Vaccines are not effect...need some debunking helpage

I recently received this from a friend of mine, purporting to ‘prove’ that modern vaccines are completely ineffective and simply part of a vast conspiracy by Big Pharma(tm, arr) to squeeze profits out of the public. What I’m hoping for here in this thread is either a cite that systematically debunks the link here, or some good debunking stats.

Here are some of the things from the link above:

They then have a series of links supposedly proving that (I presume…I haven’t looked at them all) either the public mortality is unchanged despite the introduction of vaccines or that it’s actually gone up, and that the whole vaccine thing is a huge conspiracy between the government and industry to trick the public into wanting to get vaccinated (and thus spend money).


Excuse me but I have smallpox and I see polio coming down the line.

As a child, I had measles, mumps and chicken pox (among others), none of which my children had. Polio was rampant, although smallpox was unheard of in the US by then.

The claim is absurd at another level. Big Pharma doesn’t like vaccines. Vaccination prevents disease and Big Pharma makes much more profit on disease than they ever could on vaccines. In fact, I have read that Big Pharma has mostly dropped out of vaccine making because it just isn’t very profitable.

No one has ever claimed that flu vaccine is 100% effective. But even 50% is worth it because, among other things, it makes transmission much less likely. If without a vaccine, on the average each person infects, say, 1.9 others and you have a vaccine that is 50% effective, you can cut that down to .95, then the disease dies out exponentially fast.

I know the claim is absurd. I’ve been trying to tell him this for quite a while now, but he keeps bringing up these wacko type web sites. So, figured I’d ask here to see if there is a decent debunking site for the link…or if anyone here wants to try and simply tackle some of the more absurd claims in some of the links.


What Hari said.

Does this person not know that smallpox is extinct *because *of vaccines? It used to be prevalent enough that even the queen of England contracted it. Have this friend talk to someone who is over 60 years of age, and recalls the polio panics.

The article, and the accompanying graphs, try to show that mortality from infectious disease is dropping anyway because of improved sanitation, better medical care, and so on, so that the vaccine is irrelevant. Add to that the inevitable small percentage of bad reactions to the vaccine itself, and you’ve got yourself a conspiracy theory.

However, I did not see in there any proof that the rate of *infection *had not decreased. Put it this way: If a child today contracted whooping cough or diptheria, there is a far better chance that he or she would survive than was the case 200 years ago, merely because of better treatment paradigms now. However, I’m sure we’d all just as soon skip that part and not have the child get sick to begin with.

There is a statement in there to the effect that reported cases and reported deaths from a disease decrease after vaccinations become common because the doctors are not good diagnosticians and are merely trying to be fashionable. Oh, please.

Try the blog Respectful Insolence. The author is a doctor, and he spends a lot of time debunking all the various anti-vax claims.

No, he doesn’t. He thinks that vaccines are a product of a conspiracy between pharma companies and the government to bilk huge amounts of money from the public.

Exactly. What everyone in here is saying is pretty much what I’ve been telling him for months if not years now. He is unconvinced. That’s why I brought the question to GQ…was hoping for a GQ type answer I could fire back to him that wasn’t coming from me.

I didn’t either and I pointed that out to him. I’m going to try and dig up a cite for him tonight if I don’t get anything from this thread…I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t be hard to prove that the rate of infection has decreased by a large degree since the introduction of vaccines to the public.

Exactly. I’m sure that better health and nutrition has helped the mortality rate, but what has helped the most is that the rate of infection for many of these diseases has gone down so much due to vaccines.


The dramatic declines in infectious diseases that followed the introduction of vaccines cannot be explained by “better sanitation” alone. We’re talking about sharp drops to low levels of disease (or outright eradication, in the cases of smallpox and of polio in the U.S.) after vaccines came into use. The polio example is especially noteworthy, seeing that better sanitation is thought to have caused a marked increase in serious polio infections in the 20th century prior to vaccine use (in less sanitary days, kids caught the poliovirus through fecal-oral transmission at a young age and had for the most part relatively mild infections; after modern sewage systems became widespread, onset of infection was delayed and older kids lacking previous exposure faced more severe consequences from polio, i.e. paralysis and death).

The better than 99% drop in cases of Hemophilus influenzae (an organism that causes meningitis and epiglottitis) due to vaccination is another example that debunks the “sanitation” claim. This phenomenal drop in incidence of disease has occurred over just the past couple of decades.

“Hib vaccine is (a) good example, because Hib disease was prevalent until just a few years ago, when conjugate vaccines that can be used for infants were finally developed. (The polysaccharide vaccine previously available could not be used for infants, in whom most of cases of the disease were occurring.) Since sanitation is not better now than it was in 1990, it is hard to attribute the virtual disappearance of Hib disease in children in recent years (from an estimated 20,000 cases a year to 1,419 cases in 1993, and dropping) to anything other than the vaccine.”

The “better sanitation conquered infectious diseases, not vaccination” myth and many other antivax misconceptions and falsehoods are exposed on Quackwatch.

