vaccinations - any middle ground out there?

vaccine kit

The sarcasm-impaired should note that this post is full of it.

The first thing I think of with all this social media hoopla about vaccinations on both the pro and con side are the Amish. Guess it's cause I live here in central PA. The Amish generally don't vaccinate. They also don't get on Facebook and argue with those who want to pass laws making it compulsory. I dunno, maybe we should make them drive cars instead of buggies too. And get out of those ridiculous clothes.

In short, I am surrounded by an unvaccinated community, in fact, I buy both most of my meat and dairy from them, and I have not seen any huge measles outbreaks occurring in the 13 years I've lived here. There was an outbreak in Ohio last year, which effected no one other than the Amish; they evidence I see indicates they are likely are not killing the rest of us.

You read that above and think I'm in the anti-vaccine camp. You don't know about the chiropractor who setup an anti-vaccine display in his office and immediately lost me as a client now and forever. His material included an opposition to polio vaccines. I had a science teacher in middle school who still used canes due to his childhood polio. I don't want that shit coming back. I'm not supporting a business that supports polio.

My grandmother was a public health nurse, sent by the government into small towns to give people their shots when the whole vaccine thing was brand new. She was a "single" mom, in the sense that she left her husband and took my mom with her (she never divorced though). My mom got LOTS of shots, cause my grandmother would publicly immunize her to show the locals in each town it was safe.

This is how I grew up understanding vaccines.

I am now firmly in the middle because the current CDC vaccine schedule is stupid. This means both sides think I'm on the other side.

My current doctor seems to think I'm an anti-vaxxer. He thinks this because I won't get a flu shot. People with CFS/ME do not respond to vaccines by making antibodies; research shows this - that we're broken in this particular way. Since ALL drugs have risk:benefit ratios, if there's no benefit as in my case, there's nothing but risk. Doesn't matter how small that risk is, if there's NO benefit, there's no point in taking the risk.

I take elderberry syrup through flu season, which has research behind it that shows it's better than Tamiflu at both preventing and reducing symptoms of flu. And I can find no risk to eating berries; it's food. And yes, I had a bad flu last winter; but I've no evidence that a flu shot, in my body, would've made any difference and in fact, much research said it wouldn't have.

stupidity vs. real decisions

There's a lot of people who seem to think Jenny McCarthy is the one who has inspired anti-vaxxers.

I know several people online who do not vaccinate their kids at all. One is an RN. One has a masters in biology. And one is an immunologist!

I seriously doubt these people have made the decisions they've made due to being too stupid to decide what is best for their children.

And I doubt most of their critics have the science to argue with them; just memes.

I'm NOT saying I agree. I'm just saying that in my experience, the decision to not vaccinate is not correlated with a high degree of respect for someone who can turn over a vowel.

Some people examine the evidence and come to a different conclusion than you or I did. You really want to force them to do something they believe is harmful?

my kid vs. herd immunity

Here's the thing. Parents do not care about herd immunity. Parents care about their own kids. It's how it works. See, those selfish bastards who think their kids matter more than the rest of you are the ones in evolutionary terms who pass on their genes. People who think vague public health principles matter more than their specific children do not, overall.

Most of you know my daughter died last year. Yes, I WOULD trade that for a few thousand other kids. She was MINE. I like kids. I care about kids, even ones I don't know. But MY kid is orders of magnitude more important than all the rest of them.

Unless you can come up with an argument that convinces parents it's the best thing for THEIR kids, just shut up.

Rest assured, my kid got all her shots growing up (except chicken pox, but the vaccine came out after she already had it). This had nothing to do with your herd though. It had to do with my kid not dying or being crippled. That's what's persuasive to a parent. If you can't persuade a parent it's best for their child, your argument is lame.

immunocompromised or otherwise unimmunized kids

Before I ever got near a college, when I knew nothing about biology or chemistry whatsoever, my daughter was given her first oral polio vaccine, the Sabin version. Because this is a live vaccine, it was explained to me that she could not be near anyone who was unvaccinated, not even little newborns smaller than she was because they could get polio from her.

Years later, I discovered the first polio vaccine was the Salk vaccine. Made from dead polio, it could not cause polio. I wondered why it wasn't used instead. I still wonder.

I wonder this about all the live vaccines.

