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Friday, March 20, 2009

Vaccines and School

I read three articles recently that struck me as important especially given the stats on vaccination in Washington state as well as the information on the high number of students who are immigrants in our district. I apologize for its length but I wanted to provide a picture -and reason- for including all three articles.

(Correction: The following sentence was my original paragraph. "As most of you have likely heard, there was a recent court ruling that vaccines do not cause autism. Here's an article on it from the NY Times." The next paragraph is the actual ruling which found, in three different cases, that families involved did not show that their children's autism was brought on/caused by vaccines. Therefore, it is under this narrow window that you could say that, in a court of law, there was not proof that vaccines cause autism. This means that you could go either way; namely, say "Vaccines don't cause autism." or "It has not been fully proven that vaccines don't cause autism." Here's what the CDC says, "The weight of the evidence indicates that vaccines are not associated with autism.")

"In the three cases, each decided by a judge called a special master, the court found that the families had not shown that their children’s autism was brought on by substances in the vaccines — either the measles virus in the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, or its combination with thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was used in most childhood vaccines until 2001."

"The judges considered 5,000 pages of testimony from experts and 939 medical articles.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs have indicated they will appeal. Pediatricians and government agencies welcomed the rulings.

“Hopefully, the determination by the special masters will help reassure parents that vaccines do not cause autism,” the Health and Human Services Department said in a statement."

"No one disputes that in rare cases, vaccines can cause shock, brain inflammation and death, especially in children with allergies or compromised immune systems. The law recognizes specified side effects for each vaccine; autism is not among them."

It is challenging, painful, and worrying to have an autistic child. And like any other kind of disorder or disease, you wish you could just know, "Why my child?" But autism, like many other disorders, may never have an easy or complete answer.

This becomes all the more complicated because a recent article in the PI shows that Washington state ranks near the bottom for childhood vaccinations and is dropping. Many counties in WA state are near or at 5% non-vaccinated child rates.

From the article:

"Over the past decade, the percentage of children starting school without at least one required vaccination doubled from 2.7 percent to 5.5 percent in King County alone, according to the state Department of Health. That translates into 1,100 of 20,500 students.

"It looks like our community immunity -- it's what people call 'herd immunity' -- is in fact eroding," said Dr. Ed Marcuse, associate medical director at Seattle Children's and a national immunization expert. "I am worried about an outbreak of measles in many counties in Washington state."

"Overall, 69 percent of Washington children age 19 to 35 months received all of their shots in 2007, down from 71 percent the year before, and below the national average of 77 percent, according to the Department of Health."

So why is this?

"Vaccination rates aren't going down just because parents like me are talking about our child's adverse reactions," Dalpez wrote in an e-mail. "They are going down because people are beginning to question the safety of the vaccine program."

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counter that they have spent millions on vaccine-safety research, but have not found causal links between vaccines and the rise in autism cases or other widespread health problems.

"By choosing not to vaccinate, they are choosing a theoretical risk for a known risk of preventable disease," said Kristine Sheedy, associate director for communication science at the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases."

All of life is a risk and the above statement bears that out. If I choose not to vaccinate my children, I assume a risk that I, hopefully, know the odds of getting. But here's where it gets hairy.

"Measles is already popping up in the developed world. Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Israel and other nations are coping with outbreaks of the highly contagious disease, says Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, chief of communicable disease and immunization at Public Health -- Seattle & King County.

"That is the first disease you would expect, and other diseases you would expect to surge back (are) mumps, pertussis" and chicken pox, Duchin added. Measles "is basically out of control in the British population."

Local public health officials are not predicting an epidemic in Washington in the near future, but are concerned about outbreaks in vulnerable groups, such as homeschooled children. In 2008, there were 19 reported cases of measles in the state, the highest level in 12 years."

For me the worst of all? Polio. My three oldest siblings all contracted it (this was right before the vaccine was created) with one sister temporarily paralyzed and left in a weakened state the rest of her life.

"Some 53 million children under the age of five, including every girl and boy in Nigeria, have been targeted by a mass polio immunization campaign across West Africa, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) announced today.

The door-to-door polio eradication drive is planned to sweep through eight countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Togo, and Nigeria, aiming to reach every child even in the remotest of areas.

The campaign, employing 162,000 trained immunizers, will attempt to stop last year's outbreak which hit northern Nigeria and spread to six countries in West Africa after the wild polio virus had already re-infected Niger in 2007, as well as Chad and Cameroon in Central Africa.

"The highest priority was to reach every child in Nigeria, which was one of the four endemic countries, and in the high-risk areas across the region," said Miranda Eeles, a spokesperson for UNICEF."

Measles? Polio? How can this be happening in this day and age?

And the latest? This from an article in the NY Times this past Tuesday.

"Autism is terrifying the community of Somali immigrants in Minneapolis, and some pediatricians and educators have joined parents in raising the alarm. But public health experts say it is hard to tell whether the apparent surge of cases is an actual outbreak, with a cause that can be addressed, or just a statistical fluke.

