Thursday, December 10, 2009

Polio explained

I ran across this great comic book today that explains the rise and fall of polio. I'd like to share it with all my friends who are against vaccines, and also those friends who don't have an opinion either way.

I've been getting into lots of arguments about vaccination lately on Facebook. I know a lot of people who are wary of most or all vaccines, and many of these people are my friends. Alas, I have read the arguments against vaccination and I'm just not convinced. Most of them seem to be based on hypotheses that are unproven or, more often, proven false.

There are some vaccinations that I don't think people should get. Small pox vaccines carry a small risk of causing serious illness, and smallpox isn't found in the natural environment anymore, so I wouldn't recommend someone get a smallpox vaccine unless some asshole rereleases it into the human population.

The benefit-risk ratio is unfavorable for some other vaccines, as well, unless a person has a high risk of exposure. So I wouldn't get the anthrax vaccine unless I was in the military, or was a veterinarian treating anthrax-infected sheep.

Nonetheless, my anti-vaccination friends tell me it is very sad that I believe anything big pharma says (some put it more politely). If that's true, though, I can't figure out why I've concluded that a significant portion of prescription drugs on the market today are useless or harmful for most of the people who receive them. (See Worried Sick by Nortin Hadler for an introduction to this topic.)

Oh, well. Maybe the comic book will help to explain my crazy views. In any case, I am looking forward to reading more great stuff from The Science Creative Quarterly.

P.S. Thanks to the Science-Based Medicine blog for pointing me to the comic!