess it would be futile to point out that we don’t follow the OldTestament laws since Jesus Christ came and died on the cross to redeem us. We are under a new covenant with Him. We are not bound by the old law.

    • September 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm —

      Hi rlmeals
      I’m one of “those people”. Yes, I can see your words clearly on my screen, you can talk directly to “those people”.
      Yes, I am against parents who believe themselves to be educated being able to not only endager their own children, but also other people’s children.
      No, I don’t believe in the concept of parental rights at all. I neither believe that children belong to the state.
      I do believe in children’s rights and that children are independent persons with needs that might not be the same as the parents’ wishes. Governments are given the task to ensure that people’s rights are not violated, they have to guaranteed them.
      Honestly, from what you write you don’t seem to believe in those things.
      You believe that children belong to the parents and that minors should not have the right to make decisions over their own bodies, as in the case with abortion. You talk a lot about yourself and about parents and parental rights in general, as if the question of a childhood vaccination was about you. It isn’t.

      • September 11, 2014 at 6:33 pm —

        “…as if the question of a childhood vaccination was about you. It isn’t.”

        Yes, this. 100%.

        I think this might be what annoys me most about the anti-vaxxers’ position: the way they treat their babies and children as though they are markers in some game they are fighting. I remember reading a post by some woman whose toddler had gotten whooping cough. She was literally bragging about how this made her a good mother, since the disease would strengthen his immune system. (Which is nonsense, of course.)

        And every other anti-vaxxing mother on the thread rushing to congratulate her — as if she had proved something by allowing her child to become ill and to suffer.

        If she had let her child play with matches and burn himself badly, would that make her a good mother? Because now he would have learned an excellent lesson about never playing with fire? How is this different?

        • September 12, 2014 at 3:11 am —

          I’m wondering if those people actually had those diseases as a child or if they had been vaccinated or protected by herd immunity.
          I had whomping cough (thankfully mild).
          I had measles (I kept hiding in my parents’ cupboard because I couldn’t stand the light coming through the closed shutters)
          I had chicken pox (I locked myself into the bathrom and swore I’d never come out again. It was my 21st birthday)
          If my cases were the absolute worst that could happen with those diseases, I’d still not risk them, because it was horrible.
          That woman you’re telling about makes me wonder if there isn’t a bit of Münchhausen involved…

  6. September 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm —

    As delegar says, it’s not just a decision that affects one family, it affects society. I take a more extreme stance than Erich – I wish the government would mandate vaccines except for in medically necessary circumstances. Same way the government mandates auto and health insurance. If you don’t do it, there should be a fine. That fine would be a deterrent and also cover the costs of the potential havoc your choice wreaks on herd immunity.

    • October 4, 2014 at 11:55 am —

      Herd immunity ONLY applies to the actual disease, not when it comes to vaccines. When a certain amount of the population has contracted the actual, real disease (and therefore usually have LIFETIME immunity) then herd immunity can occur. Not with vaccines.

      • October 4, 2014 at 11:57 am —

        Again, you’ll need to provide something with stronger weight than your word.

      • October 4, 2014 at 11:59 am —

        Citation needed

      • October 4, 2014 at 2:34 pm —

        Where did you get THIS idea???

      • October 4, 2014 at 4:35 pm —

        Vaccines are critical to ‘herd’ immunity – you’re quite wrong.
        “When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak. Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals—get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as “community immunity.””
        http://www.vaccines.gov/basics/protection/

        • October 4, 2014 at 4:39 pm —

          And “immunised” does not mean ‘got it and survived’.

  7. September 12, 2014 at 3:27 am —

    rlmeals, yes, you have the right to behave according to your beliefs AS LONG AS YOU DON’T INFRINGE THE RIGHTS OF OTHER PPEOPLE. I really need to type that out all caps, because that is the important point about religious freedom: It’s about you. It is limited to you. As soon as it involves other people you need their consent.
    Now, children, by being children, cannt give consent, that’s why they have legal guardians. Those guardians should make the decisions in the child’s best interest and yes, there’s a lot of room in this. There are a lot of things where a million choices are equally good, where there are tastes and styles and beliefs. And another million where the best decision can only be made by somebody who knows the child well.
    There are others where we have solid data, an vaccination is one of them. You can interprete the data according to your belief (i.e. dismiss whatever doesn’t agree with it) but that doesn’t make you right. If you deny your child what is objectively their best preventive healtcare because YOU belief something then you’re not acting in the best interest of the child. You cannot simply do a sleigh of hands and simply postulate that your belief autimatically equals the best interest of the child.

