By Cathy Jameson
Fox News online posted a lengthy article on October 9th called 15 things you need to know about vaccines. While the article could have been very informative, it had several flaws. As the parent of a vaccine injured child, I not only have additional information, but also a different perspective on the subject and thoughts about who Fox News chose to answer their questions.
Here are 15 more things I think you need to know about vaccines.
Fox News’ Question: How Do Vaccines Work?
My Question: Where Would One Find Empirical and Unbiased Information About Vaccines?
From the Fox News article:
“Vaccines (create special proteins) without making you ill. Vaccines induce the protective immunity that is a consequence of natural infection, without having to pay the price of [becoming sick with] a natural infection," said Paul Offit, chief of the division of infectious diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Getting a vaccine is "like having a protective bubble that keeps viruses and bacteria from attacking your body," Offit said.
I have parents asking me questions about vaccines, vaccine safety, vaccine efficacy and the vaccine-autism link all the time. Parents want to more information. Parents of vaccine injured kids know many of the answers. We want other parents to be as educated about vaccines and their child’s health so they can avoid an unnecessary vaccine injury.
People usually come to me after they’ve sought advice from their medical provider. While it’s a good start to ask their doctor for input, I let people know that they can continue to research on their own. I like to get my vaccine information from journals and articles and from several sources. I’ve learned a great deal from the National Vaccine Information Center and from the SafeMinds Coalition among other groups dedicated to educating people on vaccines and vaccine safety.
When I read and research vaccinations, I always look at both sides of the issue. I like to know who is telling me their information and if their view could be slanted in any way. That’s why I prefer to get my vaccine information from sources who do not receive benefits from vaccines or from the industries that created, marketed or sold (and later recalled http://voices.yahoo.com/the-fdas-warning-rotavirus-vaccine-rotateq-381981.html) them. So, I was a bit surprised that Fox News did not state in their article that Dr. Paul Offit is a vaccine patent holder and whose research has been funded by Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical company that also manufactures vaccines.
To be truly fair and balanced, Fox News should have included his conflict of interest in Offit’s CV. Then, people reading the article, especially those not yet well versed on vaccines, would know that Offit’s answers are likely fueled by the vaccine industry itself.
Fox News’ Question: Have Vaccines Eradicated Common Diseases?
My Question: When Vaccines Fail, What Else Can Help Reduce Catching Common Diseases?
"Vaccines are one of the 10 greatest public health achievements of all time, but not all diseases are completely gone, and that's why it remains critical for parents to vaccinate their children and themselves," said Melissa Stockwell, assistant professor of pediatrics and population and family health at Columbia University in Manhattan.
I’d like to know what the other 9 greatest public health achievements are. My guess is that clean water, better sanitation practices, improved hygiene, proper nutrition, frequent hand washing, common sense and a some other interventions have greatly contributed to eradicating the chance of coming down with common diseases.
But vaccines have "dramatically reduced the amount of suffering and hospitalization or death caused by disease," Offit said. "For diseases like rotaviruses, influenza, chicken pox, and whooping cough, vaccines have turned them into diseases that are mild or without symptoms."
Except when vaccines actually cause the disease it’s meant to prevent, and also introduce a host of other issues, including autism, which I will share in other questions below.
Fox News: How Long Do Vaccines Last?
Mine: Why Don’t Vaccines Last?
“Some vaccines, such as the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and poliovirus vaccines, offer lifelong protection. Others, including influenza and meningococcal vaccines, as well as vaccines containing pertussis, diphtheria, and tetanus, require boosters in the teen and adult years.”
Lifelong protection? They still say that?
Sadly, that’s not true for everyone. Despite receiving the four recommended doses for the DTaP, my son’s body did not do acquire what those vaccines were designed to provide: immunity (hence, why I do not use the term immunization). One my son’s doctors went so far as to want to give him a fifth shot “to see if it takes.” How on earth did he think that one more shot would do the trick or be the magic bullet?
When vaccinating, it truly can be a shot in the dark. I wonder if any doctor can state with 100% assurance, and backed by scientific evidence, that vaccines do guarantee 100% immunity. Minus the side effects.
Fox News: Do Vaccines Cause Side Effects?
Me: What are Mild, Moderate and Severe Vaccines Side Effects?
