New vaccine blog

Well this looks interesting, a new blog by the author of Vaccine: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, Arthur Allen.

Looks like something I may have to check out. Allen captures why various conditions like autism are so readily attributed by parents to vaccines:

The history of vaccination is criss-crossed with controversies. The allegation that vaccines cause autism is only the latest example. What is it about vaccines that attracts so much passion?

The obvious answer is that many vaccines-and most of the ones discussed in this book-are injected with sharp needles into healthy, innocent babies. The baby screams, the mom (or dad) winces. Sometimes the baby is fussy or feverish for a while-side effects that the doctor warns about. Rarely, some time later the baby shows symptoms of a more serious illness–chronic allergies or neurological problems, for example. These are problems that begin in infancy or early childhood. Vaccines tend to get blamed for these diseases because the diseases are more closely tracked and thus seem to be increasing, and because their etiology is somewhat mysterious.

As a parent in America, you learn to trust your pediatrician, but it’s a delicate relationship. The baby can’t say what’s wrong. Sadly, sometimes the expert doesn’t know either. At that moment, the trust relationship may be broken. Doc doesn’t know what made my son autistic-doesn’t know much about how to treat autism, either–so why should I trust him (or her) when he (she) says that it wasn’t the vaccines? Then too, the average child gets about 20 vaccine injections before the age of 2, which is many more than they used to. It’s not unlikely that a child will get sick after one of them, making the vaccine a handy scapegoat.

Allen also documents the five greatest triumphs and tragedies in the history of vaccines. It looks like I may have to check this book out.

And here’s an interesting tidbit:

01/13 10 am
Debate with David Kirby, author of Evidence of Harm
Price Center
University of California, San Diego

I’ve expressed my concern about such debates before in the context of “debates” between creationists and scientists. Supporters of pseudoscience (like David Kirby) always have the advantage in such events, because the pseudoscientist can throw canards, dubious data, and distortions with abandon and force the skeptic or scientist on the defensive batting the canards aside, so much so that it is very difficult and sometimes impossible for a skeptic to get his message across. Still, I’m hoping that Mr. Allen knows how to deal with the distortions and misinformation that will almost certainly be flying fast and furious. I would also hope that anyone living in the San Diego area who is of a skeptical bent and can evaluate the claims of the mercury militia dispassionately would attend to lend moral support. It’s all but a certainty that the mercury militia will be there in force.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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