Ram Dass says “If you think you’re enlightened go spend a week with your family.” I have found that if I think I have mastered replacing fear with love, try talking to people about why you question vaccination.
There is no doubt that vaccination is a key part of modern public health efforts. Vaccines have saved countless lives from dreaded diseases like polio, smallpox, measles and various others. But vaccines have moved from the arena of saving lives, to the area of making us feel better about our vulnerability to disease. Vaccines are offered and accepted without question, because of their history of saving lives. We have stopped asking questions, and possibly that is a dangerous state.
“A rigorous new analysis of 44 years’ worth of studies is raising questions about the evidence for the effectiveness of influenza vaccines in elderly people and, for certain types of vaccines, in children and younger adults as well. Applying very strict criteria to filter out potential bias and confounding, a US research team sifted more than 5,000 studies and found only 31 that they felt provided reliable evidence about the efficacy and effectiveness of flu vaccines. The findings were published online …by Lancet Infectious Diseases.” – Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy Flu vaccines are offered and accepted almost religiously every year, yet the research supporting their usefulness is limited.
“A huge publicity & PR campaign (not counterbalanced by independent experts, scholars and the medical profession) has obscured the fact that millions of healthy teenage girls are being vaccinated under a promise: that vaccination programs will prevent cervical cancer—just a reasonable hypothesis, untested, which could easily be refuted. It is a huge mistake to vaccinate healthy persons under a promise. As a physician, I believe systematic, universal vaccination programs have a crucial role in our societies. And, hence, I deplore that the credibility of such programs is jeopardized by unbalanced commercial influences.” —Cancer epidemiologist and physician Miquel Porta, in email interview
Because of this perception of vaccines as flawless (and when we are only a few generations away from a time when polio was a significant threat that has been eliminated by vaccinations), we now accept vaccines as risk free and essential.
“Vaccines, like all other pharmaceutical products, are not entirely risk-free; while most known side effects are minor and self-limited, some vaccines have been associated with very rare but serious adverse effects. Because such rare effects are often not evident until vaccines come into widespread use, the Federal government maintains ongoing surveillance programs to monitor vaccine safety. The interpretation of data from such programs is complex and is associated with substantial uncertainty.” – Public Health Reports
We believe that vaccines are fully tested and understood, but in fact, the real impact of vaccines is not known until the vaccine has been used.
“Japanese government has withdrawn administration of vaccines against Human Papillomavirus ( HPV) in Kitui as the World Health Organisation ( WHO) faces stinging criticism. Japan has cited adverse effects including infertility, long-term pain, numbness and paralysis” –Standard Media
Dr Christian Northrup says this:
“The HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix do not prevent cervical cancer or any other type of cancer. They may protect you from contracting some strains of HPV for a period of time. Gardasil is genetically engineered to target the four most common strains of HPV known to be associated with cervical cancer, although there are 14 strains that are also implicated. (There are actually over 100 known HPV strains.) About 98 percent of HPV infections will resolve on their own within two years. (This is the reason why the American College of OB/GYN changed their pap smear recommendations to begin at age 20 instead of when a girl first became sexually active.) I agree with Diane Harper, M.D., who put it this way, “This is a sobering reality. Would a parent accept such a rate of serious adverse events if the same cancer prevention can occur with continued pap screening? Is there any acceptable level of risk of serious adverse events, including death, to prevent genital warts?”3 Women and girls deserve better. So, forego the vaccine!”
I personally have chosen to stay away from vaccines, and receive significant lash back on this choice. I have spent time reviewing scholarly articles on vaccination efficacy, effectiveness, and risk. I have concluded that while the research supports the public health position on promoting vaccines, the degree to which I am willing to freely hand over my will and reason about if a vaccine is right for me is quite limited. There is international research that challenges our assumptions about the risks about vaccines. Other countries have looked closely at public health policy and make different choices than we do in North America. There is too little questioning of what we know about vaccines; too much willingness to hand over trust to pharmaceutical companies who may produce a product that is “good enough”. For years, we have been told to get our flu vaccine, yet the research does not support it. Even in the existing research, there is question about if vaccinated populations were healthy because they were not exposed to the infectious strain, or if the vaccine prevented illness. At what point do we do the deep ethical dive into the balance between population health and individual freedoms?
What makes this heated is the fact that population health is impacted by people who say No. In other words, my choice to not get vaccinated raises the fear level around others who believe in vaccines as it reduces the effectiveness of eliminating the illness outbreaks. I have always been confused about this as I believe that effective vaccinations should not be driven by herd mentality – if you are inoculated, you should not be at risk if I am not. Yet vaccination is more effective the higher the level of participation. So, we automatically end up at odds.
Ultimately, I find myself calling for my public health system to step it up: don’t just try to convince me that the benefits far outweigh the risks. Do an ethical dive into the entire paradigm – why is any level of death acceptable in relation to vaccination? Why do we not understand the factors that contribute to individual risk? How am I supposed to make a balanced choice when you tell me that the risks are low…but it is unclear what increases the risk at all? There is no other medical procedure I have encountered where the information is as vague. I am perfectly happy to support community wellbeing but to do so I need to fully understand what I am risking in doing so.
I know this is a hot issue, and I fully expect that you will have strong views, that are equally justified, well researched, and full of truth. It is my hope that the dialogue will result in a more accountable immunization system where the influence of pharmaceutical companies is minimized.