David Bradley is blogging again about MMR..asking good questions. This posting exposes again the ongoing debate about the MMR vaccine, a recent article in the Times examining the statistics and asking the question do the statistics stack up to vaccination. I encourage you to read the post (I prefer not to grab others words and post them to my blog but direct you to their site. It might encourage you to add Sciencebase to your favorites!)

Once I can figure out how to get a comment posted (validation code issues there right now) I will be posting my own commentary there..as scientists we must keeping asking questions. The AngryToxicolist does…

“David…you’ve hit on a conversation of significant personal interest with this one. However, I AM biased based on personal experience with vaccines as explained at http://www.chemspider.com/blog/?p=73 . That blog explains my own experiences around MMR and sourcing separate vaccines.

Friends have accused me of being anti-vaccine and willing to have 1000s die instead. Far from it. I am not against vaccines. What I am for is looking at the data, listening to the questions, searching for answers, minimizing risk and not putting fairly nominal cost differences above health. The biggest piece is the necessary conversation between doctor and parents. Here’s what I’d like to see happen right now based just on many of the reports..whether those of overly conservative parents or conspiracy theorists. Educate the doctors to offer the CHOICE to parents that says “Here are the stories about MMR as a cocktail vaccine. It is possible to have each component of the vaccine separately. Here are my comments as your doctor. The choice is yours”. Wat has not happened, in my experience, and in that of many of my friends, is that the doctors share some of the perceptions of the cocktail and let the parents choose. In fact MANY doctors I know of do not offer the choice and even discourage it.

Relative to your question “but isn’t MMR less expensive than the three vaccines given separately” and so the pharma industry doesn’t make much money so it would be more profitable for them to have them separate. I am not an economic expert in this domain and judge you may be right but it’s really about profit. What does it cost to produce the single vaccine versus three…relative to the sales costs and the associated profit margins. These are likely fairly comparable. The bigger push is on the parents to not have their child cry three times, visit the doctor three times, pay doctors fees three times etc. In fact the cost benefits are likely more for the HMOs than the pharma companies. The HMOs SAVE money by having the vaccination done in one hit.

My preference remains separate the vaccines. Intuitively I wouldn’t want to challenge the immune system of my child with three components simultaneously (as well as all of the preservative chemicals) when I have the option to separate. And..I DON’T like having my children cry when they get needles..my choice is short term tears over long term debilitation.

Just for clarity in my biases I am also on the side of questioning fluoridation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_fluoridation_controversy) as I have expressed elsewhere (http://www.chemspider.com/blog/?p=58). My consultation with experts (one included here (http://www.chemspider.com/blog/?p=79)) and a growing movement in the USA right now suggests the days of fluoridation may be limited too. I personally believe good oral cleanliness is way more important. We have twin five year olds…not one cavity in their mouth. We are on a water well, non-fluoridated toothpaste and no fluoridated drops when they were babies. Time will tell whether we are right. For now…brush, brush, brush….”

Stumble it!

One Response to “MMR and Statistical Manipulation”

  1. David Bradley says:

    Thanks for the trackback and commentary Tony very interesting. I hope you’ll link to this from a comment on the Sciencebase site itself (I’ve disabled the antispam captcha for the time being, at least until I uncover the bug you reported).

    It is a seriously controversial area, of course, tarred and distorted by the Wakefield work, the bigger picture is of much greater concern than his discredited studies, and…bigger!

    db

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