The story opens:
Forty children have died after a routine vaccination such as MMR and 2,100 more have suffered a serious reaction, UK health authorities have been forced to disclose this week – and these figures are just the tip of the iceberg.
Two of the vaccinated children have been left with permanent brain damage, and 1500 others have suffered neurological reactions, including 11 cases of brain inflammation and 13 cases of epilepsy and coma. Overall, there have been more than 2,100 adverse reactions to a childhood vaccine in the UK in the last seven years.
As an aside, there is no justification for WDDTY’s claim that these figures are “the tip of the iceberg” and they do not offer any, merely state that it is “suspected” that only ten percent of deaths and reactions are ever reported. They do not say from where they have conjured this figure. One distinct possibility came up when Bad Science discussed this very matter. One poster mentioned that, in a discussion on JABS he mentioned that it was his opinion that only 10% of adverse reactions are reported, partly because patients tend not to report the less serious ones. He never said that only ten percent of deaths are reported, so the 400 deaths bit is completely bogus. And indeed has not a jot of evidence to support it.
The next point to notice is that the forty deaths were after vaccinations “such as MMR”. So even if we accept the forty deaths as being due to vaccination (which I don’t necessarily; anti vaccination campaigners in India made much abouit a girl dying after receiving the HPV vaccine. She did die. She was run over by a bus – the point being that correlation does not prove cause and effect), MMR has only played a part in it.
According to this the UK vaccination schedule gives pre-schoolers a total of 12 injections, girls in early secondary school 3 more and school leavers get one, so the adverse outcomes referred to by WDDTY would be due to alee of these not just MMR. I was going to look at the consequences of getting rid of all these but that would risk this post becoming a huge mass of numbers (even bigger than it’s going to be anyway) so like WDDTY, I’ll just focus on MMR.
I wanted to find the total number of children born in the UK during the last seven years and managed to find the following:
The figures for earlier years did not seem to be easily available (or my google-fu is weak) but given the above and the fact that the number of live births rose steadily between 2001 and 2008, an approximate average of 650,000 per year seems reasonable. This would mean 4.5 million live births over the period in question.
Back in January 2009 I considered the consequences of not using MMR, basing my figures on the DoH Green Book.
If the vaccination did not exist, 4.3 million would have caught measles, mumps and rubella. 1290 would die and over 200,000 would suffer serious debilitating symptoms., many of them permanent. I was going to go into detail but I think I’ll stop there and just say that these figures confirm that people like me and my wife do the right thing by ensuring our children get all their vaccinations.
Thanks are due to tom p and other Bad Science forumites for putting their thinking on line for me to mine.