Addressing Vaccine Fears Proactively

Washington State, is in the midst of a measles epidemic
because of a high rate of unvaccinated children in Vancouver, Washington, a city
just across the mighty Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. There have been multiple
cases of measles in eleven other states this year. This article suggests ways
to bridge the gap between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated populations.

Facts About Measles

  • Measles is highly contagious-Entering a room
    within two hours after an infected person has left can transmit the disease
  •  Measles can cause permanent hearing loss and
    brain damage
  •  People die from Measles and it remains the
    leading cause of vaccine preventable death in the world; approximately 1 to 2%
    of those exposed to Measles die and 110,000 people died from exposure to the
    disease in 2017 alone
  •  People with impaired immune systems are more likely
    to have complications from Measles

Why the Hysteria
About Vaccines?

Parents have two main fears regarding vaccines, one is the mercury
in the vaccine from thimerosal, a preservative and the other is a belief that
exposure to vaccines will trigger autoimmune responses leading to other health conditions.
Let’s look at the scientific studies on the mercury in vaccines to determine if
there is any harm from this stabilizing component. The American Academy of
Pediatricians published this document which is a meta-analysis of available
high-quality studies on vaccine safety to address parental concerns about
vaccines. After analysis of credible studies on vaccine safety this august body
of physicians made the following conclusions:

  1.   Increased exposure to antibody stimulating
    proteins is not associated with autism
     (DeStefano F, 2013)
  2. On-time first year vaccines did not harm neurological
    development (C, 2010)
  3. A 14-year study found no link to autism or
    inflammatory bowel disease and vaccinations (Peltola H, 1998)

Parents are concerned about injecting thimerosal, which
contains mercury and is used as a vaccine preservative into their children.
Solution-Give your child a vaccine without the thimerosal
Solution-Provide parents information on these multi-national
studies which involved thousands of children over an extended period of time
and demonstrated no link to neurological conditions. Vaccines are not profitable
for drug companies to manufacture so there are no customize-able versions for
parents who want to break up the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine.
Individual doses of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccines were discontinued in
2009. (Control, 2009) Presently in the
United States the combined MMR vaccine is the only option.
Solution-Explain to concerned parents that the risk of a
child getting a seizure from a vaccine is extremely rare, approximately 30
children out of 100,000 who received the MMR vaccine may have a febrile
seizure, which is related to the fever. The involuntary shaking should last no
more than two minutes and usually does not cause any long-term damage. These
seizures can occur at any time throughout childhood as a result of any fever.
However, if the fever and risk of seizure is a concern, parents may wish to
avoid the combined Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and Varicella vaccine as it has
been shown to have an increased risk for seizure versus the MMR. Choose the
lower risk MMR vaccine. (Control C. f., 2019)
Safety of the Vaccine
Manufacturing Process
There have been cases were faulty vaccines were sold and
these are usually in India and China, but this is extremely rare in the U.S. The
Centers for Disease  monitors vaccine safety and publishes alerts if a
recall is necessary. Your clinician would receive notice of the recall and
alert patients.
However, it is in our best interest to increase the efficacy
of vaccines, not to curb them. A biologist friend of mine recently suggested a
solution to increase vaccine safety through testing. Essentially, we would
require the vaccine’s supplier to perform a random and routine assay test for
antibodies in the vaccines. This would be a simple and cost-effective method to
assure that the vaccines were real.
Population or Herd
Preventing the spread of preventable diseases is a public
health obligation and the best way to do that is through vaccines. A community
needs a vaccination rate of 90% to assure adequate immunity from the disease
for a population, which means not your house, but your county, your region. Clark
County had a 78% vaccination rate for MMR, which is below the threshold to
prevent an outbreak.
Washington State is one of 17 states which allow
philosophical exemptions for vaccines. In February, Washington passed a House
bill to ban philosophical exceptions for vaccines and there have been
demonstrations in the state capitol since. Vaccines are proven to prevent
disease and the actions of a few individuals should not be allowed to endanger
everyone else. This is why we have drivers license testing, speed limits, and background
checks for the purchase of weapons. Public safety trumps the individual needs.
If parents willfully choose not to vaccinate their children they should not be
allowed to enroll in public school. However, the community health risk for
everyone else is only partially mitigated by limiting school exposure, because
participation in any public activity, such as swimming in the local pool, using
the play fields, or public transportation could expose you to preventable
disease. Wearing those surgical masks, the Chinese sport everywhere doesn’t
seem so odd now.
And this is the healthpolicymaven signing off encouraging
you to read good science, make informed decisions, and prudently get your
vaccinations. A healthy diet is not going to prevent Measles, Mumps, or

C, S. M. (2010). On-time Vaccination Receipt In The
First Year Does Not Adversely Affect Neuropyschological Outcomes. American
Journal of Pediatrics, 125
(6), 1134-41. Retrieved March 6, 2019, from
Control, C. f. (2009, October 21). Monovalent
M-M-R Vaccines
. Retrieved March 6, 2019, from Centers for Disease
Control, C. f. (2019, March 6). Vaccine Options
Fact Sheet
. Retrieved from Centers for Disease
DeStefano F, P. C. (2013). Case Control Study on
Frequency of Vaccines and Risk for Autism. Journal of Pediatrics.
Retrieved March 6, 2019
Peltola H, e. a. (1998). No Evidence for Measles,
Mumps, and Rubella Vaccine Associated with Autism or Inflammatory Bowel
Disease. Lancet, 351, 1327-28.

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