Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

Do Anti-Vaccinationists Have Any Clue About Science? – Part I


Early anti-vaccine propaganda. The claims have not become more sensible. Click on image to make it larger.

Do vaccines work?

The anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists claim that vaccines do not work.

Vaccines are all part of some conspiracy among all of the governments which have studied vaccines, or part of some conspiracy among all of the universities which have studied vaccines, or part of some conspiracy among all of the drug companies which have studied vaccines, or part of some conspiracy among all of the doctors who have studied vaccines, or . . . .

I am kidding, of course. The anti-vax conspiracy theorists claim that this conspiracy includes all of the above. They believe in a conspiracy that makes the JFK assassination conspiracy, the moon landing conspiracy, and the 911 inside job conspiracy seem tiny and insignificant.

There must be some kind of science that supports their fanaticism. Right?

There is no science to support these conspiracy theories.

Some people with children think that it is dangerous to inject non-infectious material into their children in order to provoke the immune system to produce immunity.

The language of Penn & Teller may not be appropriate for children, but their message is.


Here is some evidence from various countries.

Are these studies, and many more, all just part of some massive conspiracy?

From America –

Results A greater than 92% decline in cases and a 99% or greater decline in deaths due to diseases prevented by vaccines recommended before 1980 were shown for diphtheria, mumps, pertussis, and tetanus. Endemic transmission of poliovirus and measles and rubella viruses has been eliminated in the United States; smallpox has been eradicated worldwide. Declines were 80% or greater for cases and deaths of most vaccine-preventable diseases targeted since 1980 including hepatitis A, acute hepatitis B, Hib, and varicella. Declines in cases and deaths of invasive S pneumoniae were 34% and 25%, respectively.[1]


From Australia –

Since the introduction of childhood vaccination for diphtheria in 1932 and the widespread use of vaccines to prevent tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough) and poliomyelitis in the 1950s, deaths in Australia from vaccine preventable diseases (VPDs) have declined by more than 99%. It is important, however, that the downward trend in morbidity and mortality from VPDs is maintained and carefully monitored, and that changes are interpreted in relation to vaccination coverage.[2]


From Germany –

The incidence rate in the eastern federal states is lower than in the western federal states owing to a smaller portion of endangered risk groups in the population. The trend on the whole is declining.[3]


From Switzerland –

Since the mid-1970s, the widespread establishment and implementation of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) has led to remarkable achievements in controlling vaccine preventable diseases worldwide. Today, more children than ever are being reached with immunization; interruption of poliomyelitis transmission has occurred in most countries; mortality due to measles, tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis has been reduced to record low levels.[4]


From Mexico –

Rotavirus is the leading recognized cause of diarrhea-related illness and death among infants and young children.1-5 Every year, rotavirus is associated with 25 million clinic visits, 2 million hospitalizations, and more than 600,000 deaths worldwide among children younger than five years of age.6,7 [5]


The efficacy of the vaccine against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis and against rotavirus-associated hospitalization was 85 percent (P<0.001 for the comparison with placebo) and reached 100 percent against more severe rotavirus gastroenteritis. Hospitalization for diarrhea of any cause was reduced by 42 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 29 to 53 percent; P<0.001).[5]


Is any other medicine as effective as a vaccine?

Is any other medicine as safe as a vaccine?

This last paper is a placebo controlled comparison that makes it abundantly clear that vaccines do work, even though vaccines are not 100% effective.

Nothing is 100% effective or 100% safe, but that is what anti-vaxers claim to want.

Anti-vaxers appear to believe the lie that doing nothing is 100% safe.

The anti-vax conspiracy theorists would suggest that there is something wrong in giving our children a treatment that will safely and dramatically decrease our children’s risk for severe illness.

Complications were greater in the placebo group (the children who did not get the vaccine).

Avoiding vaccination is not safe.

Opposition to vaccination does not depend on science.

Opposition to vaccination depends on the country you are in, because the opposition is not scientific.

The opposition is emotional and political, which is expected with a conspiracy theory.

Science does not follow political boundaries, but conspiracy theories change with the politics.


[1] Historical comparisons of morbidity and mortality for vaccine-preventable diseases in the United States.
Roush SW, Murphy TV; Vaccine-Preventable Disease Table Working Group.
JAMA. 2007 Nov 14;298(18):2155-63.
PMID: 18000199 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from JAMA.

[2] Vaccine preventable diseases and vaccination coverage in Australia, 1993-1998.
McIntyre P, Amin J, Gidding H, Hull B, Torvaldsen S, Tucker A, Turnbull F, Burgess M.
Commun Dis Intell. 2000 Jun;Suppl:v-83. Review.
PMID: 12049363 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[3] [The status of vaccine preventable diseases in Germany].
Oppermann H.
Gesundheitswesen. 2001 Feb;63(2):102-6. German.
PMID: 11285747 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[4] The expanded programme on immunization: a lasting legacy of smallpox eradication.
Okwo-Bele JM, Cherian T.
Vaccine. 2011 Dec 30;29 Suppl 4:D74-9. Review.
PMID: 22486980 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

[5] Safety and efficacy of an attenuated vaccine against severe rotavirus gastroenteritis.
Ruiz-Palacios GM, Pérez-Schael I, Velázquez FR, Abate H, Breuer T, Clemens SC, Cheuvart B, Espinoza F, Gillard P, Innis BL, Cervantes Y, Linhares AC, López P, Macías-Parra M, Ortega-Barría E, Richardson V, Rivera-Medina DM, Rivera L, Salinas B, Pavía-Ruz N, Salmerón J, Rüttimann R, Tinoco JC, Rubio P, Nuñez E, Guerrero ML, Yarzábal JP, Damaso S, Tornieporth N, Sáez-Llorens X, Vergara RF, Vesikari T, Bouckenooghe A, Clemens R, De Vos B, O’Ryan M; Human Rotavirus Vaccine Study Group.
N Engl J Med. 2006 Jan 5;354(1):11-22.
PMID: 16394298 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Free Full Text from NEJM.


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