I’m visiting my mother-in-law and so Friday night we watched Real Time with Bill Maher and I enjoyed watching satire of the news from the left side. I recently visited my Dad and endured Fox Network’s Justice w/Judge Jeanine so Maher seemed like a Rhode’s Scholar in comparison to Ms. Pirro. Much of what Mr. Maher had to say was funny and right on target. I just cannot figure how a seemingly bright and open-minded guy like him can have such uninformed and downright odd theories about our immune system. He seems to propose that immunizations against some specific infections may somehow weaken our ability to respond to other ailments. Watch his You-Tube starting at about the 6-minute marker.
Maher tries to make an analogy between the observation that there seems to be a correlation between super-clean environments and asthma and allergies with getting immunizations. As I see it he does not have a clue here. It appears to be true that children raised in very clean dust and germ redued environments do to have more allergies and asthma. The theory behind this is that lack of early childhood exposure to a wide variety of antigenic stimuli may leave us recognizing antigens later in life as foreign therefore inducing allergic reactions. Vaccinations expose our immune system to antigens that induce an immune response that makes us immune to certain illnesses. This is exposing our children to more antigenic material not less. How Maher in his mind relates these two phenomenon alludes me.
There is no evidence that having immunity to one type of organism reduces our ability to mount a strong immune response to other organisms. I know of no evidence that having immunity induced by vaccines leads to more allergies or asthma. Neither is there evidence that getting vaccinations leads to lowered immunity to other organisms. Mr. Maher seems to be drawing on his innate skepticism here with an analogy that just doesn’t hold up,
I agree with the premise that it is good to be skeptical. I just feel strongly that when the evidence shows that immunizations are safe and effective people in a position of influence like Mr. Maher need to take care not to give credibility to skeptics that rely on hunches (like his hunch that flu shots are not beneficial) rather than data.