A Little Inoculation Against the Vaccine Distraction

by nielskunze on May 27, 2015

(Author Narration with musical accompaniment: Kartoffelsalat Im Unterseeboot by The Tangent)

The vaccine debate, like most every other controversial subject, is primarily a distraction. “A distraction from what?” you ask. A distraction from the real issue at hand. Vaccines are presumably about preventative medicine, and yet in the ongoing debate, the very idea of preventative medicine is barely mentioned or examined or explored. Vaccines are really the only tool in the modern medicine toolkit that deals specifically with prevention, and as the hysteria rages on, on both sides, the very idea that there may be other useful forms of preventative medicine, like nutrition, clean water, proper sanitation, adequate sleep and exercise and other lifestyle choices, gets routinely pushed aside.

It is this very ostracization of preventative strategies from our modern conception of health which forms the basis for my personal rejection of the entire allopathic paradigm. I know, I know… they don’t like it when I call it ‘allopathic.’ The preferred term among mainstream health practitioners is ‘evidence-based’ medicine, but the glaring problem with that term is that it not-so-subtly implies that all other forms or systems of medical treatment/prevention are not based on evidence… and that’s just wrong. This is a whole other subject… but one which I explore in depth in my essay The Paradigmatic Shortfalls of Mainstream Medicine.

I have been drawn into the vaccine debate numerous times, despite the fact that I care very little about vaccines and who receives them and who doesn’t. Honestly, I wouldn’t give a shit at all if there wasn’t this looming spectre of a vaccine mandate hanging above the whole fray. To me, that is the only aspect of the debate worth commenting on. That vaccines remain a product of individual choice to consumers is all that matters.

Typically, in the froth of vaccine hysteria, anyone who expresses a reluctance to immediately submit to any and all vaccinations which may be recommended by a medical professional is instantly categorized as ‘anti-vaccine.’ I am not anti-vaccine; I am pro-choice. And there’s a huge difference. If someone who wishes to receive a vaccine is denied access to that vaccine, I will be the first one to sign a petition on their behalf demanding unfettered access. I believe very strongly that if you wish to receive all of the recommended vaccines that you should be given them. It’s your choice, and that should definitely be respected. Let natural selection prevail.

The crucial issue is the right to self-determination. I don’t know how else to state the importance of the right to self-determination other than to say that it is the singular most important aspect of living a life as a human being on this planet at this time. There is no other issue which supersedes it. Really, the right to self-determination underlies virtually everything I write. It is the common theme to all of my moral philosophizing.

Real science is compelling, never coercive. There is nothing more repugnant in my mind than the legal enforcement of medical interventions against one’s honest will. The scientific validity of the placebo effect is acknowledged and well-established within vaccine academia, therefore to inject someone with any agent which they honestly believe to cause more harm than good is commensurate with rape. State-sanctioned rape is still rape… commensurately speaking.

The enforcement of a vaccine mandate stems from the hypothesis of herd immunity. This is the only ‘reasonable’ justification for such an action. Herd immunity hypothesizes that if a certain relatively high percentage of a population acquires immunity, that immunity is conferred to the entirety of the herd, including the weaker members who might otherwise die in the event of exposure. This has been observed in nature, among animal populations who have acquired natural immunity to specific pathogens. Herd immunity is a real thing in nature, but applying it to vaccine-induced immunity is the hypothesis. Can it be done? Does it work?

I’ve been reluctant to even call herd immunity a theory at this point. A scientific theory, after collecting and collating relevant data for decades, should be able to put out publicly a detailed predictive model for exactly what level of vaccine coverage is needed to confer herd immunity for each pathogen targeted. If the predictive threshold is reached and herd immunity fails, the theory has to have some accounting for its failures. One of the primary determiners of a scientific theory’s validity is its predictive ability; the results should match to a consistently high degree with what the theory predicts, with detailed precision.

Herd immunity remains a hypothesis. Check the data; it is far from a proven theory, and therefore cannot be the basis for public health policy.

Both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated can be carriers of the disease without themselves exhibiting symptoms. For injected vaccines, the immunity conferred lies in the production of serum antibodies (in the blood). The body’s natural immune system, however, concentrates its efforts wisely at the periphery of its domain. Its main defenses are at the various mucosal membranes (from mouth to anus and a few more) where mucosal antibodies are produced. It’s a different kind of immunity, mucosal versus serum, wherein the body concentrates its efforts at allowing no pathogenic ingress at any of the body’s entrance points, preferring not to rely on the last defense, once reaching the bloodstream, and its serum antibodies. That this may have a bearing on the efficacy of herd immunity in the vaccine paradigm– the data certainly suggests it.

