Vaccination debate, Kiwiblog, September 2015

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In a post entitled The new flat earthers, posted on September 4, 2015, by David Farrar, there is the following statement: "Before we got modern medicine, around three out of ten children would die before they were five years old. Thanks to modern medicine, it is now less than 1 in 100."

This claim that "modern medicine" (and presumably modern medicine alone, since nothing else is mentioned) is responsible for the decline in infant mortality rates (since when?) is fairly typical of those who know nothing about epidemiology. What brought about the demise of bubonic plague — the most dreaded disease of Western society well into "modern" times? (The last epidemic appears to have been in Los Angeles in 1924-1925.) It certainly wasn't vaccination — although a vaccine, of "uncertain" effectiveness,1 is available. It was largely improvements in living conditions, which saw overcrowded, rat- and flea-infested tenements replaced by modern housing with running water, that saw the plague off.

Also missing from Farrar's sweeping claim is any recognition of iatrogenic illnesses, i.e. illnesses caused by medical examination or treatment. It is an acknowledged fact that vaccinations cause harm, and even death, to some individuals. If they didn't, the vaccine manufacturers would not have demanded indemnity from prosecution. Furthermore, we would not have the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (in the US), or the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (also in the US). What does one say to someone like Hannah Poling, who was awarded $1.5 million for regressive autism that followed vaccination?2 "Thanks for taking a hit for the sake of the 'herd'"?

The passage below is not the entire debate — just the latter part of it that relates to me. The reader will note that I do not present myself as an "anti-vaxxer" but as a vaccination sceptic. I would never paint myself into a corner by saying that I would never, under any circumstances, accept any vaccine. I do, however, believe that the role of the Fourth Estate is to ask questions and to challenge "authority" — not to close one's mind and simply parrot the propaganda put out by people wearing plumed hats or white coats. It's sickening to see Noni MacDonald invariably described as a "top" doctor, as though that, in itself, made her views more valid than those of, say, a middle-ranking doctor. In my opinion, we should pay more attention to people like Stephanie Seneff — scientists with fine minds who study these matters from outside the confines and coercions of the medical profession.


islamnz_com (5 comments) says:

September 4th, 2015 at 3:36 pm

You credit "modern medicine" with too much. Childhood mortality rates dropped mainly because of improvements in nutrition, sanitation, housing, etc. There was actually relatively little medical intervention until quite recently. People of my generation (I am 75) had none of today's vaccinations. We had all the diseases — what were known as the "childhood diseases" at the time. It is also worth noting that these diseases were generally not considered serious until the advent of vaccines for them. Measles, for instance, was described in the British Medical Journal as "nowadays normally a mild infection" — Br Med J 1959;1:351.2 (Published 07 February 1959). The role of people like Noni MacDonald (who is a woman, by the way) seems to be mainly to spread panic and hysteria — and loathing and contempt for people who, like myself, take a sceptical view of the claims made for vaccination. She does not address the issues. Indeed, she refuses to acknowledge that there are issues. "There is no debate," she claims, turning a blind eye to the thousands of words that pour forth every day on this subject in internet forums. Perhaps she would like to answer the simple question: "If vaccines are so safe and effective, why did the vaccine manufacturers demand — and get — indemnity from prosecution for the damage caused by their products?"

Scott Hamilton (487 comments) says:

September 5th, 2015 at 1:08 pm

It certainly is bewildering to be confronted with the arguments of anti-vaxers.

'mortality rates dropped mainly because of improvements in nutrition, sanitation, housing, etc'

Take a look at this chart, which shows how polio rates flatline in the US almost immediately after the beginning of mass immunisation: The dramatic effect of mass immunisation programmes for diseases like polio simply can't be rationally denied, anymore than the roundness of the earth or the reality of the Holocaust can be denied. Nona (sic) MacDonald is quite right when she says there is no debate.

'There was actually relatively little medical intervention until quite recently.'

Some vaccines are quite old. A smallpox vaccine has been around for more than two hundred years. It was being used to good effect in many places in the 19th century. What happened in the 20th century was the combination of vaccines for previously resistant diseases like polio and near-universal delivery of vaccines in many countries. The result was the near-elimination of diseases like smallpox and polio — a massive achievement for humanity.

