Sawbones: Vaccines


This week on Sawbones, Dr. Sydnee and Justin are doing the show everyone has always asked them to do, but they've been sort of afraid to until now. This week, lets talk about vaccines.

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Music: "Medicines" by The Taxpayers


whooping cough

I had whooping cough when I was a kid. My mom was going to have me vaccinated for it the next week, but then I got it so I never ended up getting the vaccine. I didn't have it so severe and was in no danger of death, but it was still terrible and I hated it. I got to the point where I would just cough until I threw up and that would happen to me almost every day. Whooping cough stays in you for a long time, it lasted for months. I know that if I was a little baby that would be really hard on me and I might die. It's sad to think of all the babies and small children who get whooping cough and are in danger of death now, all because people aren't getting their vaccines.

Andrew Wakefield

Wonderful episode! Thank you so much for this!

Funny thing is, while people who are anti-vaccination claim "Big Pharma" only cares about making money by injecting people with "dangerous" vaccines, it was actually anti-vaccination poster boy Andrew Wakefield who was setting himself up to make money with the now-discredited MMR-vaccine-causes-autism study, and who in part had already received a substantial amount of money to conduct the study...whoops.

"The engine of the international MMR scare was an English lawsuit, later acknowledged to be meritless, funded with taxpayer's money...From 1996, substantial sums were paid to Andrew Wakefield, his supporters and associates, hired by a lawyer, Richard Barr, to support the attack on the vaccine."
"...Wakefield’s mission...was to discover precisely such a disease ['autistic enterocolitis']. Two years before the paper was published he was hired by a solicitor to help launch a speculative lawsuit against drug companies that manufactured MMR vaccine. And the instrument of their attack was to find what he called at the time 'a new syndrome' of bowel and brain disease caused by vaccines."
"...even as the public alarm caused by Andrew Wakefield and the Royal Free medical school gathered pace, he had filed a patent claiming to have discovered his own, allegedly safer, measles vaccine."

The great dance

Loved the show. Keep up the good work. One of the messages I found most informative and useful was "Lots of places around the world were looking into the cow pox/small pox connection."

You did an exquisite job on the show of being supportive of immunization. The measles and pertussis outbreaks have me dancing a dance though. When they hand out Pertussis vaccinations to children, they should also be giving boosters to the parents.

I do not want to send the non vaccinated into hiding. I want to be able to identify them from afar and avoid them.

There is a dance...

2009 H1N1 vaccine and narcolepsy

I absolutely love your podcast and this episode, but failing to mention the link between the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine and narcolepsy seems to be a large oversight.

I wanted to let you know that

I wanted to let you know that I love your show and I really enjoyed this episode. When my husband and I had our first child 8 years ago we weren't going to vaccinate. It was unhealthy for the child, we were scared he would develop autism because Jenny McCarthy said so... Then I met with our pediatrician. I LOVE our pediatrician Ellen. I'm a nurse who works with our pediatrician's husband so I fully trust Ellen with my child. When I told her we've decided we weren't going to vaccinate she said, " That's fine and you're choice, I hope you've done your research. However just so you know when Cody acquires meningitis and is in the PICU on a ventilator there is going to be little we can do at that point. Also by getting him vaccinated now, we can more than likely prevent that scenario from every happening". I quickly had him vaccinated and have continued to do so with my other two children as time passed by. She also had a similar and true story to share when I himed and hawed about the flu vaccine a few years later.

I work in triage now along with 3 community health nurses and it's so scary to hear them talk about what is going on in our community and how so much of it could be prevented with the use of modern medicine.

I have shared this podcast with friends and family (because you always have that one brother or sister in law that doesn't vaccinate their kids and yet brings them to all the family functions sick as a dog) hoping they will listen and consider what you've said. Maybe encouraging them to read the other sides story not just the "crunchy moms side". Keep up all the good work, love hearing your podcasts.

Great Episode. Thank you!

Thanks so much for this (and all) your episodes. A friend and I were just discussing how to approach a mutual friend/acquaintance who refuses to take her 5 week old child to the doctor (it wasn't born in a hospital) because she wants a "crunchy" doctor who won't make her vaccinate.

Kids gloves are off now. This episode has been shared. Thanks again!

Great Podcast, Thank You!

Sydnee and Justin,

Just want to pass that both my wife and I are big fans of your podcast and especially loved this episode.
I received the Smallpox vaccine through the military some 6 or so years ago-quite an ordeal, but glad I got it once the single "pustule" healed (it was gnarly with just one, I can't imagine being covered in them). I wear my scar proudly knowing that the general public doesn't have to get it (for the foreseeable future anyways).
Thanks again for a historically educational (and of course fun) time!

P.S. Congrats on the baby!

I want to add another thank

I want to add another thank you for doing this episode. I'm starting graduate school this fall for microbiology and immunology. I took two weeks clearing up my immunization record with blood tests and shots because my records were lost and I don't regret a thing (even my 2nd Tdap vaccine in 5 yrs).

