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Author Topic: Vaccine Question (aluminum)
Christine
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I'm not asking for myself, exactly, but because of a debate I'm kind of in the middle of with someone. I can't find any credible evidence suggesting that the aluminum in vaccines is harmful, but of course, that doesn't necessarily mean anything to the hysterics out there who are convinced vaccinations are the ruination of our society. I was kind of hoping for some good arguments to help my case.

Anyway, I find that the people here have a much more logical approach to these sorts of issues, so I'm going to play devil's advocate for a minute here (not something I'm terribly good at but bear with me) and ask about the potential harm aluminum adjuvants from vaccines cause. Here are two web sources:

http://www.straight.com/article/vaccines-show-sinister-side

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17114826

Is the aluminum in vaccines a problem? Why or why not? What do you think of the sources listed above? (I have my own opinions but as they don't seem to be convincing anyone at the moment, I'll refrain from weighing in just yet.)

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Phanto
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When I studied immunology a few years ago, I remember reading that vaccines using alum were a no-go. That, or something like Freund's incomplete alum adjuvant was a bad idea...

Not sure how relevant (or useful!) that is, though [Smile] .

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rivka
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1) Using a controversial and at best, NOT well-understood issue like "Gulf War Syndrome" as support for another controversial issue is supremely bad science. It's actually a classic pseudo-science technique -- using shaky science "evidence" as part of the even-shakier "evidence" for a second, tangentially-related issue.

2) How about some legitimate, reliable sites:
FDA
quote:
Aluminum adjuvant containing vaccines have a demonstrated safety profile of over six decades of use and have only uncommonly been associated with severe local reactions. Of note, the most common source of exposure to aluminum is from eating food or drinking water.
WebMD
quote:
"Scare stories on aluminum-containing vaccines are not supported by evidence," lead researcher Tom Jefferson, MD, of Cochrane Vaccines Field in Italy, tells WebMD.
quote:
"Aluminum salts have been added to vaccines since the 1920s because they enhance the immune response," says Paul Offit, MD, chief of infectious diseases and director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
CDC
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Shan
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Who's funding those reliable websites?

*hmmm*

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rivka
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For two of three, the government. Ooooh, horrors!

[Roll Eyes]

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Shigosei
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The first figure in the paper shows the results from three behavior trials meant to measure muscle strength/endurance, anxiety, and cognitive ability. There might be some connection between aluminum and some decrease in muscle performance. What's odd is that mice who were given two types of adjuvant (aluminum and squalene) performed the same as controls and as squalene mice alone. If aluminum does result in muscle weakness, squalene might then be used to prevent this.

The anxiety and cognitive data don't seem to be convincing. The cognitive testing in particular is all over the map -- there's one instance, at week 25, when the squalene + aluminum group performed somewhat worse than the rest, but the previous data point has them performing better than either aluminum or squalene alone. Additionally, why is the data from the first 10 weeks of anxiety testing not shown?

In a later paper, published by some of the same authors, aluminum was apparently not found to have a statistically significant effect on muscle endurance/strength.

There might be cause for concern, but at this point, I wouldn't avoid vaccination (particularly since, as rivka pointed out, aluminum exposure from other sources is more significant -- if you're worried about vaccines, you may also want to make sure all your pots and pans have no aluminum in them).

Edit to add: it turns out that there's something a little odd about the conflict of interest statements in both papers. A typical statement either lists potential conflicts of interest or says "The authors report no conflicts of interest." Both the Christine linked to and the one I linked to have the statement, "None of the authors have received any grants or funding from Bioport, Chiron, and Corixa, nor any other pharmaceutical companies named in this article."

So why the atypical statement? Do the authors want to look impartial when they're really not? One possibility is that the authors received funding from companies looking to develop new adjuvants, or perhaps from lawyers wanting to sue manufacturers (as in the case of Andrew Wakefield.)

