Mar 162011
 

I have previously reported on a newish trend in anti-vaccine propaganda, the “vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study” gambit. The anti-vaccine proponents have retreated to this new position after the thimerosal, MMR-autism and other hypotheses of theirs were shown to be worthless. This …..strategy is well known to anyone with a basic understanding of logic as moving the goal post. Superficially, the request does not sound unreasonable. Why not compare the non-vaccinated with the vaccinated and see if there is any increased risks with vaccination?

To be clear, I am not against such research being done, to the limit it can practically be done. There are a few things to keep in mind though. For starters, the problem is presented by the anti-vaccine proponent as a make-it-or-break-it thing. They behave as if the mountain of evidence in support of the use of vaccines is worthless, until and unless such vax vs. unvax study is done. They also act as if the whole vaccination issue hinges upon this one study. However, nothing could be further from the reality. One study doesn’t prove anything, one way or another. We have a ton of science on vaccines, a literal mountain of scientific papers and that will no be overthrown by one study.

Secondly, the unvaccinated population is quite small and dispersed. As we will see, the German Study had over 13,000 participants, and under 100 fell into the unvaccinated category. This hinders considerably the ability to design a study that would include enough non-vaccinated children, and at the same time be able to control for the myriad factors that could affect the results.

Thirdly, this study could not be done prospectively. Current ethical standards of study design would not permit randomly assigning a large number of children not to receive vaccines, when risk of pain, suffering, and even death is so high with vaccine-preventable diseases.  That means that the only kind of study we can do is a retroactive study, looking at existing non-vaccinated populations and trying to match the control group as much as possible. That has its own pitfalls, randomization would be impossible, and the point of randomization is precisely to control for all those variables that the scientist didn’t, or can’t, think off on his own. By definition, the non-vaccinated group would be a self-selected group, which may exhibit biases or other behaviors that can affect the results in a non-intuitive way, so that it would be impossible for the researchers to control for said behaviors.

So, we are caught in a Catch 22: we cannot design a prospective, randomized, double blind test due to ethical considerations, and any retrospective studies are inherently limited due to the small numbers of unvaccinated children and the impossibility of randomization. Clearly, any results we may get will need to be analyzed carefully, taking into account all the shortcomings we just went over.

Keeping that in mind, let us look at th German Study.

Schmitz R, Poethko-Müller C, Reiter S, Schlaud M:

Vaccination status and health in children and adolescents—findings of the German health interview and examination survey for children and adolescents (KiGGS). Dtsch Arztebl Int 2011; 108(7): 99–104.DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2011.0099

Summary – The authors utilized data collected through the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Children and Adolescents (Kinder- und Jugendgesundheits survey, KiGGS) which collected health data on 17,641 children and teenagers aged 0-17 years of age, selected at random in 167 German locations. The data was collected over 3 years, between May 2003 and May 2006. Of these, useful data existed for 13,453 subjects which made up the study population. Any child for which no record existed showing receipt of even a single dose of vaccine was classified as unvaccinated. Any child who had received at least one dose of vaccine was classified as vaccinated. There were a total of 94 unvaccinated children and over 13,000 made up the vaccinated group.

At the time, the recommended German vaccine schedule included the DTaP, MMR, Hib, HepB, and Polio vaccines which were all included in the study. For girls 12-17 the HPV vaccine was also recommended. Lifetime prevalence calculations were done for pertussis, measles, mumps, and rubella (diseases that the vaccines protected against) and also for other infectious diseases outside of the vaccine preventable ones. Atopic (allergies) disease rates were also calculated. Prevalence rates were then compared between vaccinated and unvaccinated children.

Results -The study showed that for pertussis, measles, mumps, and/or rubella, unvaccinated children had on average triple the number of infections when compared with sufficiently vaccinated children. Specifically:

  • Pertussis: Unvaccinated 15.8% – Vaccinated 2.3%
  • Measles:   Unvaccinated 15% – Vaccinated 5.2%
  • Mumps:    Unvaccinated 9.6% – Vaccinated 3.1%
  • Rubella:    Unvaccinated 17% – Vaccinated 6.8%

Furthermore, no differences were found in rates of other infectious diseases whose burden was similar on each group, thus providing contradictory evidence to the claim that vaccines “overload” the immune system and make vaccinated children more vulnerable to other diseases. The same held true for medically diagnosed atopic disorders.

