Stupid question?

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-25-2009
Stupid question?
12
Fri, 01-22-2010 - 5:43pm

Hi all -

Stumbled across the board, read three threads and felt my blood boil, and tried to resist jumping in but couldn't.

In order to ask my (stupid?) question, I am going to have to set aside my knowledge that over one million children die of vaccine preventable diseases each year (http://www.who.int/immunization/newsroom/GID_english.pdf), and no folks, this doesn't include the flu, which kills another 300,000 - 500,000 people a year, including adults; cervical cancer, which kills about 250,000 women annually; meningitis; or any number of other contagious diseases.

My question, to those of you who choose not to vaccinate your children because (I assume) you perceive the threat of immunization to be higher than that of communicable disease (which, again, I am trying to set aside), is - do you expect them never to leave the developed world in their entire lives? Never to travel?

The reason I ask this, is that the diseases that kill those 1.5 million children per year that I mentioned above, the diseases against which you have the luxury of not vaccinating your children because you live in a rich country that has been so successful with its prevention efforts that your risk perception has shifted... those diseases still exist. And setting aside the fact that, yes, there remains only a small risk your children will contract them in the United States, or Canada, or Japan (although still larger than the risk that they will suffer an adverse effect from a vaccine), these diseases aren't only present in the rest of the world, they are COMMON.

And they are very, very dangerous.

Just something to consider.

SAM

A note to citizendeux - whose steadfast support of vaccination I find admirable - I've always viewed this as a question of risk perception on the part of the parents. To those living in a society mostly free of communicable disease, the risk of an adverse effect seems much greater (comparatively) than that of their child dying from the measles. I guarantee that the same parent, raising a child in West Africa or South Asia where the relative risk of disease is much higher, would absolutely choose to vaccinate. The parent is simply acting in what he or she believes to be in the child's best interest. Our challenge as public health professionals (or clinicians) is to find better ways to present the evidence to make sure that parents not only know, but UNDERSTAND the real risks of these diseases. I'm not proposing a polio-style propaganda campaign, but perhaps something like better targeting, improved message framing, and interpersonal communication skills training for our providers.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2007
Fri, 01-22-2010 - 6:01pm

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I don't know.

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This may be true. That said, I think it's interesting that you think it's a luxury for people to decide how to care for their kids. This kind of mindset totally ignores a history that is replete with both primary and secondary vaccine failures (where fully vaccinated populations of the herd STILL cannot resist disease despite being fully vaccinated).

<<(although still larger than the risk that they will suffer an adverse effect from a vaccine), >>

We have no idea how many reactions occur. I'd be more apt to agree with you if we had a mandatory reporting system for adverse events.

Infectious disease can be dangerous, nobody is denying that, but there are multiple factors that determine the outcome.

Clearly, we just disagree. Because I see a vaccination protocol that has shifted the burden of disease to more susceptible populations of society. Then, they've made others believe that it's people that don't vaccinate that are causing the problem.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-25-2009
Fri, 01-22-2010 - 6:39pm

Thanks for your response, critical thinking. I do think my question is a valid one, especially given our increasing mobile population.

I didn't mean to imply that it is a luxury for people to decide how to care for their kids; I'm sorry if that's how it came across. What I said was that it is a luxury to live in a country where the risk of communicable disease is so low that parents perceive the risks associated with vaccines to be greater.

I agree with you that we should have a mandatory adverse event reporting system in the US, and that we don't definitively know how many adverse events occur. With that said, even if only 10% of events are currently reported, the risk of contracting a potentially fatal infectious disease, even in the United States, remains greater. Furthermore, while many types of reactions may be underreported, deaths likely are not.

I respectfully disagree with you about shifting the burden of disease to more vulnerable populations. In fact, vaccines prevent diseases that occur more frequently among the poorest quintiles of society, particularly in developed countries.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-18-2007
Fri, 01-22-2010 - 9:12pm

I didn't mean to be snide, so I apologize if you read me that way. You were actually very diplomatic in your post, I didn't mean to reply to you in any way that may think you were anything less than that.

