Whilst researching the status of polio in India I ran across a US website ranting about the (almost entirely imaginary) “dangers” associated with vaccines.
Sad to see so many in the USA still so persistent with their opposition to the obvious, while in India vaccine programs have run into some problems when poorly informed local leaders and traditional medicine practioners scare people away from the greatest medical innovations in all of human history – Vaccines.
[note – I’m not informed enough to talk about about the new and politically controversial cervical cancer vaccine many believe should be mandatory for girls – here I’m talking about the old vaccines like DPT and Polio, tried and true, that have been used for decades]
Vaccinations have saved *hundreds of millions* of lives outright and spared *hundreds of millions* more from dramatic reductions in the quality of life. Like any broadly applied remedy, Vaccine complications have caused a few deaths and a very tiny number of complications. Only a narrow and irrational approach focuses ONLY on risks and ignores the massive benefits.
Vaccination math is overwhelmingly supportive of vaccines, yet ignored by the folks in the very vocal and active anti-vaccine crowd, who simply refuse to do the math, choosing instead to point to imaginary or “one in a million” risks as if they these outweigh the 999,999 in a million benefits.
I wrote a comment over at the site I bumped into just now:
Sorry to see sites like this that discourage people from the “no brainer” that is vaccination of children. Usually the misunderstandings come from the fact that you will have a very, very, very tiny number of complications with anything that touches billions of lives. This is NOT a reason to fear vaccines irrationally, as far too many do both in USA and developing world. Leaving your children unvaccinated places them at hundreds of times the risk of a vaccinated person. You also put others at greater risks. Ironically this would NOT be an issue if vaccines had not been such an incredible success because people would see the affects of polio, smallpox, and other diseases all around them. We don’t see that because we use vaccines.
One MINOR caveat here to the above. There is a point in time when vaccination success may lead to a total regional eradication of a disease. At that time the (tiny, tiny) risks of vaccinating can wind up being greater than the (nearly zero) risk of contracting the eradicated disease. This happened with smallpox in the USA and it’s why we no longer vaccinate for smallpox. This fact hardly undermines the importance of vaccines or supports the “anti vaccine” crowd’s imaginary complications (e.g. autism), but it’s important to keep it in mind when doing vaccine math.