Vaccinations: The Butterfly Effect

The butterfly effect is part of chaos theory that postulates that in complex systems the smallest variation can have profound effects.  It gets its name from the philosophical example that “a butterfly flaps its wing in the Amazon and there is a tornado in Kansas.”  It is about unintended consequences.

Let’s look at an example of human intervention that had unintended consequences.  In Scotland, potatoes were genetically modified with a pesticide gene that killed the aphids that destroyed the potatoes.  Ladybugs, nature’s aphid predators, ate the aphids that didn’t die after eating the modified potaotes and themselves died.  This led to decrease potato crops due to the loss of the natural balance in the system.

This example brings up another problem with vaccines.  Unintended consequences.  For this post I’m going to use the chicken pox (varicella) vaccine as an example but there are many more unintended consequences in vaccine research. 

For me, my resistance to vaccination began with the chicken pox vaccine and not the more recent worries about autism.  I remember thinking, long before I was thinking of having kids, “why are they vaccinating against a disease with such a low mortality rate?”  And it was a good question.  According to the CDC:  among infants less than 1 year old who get the disease, about 1 in 250,000 die. For older children, about 1 in 100,000 die. It is also noted that these are mostly in immunocompromised people.  Just to do the math that means your infant has a 0.000399% chance of death from varicella and older children .001%.  Over 99.9% of children who get chicken pox recover.  

But it is worse in adults, right?  Let’s vaccinate the kids so adults don’t die.  That’s how the normal argument goes.  So, let’s see how that works out.  When I had chicken pox I was 9(ish).  It sucked, I recovered.  My mom had it when she was a kid.  She was re-exposed to it when my sister and I had it.  This provided her body with a natural “boost” to her immunity.  It is like her body got the virus from us and said “oh I remember this and can beat it.”  Chicken pox infection does not give lifetime immunity – it gets boosted by repeated exposure to the virus.  Shingles, a serious illness caused by the same virus occured (pre-vaccination) almost exclusively in people over 60 because they have passed the time in their lives of constant exposure to kids with chicken pox and often have complicating underlying conditions.  Since the varicella vaccine was introduced the rate of adult shingles has not only increased 90% but it has crept down the age ladder to effect people 40-60 years old.

  “Our immunity is stimulated by being exposed to the Chicken Pox. When that stimulation goes away, our protection is going to decrease. So we’ll see more cases of Shingles. My guess is that we’re going to be giving doses of the [varicella] vaccine to 30 and 40 year olds to prevent Shingles. The better we do, [eradicating chickenpox], the more we’re going to see Shingles.”    Dr. Cherry.

We are tipping the balance.  We are killing aphids (chicken pox) and it is killing the ladybugs (our natural acquired immunity) and resulting in decreased crop production (increased disease in society as a whole as well as a more deadly disease, shingles – 3x more death 5x more hospitalization with singles as opposed to chicken pox.).  The Butterfly Effect.

So what are we doing about it?  Rethinking the mandatory chicken pox vaccine?  Nope.  We are developing an adult shingles vaccine.  A vaccine to treat a problem primarily caused by a vaccine.  Now why would we do that?  What possible force could cause people to think that the logical plan is to keep on vaccinating?

I’ll give you a hint…

In case you are thinking that this is all worth catching that .001% of dead kids – Don’t be fooled.  The chicken pox vaccine is one of the least effective vaccines in use.  In 15-20% of cases the vaccine doesn’t even “take” and patients get chicken pox anyways.  And, since this is a live virus vaccination – getting chicken pox is one of the side effect reported in 2% of cases.  Even when it does “take” it lasts at a maximum of 8-10 years leaving people vulnerable in adulthood when chicken pox is much more dangerous.

I have to tell you, of all the vaccine’s I’ve researched – this one takes the Stupidest Idea Ever Prize.  I can find zero literature that provides a case for this vaccine that is remotely strong enough to make me consider it for myself let alone a 12 month old baby.


Body as a Whole – The most frequently ( ≥ 1%) reported adverse experiences, without regard to causality, are listed in decreasing order of frequency: upper respiratory illness, cough, irritability/nervousness, fatigue, disturbed sleep, diarrhea, loss of appetite, vomiting, otitis, diaper rash/contact rash, headache, teethingmalaise,abdominal pain, other rash, nausea, eye complaints, chills, lymphadenopathy,myalgia, lower respiratory illness, allergic reactions (including allergic rash,hives), stiff neck, heat rash/prickly heat, arthralgia, eczema/dry skin/dermatitis,constipationitching.  Pneumonitis has been reported rarely ( < 1%) in children vaccinated with VARIVAX; a causal relationship has not been established.  Febrile seizures have occurred rarely ( < 0.1%) in children vaccinated with VARIVAX; a causal relationship has not been established.  Anaphylaxis (including anaphylactic shock) and related phenomena such as angioneurotic edema, facial edema, and peripheral edema, anaphylaxis in individuals with or without an allergic history.

Hemic and Lymphatic System
Thrombocytopenia (including ITP).
Encephalitiscerebrovascular accidenttransverse myelitis; Guillain-Barre syndrome; Bell’s palsyataxia; non-febrile seizures; aseptic meningitis;dizzinessparesthesia.
Pharyngitis, Pneumonia/Pneumonitis.
Stevens-Johnson syndromeerythema multiformeHenoch-Schonlein purpura; secondary bacterial infections of skin and soft tissue, including impetigo andcellulitisherpes zoster.

Oh and 1 more thing:  

There is a chicken pox immunoglobulin treatment!

This means if you are high risk – imunosupressed for example – you can go get an injection of varicella antibodies within 96 hours of exposure.  This temporary immunity lasts up to 3 weeks.

I think a tornado just sprung up in Kansas.


7 thoughts on “Vaccinations: The Butterfly Effect

  1. Great perspective! Are you as concerned as I am about the Gardisil vaccine? If so, I look forward to your future writing about that.

    I came across this entry because of your reference to transverse myelitis, which I have been diagnosed with. Even IF it were a side effect of a vaccine (quite possibly a flu vaccine), the medical community is not likely to help identify and report those findings. Perhaps yet another topic for you?

    Thanks for your insights!


  2. Good blog! It’s about time we all pulled our heads out of our butts. You should do your next rant on the effects of anit-bacterical products on the development of algeries. Or how about blogging about how we give our kids antibiotics for every little thing and are creating virusus that are antibiotic resistant. We really need to wake up.


  3. Pingback: Vaccinations: DTaP

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