Nice inside info on peds and the current state of healthcare.
I grant you there are some parallels between queer movement and "the vaccine questioning movement". Both are minorities that are basically fighting for the right not to have to conform to some standard they don't agree with.
I also think that in some ways such a struggle is much harder when there's a multi-billion dollar industry fighting against an essentially unfunded group.
You seem to suggest twice already that there's some sort of absence of decent independent studies indicating health risks or other negatives related to vaccines. In fact, there are scores of such studies. The real questions are: why don't these studies receive much media coverage, why don't they influence public policy more, and why don't they receive follow-up funding?
You might as well ask: who pays for the TV commercials and full-page ads? Who will pull same ads if honest reporting happens? Who will fund my next research project so I can make a living? Who will pull such funding from me in the future if I don't figure out a way to jiggle the study design in a way to produce palatable results?
If making money is a "conspiracy" then I suppose the pharma industry could well be called one. There are tons of money to be made by promoting vaccines--and by maligning negative information that comes to light about them--and almost no money to be made by pursuing natural health.
So when a study calls into question some aspect of vaccines, counterstudies can easily be arranged and published. Unethical sure, but neither illegal nor a conspiracy. It's simply good business.
As you're probably aware, most research regarding pharmaceuticals is funded by the companies themselves. And you've probably read that meta-studies have confirmed notable bias in such industry funded research compared with independent research, regardless of the industry.
No surprise that it's recently come to light that some of our top public health officials and vaccine researchers are getting paid off directly by the pharma industry (and/or were quietly allowed to bilk it), see recent article on Paul Offit of the CDC et al at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/22/cdc-autism-researcher-indicted-for-fraud.aspx.
Your point about the benefits of vaccines as a form of insurance against time off from work is well taken. Certainly that's increasingly a "buy in" for modern parents in two-earner households. However, as you imply, it should be something willingly engaged in, not forced. I agree with Dahlia (above) that the risks are impossible to accurately calculate. By so doing, you could be trading a likelihood of temporary convalescence in youth for a statistically higher likelihood of later chronic conditions, complications, or hospitalizations.
Regarding measles, the reason that measles was relatively more dangerous in earlier times (and I'm assuming in places like Africa now) is the presence of secondary infections caused by lack of clean public water and lack of fresh food, two factors that were also prevalent in the US a hundred years ago. By 1960, measles, along with the other then-common childhood diseases, carried very little risk.
Also regarding measles, I made a typo in my last post: I should have stated that Harold Buttram MD in his writings cites at least a couple studies that showed a LOWER incidence of asthma in people who contracted natural measles as opposed to those who did not.
In any case, D.I., I hope at least you are interested in the topic in a way that is not dismissive of people's concerns. Some years ago, I never would have dreamed of questioning vaccines. It took years of reading both sides of the issue -- while carefully watching out for prejudices in myself and others -- to arrive to the carefully considered opinions that I have today. I very much appreciate Mothering magazine as a venue which allows such discussion, rather than censoring it outright, as is often the case.