In an effort to find out, the Minnesota Department of Health is conducting an epidemiological survey in consultation with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This kind of conundrum, experts say, arises whenever there is a cluster of noncontagious illnesses."

"A small recent study of refugees in schools in Stockholm found that Somalis were in classes for autistic children at three times the normal rate.

Calls to representatives of Somali groups in Seattle and San Diego found that they were aware of the fear in Minneapolis but unsure about their own rates. Doctors familiar with the Somali communities in Boston and Lewiston, Me., had heard of no surges there.

“It’s a concern here, but we haven’t done anything to look specifically,” said Ahmed Salim of Somali Family Services in San Diego.

Shamso Yusuf of the Refugee Women’s Alliance in Seattle said tearfully that her own daughter had been given a diagnosis of autism, “and I see a lot of parents who have 5-year-olds who cannot speak.” But no Seattle study has been done, she said."

And so a link is created between scared immigrant parents and anti-vaccine groups.

"Antivaccine groups have noticed. In November, J. B. Handley, a founder of Generation Rescue, which advocates treating autistic children with wheat- and dairy-free diets, vitamins and chelation to remove mercury, wrote an open letter to “Courageous Somali Parents.”

He warned them not to trust the state health department and suggested they slow down their children’s shots and get exemptions to school vaccination requirements. He also offered to pay for some to attend an antivaccine conference.

The appeal has had an effect. Many parents, including Ayub’s, now say that their children’s autism began after seizures that started after they got shots.

“People in the Somali community have gravitated to that theory, and many are resisting immunization,” Dr. McLellan said."

This is all very troubling especially for our state and our district. I am not looking for an argument here. I am NOT against immigrants or parents who have decided against vaccinations. However, if we have an outbreak of a preventable disease in our district, what then? As we have more and more students who are not vaccinated coming into our schools and the growing possibility that diseases thought long gone are coming back, we all need to pay heed and hope our officials have an answer for "What if?".

51 comments:

Robert said...

I don't even play a lawyer on tv/online. But didn't the court case say that there was no cause of action for vacines in a court of law. It was based on the science that they haven't proved that they are not safe... For now.

Shannon said...

I just filled out and submitted our Certificate of Vaccination today and it took AGES, a lot longer than it used to when I was a non-compliant vaccinator.

There was a lot more to write for the first time since my 7 year old son has (finally) had all his vaccinations. He is up to date because his little brother has a serious heart defect which makes the potential ill effect of an infection more serious, not because I am particularly diligent.

However, for the first 5 years of my elder son's life it didn't make much difference that I chose not to aggregate his vaccinations as state prescribed or that I decided that chickenpox is a fine disease or that Hep B is not our issue, yet. I signed a little box on the back of a form and noted my philosophical objection and preschool and then school went on as usual.

Even then, when I chose to act on my concern about the vaccination schedule I felt it was a bit easy to opt out. That I could do it because I had 'fallen behind' and not revisited the shots I meant to.

I like to believe people have the right to choose but that it should be done with clear intention and understanding. I also like to believe in herd protection. I have no idea how to balance the personal and public health imperatives but if the trend continues I would like to benefit from the coverage, however partial, vaccines confer on my children and prefer that 'sphere of protection' to be as extensive as possible in my kids school community.

Josh Hayes said...

Call me a reactionary old poop, but I didn't allow my kids, before age 5, to play at friends' houses if parents of those friends eschewed vaccinations. I'm old enough to remember munching sugar cubes to get my vaccinations in school, and I'm old enough to have had friends who weren't lucky enough to get vaccinated in time and lived the rest of their lives in damaged bodies as a consequence of their polio infections.

After 5, my kids had all the immunities they needed, so it was cool at that point - so when one of their friends came down with whooping cough (pertussis) and had to be hospitalized for a week or so (and pulled through; yay!), I wasn't worried my kids would get it. I was just angry with that kid's parents.

I'm an empiricist, I'm a trained scientist. I looked at the data, and when my kids' doctors asked if we wanted the vaccinations my wife and I did not hesitate to say "hell yeah."

I understand the desire a parent of an autistic child feels to place blame somewhere, anywhere, but it's just irresponsible to ignore the enormous body of evidence indicating that vaccinations have no discernable relationship with autism, and in so doing, to endanger your children and their friends.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I love the really honest reactions here. (Except Robert, your sentence has two double negatives so I'm not sure what it really means.)

Shannon, the only thing I might offer is that meningitis is nothing to fool with and is the one thing that could have the worst outcome the fastest. That one you might consider.

beansa said...

My daughter was vaccinated on a delayed schedule - we spaced out the shots a bit more and only allowed her to get stuck twice at any given appointment. We did this because the first couple rounds of shots made her so miserable. But she has had all but the chicken pox vaccine, which she'll get later if she didn't inherit her dad's freaky genetic immunity.

