I'm Not "Anti-Vaccine" Or "Pro-Vaccine" - I'm "Pro-Information"by Rob Woodward
I recently wrote a post on childhood vaccines that elicited quite a response. One commenter, a pro-vaccine physician, recommended a book - "Autism's False Prophet" - and noted that people are perhaps too quick to blame vaccines for conditions like autism, obesity and ADHD. She maintained that vaccines do more good than harm, and cited two cases of polio in which the patients "would have chosen to receive the polio vaccine as kids if the choice had been left to them." She also noted the recent outbreaks of measles and pertussis and conveyed how heartbreaking it can be for doctors to see vaccine preventable diseases seen firsthand.
I wanted to address this comment, because I think it's important to have open discussions about tough and polarizing issues such as the vaccination question.
First, I have read "Autism's False Prophet" (it's a book that explores the scientific evidence that has now discredited the link between vaccines and autism) and I tried to do so with an open mind. However, I have a few concerns about the author - Paul Offit. He is the same CDC advisor who once made the provoking statement that "children can safely tolerate 10,000 vaccines." He also has a heavily vested interest in the vaccine industry, as the co-creator of a rotavirus vaccine which has purportedly netted him over $29 million in royalties. I worry that recomendatations from such a doctor may be just a bit biased.
As far the criticism that people are too quick to blame vaccines for "multiple present day problems such as ADHD, obesity, asthma, diabetes and allergies," - I'd like to clarify that I absolutely never suggested that vaccines are directly responsible for all of these problems. I concur whole heartedly that "pollution, radiation, second hand cigarette smoke, poor nutrition, increasingly processed foods" are partly to blame for many of these conditions. But my post's primary focus was that the repeated and/or excessive use of vaccinations could be causing a functional shift in our immune system balance. This shift could be especially worrysome if a child is already TH2 dominant(TH2 is a reference to our humoral immune system, the side stimulated by vaccines). If we over stimulate the TH2 side and suppress the cell-mediated side, the imbalance may cause hypersensitivity to things that should otherwise be harmless - like peanuts, or pollen.
Finally, I'd also like to clarify that I applaud the CDC for their work in controlling the spread of disease in the public. As I wrote before, the CDC has done a very good job controlling disease, and their vaccination policy has nearly eliminated cases of polio, rabies, tetanus, measles, pertussis and mumps in this country.
My heart goes out communities that deal with outbreaks of disease and to the doctors that have to deal with the aftermath. I simply can't imagine how heart-wrenching it must be to watch an infant suffering from pertussis gasp for air. But the same image runs through the mind of a parent who fears that 12 month MMR shot - "Will my child have an anaphylactic reaction?" "Could she be that 1 out of 1,000 that will have febrile convulsions?" These fears are enough to stop any parent dead in their tracks, and AT LEAST slow down enough to do some research and ask questions.
I am not "anti-vaccine." I am also not "pro-vaccine." I think it's a complex question, and every parent should do their research before making a decision. For example, I was scared to tears of giving our little girl the MMR shot - so I assessed our individual situation:
We live in a low population area, drink clean water, my kids eat food with what I feel is the proper nutrition, we supplement our diets, and we all have good hygiene. Additionally, my wife and I are able to work from home with our children, so none of us go to school, work, daycare or other places on a daily basis where we could contract an illness or expose other children. As a result of all these factors, I decided to forgo the vaccination. I feel secure in my decision, but I would never have the audacity to suggest that it's the right choice for everyone.
I think this is the most important point - the vaccination decision needs to be made on an individual basis with many factors considered. Parents should know that they have options, they need to realize that they DO have a choice, and not just blindly follow CDC recommendations. For example, they could hold off on vaccines until the child is two or older and has further developed. Or they could opt out of the chicken pox / HiB / Hep B vaccine, or maybe even space out the vaccine schedule so it's not so many all at once.
I certainly don't want to dissuade parents from vaccines. Far from it. I think that, based on many of the comments I read, people focused more on the quote I included from Judy Converse than the main points of the article. My sentiment was that we need to use vaccines carefully, on an individualized basis and take into account the child's health, among other factors (living conditions/nutrition).
Overall, the post was simply food for thought - something to consider, and a way to share what I've learned in my own personal research. I hope that as parents, we can keep our minds open and continue to learn about this subject. Information truly is power, especially when it comes to your child's health.