Oct. 23rd, 2013

liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
Some friends of mine have a young baby who is just about approaching the age where the NHS starts its vaccination schedule. They've been reading anti-vax stuff on the internet and it's scaring them.

I have told them that vaccination carries much less risk than the diseases it prevents, and that such risk as there is is about acute adverse reactions to the vaccine, not long-term vague "developmental / behavioural issues", which is a lot of what the scaremongers are talking about, I think partly because that kind of thing is difficult to comprehensively disprove. And most certainly not autism. I have linked to what I consider to be accessible lay information, and to technical research findings from impeccable scientific sources, backing up my view that vaccination is extremely safe.

My friends are not completely convinced because they say that the pharmaceutical industry is motivated by profit rather than health. They are aware of stories of negative trial results being suppressed, of contaminated vaccines and of testing unsafe vaccines on vulnerable populations without proper consent. I can't deny that those things have happened and continue to happen. I've resorted to saying, look, the entire scientific and medical consensus is that vaccines are safe, nobody in the mainstream doubts that at this point. If you're going to doubt extensive peer-reviewed research evidence because Big Pharma and profit motives might have corrupted the hospitals and universities carrying out the research, why pick on vaccines? That line of argument means that no possible medical treatment whatsoever is safe.

I know that a lot my skeptic-inclined friends make a hobby of marshalling arguments against the anti-vax conspiracy theorists. Here's your chance to actually put this into practice in real life. Can you help me save a tiny baby's life by reassuring its parents about their anxieties?

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