We just learned that it's important to know that the immunity provided be vaccines does wear off. My husband is recuperating from pertussis right now, and I've got a knot the size of a golf ball in my arm from the booster shot I got. If you haven't had the pertussis (usually given with tetnaus) vaccine in the past ten years you need a booster.

Unknown said...

Lots of pertussis around this year, I've known an adult and two young girls who have gotten it. I should probably heed Beansa's advice myself.

Sahila said...

I wonder how this planet will support 6 billion plus human beings (as well as all the other life forms, ie the species our existence isnt forcing into extinction) if we keep going down this path of wanting to avoid our own mortality?

I'm in favour of children acquiring natural immunity - that doesnt wear off... I have a pediatrician who believes only in immunising the fragile and others as per the environment/risk they find themselves in and agrees that if you must vaccinate, wait until the child is two years old and their own immune system has settled into place...

We might have saved some lives with vaccination, but we also have a huge array of ailments our children now endure that weren't around before herd immunisation... whether that's because of vaccines (or the industrial waste-grade mercury in them) and overloading their developing immune systems far too early, or vaccines bypassing the normal entry points into the system (and the lymph glands and other defense mechanisms, which is a hypothesis being studied now), or whether we've made our children less able to fight off disease by over use of antibiotics and sanitising their environments in such a paranoid fashion, I dont know...

anonymous said...

Such a controversial subject - it's so interesting to hear such conflicting and differing points of view. I'm not a scientist, but after I checked out all of the research available to me and consulted with our pediatrician, and a Naturopath, I decided to have my children immunized. I felt it was the responsible thing to do for my children and for society. In fact this quote from the article sums up my feelings exactly "By choosing not to vaccinate, they are choosing a theoretical risk for a known risk of preventable disease,"

I'll take the theoretical risk over the known risk any day.

And, I guess I'm as old as Josh because I remember lining up in school for vaccines too (only we got a balloon and lollipop)!

Elizabeth W said...

Vaccination is a classic "tragedy of the commons" issue, in which the good of the group and the good of the individual are at odds.

Vaccinating everyone who is able optimizes the overall health of the group. However, if nearly everyone else is vaccinated, the optimum for the individual is to not vaccinate and rely on "herd immunity" to protect herself.

But...

If many people choose to go without vaccination, then the herd immunity diminishes and the best course for the healthy, typical individual will eventually be to vaccinate.

I was less than thrilled with the prospect of vaccinating my children. I have twice had very scary, violent reactions to a vaccine. The substantial rate of non-vaccination in Seattle was actually a point in favor of vaccinating my children.

Elizabeth W said...

Oh, and apropos of our Seattle Schools focus...

Can someone do something about the constant need to fill out that blasted vaccination form? I understand the need to keep it up-to-date, but I swear I've filled out more of them than my children have had shots.

Be smart -- when you have to fill one out, keep a photocopy so you can refer to it when filling out the next one.

anonymous said...

I wonder how many of these so-called "under-vaccinated" kids are actually getting their shots, but parents don't update school records until prompted by the school nurse. My kids are up to date but I haven't been notifying the school each time.

AutismMom said...

You know. I can't stand the "vaccine causes autism"... or the "special diet fixes autism" people. It's a ridiculous religion based on a need to find a "blame", rather than accept and love a child. The "diet-wheat people" are the same people as the "vaccine people". In the mythology of their religion, the story goes: the vaccine damages the gut, which is then poisoned by wheat --- causing kids to be "drugged by wheatlike opiates". It's been soundly disproven over and over. But, like all religions, proof isn't the point. These people have always been around. Anybody remember Feingold? Really, what's wrong with just accepting your child for who they are?

Having said that, I also don't like the paperwork associated with the vaccination proof... so I always fill out the waiver just to save time! The school has always been wrong on the vaccine status.... sending me to the doctor, when it isn't neccessary. But I also dislike the notion that the government has rights to my kid's body... no matter how righteous it seems.

beansa said...

Hmmm, I too have signed the waiver for all the vaccines just because we didn't get the chicken pox shot.

I'm not so sure that our kids are less able to fight off illness than they used to be. Don't more children actually survive childhood now than ever before?

I do agree with the overuse of antibiotics and antibacterial soaps and whatnot. My house is filthy and my kids is amazingly healthy. lol. I also breasfed her until she was 28 months and she seems to have avoided all our family allergies.

Robert said...

sorry Melissa my point was that there may be an issue just not one that is provable in a court of law. So to say "As most of you have likely heard, there was a recent court ruling that vaccines do not cause autism." seems to me too broad. The ruling was that the current science didn't support the plaintiffs claim. However, future studies may (or more likely may not) identify a link.

We have had much trepidation of vaccines and have at times delayed the schedule for hep b so our daughters weren't getting five shots at once. Thankfully there have been no issues and all are up to date.

hschinske said...

