Debunking myths on genetics and DNA

Sunday, March 15, 2015

So you're afraid of vaccines. Why don't we take a look at how they actually work?

March Moonrise, ©EEG
A few days ago a 4-year-old child died in a hospital in Rome, Italy. She had contracted Dawson encephalitis, a rare and chronic form of brain inflammation which is a complication from the measles virus. No, the child had not been vaccinated. Last February, an 18-month-old toddler also died of measles, this time in Germany.

Back when the smallpox was killing and blinding people, parents didn't have to choose whether or not to vaccinate their children. The choice back then was to whether or not expose the children to pus from an infected person's pustules or let them get the disease from natural exposure. People still contracted the disease through this primitive form of inoculation, yet the risk of dying was far less. So that's what parents did back then. Can you imagine purposely exposing your child to a deadly and impairing disease just because the chance of dying from it was so high anyways? Don't you feel privileged that you don't have to make that kind of decision for your own children?

People say vaccines are not natural. Yet when your own child gets sick and his/her fever spikes, you don't think twice about giving them ibuprofen or whatever medication it takes to lower the fever. That's because the consequences could be devastating. Yet ibuprofen is not natural. You don't normally find it in the body, and prolonged consumption has serious consequences on the liver.

Viruses, on the other hand, are natural. They are so natural that bits of viruses are embedded in our own DNA. Back when a smallpox vaccine didn't exist, parents who smeared pus from smallpox pustules on their healthy children were causing the body to make immune memory. That's because once the immune system "recognizes" the virus it can build a response strong enough to destroy the pathogen before it can start the infection. But the immune system has to "see" the virus for the first time in order to recognize it. That's why people who survived the infection never got it again. The principle is simple and completely natural. The risk was very high, though: pustules from infected people contained live virus, and many died in the attempt to avoid the disease.

Today we have a beautiful, safe way to create immune memory without having to go through the actual infection. We take little bits of chopped virus and put it inside the body. The chopped up virus can't cause the infection because it's missing some of its part. At the same time the immune system learns to recognize those extraneous proteins and builds immune memory.

So, you see, you can watch your child get sick and load him/her with drugs and medicine on top of risking serious complications. Or you can take him/her to the doctor and have them take a shot. One shot at the time, you don't have to load up in one sitting if that's what concerns you. At the end of the day, both the child who got sick and the vaccinated child will have built immune memory. But one has gone through days of fever, pain, and medications. The other one just got a shot.

So what's more natural to you?

And no, I have no financial gain from telling you this. I get my salary whether or not you get a shot. In fact, if you think about it, it's the unvaccinated child that's causing more of an economic burden right now. And whenever there's an economic burden, it means somebody is making a financial gain out of it. So, if nothing else, I'd say it's the parents who opt out of vaccinations who are financially manipulated.

But that's just me. What do I know? All I know is that a 4-year-old died. And in the twenty-first century no child should die of a complication from the measles virus.


  1. Everything we do - and I mean *everything* - brings with itself a certain degree of hazard. Including taking drugs or being vaccinated. It's normal to fear te worst when we care for our children and dear ones, but fears can paradoxically lead us to disaster. I think the only effective way to deal with the many uncertainties of life is to be rational and rely on facts, as coldly as possible. What is known to cause more deaths: being vaccinated or not being vaccinated? Vaccines have proven to be much more useful than lethal, so I am totally pro-vax (yet I hope that research keeps studying how to minimize the risks they pose, of course).

  2. While I never take a flu shot, I do believe the others are beneficial. I got all of my shots when I was a kid.

    1. Of course, the flu shot is optional, no question about that. Even the flu kills, unfortunately, but it's usually people at risk who die from complications. It's the crippling and killing infectious diseases that I don't get why they have become less scary than a vaccine :-(

  3. Very interesting. We definitely should feel lucky to have all the medical technology available to us today.

  4. You sound angry and I can understand why. To me the first job of any parent/caregiver is to keep children safe. Why we would do anything less is sad beyond words.

    Thanks for the post. Messages received.

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

  5. Aw, those children dying is so heartbreaking... :(


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