"All vaccines can cause mild side effects," Offit said.
True. But he didn’t add that they can cause moderate and severe side effects too, which might contribute to why the US government says that vaccines are unavoidably unsafe .
Side effects can occur immediately and last over a great stretch of time. They include pain at the sight of injection, swelling, nausea, headache, rash, fainting, brain swelling, paralysis, seizures, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), stroke and death.
Every package insert of the vaccines currently on the market carries a list of side effects. Some countries quickly halt the use of vaccinations when a side effect is reported, but in the United States, it appears to be business first, safety second .
“Other side effects are much more rare, though they can happen: The oral polio vaccine that used to be given in the United States did, in a few instances, actually cause polio…,” says Offit.
Hmmm, get the shot, AND get the disease? Doesn’t that contradict what the vaccine program continues to advertise, that vaccines prevent disease? What gives?
And what happens when secondary infections , diseases and other illnesses result from those disease-preventing vaccines? Like the 98,000 cases of cancer that have been linked to polio vaccines administered in the 1950s and 60s? Or the 83 autism cases the United States Court of Federal Claims (also referred to as Vaccine Court) has compensation to families?
“Measles can cause a lowering of a child's platelet count, but it does not last or cause permanent problems,” says Offit.
Measles can do a number on a child’s body, but so does the MMR vaccine. That vaccine, which contains a live virus, is intended to stimulate an immune system response. A t erribly unfortunate side effect of the measles vaccine that can last and has caused permanent damage is autism.
If vaccinating, side effects should be carefully investigated, divulged and discussed. Severe vaccine reactions can and do happen. They exist in many forms and can have exceedingly more detrimental effects than what might happen if the disease was caught naturally. Because of what has happened post vaccination, I know many a parent who would rather have taken their chances with a disease outbreak than to watch their child suffer the life-long debilitating autism diagnosis that many children acquired after receiving their shots.
The worst side effect, and one the mainstream news hates to share, is death resulting from vaccination. I won’t link any articles out of respect for the dead here, but invite you to do your own research on the topic. Look up the names of Elias Tembenis, Ian Gromowski and Kaylynne Matten to learn how vaccines cut their lives too short. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord…
Fox News’ Question: Is There Evidence of a Connection Between Vaccines and Autism?
Me: Where Can I Find Evidence of a Connection Between Vaccines and Autism?
"Dozens of studies have been done and none have shown a connection between vaccines and autism," said Allison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation.
Oh, Allison. How embarrassing for you. Please refer to link that lists well over a dozen studies as well as this recently released eye-opening video from The Canary Party .
A possible connection was first raised by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor who published a study in 1998 of 12 children in Britain who were diagnosed with autism within a month of receiving the MMR vaccine.
Wakefield's paper "has since been withdrawn by the scientific journal that published it. It was declared to be fraudulent, and the primary author was stripped of his medical license," said Singer.
"Studies have been conducted all around the world to try to replicate Wakefield's data," said Amy Pisani, executive director of Every Child by Two, an organization that raises awareness about the importance of timely immunizations, "and there's never been a single study connecting vaccines and autism. Of all the things we know about autism, we know vaccines do not cause it."
Please, please, please make sure you catch up on the science. Autism and vaccines do go hand-in-hand. And by the way, it turns out that Wakefield’s research was legit .
So, the next time you go on record about the good doctor, do try to get a hold of those reports. Not only do they replicate Wakefield’s work and give insight to a condition that continues to plague children, but it proves that he was, in fact, spot on.
*It should be noted that both Allison Singer and Amy Pisani also have a conflict of interest as both of their groups have had ties to the pharmaceutical industry.
Fox News: What Is Thimerosal and Is It Dangerous?
And Mine: Why Is Thimerosal Still Being Used When It’s a Known Neurotoxin?
The mercury-containing preservative thimerosal, which keeps vaccines sterile, is an ingredient in vaccines that are used to inoculate more than one person at a time (such as the flu vaccine). Mercury is a heavy metal that can be damaging in high doses, which is why concerns were raised about a possible connection between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism.
Since the late '90s, seven large studies have been done in the U.S., Canada, and Europe comparing children in Europe (where thimerosal was banned in 1991) and the United States (where it remained in most vaccines until 1999). The result?
