It is quite often the source of heated debate — whether or not to vaccinate children.
A couple of ideas might help those who are unsure, or who are pro-vaccination.
Firstly, what is that we want?
Do we want to live in fear, believing we are vulnerable to infections, or would we like to live knowing we can, and regularly do, fight off diseases as a natural process of life?
The subtext of the pro-vaccination side of the argument is that we can be feckless victims to disease. We know that epidemics don't kill everyone. If they did, no one would be alive today, given the widespread infections such as the Black Plague that occurred during the 'dark' and middle ages.
So some have, or develop sufficient immunity to survive and prosper. What enables people to survive during epidemics? Why not just copy them, or at least attempt to work out what enabled them to survive.
But the pro-vaccinators also seem remiss in their research. We know that the introduction of vaccines came after significant falls in disease rates had already been trending since around 1900.
The Whooping Cough mortality rates are especially interesting, given the dramatic fall in deaths prior to the introduction of the vaccine (see left).1
All of which points to other factors besides the introduction of vaccines as being the main determinant in lower rates of disease and mortality.
In fact with around 30 years of data from researchers such as Prof. Michael Marmot, and Prof. Len Syme we know that
psycho-social factors are related to the vulnerability and defenses that people have to disease, not to what disease you get. So that these factors affect the body's defense systems and make you vulnerable to smoking and cholesterol and viruses and so on.2
All of which indicates it is improved standards of living — nutrition, medical technologies, improved services and utilities such heating, communications, power, water, sanitation — coupled with social, economic and psychological development, that have had the major influence on reducing disease and early mortality rates. We're no longer constrained by, or at least we're now largely free of prejudices (e.g. religious, sexual, racial, class) that in decades past caused considerable stress (dis-ease) in the populace.
Update: August 2014 - A systems approach
In any event, the pro vaccination arguments largely fail to take account of the underlying systemic processes that operate deep within nature. In short (more details below) vaccination is an attempt to work against the natural processes that 'glue' ecosystems together.
Nature, and all its systems — including biological, cultural and physical — is self-organising. Within such systems, disease is typically a sign of imbalance, where food and water is insufficient, or populations are too large to be maintained sustainably.
While it is fairly easy to appreciate that biological and (human) cultural systems are self-organising, it's harder to understand or believe that physical systems (e.g. the physical universe) is also self-organising.
But, as Dr Elisabet Sahtouris explained (a decade or more ago) we are
now bumping into data that is forcing (physicists and astronomers) to see the cosmos as primarily conscious. Consciousness as the source of evolution rather than the product of evolution. This has been creeping up in science for 50 years since quantum theory was first proposed and now we have 50 years of evidence that life is intelligent from its initial bacterial stages and that the universe is permeated by non-material energies which are actually causing the creation of the physical world.
The data and theoretical developments from the field of quantum physics has provided that data — as Prof. Victor Mansfield explained, we exist in
a radically interconnected and interdependent world, one so essentially connected at a deep level that the interconnections are more fundamental, more real than the independent existence of the parts of the quantum system.
...more soon (how a systems approach reveals the folly of attempting to out-pace, and out-compete Nature).
A new book "Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines and the Forgotten History" catalogs substantial data concerning rates of disease and mortality, spanning hundreds of years:
Throughout the 1800s, measles epidemics occurred about every two years in the United States and England. During these epidemics, some hospital wards overflowed with children, up to 20 percent of whom died. However, by the 1960s, the deaths had dropped to extremely low numbers in both England and the United States (Graph 14.1). In England, the percent decline from its peak level reached an astonishing 99.96 percent by the time the vaccine was introduced in 1968
By the mid-1900s, whooping cough deaths had declined by more than 99 percent. The fact that all infectious disease mortality had also declined was noted in a report by Gordon T. Stewart in 1981.
All of which would, for any half-decent scientist, beg the question: Why? What was the cause of a near-100% drop in deaths from infectious diseases prior the introduction of vaccines? And given the efficacy of that cause, why is it not prudent and beneficial to focus on, and expand that process or cause to a full 100%?
Update - 21 October, 2016
While in Nimbin (Northern NSW) I discussed the vaccine subject with a few pro-vaccine women. One cited the situation of having seen a child die of whooping cough, and as a result was strongly pro-vaccination. I cited Dr Humphries' research but to no avail, in that the exception cited was justification for her views. Rather than push the argument, I suggested we "agree to disagree".
In hindsight I wonder why, though, we should be so arrogant to assume a soul born into this world should, or MUST live according to our cultural beliefs. What about the soul that only wants to experience a relatively short life, and to die early, to be free to move on to richer experiences?3. I often use the analogy of a party — party-goers arrive, party and leave. Some leave soon after arriving, finding the noise, or the people not to their liking, and without any qualms or misgivings leave. Some stay to the very early hours, enjoying the music, the dance, the food, drinks and company and so forth. Who are we to insist that all guests should stay to the very end? Who are we to insist they be injected with chemicals and potions so that they stay, even if they sincerely and honestly want to leave?
Update 5 November, 2016
Subsequent to my Nimbin chat, I thought more about this amorphous term "herd immunity". I've penned a few words which I think should scuttle blind obedience to such a concept.
The deeper issue of why people cling together in a herd, as one might do on a sinking Titanic while ignoring the evidence, is in part due to our natural inclination of needing to belong, and to be part of a tribe, community etc. More on that subject, soon.
Some additional links
- Vaccine Induced Autoimmune Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) in children: Is there sufficient evidence to support a causal relationship?
- Smallpox was declared eradicated, yet still infects humans today. By Viera Scheibner, PhD
- 22 Medical Studies That Show Vaccines Can Cause Autism
- France decides to opt-out of vaccines
And on the assumed infallibility of the medical profession
- 1. source article (for graphs)= http://progress.umb.edu.pl/sites/progress.umb.edu.pl/files/129-141.pdf
- 2. Prof. Len Syme, with Norman Swan "The Health Report: Mastering the Control Factor: Part Two", ABC Radio National's The Health Report (16 November, 1998) introducing research conducted by Dr Michael Marmot. Full transcript: www.abc.net.au/rn/talks/8.30/helthrpt/stories/s14314.htm - See more at: http://beliefinstitute.com/article/factors-employee-health-wellbeing-and...
- 3. Clearly, the 17th century mechanical world-view, in which we don't continue awareness after death, is still the primary belief-system of many. But to demand that of others?