In his awesomely excellent “Bad Astronomy” blog at Slate.com., Phil Plait changes hats and takes on some dangerous “antivaxxers”:
NVIC is an antivax group, plain and simple. Despite hugely overwhelming tsunami-level amounts of evidence showing no link between vaccines and autism, they still think there is one. They go on and on about “vaccine injuries”, yet actual severe side effects from vaccines are very rare, especially when you realize that many millions of vaccines are given every year. The NVIC relies on anecdotes of injuries as evidence, but that’s very dangerous thinking. Stories and personal observations are a good place to start—it’s how you might notice a connection between two things—but it’s not where you end. You must apply rigorous testing to your ideas, so that you can make sure you’re not seeing a connection where none exists.
Plait makes the case that the impressive-sounding National Vaccination Information Center is really an irresponsible and untrustworthy organization bent on stoking fear with just one (very tiny) side of the story without even mentioning the extraordinary benefits:
Everything in medicine is tradeoff between risks and benefits. In the case of vaccines, though, the benefits hugely, overwhelmingly outweigh the risks. If you live in the U.S., try to find someone who has polio. Or go anywhere in the world and see how many folks suffering from smallpox you can find. You won’t find any: after killing hundreds of millions of people, smallpox was eradicated in the wild in 1977. Guess how.
Saving millions of lives is a pretty good benefit. I’ll note that the documented evidence for serious adverse reactions to vaccines is low, especially compared to the benefits as a whole.
Quote to live by:
Knowledge, evidence-based and critically examined knowledge, saves lives.
Read “Bad Astronomy” blog at Slate.com here.
Read previous PediaBlog posts about vaccine safety here.