Government mandated vaccination programs are a very divisive issue right now. As a scientist and mother, you are not anti-vaccine, but you believe there are serious problems with vaccines that need to be addressed. Could you explain your position?
The FDA has debated the safety of using human fetal cell lines for vaccine manufacture for over 50 years, yet actual safety studies have never been done. There has never been an epidemiological study that has considered the relative risk of autism diagnosis based on receipt of fetal manufactured vaccines, which includes MMR II, Varivax, Vaqta, Havrix and Pentacel.
People who question the U.S. vaccination schedule, which is very aggressive, and the very real dangers of adjuvants in vaccines, and the long term impact of a heavy vaccination schedule on natural immunity, have rational and sound scientific concerns. It is sad and perplexing that civil, complete, and rational discussions of these concerns are obstructed by pharma, by the media, and unfortunately often by our elected officials, pediatricians, and family physicians.
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Recently, 41 students at Harvard University came down with mumps and, according to the Public Health department in Cambridge, every single one of those students had been vaccinated.
Four other campuses in Boston are also starting to see cases, as have four universities in Indiana. About 13 cases of mumps have also cropped up in California.
One ridiculous explanation offered by Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Health Security, is that the vaccine only works if the exposure to the virus is low; it can’t be expected to work if there are high amounts of exposure, such as in dorms.
What is the flu? Influenza is a respiratory infection that produces fever, chills, sore throat, muscle aches, and cough that lasts a week or more. The flu can be deadly for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems or who are suffering from diabetes, kidney dysfunction and heart disease. Each year about 20,000 Americans, mostly in these high risk groups, reportedly die from flu complications such as pneumonia.
Every year, federal health agency officials try to guess which three flu strains are most likely to be prevalent in the U.S. the following year to determine which strains will be included in next year’s flu vaccine. If they guess right, the vaccine is thought to be 70 to 80 percent effective in temporarily preventing the flu of the season in healthy persons less than 65 years old (the efficacy rate drops to 30 to 40% in those over 65 years old but the vaccine is thought to be 50 to 60% effective in preventing hospitalization and pneumonia and 80% effective in preventing death from the flu in the over 65 age group). However, sometimes health officials do not correctly predict which flu strains will be most prevalent and the vaccine’s effectiveness is much lower for that year.
Why do doctors say I have to get a flu vaccine every year? Like all vaccines, the flu vaccine only gives a temporary immunity to the virus strains or closely related virus strains contained in the vaccine. The only way to get natural and permanent immunity to a strain of flu is to recover naturally from the flu. Natural immunity to a particular strain of flu can be protective if that strain or closely related strains come around again in the future. However, because the vaccine only provides a 70 to 80 percent chance of temporary immunity to selected strains and those strains may or may not be prevalent each year, doctors say you have to get a flu shot every year.
What are contraindications to the flu vaccine? Among high risk factors listed by the CDC and the vaccine manufacturers are anyone who: (1) is sick with a fever; (2) has an impaired immune system; (2) has an egg allergy; (3) has a mercury allergy; (4) has a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome. In years past, pregnancy was also a contraindication to flu vaccine but, today, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends flu vaccine for women more than 14 weeks pregnant.
The current injectable flu vaccine contains mercury as a preservative. In the summer of 1999, the FDA, CDC and EPA directed the vaccine manufacturers to remove mercury as a preservative in childhood vaccines. Mercury is a known neuro-toxin and American babies under six months of age are currently exposed to mercury in childhood vaccines that exceed EPA safety standards.
One consideration with the mass use of flu vaccine in healthy children is the removal of natural antibodies to flu which are obtained from natural infection. The question of whether it is better for healthy children, who rarely suffer complications from flu, to get the flu and develop permanent immunity to that flu strain or it is better for children to get vaccinated every year to try to suppress all flu infection in early childhood is a question that has yet to be adequately answered by medical science.
What should I do? Become educated about the flu and its benefits and risks and the vaccine and its benefits and risks and make an informed decision after consulting multiple sources of information and discussing your questions with one or more health professionals.
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