Vaccines: History ~ Truth ~ Myths

In the early 1950s there were four vaccines routinely used in the United States: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and smallpox. Three of these vaccines (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) were combined into a single shot (DTP). Children received five shots by the time they were 2 years old and not more than one shot at a single visit.

By the mid-1980s, there were seven vaccines routinely given to children: DTP; measles, mumps, rubella (MMR); and polio (smallpox was discontinued in the early 1970s). DTP and MMR were given in two shots, and polio vaccine was given by mouth. Children still received five shots by the time they were two years of age and not more than one shot at a single visit.

Since the mid-1980s, several vaccines have been added to the schedule. Haemophilus influenza B vaccine (Hib) was added in the mid-1980s; Hib was originally given in a single dose to toddlers and then as a series at two, four and six months. In the 1990s, hepatitis B and varicella (chicken pox) vaccines were added, and the polio vaccine shot (IPV) replaced the oral polio vaccine. Then, in 2000, the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) was added and hepatitis A was recommended to children in high-risk areas.

As a result of the many additions and multiple doses required for most vaccines, the vaccine schedule has become very complicated. Now children may receive as many as 20 shots by two years of age and up to five shots in a single visit. By age two, children born today will have three doses of hepatitis B, four doses of DTP, four doses of Hib, three doses of polio, four doses of PCV, one dose of MMR, and one dose of chicken pox vaccine. At around four to six years they will be given booster doses of DTP and polio and second doses of MMR and chicken pox.

Vaccines are also recommended for teens. Depending on which immunizations they received when they were younger or other factors (such as contracting chicken pox as a child), they will need vaccinations for chicken pox, hepatitis B, MMR, and diphtheria-tetanus (pertussis is not recommended after age 7). Additionally, many colleges are recommending, and some even requiring, that college students receive vaccination against meningococcal diseases.

In many public health clinics or school systems, immunizations are given under standing orders of the chief public health officer of a given state or

another designated medical professional. Immunizations given in private practice are administered as any medication, under the orders of a treating provider. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, requires that “informed consent” be obtained from the legal representative of a child receiving any vaccine.

I have frequently heard from parents, “You approve of vaccines? I thought you were a naturopath!” I can only reply, “Vaccination follows three of our most important guiding principles”

1. Premum non Nocere — Understanding and weighing out risks and benefits and follow the least harmful path.
2. Docere — Physician’s should be a teacher to their clients.
3. Preventir — Understand & practice preventative medicine.

By discussing vaccinations with my clients I have the opportunity to help them weigh risks and benefits of vaccine preventable disease versus costly, painful and the often dangerous consequences of preventable infections.

When I counsel about vaccinations I get to teach about disease prevention and public health; I get to help clients prevent some truly life threatening diseases. So yes, vaccines are naturopathic!

Some vaccines contain mercury: Fact

Thimerosal, a preservative containing about 50 percent mercury, prevents contamination by bacteria. It can be found in most flu shots, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, since 2001, thimerosal has not been present in routine vaccines for children younger than 6. And, both the flu shot and some vaccines for adults and older children can be found in thimerosal-free versions, or with only trace amounts.
Vaccines cause autism: Myth

A small 1998 study by Andrew Wakefield claimed to find a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, setting off a panic that led to dropping immunization rates, and subsequent outbreaks.

Since then, the study’s been deemed flawed, and it’s been retracted by the journal that published it. In 2004, the Institute of Medicine released a report that found no scientific evidence of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. In September 2010, the CDC published similar results. There is a definite case to be made for, it’s more risky for your child to not be vaccinated.

Vaccines can have side effects: Fact

Vaccines aren’t risk free. The most common side effects are soreness at the injection site and fever, which are best treated with acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Less common are seizures (defined as “jerking or staring”), and risks vary depending on the vaccine. For example, 1 in 14,000 children suffer a seizure after receiving the DTaP shot; it’s 1 in 3,000 with the MMR vaccine.

Some kids are at higher risk for side effects than others. In these cases, it may be best to proceed with caution or skip them, and this practice isn’t not only according to Naturopathy, the CDC agrees with this approach.

You’re safe if everyone else is vaccinated: Myth

Unfortunately that’s a big if. Often, like-minded unvaccinated families by choice attend the same preschools, playgroups, and schools, thus making it very easy for vaccine-preventable diseases to spread.

This was true with outbreaks in San Diego and Boulder, Colo. Although some people can’t be vaccinated due to health or age restrictions, it is possible to acquire some germs, like tetanus and hepatitis A, from contaminated soil or food, not another person.

Vaccines guarantee protection: Myth

Vaccines are not a 100 percent guarantee you won’t get sick. But they are a huge help.

This is good example of weighing out the benefits and risks; for the best protection, this is an area where the more people who are vaccinated in the population, the better chances of protecting everyone, including people who can’t get shots due to age, health, or religious reasons.

Too many shots weaken the immune system: Myth

The question here is, what’s too many and the schedule. Each dose allows the body to mount an immune response and make defense [antibodies] so the body can fight off a real infection if it showed up.

Children are given multiple vaccinations at a time to provide as much protection as early as possible. Both the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that vaccinations be given to children simultaneously when appropriate.

Natural immunity is better: Fact

Its true infections are more likely than vaccines to trigger lifelong immunity. (An exception is the flu; it changes strains every year.) But you may think twice about taking your little one to a chicken pox party.

The challenge with natural immunity is the risk of complications and the unforeseen as well as uncontrolled aspects of environment, and in today’s society undetermined number of people coming into the country. Chicken pox can lead to encephalitis, pneumonia, or, if kids scratch too much, skin infections like MRSA. A polio infection can cause permanent paralysis; mumps, deafness; and Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib), brain damage.

These are some of the very real chances people take if they defer the vaccine.

Vaccines aren’t necessary because disease has been eradicated: Myth

The only infectious human disease that has been eradicated worldwide is smallpox, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Even today there are outbreaks of conditions like measles, mumps, and pertussis.

Vaccines can protect you when you’re around those who aren’t vaccinated, either in the U.S or elsewhere. According to the WHO, less than 95% of people in many parts of Western Europe receive vaccines, and that’s where 82 percent of measles cases occurred in 2009.

Docs make money off them: Myth

Vaccines aren’t a cash cow for docs.

It’s probably more of a money loser than anything, because they’re labor intensive. Some doctors do receive financial incentives from HMOs, but the bonuses are there to support high-quality practice and help the physicians justify the manpower that goes into administering them. Many Naturopathic clinics/physicians are performing the vaccinations today.

To summarize vaccines are necessary, not perfect or without risks but then again nothing is without some risk. So the real decision is in the preventative action you take, this includes vaccinations, including the schedule and number of shots at once. And always including the basic tenants of Naturopathy: proper nutrition, hydration, rest/activity, supplementation, stress management and natural interventions as needed

For more information on specific programs to address your blood pressure, contact Dan Prater, ND on 219.613.1161 or via email.

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