Monday, April 26, 2010

The vaccination debate...

PUBLIC SERVICE WARNING: If you believe in vaccinations and you'd rather not be infuriated, this is your opportunity to close the window and find something more valuable to do with your time :).

It's been a huge week in this household for the vaccination debate.

Ari is about to turn 18 months and so I had to go and get his Conscientious Objector form filled in by my Maternal and Child Health Nurse. Our MCHN is very respectful of our choices and while she had to double check that we'd done our research - because you know, only COs are required to research their decision, because it's immediately presumed wrong - she was not going to sit in judge of our choice as so many other had.

Our reasoning is a combination of factors:

  • Erik and Luey both suffered with very bad allergies, which are ongoing for them, and when we took Luey to a specialist Paediatrician at a couple of months of age, that Paed suggested we hold off on vaccination for him because it might be triggering his severe reflux (all my children have reflux, btw, even the non-vaccinated ones, but Luey had developed oesophogeal ulcers and we'd tried eliminating EVERYTHING from his diet, but to no avail.). Luey later, as with Erik developed other allergies. Erik has ongoing dermatitis and asthma and Luey has asthma. Anecdotally, neither Bryn nor Ari have allergies, and even though they are young, Erik and Luey had both developed their symptoms by this age - well before actually.
  • We still have concerns with regard to combination of the MMR. Erik is the only one of our children to have it, and he also had quite a personality change within a month of having it. Going from being a very easy going child, like Bryn (who has stayed easy going), to becoming hyperactive and throwing extended screaming-til-he-dropped, completely unreachable child. He has an anxiety disorder and sensory processing difficulties. He does not have Autism or Aspergers, but nonetheless something changed in him, and it wasn't his environment.
  • I have a theory (and no evidence, just a theory) that while children develop a resistance to the illness in the vaccine, whether it is a live illness or a dead one, that illness has been modified so that the child is not simply being infected with the illness. So, in essence the child is developing antibodies to a modified disease. I have to question is this is a wise practice. It used to be common practice to relieve children of their tonsils routinely. Decades later doctors realised that tonsils form a first barracade against other infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Dave, who had his tonsils removed, suffers from bronchitis nearly every single winter, and on occassion that has developed into pneumonia. When we teach our children's bodies to fight against modified diseases, are we setting them up to fail in the battle against far worse natural diseases that we are yet to become aware of and do not have vaccines for.
  • The recent flu vaccine debacle is yet another reason we no longer vaccinate our children. This vaccine was not tested on children before being released on the population. The claim is that all vaccines are tested, but this one wasn't and parents weren't informed of it's untested status before the vaccine was administered. This is incredibly irresponsible. A child has died. At least one other child has brain damage, and many, many others have been very sick. Even the vaccines that are tested, aren't tested against control group who don't get the vaccine, nor are they tested over a longer term (obviously I'm talking about other vaccines as well, as the flu vaccine is developed anew each year and would be ineffective if tested over many years before being used).
There are other minor reasons, but these are the big ones.

This week, I sat in class while my pro-vax teach told me that I HAD to sell vaccinating to parents and I also had to tell questioning parents NOT to share their doubts with other parents. This, to me, is not only hypocritical of me as a non-vaccinator (though I would never discourage a happy vaccinator from vaccinating, I do believe it's a difficult decision to make, there are pros and cons on both sides of the argument, and I can only make this decision for my own children, the most I would do is encourage a researched decision, because not many doctors will talk to parents about the possible issues with vaccinating), but also downright UNETHICAL. I'm working in an industry that promotes the safety and wellbeing of all children, not only children who react well to vaccines.

Then there was the Fluvax tragedy. Dozens of children adversely affected by this seasons Panvax (a combination of the flu vax and the swine flu vax). Some had febrile convulsions from fevers, some vomited, at least one ended up with brain damage, and another died. The Government suspended the free flu vax program and discouraged parents from vaccinating their children using the Panvax. They, however, did go on to encourage vaccinating against Swine flu, even though that vaccine has been rushed out and has had been equally controversial with adverse reactions suspected and many, many miscarriages linked to the swine flu vaccination in pregnant women (remember very young babies are also being given this vax).

