The Science of Vaccines

In recent years, mostly in the USA, parents have been increasingly refusing vaccines for their children. Why?

There are a few arguments floating about the internet that people are believing and thus refusing to vaccinate. I’ll take them apart(respectfully) with the power of SCIENCE!

Argument #1

The MMR vaccine causes autism!

Where did this argument come from? In 1998, Alan Wakefield conducted a study of 12 autistic children. Now, first of all, that is way too small a sample size to be scientific. There are minimum sample sizes. Second of all, that study has been refuted a thousand times. I’ll just leave some links right here.(TL;DR: Wakefield was an honest to gods shill. I’m not being offensive, that is simply the definition.)

But do vaccines cause autism? In short; no.

To elaborate, autism is a genetic flaw. What is currently thought to happen in an autistic individual is that there is a shortage(or even outright lack) of a specific protein(called Shank3). This protein helps to trim excess synapses in the brain. Autism will soon have medication(I’ll do a write up of my opinions on autism, curing it, and other things later), and this medication irreversibly trims those excess synapses. (If you gave it to a non-autistic individual it would possibly cause something similar to senility- but don’t quote me on that! )

Some people blame vaccines because something’s got to be causing the sudden prevalence of autism. In actual fact we’re just getting better at finding and diagnosing it reliably.

Argument #2

Vaccines don’t do anything. If they did, why are you so scared of us not vaccinating? Surely you’re safe?

Right, this argument is incorrect thanks to the good old theory of evolution. (Side note: Theory means quite a different thing in science. Theory is as high up as it goes, and means that there is a lot of repeated observational evidence. Look up Sigma Five and the Higgs Boson. )  You see, vaccines do not cure diseases.  Anti-vaxxers use graphs such as this one to say vaccines do nothing.” Isn

This is incorrect. The arrows indicate major pushes for vaccination. Now, before that point, what was happening? The graph was up and down, albeit with a downwards trend(The downwards trend is due to improved hygiene, but it would never have wiped out the disease. In fact, it would eventually evolve, and then you would have an upwards trend.) Now why was it going up and down? The answer: the disease(diphtheria) was evolving. At each trough(or lowest point), the current strain had infected and killed those it could. Those that survived were immune to that strain.

HOWEVER. In becoming immune to that strain, their immune system had killed off all of that strain in their body. But it only takes one bacterium, one virus that has a mutation that makes it different to the immunised strain, and it will survive. Then it goes on an outbreak again, because immunised or not, the new strain is unfamiliar to your immune system(That’s why the yearly flu outbreak happens, and why we always get colds).

Vaccines are made with the new strain that develops, right after the old one runs out(Side note: typically speaking the deadlier the disease the slower it mutates and the fewer strains it has, which is why you only need one vaccine for many of the really nasty diseases. Case in point; polio.). Now everyone is immune to the new strain and the disease is left without a host. Without a host, it cannot develop very fast, and therefore the disease’s evolution has been stunted.(In the case of diseases that cannot survive outside the body they are simply wiped out. )

But what happens when a small demographic stops vaccinating? Some diseases can survive in the wild without a host. An unvaccinated individual could come into contact with this disease, and if we’re unlucky a new strain will appear.  And that strain can infect even vaccinated individuals. In actual fact this is happening right now in the USA. Vaccines are necessary to slow and prevent disease.

Argument #3

Thimerosal is deadly poison mercury! There’s formaldehyde in vaccines! Aluminium’s there too!

Apologies for the hysterical presentation of the argument, but in my experience that is usually how it sounds. Now we’re getting into chemistry! First of all, Thimerosal is a mercury containing compound. A compound does not necessarily reflect the properties of the constituent chemicals. Salt, good old table salt, is proof of this, as it is made of sodium and chlorine in equal measure.  If you were to knock back half a teaspoon of sodium and half a teaspoon of chlorine(enough to make a teaspoon of salt) it wouldn’t be very pleasant. Knock back a teaspoon of salt, and while it isn’t going to taste too good(too much at once!) it won’t hurt you anywhere near as much. Thimerosal is the same. However it is still toxic- just not in the dosage you get it in.This is Toxicology, and the main refrain here is “The poison makes the dose and the dose makes the poison”. What this means is that you have to have a certain amount of anything poisonous before it can hurt you.

The measurement for this is called “LD50“.This is short for Lethal Dose with a 50% death chance. Caffeine, that wonderful early morning brain wake-up miracle, has an LD50 of 192 milligrams of poison per kilogram of bodyweight. Another example is grain alcohol, or ethyl alcohol.  It’s the bit in your alcoholic beverage of choice that gets you drunk, and it has an LD50 of 7,060 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight.  Now, thimerosal has a injection LD50 of 30 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight.(The given LD50 of 75 milligrams per kilogram is oral dose which is different.) Nowadays it’s not in most child vaccines, and was never in more than half. Even in the ones that had thimerosal in them, it was in micrograms.  One thousand micrograms make up a milligram. A healthy newborn should weigh about 3.4 kilograms. You get one vaccine at birth (Hepatitis B, and this is according to the Center for Disease Control website .) According to the FDA website it never contained thimerosal. The only way you could kill someone with the thimerosal in vaccines is if you gave them every last one when they were just a newborn, and given the rate thimerosal is being removed from vaccines, I don’t think that’s true any more(if it was even true to begin with!).

Now for aluminium. I’ll just leave this here; the LD50 of aluminium is 6207 milligrams per kilogram. Caffeine is about 32 times more toxic. Regardless of whether or not it leaves the body (and it does, through bathroom visits, which is the fastest way anything leaves your body.) you have a high tolerance to aluminium. Moving on, formaldehyde. Formaldehyde has an LD50 of 100 milligrams per kilogram of bodyweight. Typically, formaldehyde is a preservative and a disinfectant. It’s in vaccines as a method of ensuring that the disease stays dead, and that no other disease winds up in the vaccine. (That would be terrible.)                              Formaldehyde doesn’t build up either- it quickly dissolves into other chemicals, and these other chemicals leave in bathroom visits.

Argument #4

The Amish don’t vaccinate, and they’re fine! They haven’t caused any plagues either! 

Ahh, the Amish. They actually do vaccinate. Next.

Argument #5

Natural immunity is better anyway. Vaccine immunity is unreliable, why else would you need all these booster shots?

Right. Scientifically, there is no difference between immunity gained from suffering the disease, and immunity gained from vaccination.(Here’s a nice link that explains it well!) It’s actually the same thing! The only difference in a vaccine is that the disease is dead. It cannot harm you. (Really, it’s like military/police training for your immune system; the vaccine gives your immune system the information it needs to fight the real deal without risk of death/permanent damage.) As for booster shots, to continue on the military/police training metaphor, you need them to keep your immune system in practice for a disease.

Argument #6

I refuse to pay any large corporation money! They don’t care about anything but money!

This argument. . . . really? Come on now, your child’s health, your health, and the health of everyone around you aren’t worth that little.(Please note- lots of the vaccines on this table are the same.) And in the UK and most of Europe vaccination is free! Anyhow, vaccinations make much less money than a lot of other things.In 2012, 2 of the top 100 grossing medicines are vaccines and neither are in the top 75.Vaccines weren’t in the top five grossing types of medication. I’m not saying they aren’t out for profit- just that vaccines really don’t contribute as much as you think.

Anyhow, that’s the main arguments. Let me know if I missed anything! ~ AutisticMadman


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