Conclusion -The study adds to the existing evidence about vaccine safety and efficacy. As expected, the study showed a significant increase in prevalence in unvaccinated children for the diseases for which vaccines exist. Furthermore, it did not show any increase in susceptibility to other infectious diseases, or atopic diseases, in vaccinated children therefore contradicting the hypothesis that vaccines overwhelm childrens’  immune system.

Nevertheless, the study on its own does not prove that vaccines are safe, but when taken in context with all the other existing scientific evidence, it adds to the safety and efficacy data. However there are certain shortcomings that are unavoidable: firstly, even though the sample size was extremely large, the unvaccinated represented a very small fraction of it, 94 children,which makes it impossible to do any meaningful statistics on things such as autism which has a prevalence rate of roughly 1 in 110. Secondly, it is possible that at least some of the children for whom no record of vaccination existed might have still received a vaccine which went unrecorded. Thirdly, a lot of the data was based on a survey, which relied on parent’s memories, thus it is possible that prevalence rates may have been under, or over, reported. Fourthly, the survey did not ask for date of disease onset, therefore some vaccinated children could have gotten sick before being vaccinated and still be included in the vaccinated prevalence data.

To sum it up, the first vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study’s results are completely aligned with current scientific knowledge on vaccines, they are safe and effective at preventing disease. This study did not, and cannot, say anything about autism though, and I suspect that will be the number one reason used by the anti-vaccine crowd to dismiss this study’s results. After all, they know vaccines cause autism.

The study’s authors concluded as such:

Conclusion: The prevalence of allergic diseases and non-specific infections in children and adolescents was not found to depend on vaccination status.

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  29 Responses to “The vaccinated vs unvaccinated study – a.k.a. The German Study”

  1. I think the antivaxxers like moving the goal post on this one because no sane rational reasonable doctor or researcher could ever, ethically, perform an RCT on this topic. The antivaxxers can therefore pick the 100 healthiest unvaccinated children they can find and compare them to the 100 unhealthiest vaccinated they can find and say “THERE YOU GO!”. Actually, bugger the 100 they just find one or two on each side to suit their purpose!

    RCT is the gold standard for medical research but should never be performed for something like vaccines because the risk to the unvaccinated is too high and it is completely unethical.

    • Can we call something scientific if we do not test it. We can’t be fearful of finding truth. We should not have blind faith in the pharmaceutical industry or other corporations. Everything should be open for examination if we seek true science. Maybe vaccines do cause more harm than good.

      • Whilst there are very strong ethical limits (which have good reason for existing) to how much testing you can do on this topic we’ve done enough to say with quite high confidence that vaccines cause more good than harm (the ones which are doing more harm than good tend to be discontinued, though it has tended to take the disease they protect against being basically eradicated for the vaccine to be able to do more harm than good).

      • A quick search on PubMed for “vaccine study” shows over sixty thousand results. Read the article, it was about a study on vaccines!

        Please list one vaccine that has not been studied before being put on the vaccine study. I bet I can find several studies about that vaccine.

        Now if you are going to on about a placebo controlled vaccine study, then you better come back with a design that protects the placebo arm from harm (especially with measles, mumps and pertussis coming back!). Also, please read this series of articles on research ethics:
        http://silencedbyageofautism.blogspot.com/search/label/vaccinated%20vs%20unvaccinated

    • http://healthfreedoms.org/2011/10/14/big-study-vaccinated-kids-2-5-more-diseases-than-unvaccinated/ sounds pretty scientific to me, of course there is no perfect study. How you can you isolate one variable in a multi-interdependent variable system? I would like to add that most parents who do not vaccinate are far more educated and far more likely to give their children healthy food and exercise.

  2. More corporatist, technocratic propaganda via the medical establishment.
    These white-coats mean well i’m sure, unknowing that their curriculum is designed to benefit the industry; not people. We spend more and more on drugs and magical injections, yet we are becoming sicker and more dependent. Global statistics/disease rates will reflect this. In reality there is a fierce hegelian dialechtic at work – and endless loop of created crisis and provided solution$.

