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Vaccine Fears and the Return of Old Diseases

Posted By Prucia Buscell, Thursday, January 22, 2015

Measles, whooping cough and other diseases thought to have been eliminated decades ago are reappearing in California and other states and health officials worry that widespread resistance to childhood vaccinations raises potential for dangerous outbreaks of infectious illnesses.

A New York Times story by Adam Nagourney and Abby Goodnough reports a measles outbreak at Disneyland infected 42 of the 59 people in California whose illnesses were reported to the state this week. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 644 cases of measles in 27 states in 2014, the biggest number since 2000. Before common use of measles vaccine in 1963, the story reports, measles infected three to four million Americans a year and 400 to 500 people died.

Stories by Gary Baum of the Hollywood Reporter document childhood immunization rates as low 57 percent and 68 percent in some in some elite preschools in wealthy neighborhoods, numbers that are on a par with immunization in Chad and South Sudan. And nearly 8,000 cases of whooping cough, including 267 that needed hospitalization, had been reported to the state during the first nine months of 2014. Whooping cough, also called pertussis, once killed thousands of people annually, but introduction of the DPT (diptheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine nearly eliminated the disease.

During the current measles outbreak, unvaccinated children have been banned from going to public school in Orange County. A Washington Post Wonkblog identifies Orange County as "ground zero in the current epidemic of anti-vaccine hysteria." California allows parents to avoid vaccinating their children by filling out personal belief exemptions, and Baum reports an alarmingly high number of families in many of the wealthiest communities have made that choice. The CDC recommends vaccinations, some of which need multiple doses, against 14 diseases.

Radio station WBUR in Boston reported on a study showing vaccination rates in some states, including Oregon, West Virginia and Colorado, have dropped below the level required for herd immunity. Thresholds differ based on how infectious different illnesses are. The CDC suggests that threshold is crossed for whooping cough and measles when more than six percent of the population is not immunized. Herd immunity means that where a high percentage of the population is immune, the chance of an infected person meeting a susceptible person is low, so disease is unlikely to spread. Diseases spread rapidly among people who are not immunized.

Some parents worry about discredited research linking vaccines to autism, and some have religious or philosophical objections. The National Vaccine Information Center raises concerns about vaccines and the Times story quotes a spokesperson as minimizing the hazard of rejecting vaccination. Why do many resist? A 2014 AP-GfK survey reports only 53 percent of adults are "very confident" that childhood vaccines are safe and effective. The Post Wonkblog notes wryly that's about the same percentage who think houses can be haunted by ghosts.

The World Health Organization, urging universal immunizations, asserts that vaccines save lives and prevent disability, as well as mitigating severity of many diseases, reducing secondary infections. Some vaccines provide protection against related diseases. WHO says, for instance, that measles vaccination protects against multiple complications including dysentery and bacterial pneumonia.

Tags:  buscell  complexity matters  disease  health 

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Suzie Kidder says...
Posted Friday, January 23, 2015
In all of the shouting back and forth across the divide between - "We don't think these vaccines are safe" - and each one probably is - and "You're all idiots and you don't understand "science" - and that's most likely half true .... what I have heard posited is any substantial research into, and/or discussion on, the issue of the potential effects of our accelerated vaccination schedule on a developing immune system. I'm 66, and when I was a child we were given Smallpox, Polio, and Tetanus. And eventually we had Chickenpox and (I think) Measles, etc.

And these vaccines were definitely not given in a cluster to infants and toddlers below the age of 18 months. When I'd finally had enough of the shouting, I went to the CDC and looked at the suggested vaccination schedule for children today. I am seriously appalled.

Just as we're beginning to learn how very "responsive" the immune systems and metabolisms of a growing infant/child actually turn out to be ... we're basically hitting these on the head with a baseball bat - repeatedly - and we SHOCKED, SHOCKED when we get responses that we didn't anticipate and aren't actually all that positive.

Why, unless we're selling out to drug companies and their compulsive need to sell us stuff, and to physicians and parents whose convenience trumps the potential effects on their children - are we giving these vaccines in the protocol I see recommended?

What would be the harm, or the effects, of spacing these out over a longer period of time? What would actually happen if we gave some of these a "little later?" What would be the harm if we actually waited to give a couple of these until a child was ready to enter kindergarten .. or even grade school?

Yes, the vaccines to prevent an epidemic of measles, chicken pox, etc. that can spread through a class of 5 and 6 year olds like wildfire should be given before a child enters into a day care center or begins school. Those like the polio vaccine that prevent lifelong paralysis should be given when they would be most effective. But surely we could visit the insane schedule I saw on the CDC site and think a little bit more carefully about its effects on a developing immune system.

If there's any good reseach done on this issue - I would love to see it. And I'm more than willing to turn out to be wrong - wrong is when I learn. So, if there is research ... please send to THANK YOU, Suzie
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Suzie Kidder says...
Posted Friday, January 23, 2015
Forgot to check for typos .. "not heard posited" ... oops and "revisit the insane schedule" ... next time I post I promise to edit more carefully .. :-)
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Prucia Buscell says...
Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Thank you, Suzie, for your thoughtful comment. The CDC answers some questions for its recommendations on the vaccniatios schedule here:
The Washington Post also has a story today on vaccination refusal in California:
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