I’m sure you have heard by now but California has now lost vaccine exemption laws.  In other words, if you don’t get your child vaccinated, you can’t bring them to day care or any public or private schooling.  You are vanished into the realms of home schooling and online charter schools.

Much of this policy was spear headed by the hysteria over the measles cases in Disney Land last year.  By hysteria, I mean fear and worry that much of our childhood diseases will be back to plague our kids and take their lives away.  But is that really the case?  Is it possible to take the fear and worry out of emotional decisions?

So far, the answer is no.  Each side just tends to shout louder.  If we could take the shouting away and focus on why we are afraid and worried, then I think we would have better communication from both sides of the vaccine fence, or should I say wall.  Both sides actually want the same thing.

Both sides want our kids to be as healthy as humanly possible.  The disagreement comes in how we achieve those results.  The pro-vaccine choice crowd has to shout louder since they don’t have the budget of all the organizations that want anti-choice vaccine.

As soon as you induce fear or worry, the logical, communication parts of your brain get bypassed in favor for the emotional limbic system.  It’s a fight or flight reaction.  You’re never going to look into the mouth of a Black bear and analyze his teeth.  “Maybe it’s an old bear and the teeth have all fallen out”….said no one ever that has survived a bear attack.   

Hysteria is easy when talking about health outcomes because there is that fear of the unknown.  

How do you take the fear out of a situation?  You have to take the emotion out of it.  This is easier said than done but very doable and possible.  Why fear is at an all time high is because our society has shifted towards a post-modern type population.  There are just as many millennials as there are Baby Boomers.  

A modern population is where information is valued over experience.  If I tell you not to touch the stove becasue you will burn your hand, you will most likely listen and obey. 

A post-modern population is when experience is valued over information.  In this case, I can tell you not to touch the stove but you are either going to find out for yourself or you will play on the experience of someone close to you before you believe me.  Either you have already burned your hand or you know someone that has already burned their hand and can tell you from experience not to touch the hot stove. 

I’m an analytical guy and I don’t like either scenario.  I get asked all the time how I am so confident in major decisions in my life?  It’s because I crunch numbers.  I mix the information to create my own first hand experience.  

Fear and uncertainty are relieved by authority.  Authority is training. -Ryan Holiday

If I am getting anxious about a decision or circumstance, I’ll start with worse case scenario and look at the actual odds of that happening.  In other words, I train.  

[bctt tweet=”Fear and uncertainty are relieved by authority. Authority is training. -Ryan Holiday”]

For example:  Many people make a decision to drive a motorized vehicle on a daily basis.  There is a risk to this.  The worse case scenario is death by accident.  You would think this would deter people from driving so much but it doesn’t?  Why?  Because the actual probability of death from a car accident is very minute.  Even the probability of death from drunk driving is lower than your probability of death from drunk walking.  

It’s estimated that there is 42,000 deaths each year from car accidents.  If our population is 315 million, that leaves you with a 0.013% chance of dying by car accident.  In other words, you have a 99.987% chance of living through your car ride.  I’ll take those odds in Vegas any day.  You take those odds every time you buckle your toddler into your back seat. 

Another scenario happened with my first child.  My wife had tested positive for Group B strep and they wanted to do prophylactic antibiotics during pregnancy and hold our baby for 2 days in the hospital for observation while dosing antibiotics, ‘just in case.’  Our provider kept saying that if we don’t do the antibiotics, there would be a 1 in 200 chance of death of our baby.  From an emotional standpoint, that sounds serious.

To my favor, my emotionless persona comes in handy.   

I bet we all know 200 people and to have 1 person die in that circle would hit close to home.  But when you look at the odds of it, it seems laughable.  They make a big stink at a chance of occurrence equal to 0.5%.  In other words, my child has a 99.5% chance of being perfectly fine.  Again, I’ll take those odds any day in any market. 

One of the most emotional issues that creates fear is infectious disease.  My generation (Gen X) is told we are ignorant because we didn’t see the devastation of polio and that by not vaccinating, we’re putting our kids in amazing danger of death and paralysis.  Worse yet, if we don’t vaccinate our kids, we are putting other kids at risk, even the vaccinated ones.  

Below is a screenshot from the CDC describing polio. Let’s analyze the numbers to dissipate fear. 

It says in the late 1940’s to early 1950’s, there was an average of 35,000 cases of polio.  I will assume this means 35,000 cases per year.  The population in 1950 was 150,000,000.  Therefore the chance of getting polio is 35,000/150,000,000 x 100 = 0.023%.  This is for the entire population, not just kids.   These numbers are also PRIOR to vaccine administration.   