"You were not at greater risk for autism if you got a vaccine with thimerosal than if you didn't," Offit said.
I could explain the Lilly Rider now. I could also shed light on how pharmaceutical companies who manufacture vaccines (and those who administer them) are exempt from being sued if/when their products incur damage to individuals. I could also go into the history of acrodynia, a previous century’s thimerosal “no no”. But I won’t. I am not a doctor. Nor am I a scientist. I am able, though, to see the logic.
My simple take on thimerosal: Thimerosal contains mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin. Mercury can damage brain cells. Humans need brain cells to function. Damaging brain cells is not a good idea. Mercury in any form should not be injected, ingested or slathered on anyone’s body. Period.
Fox News’ Question: Why Does My Baby Have to Get So Many Vaccines So Early in Her Life?
My Question: How Do I Politely Tell My Doctor That I am Not Giving My Baby So Many Vaccines So Early in Her Life?
"Vaccines are thoroughly evaluated and then licensed for the ages at which they have been studied," Pickering said.
Except when they are not. Which might be why more parents are asking, “Why so many vaccines and why so early in life?”
The long and the short of it is that vaccines are products. Parents are consumers. Doctors and the vaccine makers benefit from the sale of vaccines. (And, P.S., the government placed and excise tax on vaccines, the same vaccines that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends on the childhood vaccine schedule. Seventy-five cents from the vaccine sale goes into the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). Since the late 1980s, the NVICP has paid close to $3 billion to individuals, or their families, who have been injured or who have died from vaccines.)
After learning of the recommended vaccines, a parent has every right to question why so many so soon. It should be encouraged for parents to begin to do their own research before they are presented with the lengthy list of vaccines, including the first one that is typically administered soon after birth and was designed to prevent a sexually transmitted disease.
To vaccinate or not, to get all of them or not, is a great discussion to have. Knowing the pros and cons, the risks and benefits, as well as immediate and long-term outcomes of vaccinating is important to know. If a doctor is not willing to listen to parents, which has happened to many parents already, parents may benefit from finding a different provider who will not bully them but rather work with.
Fox News’ Question: Do I Need to Worry About "Vaccine Overload"?
And Mine: Is Giving 10,000 Vaccines at One Time Logical?
"Vaccine overload" is the idea that when children are given multiple vaccines at once or close together (as they are when they are babies), their immune systems can be either harmed by the vaccines or will be unable to respond properly to them. Experts say there is no scientific evidence to support the idea.
In the 1980s the vaccine schedule averaged 10 vaccines. Today, there are 40+ vaccines given to a child before he is six years old! Why so many, and why the rush to get them all in by a certain time?
I wonder if there isn’t any scientific evidence from experts about how many vaccines are given at once because the government and its agencies that oversee the vaccine industry wouldn’t want that sort of evidence published if it did exist. Here’s an idea that has been published though. Offit believes that a baby can tolerate up to 10,000 shots in one day. 10,000! I believe that any parent, pro-vaccine or pro-vaccine safety, will say that injecting that many vaccines in a child at once is ludicrous and greatly discredits Offit’s input on vaccines.
Fox News’ Question: Are There Alternative or Selective Vaccine Schedules I Can Follow?
And Mine: Are There Alternative or Selective Vaccine Schedules I Can Follow?
"There are alternative schedules proposed by some people," Pickering said, "but they are not evidence-based. If you spread vaccines out, children are susceptible."
Not only are there a few alternative schedules published, like this one for example, but this is where it may behoove a parent to take the situation into their own hands.
If mother’s intuition steps in, or if a previous vaccine reaction has contributed to the decision being made, by all means an alternate schedule should be considered and absolutely must be respected.
When alternate schedules are followed, some doctors are discovering an added bonus in their practices: that autism rate mysteriously drops .
Said Stockwell, "The problem is that there is no known benefit of delaying vaccines, and we do know that you are putting your child at risk for a particular disease by delaying vaccination."
No known benefit? I’d like to see those studies, please.
Plus, a study released in June 2012 in the journal Pediatrics found that when parents follow a delayed vaccination schedule their children ultimately end up getting fewer vaccinations.
