Let's take the debate about vaccines seriously | Belicons

Let's take the debate about vaccines seriously

Posted on: 
Tuesday 29 November 2016

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Let's take the debate about vaccines seriously

Around the world more and more people are concerned about the safety of vaccines. The Netherlands is no exception. Some parents don’t want to bring their children to day-care centres any more when there are children who aren’t vaccinated.

Because of this turmoil some worried parents, Door Frankema, Flory Gout en Joris Baas, were invited to the TV program Pauw in order to discuss this with a youth doctor. During this TV show these worried parents said that they regard it as insane to inject diseases and toxins in the body of a healthy child.

I don't understand this statement. For precisely because we have the possibility to be vaccinated, fewer people die of infectious diseases. It doesn’t feel right that people are making others doubt about this. Children who don’t get vaccinated because of this, can get very sick.

Door Frankema also wrote a book about this. ‘Vaccin vrij!’ (Text link in Dutch). Despite the resistance I feel inside against this, I do want to take this seriously in order to find out why she thinks this way. There is a paper version of this book, but I used her e-book.

In her e-book I see 4 main arguments against vaccination:

  • There is no proof that vaccines work
  • Vaccines contain a lot of dangerous chemicals
  • Various scientists also doubt about vaccinating children
  • The bodies of children can handle a lot
     

Peiling: Het is gevaarlijk om twijfel te zaaien over vaccinaties

Peiling: Het is gevaarlijk om twijfel te zaaien over vaccinaties

Poll: It is dangerous to make people doubt about vaccines

Poll: It is dangerous to make people doubt about vaccines

Read the blog that goes with this poll https://www.belicons.nl/en/blog/vaccines-toxin

Body 2: 

Better than I expected

I have to admit that Frankema has more arguments than I expected. I thought that she would be a person who has no ideas about what a vaccine really was. Once I heard a man saying that it is better to make use of the immune system and therefore not have a vaccination. But vaccines do make use of the immune system. After reading this book I see that she really has done some research.

I was shocked by the amount of strong responses on this broadcast of Pauw. People described Frankema as being crazy, according to them everything she said is nonsense. But most of them didn’t come with good counter-arguments. And then I become worried. If we cannot handle criticism when someone questions a scientific development, something is wrong.

Science is always under development

Science is a continuous search in which we try to understand the world around us. Sometimes some discoveries later turn out not to be right. I wrote more about this in my blog on the tobacco industry. So we can never say that scientists know everything about something. For that reason it can be good that when we are fully convicted of something, there is someone to question it.

Good questions deserve good answers

So if people ask such questions, then scientists and medical staff need to give them clear answers. But in this broadcast of Pauw this didn’t work out that well. Frankema and Gout had very specific arguments, but the youth doctor didn’t really know how to reply. I can imagine that if doctors don’t really have something to say in return, people do get the idea that something must be up.

Fortunately there is more to say in reply. For there are a few cognitive biases in here e-book. At the same time she also makes some good points and it is important to take these seriously too.

First two cognitive biases:

  1. Cognitive bias 1: The relationship between new diseases and vaccines

    We vaccinate children for about 60 years now and during that period there has been a large increase in chronically illnesses among children too. Frankema claims that vaccines are the cause of this. Let’s try to understand why by zooming in on her arguments about the relationship between autism and vaccines.

    Frankema claims that since we vaccinate children there has been an increase in the amount of children that have autism. Amish people, who don’t vaccinate, don't have autism. Moreover, at the end of the 1980s there was research that showed a relationship between autism and vaccines. So according to her it is clear: autism is caused by vaccines.

    However, it isn't this simple.

    1. Autism isn’t new

      Even before we started to vaccinate people, there were children with autism. How many is not known, for is had no name yet. At this moment various forms of autism have been described and if we would take all these descriptions back in time then maybe back then already many more children could be diagnosed with autism.

    2. Why blaming vaccines?

      I wonder why she thinks that vaccines must be the cause of this. There is a lot more that has changed in our way of life in the last few decades. Just think about all the poison we inhale each day , think about WIFI that goes through us all day, think about what we eat. Those things could also be causes of the increase of chronic illnesses in children and the Amish don’t have al this either.

      Of course there was one research that related autism and vaccines. But one research is never enough to call it scientifically proven. Moreover, as far as I see, this research has already been disproved by other scientists.

  2. Cognitive bias 2: There is no proof that vaccines work

    The most important argument to Frankema is that the activists in the 19th century who explained the people about hygiene did the most important work to get rid of all these diseases. Of course hygiene is very important, but that doesn’t mean that vaccines aren’t effective. It does raise the question: “How do we know what effect vaccines did have?”

    I think this becomes clear in area’s where people live who aren’t vaccinated. Area’s in which people live who strongly believe that God doesn’t want them to take matters in their own hands. But two years ago there also was an outbreak of the measles in a city in The Netherlands. That started with one baby who wasn’t vaccinated. Other people got sick because of this too and one baby almost died.

    So even though the hygiene is indeed very important in the fight against infectious diseases, such outbreaks show that vaccines are important too. How these two exactly relate to each other is difficult to say, but they are both important.
     

As I said before it’s also good to see whether she makes some good points. And she does. I mention two of them.

  1. Good point 1: We need better education about vaccines

    I can imagine that since the vaccine programs are so self evident to so many people, some medical staff may forget to keep on thinking about why they are doing this. Maybe for that reason some of them aren’t able to explain this sufficiently to people and shouldn’t happen.

    Frankema claims that there is nothing to be found about the work of the activists in the 19th century in the school books of future doctors. If that is true than that isn’t good. If we really want to understand something, we need to know the whole story.

  2. Good point 2: More attention is needed for additives in vaccines

    There should be more education about additives in vaccines. Most people have no idea what additives are in a vaccine and just need to accept them as they are. In that way, it is easy for fake news about vaccine to get spread over the Internet. For that reason, we need education about what additives there are in vaccines and what they do in our bodies.

    I think that when they are transparant about this, people will trust vaccines more.

So we don’t need to be afraid of vaccines. But this book does show that we need to be careful with considering some scientific findings that self evident that nobody can question them any more. I think that it would also be good if scientists give a serious response to this book. In that way medical staff and parents can have a better understanding about vaccines. Moreover, in that case politicians, scientists and medical staff can get down to work with all the good points that Frankema has too.

What do you think about this? Do you trust vaccines or not? Share your opinion, below or on the forum!

Watch the vlog that goes with this blog:

I will create the vlog that goes with this blog soon!

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Watch the vlog that goes with this blog: 

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