"I wonder how many of these so-called "under-vaccinated" kids are actually getting their shots, but parents don't update school records until prompted by the school nurse. My kids are up to date but I haven't been notifying the school each time."

Oh, that could well be part of the problem, but I don't see any reason there should be a higher rate of that happening than there was a few years ago. The difference in immunization rates is what's most concerning.

Helen Schinske

Shannon said...

Hi Melissa
I completely agree. When we worked out which shots to give when we sought the advice of our pediatrician, naturopath and an ER doctor. All agreed that the HiB and PCV (pneumococcal) were essential (the ER doc added that those had been correlated with a significant decrease in ER admissions and mortality in kids).

We did those and a few others by the book.

However we delayed Varicella, Hep A & B, slowed the MMR schedule and the DTaP timing.

Melissa Westbrook said...

You are right, Robert. I did write that too broadly and not based on the actual court ruling. I'll try to change that because it bothers me when, for example, people say that the Supreme court decision that SPS lost outlawed the use of race in tiebreakers (when it didn't).

anonymous said...

"I don't see any reason there should be a higher rate of that happening than there was a few years ago. The difference in immunization rates is what's most concerning."

There are more shots being added to the list every year. Parents who postpone getting one, say HPV at age eleven, can be counted among the "under-vaccinated", even when these kids pose no added risk of communicable disease to the school population.

anonymous said...

My wish is they would develop vaccines against staph to protect kids from MRSA, and vaccines against strep to protect kids from getting Strep Throat over and over. Anyone here know why this can't be done?

I'd feel safer getting shots for my kids if I could be sure they were manufactured in the U.S.A.

Sahila said...

The problem with many of the vaccinations being 'sold' to the public is that they are not relevant to the lives of the people getting them - children....

Why expose children to the side-effect dangers of a hepatitis shot for example, if that child hasnt yet reached his or her teens, which is the age at which he/she becomes at risk of contracting hepatitis, through drinking, drug taking (sharing needles) and sexual activity...

Why expose very young children to the massive assault on the immune system of the MMR triple shot... in the normal course of events it would be most unlikely that a child would naturally be exposed to measles, mumps and rubella in the one event... and yet we ask their under-developed immune systems to handle the triple shot... in other countries, parents can choose to vaccinate against those diseases one vaccine at a time, staggering the shots so that children's bodies have time to adjust to the onslaught...

And the HPV vaccine being sold to young pre-teen girls before they are sexually active - ridiculous... and we dont even know what long term side effects these vaccines will have... they havent been around long enough and clinical trials have been too short to see what effects will develop over the next 20 years or so... remember thalidomide?

My son has only had the tetanus-diptheria vaccinations... I really only wanted the tetanus shot, but the straight tetanus vaccine for children STILL uses mercury as a preservative, whereas the tetanus-diptheria combo doesnt...

What are we doing, putting the most toxic chemical on the planet into the bodies of our vulnerable children?

We sue when we are exposed to mercury and fluoride and asbestos and other carcinogenic chemicals, but we put mercury into our babies voluntarily????

Anonymous said...

I try to stay out of on-line vaccine "fights" because you can probably never change minds in these forums, but there are some claims that simply must be countered.

There is no "industrial-grade mercury" in vaccines. And there never has been. First off, thimerosal was removed from the common childhood vaccines around 2002-2003. But perhaps more importantly, thimerosal is an ethyl mercury compound that has as much similarity to the environmental toxin methyl mercury as ethanol has to methanol (ie, beer versus wood alcohol, two teaspoons of which can make you permanently blind). Chemistry matters! The body handles thimerosal very differently than methyl mercury as well, the former being rapidly excreted in the urine and feces while the latter remains in the body and affects the brain.

Next, most people don't realize that the amount of peptides/proteins in modern vaccines is much lower than it used to be. So even though we give more vaccines today, the body is actually exposed to a smaller immunologic load. Plus, do people really believe that we are overwhelming the body when children in the past were naturally exposed to so many more immunologic challenges due do living conditions, lack of a clean public infrastructure? Indeed, there are theories now that we've made our environment too "hygienic" and because our children's immune systems are not challenged enough, they are at risk for asthma, allergies, and even leukemia because our environment no longer trains our immune systems as well as it used to.

I'm a pharmacist and public health practitioner but I'm also aunt to a severely autistic teen who has never uttered a word in his entire life, so I really do have a great deal of empathy for families trying to understand what "caused" a child's autism. But the whole vaccine/autism hypothesis is just not biologically plausible.

I do suspect that there is a link between genes and the environment though, in that some people are susceptible due to genetics and something in the environment tips the scales to autism. But environmental health is something that never gets studied as well as it should.

hschinske said...

"And the HPV vaccine being sold to young pre-teen girls before they are sexually active - ridiculous.."

