Answer by Steven Fowkes:
The vaccination is a trade off of individual harm for public safety. It is easy to say, "not with my kids."
This is about as politically polarized an issue that you will find. There are other, related questions on Quora in which the mechanisms of the harm of vaccinations is detailed (see brief explanation below). However, the harm of the diseases for which the vaccinations are targeted are also harmful, so the risk-benefit equation is dynamic, changing with estimates of the likelihood of infection and the age at which the infection will occur, or immunity will wane–and the age of the person being vaccinated. For example, the risks of post-polio syndrome is quite different between people who contract polio and fight it off naturally (or with vitamin C) and those who are vaccinated for polio and never get infected with the non-attenuated virus.
Basically, the vaccination and the infection are oxidative/redox insults. The risks from an oxidative insult span the gamut from collapse of the redox maintenance system (which I believe is the primary mechanism of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome) and partial/metastable collapse (autism) to mere oxidative challenge and recovery (a positive vaccination response) and inadequate redox challenge (a partial vaccination response).
The successful vaccination response is not just dependent on the antigen (attenuated virus, bacterium protein, etc.) but also on the magnitude of the oxidative challenge; using too little antigen makes for a poorly retained immunity. This is why adjuvants are added to vaccines. Added mercury (thimerosal) or aluminum (aluminates) amplifies the oxidative stress and potentiates the immune response to antigen. Said oppositely, the presence of ample reducing agents (vitamin C and glutathione) decrease the oxidative stress and can attenuate (in intensity and duration) the vaccination response.
The biggest risk from vaccines is that they are currently made with a one-size-fits-all mentality. The metabolic physiology of vaccination is not part of medical training or public-health policy, and assessment systems for characterizing redox status of individuals that would predict adverse responses are not used by mainstream physicians. There are good reasons for this economically. Vaccines and vaccinations are relatively cheap, and have to be for public-health affordability in population-wide applications. But redox testing is currently expensive, and might even be ten to a hundred times more expensive, which is a non-starter for public policy applications.
You will likely see many Quora posters making absolute statements that anti-vaccination activists are idiots, anti-science religious fanatics, Luddites, and true believers. While it is true that many are, such statements ironically prove that the shoe is also on the other foot. There is, in point of fact, much evidence (and good reason) to believe that vaccinations are not a smart decision for the individual. Denial of vaccination dangers is alive and well, funded by your tax dollars and perpetuated by governmental refusals to disclose information mandated under the Freedom of Information Act.
I will predict that in ten years, this story ("scandal") will have broken and the anti-vaccine advocates will feel vindicated. Reparations will be paid to those whose autism onset followed vaccinations, regardless of any clear evidence that the vaccine was the cause. And within another ten years, a new, kinder, more informed vaccination policy will be implemented that may include redox assessments and post-vaccination monitoring, but will definitely include titrated vaccines in multiple strengths.
Vaccination is a vital and necessary medical trechnology. Just because it is now being misused by public-health policy makers is no reason to throw the baby out with the bath water.
For full disclosure purposes, I will state that I regularly get tetanus vaccinations and routinely refuse flu vaccinations. If I had children, I would not allow them to be vaccinated until two years of age, I would allow them to play in the dirt (microbially healthy soil), and I would actively encourage their playing with their friends who have measles, mumps and chicken pox. This is clearly a heretical position to US pediatrics. But I hold it because I trust scientific information over the opinions of medical doctors and bureaucrats.
Thank you for asking the question and phrasing it in a non-biased way.