Anti-vaxxers ask, I answer

From an anti-vaccine Facebook group claiming to “cure” you of “DNA damage” allegedly caused by vaccines and to do so in 12 weeks provided you pay a $25 fee and listen to a teleconference comes this statement:

I haven’t done a ton of research my eyes have just been opened within the last year to this! One thing I did find and I found very odd on the CDC website they list some of the ingredients but at the bottom it has in italics if any person is allergic to these items they should (essentially) not get the VAX. My question to them is how do you know when your newborn baby is taken to get their VAX if they are allergic?! You don’t!!! Its also startling how much more VAX a kid gets now vs the 1980’s and how many more sicknesses there are now.

Well, I don’t work for CDC, nor do I ever want to, but, still, I’ll take a stab at the question I highlighted in bold up there…

Dear anti-vaccine activist,

First of all, let me just warn you that you are exhibiting a phenomenon called “confirmation bias”. In this bias, you only take in information that supports your already-made-up mind. If you see information that doesn’t agree with you, you attack it or blame it on Big Pharma or something. So just be warned that you sound/read ridiculously unreasonable.

That said, the answer to your question is easy. Newborn babies are not born with allergies. We develop allergies as we grow. See, babies are born with a very basic immune system, and one that has not been exposed to anything in the womb (so long as the mom didn’t catch something like rubella, a vaccine-preventable disease that causes severe malformations in newborns). We develop allergies when something like cat hair or eggs is inhaled or eaten by us and causes an immune response. The immune system then goes into “standby” against these things — these “allergens” — until the next time you encounter them. That’s when you have an anaphylactic reaction and get allergy symptoms. Some symptoms may be mild while others may be serious.

There are those of us who get over our allergies and everything is fine. The science is still out on how this happens. I got over a severe cat allergy. Some long hairs still make me sniffle, but I certainly don’t get the throat-closing reaction that I used to.

Further, you don’t get an allergic reaction to eggs if you are in the same room as an egg. Obviously, you need to ingest it. The same goes for allergies to grass; you need to inhale them. And, like with many other things in life, the dose makes the poison. You need a certain dose of allergens to trigger an allergic reaction, and that dose or “trigger point” varies from person to person.

The people who recommend vaccines know this, but they still need to warn you against possible allergic reactions because it’s the right thing to do. If you have had a previous reaction to polysorbate 80, found in ice cream, then you probably don’t want to be exposed even to the incredibly tiny amount of it in some vaccines because that tiny amount may be beyond your personal trigger point.

So, please, for the sake of your children and everyone around them, schedule an appointment with a licensed healthcare provider to talk about getting their vaccines. The many “sicknesses” you’re seeing out there have always been out there. You’re just noticing more because of, you guessed it, confirmation bias.

But there is good news. You know what sicknesses are not out there as much as they used to (or at all) because of vaccines? Sicknesses that could do this to your child:

Measles

Meningitis

Polio

Smallpox

Congenital Rubella Syndrome

But, you know what, keep on doing “your own research“, comfortable in the knowledge that vaccine campaigns around the world are keeping the above diseases away from your kids. Just don’t spread around your fears and misinformation. I don’t want to ever see another child with meningitis.

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4 thoughts on “Anti-vaxxers ask, I answer

  1. I'm getting your drift about the CDC, Reuben. Unfortunately when you work in a County health department, you have to be aware of the "local politics" and how the bureaucracy responds.Thingy has been quite active lately. She's posting on a slew of science blogs under various sock puppets. You'll be happy to know that she's posting at that "notorious anti-vaccine blog"…it's just a matter of time 'til she doubles-down on the crazy and is banned from that blog.

  2. @Stephen – Long story. Let's just say that high-ranking CDC people and I have not seen eye-to-eye on some things, and it is my opinion that a lot of what they are doing is now based on politics and not on science. I pointed out as much to said high-ranking officials and all I got was a "what did you expect? They (meaning politicians) set our budgets." Yes, I also am getting tired of the suffering and of looking into some very sad cases of vaccine-preventable diseases, but I wouldn't hesitate a moment to run in the direction of danger. I'm ready.@Lilady – Yeah, sorry about the FB. Perhaps you can create a sock puppet so you can just see some of these things and not necessarily participate in them? Then again, you could get sucked in, and there are better things to do with one's time.Also, in case any of you have seen it, Th1Th2 has been trying to post her stuff here. I've sent her comments to comment purgatory. She tries hard to derail good conversations, and I will not allow it. Unfortunately, Blogger doesn't do a good job at IP blocking like wordpress does.

  3. Your link to the FB page leads to a "sign-in" page and "I don't do FB".Those anti-vaccine websites keep changing their theories (rants), about vaccines…including the number of newer vaccines developed since the 1983 Recommended Childhood Vaccine Schedule was published, which of course, "overload the immune system" and "put children at increased risk for allergic reactions"//sarcasm.Studies of allergic reactions to vaccine components has yielded new tests to determine real allergies to vaccine components and new treatments to desensitize young patients, so that many pediatric patients can be safely immunized with protective vaccines:http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/710959Back in 1983, there were no preventive vaccines on the Recommended Childhood Vaccine Schedule to prevent invasive bacterial illnesses such as H. influenzae type B, S. pneumoniae and N. meningiditis, no varicella vaccine, no hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines, no rotavirus vaccine…I think the PKIDS website explains what would happen if we didn't vaccinate:http://www.pkids.org/immunization/consequences_not_vaccinating.html

  4. I would also suggest that if someone has a significant allergy, they see an allergist. There are ways to deal with allergies that go far beyond what you can pick up at your local pharmacy. Indeed, there are desensitization treatments to help overcome some allergies.I'm uncertain why our intrepid host would never work for the CDC, but one can guess. Loads of travel, visiting tragedies that are ongoing, seeing loads of people afflicted by preventable disease come to mind.For, our host never wants to see another child with meningitis, I as well never want to see another child crippled by polio. I saw enough of it in the military.

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