    • September 12, 2014 at 10:43 am —

      I am in no way infringing on anybody else’s rights by choosing not to vaccinate. Period. You say we are their guardians and we can make a million choices that are equally good, but vaccines aren’t one of them? That’s a medical decision. Do you really think vaccines don’t have any adverse reactions? Have you seen how many side effects there are on every single medication? Heck, there are even side effects on every OTC drug in the drugstore. Every person is an individual, and medicine is not one size fits all. Let me put this is caps for you: MY CHILD HAD AN ADVERSE REACTION TO THE VACCINES. Who’s going to take care of my child’s medical issues now? Who’s going to pay the bills for the specialists, the doctors, the special diet, the supplements we’re using to try to improve his issues? You? The Taxpayers? Who’s at fault here? The doctor who didn’t even tell me there were possible side effects? Me for not knowing there were side effects?

      Now I choose not to vaccinate. Oh but wait, if I don’t want to vaccinate but it’s mandatory and my child is injured, is that just collateral damage for the collective good? No, I refuse to go down that road. I don’t subscribe to “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few”, especially when it’s my child being sacrificed. I make medical decision for my child, which you seem to think is acceptable…except in the cases of vaccines. But if vaccines are “preventative medicine” then it’s still a medical decision for me to make. I’m the only one who has to deal with the consequences of vaccinating my child. Not you. Not the taxpayers. Not the government. Not my neighbors. Me. That doesn’t affect you at all.

    • October 4, 2014 at 11:59 am —

      I disagree. We do not have solid data. We have no idea what will happen down the road with some of these new vaccines. And there are NO STUDIES comparing vaccines except comparing one vaccine to a another. There are NO STUDIES comparing vaccinated persons versus unvaccinated. None.

      • October 4, 2014 at 5:53 pm —

        Which are the “new vaccines” you are talking about?

        With regard to studies comparing vaccinated persons and unvaccinated persons, here’s a cohort study from the New England Journal of Medicine: http://www.safeminds.org/research/library/20021107.pdf and here’s another from The Lancet: https://iaomt.org/TestFoundation/nolinkmmr.htm and one more for good measure: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01425.x/full

        • October 4, 2014 at 5:55 pm —

          She is asking for a study where vaccinated people and unvaccinated people are both deliberately exposed to the disease. To prove that vaccines work. As I stated in the article, that would be incredibly unethical.

          • October 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm

            Precisely. This would be like doing a study to compare the health of babies exposed to varying levels of alcohol in utero. Pulling the “we have no solid data” card is a cop out. But at least having an occasional glass of champagne at a wedding while pregnant likely won’t harm your baby, but if it does it doesn’t harm anyone else. Not vaccinating on the other hand harms society.

    • April 26, 2015 at 6:50 pm —

      You definitely don’t leave your position on vaccinations mired in ambiguity. I credit you for being thoughtful and concise. Let’s cut through the rhetoric shall we? At face value, vaccinations appear to be extremely effective, they generally come as advertised, providing protection against the diseases they have been designed to thwart. Granted. Lives have been saved.On the other hand, there are also documented cases of injury caused by defective vaccines, or reactions to an administered dose.

      What about the cases where an adverse reaction does occur? What then? How should a parent react? Am I using the term parent to loosely for your comfort level? You seem to paint parents, who by default, are tasked with providing every basic need, including love, as some sort of inconvenient band of outlaws who haphazardly go out of their way to promote death and destruction on the rest of humanity. I am a father of two, and I am genuinely distressed by this entire subject. I will go out on a limb here and guess that you don’t have any children. Let me be clear to you that if ANY government agency mandated vaccine participation as a compulsory activity, they would be met with legal documents. My point is that parents have rights protected by the law. Parents aren’t just biological vessels, existing merely to keep our planet populated. We are nurturers championed with the complex task of raising our children. It is far more complicated to achieve this then ever before because of the onslaught of information we have at our disposal. Confusion reigns in the realm of a trillion conflicting opinions. I for one find this to be the largest of hurdles.

