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View Diary: Open thread for night owls: 'Thanks a lot, Jenny McCarthy.' (140 comments)

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  •  And That's Really the Point (13+ / 0-)

    Let's just pull numbers out of the air to illustrate the point.

    If nobody gets vaccinated then the odds are 1 in 10,000 that you will die of smallpox.

    If everybody gets vaccinated then nobody will die of smallpox but the odds are 1 in 10,000,000 that you will die of a bad reaction to the vaccine.

    Here's the thing:

    If everybody but you gets vaccinated then you still have no risk of dying from smallpox, because of the herd immunization effect, but you also eliminate the 1 in 10,000,000 risk that you might die from the vaccine. So,  rejecting the vaccine really is a good strategy as long as you're the only one who does it, but it's completely antisocial and irresponsible because you're insisting that everybody else run the risk of taking the vaccine to give you the benefit for free.

    •  I understand you pulled the numbers out of (6+ / 0-)

      thin air to make a point, but I would like to point out that smallpox had a 30% mortality rate throughout human history until it was finally eradicated - through worldwide vaccination - in the 1970's. And almost everyone caught it at some point in their life (even President Lincoln, on his way back from Gettysburg, came down with a mild infection).  

      So instead of a 1 in 10,000 chance of dying of smallpox (if no one was vaccinated), it would in reality be about a 1 in 3 chance of dying of smallpox.

      When smallpox vaccinations were invented early in the 18th century, the chances of dying of vaccination were pretty high but not as high as without the vaccine. So a lot of people who had access to them would opt for vaccination. They did not use a vaccine per se, but rather the pus from a pustule on a sick person that would be scratched into your arm, usually producing an extremely mild case of smallpox with a high survival rate and that would leave you immune the rest of your life. As medical science progressed, so did the reliability and safety of the vaccination process, and eventually a vaccine was developed that eliminated the need for pus from a sick person.

      I have no idea what the actual chance would be of dying of the vaccine today, but I'm pretty confident that it would be miniscule.

      •  I believe they used cowpox, a similar but (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jay C, Calamity Jean

        different condition after it was noticed that milkmaids tended not to get smallpox.

        •  No, the one before it used actual live (1+ / 0-)
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          smallpox and even the cowpox one had a large risk of getting tetanus because they just used a knife which was often rusty to make the cut to rub the pus in.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 04:21:12 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The earlier procedure using smallpox pus (0+ / 0-)

            was called "variolation"; the word "vaccination", which derives from the Latin for "cow", came into being once cowpox started being used.

            BTW, the tetanus risk wasn't because the knife was rusty, it's because it had likely been exposed to manure, which tetanus bacteria naturally live in.

            Personally, as a physician, I would be very concerned at a child becoming febrile after having ingested bleach or had it shot up his rectum—Orac (Respectful Insolence)

            by ebohlman on Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 01:28:46 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  30% for populations that had long histories (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jay C, Calamity Jean, spacecadet1

        of exposure.

        For populations where it was a novel pathogen, fatality rates often exceeded 75%.

        Inoculation was invented back in the 10th century (at least) and provided effective immunity for about 95% of those who survived being treated...although it killed about 2-5%.  It says something that knowing the 1 in 20 risk of death and the 1 in 20 risk of not gaining immunity, everyone from Kings to Clerics who had the chance in the Muslim world and Chinese Empire took it.  It came to the Western World in the 18th Century...I believe the British brought it back from India but don't quote me on that one.

        This spread to North America about the same time that some colonists were learning about the process from African slaves who had been inoculated prior to capture, so it was kind of two sources at once.

        This was done in America on a large scale at Valley Forge and it saved Washingtons army (men were deserting for fear of illness prior to the effective inoculations). By 1800, the first society to oppose the practice had formed.

        Because...well.  Yeah.

        Later came vaccination with cowpox instead, just as effective and far less dangerous - also, not requiring a person sick with active smallpox as a source.  This was the first vaccination rather than inoculation (vaccination uses a weaker strain or dead agent) and was right around the turn of the 19th century.

        "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Tue Nov 12, 2013 at 03:42:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are correct. I did some more reading about (1+ / 0-)
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          this after my initial comment and re-discovered the even worse effects for populations without prior exposure.

          There were also some populations that had less than 30% mortality as they had a high number of immune individuals who had survived smallpox in childhood.

          I believe the 30% figure is a rough estimate of the overall mortality on humanity since smallpox first infected humans thousands of years ago.

          And the book I was looking at ("Scourge", by Jonathan B. Tucker - highly recommended for those interested in this disease) mentions that inoculation for smallpox actually has been around for a couple of thousand years, starting first in Asia, then slowly making its way west to Europe, where it was introduced about 300 years ago. An English aristocrat brought it back from the Ottoman Empire after seeing its benefits when living there with her diplomat husband.

          Thanks for the corrections!

        •  Conflict over smallpox inoculation in Puritan MA (1+ / 0-)
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          Cotton Mather was in favor, but others objected to inoculation as contrary to God's will. The stupid will always be with us.

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