Are you someone that gets a vaccination?
When flu season comes around do you get one or not?
If you don’t what is your reasoning? Is it because there is a cost associated with it? Is it because you believe it is only really necessary for health care workers, young children, the elderly or those with compromised immune systems? Or is there some other reason?
Because for the past few years there has been a growing movement against getting vaccinated. And some of this influence came as a result of the ‘work’ of Andrew Wakefield from the UK.
You should notice that I haven’t referred to him as a doctor and I wouldn’t consider his findings as research. This is because Dr. Wakefield was stripped of his medical license in May 2010 and the British Medical Journal called his research ‘elaborate fraud’ with financial self interest and falsified data.
Does this ring a bell?
A few years ago there was an email circulating warning us of the dangers of immunizations and vaccines. It was worded in official scientific language and style and referenced medical and health authority. The gist of the email was that the various vaccines going around were causing a number of diseases and conditions such as autism.
So began the great debate. Should you get vaccinated or not?
And then there were the associated conspiracy theories. I never knew that that getting vaccinated when I was a boy for measles had nothing to do with preventing this disease but everything to do with:
* Installing a tracking device inside me so the government can monitor my daily activities via satellite.
* Using me to test out chemical war-fare agents.
* Instigating a disease within me that leads to the purchase of over-priced prescription medication.
Other than the first one I naively believe that vaccines are actually to prevent disease. The first one is true because I lead such a rock star life I don’t blame the government for wanting to see what I put in my oatmeal at 430 am. Makes sense, right?
The information age is an amazing thing. It allows us to connect with others that previously would have been beyond our reach.
It allows us to access information that only a few years ago that could only be found by visiting a university campus and doing a search of their archives.
But it also can be a dangerous thing and cause many to make wrong and sometimes dangerous decisions.
In the case of vaccines or any type of medical information, use the following guide to determine where the truth is.
#1 Where is most of the evidence?
If 99 research papers come to one conclusion and 1 paper finds an alternate outcome there is fairly strong evidence as to what the truth is. This doesn’t mean the one paper is wrong. There may be valid reasoning as to why a different outcome was observed. But for the most part go with what most experts have been able to reproduce in the lab.
#2 Is there financial motive?
If there is a link between proving one’s argument and financial gain then the motives become questionable. A truth should be independent of financial gain.
#3 Can the evidence be reproduced?
In Wakefield’s case none of his findings could be reproduced in the lab by others.
The unfortunate end of this story is the number of children who have been diagnosed with disease as they were not vaccinated. Vaccinations in parts of London dropped as low as 50%.
In 1998, the year the Wakefield paper was being submitted for publication there were 56 cases of measles.
By 2006 this number had grown to 449. In the first 5 months of the year!
There were almost 5000 cases of mumps in the first few months of 2005.
Other countries noticed similar increases in these diseases.
And what about autism rates in the UK?
A UK database study found that children who did not receive the MMR vaccine were at increased risk of developing measles AND autism!
So what’s the take home message?
Speak to your family doctor when you have questions. Put more faith in medical journals than internet blogs. Just because something is printed, on paper or online, doesn’t make it fact. And always weigh the risks versus the benefits.
So what do you think? In the comments section below let me know whether you agree or disagree.
Yours in health,
Chris okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’