The truth about vaccines is that we do not actually know the truth — because the way that they are currently studied obscures being able to ascertain how safe and/or effective they actually are. The CDC’s own researchers and even pro-vaccination poster-child Paul Offitt have admitted to this.

Healthy user bias (HUB) is a serious problem in studies of vaccine safety. HUB is created when people with health problems avoid vaccination. When this occurs the unhealthy, unvaccinated subjects are used as controls. Consequently, the vaccinated group has better health at the outset. The better health of the vaccinated is erroneously attributed to the vaccine. The vaccine gets credit for improving health, when in fact it is causing harm.

Vaccine safety studies typically use administrative data (data collected by government agencies, HMOs and insurance companies), and HUB is present in this type of data. HUB occurs because, with administrative data, researchers can not control who receives the vaccine and who does not. HUB creates the appearance that vaccines have dramatic, diverse and implausible beneficial effects. For example, HUB is almost certainly responsible for the dramatic and implausibly amazing mortality reductions (about 50%) associated with the influenza vaccine. The HUB phenomena instead suggests that subjects getting the influenza vaccine pursue more “health seeking” behavior in general.

Fortunately, there is growing interest in performing studies that are not affected by HUB. The study described below (Mogensen et al 2017) is specifically designed to avoid HUB. It reports a 5-fold higher mortality associated with the DTP vaccine in infants. This result indicates a serious safety problem with the DTP vaccine, and serious problems with prior studies that do not account for HUB.

Although vaccines are largely safe and beneficial for most people, every year people do die from vaccines, including children. Others suffer painful neurological conditions such as Guillain-Barré syndrome. The risk may be fairly low, but that’s a serious price to pay if you should happen to roll the dice and lose.

Rather than touting the perfect safety and necessity of vaccines and the idiocy of those who resist them, how about we actual put pressure on those who study, sell, and approve vaccines to do a better job of evaluating their actual properties using good scientific methodology (not administrative data tainted by HUB)? How about we keep looking for ways to make vaccines safer and greener, without so many known neurotoxins in them? How about we study biological differences to better understand why some people can handle them fine and some people suffer drastic consequences?

Everyone wants good public safety. They just don’t want it to come at the expense of someone that they love. That shouldn’t be a choice than anyone has to make and it sure as hell shouldn’t be a choice that the government imposes!

Dispelling cultural myths with research-driven stories. My favorite word is “specious.” Not fragile like a flower; fragile like a bomb! Twitter @ElleBeau

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