Yeah so a big week...

On Facebook this morning I was linked to an article about the increase in COs. It was funny as it suggested there was a strong swing to non-vaccinating, but then further down the article, it revealed the on average across the country more than 83% of children are vaccinated. So, apparently the swing towards not vaccinating your child is a hefty (less than) 17%!!!

This article linked to a blog about the debate over vaccinating that called for non-vaccinators to come in and say why they choose not to vaccinate. Of course, most the comments to the blog were from parents to who choose to vaccinate slamming parents who choose not to...

The following is just one, fairly typical response:

I can understand if a parent doens’t vaccinate because of medical reasons. But for the life of me I can’t understand the selfish, irresponsible, socially up-themselves parents who think they know it all. Let me tell you because of your selfish actions you’re going to plunge childhood diseases back to the middle ages. Already diseases that were previously eradicated by vaccination are making a come back in a big way. Whooping cough is back and has mutated due to the children that haven’t been immunisd. Go to a third world country where these 19th century diseases still exist and then tell me your right. Your children can’t get autiscim from immunisation that is a myth made up by doctor discredited for conducting ONE reasearch on children at his sons birthday party!!!!!! How is it that polio is coming back???? These parents need a dose of harsh reality -but they are putting my children at risk because they think they are right!!! You’re not right but just following a trend because that’s the thing to do. Don’t immunise bring the diseases back but int he end it’s your kids that suffer first!!!!
Ok, where to start?

Mostly this commentators response is about herd immunity. This is the theory that if enough of a herd has immunity against a disease, the disease has no where to live and will then die - be eradicated. The percentage needed to make this work is believed to be in excess of 80%. Current vaccination levels are reported to be in excess of 80% and yet we do see resurgence of some illnesses. Illnesses by their very nature surge and fall away over periods of time, so it isn't proven that the resurgence, of say whooping cough, that we have seen recently are related to the rise in unvaccinated children.

The use of the word "eradicated" is thrown about willy-nilly with barely an understanding of what this actually means. Eradicated means the disease (in this case) no longer exists in the population. Not only is there no way to measure this phenomenon, but it seems very unlikely as these diseases have been around since long before man walked the earth and for us to be we can just kill off every trace of bioorganisms we can't even see without a microscope is rather preposterous.

Also erradicated doesn't mean, we don't have it in Australia or the UK or the US, but it exists in Somalia, but we don't count that because it's a third world country. Not in this global reality. If people can enter and exist an affected area then that disease can travel. So, no, no eradication has happened yet.

More evidence of this is the very resurgence of an "eradicated" disease. An eradicated disease cannot mutate and resurge because IT NOT LONGER EXISTS.

Speaking of mutating. This commentator suggested that diseases mutate because some people refuse to vaccinate their children. My question is why would the disease bother to mutate because of unvaccinated children? In an unvaccinated child the disease has NO reason to mutate. Mutate is what organisms do to adapt to NEW environs. In the case of immunable diseases its vaccinate people who are the new environ. As I have just established that it is pretty much impossible to fully eradicate a disease (they gave polio a fantastic try, and yet polio cases are on the rise again - so evidently they didn't actually eradicate that disease, though the belief of eradications was long held), there will always be enough disease to adapt and mutate - what is The Borg say, "Resistance is futile".

So, vaccinating creates the need in disease to adapt, to mutate. It is the vaccinated children who are causing the mutations. I don't hold parents who vaccinate to ransome over this simply because it's the very nature of organisms to mutate anyway. It happens ANYWAY, no matter what we choose to do, this is why there are so many strains of colds.

Even if we did manage to vaccinate every single person on the planet, the diseases would survive and mutate because not everyone developes immunity to diseases through vaccinations. I am proof of this, I've been vaccinated again rubella no less than five times and no immunity to blaggard!

Erik and Luey caught chickenpox from an immunised child (chickenpox vaccine is between 60-80% effective in the population).

So, parents who vaccinate may rail against us selfish non-vaccinators who let down the herd, but logic doesn't substantiate their argument.

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Good Job!