Vaccination

Why I Don't Trust My Doctor When it Comes to Vaccination


“How can you go against what your doctor recommends, don’t you trust your doctor!?”
It seems a give-in that medical professionals know more than we ‘non-medical people’ about vaccines, right? Surprisingly it’s not always the case. Vaccinology, immunology, or epidemiology are specialties not included in general medical degrees – these specialties require additional training.

The stark reality is that med students are taught very little about vaccines. This is reiterated in the article, “Vaccines: What Your Doctors Know and Don’t Know”, which is in essence a compilation of quotes from doctors revealing what they have learnt about vaccines in med school. An excerpt: [1]
“Doctors learn a lot about diseases in medical school, but we learn very little about vaccines. … We don’t review the research ourselves. We never learn what goes into making vaccines or how their safety is studied. So, when patients want a little more information about shots, all we can really say as doctors is that the diseases are bad and the shots are good. – Dr Bob Sears”
In a recent discussion I was in a family doctor expressed concern over a recent article she read that touted, “doctors spend their lives researching vaccines”. The problem she had was that this simply isn’t true at all. The doctor explained that not only are doctors taught extremely little about vaccines in med school, they don’t routinely do ongoing research either – they would love to but simply don’t have the time.

She went on to say that the bulk of the recommendations doctors make are dictated to them by major health organizations. Doctors are told what to recommend to their patients, they don’t develop these recommendations after years of independent research. If you want to know what type of education most doctors receive about vaccines, read the latest handout from the CDC. Given the minimal education doctors are given regarding vaccines it wouldn’t take long to get to the point you know more than your own doctor on the subject.

But there’s more to it than just a lack of training, a lot of people have lost trust in conventional medicine because of poor treatment. A common scenario:
  1. Parents are told, “there is absolutely nothing to worry about”, when they express concern over vaccinating their child.
  2. They agree to vaccinate their child, but their child goes on to suffer a severe vaccine reaction.
  3. Their doctor refuses to acknowledge the vaccine injury.
  4. Their doctor kicks the family out for refusing to subject their child to more vaccines.
Experiences like this destroy trust in the medical establishment. That distrust isn’t based on irrational belief, it’s based on real life experiences. If you haven’t had an unfortunate experience with conventional medicine, then great, good for you, I’m glad it has been plain sailing for you so far. But for many it’s been rough, to say the least. They’ve learnt their lesson the hard way – doctors are human, they aren’t endless sources of information, they are fallible, and sometimes they get it very, very wrong.

It’s unlikely that people who don’t blindly trust their doctors opinion on vaccination are inadvertently saying they think they know better than their doctor – though given the vast medical literature available to us today via PubMed or Cochrane that could very well be a possibility. It’s more likely that these people can’t blindly trust that the vaccine their doctor is pushing as “totally safe and absolutely necessary” really is, because experience has taught them to be skeptical. Their child’s vaccine-induced brain damage is a constant reminder that they can end up paying a very high price if they choose to have blind faith in a doctor.

Research has confirmed that skeptical patients really do have a valid reason to be wary. Larry Dossey et al wrote a scathing report on the safety and efficacy of conventional medicine in which they found:
"...when you take your sick child to the hospital or clinic, there is only a 36% chance that he will receive a treatment that has been scientifically demonstrated to be either beneficial or likely to be beneficial."
Just 13% of treatments were scientifically proven to be beneficial.[2] Taking into account those numbers, it isn’t surprising that many patients have had disappointing experiences with conventional medicine.

It’s also worth noting that not every doctor or scientist thinks that vaccines are safe and effective. There is a wide range of opinions.[3-5] Some medical professionals have taken the time to research medical literature and question the recommendations they are expected to follow. Numerous doctors have spoken out with concern over the current and past vaccine schedule. However, whether a doctor agrees with vaccination or not, they are often bound by their workplaces policy to promote vaccination. If they dare speak out against vaccination they risk losing their job. Or worse, no one wants to be “Wakefielded”.
“What makes you think your “google research” is on par with a medical professionals?”
It’s important to remember when we talk about vaccines, we are talking about a range of products. The question is how well these products perform when put to the test – that knowledge is available to everyone, medical professional or not, via medical journals such as the Cochrane Library or sites that collate scientific literature such as PubMed. The public have access to the exact same studies that medical professionals are using to form their opinions (well at least the medical professionals who actually have time to research vaccines). This information isn’t reserved for the ‘medical elite’, it’s available to everyone – so let’s make use of it.

How effective or safe particular vaccines are relies on continued efficacy and safety trials, studies, and post-licence analysis. Not only are new vaccines rolled out each year, but the microbial environment in which vaccines are hoped to have an effect on is also continually changing. Hence why we are seeing rising rates of once rare strains of infection due to vaccination – strains that the current vaccines don’t currently protect from [6]. So while someone may have intricate knowledge about the immune system or diseases, there is no guarantee they have read every study published about every vaccine on the market.