How else are you going to guarantee that you'll catch most of them before they have any sexual contact? Babies are at very little risk of tetanus, too -- they're not out there stepping on rusty nails in droves.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

It would make far LESS sense to give girls the HPV vaccine AFTER they become sexually active, no? And 11 isn't all that young. My father was a pharmacist and even 15 years ago in a fairly sparsely populated state, he knew of many girls age 12 and up either on birth control of even pregnant. I'd say 11 would be right on time.

Sahila said...

I dont believe the mercury STILL (my son had his last tetanus/diptheria shot last July) used in children's vaccines is harmless...

I've been working simultaneously on a piece about the dangers to the body of flouride and many dentists are also working to have mercury removed from the practice of dentistry... and if mercury is bad for your body when it enters via the mouth, then its bad for your body when it enters via a vaccine/needle

http://www.fluoridealert.org/professionals.statement.html

http://www.dentalwellness4u.com/breaking/breaking.html

http://www.naturalchoice.net/articles/flouride.htm

I stand by my thoughts on the under-emphasised dangers of vaccination and I notice that my points about children being exposed to vaccines that are not relative/relevant to their level of risk/exposure were not addressed or rebutted...

Sahila said...

I dont think vaccinating all 11 year old girls against HPV on the premise that some of them are going to be sexually active at that age is a sound strategy... risking harming the many to protect the few?

I am not a prude, dont have conservative ideas about morality but chose not to become sexually active until I was in my late teens... I'm fairly confident my two adult daughters waited until they were in their late teens also... and I think only good things come from encouraging our children to wait until they are both physiologically and psychologically ready before they start experimenting with sex and dealing with the consequences (expected and unexpected) of that choice...

I would rather we spent our money educating all of our children - boys and girls - about the possible/probable hazards of early and uninhibited sexual activity than to administer unproven vaccines to young girls...

We are yet again sending a message that girls need to take on all the responsibility for the health of their gender and letting the male half of the population off the hook - as we have in birth control, for example ...

I'm not against giving birth control to teenagers and making the 'morning after' and the RU40 pills and abortions available to young people...

But I wonder at us introducing mass medication as a preventative when that's not accompanied by an equal effort to educate so that young people have more active choices...

I'd rather my teenager had to think about each decision to have sex - the risk to her physical and emotional wellbeing for example - than to have the illusory comfort that she's had the vaccine, so its OK....

And, in response to 2 year olds stepping on rusty nails and the tetanus risk... there's tetanus in the soil and most one and two year olds I know spend at least some time with their fingers in the dirt and then put those fingers in their mouths...

hschinske said...

"I dont think vaccinating all 11 year old girls against HPV on the premise that some of them are going to be sexually active at that age is a sound strategy... risking harming the many to protect the few?"

Eleven-year-old girls do not "become sexually active," because they cannot legally consent to sex. They do, however, get raped.

The risks of the vaccine are the same at any age (and very small at that); from a public health standpoint it makes perfect sense to have the immunization as early as possible.

Helen Schinske

Sahila said...

Some 11 year old girls become sexually active, whether or not they know (or care) its illegal....

Some 11 year old girls are raped, as are 2 year olds, 5 year olds, 8 year olds, 12 year olds, 13 year olds etc, etc....

Does the fact that a 2 year old girl is raped mean that we now need to vaccinate all girl babies against HPV at birth?

hschinske said...

I don't know why HPV isn't given earlier than age nine. I assume there are medical reasons. Otherwise it would make sense to me to give it early and get it over with (which would also do away with the idea that getting immunized means "okay, go have sex," which seems to me about as sensible as saying, "okay, you've had your tetanus shot, now go step on rusty nails").

Helen Schinske

Sahila said...

tetanus is in the soil....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetanus

pardon the wikipedia reference ... I normally dont quote Wiki as a primary source, but I didnt want to include a link to other information provided by pharmaceutical companies that were selling other vaccines or the CDC etc, which also has a vested interest in presenting one particular view...

hschinske said...

I realize tetanus is not just from nails, and that they don't have to be rusty, and all that. My point was rather that there isn't any big difference between a sexually transmitted disease and any other -- there is no shame in being immunized earlier than strictly necessary, just as infants are immunized against hepatitis B, though the vast majority are not exposed at birth and won't have any other risk factors for many years, if ever.

Helen Schinske

Maureen said...

I believe that one reason vaccines are grouped in the US is to increase the probability that kids actually get them all. In the US you have to pay for every office visit. Spreading out the shots means fewer parents comply. In civilized countries (maybe like where Sahila is from?), that isn't so much of an issue. Same thing goes for the HPV--it makes sense to group it with the shots you have to get before middle school because if you say "come back a month before you plan to have sex" fewer girls will end up immunized.

(A side question--does anyone out there know anything about immunizing BOYS against HPV? It seems like the public spirited thing to do (to improve herd immunity) but I don't know if it works that way.)

