Are Vaccines Proven to be Safe?

I think this may be my first time writing about vaccines, ever. I don’t like controversy, for one thing. For another, I haven’t read every single study out there, and I haven’t studied immunology or pathology, so I’m not an expert on vaccines. However, I am fairly good at reasoning. And when it comes to scientific research, a person needs to be able to reason.

There is a great reasoning flaw in a statement I keeping reading and hearing over and over in the media. The statement is: “Vaccines are proven to be safe.”

Do you know what that flaw is?

It’s like saying, “She has no fever or rash, and her tongue isn’t coated, so she must be well.”

Or, “I couldn’t find any evidence of him lying, so he must be telling the truth.”

Still don’t see it? How about, “God has been proven not to exist.”

Do you see it? If you believe in God, you probably do. Here’s the thing. You cannot prove the non-existence of something. Right? How could you possibly prove something doesn’t exist?

The girl with no fever, rash or coated tongue could still have been sick. Maybe she had cancer, and you couldn’t tell just by examining her.

Just because you can’t find evidence of lying, it doesn’t mean someone is being truthful. It means they are good at covering up.

And try as you might, you just can’t prove there isn’t a God.

If you still can’t see how this relates to the above statement about vaccines, I will make it a little clearer by rephrasing the statement: “Vaccines have been proven to have no danger, side effects, link to autism, link to cancer, link to autoimmune disease, link to death, etc.”

Basically, it’s saying that something has been proven not to exist.

Well, it does exist. Vaccine injury is a real thing. Technically that can’t be proven, either, but the evidence is there, and evidence is what we look for, is it not? There is even a “Vaccine Court” that awards compensation to families with children injured by vaccines. They’ll fight tooth and nail to avoid giving compensation, but sometimes the cases are just too compelling and they have to admit that a vaccine did, in fact, harm child. There is a vaccine injury table that lists injuries the court will acknowledge and compensate. Some of the injuries included are intussusception, arthritis, paralytic polio, and encephalitis. No, autism isn’t on the list, but the court has awarded for it and other disorders such as seizure disorders when determined they were complications resulting from an injury on the list.

When I was first investigating vaccines–before this crazy vaccine “war” started–I was very open-minded. I was truly looking for truth. I was completely on the fence about vaccines. Actually, originally, I was pro-vaccine. It seemed like common sense to me, and I got all my boosters as an adult, plus the ones recommended for the job I had. I only never got the flu vaccine because I never in my life have had the flu bad enough to think it warranted getting a vaccine. But anyway, I had read something many years prior to having children that made me feel the current vaccine schedule was maybe not the safest, so when I did have my first child, I started my research (which I wish I had started sooner, actually). I, of course, wanted to do what was best for my child, so I read four books on vaccines, two of which were written by MDs, one by an ND, and one by a well-researched mother of two who is anti-vax. The anti-vax book was a little too conspiracy-theorist for me, so I wasn’t sure I could trust its stance on vaccines, but it was the only book I could find that gave advice on how to treat vaccine-preventable diseases. I figured I would want to know how to do that, regardless of whether I vaccinated or not. But I want to show where I was coming from–I believed in vaccines, I believed the government wanted what was best for us and would only recommend what they thought was best for us.

So, while being pro-vaccine, but wanting to vaccinate carefully, and possibly selectively, I studied. And there was just this nagging feeling I kept getting: Just because there is no evidence of danger, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Just because the currently available studies don’t show proof of vaccines being a contributing cause to autism, diabetes, autoimmune disease, allergies, kidney failure, cancer, etc, it doesn’t mean that link doesn’t exist. It just means it hasn’t been found yet. Maybe they didn’t use the right testing method, you know? Our understanding of how the world works is riddled with holes. We simply do not know everything. New discoveries are being made every day.

So, at that time, several years ago, it was my understanding that there were no scientific studies proving that vaccines had any serious side effects, but that there were associations with several very concerning illnesses.

The three books I read that were written by doctors all took this middle-ground approach. They said, here are the facts, here are the statistics, here is what we know for sure. And in no way was any of that a convincing argument for me to vaccinate my children. The vaccines sounded just as bad, just as risky as the diseases themselves. There seemed to be a small chance my child could end up with a debilitating complication or die from a vaccine-preventable disease, and there seemed to be a small chance my child could end up with a debilitating illness or die from a vaccine! I felt completely on the fence. I wasn’t God, and I couldn’t know if my child was going to somehow contract polio or diphtheria and end up being one of a small percentage whose body can’t fight off the illness well. I also didn’t know if my child would be one that would have a serious adverse reaction to a vaccine. There was no way to know! What I kept wishing for was some sort of screening process to identify risk factors. (This happens to be the premise of the documentary The Greater Good, as well as calling for safer vaccines.)

It’s all the rage these days to say anecdotal evidence is not scientific, so shouldn’t be used in deciding whether or not to vaccinate. That’s true. Anecdotal evidence probably shouldn’t be used to make any serious decision. But anecdotal means it comes from only a few sources.  I’ve read hundreds of firsthand accounts from parents whose children developed autism or died or were injured in some other way soon after being vaccinated. Those hundreds are likely only a very small sampling of the whole group of children who have been severely adversely affected by vaccines. I do not think that is something to just throw out the window. Even scientists will use anecdotal evidence to assist their research efforts. It means, “pay attention to this!” Not, “ignore this.

So, next time someone tells you that vaccines have been proven to be safe, you can just go ahead and tell them to stop being anti-science.

A lot of books on vaccines have come out since I read those first four books, so I think it’s high time I get to reading some of them. A lot more studies have become available (or more-readily available) since then, so I’m going to have a look at those. I may just start with this document, which contains 1000 peer-reviewed reports and studies on vaccines. I love the quotes in the first pages:

“Dissent is crucial for the advancement of science. Disagreement is at the heart of peer review and is important for uncovering unjustified assumptions, flawed methodologies and problematic reasoning.”

I. de Melo-Martin and K. Intemann, Division of Medical Ethics, Department of Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, USA

“the harm from vaccines has seriously exceeded the benefit of disease prevention”

Dr. Harold Buttram

“No batch of vaccine can be proved safe before it is given to children”

Surgeon General of the United States, Leonard Scheele, addressing an AMA convention in 1955

“The only safe vaccine is a vaccine that is never used”

Dr. James A. Shannon, National Institutes of Health

Just for the record, I’m not anti-vaccine. I am anti-deception. I am anti-ignorance. And I’m against harming my child. I’m pro-health, I’m pro-knowledge, and I’m pro-freedom of choice.

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