      Here’s a fact that doesn’t need to be proven; science hasn’t collected every single piece of data that relates to vaccination. There are concerns that due diligence related to the unwarranted effects of using this technology haven’t been met. Unfortunately that data will be collected at the expense of those who never intended to be in the position to donate it. A necessary evil? Perhaps. Advancement of society rarely occurs without some collateral damage.Yet, If it were YOUR child who fell into that relatively low statistical category of individuals injured by a dose of vaccine, I doubt you’d be as much of an insensitive prick as you are now.

      You know, I wish I was more like you in a way. Brazen and bulletproof in your convictions, what a blissful place that must be. But for people like rimeals, who have had first hand experience as to why this topic is so violently divisive, aren’t afforded the same luxury. I guess for now you’ll have to put up with rest of us mortals subject to the laws of nature and the transiency that it entails. None of us are taking it lightly, that I can assure you.

      • April 26, 2015 at 6:59 pm —

        Giliell this was directed towards you.

      • April 27, 2015 at 4:05 am —

        Meet the Pro-Vax Bullies

        At the end of the day, the vast balance of evidence is in favor of vaccination for all. I will be taking my son to get all his shots, even if he has a side effect from one of them. I owe it to him, to myself, and to everyone else. It’s just that simple.

  8. September 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm —

    Rlmeals, for some reason I can’t reply to your post.

    So did the Old Testament just never happen then? Why is it included in your bible? Why did those laws even exist in the first place? Are you okay with homosexuality if you are no longer under the old covenant? Do the ten commandments no longer matter? And some of those quotes were from the new testament.

    Also, sorry but this is in the new testament.

    “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest part or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.” (Matthew 5:17 NAB)

    “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16 NAB)

    “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.” (2 Peter 20-21 NAB)

    Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children according to Old Testament law. Mark.7:9-13 “Whoever curses father or mother shall die” (Mark 7:10 NAB)

    Peter says that all slaves should “be subject to [their] masters with all fear,” to the bad and cruel as well as the “good and gentle.” This is merely an echo of the same slavery commands in the Old Testament. 1 Peter 2:18

    “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John7:19) and “For the law was given by Moses,…” (John 1:17).

    “…the scripture cannot be broken.” –Jesus Christ, John 10:35

    Sorry but according to your bible Jesus did not come to abolish the old laws.

  9. September 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm —

    I too am not able to reply to rlmeals directly. Still, I wanted to address one of the points she made. Specifically, this one:
    “…what it really boils down to is that you don’t think someone who read the same evidence but came to a different conclusion based on their beliefs and convictions should be allowed to act on those beliefs. You think that your way and your view is right and that it’s the government’s job to force everyone to comply. I vehemently oppose that thinking.”

    rlmeaals *claims* to “vehemently” oppose this thinking, but I do not believe this is true at all. I do not think she believes it for one minute either.

    Let us pose a question to rlmeals. Suppose that I, upon sincere and devoted study of the scriptures, came to the conclusion that I should stone not just my child to death, but every disobedient child to death. (It’s right there in the Bible, after all.) Would you agree that I should be allowed to act on this belief?

    Or would you think I was a little off my nut and needed to be stopped from this behavior, because I was definitely a danger to the community around me? And — just perhaps — the state should act to keep me from stoning to death my child and your child and any other child I thought was disobedient?

    This, you see, if what we think of you and your ilk. True, you aren’t *actually* picking up stones and hurling them at the heads of innocent children. What you are doing is, through your ignorance — as well-intentioned as that ignorance may be — hurling metaphorical stones at the heads of the innocent infants and immuno-compromised people in the community around you. And you are doing this same thing to your own children.

    That you may not have actually killed or injured anyone yet? That is luck. Pure luck.

    There are laws against me attacking your children physically. Those are good laws. There ought to be laws against you and your ignorance attacking my children through your neglect, too.

    • October 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm —

      What about all of the children who have been harmed/killed by vaccines? They (Drs? Vaccine makers? Our healthcare system in general?) are doing the very thing you say rlmeals shouldn’t do through not vaccinating. There is a court system set up specifically for vaccination injuries. MILLIONS of dollars is paid out to families each year. There is a law that says Doctors and vaccine makers are EXCEPT from any responsibility should someone have an adverse reaction (or even death, which surprisingly happens more than we think) to a vaccine. Scary.