    I will bet there are plenty of studies in other areas which put placebo/control groups at high risk. Why not with vaccines?

    This is how to think for yourself.

    • “This is how to think for yourself.”

      By making statements unsupported by facts? Who knew that was the key to thinking for yourself? Meanwhile, under the evil medical establishment, people keep living longer and longer – pretty mysterious…

      • Living longer is a half truth. And is as questioning of your thinking as you were of Jeff:

        First off this statistic can be very misleading:
        For example, a couple that lived to the ages of 76 and 71, one child that died at birth, other at age two ([76+ 71 + 0 + 2] / 4), would produce an average life span of 37.25

        Second off if you take out all the people saved by:
        Emergency Medicine
        All the people subsisting on Iron Lungs or Kidney Dialysis
        All the older folks with no quality of life but just hanging on
        All the people who would have died at birth mother nature would have recycled
        We are living 1.5 years longer then we did in 1840
        All attributed to Sanitation Improvements

        Go read Nutritional and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston Price if you think we’re living better. Remember their was no photoshop in 1930.

        • What are you talking about? Show us the actual statistics, and not that from 1930. How does the “sanitation” argument work for improvements after 1960?

          The following is census data on measles for the USA between 1912 and the late 1990s. You need to tell us how sanitation caused measles incidence to drop by 90% between 1960 and 1970 in the USA. Do not change to another decade, do not change to another and do not mention deaths. Answer the question as it was asked:

          From http://www.census.gov/prod/99pubs/99statab/sec31.pdf
          Year…. Rate per 100000 of measles
          1912 . . . 310.0
          1920 . . . 480.5
          1925 . . . 194.3
          1930 . . . 340.8
          1935 . . . 584.6
          1940 . . . 220.7
          1945 . . . 110.2
          1950 . . . 210.1
          1955 . . . 337.9
          1960 . . . 245.4
          1965 . . . 135.1
          1970 . . . . 23.2
          1975 . . . . 11.3
          1980 . . . . . 5.9
          1985 . . . . . 1.2
          1990 . . . . .11.2
          1991 . . . . . .3.8
          1992 . . . . . .0.9
          1993 . . . . . .0.1
          1994 . . . . . .0.4
          1995 . . . . . .0.1
          1996 . . . . . .0.2
          1997 . . . . . . 0.1

          • You totally miss the point. Measles is good for the child, Vaccination merely suspends the time when they are likely to develop it, when it can be really dangerous.
            Average annual measles deaths in the UK is ONE, and that is invariably not a child but an adult experiencing complications.One child dies on average every 7 years from measles.Natural wild measles caught as a child,cuts cases of breast cancer in women by more than 50 %. No Doctor tells his Patient that.The same apples to ovarian cancer particularly in relation to mumps and rubella.Childhood rubella prevents later birth deformities or stillbirths, caught from another, not that caused all too often by the vaccine..Deaths from mumps and rubella are even rarer.than from measles.

            Nor is the ongoing need for vaccination against all these diseases ever discussed.Some reckon a so called booster will be required every 5 years, proving the vaccine never “immmunised” in the first place, as they love to claim.This could be intentional design by the manufacturers who never miss a trick to enhance profits. It also means a regular loading of toxins into the organs which accumulate.
            Knowing the way Pharmas work, they will soon be persuading Governments that the booster should be given every 2 years,when money will change hands after successful implementation in Parliament,
            and we know there are another 150 new vaccines in the pipeline, all designed to put the fear of God into Parents, and enhance Pharma profits.

            There is one glaring fact to which no pro vax proponent has a valid answer. Unvaccinated children are far healthier. I should know. I was a child in the 1940s and have been illness free all my life, thanks to avoiding all the toxins they pump into children today, which ensures they will remain sick or even mentally ill for life.You think this is coincidental?
            Look up The Hopewood Children

          • I must clarify the 1 measles death pa in the UK. The quote on ChildHealth Safety states.
            “By 2007 the chance of anyone in England and Wales dying of measles if no one were vaccinated was less than 1 in 55 million.”
            This makes it clear that it is not measles reduced by vaccination but the fact that the unvaccinated have far less chance of dying from measles than being struck by lightning.Do we insure against that? Whereas there are far more cases of dearth caused by the vaccine.