[ February 07, 2010, 10:55 PM: Message edited by: Shigosei ]

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MightyCow
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I always find it silly when people question the danger of common elements in vaccines, like aluminum or mercury, when we receive vastly greater levels of exposure from things like food and drinking water. The reality never matches up with the anti-vaccine hype.
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Kwea
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I was walking downtown around Halloween, and there were a bunch of people in costume holding signs. I thought tehy were just having fun, or trying to sell something.

Turns out they were protesting vaccinations.


One of them grabbed my arm when I tried to walk by them. It didn't go well for him. I was a nursing student at the time, and had worked at USAMRIID testing new vaccinations and treatments for some of the worst diseases in the world.


Not exactly their target audience. LOL

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scifibum
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quote:
One of them grabbed my arm when I tried to walk by them. It didn't go well for him.
At this point in the story I was expecting to hear about how your martial arts training came in handy, or at least how he ended up arrested for assault.
quote:
I was a nursing student at the time, and had worked at USAMRIID testing new vaccinations and treatments for some of the worst diseases in the world.


Not exactly their target audience. LOL

But it sounds like all you did was refute claims.

[Frown]

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The White Whale
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Yeah, but I bet he refuted those claims...ninja style.
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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
quote:
One of them grabbed my arm when I tried to walk by them. It didn't go well for him.
At this point in the story I was expecting to hear about how your martial arts training came in handy, or at least how he ended up arrested for assault.
quote:
I was a nursing student at the time, and had worked at USAMRIID testing new vaccinations and treatments for some of the worst diseases in the world.


Not exactly their target audience. LOL

But it sounds like all you did was refute claims.

[Frown]

When he grabbed me I did get a little physical back, but it was more of an arm bar than a throw. [Wink]


Then I called the police and reported them, and they were told to move on or be arrested. Not for being morons about vaccinations, but for physically harassing people as they walked by.

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theresa51282
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In my experience with the anti vaccine crowd, its best not to engage. Scientific evidence doesn't make a pinch of difference to them in most instances. If you start with the belief that the government is trying to cover evidence up with lies, it is very difficult to use any source to draw scientific conclusions. Every group that disagrees with them has at least some tangental ties to government or corporations or someone else who is trying to trick them. I was actually told on a parenting message board that I must want my daughter to be autistic because I vaccinated her. Apparently it never occured to this person that I just didn't want my daughter to get a deadly disease.
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MightyCow
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When my wife and I got our H1N1 vaccines, a guy was standing in front of the building handing out anti-vaccine pamphlets. Some of the best quotes are:

"Vaccines can cause serious long term problems like the inability to use slang, and loss of gross motor control so that you cannot swim."

"What can you do?!? SOMETHING!!!"

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Christine
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LOL

I think I'm just going to withdraw from the debate. I knew better than to engage in the first place, really I did.

One thing that really gets me about the anti-vaccine crowd is that trying to push their message is really against their own self-interests. It's fine for ONE person not to vaccinate their children because the immunity of those around them will protect their children, but as soon as you get too many people to agree, then your children are in danger. So why not just keep your conclusions to yourself?

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MightyCow
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Part of the anti-vaccine movement is the idea that humanity just naturally became immune to polio and whooping cough, since they don't believe that vaccines actually work.

If they understood the science well enough to get herd immunity, they would realize how meaningless the rest of their beliefs are.

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theamazeeaz
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Honestly, I think these people are still scared of getting shots. They should get over it.
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Samprimary
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The thing that really sucks about the anti-vax crowd is that their form of utter stupidity is not limited to harming themselves. Their quest for vaccine nonparticipation can genuinely jeopardize tons of school-age children.
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rivka
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And unborn children, and the immunocompromised of all ages.
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Samprimary
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it's true. and it is entirely based on entirely noncompelling and pseudoscientific ideas and championed by the absolute most infuriatingly vapid and preconclusively biased of people.