If you’re new to researching medical literature and finding it difficult to interpret study findings, here’s somewhere to start:
Interpretation of Epidemiological Studies
Introduction to Statistics Part 1
Introduction to Statistics Part 2
“What makes you think you know more than the doctors, scientists, and health organisations that recommend vaccines.”
When you do decide to dig in and start reading medical literature, you’ll find not all researchers are in agreement that all vaccines are safe and effective.[3-5] Since the dawn of vaccines there has always been diverse opinions and conflicting studies published by the medical community. Medical literature as a whole paints a much darker and more complex reality than the simplistic, black/white messages about vaccines we have traditionally grown up believing.

One of the more sinister elements is the rampant conflicts of interest which pollute medical research. Researchers are often influenced by conflicts of interest that can have profound effects on how they choose to conduct their studies and what they choose to publish. Medical journals, health organisations, and governmental policy makers too commonly suffer from conflicts of interest that deeply affect their decisions.[7-12]

In fact, the vast majority of doctors involved in establishing national guidelines on disease treatment have financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry that could potentially sway their recommendations and inappropriately influence thousands of other physicians.[7-12]

It’s not a matter of, “is this study author (or health organisation, policy maker etc) more knowledgeable than me?” But rather, “can I trust that this author (or health organisation, policy maker etc) is not influenced by conflict of interest?”

What it boils down to

When parents choose not take the path their doctor recommends regarding vaccination it’s not out of arrogance or ignorance. Without doubt, it is always out of genuine concern for their child’s safety. I’ve found it often comes down to these factors:
  • Parents know their doctor has learnt very little about vaccines and isn’t in a position to be making absolute recommendations regarding vaccine safety. Parents know they can read the scientific literature for themselves to make an informed decision.
  • Parents know that the vaccine recommendations they are given by their doctors are heavily biased to favour vaccine manufacturers, which puts their validity in doubt.
  • Parents know the risks outweigh the benefits regarding vaccinating their own children because their own children have suffered adverse reactions that outweigh the calculated risks associated with vaccine preventable diseases.
  • Parents no longer trust that their children will be safe if they follow traditional medical guidelines, because trusting those guidelines has let them down in the past - they have genuine reason to doubt medical opinion.
If the medical industry wants parents to vaccinate they need to take the above concerns very seriously. We want to see doctors educated more thoroughly, with knowledge of the risks involved in vaccinating, so that when parents quiz them (as they should) doctors can actually answer them properly. We want to see the vaccine manufacturers influence over vaccine recommendations removed, along with influence over safety and efficacy testing. We want to see vaccine injury taken seriously - when a vaccine causes harm, demand that manufacturers improve the formula.

Perhaps the most important of all these concerns is to re-establish trust with the patients harmed and treated so poorly by the medical industry. Without patient trust, doctors will get nowhere. Central to re-establishing trust is having the courage to take responsibility when a vaccine causes harm instead of pretending it doesn’t exist.





References:

1. Vaccines: What Your Doctors Know and Don’t Know
Jennifer Hutchinson, July 31 2012
http://vactruth.com/2012/07/31/what-your-doctors-know/

2. The Mythology Of Science-Based Medicine
Larry Dossey et al. Huffington Post. 03/18/2010
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-larry-dossey/the-mythology-of-science_b_412475.html

3. The Case Against Immunizatons
By Richard Moskowitz, M. D
http://vran.org/about-vaccines/general-issues/doctors-speak/the-case-against-immunizatons/

4. Doctors Speak
Vaccination Risk Awareness Network
http://vran.org/about-vaccines/general-issues/doctors-speak/

5.Doctors against vaccines
Vaccine Truth
http://www.vaccinetruth.org/doctors_against_vaccines.htm

6. Pneumococcal Strains Not Covered by Vaccine on the Rise
Mar 23,2013. By Serena Gordon, HealthDay Reporter
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=4506700

7. Conflict of Interest Studies
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_fOow977UVfQUw2RFFwMV9ueVE/view?usp=sharing

8. Relationships Between Authors of Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Pharmaceutical Industry. Choudhry, N.K., Stelfox, H.T., Detsky, A.S., 2002JAMA, 287: 612-617.
http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/287/5/612.short

9. Just how tainted has medicine become? Editorial The Lancet, 359, 9313. 2002
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2802%2908198-9/fulltext

10. Pharmaceutical industry sponsorship and research outcome and quality: systematic review. Lexchin, J., Bero, L., Djulbegovic, B. and Clark, O., 2003 British Medical Journal, 326:1167-1170
http://www.bmj.com/content/326/7400/1167.long

11. Influence of drug company authorship and sponsorship on drug trial outcomes. Tungaraza, T, and Poole, R., The British Journal of Psychiatry (2007) 191: 82-83.
http://psychrights.org/research/Digest/Science4Sale/DrugCoInfluence%282007%29.pdf

12. Spin in reports of randomized controlled trials with nonstatistically significant primary outcomes. Boutron I, et al, 2009 International Congress on Peer Review and Biomedical Publication.
http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/PRC/15964

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