There was a great article in the Ottawa Citizen about why parents choose not to vaccinate. Here is my response to this article:
I agree that the media and the medical community are uninformed of the reason why parents choose to abstain from vaccines, delay, or selectively vaccinate. Each time an article blames non-vaccinating on celebrities or autism I know the author/reporter is clearly uninformed on the real issues.
I have three main issues with vaccines, which are also the concerns of most of the non-vaccinating parents I know.
#1 Lack of informed choice.
Most parents are not given accurate information with which to make an informed choice. All pro-vaccine material makes the assumption that the only choice is to say yes to vaccines. Vaccine marketing is often manipulative (especially that for HPV) and parents are often coerced and bullied into their decision. Parents are presented with fear-based information about the risks of the “vaccine-preventable” infections and overstatements of the benefits of vaccines, claiming guaranteed effectiveness. That is not nearly enough information to be making an informed choice. No parent who has been given this limited amount of information has legally given informed consent.
There are 5 areas that need to be addressed to be sure a parent has the information to make an informed decision about vaccines.
a) Benefit of Vaccines
To give informed consent, you need to know the actual scientific benefits of the vaccine. Not just a blanket statement that says they are “effective.” What specifically is being defined as “effective?” Vaccine effectiveness in medical studies is measured by whether the vaccine caused an antibody response and by how many of the recipients experienced this response.
A percentage of recipients simply do not react to the vaccine, reaction being more pronounced for some than others. However, having an antibody reaction to a vaccine does not consistently create immunity. In addition, the adjuvant (a chemical compound added to a vaccines to stimulate the immune system into action) alone can create an antibody response – the body can create antibody responses to any alien substance. In short, an antibody response is not equal to immunity to the virus or bacteria in the vaccine.
The only way to know if your child actually created immunity to the specific infection would be to later check antibody titers for that particular antigen or test by being exposed to the infection in question (which would not be considered ethical, in case of vaccine failure). The type of antibody response in the blood is different than what is needed to fight an infection at the port of entry to the body, being the mucous membranes. Therefore, if antibodies to the virus are created, the individual could still be susceptible to infection and to being a carrier that could spread the infection.
Even if immunity is gained through the vaccine, it is temporary and requires life-long booster shots to maintain any level of immunity. Each person’s immunity wanes in its own time, some lasting 10 years, some only a couple of years. The only way to maintain vaccine induced immunity over a lifetime would be to continuously get antibody titers checked to determine antibody response and then get boosters whenever immunity starts to wane. Being vaccinated as a child and not getting boosters merely delays susceptibility to when you are actually at higher risk for complications for infection like measles, mumps, rubella, and chicken pox.
We have a false belief that we currently have herd immunity. We are told herd immunity only happens with vaccination rates above a certain percentage. In Canada, it is rare for adults to be receiving boosters for MMR, polio, etc. throughout their lives, so the vast majority of the adult population is not contributing to herd immunity.
b) Risks of Vaccines
The risks of vaccines are often minimized or dismissed and parents are told vaccines are “safe.” However, there have never to date been any long term studies to determine the safety of vaccines. Since we do not do long-term studies (studies are typically only a few weeks to months and thus do not show long-term effects), the general population’s reactions serve as surveillance for side effects. The community becomes the experiment. However, since this is no longer in a controlled scientific environment, it becomes enormously difficult to accurately identify and report vaccine reactions. Correlation of a reaction with an administered vaccine can never be determined as causation, and side effects can be dismissed as not associated with the vaccine. Most adverse reactions go unreported, so our long-term surveillance is not only flawed but effectively non-existent.
Most parents assume that the control group in vaccine trials are a non-vaccinated group, and they are not told of the non-scientific use of false controls in clinical trials for vaccines. The HPV vaccine control group received the adjuvant (the entire vaccine minus the HPV) as a “control”. The adjuvant is the very thing that parents are concerned is creating the huge numbers of reactions to this vaccine, and yet studies can only tell us that the complete vaccine is as safe as its own adjuvant. If the control group was not a non-vaccinated control, then there was in fact no actual control group.
Other vaccines determine safety by comparing reactions with those to a different vaccine — again, not to a non-vaccinated control group. To determine risks of vaccines we need to follow proper scientific methods. Long-term studies need to be performed that look at the life-long effects on vaccinated populations compared to non-vaccinated populations. We need to also broaden the list of adverse reactions we are looking for. No vaccine trial has tried to evaluate mutagenic or carcinogenic effects, nor effects on fertility, although some of the ingredients are known to be carcinogenic. This is clearly stated in each vaccine product insert – but parents are not typically offered the product insert to read, nor do they know they could ask.
