Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Airtime for pro-vaxers... No airtime for uncertainty and questioning.

It was interesting listening to local ABC radio's pro-vax discussion yesterday*, though it was a little amusing that the vaccine 'expert' wasn't sure to begin with whether diphtheria was a bacterial infection. However he was, of course, sure that vaccines are beneficial. He was also sure that there is a very influential northern NSW group who are stridently anti-vax and are somehow causing a spate of non-compliance in that area. And he was adamant that people who choose not to vaccinate against diseases like whooping cough risk spreading the disease to those who do.

It was certainly a strange interview, given the above logic. Surely vaccines work by protecting people against an illness? If vaccines work, then disease carriers could pose little threat. So do vaccines work, or don't they?

Never mind; it wasn't exactly an inquisitive session. In fact both the interviewer and interviwee were in complete accord on the incomprehensibility of anyone ever saying 'no' to a vaccine. They made no distinctions between types of vaccines or reasons for refusal, and given the absence of talkback to provide the opportunity for questions to be asked and heard, the session really came across (at least to this listener) as pro-vax advertorial.

I do say 'pro-vax' advisedly... You see, some people are genuinely pro-vax — that is, they actually earn a living by promoting vaccines. However nobody that I know of makes a living by advocating that people question or refuse vaccines. But even if there was something to gain by being anti-vax, people like me who actually have no strong opinion about global vaccine safety, but have serious questions about the Hep B jab (including age at administration, mercury dosage per bodyweight, blood-brain barrier vulnerability and so forth), still cop the same scathing attacks as people who, for whatever reason, see all vaccines as dangerous. To pro-vaxers, any form of debate is 'anti-vax'.

I'm on the fence with vaccines, or even rather pro. In cases like whooping cough, diphtheria and polio, I'd rather risk the chance of an adverse reaction than cop the disease. (Having said that, the radio 'expert' did mention that you can catch whooping cough as an adult after being vaccinated as a child. Hmmm.)

But you won't hear people like me on public radio, and you won't see my articles in print (though I've sent well worded opinion pieces to various newspapers), because we don't fit into an easily dismissed 'anti-vax' category. Lacking industry affiliation, we have no authority (because the only authority when it comes to medical science is the industry of medical science).

Without authority, all I can do is blog... And here I go again with a call for research — better, wider, unbiased — independent.

Something causes autism...

*92.5 FM, ABC Central Coast, Wednesday 4th May 2011... Time not noted.