Anyway, thank you for braving the backlash to post this episode. I'm going to spread it as far as I can.

Great Episode

Loved how you tackled this topic, especially how in-depth you went on previous ways of trying to prevent smallpox. I'd studied the topic in several classes and learned even more during this episode than I did in the months of class! Vaccination is something I have always been really interested in, so this was really neat. Thanks for doing it! :)

My Uncle Harold survived Smallpox

I'm 77, so I got vaccinated for smallpox (and a number of other diseases,) as a school child. The public health service came to all school kids in Kansas in the late 1940's and 1950's. The whole class lined up, marched down the hall to the visiting nurse, and we each got our shots. You were considered a baby if you cried. Two weeks later we went back to get the next one in the series. no charge to parents, your tax money at work. (we did have a permission note that our parents had to sign, but no one ever thought of opting out)

My memory of smallpox is connected with my Uncle Harold, who had it as a teenager (he was born in 1900). His face was totally scarred, like a horror movie. When I had chickenpox and measles my mother was so afraid that my face would be scarred.

As a child in the 1940's, a good parent would want her child to get mumps, chickenpox and both the hard measles and german measles.; They had just discovered that if you had german measles during pregnancy, it would result in blindness in the baby,so it was considered important to have german measles as a girl, so you wouldn't have it when pregnant.

When I was a kid, we would have measles and chickenpox parties. If one kid had it, a group of mothers would get their kids together with the sick kid, so their kids would be exposed, so the hope was that the kid would get it while children and not adults.

Another memory, I remember being in Cuba in the early 1980's, when their public health gave every woman a german measles shot, the first year all the girls from 15-25; the next year the 25+ group. Women of childbearing age first.

I also remember polio, when you were afraid to be in crowds in the summer time, and how wonderful having polio vaccine was!

I never had whooping cough, but it was a cloud hanging over every mother's head, and like ashma, only worse. Kids would have their lungs fill up with flem and suffocate.

I have several friends who are crippled from the polio they had as a child.

Great show

I love your show.

This was a great episode. You spoke a little bit about herd immunity. I work in vaccine safety research and have learned that there are vaccine refusers who think that herd immunity is a myth. Here is a wonderful send up of vaccine refusal:

Also, concerning small pox, here is a recent press release from CDC:

Great show

I love your show.

This was a great episode. You spoke a little bit about herd immunity. I work in vaccine safety research and have learned that there are vaccine refusers who think that herd immunity is a myth. Here is a wonderful send up of vaccine refusal:

Also, concerning small pox, here is a recent press release from CDC:

Herd immunity for the win!

Thank you guys so much for doing this show and helping to debunk some of the misinformation about vaccines floating around out there. I have asthma and work with the public in an area with a ton of anti-vaxxers, two factors that put me at high risk every flu season. At least I can get the vaccine, though. There are lots of people too young or immuno-compromised to get vaccinated, and the rest of us have a responsibility to them to maintain our herd immunity.

Vaccine Show

Sydnee and Justin,
Thank you so much for doing this show! As an immunologist this topic makes me crazy! I now teach the truth about vaccines to all of my college courses and you would be surprised how many of them didn't know that so much of the information out there is wrong. Thank you again! You are awesome! I love your show!

Rachel Polando


I'm 65 so I got the smallpox shot and then the polio shot in school. Too bad there was no MMR then because I got measles, mumps and chickenpox and brought that home to my kid sister who's 5 years younger than me. To this day, my 92 year old mom will say there's nothing worse that having 2 kids sick at the same time. Dr. Sydnee and Justin are right: get the shots. My son, now 34, got the shots BUT here was no chickenpox shot then and, as you guessed, he got chickenpox in June. No beach, no swimming, nothing for 2 weeks. He was itchy and miserable.

How to convince anyone to get the shots? Talk to moms who had kids sick with these and let them tell you about putting on that pink Calamine lotion to help with the itch or trying to feed a kid with mumps.

Thanks for this podcast.

Speaking of smallpox

Ooops, some smallpox was missed.
How timely! And extra terrifying now that I know more about smallpox. o_O


Thank you so much for this episode. I've long been a passionate advocate for vaccines and I so appreciated your direct approach. This was an awesome episode. Thank you.

Another GREAT Episode!

I was really worried about your Breast feeding, c-section and vaccine episodes. But as usual you guys did a GREAT job! Thanks for the wonderful podcast :)

Awa yeeeah!!

WOO HOO!! Good job, McElroys!!!

Small pox virus not just in two labs

I googled "small pox" Thanks to your really visceral description of the disease during the podcast & the first thing to come up is that janitors at a government lab in Maryland found a cardboard box w/ some forgotten vials of small pox. Now I'm terrified that it's just out there randomly chilling In labs until you know it's time for the lab yard sale & they finally get around to tidying up that particular room - thanks for your vigilance CDC

:) Nikki

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