Here in France we have the same discussion.
But IMHO this is a far more complex subject than smart/pro vs dumb/cons vaccines.
- Vaccines aren’t a magic wand. They are products that are used in a cost/benefits perspective. So it is OK for public health policy that some people could suffer from a vaccine if the majority is supposed to be safer. That would be enough to scare any parent who would think twice before doing so if not absolutely necessary.
- Thus vaccines should be used with caution in countries where major epidemic risks have been eradicated. Here in France we had only 3 mandatory vaccines for children and some parents would have complied with the law if those vaccines were available. But when people wanted to buy those 3 vaccines, and only those 3 vaccines, they couldn’t. Because of a commercial shortage, only products containing 11 vaccines — ie including 8 non mandatory vaccines- were commonly available on the market. It would be bad faith not to see a profit interest at stake here. So parents went to court and sued the government arguing as they couldn’t find the 3 mandatory vaccines they would refused to inject their children with products containing 8 other vaccines. And the court agreed with them asking the government to take measures in order to have the law respected. A vertuous government would have put pressure on pharmaceutical industry in order to have a product containing only those 3 vaccines available. But French government went out with another solution : it made mandatory the 11 vaccines commonly offered by the industry and changed the law using all the arguments I read here in favor of vaccines. So starting next january children will be injected with 11 vaccines with no health necessity. But I guess it’s only a French problem and I am sure in the Anglo-Saxon world governments and pharmaceutical industry are absolutely vertuous and to be trusted with public decisions that don’t attract suspicions.
- I have no idea about links between autism and some vaccines. But here in France we had suspicions for a long time about a vaccine against a form of hepatitis and multiple sclerosis. I perfectly admit usually burden of proof is on the side of people claiming something, except a cost/benefit health policy demands a precautionary principle. Some recent studies may have led to conclusion that they are no links between the vaccine and sclerosis, but to be really sure they may need some more human Guinea pig. I am sure some people would love to be a part of science improvements, but some others may not be so enthusiastic.
- Surely WHO is to be trusted. It may be difficult for some people though, specially if we consider its policy on other subjects like public smoking. At that day WHO is still very cautious on potential dangers with electronic cigarettes. Sure they are still many unknown things about it but studies are already unanimous. Tobacco products kill and electronic cigarettes are efficient as nicotinic replacement without the damages of combustion that goes with classical cigarettes. So UK National Health Service has a complete opposite approach towards e-cig as its policy is not claiming e-cig is not innocuous, but is a proven tool for tobacco risks reduction. Wich is exactly the same approach WHO has with vaccination. So why WHO is applying toward e-cig a strong precautionary principle, and is so enthusiastic about vaccines that nevertheless also obey to costs/benefits rules? For some people the explanation could lay in the fact that WHO would not be as independent from lobbies influence as it should.
- That leads to trust of medical professionals which is a problem in France. France has strengthen its legislation to limit pharmaceutical industry influence on practitioners but yet only 1/3 of general practitioners are truly independent from industry influences. They refuse to receive medical representatives, and they’d rather pay for doing their in-service training on their own than attend freely to professional meetings organised by industry in comfortable places. So that leads to a question of trust in the public opinion that wonders if most part of practitioners are not under industry influence even if of course no-one is questioning their good faith and their good will. But, alas, no matter what, who pays you, influences you. Again I guess medical trust is a pure French problem and is totally irrelevant in the Anglo-Saxon world.
- Another thing worries some parents. Some aluminium additives are strongly suspected to be a danger. For instance those use in deodorants. They could be involved in breast cancer or brain damages. As aluminium is also used in some vaccines it attracts worries and suspicions. They may not be the same suspected particles at stake but again why no precautionary principle?
- In conclusion seeing the world being torn between the pro and the cons vaccines is a pure non sense. Most of the people supposingly against vaccines are just cautious. They don’t buy the propaganda in favor of vaccines but they also acknowledge that vaccines are useful in some cases. The problem is not an ideological belief. The problem is that, on this matter, most of us just lack of reliable information and have strong reasons to question and doubt the “everything is awesome” message delivered by the vaccines supporters. (Sorry for my poor English, but I hope you still get the general meaning)