Delayed vaccines = fewer vaccines. Now, that’s not rocket science, people. That’s logic, and dare I say for some, completely logical!
Fox News’ Question: Have There Been Resurgences in Some Diseases Because People Are Opting Not to Vaccinate?
My Question: When Was the Vaccinated Versus Unvaccinated Study Done to Support That the US Vaccines Schedule is Safe, Effective and Doesn’t Cause Autism?
In the past six years there have been outbreaks in the United States of mumps, measles, and pertussis (whooping cough).
In 2010, California experienced the biggest whooping cough outbreak since 1947 with 10,000 cases and 10 deaths. These outbreaks have all been tied to declining rates of vaccinations, which may have to do with parents' lingering fears of a link between vaccines and autism.
But wait. Those outbreaks were happening in vaccinated populations.
Those who received their whooping cough vaccine, which is part of the multi-vial DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, Pertussis) vaccine, came down with whooping cough (pertussis) anyway and contributed to spreading the disease.
But, said Singer, "when parents delay or withhold vaccines, they are doing nothing to decrease the chance that their child will be diagnosed with autism, but they are absolutely increasing the chance that their babies could contract diseases that could kill them. Children are now dying from diseases for which we have vaccines because parents have bad information, and that's a great tragedy."
Wouldn’t it be great to conduct a thorough vaccine study and include the unvaccinated? With today’s available resources, and knowing that a growing number of parents are indeed opting out of vaccinating their children, we surely have more than enough cohorts and data to consider. We could compare the data with the previous vaccinated vs. unvaccinated study to see if vaccines truly are safe, effective and if they don’t cause autism. When was that last study done? Oh, that’s right. Never. What a tragedy.
Fox News’ Question: Do All States Require That Children Be Vaccinated Before Entering School?
Mine: What is a Vaccine Exemption, and Where Can I Get One?
Most of the states have some requirements, according to Pickering. Parents can find out what their state necessitates through the Immunization Action Coalition, a resource for immunization information; by checking their state health department website; or by asking their pediatrician.
YES, finally something we agree on.
As parents take time to read about vaccines, they will likely discover that they can actually choose to vaccinate or not vaccinate. Most parents worry, though, because they’ve been misinformed, that if they don’t vaccinate their children, they will not be able to enter school.
With a quick search on vaccine facts and laws, parents learn about vaccine exemptions .
Religious, philosophical and medical vaccine exemptions exist and can be used when children are school age. School settings and procedures differ state-to-state, which is why it’s important to stay abreast with vaccine news and information, but for the majority, unvaccinated children cannot be denied access to their education.
Fox News’ Question: If Most Children Receive Vaccinations, Do I Need to Vaccinate My Child?
Mine: If Your Child Is Vaccinated, Why Is My Child a Risk to Your Child?
It is technically possible "to vaccinate a high enough proportion of the population without vaccinating the entire population and [still] eliminate diseases," Offit said.
The concept is called "herd immunity," because the idea is that you can live safely within the herd if enough of the herd is vaccinated.
Herd immunity, on paper sounds like the real deal. But it doesn’t work.
Jessica Gianelloni, advocate and parent to five typical children, and who has spent a great deal of time researching and reporting on many vaccine topics, explains the myth of herd immunity better than I ever could.
"The problem," Stockwell said, "is that coverage has to be really high for herd immunity to work, and we know that coverage is not high enough, especially in this age of global travel and as vaccination rates drop. Many of these diseases are present in the community, and the best way to protect your child is to have him or her vaccinated."
It’s pretty clear that vaccines are not the end-all-be-all-disease-preventing miracles the media and medical world has made them out to be. So, what can you do? Why not try some basics to boost immune system naturally? Some people support their immune system with vitamin D, vitamin C, elderberry, sambucus, zinc, getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, avoiding those who are sick and washing their hands frequently when in contact with others.
Bottom line, don’t be sheeple (people who follow anything blindly like sheep), and don’t be afraid to do some extra reading on how to keep the body healthy. And, before we are done with this topic, I have to ask. If someone believes wholeheartedly in vaccines and has vaccinated their child according to the recommended schedule, why is an unvaccinated child a risk to them?
Fox News’ Question: Should a Child With a Cold Receive a Scheduled Vaccination?
