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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.