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Epidemiological Podcast S0E2: The Weight of the Evidence

On today’s podcast, I talk to you about a recent tragedy in our family and how it helped me understand anti-vaccine parents a little more. Not completely, but just enough to realize that there is very little in the way of a debate that one can have with them.

See, When people who don’t believe that vaccines save lives tell you that there is no evidence that vaccines are safe, they’re either misinformed or lying. On the flip side, when they tell you that there is evidence that vaccines cause autism, they’re either misinformed or lying again. There is plenty of evidence for both arguments out there, but only one set of “studies” pass the biological plausibility test (not to say anything about ethics).

However, because an injury (perceived or real) to a child triggers such a deep-seeded, primal reaction, it’s hard to be logical or reasonable. When parents see autism as death (when it’s not), their search for answers becomes chaotic and full of inferences that are misguided. Anti-vaccine people looking to make a buck take advantage of that, and then we’re off to the races on trying to stop further harm, encourage critical thinking, and have an actual debate based on facts.

In about 33 minutes, I tell you about the different kinds of studies out there, and I explain to you why we cannot do a vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study like the antivaxxers want, but we’ve done plenty of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated studies in an ethical and scientific way.

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The entirety of the evidence

It’s been a rough few days for the antivaxxers. The measles outbreak associated with Disneyland has really put them on the spot when it comes to their refusal to vaccinated. Some say that they are protecting their freedom to do whatever they want to their children (aka their “property”). When it is explained to them that they are to do what is in the best interest of their children, they shift the goalposts and say that the vaccine is what caused the outbreak. When it is then explained to them that the vaccine strain is not the strain found in the outbreak cases, they then say that the vaccine doesn’t protect against the strain in the outbreak. They’ll quote CDC documents stating that the genotype of the vaccine is different from the genotype of the outbreak. When it is explained to them that there are different genotypes but that the vaccine covers all serotypes — and, thus, that genotypes and

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