Editorial: We Get Bad Email Sometimes

If you ever want to get in touch with us, just use the email link above or contact us via any of our social media channels (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). While we try to answer all of your emails and messages, some messages may go unanswered, but not necessarily ignored. Here’s why…

We understand that for a small-yet-vocal subset of the population the issue of vaccination is a controversial one. It is controversial because of politics, placing people from different political views on the same side of an argument against vaccination requirements for public schools or to receive government-funded services. It is controversial because of culture, where people who want minimal contact with the government don’t want government mandates on vaccination requirements. It is also controversial because of a mistrust in science, medicine and reason.

It is not, however, a science controversy. In modern times, vaccines are among the most rigorously tested medical interventions out there. Evidence of this are the different phases of clinical trials before a vaccine goes to market and/or is approved to be included in the schedule of vaccinations by a panel of experts. Well over 99.999% of scientists around the world, employed by governments, educational institutions, research consortia, healthcare organizations, private companies and pharmaceutical developers all agree in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines that are currently licensed to be given to humans (and pets).

Could vaccines be better? Absolutely. The influenza vaccine, for example, has shown relatively low effectiveness (compared to the MMR vaccine), and the majority of the vaccine supply is closely tied to chicken eggs. If a bad avian influenza sweeps the country, we’ll be hard-pressed to develop a vaccine against it being as how the chickens may have all been decimated. We, scientists, have not nailed down the key to long-lasting immunity from vaccines, so we are left with outbreaks of mumps or whooping cough in limited locations where immunity has waned in a critical proportion of the population. And then there’s the holy grail of vaccines: a vaccine without any side effects that is delivered painlessly to the greatest amount of people at the least imaginable price.

However, there is no denying that millions of lives and billions of dollars are saved each year through the systemic and rigorous use of several different vaccines. Because of the HPV vaccine, cervical cancer is forecast to be a thing of the past in a few decades in places like Australia and other parts of the world. Polio is only found in a handful of countries in the world, no longer disabling children and robbing them of their ability to run and get into trouble from climbing trees or breaking windows with sports balls as all children should. Smallpox, a disease that killed more people than all wars combined, is no more, with lonely smallpox viruses stored in heavily-guarded laboratories in Atlanta, Georgia, and in Russia. Before the MMR vaccine was licensed in the United States, thousands of children were born with deformities from rubella and thousands more would die from measles.

The History of Vaccines is not about catering to the lies and misinformation being pushed by anti-vaccine people and organizations. We will not engage in back-and-forth arguments over email, and will very rarely respond to comments drenched in non-truths and bad faith opinions. Of course, offensive or bullying comments will be exiled to “File 13.”

You see, the project is to be a digital record keeper of, well, the history of vaccines. Think of the blog as the “first rough draft” of this effort and the rest of the site as the curated and double-checked record of the history of vaccines, their science and their effects on human events.

Please keep all of this in mind when emailing us or even commenting on blog posts. If you are rabidly anti-vaccine and want to share cherry-picked data or poorly-sourced information, or want to launch personal attacks, please don’t waste your time.

On the other hand, if you have honest questions about how we got to where we are with the science and technology behind vaccination — or how vaccines shaped and are shaping our lives — then, please, by all means, do send us a message. (Or if there is a factual mistake somewhere in need of correcting.)

Thank you for your time.

Author: René F. Najera, DrPH

I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

One thought

  1. Thank you for your editorial. I appreciate your response and am so grateful for your information.

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