'It is also worth noting that these diseases were generally not considered serious until the advent of vaccines for them.'

Are you suggesting that polio wasn't considered serious until a vaccine was available in the '50s? That smallpox was considered an unimportant affair in the eighteenth century?

'why in God's name are you worried about someone else's kid bringing a communicable disease to school? Your child is vaccinated — and therefore protected against it. Yes?'

No. Once the pool of unvaccinated kids gets large enough, there's scope for viruses to mutate and to find ways around the barriers that vaccines throw up. The British government has linked the recent epidemic of a very nasty strain measles in that country to the relatively high numbers of unvaccinated kids.

islamnz_com (5 comments) says:

September 5th, 2015 at 11:24 pm

Don't be bewildered, Scott Hamilton. Just do a bit more reading. Since you raise the subject of polio, I suggest you start here: "The CDC Made These Two Radical Changes and 30,000 Diagnoses of Polio Instantly Disappeared", which you will find at .

If you read my earlier post more carefully, you will also see that, when I say "these diseases were generally not considered serious", I am referring to what, in the 1940s and 1950s, were called the "childhood diseases" — the diseases that we all contracted, almost as a matter of course, at some stage or another. I am not referring to smallpox, which was, I think, the only disease I WAS vaccinated against (totally unnecessarily, in my opinion, as smallpox was no longer endemic).

Note, too, that I refer to the mortality rates of infectious diseases, not the incidence of infectious diseases. The two are not the same. A disease like measles, which can easily kill a malnourished, immuno-compromised child in Africa, is extremely unlikely to kill a healthy Western child. It certainly didn't kill me, my brothers, or anyone I knew. In fact, I don't recall hearing of any measles deaths in the UK while I was growing up there. Perhaps there were one or two. If you look hard enough, for long enough, you will probably find a few people who are killed by almost any ailment.

I am also historically correct in asserting that there were relatively few medical interventions in our lives before the 1960s. Not only did we have almost no vaccinations, we did not have the high rates of diabetes, asthma, food allergies, and autism (and other developmental disorders) that result in so many kids spending so much time at clinics and hospitals these days. We simply weren't as sickly as kids are in the 21st century.

Scott Hamilton (487 comments) says:

September 6th, 2015 at 9:13 am

Here's a study on polio in NZ. Since mass vaccination began in 1962 we've had just four cases of the disease; before that date we had many thousands, with five separate epidemics. The facilities set up to deal with polio have long since closed their doors.

According to islamnz, polio hasn't disappeared, it has only been redefined. If the disease is still with us, where are all the victims hiding?

islamnz_com (5 comments) says:

September 6th, 2015 at 10:20 pm

I think you are being disingenuous. I think you know that there are several question marks, in addition to the aforementioned, hanging over both the polio vaccines and the moral/professional integrity of the CDC. Perhaps you would care to address the issue of the contamination of the vaccines with carcinogenic simian viruses? Or the finding that "When diphtheria and pertussis vaccines were introduced in the 1940s, cases of paralytic poliomyelitis skyrocketed"? (See ) Do I really have to spend a whole day going through all the literature, and enumerating all the reasons that I, personally, have for regarding vaccination programs with scepticism? I also wonder why you are so keen to talk only about polio vaccines in the 1940s, when we are more concerned, these days, about the effects of the MMR and HPV vaccines. How about addressing the William Thompson-Brian Hooker allegations that CDC study results were skewed to show no link between MMR and autism? (Allegations that were assiduously ignored by all the mainstream media.) Or, going back a bit, the British introduction of the Urabe strain of the MMR vaccine, which was known to cause problems, and then their withdrawal of it and cynical sale of it to Brazil? Or the anguished case histories of the hundreds of girls damaged or killed by the fast-tracked Gardasil vaccine? Yes, all these things just fill you with confidence.

And finally, I am not relying entirely on my "rather fallible" memory in asserting that, in the 1940s, we were subjected to far fewer medical interventions than children are subjected to today. All the information I have seen says roughly the same thing: "...children today receive as many as 49 doses of 14 vaccines before they reach age six, which is roughly 12 times higher than the number of vaccines administered to children back in 1940" (Natural News).

islamnz_com (5 comments) says:

September 6th, 2015 at 10:34 pm

"Over the last sixty years in the U.S., more than a million cases of what would have been diagnosed as polio pre-vaccine — same symptoms — were given different labels." (See the VacTruth article cited above.)

