Vaccinations are an important tool to control infectious diseases. However, like any tool, they are not perfect!
The difficulty lies in the politicization of vaccination.
Like every other time when politics intrudes into a scientific field, the politicians cite science and scientists as their justification for action while the science itself becomes subordinated to and twiste by the politics of the situation…
One of the greatest problems I have with writing this post is that I cannot reveal my sources: some of these immunologists have spoken up openly, at the cost to their careers. Yet, immunology is such a narrow field that if I am too specific, they will be identified from my comments and they could suffer more censure for having spoken out. So, please, excuse my vagueness: much of what I do say can be confirmed through independent sources and I would urge everyone to do their own homework on this.
We can never get past the fact that real life is not like the laboratory: there are so many variations between people and factors in their environment that ‘ideal’ laboratory conditions can never be replicated when normal people are vaccinated. The efficacy of a vaccine is its ability to actually produce an effect – immunity – when the general population is vaccinated with it. So, when I use the term ‘efficacy’, I am referring to its effectiveness when administered to real people in normal life and not to its effectiveness in laboratory studies.
Most of the vaccines used today are generally deemed ‘good’ if they have an efficacy rate of 75% – that is, 3/4 – or more. And, yes – there are vaccines which do have high efficacy rates. However, there are also vaccines which have much, much lower efficacy rates – yet which have been approved for use. I am aware of at least two vaccines that have been approved (due to political pressure – not because the scientists considered them ready) when their efficacy rates were below 20%!!!
Efficacy rates below 20% means that less than 1 in 5 people who was properly vaccinated would acquire immunity against whatever it was that the vaccine was meant to protect from.
This would all be fine – if we were told the facts before we made the decision whether to get a particular ‘shot’ or not.
Unfortunately, we are not told the facts. As a matter of fact, our doctors are not told the facts: they are not informed of the efficacy rates of various vaccinations except that they have been approved for use. That, in my never-humble-opinion, is a problem.
It is a very, very serious problem for several reasons:
- not knowing the potential benefits (efficacy rate), we cannot possibly weigh if the risk factors in our particular case are worht it
- being told that ‘we are protected’, as we are now being told when we are vaccinated, we do not take the same precautions against infection that we would if we knew that there is more than just a negligible chance that we have not actually acquired immunity through vaccination…which, ironically, increases the likelihood that we actually will get sick
That is the problem when politics subordains science: the truth is distorted by half-lies. When reality catches up with over-stated benefits and under-stated risk factors, all kinds of suspicions and conspiracy theories arise which make people mistrust the politicians and scientists both. This is bad all around – but unavoidable if we let politics control science.
Only the full and honest disclosure of risks and benefits of vaccination can lead to their proper use as an excellent tool in fighting infectious diseases.