            This from Whale.to
            MMR vaccine is obviously killing more kids now than measles would be doing, with or without the vaccine (see), as FOIA shows in 1990, in the UK, there were approximately 70 deaths associated with triple vaccines (DTP and MMR), the UK Gov’ has paid out for MMR deaths, and one media report mentioned 26 deaths. (see: MMR deaths)

          • Measles isn’t so good for the children who die from it, children who would likely still be alive had they or others been vaccinated.

            The only reason measles deaths are rare in the UK is because of the vaccines, when people stop using it people die.

            On the point of pharmaceutical company profits, they’d make much more profit if no one vaccinated since treatment costs a lot more than the vaccines (they really are incredibly cost effective).

            Then there’s Scopie’s law, you John Ivens have automatically discredited yourself.

          • Mr. Ivens, you did not answer my question. You did not provide reliable sources like this: The Clinical Significance of Measles: A Review. That seems to indicate measles are not “good for children.”

            Average annual measles deaths in the UK is ONE, and that is invariably not a child but an adult experiencing complications.One child dies on average every 7 years from measles.Natural wild measles caught as a child,

            Which is only during a time when there is an active measles vaccine program in the UK. Because prior to the 1980s there were dozens to well over a hundred deaths from measles in the UK, just like there were around four hundred deaths from measles in the USA per year before 1970. So you observation is less than honest.

            So, Mr. Ivens, exactly why did the level of measles incidence in the USA fall 90% between 1960 and 1970? Provide real cites in the form of title, journal and dates of the PubMed paper that supports your answer. Some examples:

            Vaccine. 2012 Jun 13;30(28):4292-8. Epub 2012 Apr 20.
            The combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines and the total number of vaccines are not associated with development of autism spectrum disorder: The first case-control study in Asia.

            Vaccine. 2012 Jan 5;30(2):247-53.
            Lack of association between childhood immunizations and encephalitis in California, 1998-2008.

            Pediatrics. 2010 Apr;125(4):747-55. Epub 2010 Mar 22.
            Measles outbreak in a highly vaccinated population, San Diego, 2008: role of the intentionally undervaccinated.

            J Infect Dis. 2005 Nov 15;192(10):1686-93. Epub 2005 Oct 12.
            Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis: more cases of this fatal disease are prevented by measles immunization than was previously recognized.

            J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189 Suppl 1:S69-77.
            Acute measles mortality in the United States, 1987-2002.

            West J Med. 1996 Jul-Aug;165(1-2):20-5.
            Pediatric hospital admissions for measles. Lessons from the 1990 epidemic.

            West J Med. 1993 Oct;159(4):455-64.
            Measles epidemic from failure to immunize.

        • By the way, I just finished reading Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle. There was a diet for children with Type 1 Diabetes that did kind of work, if they did not starve to death. It usually involved as few as 500 Calories.

          So tell us if those with diabetes are living better now than they did before 1922. Tell us how they are living longer due to “sanitation.”

    • I will bet there are plenty of studies in other areas which put placebo/control groups at high risk. Why not with vaccines?

      Part of thinking for yourself is actually learning how to do real research. But here is a hint to your question: the Belmont Report.

    • Then why is our life expectancy so much higher than it used to be?

      • Infant mortality rate decrease — doctors washing hands, basically. Even with that huge artificial boost, it still actually went DOWN the last time. Western medicine isn’t working

        • Actually much more of the reduction in infant mortality came from vaccines than cleanliness (if you think it was hygiene which eliminated all those diseases why didn’t they disappear at the same time?).

  3. They call it the vaccinated vs unvaccinated gambit. I say that there are common ingredients in vaccines: aluminum, foreign proteins, formaldehyde, et al. Not one of them is eliminated in the tests that remove one of 25-35 different vaccines. If one or more of these common ingredients were responsible for the autism epidemic then the statistical tests run by the med community would be meaningless no matter how many times they were run. What has happened is the single vaccine gambit not the vax vs unvax gambit.

    • Never mind that there is plausible mechanism by which any of those could cause a genetic difference.

    • I say that there are common ingredients in vaccines: aluminum, foreign proteins, formaldehyde, et al

      Citation needed. That involves listing the title, journal and date of the PubMed indexed paper to support your statements, because they don’t make much sense.