The eradication of smallpox is often heralded as a major vaccine accomplishment. That’s rather curious though. It certainly wasn’t achieved through herd immunity. Less than 10% of the world’s population was ever inoculated against it, and yet it completely disappeared. Vaccine proponents point out that a ‘ring strategy’ was employed, wherein the latest outbreaks were aggressively tracked and surrounded by fresh inoculants. This too is a plausible hypothesis. But again, if we have a comprehensive working vaccine theory fully explicated in scientific terms, why can’t the successes be more frequent? That is the point, isn’t it? To eradicate infectious disease. Over the many decades of widespread vaccine use, only two diseases for which vaccines were developed and employed have ever been eradicated: smallpox in 1980 and rinderpest in 2011. I wonder what the natural rate of pathogen decline and extinction is in epidemiology? Two a century seems reasonable, especially when the pathogens’ host species begins en masse to refrain from living in its own filth. Yes, that’s right, pathogens naturally die out, especially when you take away their favourite breeding grounds. Bubonic plague anyone?

A viable scientific theory centered around the deployment of vaccines has got to do better, consistently. All of its claimed successes are questionable; science has to answer those questions satisfactorily.

Where can I find the detailed thesis on how exactly vaccines work in modern populations and the specific strategies that should be employed to further eradicate dangerous diseases therein? In science, you don’t get to pretend that you have a theory; you actually have to write it out comprehensively and concisely, so that it may be scrutinized, understood and tested by others.

I am willing to stipulate that vaccines confer some benefit for some recipients. (The placebo effect alone has got me covered on that one.) But to many people, the risk-to-benefit ratio on vaccines is way too high, especially for those who are aware of dozens of immune-boosting choices they can make everyday to increase their overall immunity to all pathogens, not just the ones specifically targeted in the vaccine industry’s micro-management of some disease. Those individual risk-to-benefit assessments should be respected.

If vaccines work, then the status of the unvaccinated is irrelevant to the health of the vaccinated. Your vaccine either works or it doesn’t, and the unscientific blame-game has no place in public health policy. If the eradication of diseases must rely upon 100% vaccination, it is unachievable, but even if it were, why wasn’t that the case in either of the claimed historic success stories? (Not even close!) Scientific theories need to be consistent; that’s not really optional.

If vaccines are to be central to public health, then a coherent plan, based in rigorous science, which answers all of the public’s concerns satisfactorily is all it would take. A legal mandate wouldn’t be necessary. To demand a detailed strategy and the expected results according to all of the data compiled so far is a perfectly reasonable and completely scientific request. Convince me with more than Facebook memes and lame demonstrations by oddball magicians. Lay out the science, all of it, concisely in one place; that’s what other sciences do. And please show directly, and in no uncertain terms, the clear link between vaccine science and the public health policy derived therefrom. All I’ve ever wanted was clear, explicated science. I have the right to understand the full rationality of it, and have all of my questions and concerns answered to my satisfaction, if public health policy actually claims to be based in science.

“Getting your flu shot is the single best thing you can do to prevent the flu,” said the tv add paid for by my government health agency. Bullshit. Optimizing your serum vitamin D level kicks the flu shot’s ass! But rather than support the case for vitamin D here– this is about vaccines, after all– let’s take a peek at the conclusion reached by the Cochrane Review’s 2010 meta-study, the largest one undertaken to date on the efficacy of flu vaccines. In the words of Tom Jefferson, the lead medical researcher: “In other words, we report that no effect of the influenza vaccines was detectable on influenza and its complications such as death.” Got that? Flu shot: no effect… largest study of its kind. Yet, my government sees fit to inform the public that the flu shot is the best we can do. Really? Something that confers no detectable benefit is the best we can do? Irresponsible. There are many, many things we can do to prevent the flu. (Please see my Independently Healthy: A Quick Reference Guide for a few suggestions.)

And for the record, my dog has all of her shots. I’m not convinced that they are necessarily the very best thing for her, but according to my research and experience, dogs tolerate vaccines generally well, and a dog’s vaccine schedule is far more reasonable than a human’s. I risked it; see, I’m really not anti-vaccine.

Now let the hysteria resume!

Please consider reading and sharing the following well-considered article:

How to Win Converts to the Vaccine Paradigm

Nailed it!

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