Other good sources for debunking antivaccine myths are the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia website. In addition, I recommend the vaccine articles posted at Science-Based Medicine. This site has an extensive collection of links to articles and various sites that cover the gamut of vaccine-related issues, including all the arguments and gambits used by antivaxers.

In the end, no amount of good information will be enough to open the closed mind. All you can hope for is that a person who’s been misled by antivax propaganda is willing to look at reliable sources and decide for themselves, without being swayed by fearmongering and the idea that “they don’t want you to know” (as soon as I saw “This is the data the drug industry do not want you to see.” from the link in the OP, I knew it was a garbage source).

This is the most relevant statement.

And indeed, why would you want to spend time on this?

Leaving him in his credulous ignorance will probably mean that he (and his progeny) will not take vaccines, and thus will be more likely to die off. Thus ‘culling the herd’ and improving the life expectancy for the rest of us. Encourage him to refuse other products of ‘Big Pharma’ like penicillin and other antibiotics, too.

Yeah, I realize you said he was a friend, so you probably can’t do this. But from the viewpoint of improving the species, it would be better.

I don’t have time to look at the whole site, nor find citations that would sway your friend away from his conspiracy theories. However, one the first page alone, I see a misinterpretation of the measles graph.

It clearly shows that infection levels stayed fairly stagnant until the 70s (when the vaccine was introduced), then they dropped precipitously. Mortality is a different story. It was declining all along, likely due to the more or less constant improvement of medical care. Of course, in the 70s mortality dropped, too. The author has decided to extend a trendline from the mortality plot and conclude the measles would no longer kill anyone by 2010. This is highly unlikely, though we can’t rule it out. Also, careful inspection of the graph hints that the mortality may have been leveling off in the 70s anyway. We’ll never know.

What we do know is that death isn’t the whole story. Measles can result in a host of long-term problems other than death. Those sequelae would have a graph that looks more like the cases plot. The goal of vaccination is not just less death, we also want less disease and it’s clear from that graph alone that vaccination has achieved that.

I’ll see if I can pull any articles that might debunk this, but as everyone else has said, these kind of ideas are very hard to change.

missed the edit window…

I checked out the pertussis graphs (my personal area of interest). Here, the author is playing with scale to hide the effect of vaccination. Pertussis rates did drop precipitously in the last century and, in fact, with a 100 year scale, it looks like we vaccinated for a non-existant disease. However, adjusting the scale to something more appropriate for the time of vaccination, you would see the same sharp dropoff in disease and death after the vaccine.

Thanks everyone. I’m going to send along the links and probably some of the choice quotes. I doubt (highly) it will do much good, but maybe some of it will sink in. At the very least, maybe I won’t get emails with links to ‘educate’ me anymore. :stuck_out_tongue:


Well for starters none of their graphs show actual vaccination rates. They simply show mortality with occasional vague arrow showing the introduction of some vaccine or other. That shows nothing, to show anything you’d have to show a relationship (or lack of one) between the actual vaccination rate and mortality rate.

Additionally hereis a pretty good discussion of what happened in the former USSR when vaccination rates drop after it collapsed.

Here is a relevant page for you.
It is mainly about Polio.
some highlights
1908 - Karl Landsteiner and Erwin Popper identify a virus as the cause of polio by transmitting the disease to a monkey.

1916 - Large epidemic of polio within the United States.

1930s - Two strains of the poliovirus are discovered (later it was determined that there were three).

1953 - Salk and his associates develop a potentially safe, inactivated (killed), injected polio vaccine.

1954 - Nearly two million children participate in the field trials.

1955 - News of the success of the trials is announced by Dr. Thomas Francis in a formal press conference at Ann Arbor, Michigan, on April 12, the tenth anniversary of FDR’s death. The news was broadcast both on television and radio, and church bells rang in cities around the United States.

1955 to1957 - Incidence of polio in the U.S. falls by 85 - 90%.

1979 - Last case of polio caused by “wild” virus in U.S.; last case of smallpox in the world.

I don’t think anyone that has two brain cells operating can argue that the sanitation got enough better between 1954 and 1957 that polio would be cut 90% in three years. :cool:
I was alive during that time, and recall taking the Sabin oral vaccine at school.

Ask your buddy the last time he saw an iron lung.

I came across an article in the Atlantic a few days that I found thought provoking:

If I was Big Pharma, and I was trying to bilk billions of dollars from the unsuspecting public, I wouldn’t make a vaccine that you take once a year.

I’d make a pill you have to take every day.

Well, having the government buy a dose for everybody is not a profit to be sneezed at … and no advertising expense.

I was part of the 1954 trial. My cousin, who lived in another state was not. She died of Poliomyelitis in 1955.

Some more in thisWired article:


Even so, “Big Pharma” sells the vaccines at cost or takes a loss on them. No one is getting rich developing vaccines. In 2003, the Dept of Health and Human Services issued a report on vaccines where they talk about giving more incentives to drug companies to remain in the vaccine business. National Vaccine Program Office.

Cite, please.

Because this is contrary to everything I know about drug companies. For example, their industry is one of the most profitable sectors of the stock market. So it doesn’t seem like they are taking much of ‘a loss’ on the business.