February 18, 2013

The Vaccination Dilemma

Matisse Cremains 2013

In terms of health (homeostasis,) human and animal, possibly no other subject is as controversial as vaccination.

On one side, you have vaccine proponents - doctors, drug companies, public health agencies, government officials and true believers who cannot imagine a world without medical intervention. For this side, there's never too much of a good thing.

Proponents declare that the development of modern vaccines is one of the top 10 public health triumphs of the 20th century.
Public health laws making vaccination compulsory led to the eradication of smallpox; elimination of poliomyelitis in the Americas. These laws control of measles, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, Haemophilus influenzae type b, and other infectious diseases in the United States and other parts of the world. ( Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Ten great public health achievements -- United States, 1900-1999. MMWR. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); 1999;48 (12):241-243.  Accessed April 25, 2010.)

On the other side, you have the vaccine opponents - doctors, former drug company employees, parents and pet owners who connect the advent of mass, compulsory vaccination programs with a sharp increase in allergies, arthritis, epilepsy, neurological damage, encephalopathies, ADD, LD, autism, depression, anxiety, central nervous system disorders, Guillain-Barre Symdrome and brain damage. For this side, too much of a good thing has gone bad.
"To be specific, a large proportion of the millions of U.S. children and adults suffering from autism, seizures, mental retardation, hyperactivity, dyslexia, and other developmental disabilities, owe their disorders to one or another of the vaccines against childhood diseases.

Some 40-50 years ago children were not vaccinated until they were ready for the first grade at age 6. Neurological disorders were very uncommon then. Today, children are vaccinated at birth for HiB and begin their long vaccination-journey at 2 months of age, before the blood brain barrier is fully developed. A review of the medical literature around the world will turn up many articles linking vaccinations with many neurological disorders. Before the 1940s, autism was extremely rare or unheard of. Then in the mid-1940s we began a massive vaccination programs and autism was "born". At first, it only occurred in the children of wealthy parents, since vaccinations were not free or government sponsored like today. Later autism became a disease of all classes (with government-sponsored vaccine programs)." (Vaccines and Neurological Damage, Dr. Joseph Mercola, author and natural health advocate.)
Controversy surrounds the safety and efficacy of the diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP) immunization, the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the use of a mercury-containing preservative called thimerosal as well as aluminum, formaldehyde and various toxic substances that contaminate vaccine ingredients.
"The many toxic substances contained in vaccines are also implicated in adverse reactions. These include chemicals used in its manufacture, toxins of the microorganisms themselves and various impurities. Their interaction with chemical additives used in the vaccine to stabilize and preserve it may also produce adverse effects when injected into the body. Formaldehyde, aluminum and mercury - all with recognized toxicity - are often used as preservatives. Other substances added to vaccines include phenol (disinfectant), ethylene glycol (antifreeze), phenoxyethanol (antifreeze), benzethonium chloride (antiseptic) and methylparaben (antifungal, preservative.)" (Randall Neustaedter. The Vaccine Guide: Risks and Benefits for Children and Adults)
Proponents deny a causal relationship between these and subsequent mental and physical dysfunction. Vaccines are safe, they say. Alternatively, they minimize the number of incidences, citing statistics as evidence that adverse reactions, if they are related, occur in only a small percentage of the total populations who comply with mandatory vaccination laws.

Opponents cite specific areas of vaccine damage.
"Vaccinations have been known to increase the demyelination, a process related to many neurologic diseases and MS is a demyelination disease. Myelin is designed to protect the outer coating of neurons, much like the plastic outer coating over an electrical wire. When this myelin is damaged, neurological disorders, such as, MS, paralysis, or ALS, will result. The nerves are short-circuited and do not function normally." (Vaccines and Neurological Damage, Dr. Joseph Mercola, author and natural health advocate.)
With the Internet, it's pretty easy to come up with evidence to back up any theory, whether for or against vaccination.

What's mind boggling is how so much empirical evidence is dismissed. 

For example, in dogs, kennel cough is the equivalent of the common cold. In a healthy immune system, kennel cough runs its course in a couple of weeks.

World-renowned vaccination scientist, Dr. Ronald Schultz, says:
“Many animals receive “kennel cough” vaccines that include Bordetella and CPI and/or CAV-2 every six to nine months without evidence that this frequency of vaccination is necessary or beneficial. In contrast, other dogs are never vaccinated for kennel cough and disease is not seen. CPI immunity lasts at least three years when given intranasally, and CAV -2 immunity lasts a minimum of seven years parenterally for CAV-I. These two viruses in combination with Bordetella bronchiseptica are the agents most often associated with kennel cough, however, other factors play an important role in disease (e.g. stress, dust, humidity, molds, mycoplasma, etc.), thus kennel cough is not a vaccine preventable disease because of the complex factors associated with it. Furthermore, this is often a mild to moderate self limiting disease. I refer to it as the ‘Canine Cold.’”
Why then do we vaccinate our dogs against it, as often as every six months?