Do you know why children with leukemia can't go to school? It's not cause they're likely to pick up a childhood disease from unvaccinated kids, but because they can get sick from the live vaccines in vaccinated kids. But hey, let's pass laws requiring their siblings to get vaccinated! Along with those darned Amish!

Furthermore, what they did NOT tell me before giving my daughter the Sabin vaccine was it has a known ability to revert to a form that can cause infection and paralysis, indistinguishable from that caused by wild polio viruses.

If I'd known that, she'd have never gotten it as I'd have figured herd immunity would protect her from the wild version and not taking the damned vaccine from that one - and my kid is what mattered most.

What the hell is wrong with the Salk vaccine? Why can't we immunize with dead viruses that cannot possibly make anyone sick from the disease they purport to prevent?

Measles is a live vaccine. Unvaccinated children, such as those too young to be vaccinated yet, those with diseases like leukemia with virtually no immune systems and my Amish neighbors can all get measles from your vaccinated child. Why is it like this?

And BTW, at least one of the babies who got measles at Disney got it from a live MMR vaccine. :(

There is no reason for this state of affairs when dead vaccines exist.

I don't know for sure, but expect live vaccines are cheaper to produce than dead ones.

But we can't even ask the question without being placed in the anti-vaxxer camp and labeled an unscientific weirdo.

vaccine producers are immune from lawsuits

Do you know this? I mean, COMPLETELY immune. Doesn't matter if they release a vaccine with no virus, live or dead in it, that does nothing at all. Doesn't matter if the vaccine accidentally has peanut allergens in it and kills people from anaphylactic shock. Doesn't matter if a problem is accidental or due to incompetence or actual corporate malfeasance. They can do what they want. The law says so; you can't sue a vaccine manufacturer. And that's fine cause we all know corporations only exist to serve our best interests...

I don't know of any industry with this kind of legal protection. Screw up all you want without repercussions of any sort. The tobacco industry could've saved billions by calling cigarettes a vaccine!

I know about coincidence. I also know if my daughter had received a shot and gotten very ill, to a life-threatening degree, she'd have never gotten a booster of that shot again. As a parent, n=1 is terrifically persuasive. And I'm just not going to care about statistics when looking at my own sick child.

Furthermore, it's not just parents who think their kids are injured by vaccines. While vaccine manufacturers have legal immunity, there is a vaccine court. You can basically sue the government instead of the vaccine manufacturer if your child is injured by a vaccine.

In spite of the notion that these incidents are all coincidence, the court itself has given out many awards for those suffering injury or death due to compulsory vaccines. Getting sick after a shot is not sufficient to get an award; the petitioner must prove the vaccine caused the damage. You are uninjured by vaccine until you prove otherwise.

Damages have been paid for optic neuritus caused by tetanus vaccine; fibromyalgia caused by the MMR vaccine; transverse myletis caused by the HIB vaccine; Guillain-Barré syndrome, chronic demyelinating polyneuropathy and multiple sclerosis from the hepatatis B vaccine; and yes... in 2008, the government-paid out for "autism-like symptoms" purportedly due to mitochondrial damage from a vaccine.

For these people, permanently crippled or killed by vaccines, herd immunity is kind of meaningless. Yeah, we should pass laws making sure these people are compelled to get more vaccines!

vaccine schedules

When we talk generically about vaccines, I'm not sure we all know what we're talking about. I mean, I have the scar from the smallpox vaccine on my shoulder, as I'm at that age when it was still given, before we wiped out smallpox. And growing up, we got DPT, MMR and polio vaccines.

All this stuff, by the way, are old vaccines, off-patent, not very profitable. It's like taking penicillin or an old sulfa drug for an infection; pharmaceutical reps don't want you to cause they make no money off it. Here, take this shiny new drug instead.

We have lots of new vaccines now. In fact, we have more than any other first-world country. Right now, the CDC recommends a child in the US gets 24 *injections* before the age of 2. In spite of mixed vaccines like the DPT and MMR, and oral vaccines like polio, there are times the schedule says a child should get 5 shots at once! (In Norway, a kid gets 7 shots before age 2; guess it's cause they're a third world country with no science or maybe Jenny McCarthy got to them).

