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180DegreeHealth #9: Should I Vaccinate My Child? With Sarah Pope

Should I vaccinate my child? Sarah Pope, who recently got punk’d on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart for her vaccination protests, weighs in on the matter to better help moms and dads make the right choice.

Sarah and I share some horrendous personal reactions to vaccines in early adulthood that first had us questioning the presumed infallibility and harmlessness of vaccines. Turns out, as Pope (daughter of a physician) discovered through nearly 20 years of intense research on the subject, that the effectiveness of vaccines, like most things in modern medicine, have overstated effectiveness and understated risks. And of course, the dangers of the diseases that vaccines are touted to protect against are overstated as well.

While your views and opinions may differ, it might behoove you to listen in and hear some viewpoints on vaccination that you haven’t heard. Very pleased to bring you Sarah Pope, the “Healthy Home Economist.”

More from Sarah on vaccination can be found in 67 posts on the subject HERE

Sarah on Facebook

Daily Show Episode featuring Sarah

  1. I love Axel F at the end there, Matt.

    So many great comments and perspectives in this podcast! I am particularly struck by the inherent skepticism in myself and others like Sarah and yourself. Skepticism is central to good science, so when the scientific community wants to get all mob mentality about nonvaxers, I have to wonder about their ability to use logic and critical thinking. I’m not trying to make anyone sick or be “cool” by not vaccinating my kids. Or delaying, or whatever. I’m just trying to get to the REAL information.

    So far, I know that I can general trust the rigor of the Cochrane Collaboration when it comes to studies. Any others that you and Sarah want to point people to?

    • Thanks Kendahl. Axel F is a must.

      One feature of science that rules above all else is that all conclusions are tentative. We will continue to gather more information about vaccination. Right now, it appears that most scientific study has shown it to be an effective defense against a number of infectious diseases. However, the tricky part is that it’s much more difficult to determine the illnesses the vaccination might be contributing to. Simple correlative data isn’t of much use. There is also the possibility, as Sarah pointed out, that we might be shooting ourselves in the foot by not getting these illnesses and battling through them–rendering us more impervious to asthma and other problems.

      But with a lengthy history from the scientific community of “Oh, it’s safe and very effective” later being retracted when more information came in and the dangers and unintended consequences were revealed, I can’t wholeheartedly give the thumbs up to vaccination quite yet, especially when I suffered personal harm from them and was meant to feel like it was impossible because some studies say they are safe. I’m not buying it. But I am open to the possibility that Sarah and I were just the rare anomalies, and that we may very well be creating unnecessary fear about something that it is of great value. That’s the common criticism of course. I’m no stranger to being wrong.

  2. Thanks for another brilliant episode!

    I hadn’t questioned vaccines at all until the past few years. In college the textbook theory seemed to make sense: antigen exposure initiates an antibody response; the antibody response is the essence of immunity; vaccines are modified pathogens that contain the antigen necessary to induce antibody production; hooray! These days I think vaccines are almost entirely useless as well as dangerous— a view which creates no small amount of contention with my friends who are new parents, as well as my colleagues who teach in the health sciences.

    A good resource I’d like to recommend for those who are interested in reading about the history of vaccines and how they became widely accepted is “Dissolving Illusions” by Dr. Suzanne Humphries and Roman Bystrianyk. The authors went back to original sources including hundreds of newspaper articles from when the vaccines were developed. They evaluate vaccine efficacy based on historic reports and data. The book doesn’t address potential vaccine dangers, but it is a good read regarding their history and efficacy. An interesting point near the beginning of the book is that Dr. Humphries was basically forced out of the hospital where she’d worked as a respected nephrologist for many years when she began to question vaccines. She was allowed to express disagreements with using certain medications or performing certain procedures, but questioning pro-vaccine dogma was not permitted.

    During many years of my own experience with insidious “chronic fatigue” and dysautonomia, which is now largely resolved thanks to improved metabolism, one of the things I tried to investigate were latent/stealth viruses causing extreme exhaustion, fibromyalgia-like aches, etc. These symptoms are eerily similar to polio, and even moreso to post-polio syndrome. I then latched onto the idea that chronic fatigue might be polio activation in adults, which can occur due to the viral vaccine material mutating— a reactivation which is not so rare as one might expect according to the government’s own data. This started the path to actually LEARNING about how vaccines supposedly worked…

    During that time I requested my childhood medical records from my former pediatrician and acquired some interesting anecdata. I had received all of the standard childhood vaccines of the ‘80s. Invariably, EVERY SINGLE TIME I got the MMR vaccine, which was five times in all, I was back in the doctor’s office within one to three days with vomiting and fever. I was rarely sick except right after receiving a vaccine. Neither the doctor nor my parents seemed to make anything of this, but in retrospect the correlation is pretty remarkable.

    Anyway, I’m not primarily concerned with harmful effects of vaccine additives (though those could certainly be problematic), but rather with the effects of the antigen components on the immune system itself– particularly the effects of “live” attenuated vaccines. We are intentionally injecting antigen directly into the blood stream, and I do suspect this is causing an excessive insidious lifelong viral load on people that wouldn’t occur if they acquired and overcame a transmissible disease through natural means. The degree of so-called autoimmunity and viral-like illnesses like chronic fatigue these days is staggering, and I have a suspicion that attenuated vaccines (in other words: active viruses) are largely responsible.

    I’m always grateful when people in the health world are willing to talk about this even when the mainstream would marginalize us as mystic hippies. The more professional-ish credible people who are willing to honestly look at all of the information, the better. A cool thing is that even though no other health science professors where I work are willing to even consider questioning pro-vaccine dogma, most of the students are ready and eager to do so. I definitely don’t want to preach or promote my personal ideas to them, but most of the students bring up the topic and share personal horror stories of vaccine reactions. Most of them are either current nurses or soon-to-be med students. I think we may be on our way to a cultural shift toward independent fact-finding and judgment, particularly since younger people generally don’t trust or believe government or other institutions anyway.

    Thanks to Sarah for speaking about this in such a visible way, and to Matt for featuring the topic!

    ~ Carrie