Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Measles Vaccine: I Am Told It Is A Terrible Thing

Scrolling down my facebook feed this morning I found this image and a link to an article on vaccination deaths.
On the face of it that's a terrible pair of statistics.  On the face of it, with just those numbers, anyone would be up in arms and call for the banning of measles vaccines.  With just those numbers, nobody would call for a return to the almost universal measles vaccination program in the USA in the 1990s.  Everyone would applaud those who stand against the pressure to vaccinate their children.

of course the site on which the image is found must be a trustworthy medical site - after all the writer of the article and editor of the site has a BA in Bible and Greek so you know he knows a great deal about medicine!  As he writes in his testimonial, "Any health product, medicine, or natural cures are worthless if you don't know God and His incredible love for you, and understand His will for your life." With words like that you know you're utterly safe listening to whatever he says about medicine.  Perhaps that's enough sarcasm for today.

But of course there is another face.  Another side to those frightening statistics.  Those numbers do not tell the whole story.  As it turns out they don't tell the story at all.
Yes, I believe measles vaccinations work.  I believe they are a very good thing indeed. If you look at the number of deaths and hospitalizations due to measles before the introduction of the vaccines it becomes bloody obvious.  Excuse my language!
In the period before vaccinations were introduced there were 3 to 4 million cases of measles in the US every year resulting in 48,000 hospital stays, 400-500 deaths and 4000 cases of encephalitis.  This was a drop from 5,300 deaths a year a few decades earlier, simply because there was far, far better medical care in hospitals in the 1950s than in the 1910s.

So without vaccines and with medical care there would have been probably nearly half a million people in hospital for measles in the past ten years and probably 4,500 deaths and 40,000 cases of encephalitis. Taking the "facts" I was given this morning at face value, measles vaccination has cut the death rate massively.  And it is alleviated a stupendous amount of suffering.

But let's check the quoted "facts" from the above graphic.

"Fact" One - The "Zero". By 2000, measles had been pretty much eliminated in the US due to vaccinations. The CDC website states, "In 2000, the United States declared that measles was eliminated from this country. The United States was able to eliminate measles because it has a highly effective measles vaccine, a strong vaccination program that achieves high vaccine coverage in children and a strong public health system for detecting and responding to measles cases and outbreaks."  That CDC page is worth a quick read if you have any interest at all in vaccinations or measles - even if, like me, you are not from the USA.

With the lessening use of vaccinations it has returned and is slowly increasing. "Slowly" is what would be expected. You wouldn't expect many deaths from a disease that had almost been wiped out in the nation. Nevertheless, there have been deaths in the US. The above statistic of zero claims to be sourced from the CDC but I could give you direct links to the CDC site that prove the claim to be false. There haven't been many deaths, and that's to be expected, but those deaths exclude other side effects that measles has produced - brain damage, deafness, pneumonia and so on.

"Fact" Two - the 108. This claims to be drawn from VAERS. But VAERS cannot tell you anything about whether a vaccine caused a reaction. It does not track specific adverse reactions to vaccines. Hence such a statistic cannot possibly be drawn from VAERS in any sensible manner. Yes, at some point after being vaccinated against measles 108 people died. But to state categorically that this is because the vaccines caused the deaths is to completely reinterpret the data.

For more information on the problems associated with applying definite causation to the VAERS cases, I'd recommend this rather sensible blog page written be people who devote much time to applying science and sense to the claims of the anti-vaccination campaigners.  Lots of people with far more knowledge than me have written sensible pages online about vaccinations.  Why are you reading me instead of reading those pages?!  Trust those people, not me.  Because just like the author of the article that got me writing, I don't have a medical degree - just two theology degrees.

To conclude, as Newsweek states in this article,  "Those promoting this 108 number appear to be uninterested in widely accepted facts, and most don’t seem to understand the difference between correlation and causation. Or they just don’t care. Their primary interest, it seems, is in waging a PR war against the likes of the CDC. And if they win that battle, it could be a public health disaster for all of us."

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Simple Words of Spirit - Received in a time of Complicated Doubt

January 2015. Written in darkness, in temptation to deeper depression – I realise that January is often like that for me, in a week of major doubt. Written in deep wondering whether God is real, whether Spirit is real, or whether I was just fooling myself with an idea, or a collection of ideas.

Like before I was told to pick up a pen and listen and write down what was heard. This time the words were simple. Simple concepts. Because when it comes down to it there isn't anything complicated about a call to return to what's already in the heart. Everything here is easy to understand – and actually easy to do if I let go of all the self-created obstacles. In truth there is nothing in the way of the spiritual walk or the path of learning to serve (are they the same thing?) unless we put it there ourselves.

Parts of the writing that came in the months before that night are more complicated – or at least less simple! Some of it I don't understand with much clarity at all. But this is obvious. A reminder of what is pretty much in lesson one for many of us. The previous writing won't get shared. And any further writing – once I'm quiet enough to hear again – probably won't be shared either. This only gets shared because of its simplicity and its broad applicability to the life of pretty much anyone at some time or other.

One thing – the phrase “the Christ” is a wide one. It doesn't have to imply being a church-going Christian, although I am one and am most definitely called to be an active part of the particular church of which I am a part. The phrase doesn't necessarily have to imply believing Jesus is alive or even that he ever was alive.  Take the phrase for whatever you want to take it.

Fooling myself? Perhaps. Are these words coming from beyond? Are they from somewhere closer to the essence and truth of the Self? Or are they just what my conscious mind says once all the analysis and over-thinking gets turned off? Or all three working together? Simple answer, I cannot say with anything approaching certainty.

Perhaps you have lost the way. But what is the way? And if you have lost it, can you not find it again and walk once more in the path awaiting you? You have allowed yourself to stray, to wander. You have allowed other concerns to impede the one concern. You already know how to return – to read, to pray, to meditate, to serve, to seek that purity.

And though you may at this time feel alone, you are not alone. Deep inside, at your core, you know that you are never alone. And you know that you were placed where you are for reasons beyond your imagination. You are not alone. I am with you. We are with you. Always.

All that remains is that you walk again, cry out again, seek again the within and the without. You can do it because you have strength and will be given strength.

You are tempted to give up. You are tempted to fall away. You ask if there is any point and you ask again whether that which is real is Real.

Do not give in. Focus on the safety. Focus on the revelations of the past until you reach again the revelations of the present – or at least the realisation that you are always in that place.

Again, you are not alone. Your essence is safe. I will be with you, for you, beside you, within you, embraced firmly in passionate love. I will never let you go and will continue to draw you, prod you, lead you and show you the ways into the Way, your Way, your Centre.

Remember the words – the Christ IS your path, the Christ IS at the centre of your being. Look to the Christ. Always. Unfailing. Unceasing. To the Christ. To the Victor. Return.

Return. Listen to the call and return into hope, into fire, into that growth into Being. Pray again. Sit again, alone with me. There is nothing to fear in Way, Being, Life. Come to me again and rejoice. This cannot be said enough. Rejoice. Rejoice.

That's all. You know what needs to be done. Look inside, find the answer. Rejoice. In love, rejoice. Return. In Christ, return. Recommit. To the path, recommit. You know it. Only you can do it. Only you. But never only you – never alone.

Yes, that which is real IS Real. Believe again. Know again. And again, run into reality.