As far as I know, there's been no studies about what this much stuff hitting the immune system at once does. Each vaccine is approved in it's own right, then added to the recommended schedule. Nobody seems to ask what 14 different immunizations at once do.

But hey, be sure to use lots of antibiotic soap and lotion if your kid ever accidentally touches any dirt...

There's also no real science on the mercury additive, thimerosal, used in most of them (and excluded from damages at the vaccine court since it's not the vaccine itself causing damage). That can be a pretty big dose of mercury for a small body.

Hey, don't eat too much fish when you're pregnant cause mercury can cause brain damage, but after the baby is born, we'll just shoot him up with mercury repeatedly. And when they're older, we'll stick some more in their teeth, which in most children, are located right next to their brains...

At least with the fish, you'd have gotten some healthy omega 3s in there...

we can't even talk about it

We can't talk about anything between the extreme CDC schedule and no vaccinations at all.

If I were having a baby today rather than 30+ years ago, I'd be looking at an alternative vaccination schedule, one that hit the worst stuff first, and spread the other stuff out over years or even skipped some of them. I'm just not convinced that what we do today is the best choice.

I'd think it through myself. For instance, chicken pox is not a big deal in childhood, but can be catastrophic in adulthood. If my kid hadn't caught chicken pox by age 13 or so, I'd get that shot then.

Hepatatis B does not strike me as something an infant needs to be immunized against. You basically get it either from being born to someone who has it, child-to-child transmission within a household, sexual transmission or shooting up with dirty needles. I'm pretty sure most infants don't do these things so I see no reason not to postpone this one too. Obviously, if the parent or sibling is infected, or are IV drug users, it's a different story. But I wouldn't want my baby getting this shot for no reason, CDC schedule or not.

Heck, most adults haven't had it, which I know cause the agency that covers the home health aids offers it free. None I've hired have had it and none have signed up to get it. Cause I've never had it, they can't get it doing my laundry; even if I did have it, we don't have sex and shoot up when they're working for me, just do cooking and housework and such. I'm a very boring employer! If I were a nurse in a hospital, I'd probably go get it cause of the potential for needle sticks. But I can't see why an infant born to a healthy family needs it.

And BTW, the birth dose of Hep B is linked to autism in peer-reviewed research. And another BTW, at least one hospital will call Child Protective Services on you if you refuse it. You crazed anti-vaxxer, we'll take your kid away!

If you want a BALANCED view of vaccines, in between anti-vaxxers and following the insane, unproven CDC vaccine schedule, I recommend the book to the right.

Sheila seems to think the Norwegian vaccine schedule is the most evidence-based one; not having looked into it myself, I'd consider this a starting point as she seems quite clueful as opposed to the extreme of either end.

You can also follow her on Facebook Business of Baby for regular updates not just on vaccines, but circumcision, vaginal birth after caeserean, breastfeeding, which nasty chemicals are in disposable diapers and lots of other issues corporations would prefer you not think too hard about; in short, distinguishing between real science about what is best for your baby vs. cultural choices sold to us based on profit.

But again, if I were making these decisions for a child; I'd decide myself.

Because yes I do think I know better than doctors. I read the complete pharmaceutical insert for every drug I take; doctors do not do that for everything they prescribe. For many years I argued with doctors against taking Actos or Avandia cause I didn't like the biochemistry of how they worked; the doctors didn't stop arguing until the class action lawsuits began. And then they began arguing with me about Byetta and Januvia, which I also will not take. Luckily, no one tried to pass a law to force me.

Today, I do not know more about each individual vaccine than my doctor does, but you can bet if I had a baby, I would. And I'd be looking for little offbeat manufacturers making vaccines that can't cause the disease they're supposed to immunize against, preferably with preservatives that don't cause brain damage.

summary for you social media peoples sharing anti-vaxxer memes (likely created by pharm companies in the first place...)

Think REALLY hard about who exactly should go out there and inject all those Amish kids at gunpoint before you jump on the legal compulsion bandwagon.

And think about WHY their unvaccinated kids are such a threat to your vaccinated ones; who says?

And if you want to convince an anti-vaxxer parent, stop talking herd immunity and start explaining how polio cripples children for life.

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Image credit: Adapted from Smallpox vaccine by James GathanyContent Providers(s): CDC - This media comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image Library (PHIL), with identification number #2674.