Each of the vaccine ingredients needs to be looked at for biological effects and long-term safety. Many are actually not safe but are ignored or are generally considered to be safe, although no studies have been performed.
Vaccines bypass the first lines of defense and the cell-mediated response, due to the direct administration into the body. This activates a humoral immune response, which is why we produce antibodies in response to vaccines. When the immune system is balanced in favour of a humoral response, it is pulled away from the cancer-fighting, cell-mediated balance in which we typically exist. It also pulls us towards atopic and autoimmune responses, as humoral immunity activates autoimmunity and suppresses cell-mediated immunity.
Vaccinated immunity causes the body to internalize infections. This is seen as a benefit from the perspective of public health because the individuals are less contagious this way. The long-term effects of internalizing viruses to remain within the body have not been fully explored. Scientists have found vaccine-strain measles virus within the tissues of vaccinated individuals and this may be causing chronic degenerative health problems like diabetes and Crohn’s disease.
People with vaccination-induced immunity can also be at higher risk of other infections. For instance, what most people are not told is that parapertussis is pretty much identical to pertussis and that people who are vaccinated against pertussis are actually at higher risk of parapertussis. This is an issue, because their vaccination-based immunity against pertussis actually interferes with their immune system’s ability to fight of parapertussis. The viruses are so similar that the vaccination immunity prevents their own immune reaction. At the same time, the viruses are different enough that the vaccine isn’t effective against parapertussis. However, if you have natural immunity to either one, you are naturally immune to both.
Unless the infection type is determined by a swab, you won’t know which one it is. So it may just be vaccinated kids passing around parapertussis. There is also concern that the pertussis bacteria is mutating to survive despite the vaccine, just like bacteria do in response to antibiotics. By trying to force the extinction of a species, we drive it to evolve faster, since every living thing is programmed for survival.
Vaccines are also implicated in altering the human microbiome. Changing the microbiome has system-wide effects on the body, especially the immune system. The full effects of this are only being discovered now.
It is real science that will explore and uncover these issues. It is not scientific to put our heads in the sand and assume safety. The scientific method is to question everything and then question it again. To accept vaccine propaganda without question is not scientific.
c) Benefit of Natural Immunity
Being exposed to an infection naturally goes through your first lines of defense (mucous membranes) where it is typically prevented from entering the body. If it does enter the body naturally, it activates cell-mediated, long-term immunity. This immunity would be life-long with repeated natural exposure to the antigen. It has been shown in peer-reviewed scientific studies that each time you complete an immune response on your own, your immune system is more effective for the next time it needs to fight off an infection, even for a different type of antigen. This also helps keep the immune system in balance, prevents atopy (eczema, asthma, allergies), and can prevent the immune system from moving into an autoimmune balance. Cell-mediated immunity becomes stronger.
We want the immune system to be balanced in favour of the cell-mediated response and this is the appropriate immune response to most antigens we would encounter in the real world. It protects us from cancer, autoimmunity, and atopy.
With a properly functioning immune system, the vast majority of children exposed to any infection would fight it off naturally with no harm done. When the majority of the population has been exposed and develop true immunity we have herd immunity in its true form.
d) Risks of Natural Immunity
The risk with natural exposure is that, as the body is externalizing the virus (getting it out of the body via coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, or rashes), it can lead to others being exposed. More people in society would end up having a natural immune reaction to the antigen.
Those whose immune systems are weak or compromised at the time of exposure will be at risk of complications from the infection. Some who are not capable of effectively fighting off the infection would die as a result of their immune system being too weak.
This information should be stated with the real data and not with fear mongering. For example, we typically say, “you have all forgotten about how terrible polio is.” According to the Merck Manual, 99% of polio cases are asymptomatic. Of the 1%, 80% would be no different than a common cold. Of the 1%, 20% would have Major polio. 50% of the 20% of the 1% would have the paralytic type. Of those, 25% would have serious long-term paralysis. .025/100 or 25/100,000 would have serious long-term effects.
Another risk of natural immunity is an economic one: the society is unwilling to take on an expense of a parent needing to stay home for 1-2 weeks with a sick child.
