Vaccinations

Okay, I’m going to go a bit off topic here, but I think it is important and it is tangential to engineering in terms of quality mass production (which I won’t get into) and the mis-calculation of risk.

In short, vaccines work.  They have for a couple hundred years.  They have prevented the deaths of millions of people and continue to do so.  There is overwhelming scientific proof of their effectiveness.

And yet there is a growing sector of the population who are against vaccinations and distrust the authorities who develop, offer, and administer them.  They have no scientific basis for their position.  And while I have to assume that a good percentage of those people are merely misinformed, the rest appear to be anti-educational, delusional, close-minded, stubborn, attention-seeking troublemakers who don’t mind risking the health of themselves and others for no good reason but their own deluded ideas.

As far as risk, it is true that not all vaccines are 100% effective, and that there have been complications with vaccines in the past (no, not autism).  But the benefits so greatly outweigh the risks that anyone who doesn’t vaccinate their children (at least) is, in my opinion, a dangerous fool.  This was elegantly presented by Penn and Teller on their show, BullShit:

This visual of comparative risks may not be precise, but it is memorable.  And it is something that needs to be said to at least that ignorant sector of the anti-vacc movement.  And if they need data, there is plenty of it.  If they need numbers for the risks, easy enough.  And if they need encouragement from people they trust, here is something to start with from Benjamin Franklin, written sometime between 1771 and 1788 – over 220 years ago when the risks of such procedures [inoculation of small pox by skin irritation] were much, much greater than they are now [only dead viruses used now].  And yet he came to understand the relative risks [2% vs 14 to 20% mortality]:

In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way.  I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation.

This I mention for the sake of parents who omit that operation, on the supposition that they should never forgive themselves if a child died under it; my example showing that the regret may be the same either way, and that, therefore, the safer should be chosen.

For more information, see your doctor or go to reputable and truthful sites such as the CDC.

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Published in: on October 15, 2010 at 5:15 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. An small but encouraging antidote to misguided individuals who think vaccinations are dangerous is that no one who hasn’t had standard vaccinations, or isn’t immune in some way to the diseases they guard against, can work in a healthcare environment. Hospitals and clinics, to my knowledge, universally require all of their workers to show immunity to smallpox, tuberculosis, chicken pox, measles, rubella, polio, and tetanus. Flu shots are often provided to employees free of charge.

  2. Thanks for the comment Laurie. Yes, this is a positive thing, though there have been cases of some workers refusal on religious or other grounds. I wonder if people just don’t trust health professionals as much these days, or maybe there is just too much dis-information on the web now. Whooping cough seems to be making a comeback and has been fatal to some infants. Tragic.


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