Anonymous said...

Maureen, there is interest in vaccinating boys against HPV as well, but the studies haven't been done/haven't been completed. While obviously they don't get cervical cancer, they serve as a source for the infection for women, so eradicating it in both genders makes sense.

I work mostly in cancer medicine, and there is increasing evidence that HPV causes some types of cancer of the head and neck (usually designated as SCCHN or HNSCC to indicate squamous cell carcinomas). While not highly prevalent like say lung cancer or breast cancer, HNSCC is particularly devastating because it's often not curable, is highly disfiguring, and interferes with normal life functions like eating, breathing, and talking. Preventing even a small number of these horrible cancers would be great news.

I really suspect that within the next decade, we will be using the HPV vaccine in men and women to prevent cervical cancers and some (but sadly not all) cases of HNSCC.

reader said...

Just fyi. My doctor told me that the recommendation is that 9 yo girls be vaccinated for HPV. It causes 100% of all cervical cancer. Wow! 100%. There is nothing else believed to cause cervical cancer! It's great that the source has been discovered. Pretty shocking... and a pretty young age for the vaccination, but neccessary.

anonymous said...

I've heard the reason HPV vaccine is not given younger is because it's not precisely known yet how durable or long-lasting immunity will be. If given too early the concern is its effectiveness may wear off prematurely. Whatever age is recommended now is done instead of early childhood for that reason.

Sahila said...

HPV isnt the only thing that causes cervical cancer.... and most women with HPV dont get cervical cancer... and the vaccine protects only against 2 types of HPV 100% of the time...

This information from:
http://www.cervicalcancercampaign.org/faqs/

"The most common cancer-causing types of the (HPV) virus are 16 and 18. This is important to know because these two types alone cause about 70% of all cervical cancer. The cervical cancer vaccine protects against these two types 100% of the time...

An HPV infection rarely leads to cervical cancer. In most women, the cells in the cervix return to normal after the body’s immune system destroys the HPV infection. However, in some women, the HPV infection remains and causes changes in the body’s cells. If these abnormal cells are not found and treated, they may become cancer."

Again, a mass (money making) vaccination campaign to minimise risk to a few people....

ARB said...

To start, my older girl is on the autistic spectrum
1. There is no longer any legitimate scientific debate to support non-vaccination--I won't debate this anymore, if you don't vaccinate your kids it is like you think there is still a debate whether the world is flat or round.
2. Your non vaccinated child puts those children and people who truly cannot be vaccinated at risk, as well as my vaccinated children (vaccines have a small failure rate)
3. There is also no scientific validity to a delayed "Dr Sears" schedule. Due to scientific advances, there is actually less viral load in the multiple shots kids get today than in the fewer shots they got in the last.
4. This faux controversy only distracts people from spending time and money on finding the true cause of, and a truly needed cure for, autism.

http://stanmed.stanford.edu/2009spring/index.html

Sahila said...

Aurora - I respect your right to your allopathic stance and I respect my right to my homeopathic/naturopathic perspective...

I come back to the question of why we, as a species, are so afraid to face our own mortality...

We all have to die...how we die surely is just a mechanism?

Other lifeforms on this planet die at every stage of the life cycle - young, adult, aged - and its a necessary part of balancing the ecosystem...

Just look what we as a species are doing to the rest of the planet, with our uncontrolled birth rate, our excessive (and inequitable) consumption while we are alive and our attempts at postponing our individual and collective deaths...

Anonymous said...

I've seen Sahila's viewpoint on some mom debate boards-and it boggles my mind that it seems to be ok with these people that kids die from preventable diseases because they're afraid of vaccines, much as they accuse US of being "afraid" ofr mortality.

I would never, ever forgive myself if a child of mine died or was disabled by an illness that we KNOW we can prevent with a few shots.

I go through life with a 12-inch scar on my chest from the open heart surgery I needed thanks to a birth defect from my mother being exposed to rubella when pregnant. I go through life partially deaf thanks to my mom's expsoure to rubella. I have two nieces that were hospitalized because of severe chicken pox.

The dangers of these illnesses are REAL. The fear of the vaccines are unproven. The accusation of being afraid of death is laughable. Well, YES death is fearsome. It's kind of permanent. So is my hearing loss. Had routine vaccines been around when my mother was young, I'd be minus one heart surgery and have fully working ears.

anonymous said...

This issue is not cut and dried as you make it which is what makes it controversial. There is no timeless worldwide standard vaccination list or schedule. The health department updates it every year. Parents should be allowed to make informed choices. Many parents follow both natural and allopathic remedies for their children, choosing vaccines to have or not very carefully based on their best judgment of risk and benefit.

Our family does vaccinate. But I respect parents who don't as their moral and legal right. Some I know are medical people who certainly have valid scientific reasons. We don't fear mortality with shots any more than with the car seats and seatbelts we always use. Neither do we fear our kids might somehow catch tetanus or polio from an unvaccinated child on the playground.