In the first paragraph it states that 72% have no symptoms what-so-ever.  My questions is, how do you know these people had polio?  If you had no symptoms what-so-ever, what is the likelihood of you going to the doctor and getting tested for polio? 

Then it states that 24% have minor symptoms that look like the flu.  If you have a fever, sore throat, upset stomach and NO paralysis, do you automatically think you have polio?  Not a chance. Again, what are the chances of your doctor testing you for polio with that list of symptoms?

96% of the people that supposedly have polio have symptoms (or don’t have symptoms) that look nothing like scary polio.  Could the 35,000 number be inflated?  Could 33,600 of those 35,000 cases be something other than polio?  I won’t speculate, I’ll keep using the published numbers. 

1-5% develop aseptic meningitis.  Meningitis sucks.  It’s painful and you feel like you wish you were dead.  But it also states these people’s symptoms resolve

The scary thing is the ‘Less Than 1%.‘  These are the cases that experience paralysis.  They live but their lives are greatly affected physically and emotionally.  Of the 1% of the 35,000 cases, 5-10% OF the 1%, will die. These look like scary numbers because people just read 5-10% of people will die.  You have to read carefully. 

Let’s break the numbers down a bit and use all these numbers that are PRE-VACCINE to look at actual risk of getting polio and risk of choosing to not vaccinate. 

We have already established that your chance of getting polio prior to the vaccine was 0.023%.  In other words, in 1950,  you have a 99.977% chance of NOT getting polio at all and a zero chance of getting a vaccine to ‘prevent’ it.   

1% of polio cases (35,000 total) will be paralyzed.  1% of 35,000 is 350 people.  5-10% OF the 1%, will die.  5% of 350 is 17.5 people. 10% of 350 is 35 people.  In other words 17-35 people died each year of polio.  

Therefore your chance of paralysis from polio PRIOR to the vaccine is 0.00023% (350/150,000,000 x 100).  Your chance of DEATH from polio PRIOR to the vaccine is 0.000016% to 0.000023% (17.5 – 35/150,000,000 x 100). This goes for child or adult, they don’t specify.  

As the CDC says, your chance of paralysis increases with age, so it may be safe to say your chance of death increases with age since it’s the 5-10% of the 1% paralyzed. Maybe as adults, we should be more worried about getting the polio vaccine than giving it to our kids.  

Let’s compare that to your 0.013% chance of dying in a car accident in 2015 (when we have the strictest and strongest car safety regulations of all time).  You have a 565x to 812x higher chance of death from getting in the car to drive to the doctor to get the polio shot than you do by taking your chances of staying home and NOT getting the polio shot at all.  0.013/0.000016 or 0.000023%.  

I don’t disregard the pain and suffering of those individuals or families that experienced paralysis or death from polio.  I wish I could give them back their lives.  What kills me just as much is that a marketing campaign and governmental policy was created around the fear and worry of those individual’s experiences.  

I’m thankful for medicine in emergency situations.  Vaccines are not an emergency situation.  It’s not like they work immediately, hence the need for booster shots.  As a parent, you can take time to analyze the risks vs. benefits of the intervention and it probably won’t cost you anything.

I’ve never made a decision that I was proud of when fear or worry was involved.  Take time, analyze, and be comfortable with your decision.  The outcomes has to be ‘health.’  When we turn that into ‘most vaccinated,’ we get different results.

West Virginia and Mississippi have the strictest vaccine laws.  Mississippi has the highest vaccine rate in the US.  They also have the highest infant mortality rate, almost 100% higher than California.  West Virginia’s infant mortality rate is 52% higher than California’s.  Do we have to wait for California’s rates to match those other states with the strictest vaccine laws to change our health outcomes?  I hope not. 

I’m not saying the vaccines killed all the babies.  What I’m saying is that we’re making policy changes based on other states that have the poorest health outcomes.  Despite California’s high vaccine exemption rate, they have one of the best infant mortality rates.  It shouldn’t matter the vaccine rate if you can boast a low infant mortality rate or boast high health outcomes.  The problem is that policy makers put vaccine rate and health outcomes in the same sentence and it’s just not true.


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  1. Also, don’t forget polio paralysis is treatable and rarely becomes permanent. During the polio epidemics they treated paralyzed limbs with long periods of immobilization instead of with physical therapy, which hindered improvement. The few who got physical therapy often fully recovered.
    We could probably develop immune boosting therapies for polio with a little research and virtually eliminate death as well, just as Vitamin A supplementation cuts the measles death rate in third world countries.

  2. I don’t mind that non-vaccinated kids are not allowed in public schools. I just wish no kids were allowed there.

    Thanks for sharing this information. It’s important to note that these kinds of policies are increasing in an effort to pigeonhole and highlight homeschoolers and Christians. But who cares…right?