I vaccinate my children. And while I personally think vaccinations are best for any child, I do believe this should be the choice of the parent. I admit I have never done "anti-vaccination" research and only know bits and pieces through what I've read in the mainstream media. So I won't be actually debating the topic here, as I simply don't have enough information to do so.
But I do have a question about the aspect of not vaccinating. To ask the question, I need to put out some of the information I just now gathered from to sources: immunizationinfo.org and the CDC.
The following statistics on a handful of diseases the US vaccinates against are pertinent to my question:
~ Measles: Before country wide vaccinations, virtually every person in the US would get the measles by age 20. Since vaccine was introduced, this number was reduced by 99%. The death rate is only .3% (three out of every 1,000 will die) and the percentage of those who would develop pneumonia is 5%.
- If there was no vaccine: The US population in 2007 was a little over 300 million, which all would get the measles by age 20. This means 900,000 would die and 15 million would develop into pneumonia.
- With the rate decreasing 99% since vaccine, in 2007, 3 million would get the disease. Only 9,000 will die and 150,000 will develop into pneumonia.
~ Mumps: Before vaccine, there were 200,000 cases each year resulting in 30 deaths. There were only 600 cases in 1998.
~ Pertussis (Whopping Cough): This was known as the most contagious of all diseases. A full 90% of the un-vaccinated will contract the disease if they come into contact. Before the vaccine, there were 147,000 cases each year, of which 8,000 would die. Whooping cough is still around, in 1997 there were 9,771 cases, but it's a drastic decrease from pre-vaccination times. And with a 5.4% fatality rate, we're lucky to have a decrease of 137,229 cases each year, which relates to 7,410 lives saved each year! 528 deaths per year are a lot, but much less than the 300,000/yr worldwide death rate.
~ Polio: Before the vaccine, 20,000 people were paralyzed by the disease each year. 1,000 people would die. Since the vaccine? Zero people have contracted the disease in the US.
~ Rubella: Before the vaccine, there was an outbreak in 1964 when 12 million people contracted the disease. This outbreak caused 11,000 fetuses to die and 20,000 babies born with permanent disabilities (deafness, mental retardation, heart defects, liver and spleen disease). After the vaccine, there are less than 1,000 cases each year. The worldwide number? 110,000 each year.
~ Smallpox: This is termed the most devastating of all diseases. Before the 1950s, it caused over 50 million cases each year, resulting in 15 million deaths. The death rate is 30% for the un-vaccinated. Although this disease was determined to be "eradicated" in 1980, due to biological warfare, it's still a huge risk to society. The US has small samples for research, but clandestine stocks can be found in more than 10 countries. Some of the stockpiles consist of dozens of ~tons~ of the smallpox strain!
~ Diphtheria: Before the vaccine there were 200,000 cases each year, resulting in 10,000 deaths, with even more suffering permanent damage. Since 1991, there has been one case reported.
~ Tetanus: I didn't get total numbers for this one, but 30% of the people who contract it will die. And it's more likely for a newborn infant to die.
So, my question ... I don't think the people who are against vaccinating their children are arguing vaccinations don't work. The numbers above speak for themselves if you ask me. I don't think anyone could argue the vaccines are worthless. So I am assuming here that the reason parents are choosing to ~not~ vaccinate are due to the risks involved with the vaccinations (be it complications, death, autism), not the aspect of the vaccine not working.
If that is true, does it also stand true the parents who do not vaccinate DEPEND on the majority of parents to vaccinate their children so the un-vaccinated children won't contract the disease?If so, how is this rationalized to be moral? They don't want to risk the issues with vaccination, but they also wouldn't want their child to contract any of the terrible diseases, only some of which I spoke to above. So for their child to be safe, they ~need~ other parents to risk the vaccines on their children or the US would simply be overridden in disease again.
Let's take measles as an example. If no one vaccinated, each and every person would have a .3% risk of dying of the disease. Per wikipedia, .1% of people have autism. Wouldn't the risk of death from measles be 3 times higher than the risk of autism? And that would even be skewed, because the .1% autism rate would be assuming 100% of autism developed from receiving a vaccine, which I don't think it is.
So, dying from measles ~alone~, not to mention any of the other 23 diseases which the US vaccinates for, would account for a risk three times that of the risk of autism (assuming all cases of autism came from vaccinations.) I guess I just don't get it. It seems to me the risk of the diseases if everyone stopped vaccinated would severely outweigh the risks of the vaccinations themselves.
I'm not arguing the fact there are serious possible side effects to vaccines. I'm not arguing some people do die from them. I'm not arguing there could be an autism link. What I am questioning is the risk of death from any of the diseases outweighing the vaccination risk.
MrsSpock mentioned some great points in her comments to my last post. While recognizing the VAERS database shows there have been 3,064 deaths *caused by vaccines in the last 18 years, in the same time period, the flu has caused 648,000 deaths (36,000/year). Just another example how I do not understand how such a small risk is determined to be the greater risk.
* "Every occurrence in the database is self-reported, meaning there may be deaths that have not been reported, and there may be quite a few in the database that are caused by other means, like SIDS, chronic condition, or something unrelated to a vaccine." MrsSpock states an example of how a " ... child died from anaphylactic shock related to ingested food- yet the death was reported on VAERS because it fell within a month of receiving a vaccine."
I still believe the choice to vaccinate or not should be up to the parent. I would, however, really like my bolded question outlined above be answered. I have already admitted to not knowing the anti-vaccination platform, so maybe I'm simply missing a very important piece of information. I would really appreciate it if someone was able to clue me in.