Anonymous said...

Sahila, correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't you argued on other threads that families should do things to help ALL children not just their own? Such as pooling the PTSA money raised in the district and distributing it amongst the schools to increase equity? Thought I read that just last night on another thread.

How can you then argue that it's perfectly fine for families to opt out of vaccination? When enough do, the entire "herd" loses its protection, and it's the weakest among us who are hurt.

I vaccinated my daughter not just to protect her, but to protect her friend who had leukemia and couldn't be vaccinated when they were toddlers. I did it to protect my daughter's grandpa who has lymphoma and lower immunity than the rest of us. I vaccinated her to protect all of her classmates and their siblings from infectious diseases because maybe one of them failed to elicit an adequate immune response to their own vaccinations. Or because maybe their parents choose not to vaccinate them.

Ultimately, I vaccinated my daughter for the greater good of society. I guess I see it as being a responsible member of a civil society - those of us who can band together to make things a little safer, a little better, for everyone should.

Unfortunately, the whole concept is thrown out the window when enough people decide to leave the herd. And that puts my daughter at risk, despite her vaccinations. And yeah, that makes me mad. Like Aurora, I believe that the whole vaccine "controversy" is an unfortunate distraction from more more important things. I wish the anti-vaccine camp would spend just a tiny portion of its energy studying environmental mercury, for example, the actual type of mercury that causes harm, or raising funds for rigorous autism research studies. Just complaining and opting out of the system does not benefit children's health.

anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anonymous said...

We likewise vaccinate our kids on schedule. But I would be careful not to mis-characterize parents who abstain as fringe, antisocial, or unscientific. Some parents we know are quite knowledgeable. History shows all vaccines are not created equal.

For example, we can all be grateful for the polio vaccine, which most credit for the eradication of wild polio from the US by 1979. The WHO is now working diligently trying to eliminate all wild polio from the world very soon, using mostly OPV vaccine in the few isolated areas of the world with outbreaks from wild polio.

However, in the US baby boomers given Salk polio vaccine between 1955-1963 had a one in 3 risk of being infected by SV40, a simian virus. That's because the vaccine USED TO BE cultured in live monkey kidney cells. Research papers published in the CDC's own website links SV40 to increased risk of certain types of tumors:
http://www.cdc.gov/
ncidod/eid/vol3no2/news245.htm
There was no chance of catching SV40 in any other way except from getting a polio shot.

During the 20 years AFTER wild polio was eradicated from the US, 8-10 cases of polio disease per year occurred in the US. All were caused directly from receiving the OPV vaccine, which contained a live weakened virus with a 1 in 700,000 doses chance of mutating back to the wild polio virus. Between 1979-1999 there was no chance of catching polio in the US except from getting oral polio vaccine.

In 2000 they switched the US back to the Salk (IPV) shot which contains only killed virus. There is NO RISK of contracting SV40 or polio disease from the current IPV polio shot given in the US. So our kids got the shots.

In retrospect, it could be logical to argue that IPV should be avoided until 1963, then OPV taken until 1979, then IPV taken until now, then polio vaccine dropped entirely once WHO announces victory against polio worldwide.

Unfortunately updates to the recommended vaccination tables to reflect epidemiolic changes have always been delayed.

Therefore I'm not judgmental when I hear other parents make a different choice for their children's health. Even if every child had all the recommended shots, immunocompromised people will always need to be vigilant against communicable diseases.

Anonymous said...

I don't know, Anonymous @ 11:59, it's pretty "fringe" to me when someone would rather their child DIE than get a shot for say, polio.
Even the unproven concerns about autism are at least a concern of other harm. Saying that DEATH due to preventable disease is an aceptable thing is about as far out there as one gets, IMO.

We do many things every day to ward off possible illness and death, from strapping our kids into seat belts and car seats, giving asthmatic ones inhalers, keeping peanuts away from allergic kids, finding gluten-free food for those with celiac disease (I think that's right), and so on.

Would people like Sahila insist we do none of those things so that nature takes its course? I doubt it.

anonymous said...

RE: "I don't know, Anonymous @ 11:59, it's pretty "fringe" to me when someone would rather their child DIE than get a shot for say, polio."

Can you please explain how it is possible for anyone to catch polio in the United States. Polio is rare worldwide except in remote pockets of undeveloped countries. I don't know Sahila but I'll give parents the benefit of the doubt they don't plan to include remote sections of northern Nigeria in their vacation travel plans.

We don't get smallpox shots anymore either, because there is no risk of smallpox disease.

It's possible CDC will remove polio vaccine from the list in a few years, once worldwide vaccine coverage is successful and all outbreaks have stopped. Then parents who waited can avoid 5 more injections altogether.

Seems that some pro-vaccinators are every bit as irrational as some anti-vaccinators are.

anonymous said...