There are few things that anyone can think of that has been more beneficial to humans than vaccine theory. They are cheap and readily available and safer for you than driving to work. It's absurd. Anti-vax people are absurd. Theirs is like an ideology clinically designed to make me hate them.

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AvidReader
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I'd say the worst part is that they're not even coming from a bad place. We should be careful about what we're putting into our bodies. We should ask questions about what vaccines are, how they work, and what might go wrong.

But one thread and half a dozen Google searches later, I'm pretty convinced that at least half the vaccines are a great idea. (I didn't research all of them.) The evidence on most of them seemed pretty clear to me. [Dont Know]

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zgator
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quote:
One thing that really gets me about the anti-vaccine crowd is that trying to push their message is really against their own self-interests. It's fine for ONE person not to vaccinate their children because the immunity of those around them will protect their children, but as soon as you get too many people to agree, then your children are in danger. So why not just keep your conclusions to yourself?
They do it because they don't want other kids to suffer like theirs have. Many of these people genuinely believe their child's autism was caused by the vacs even with all evidence to the contrary.
quote:
Anti-vax people are absurd. Theirs is like an ideology clinically designed to make me hate them.
Yes, what they do is stupid and misguided, especially since money is diverted from doing real research into providing even more proof that vacs aren't the cause, but don't hate them and make them out to be evil. As someone who has an Aspie kid, I understand their anger. The idea that it could have been prevented would make me furious if I didn't know better. But they don't understand and maybe they don't want to understand, but many of them believe they're doing the right thing.
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rivka
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Well said, Zan.
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Christine
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quote:
Originally posted by zgator:
Yes, what they do is stupid and misguided, especially since money is diverted from doing real research into providing even more proof that vacs aren't the cause, but don't hate them and make them out to be evil. As someone who has an Aspie kid, I understand their anger. The idea that it could have been prevented would make me furious if I didn't know better. But they don't understand and maybe they don't want to understand, but many of them believe they're doing the right thing.

I completely agree.

It is yes another reason that I should simply not engage in these conversations in the first place. There's no arguing with an emotional mother who thinks she is after justice for her child. [Smile]

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rivka
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Too true.
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zgator
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It is very easy to scare people, even with shaky evidence. It's much harder to assuage those fears with real evidence. Especially when they see how the rate of autism has shot up.

I went to a round table discussion recently featuring some autism specialists and the vac subject came up. I was very impressed with how diplomatically they handled it. They repeated that there is no evidence thus far that shows a connection between vaccinations or mercury with autism. However, they will continue to study it even if there is a remote possibility there is a link. It's a shame since that money could be spent elsewhere.

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Darth_Mauve
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Pardon the paraphrase, but "Science works. If anyone tells you different they're trying to sell you something."

In this case, they are trying to find someone to blame for a personal tragedy, and someone to ease a continuing labor and expense. Its a costly form of therapy, only if they eventually let it go.

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zgator
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quote:
In this case, they are trying to find someone to blame for a personal tragedy, and someone to ease a continuing labor and expense.
and because they don't want others to go through it as well. Just because their opinion is different, no matter how misguided it might be, doesn't mean their only reasons are selfish ones.
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AvidReader
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Interesting article about herd immunity not always cutting it even if you've had your shot. Mumps outbreak
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Teshi
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You know what else they shouldn't want people's children to go through? Their premature death from entirely or 99% entirely preventable disease.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by zgator:
Yes, what they do is stupid and misguided, especially since money is diverted from doing real research into providing even more proof that vacs aren't the cause, but don't hate them and make them out to be evil. As someone who has an Aspie kid, I understand their anger. The idea that it could have been prevented would make me furious if I didn't know better. But they don't understand and maybe they don't want to understand, but many of them believe they're doing the right thing.

I don't make them out to be evil, and its rarely worth it to outright hate them, but I will not hesitate to call them deluded fools who jeopardize public health.
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