      I want to know how you get food that is grown in soil without aluminum, since it is in the most common mineral in dirt (feldspars), as the third most common element on this planet’s surface. And very curious on how you will endeavor to remove the formaldehyde from your body, since more than is in any vaccine is created by normal cell metabolism. And even if you are a vegetarian, you need to consume “foreign protein” to get proper nutrition (like soy, nuts, grains).

  4. [...] you want a German study that compares the health of vaccinated to unvaccinated children, you can read a summary (although I should also note that this website is pro-vaccine – they do, however, include a [...]

  5. This study is useless so far as the vaccine debate is concerned. The issue with vaccines is they are suspected of causing neurological and immune disorders such as ASD, ADD, ADHD, CFS, Fibromyalgia, MS and allergies. The survey done in California and Oregon in 2007 on the health of vaccinated children versus un-vaccinated children is a more accurate barometer of this issue.

    • They aren’t suspected of causing any of the issues you mention by those who are not quacks and the supposed debate is much the same as the debate over whether or not evolution is true (i.e. outside the scientific community).

  6. This article seems to change the facts of the German study referenced. Look up the German study on any search engine and every article you find says that they had a sample of 8,000 unvaccinated children. Why does the author of this article above think that there were only 100? I think what it really comes down to is that, yes, there probably are some people who are on the fence about the issue who can be swayed to either side, but mostly you have people who are completely convinced of one side or the other and will not change their minds no matter what argument is presented to them. I just can’t believe people get so mad at “anti-vaxers”, and the herd-immunity argument is ridiculous. If you so strongly believe that vaccines completely prevent these diseases, and your child is vaccinated, then why do you care what other people decide to do with their health and vaccination choices? If you are right then other people’s choices won’t affect you at all.

    • Look up the German study on any search engine and every article you find says that they had a sample of 8,000 unvaccinated children. Why does the author of this article above think that there were only 100?

      Could it be that those articles you find are wrong and that the study actually only had an unvaccinated sample of 94?

      I think what it really comes down to is that, yes, there probably are some people who are on the fence about the issue who can be swayed to either side, but mostly you have people who are completely convinced of one side or the other and will not change their minds no matter what argument is presented to them.

      Which is exactly why the criminal justice system needs to come into play, we may not be able to convince the idiotic minority that refuses to accept reality but we can remove the exemptions they’ve been using (religious and philosophical objections to vaccines by parents violate childrens’ rights).

      I just can’t believe people get so mad at “anti-vaxers”, and the herd-immunity argument is ridiculous.

      That’s because you can’t accept that it is the anti-vaccination quacks who are the cause of Measles making a comeback in the developed world and herd immunity very much does exist.

      If you so strongly believe that vaccines completely prevent these diseases,

      But we don’t, we only believe that they provide about 95% (give or take a bit depending on which vaccine) probability of protection.

      and your child is vaccinated, then why do you care what other people decide to do with their health and vaccination choices?

      If we happened to be the parent of one of the 5% or so of kids that the vaccine won’t protect then having excessive unvaccinated people around means that they could get the disease when otherwise there wouldn’t be enough susceptible hosts for the disease to spread.

      If you are right then other people’s choices won’t affect you at all.

      No, if we are right then other peoples’ reckless choices will affect us since we rely on herd immunity to protect a small but significant part of the population.

    • Hmmm … I think the study had 94 unvaccinated individuals because that is what the paper says. Herd immunity is not only proven, but is common sense to anyone with a brain. It is important that everyone who can gets vaccinated because there are people who cannot that need protection.

  7. Lauren: ” Look up the German study on any search engine and every article you find says that they had a sample of 8,000 unvaccinated children.”

    Why should we look it up when the link to the actual scientific German study is in the article. Are you perhaps thinking of the other German study: A survey administered by a German anti-vaccine homeopath backfires spectacularly? Here is a hint: self selected internet surveys are not real studies.

    Lauren: “If you so strongly believe that vaccines completely prevent these diseases, and your child is vaccinated, then why do you care what other people decide to do with their health and vaccination choices?”

    So what about babies? What is the best way to protect a baby from measles when the MMR vaccine is only given after their first birthday?

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