Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vaccines and Precautions

If you're looking for a hot button issue to debate, bring up vaccines.

This post is not choosing a side, because I firmly believe that it comes to the convictions of each parent to decide what is best for their child.  Having said that I am not going to share my personal beliefs concerning vaccines because it does need to be an individual choice.

What makes the issue of vaccines so impossible to resolve is the fact that harm is done to children who are, and who aren't vaccinated.

Syringes And Vial
Photo by Brian Hoskins

There are children who died or are injured by vaccines.  The National Vaccine Injury fund, run by the government, has given out billions of dollars to those who have been injured by vaccines in the last 26 years.  The fund is funded by a tax imposed on every vaccine given.

"The Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund provides funding for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to compensate vaccine-related injury or death claims for covered vaccines administered on or after October 1, 1988.
Funded by a $0.75 excise tax on vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for routine administration to children. The excise tax is imposed on each dose (disease that is prevented) of a vaccine. Trivalent influenza vaccine for example, is taxed $0.75 because it prevents one disease;  measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, which prevents three diseases, is taxed $2.25." (source)

A well done documentary called The Greater Good shows cases the concerning side of vaccines.  I will put in my 2 cents on one vaccine mentioned in the movie. The HPV Gardasil vaccine, and the others that are the same but under a different name, have caused many girls severe and lasting physical damage.  In Europe there was a recent report that showed the families of many teenage girls suing an HPV vaccine company.  The teenage girls had all developed cases of narcolepsy because of the vaccine.  The trade off is that the girls might not get cancer from having sex with someone who has HPV.  Not worth it!

Then there is the other side of the story that complicates the matter further.  Children who die or suffer greatly because they didn't get a vaccine.  Recently I read an article about a parent who didn't get their child the tetanus shot.  The kid contracted tetanus and nearly died from it.  And just today a report telling about how a mom didn't vaccinate her child because her doctor advised against it, then the child got chicken pox and died.  *However that article turned out to be false.  It turns out the girl who died had a severe immune deficiency, and chicken pox wasn't even mentioned in the autopsy.

The debate wouldn't be complete if I didn't mention the children who do get vaccinated and still get the sickness they have been vaccinated against.

These very polarizing sides to the debate, where there is room for harm on either side, is what makes it all so complicated.

There seems to be no clear answer, so what can be done?  Educate yourself.

Here are some points to consider if you are looking to vaccinate your child...

What ingredients do vaccines have in them? 

According to the CDC website these are the ingredients commonly found in vaccines...

"Common substances found in vaccines include:
  • Aluminum gels or salts of aluminum which are added as adjuvants to help the vaccine stimulate a better response. Adjuvants help promote an earlier, more potent response, and more persistent immune response to the vaccine. 

  • Antibiotics which are added to some vaccines to prevent the growth of germs (bacteria) during production and storage of the vaccine. No vaccine produced in the United States contains penicillin.
  • Egg protein is found in influenza and yellow fever vaccines, which are prepared using chicken eggs. Ordinarily, persons who are able to eat eggs or egg products safely can receive these vaccines.
  • Formaldehyde is used to inactivate bacterial products for toxoid vaccines, (these are vaccines that use an inactive bacterial toxin to produce immunity.) It is also used to kill unwanted viruses and bacteria that might contaminate the vaccine during production. Most formaldehyde is removed from the vaccine before it is packaged.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) and 2-phenoxy-ethanol which are used as stabilizers in a few vaccines to help the vaccine remain unchanged when the vaccine is exposed to heat, light, acidity, or humidity.
  • Thimerosal is a mercury-containing preservative that is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose to prevent contamination and growth of potentially harmful bacteria." (source)

"To find out what chemical additives are in specific vaccines, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist for a copy of the vaccine package insert, which lists all ingredients in the vaccine and discusses any known adverse reactions."

Is this the best time to get a vaccine?

Every time a child is vaccinated the nurse asks a familiar question.  "Has your child been sick recently, or are they sick now?"  If are then now is not a good time to get a vaccine.

They ask this because shots are hard on your immune system.  The antibiotics in the shot weaken the immune system, and the virus or mock virus in it are preparing for battle with their body.

If your child has been sick and has an already weakened immune system then the vaccine may overwhelm their body and cause problems.  Make sure your child is completely healthy if you choose to vaccinate.

Also consider the age of the child.  In Japan they have moved the start date for vaccines up to 2 years old.  The theory is that it gives the child's immune system more time to develop before starting vaccines.  There are no guarantees at any age though.

Although I haven't read it yet, many people like Dr. Sears and the book he has put out concerning vaccines. The book apparently gives a schedule that limits the number of vaccines and spaces them out so that the immune system isn't so bombarded.

What is each shot for, and are they necessary?

I was surprised when I talked with my children's doctor and she agreed that she couldn't give concrete reasons as to why my child would need some of the vaccines.

Don't be afraid to talk with your doctor about your questions and concerns.  If your doctor won't listen then find one who will.  There is too much at stake to be ignored by someone you are paying to do their job.

Consider asking for Thimerosal free vaccines.  

Thimerosal is a mercury containing product.  There are many people who believe that mercury in vaccines has caused their children, who were other wise healthy, to develop autism.
"More than 500,000 kids currently suffer from autism, and pediatricians diagnose more than 40,000 new cases every year. The disease was unknown until 1943, when autism was identified and diagnosed among 11 children born in the months after thimerosal was first added to baby vaccines in 1931."  (source) 
There are versions of the vaccines available that do not contain thimerosal.  You can ask your doctor for get these versions, or if they won't help then another pediatrician likely can.

As with all things vaccine there is no guarantee one way or the other as to how a vaccine will affect a child.  some believe it has to do with genetics, but research is still out on that one.

If a reasonable precaution is available it makes sense to use that precaution.  The down side to this is it may require more shots to accomplish the vaccine goal.

It's my hope that there will come a day when vaccines are made in a safer manner, and this debate will be largely retired.  I also hope that this article helps to shed some light upon a point of view you may have previously criticized.

In the mean time we need to be aware of the pros and cons, pray and consider them each carefully before going forward with these tough choices.

I wish you all very good health!

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For more articles and information on vaccines check out my Pintrest board for Vaccines.

*Updated 4/30/14

Disclaimer:  The information listed in this article is for educational purposes only.  It is not medical advise and is not meant to diagnose or treat anyone.


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