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The Vaccine Controversy

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Are vaccines safe?

Childhood vaccinations have been under intense scrutiny by the public over the past 2 decades.  Vaccines have been blamed for the rise in autism, neurological problems, cancer and even unexplained death.

By the age of 2, American children can receive up to 29 vaccinations.  According to an article in the Salem News, American children receive far more vaccines by the age of 5 and still have a higher death rate than other developed countries (US -36, Norway – 13, Denmark – 12, Japan, Sweden and Iceland – 11).   More parents are deciding not to vaccinate their children, thinking that is a safer option.

The fact is that many serious, infectious diseases have been decreased or eradicated by vaccinations.  For example, smallpox is a virus that has a 30 -50% death rate.  Because of world wide vaccinations, naturally ocurring smallpox has been eliminated and vaccines for the disease are no longer needed.  The incidence of Polio has been reduced by 99%. Vaccinations are a community health issue, not just a personal issue. You might be the fortunate one that does not get overwhelmed by the bug, but the person in the market or the student sitting next to you in class may not be so lucky. Our world is shrinking because of ease of travel.  An infectious disease that was once contained in a small area is quickly spread worldwide with one plane trip.

The most publicized controversy is the possible link between autism and vaccinations.  Thimerosal, a mercury containing preservative, has been the main suspect in the rise of autism and neurological problems.  Although the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) attest to it’s safety, Thimerosal has been removed from “all routinely recommended vaccines for U.S. infants”.  There are studies that both prove and disprove the autism-mercury link.

There is still a question about aluminum in vaccinations and it’s effects on infants and children.  There have been studies showing a link between aluminum in medications and neurological damage, but few studies on the effects of aluminum in vaccines.

Gardasil, the vaccine for HPV, a common cause of cervical cancer, has been the topic of concern recently.  According to the CDC, 40 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed and they have received reports of 20,996 adverse reactions.  The reactions range from fever, dizziness and nausea to blood clots, severe neurological problems and death.

Vaccines, like any other medication, can have side effects and cause mild to severe reactions.   The best strategy is to get informed; ask your doctor, seek information from reputable sources.   Important information to gather would be:

  • Is your child or anyone in the family sick at time of vaccination?
  • Know the disease risks and the vaccine risks
  • Do you have a family or personal history of vaccine reactions, neurological disorders, or immune system problems?

Many physicians are vaccinating their patients on an alternative schedule, stretching out the traditional schedule.  Once you have gathered and digested the information, you can make an educated decision for you, your family and the community.


Pertussis Boosters for School Available at the Medical Office Building in Lake Arrowhead

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injection with droplet

Mountains Community Hospital is joining with the Rim of the World Unified School District to offer tDap vaccines in Lake Arrowhead.

As a service to the local mountain communities, Mountains Community Hospital and the Rim of the World Unified School District are joining together to offer Pertussis/Whooping Cough vaccines in the Medical Office Building across from the hospital in Lake Arrowhead. Here are details:

Rim of the World School District and Mountains Community Hospital are offering Tdap free vaccine for uninsured 7th-12th graders, in the Conference Room of the Medical Office Building on the following dates:
  • Mon. Aug. 8th, 5:00p-8:00p
  • Tues. Aug. 9th, 8:00a-11:00a
  • Tues. Aug. 16th, 8:00a-11:00a
Injections cannot be given without parental consent.  Consent forms can be picked up at the District Office in Blue Jay next to the Blue Jay Theater, or bring a parent to sign the consent at the time the vaccine is given.

Last year California experienced the worst epidemic of Whooping Cough, also known as pertussis, in 60 years. While most people think this disease occurred in the “olden days,” unfortunately nothing could be further from the truth. Last year’s outbreak affected almost 7,000 Californians and claimed the lives of at least 10 babies. In fact, there were 1,496 cases reported in the first six months of 2010.

This situation prompted the California Department of Public Health to determine that children entering grades 7 through 12 in all of the state’s public and private schools must show proof that they have received a pertussis booster shot. The last booster the students probably received was when they were six years old. So, by 7th grade, their original immunizations and protection originally afforded would be “wearing off.”

Pertussis can be a killer—especially for small children. Mountains Community Hospital cautions parents of children in every age group to make sure their children are immunized and/or receive booster shots. Health officials also believe parents, caregivers, nurses, teachers and other people who are around children should receive the Tdap booster. Due to their small size, babies are particularly susceptible to pertussis. So it is extremely important that they receive their series of shots.

Last year’s outbreak and the state’s associated new requirement that students get a booster shot makes it very possible that  agencies may run low on the serum and, thus, unable to meet the deadline. The San Bernardino County Department of Health has a good supply of the serum. While some doctors on the mountain report that they have run out of the vaccine, they have placed it on backorder and will be prepared to immunize kids as soon as the serum is back on their shelves.

Mountains Community Hospital in Lake Arrowhead, the mountain’s healthcare center for over 50 years, encourages parents to get their children immunized or get a booster shot soon because the start of the new school year begins next month. Many parents will wait until the last minute. And, if there is a shortage, at that point they will have to wait until the serum is available before their child is permitted to start school. Anticipated shortages are expected to occur between now and the start of the new school year.

Pertussis is very contagious and is caused by bacteria which are easily spread. The disease will start with the same symptoms of the common cold. But there’s nothing common about pertussis. After one or two weeks, severe coughing begins. Victims cough so violently and so rapidly that all the air leaves their lungs and produces a “whooping” sound when they breathe. (Hence the name whooping cough)

Mountains Community Hospital cares about your health. Please visit our website for more information and/or links to information about treatments for many illness and medical conditions. For information log onto: and click on “resource center.”