I do agree to an extent, that we are at less risk for certain diseases for which there are vaccines available. (Measles, in particular, more later) I have simply not been convinced with the available data, that antibody levels sufficient for immunity equate to disease resistance. My comments about shifting the demographic pertain specifically to measles virus. The young mothers that used to confer immunity via placenta and breastmilk due to natural exposure can no longer protect their newborns. The irony comes when the medical establishment uses the tragic case of a child too young to be vaccinated against measles, to make you vaccinate... forgetting that this population of children were not the original target of this virus. I do see some merit to measles vaccine. But since I can't get it, and I must choose, I choose nothing... my unvaccinated kids are home with me. They see other children sporadically at best. When they go to school, I'll be doing some titre tests for sheer curiosity prior to enrollment in public school. I would never, at any time, be afraid to tell someone that my kids weren't vaccinated. If they were afraid because of that, I can't do anything about it. Do I think it's irrational? Yes. Everybody is capable of spreading disease, history tells us that vaccination status doesn't matter.

That said, I will always consider measles patterns and the ages of my children when it comes to vaccinating for measles. And I'll admit that I'm very lucky. I've not been exposed to anything I can't handle. The only time that happened, my son received 6 vaccines. He was 8 weeks old. It was totally unnecessary, and he suffered from that decision.

I'm glad your blood boiled, please keep posting.

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-16-2009
Sat, 01-23-2010 - 12:12am

Here is a thread on the shifting of demographics- http://messageboards.ivillage.com/iv-ppvaccinedb/?msg=4869.1


Quote from Tash (CL)


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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-17-2007
Sat, 01-23-2010 - 9:10am
Actually, my kids who are teens now understand why they are not vaccinated, and if THEY choose to do so when they are adults, then that is THEIR choice, to vax themselves.. I'm sure they are capable of informing themselves about health risks in going abroad, if they should ever decide to do go. And my reason for not vaxing has nothing to do with having luxuries in this country or anything like that...Adam and Eve didn't come with vaccines in hand.
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-16-2009
Sat, 01-23-2010 - 2:05pm

And my reason for not vaxing has nothing to do with having luxuries in this country or anything like that...Adam and Eve didn't come with vaccines in hand.


What is this supposed to mean?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-10-2008
Sat, 01-23-2010 - 5:41pm

I understand your stance, but coming in here with your guns blazing is kind of comical. The "regulars" in here are very educated on both sides of the issue. Educated people (including yourself) whom have taken a stance on one side or the other of the vaccination debate will have their "blood boil" anytime they read about "the other side".

The way you feel about reading about people not vaccinating is the way I feel when I see my friends shoot their kids up with, what is now, 7 or 8 different diseases at one time.

We live in a country that has clean water and access to medical care, our disease rates are not what other countries are. If I lived in one of those countries, then I most likely would vaccinate my child, but the matter of the fact is I live in the US. And even if I did live in one of those countries, my feelings would still be the same and that is we need major reform when it comes to vaccines.

If my child wants to travel when he is older, then he is more than welcome to research the information that is out there at the time and get vaccinated if he wants.

Lilypie - Personal pictureLilypie


iVillage Member
Registered: 09-25-2009
Sat, 01-23-2010 - 11:26pm

Hi Brit -

I didn't mean to come in with "guns blazing" - I didn't mean to offend anyone and I do hope that you'll accept my apology. It's just that as I was reading some of the threads, the travel issue occurred to me, very suddenly, as a possible consequence of not vaccinating children and I wanted to know how people dealt with it. As I'm sure you'd agree, this is a difficult issue for a lot of parents and it's important that they consider all of the possible consequences when making their decision.

As someone who has lived in the US, Latin America, and Africa and has traveled through two other continents, I've been exposed to a lot of vaccine preventable diseases and seen some colleagues and friends fall ill from them; typhoid in particular can be devastating for travelers (as well as children), as can Hepatitis A. I've also seen meningitis, pertussis, and neonatal tetanus, although admittedly more frequently among local communities than among travelers. These are diseases which are rare in developed countries and to which travelers have little to no immunity unless they have been vaccinated.

I understand that the regular posters on this board are very well-informed on the issue - certainly more well-informed than I am - and I had no intention of implying otherwise. However, I had not seen anyone bring up the travel issue and like I mentioned earlier, I do think it is an important factor to consider.

Thanks for your response.

SAM

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-16-2009
Sat, 01-23-2010 - 11:51pm
I have no plans to travel to undeveloped countries with my unvaccinated child. If we do, however,

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-09-2008
Mon, 01-25-2010 - 10:41am

Hi Sam; welcome.

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