Regardless of their vaccine decision, parents should be educated by health care professionals and public health on effective ways of building and maintaining optimal immune function. With so much focus on only vaccines, we are ignoring the fact that there are many other, more important factors that go into a child’s immune development, so that they can effectively fight off all infections not just those we vaccinate for. There are parents who feel as though they have done their job by vaccinating and then go on to completely ignore the optimal function and development of immunity raising their children in a way that actually disables their immune response. It is actually these children who put everyone at risk, as they are the ones most likely to get sick with infectious disease and pass it on to the community.
Most parents that I know who choose natural immunity are extremely conscientious of all the factors that go into optimal immune system development and take a proactive role in their child’s immune health, protecting their child and the community at large from all types of infections.
Informed consent can only happen when all of these factors have been discussed, presenting what is known and the limits of our scientific knowledge at this time. From here, parents need to make the decision that is right for their family. There is no one right way of looking at this issue. It is a personal decision with benefits and risks on both sides of the equation. There is no risk-free choice. Everyone assesses risk through their own perspective, and it is only up to a parent to determine what risk they are willing to take for their child, for what benefit, and what consequences they are most willing to live with.
Some parents would prefer to take the risk of an adverse vaccine reaction or long-term chronic disease caused by vaccines over the risk of the possibility of their child dying if the child happened to be weak at the time they were exposed to an infectious disease. Some would rather their child have nothing interfere with the normal function of their immune system, take precautions to ensure its optimal development, and take the risk that they could acquire an infectious disease and be one of the few who wouldn’t make it through. Only a parent can make this decision.
Informed consent is only valid when there is no misrepresentation, no coercion and the decision maker has the option of refusing consent.
#2 Ensuring Optimal Development
My role as a parent is to ensure the optimal development of my children. In my opinion, this cannot be done with vaccines as vaccination is known to alter the proper function of the immune system. Injecting known toxic chemicals into the body is not in line with my parenting or health philosophy and I would not inject known neurotoxins into my child’s system. I will not guarantee the reduced health potential of my child for the possibility that they will be too ill to fight off an infection in the chance they are exposed.
I ensure my children are healthy by addressing all areas of their health and well-being to support and optimize their potential. If they are not healthy, I avoid exposure so they can complete the current health challenge without the possibility of adding on something that may overwhelm their system.
#3 Toxic ingredients
Vaccine theory is sound. Vaccine practices are not. If we could find a delivery method that induced cell-mediated immunity, optimized immune potential, and conferred immunity to the population without toxic ingredients that damage the immune, nervous, and other systems, then we would be having a different conversation. Formaldehyde, MSG, aluminium, animal cells, aborted fetus cells, antifreeze, etc. should not be injected into anyone’s bodies. We should be focusing on creating vaccines that do not require chemical cocktails.
Let’s add in a 4th reason.
#4 Vaccines are immune
If vaccines were as great as public health said then they would not be immune to scrutiny. They would not be immune to parents making fully informed decisions without coercion and manipulation. They would not be immune to proper scientific methods including proper control groups and long-term safety studies. And vaccine manufacturers would not be immune to liability.
People need to stop looking at non-vaccinated kids as their scapegoats. We will always have infectious disease as we cohabitate on this planet with the microbial world. The more effort we make to kill them off, the weaker we have become and the stronger they have become.
Each parent has the responsibility of choosing what is the best way for them to keep their children’s immune systems as healthy as possible. You do your job, I will do mine, and it won’t matter if your kids are vaccinated and mine are not or vice versa.
Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK8423/
Immune Response to Viruses: Cell-Mediated Immunity: http://www.microbio.uab.edu/lymphocyte_biology/zajac/zajac08.pdf
Acellular pertussis vaccination facilitates Bordetella parapertussis infection in a rodent model of bordetellosis. Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, Department of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA: http://m.rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/277/1690/2017.full
Using the combined vaccine for protection of children against measles, mumps and rubella: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD004407/using-the-combined-vaccine-for-protection-of-children-against-measles-mumps-and-rubella#sthash.3wM4A21G.dpuf
Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK190017/
Immunobiology: The Immune System in Health and Disease. 5th edition. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27131/
Vaccine Excipient & Media Summary (CDC list of vaccine ingredients) http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/downloads/appendices/b/excipient-table-2.pdf
Articles about specific vaccine ingredients: