Back in 1998, a study conducted by a British Doctor linking vaccinations to autism caused many Americans to rethink the safety and effectiveness of vaccinating themselves and their children. Seventeen years later, that skepticism is proving hard to uproot. That study has since been thoroughly discredited—yet today, a record number of parents are refusing to vaccinate their children. A recent survey conducted by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) found 17,253 sets of parents in California and 3,097 in Colorado who refused vaccinations for their children due to “philosophic reasons.” The result is that there are now schools in the wealthiest parts of Los Angeles that have a lower vaccination rate than in South Sudan. It’s no wonder that the national discussion around disease prevention is once again heating up.
That same survey showed that the national compliance rates for the chicken pox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and DPT (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) vaccines range from about 93.3% to 95%. This may seem reassuring—but in order to attain “herd immunity,” vaccination rates need to be at least 95%. Herd immunity is the concept that, so long as enough people are vaccinated (and thus unable to transmit a disease person-to-person), the last 5% of people who cannot be vaccinated (due to age, medical conditions, etc.) are safe from disease as well. Unfortunately, there are twenty-six states plus the District of Columbia that don’t meet the Department of Health and Human Service’s guidelines of 95% coverage for the MMR vaccine; there are another thirty-seven states that don’t even gather proper data on vaccination rates in the first place.
This is cause for concern. Vaccines have wiped out many illnesses over the decades; but these illnesses still exist in the world and could very well reappear in America. Further, there are many people in this country whose health depends on other people getting vaccinated. Are the vaccine refuses, then, merely being foolish and selfish? Or are they justified in questioning the safety of vaccines? The remainder of this newsletter details some researched, proven pros and cons of getting vaccinated to help you decide for yourself.
-A couple studies done in the 90s suggested that vaccines had harmful effects:
One found that children die at a rate eight times greater than normal within three days after getting a DPT vaccination. Another found that 80% of children under five who were diagnosed with whooping cough had been vaccinated for whooping cough, suggesting that the vaccine is ineffective or even infected children with the virus. However, these are just a couple studies amongst many, and you should know that the vast majority of studies on vaccines have proven them to be safe.
-Some vaccine ingredients are controversial:
Many vaccines contain ingredients like thimerosal (mercury disinfectant/preservative), aluminum, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenol (disinfectant, dye), and other chemicals—things we typically do not want to put into our bodies. These ingredients usually only exist in minimal quantities and have been approved by several health organization as “okay” to put in our bodies for vaccination purposes.
A small population of scientists has also recently voiced concern over the animal products used in vaccine production. These include monkey kidney cells, chicken embryos, calf blood, and more. The worry is that infected animal cells may prompt the passage of certain illnesses across species lines, putting humans in danger.
The majority of the scientific community does not consider this to be an imminent threat, but you should still be informed as to how vaccines are created and produced.
-Vaccinations are largely not “proven”:
There has been no long range testing of vaccines in a controlled environment. This means that we can’t say, without a doubt, that we know vaccines are the reason we no longer see people contracting certain diseases. So while it is extremely likely that vaccines had a lot to do with eradicating Polio, this country has also seen much advancement in hygiene and health care over the years, which may well have played a role in combating disease as well.
-Some vaccines are more established than others:
Take a newer vaccine, Gardisil, for example. Gardisil is a vaccine against HPV, a virus that causes cervical cancer in women. This vaccine has generated much controversy since it was made available to the public, with several people claiming permanently damaging side effects. The vaccine also prompted twice as many reports to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System) as other new vaccines. But after conducting further studies that tracked millions of patients who had received the Gardisil shots, the CDC maintained that Gardisil was a safe vaccine. The analysis looked at side effects within forty-two days of the shot.
The Flu shot is another commonplace vaccine. It has a track record of 80% effectiveness, with occasional side effects that are extremely mild (chills, runny nose, body aches, etc.). And, contrary to popular belief, you cannot contract the flu illness from either the flu shot or the nasal spray.
I bring this up to illustrate the differences amongst vaccines. The flu vaccine is benign for the most part and combats a very common illness. Gardisil, on the other hand, hasn’t had as much time to prove itself. While it does help prevent an extremely serious disease, cervical cancer is pretty rare for the most part, and getting regular pap smears is also an effective way of preventing it.
-Vaccines prevent illness:
The chart says it all in this case. Vaccines save lives! They prevent disease epidemics and have helped transform the country’s health. While they may have some unsavory ingredients in them or occasionally produce unpleasant side effects, contracting a disease like Tetanus or Smallpox would be much worse.
-There is A LOT of evidence supporting vaccines:
Vaccines have been shown time and again to be safe and effective. Decades of research from medical professionals and both government and non-profit organizations around the world support this conclusion. Vaccine production is also highly regulated by the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and more. The process usually takes around 10-15 years of research, development, and testing before a vaccine can be approved by the FDA for public use. Those who claim that vaccines are produced with toxic ingredients or in toxic environments are certainly making an ambitious argument in the face of such stringent control by multiple respected health organizations.
-Under-vaccination can be harmful:
Without sufficient vaccination rates, we lose herd immunity and may see a resurfacing of some of the illnesses vaccines have helped wipe out. For example, in 2010 there was an outbreak of pertussis in California, which caused 9,120 illnesses and ten deaths. The outbreak was traced back to under-vaccination.
-Picture a world without vaccinations:
It looks something like West Africa today, where 1,000 people are being infected with Ebola each week. You can imagine what some of them would do for the opportunity to be vaccinated—an opportunity which, over on the other side of the globe, more and more Americans seem to be taking for granted.
The bottom line is that vaccinations have both pros and cons. The choice between getting vaccinated or not will ultimately be a subjective one, dependent upon factors like your personal health, the vaccine in question, etc.. ALL medical procedures—including life-saving ones—have a risk of side effects. Like every other procedure, some side effects may be worse or more/less likely for you than others. The key to avoiding complications in every situation is to be INFORMED and not make your choice based on fear, or because of one thing you read on the Internet somewhere. With this information about vaccines, you are that much closer to being an informed patient and making the choice that is right for you when it comes time for your next scheduled vaccination.
Please call 734-726-0153 to schedule a free consultation and evaluation. At Digestive Health Ann Arbor we are known for providing professional and compassionate care. We strive to guide people towards a comprehensive and holistic healing strategy. Restoring your body to health will restore the quality of your life.