Mine: Should a Child With a Cold Receive a Scheduled Vaccination?
Yes, it is fine for a child with a mild illness-such as an upper respiratory tract infection, a low-grade fever, or diarrhea-to receive a vaccination. Studies have shown that they are not at increased risk for safety issues or side effects, Offit said. But every physician will have his or her own benchmark for when to vaccinate. Many will opt to vaccinate so that they don't miss the opportunity, but some will defer if the child has a fever.
Dear heavens, NO.
If you or your child has sniffles, sneezes, an ear infection, a headache or aches and pains, the immune system is already taxed. Why not wait until your child is feeling 100% healthy and when the immune system is in more optimal shape to handle the vaccine and all that comes with it? That way, too, if there is an unfortunate vaccine reaction, you’ll know it was from the vaccine and not related to being sick.
And, an FYI, taking Tylenol before or after vaccination is a recipe for disaster.
Fox News’ Question: Do Teenagers and Adults Need to Be Immunized?
My Question: Why is the US Going After Teens, Adults and the Elderly to Be Vaccinated?
Adolescents should receive the meningococcal, influenza, and whooping cough (Tdap) vaccines, as well as a series of three shots to protect against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which has been linked to multiple types of cancers, Pickering said.
The CDC also recommends that all people 6 months of age and older receive a yearly flu vaccine, that adults 60 years of age and older get a shingles vaccine, and that females through the age of 26 and males through the age of 21 receive the three doses of HPV vaccine, should they not have been vaccinated in adolescence. The CDC has smart immunization scheduler tools to help you determine if everyone in your family-adults, younger children, and older children-is up to date.
First, a few examples
The HPV vaccine, a vaccine which claims it can prevent some cervical cancer, and was heavily marketed toward teenage girls and young women, is now being marketed to young boys. And babies.
The shingles vaccines, marketed to seniors, does not guarantee it will prevent shingles. But it might give you a case of the chickenpox … and shingles.
Flu shot season is around the corner. Be careful not to trip on a flu shot sign on your way into your grocery store, Wal-Mart, Target, corner national chain drug store or run one over at a flu shot drive-thru location. The flu shot, which has not been tested on children under the age of 2 years old, is recommended for babies as young as six months of age, for all school age children, adults, especially the elderly and for basically everyone who is breathing.
So, why the vaccination push? Could it be money? I do believe a great deal of the vaccine push on teenagers, adults and the elderly is based on financial gain. Part of the desire to vaccinate older age groups might be because younger parents are not vaccinating their children according to the recommended childhood schedule. When that happens, there must be an excess stock pile of vaccines not being distributed or making anyone any money. What’s an industry to do? Sell it in other markets.
Fox News’ Question: Do Doctors Recommend That Pregnant Women Get Vaccines?
And Mine: Why on Earth Would Doctors Recommend That Pregnant Women Get Vaccines?
Yes, there are several vaccines that are recommended for pregnant women. Pertussis vaccine given as Tdap should be administered at more than 20 weeks gestation or immediately after delivery (and followed with a Td booster every 10 years), Pickering said. Pertussis can be fatal in infants and keeping moms healthy is one way to protect babies. Pregnant women themselves are particularly vulnerable to the flu, which can be fatal to them; receiving the annual flu shot is crucial during pregnancy.
This is another Dear Lord, NO!
No vaccine studies have been conducted on pregnant women. Why let your doctor play science experiment on you or your growing child?
Need to know more? Ask to read the package inserts. If you aren’t given one by your provider, look them up online. See if the vaccines being recommended for pregnant women have supported research studies. Guaranteed you will see a statement like this: Safety and effectiveness of _____ (insert vaccine name) have not been established in pregnant women, nursing mothers, geriatric adults, or children less than 2 years of age like the one that came from the FluMist package insert that is pushed on pregnant women today.
Like I said earlier, I am not a doctor. I am not a scientist. I am a mom to a child who was vaccine injured. Over the last eight years I’ve done a great deal of homework on vaccines. My biggest wish is that other parents take the time to read, research and ask questions before they choose to vaccinate. You can always delay or decline vaccines for yourself or your child; you can never un-vaccinate once they are administered.
Cathy Jameson is a Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.