DHLPP, five vaccines in one inoculation, are administered to puppies to protect against viral infections they may encounter when they first socialize with other dogs outside the home or in a kennel. I'll break it down quickly:
  • D - Distemper: a highly infectious disease similar to measles in children.
  • H or A2 - Adenovirus type 2: a contagious virus that causes respiratory infection and canine hepatitis
  • L -  Leptospirosis is an infection of the kidneys and liver. Dogs and people get it from contact with urine from rats, raccoons, cows and pigs.
  • P - Parainfluenza (sometimes Pi): often referred to by other names, such as canine influenza virus, greyhound disease and race flu affects dogs kenneled in close quarters.
Not only do we vaccinate puppies aggressively with this combination - three doses between the ages of six and 16 weeks; some veterinarians continue to administer DHLPP annually to adult animals.

How can injection with a combination of five, powerful biologic agents, with five disparate effects and varying duration of immunity be effective?

As author, Jan Rasmusen puts it in Combination Shots for Dogs:
"Immunity given by some vaccine components can last for years, even a lifetime, but other components may give immunity for less a year, yet they’re packaged together. This is the pharmaceutical equivalent of packaging beef jerky and ice cream together. To keep immunity strong with short-duration vaccines, the long-duration vaccines have to be given again and again needlessly. This exposes your dog repeatedly, for no good reason, to adverse reactions which may include  skin diseases, autoimmune disease, allergies and even death."
Knowing the nature of nature in terms of developing immunity, under this kind of assault, how is it possible for the body's natural defenses to develop and pass on immunity to the next generation as we've seen in past epidemics? How often does this kind of contagion occur?

It does not.

The case against annual booster shots can't be made any plainer than this statement from Dr. Jean Dodds, one of the world's foremost experts in pet health care:
"And the truth is that once your dog has completed his puppy series (or kitten series for cats) for the core vaccines, there is a good chance his body will maintain immunity to these diseases for life."  (Vaccines: When Too Much of a Good Thing Turns Bad.)
The science has been done for some time on the potential for adverse reactions to rabies vaccination.

Multiple, scientific studies have associated rabies vaccine with adverse reactions like Vaccine Associated Sarcoma (VAS) in cats and Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) and Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT) in dogs and cats. (Gobar, Glenna M, Kass, Phillip H, World wide web based survey of vaccination practices, postvaccinational reactions, and vaccine site associated sarcomas in cats JAVMA, Vol. 220, No 10, May 15, 2002.)

Yet rabies control and prevention laws require vaccination in puppies as young as 12 weeks and redundant vaccination every year - or every three years - thereafter.

At the very least, old knowledge deferring to new information might signal the need for temperance.

Rather than minimize the impact of vaccines on a global population of animals, what if we modify the vaccine protocol animal by animal, one animal at a time?

To some extent, we have.

Dr. Bob Rogers, a staunch advocate for vaccination reforms in Texas and nationwide, sums up a newly-evolving vaccination protocol: One size does not fit all. And in general, the fewer the better.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association and 26 veterinary medical schools agree.

And yet the vaccine controversy still rages.

So what if both sides have a valid point?

I am willing to concede that an initial inoculation of a single disease antigen may stimulate a lifelong immunity. After all, I am of the generation that was vaccinated against smallpox and polio when I was of school age with no apparent ill effect.

What's more, I am willing to concede that millions of children and animals have been spared the misery of once-common acute, self-limiting illnesses and the world is all the better for this.

But I have to question the risk to benefit.

Before I knew better, my dog was vaccinated with DHLPP every year from 1988 to 2005. He was plagued with allergy symptoms from the first inoculation to his death. They didn't kill him, but they robbed him of quality of life.

In 2009, he began to show symptoms of neurological dysfunction. Whether this was always lurking in his DNA as a predisposition, an unintended consequence of over-vaccination or the impact of multiple chemical sensitivities in his environment. One of the above. All of the above. None of the above. I cannot say.

I can say that over the course of three years, I watched a beautiful, bold, intelligent, athletic animal grow into a nervous wreck at the first hint of a thunderstorm and deteriorate neurologically until nearly paraplegic with symptoms that mimic ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in humans.

It's easier to go along with Dr. Mercola, a health expert looking for ways to mediate unintended consequences of government-mandated vaccination protocols rather than believe the Center for Disease Control, a government body heavily invested in denying, dismissing and minimizing them.

Maybe I just need a scapegoat. Maybe if my heart were not so broken, I could hear your expert opinion, Maybe. Maybe not.

As Bertram Russell once noted, it is possible for all the experts to agree and still be wrong. Ask Galileo.

Thus, the vaccination dilemma: who do I trust with this precious gift of life my animal has conferred on me? How do I protect him from both known canine disease and also the unintended consequences that have emerged alongside beneficial drugs?  Does the benefit of vaccination outweigh the potential damage to native immunity or the possible threat to life?

I'm dead sure about one thing.

Vaccinations may be man's greatest gift to the animal kingdom, but to continue to inoculate the same animals with the same vaccines year in and out is insane.

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