Thank you, Dr. Michel Accad, for tweeting the article about the problems with the polio vaccine in Africa. My concern over the positioning of Vaxxers vs. Antivaxxers is that there are anomalies with vaccines, some serious. The discussion is almost always centered around autism. Can we put aside the shaming and simply look at some of the questions about immunizations of all kinds which deserve answers. There is a difference in how a body reacts to a “wild” disease and the same disease which can surface after vaccination. This is an important distinction which I don’t see addressed in the vaccine discussions.
Because of the verbal storms between vaxxers and anti-vaxxers, I have gone to the trouble to justify my two cents on the vax-antivax war with a separate, preferatory blog post about what constitutes persuasion, “Reasonableness, Aristotle Style.” If you find your hackles rising up over the mere mention of vaxers and anti-vaxers, please take the time to read that post. This current post on vaccination isn’t hateful namecalling. Rather, as I read about both sides of the issue, I keep stumbling across a number of unanswered questions. So please, if this issue is one you feel strongly enough about to get into namecalling rages, read no further. I believe there are legitimate questions being raised about immunizations, but they are neither the ones the media popularizes nor the ones at the center of the storm.
When I Was Growing Up
I am old enough that I never had (to my knowledge) a DPT shot and most definitely did not have an MMR shot. I did get a smallpox vaccination. I remember the annoying scabby blister on my upper left arm. And as a college student, I got polio vaccine on a sugar cube when they were handing it out for free in the college gym. So much for my vaccination history.
Yes, I got mumps. Yes, I got scarlet fever. If I got measles, I don’t remember it. I remember the mumps primarily because I wanted a chocolate creamsicle, was provided one, and promptly threw it up. I haven’t thrown up since, so perhaps there’s some indication here that I was indeed sick. No one panicked. I wasn’t taken to a doctor.
I do remember that when I was about 10 years old I was not allowed to go to a neighborhood carnival because my father had heard there was polio going around. If I got chicken pox, I don’t remember it, although I do remember the effort to be sure children were exposed to it before they were adults. When my own children got chicken pox, I didn’t get it, so must have had some immunity to it.
When My Own Children Were Growing Up
When it came time to vaccinate my own children, I didn’t worry much about it because there simply were not that many vaccinations being given at that time. They got their DPT shots. My oldest son developed a high enough fever from the DPT shot my pediatrician was concerned he would seize. My younger son had no obvious reaction.
They both got their mumps shot when they were about a year old. In fact my youngest son got two mumps shots because he had been given the first one a couple of weeks before his first birthday and the pediatrician insisted upon a second shot because it had been given too early.
Polio was no doubt in there somewhere. But my children were never given multiple actual shots in the arm on the same day when they were infants. Yes, I question giving so many shots at one time to three and five month old babies. But more about that later, especially when sudden infant deaths appear to peak at three and six months.
Actually, my elder son got a smallpox vaccination. My younger one did not. It had been decided that smallpox had been nearly eradicated and the reactions to the shot were of more concern to physicians at that time than giving children vaccinations they did not need. Note that when there were negative reactions to the immunization, the medical establishment was not trying to pretend there were no bad reactions.
I remember really worrying about my younger son’s lack of a smallpox vaccination because his father traveled in countries where smallpox still existed. I discussed this with my pediatrician and he still would not give my younger son a smallpox vaccination. He told me there were reactions to the shot and he would not subject children to that possibility when the disease was almost wiped out world wide.
Too Many Shots at One Time
The CDC has it’s own take on the “safe and effective” MMR vaccine and the urgency of the need for timely vaccinations. I have watched the arguments between vaxxers and anti-vaxxers grow more and more heated over time, and in truth, I find myself wondering how I would deal with all the many vaccinations forced upon children today. I have no problem with the need for a DPT or even the MMR shot if given singly over time, although there is research that shows how even these shots can be problematical in that the immunity the shots develop is not the same immunity from the wild version of the disease. Are there some bad outcomes from these shots for some children? I suspect there are, but doubt we’d hear much about them. These shots have been around for ages. In fact, to my mind, it’s unfortunate the MMV shot has become the center of attention. It’s all the other shots given four and five at a time to three and five month old infants I find cause for concern. Too many are given and too many are given at one time. A few of them have stood the test of time (with some reactions to them), but most have not. I’m not talking five or ten years here, but 40 or 50.
The basic problem with the debate, especially as it grows more and more belligerent, is that the public does not trust the medical establishment (not necessarily physicians per se, but the CDC-type declarations) to believe that there really aren’t any poor outcomes. Forget autism. I’m talking about many kinds of poor outcomes. My own childrens’ pediatrician knew there were poor outcomes to smallpox vaccinations. He didn’t pretend otherwise. Let’s be reasonable, admit there are poor outcomes, provide a protocol for really handling them, and demonstrate how poor outcomes will be effectively admitted and handled by the medical profession.
Sure, the risks of vaccination were low and the benefits to society were high. But if your kid is the rare person who experiences a severe side effect, the greater good no longer matters.