Think logically. The patients didn't necessarily go anywhere; they aren't necessarily "hiding".

notrotsky (145 comments) says:

September 9th, 2015 at 10:43 am

"Think logically."

Oh the irony !

Scott Hamilton (487 comments) says:

September 9th, 2015 at 10:52 am

'The patients didn't necessarily go anywhere; they aren't necessarily "hiding".'

The patients disappeared. The wards and special homes closed. The iron lungs were thrown away. The notion that thousands of kids are still suffering paralysis in regular epidemics of polio, and nobody is noticing, is absurd. Perhaps the victims of polio are being hidden away in the same bunker where the passengers on flight MH-17 and the aliens from Roswell languish?

It's up to anthropologists and psychologists to explain the ability of humans to cling to the most absurd conspiracy theories.

After a week's delay, during which I fought off a particularly nasty cold, I submitted the following response on September 16, 2015. I guessed that Farrar wouldn't publish it, and took the precaution of saving a copy of it.

Polio diagnostic criteria were definitely changed. The change was made in 1955. See "Polio and Acute Flaccid Paralysis" at for the following:

"The numbers used in the U.S. to claim that the Salk vaccine caused a huge reduction in the number of cases of paralysis due to polio were manipulated by changing the criteria for diagnosing the disease.

"The numbers used in the worldwide program to eradicate polio were estimates using very loose standards that hypothesized the number of cases, and extrapolated them across large areas before vaccination campaigns were ignited. This was followed by much stricter diagnostic standards that weeded out Acute Flaccid Paralysis from other causes.

"As the number of cases subjected to laboratory analysis rose, and the number of cases of polio dropped, the number of cases of acute flaccid paralysis rose."

There are many other sources of this and related information on the jiggery-pokery surrounding polio vaccination programs. Another is "Polio Vaccinations Are Now The Number One Cause of Polio Paralysis" at prevent*, where you will find the following: "Children are still getting polio, but those cases which resolve within 60 days (which represent some 90% of cases) are not diagnosed as polio. A new disease emerged: viral meningitis and as the incidence of polio plummeted, so did the incidence of viral meningitis sky rocketed."

You can't cavalierly dismiss all this as "absurd conspiracy theories". I also note that you do not address the contamination of polio vaccines with carcinogenic simian viruses, or the claim that "Outbreaks of polio after 1950 were demonstrably caused by intensified diphtheria and whooping cough vaccination..." (also from the article below).


Since I wrote the above, an article at Health Impact News has blown Scott Hamilton's ignorant arguments completely out of the water. Headlined "The Polio Vaccine Continues to Spread Polio and Harm People in Poor Countries", it begins:

Scientists state that there have been no cases of wild polio reported in four out of the six regions being targeted in the vaccine-program since the 1990s, and the only cases of polio that are being reported are those of VDPV caused by the OPV vaccination.

Many people are unaware that polio infections do not always lead to paralysis. In fact, according to the renowned board certified pediatrician, Dr. Lawrence B. Palevsky, temporary or full paralysis is rare and is only seen in two percent of cases because the majority of polio infections cause little more than a simple case of gastroenteritis.

In response to an article published in The Telegraph India, Dr. Palevsky wrote:

"The oral polio vaccine was banned from use in the United States in 2000. The reason for this ban was because too many children were developing vaccine associated paralytic polio (VAPP) as a serious side effect of the oral vaccine. In other words, they were developing paralytic symptoms that the vaccine was supposed to prevent them from developing, should they have gotten a natural polio infection and developed temporary or permanent paralysis, which are rare side effects of the polio illness anyway."

He stated:

"When you hear about 'outbreaks' of polio in foreign countries, the first question you should ask is, 'Are they using the oral polio vaccine?' and the answer is usually, 'yes.' If children in the US were getting VAPP as a significant side effect of the oral vaccine, why wouldn't this occur in other countries where children are receiving the oral polio vaccine, and health conditions may actually be worse for them there, than they are in the US?" — Health Impact News, September 21, 2015