A needle next to a vial of smallpox vaccine

Vaccination: The Inception, Function, and Debate

The Inception of Vaccines

Vaccines are pretty interesting. So back in the day a couple hundred years back, there was a very bad plague going around — it was called small pox, and it is among the deadliest plagues in human history.

There was a doctor who noticed that, even though the whole of the population was being decimated, women who milked cows (milk maidens) never got sick with small pox. He decided to investigate, and found that the maidens had all come down with a disease itself called cow pox. With cow pox, you feel ill for a couple days, but rapidly regain your full strength. It’s not life threatening.

What follows next would never happen in modern science. The doctor noticed this, and purely on a hunch, found a boy volunteer and infected him with cow pox. The boy predictably got ill, stayed in bed for a few days, but then as expected recovered. Now, here is the crazy and now-unthinkable part. The doctor then purposely infected the boy with small pox (he took pus from someone suffering from it and smeared it on an open wound). But then something crazier happened; the boy didn’t get sick with small pox.

The doctor was Edward Jenner, and he had unwittingly created thfe world’s first vaccine. Cow pox was remarkably similar to small pox, and so the boy had been ‘vaccinated’ against small pox. Now that we’ve got the history out of the way, we can get a little more technical.

How do Vaccines Work?

A vaccine is a form of a virus that has in some way been weakened or incapacitated. When you get a vaccination, you are being purposely injected with this weakened virus. Your body has cells called white blood cells, and their job is to destroy anything foreign in your body (i.e. bad bacteria and viruses). These white blood cells have a unique ability, in that they once they ‘defeat’ a certain type of antigen (foreign entity), they remember the game-plan as to how they beat it. If they ever see the virus in the future, they can successfully attack it and destroy it even faster.

The white blood cells see the antigen in your blood, and attack it. Since it is a weakened and incapacitated version of the virus, it can’t really infect any other cells, and is rapidly destroyed. But, the white blood cells remember how they destroyed it. Thus, if you ever come into contact with the full-strength virus, your body already knows how to destroy the virus. That’s the beauty of vaccines.

The Vaccination Debate

Pro-Vaccine POV: Vaccines causing autism is a hoax.

Apparently the scare that vaccines cause autism is actually a lie that has been put into circulation by a British scientist Andrew Wakefield. The rumor was put into circulation through the medical journal called “The Lancet”, with the research paper showing that the injection of MMR vaccine (a vaccine that immunizes the person against measles, mumps & rubella) correlated with the incidence of autism and colitis (bowel disease). In reality, Andrew Wakefield falsified the data to show such a correlation in order to make money, specifically by “by providing unique diagnostic services to test for the presence of measles in patients with Crohn’s disease.” One way the Andrew Wakefield falsified the data is by testing children who already showed symptoms of autism before they were vaccinated. ????

Moderate POV: Vaccines does more good than harm.

There is “no debate” about the safety of vaccines. Such an absurd statement, in the face of the volume of debate currently taking place, shows the ideology of the writer. Intolerance. There was no debate about the quackery of blood letting, until blood letting was shown effective in specific circumstances. There was no debate about the superiority of radical mastectomy, until the British medical researchers validated that their no-debate policy, lumpectomy, produced equal outcomes. Leeches were quackery until their mechanism of action was elucidated. So be careful who you trust.


Any time you read that there is no danger in something, run. There is danger in everything. The real question is, how does that danger compare to some other danger that you can relate to. Is it worse than crossing the street at an intersection with a light? Without a light? Jaywalking? Jaywalking at dusk?


As somebody who has answered this question—in both mechanistic scientific detail and in lay-equivalent terminology—I suggest that you look at the other responses that are already on Quora if you want the nitty gritty details. There is no need to pour more gasoline on the raging debate. Let me sum up the “informed opinion” that I operate under:


  1. Vaccines are a good public health policy, but only on a voluntary basis. This is because the very real dangers of vaccines in a minority of the public are denied by the there-is-no-debate voters and the official governmental public-health spokespersons and governmental grant-motivated scientists.
  2. If you are objectively healthy and robust (i.e., have excellent glutathione-mediated redox capacity), you can tolerate vaccines with an extreme low risk of adverse effect. It’s like catching a cold or a flu. Your immune system will react, and you will create an immunity to the antigen in the vaccine.
  3. If you are unhealthy and feeble (i.e., your redox capability is compromised), you are at greater risk from vaccinations. Infants, pregnant women, the elderly, those with autoimmune diseases, those on dialysis, those with Down’s syndrome and those with heavy metal and toxic exposures are in this category.
  4. There is no inexpensive way to measure redox potentials to predict in advance who is in what category. Scientifically, there are plenty of ways to do this. Medically, it can easily be done with a blood draw. But if everybody were tested in advance, the cost of vaccinating the public would be 100 to 10,000 times higher. So it isn’t going to happen. The conclusion: there is no scientifically reasonable or medically ethical way to make compulsory vaccinations safe enough for my standards.
  5. For disclosure purposes, I routinely take tetanus vaccinations and do not take flu vaccinations. I can augment my immunity to flu better than a vaccine with dietary supplements. But tetanus is entirely another matter. If I step on a rusty nail or get sliced by a rusty piece of sheet metal, I’m off to get a vaccination the next available work day. (I do construction / fabrication work only rarely, so such events are not likely to occur when I have residual immunity from the previous vaccination.)
  6. The governmental study cited in answer to this question that supposedly proves that Wakefield is a fraud is, itself, fraudulent. It was a n egregiously botched study and is worthless as evidence of anything except political corruption.
  7. Vaccines could be made in multiple strengths to make public health policy conform to medical standards of ethics. But without a way to test people, the doctors, pharmacists, nurses and nurse practitioners would have to guess the redox status of each person based on their answers to a set of questions. Or the consumers would have to choose. This is not reasonable. Not only is it politically catastrophic to hint at the true dangers of vaccines, but it opens the door to bad-outcome litigation. That can of worms must stay sealed.
  8. Vaccine safety is a “big lie.” It perpetuates by being stated again and again, and again. And in survives by character assassination of anybody who makes public statements to the contrary.

Anti-Vaccine POV: Vaccines are bad because:

  • Vaccines contain Mercury

Multi-use Flu vaccines contain thimerosal, which is mercury-based. However, the concentration is very low, and does not turn into mercury when your body processes it – it breaks down into Ethylmercury, which is harmless. The mercury you want to worry about is methylmercury, which thimerosal does not break down into.

The single-use Flu vaccines have no preservatives and no mercury-based anything.

The confusion is that people read ‘mercury-based’ without realizing that there are differences in how a mercury-derived molecule can work in the human body. Thimerosal breaks down into ethylmercury which is harmless in the concentrations found in vaccines. [????]

But to totally disable the argument, as of year 2001 vaccines in the US totally removed the use of Thimersol in vaccines as a preservative. [????]

What's Your Opinion?