Vaccines or Plumbers? We need both.

Synergy. We add clavulanic acid to amoxicillin and it becomes more powerful than the sum of the two independently. While amoxicillin is a good antibiotic by itself, using clavulanic acid by itself would be futile, as it would never clear the infection.

This is the problem with synergy, when something aids greatly to an existing system, the aid often gets full credit instead of the entire system.

The anti-vaccine crowd insists that hygiene and sanitation ALONE have stopped the spread of communicable disease. This is completely absurd. In particular Polio has once again been used as an example. Anti-Vaccine advocates make general statements, without specifics, stating that areas of India with good sanitation have low rates of Polio and the areas of poor sanitation have higher rates.

How much higher? How many cases per year? They don’t say, but luckily those who want the facts can find them. This Free Article starts with some important facts:

Global polio-eradication efforts have led to a dramatic decrease in polio cases, from an estimated 350,000 cases in 125 countries in 1988 to 72 cases in 2015.

So when the aggressive vaccination against Polio in the 3rd world started there were 350,000 cases in 1988, about 100 cases in 2015, and very few isolated cases in 2016 thus far. Considering the global cases have been reduced by approximately 99.9%, I would question how many cases are still occurring in those areas with poor sanitation.

But can we really attribute the eradication of polio to Water Works and plumbers alone? Can we honestly say there has been a global shift providing clean toilets to the masses?

No we can not. There are on-going campaigns to provide toilets and sanitary drinking water to the 3rd world. (On-going, not completed!) If sanitary drinking water and toilets were the ONLY thing reducing polio, we would not have seen a 99.9% global reduction. In fact, there are cultural campaigns on-going to tell people to use toilets – like the “Take the Poo, to the Loo!” campaign.

Of course, we have similar campaigns in the United States reminding pet owners to pick up after their dogs. Because sanitation is very important. But so are vaccines.

Obviously, we must assess the risk of adverse reactions, anaphylactic shock, etc. That is something that is very important to the medical community. Take for example this quote from the same article that was referenced above:




Because routine use of type 2–containing vaccine is no longer needed, the global community has a moral imperative to discontinue it as soon as programmatically feasible. Because WPV types 1 and 3 have not yet been eradicated, however, the phased withdrawal of OPV antigens will begin with a shift from tOPV (containing types 1, 2, and 3) to bivalent OPV (bOPV, containing types 1 and 3).

Why is it morally imperative? Because mainstream medicine does acknowledge that some individuals will have bad reactions to vaccines. How many and at what rates, you ask? Well, the article does address the common fear that the polio vaccine does mutate and cause polio like symptoms in some people:

Since the last case of naturally occurring type 2 WPV in 1999, continued use of OPV2 (the type 2 component of tOPV) has paralyzed an estimated 1600 to 3200 people with VAPP and more than 600 people with type 2 cVDPV

Again, we went from 350,000 cases in a single year to less than 3,500 adverse reactions over a 16 year period. That is progress. No system is perfect, no intervention is completely without risk.

Vaccines eradicated polio, and the plumbers help keep it from coming back. We need both.

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