Typhoid is much more infectious and prevalent worldwide than polio. Typhoid vaccine is available in Seattle but is not on the school's recommended schedule so my kids didn't get that shot. I suppose there's the tiniest risk a traveler could infect my kids with deadly Typhoid, but I didn't get them the shots. I did get them IPV polio shots, but there is zero risk of them catching polio.

A different parent decides not to give their kids polio vaccine because it will probably not be needed anywhere in the world in a few years when they are old enough to travel. There is zero risk of her kids getting polio too, shot or no shot.

I don't judge either of us better or worse, we do what we believe is right.

hschinske said...

Polio might not have been the best example, but that doesn't invalidate agibean's point.

Helen Schinske

Sahila said...

My views might be seen in some quarters as extreme....unpopular they might be; however, they are not unreasoned... my reasoning uses logic and some basic sense of ethics and justice, natural or un-natural... cause and effect, choice and consequences, ramifications...

Have you ever thought that if the rest of creation (a term I am not using in the biblical sense) had consciousness and was able to communicate across species, it might view humans as a viral plague, spreading across the face of the earth bringing with it toxicity and cataclysmic devastation/destruction?

And I look at a lot of life from the macro-micro, as-above-so-below perspective... our bodies are a microcosm of the planet and all that lives on it... the life processes going on in our bodies go on on the planet... we are in one sense organs of the planet... we all need to die at some point... its not natural for us to live past a certain point and yet we dont want to deal with that concept of death and we have some sort of idea about death being unfair, especially when it happens to certain parts of our populations...

I'm sorry but I dont see it that way... death is an essential part of life and how it comes is pretty much irrelevant... in other species its rare for so many young to reach adulthood... there's a balance happening and we humans are intent on tampering with that balance...

And I probably wouldnt be so fervent about this if not for the fact that the imbalance comes about partly when we spend so much time, money and other resources keeping the first world alive and look away at starvation etc in the third world...

We're a bunch of hypocrites really - we really arent concerned about other people's survival (herd protection in its broadest sense, community, connectedness) - if we were, we wouldnt have this discrepancy between countries and populations and communities on this planet... and my judgmental place that looks upon we humans in disgust thinks its immoral to spend money on developing HPV vaccines to mass-administer to pre-pubescent western girl children to prevent a very small risk of them developing cervical cancer, when 80% (or whatever the figure is) of the rest of the world's children are starving or dying of thirst etc...

We need to get over ourselves - our arrogance and sense of self importance and entitlement is disgusting....

anonymous said...

I'll admit that I don't agree with either agibean or Sahila on this topic. I think both have kind of extreme views on either side with mine somewhere in the middle. I've avoided personal attacks and tried to establish an attitude of tolerance for both sides based on facts. Their viewpoints are based either on emotions about a personal experience with a neonatal illness, or on a quasi-religious-philosophy. It may work for them personally but lacks utility as a sound basis of debate.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly, the development of the HPV vaccine has great promise to improve the lives of women (and therefore families) worldwide, particularly in poorer/developing nations. I don't know how anyone could classify this vaccine as nothing more than the selfish pursuit of wealthy Americans who want to avoid a rare disease.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in women worldwide. The burden falls disproportionately on poor women in developing countries who do not have access to routine PAP smears. When they die of this disease, they do so in their "prime" and leave behind children. If you're worried about children in poor countries, isn't it reasonable to try to keep their mothers alive to care for them?

Global health initiatives and foundations (eg, Gates foundation) are already working on access to the vaccine and improving screening in resource-poor countries. Of course, to be swayed by these data, one would have to believe that improving global public health is a worthy pursuit. If man is nothing more than a parasite on the body Earth, then we should pursue no courses of action that make our lives better or extend survival.

Sahila said...

I think that if you asked third world women, stopping them from dying of cervical cancer, while a laudable goal, probably would come quite a way down the list after helping them create a world where they live longer because they have access to life and gender equity (girl babies no longer being killed at birth), food, clean drinking water, housing, education, consensual marriage, freedom from sexual and sweat shop slavery, control over their own destinies, political involvement...

Anonymous - I prefer to think of my approach as a holistic one, ie cognisant of the fact that we are not the only living organisms on this planet and what we do has an impact on the whole... and on the whole, I think that what we do is monstrous...and, in the 21st Century, there really is no excuse for us to keep doing what we are doing.... we know the effects and yet we proceed....

Anonymous said...

I've never been called extreme-just because I support vaccinations, as many others on this board do, doesn't make me extreme. I don't think that believing in science is extreme. As it happens, I don't support every vaccine in every case, but it DO find it extreme to say death by disease is better than a proven medicine.

I find it interesting that Sahila feels we are a "viral plague" on the planet, and yet she's reproduced, several times. She also feels that "what we're doing in monstrous" yet she lives comfortably in the 1st world in a city known for it's high standard of living instead of in Africa saving the suffering 3rd worlders.