Sana Keller, Minot
The recent editorial broadly supporting vaccinations reveals that there is much misinformation about vaccines. This letter is in response to that editorial, as well as other newspaper articles, recent client questions from my personal health consulting practice, frequent media blasts and printed comments insinuating that people are selfish and putting others at risk if they don't want to be vaccinated nor have their children vaccinated.
Yes, the subject of vaccinations is controversial. I believe that the best way to counter controversy is with credible information, instead of illogical unsubstantiated noises. The public, our clients and our patients, who depend on medical professions for their health and preventive care, deserve no less. A wealth of credible information is readily available from renowned health care professionals who have completed clinical studies and published their findings. I urge readers to become educated for themselves instead of relying on hearsay, hype, your neighbor, a family member, outdated information, or common "medical" information that may not be evidenced-based (and which is frequently pharmaceutical-based). Pharmaceutical companies are "big business" and function as such, doing what they can to increase their bottom line. Sadly, our best health interests are typically not a top priority of their stock holders.
Although most Americans generally enjoy good health, many may not realize that the major advances in fighting disease over the past 200 years have been related to clean drinking water, improved sanitation, higher quality of food, and better hygiene, but not the introduction of vaccines. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, "Deaths due to typhoid fever and, to a lesser degree, dysentery, dropped markedly during the first half of the century; by 1950, mortality from these 2 diseases was less than 1 death per 100,000 persons per year. Deaths due to diphtheria, pertussis, and measles showed similar trends: there were large decreases during the first half of the century to low levels by 1950." jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=768249#joc80862f4 86214 The measles vaccine was only introduced in 1963. According to the World Health Organization, currently more than 95 percent of measles deaths in the world occur in low-income countries. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs286/en/
Although the editorial touted the apparent historical safety of thimerosal, it correctly mentioned its forced removal from vaccines beginning in 1999. This was only after the Public Health Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that "Because any potential risk is of concern, thimerosal-containing vaccines should be removed as soon as possible." By the end of 2001, all routine pediatric vaccines contained no Thimerosal or only trace amounts (some influenza and Td vaccines)." Similar conclusions were reached in Europe at about the same time. www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4826a3.htm One example of a journal article from the American Journal of Perinatology questioning the safety of neonatal exposure to thimerosal mercury from Hepatitis B vaccines: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19283656 This does bring into question why it was removed from almost all vaccines if it was so safe.
Regarding the Varicella (chicken pox) vaccine, the medical journal Vaccine reported that in the US "rather than eliminating varicella in children as promised, routine vaccination against varicella has proven extremely costly and has created continual cycles of treatment and disease." www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0264410X12007761
NBC News reported recently, "The research suggests that while the vaccine (pertussis vaccine) may keep people from getting sick, it doesn't prevent them from spreading whooping cough - also known as pertussis - to others." From: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 11/2013. www.nbcnews.com/health/whooping-cough-vaccine-may-not-halt-spread-illness-2D11655363
In the British Medical Journal (May 16, 2013) a Johns Hopkins scientist and postdoctoral fellow in comparative effectiveness research, Dr. Peter Doshi reported on hyping exaggerated risks of the flu disease to market influenza vaccines. He charged that although the vaccines are being pushed on the public in unprecedented numbers, they are less effective with more side effects than alleged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further, says Doshi, the studies that underlie the CDC's policy of encouraging most people to get a yearly flu shot are often low quality studies that do not substantiate the official claims. Similar results came from another study by the Cochrane Library stating that a systematic review of 20 randomized trials on the effects of the influenza vaccine in healthy adults showed that while influenza vaccines were effective in reducing cases of influenza proven by blood tests, the vaccines are not as effective in reducing cases of influenza where patients actually felt sick and did not reduce the number of working days lost. They concluded that universal immunization of healthy adults is not supported by the research. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(3):CD001269.
I could go on-there are many more studies I could cite. I believe it is critical for people to understand the importance of this issue. I encourage you to take the time to become educated so you can make the best possible health-related decisions for you and your family. No one cares as much about your personal or your family's health as you do, regardless of your provider. No, it is not the height of selfishness to be concerned about vaccinations and make educated decisions for yourself and your family. On the contrary, it is your responsibility to your loved ones. Vaccines are just one of many options available (most of them much safer) to keep our immune systems strong and keep us as healthy as possible.