“Values and Vaccines”
Aeon, 16 February 2016
Strange Contrast Between Timing of Vaccinations and Screening Tests
In contrast to the herd mentality in vaccinations, more and more preventive screening tests are being given wider timeframes. When the early recommendations came out to reduce the frequency of PAP smears in women, the argument was that prolonging the time between PAP smears in women would save lots of money and “only a few additional deaths would occur.” Note it was considered O.K. if there were “a few” deaths. This is health care?
Then there’s the PSA recommendations of watching and waiting. Some will die from prostate cancer because of this protocol. But no one tells patients that. Couching everything in terms of “risk” prevents your doctor from saying “X number of people will die if you watch and wait.” Or they make some inane comment that the patient will die from something else before they will die from prostate cancer. Well, in truth, that is not always the case. The elderly are always treated as throw-aways. We once had an 81-year old woman in our clinic who had kidney cancer. Someone seeing her at Mayo declined to provide treatment and told her she would die of something else before dying from kidney cancer. Listen up, Mayo. She DID live long enough to die from untreated kidney cancer.
Many Unanswered Questions About Vaccinations
Yes, I’ve seen the so-called exceptions explained away as something else. I’ve even observed people who get the flu shot get the flu, but they insist they don’t have it because they’ve been told they can’t get flu from the flu shot. Then there’s the notion that the flu symptoms are simply your body’s way of mounting a defense against the vaccination. What difference does it make? It’s still the flu.
Indeed, in a nearby nursing home, all but five patients got flu shots. Every patient in that nursing home got the flu that year—except the five who did not get the shot. I’m sure it could be argued that all those cases of “flu” were really just “reactions to the flu virus” but in elderly patients, the difference is no less dangerous. With an outcome like this in a nursing home, there may well have been some reason for it, but the public relations vaxxers are too busy denying bad outcomes to take the opportunity to check known anomalies and see if something might be learned from the situation. We need to spend time studying why vaccines sometime don’t work and why some children have reactions, but also we need to develop a protocol for dealing with the risks children are subjected to when outcomes are poor. No one is asking the right questions. Evidence-based research is worthless when the underlying issues are excluded from the studies.
No parent should be asked to take responsibility for poor outcomes to forced vaccinations for the sake of the herd. If someone has a compromised immune system, it is that person’s responsibility to be careful. It is not the responsibility of every parent to subject their children to vaccines which may be harmful in many ways so the immune-compromised individuals can wonder around safely in the shopping malls. They should stay home, just as I did as a child when polio was in my neighborhood.
Then there’s the news stories of children dying from measles. However, many of these stories indicate the children had been sick, taken to clinics and ERs several times, and turned away without antibiotics (it’s a virus, you see, even though they are notorious for setting off secondary bacterial infections). The bottom line is the physicians consulted numerous times couldn’t recognize the measles in its early stages. Young physicians haven’t ever seen measles before. If recognized in it’s early stages, would the death rate be so high? Show me some numbers.
And then there’s the question of whether these children die from the measles, per se, or from some virus-induced secondary bacterial infection. Or the sepsis from lack of treatment. Show me some numbers.
What about the high correlation between sudden infant death syndrome in months 3 and 5, when infants are given multiple shots on well-baby visits? The CDC looked at the results and even though 40 percent of the deaths were SIDS, with another 30 percent “unknown causes,” the CDC declared this insignificant. Is anyone looking at this? Insignificant when half the deaths are possibly related to SIDS?
And then there’s the research done by the Italian firm Corvelva which has found many foreign substances in the MMR vaccine. Only recently, Corvelva published an article indicating Glaxo-Kline’s MMR vaccine contains aborted male DNA. Is anyone in this country looking into these findings? Why should the medical community be surprised, much less belligerent, when parents ask questions about these kinds of reports?
I am relieved to see that there are increasingly more moderate voices joining the discussion. Samuel Freeman, a pediatrician, suggests understanding parental hesitancy to vaccinate varies from parent to parent.
…efforts will not amount to much unless they go the way of true engagement, on a human scale. I’m talking about asking simple questions nonjudgmentally, opening spaces for conversation, moving out of our defensive crouches and relinquishing some of our received ideas.
“I’m a Pediatrician. Here’s What I’ve Learned
About Why People Don’t Trust Vaccines.”
We are finding more and more the human body is an amazing, extremely complex chemistry. With complexity, any small change brings about surprises no one anticipates. Some parents may refuse to vaccinate their children for reasons physicians believe are wrong, or misunderstood, or because parents are just plain mistrusting of the CDC. In truth, I don’t blame parents for their hesitation. I see chaos in the flu arena every year. But no one, the CDC included, can declare that there are no bad outcomes from these vaccinations they approve. The CDC has examined the many correspondences between vaccinations and numerous bad outcomes of all kinds in children and simply declared there is no relationship even when half the SIDS deaths occurred after third and fifth month vaccinations. Even though studies have shown that the fewer the vaccinations, the lower the SIDS rate. Those loudly bad-mouthing anti-vaxxers aren’t admitting, much less solving, the problems that have clearly been associated with vaccines. I listed a few issues here, but there are many.
Drop the autism mantra, stop ignoring the real questions, and avoid treating people like cattle. Quit trying to bully parents into vaccinating their children. Instead, address the problems with vaccinations that are abundantly covered in the literature instead of shooting the messenger.