      • October 4, 2014 at 12:48 pm —

        Citation needed for any and all of that, “realfoodeater.”

        Here’s a hint for you: Correlation is not causation.

      • October 4, 2014 at 2:45 pm —

        Some sort of citation or evidence would be appropriate with claims this extraordinary. You’re not even using words that mean anything in science statistics. (“more than we think” and “all of the children who have been harmed” aren’t really useful measurements in pathology ). Your statement could be technically true with a 99.999% success rate, where ONE each year who had an unknown suppressed immune system and their family got paid millions of dollars.

        And how exactly are millions of dollars paid out if there’s a law that doctors and vaccine makers are exempt? Pick one.

        If these claims are provable, just prove them. Then we can examine them from there.

        • October 4, 2014 at 2:52 pm —

          She’s factually correct, but it’s sort of out together in a misleading way. Vaccines are a low profit product. To ensure the pharmaceutical industry kept researching and making vaccines, the CDC created the vaccine court and adverse event reporting system. The doctors and pharma companies are not individually liable because the CDC is.

          • October 4, 2014 at 3:54 pm

            Okay, that makes much more sense. But you’re right that it’s very misleading.

        • October 4, 2014 at 2:53 pm —

          I meant partially correct.

  10. September 16, 2014 at 2:00 pm —

    I am bothered by a couple of comments here. First is the idea that we are born with immune systems from God and it is up to him to take care of illness. Is it too bold to say this is shrugging off responsibility? This does not come from the bible. I know I have read it cover to cover. I want some quoted text, since it is suggested that not being vaccinated is a person’s right to practice freedom of religion. I know plenty of Christians who would counter such a claim. Are people having what they think are divine experiences that have brought them to this conclusion?

    And I had read about taking herbs. How is a person’s belief that taking herbs is any different than being vaccinated? To me this is flawed reasoning as clearly it would suggest that something more is needed than what a person is born with, to effectively survive/fight these communicable illnesses. No where in the bible does it suggest a christian must take herbal remedies over modern medicine. These arguments are flawed. They do not bring me to a conclusion that this is in anyway a freedom of religion issue.

  11. October 3, 2014 at 11:12 pm —

    Ok, for number 8 did you even read what she wrote?
    She clearly says “DEATH RATES for most diseases had fallen by more than 99% before the introduction of vaccines.”
    You reply ” it’s inaccurate to claim DISEASE RATES fell by 99% prior to the introduction of vaccines.”
    Do you really not understand the difference between having measles and dying of measles?

    • October 4, 2014 at 1:36 am —

      Laura, clearly, I should have worded myself more carefully, but I provided information from the CDC disease records that refutes either claim.

  12. October 4, 2014 at 11:53 am —

    So,”group immunity” as you call it (more commonly known as herd immunity) only pertains to immunity when people contract the actual, real disease and not artificial immunity through vaccination. Herd immunity isn’t possible with vaccination.

    • October 4, 2014 at 11:56 am —

      You took the time to register here but not the time to research that before hitting submit? That is factually inaccurate, if you want to claim otherwise provide a primary source.

    • October 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm —

      Oh I should have read further down the comments before replying – missed this. If herd immunity wasn’t possible with only vaccination then smallpox would still exist and polio would still be every US parent’s nightmare. Your comment is illogical.

  13. October 4, 2014 at 4:50 pm —

    I appreciate the article and the balanced tone. We disagree on parental rights – I believe the government does, and should, mandate vaccinations unless there is a medical reason that would suggest a higher likelihood of harm. Since that legislation is unlikely to come to pass, I’m interested in making PBEs difficult, if not impossible, to get for children in the public school system.

    But to suggest that Kate Tietje is some sort of reasonable counterpart for this discussion is simply not true. Kate has become little more than an antivax “shock jock” these days. She is running a business, so she’s terrified of alienating her core community, which has become increasingly virulantly antivax. If you visit her Facebook page now, you’ll see her bemoaning the fact that an *Ebola* vaccine has entered human clinical trials, and her supporters chiming in that they would rather risk catching Ebola – a disease with a >40% fatality rate in the best of cases – than inject “toxins” into their or their children’s bodies. It would be comical were it not so tragic. The privilege of living in a country in which this is even debatable makes her ‘victimized non-vaxxer’ persona all the more galling.

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