I Have An Invisible Ink Tattoo
. . . . on my forehead. It only appears in the presence of healthcare providers, and says “This mother welcomes your input, but does not respond to intimidation, threats or the ‘expert’ card.”
That’s my explanation, anyway, because despite my, ahem, unconventional treatment preferences for my children I have never once been lectured by a doctor. Or maybe I’ve just had amazing doctors who know the importance of respect – that could be it, too!
Not everyone can say that, though. There is a disturbing trend in our culture which is slowly eroding the right of parents to make decisions on behalf of their children. Just ask the Steiler’s, who had to go to court to keep custody of their cancer-free son. Why? Because their doc didn’t like it when they declined an extra round of chemo “just in case.” Or this doctor whose own hospital called CPS on him for disagreeing about his newborn son’s care, like whether to administer vitamin K orally or via a shot.
Now legitimate sources such as this paper published in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, this Harvard Law article and this Slate.com article are suggesting things be taken even further. According to them, it may be time to hold parents civilly – or even criminally – liable for choosing not to vaccinate if their unvaccinated child passes on an illness.
Here’s what’s wrong with that idea: It assumes the only risk lies in not vaccinating, and nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not just speaking about children on an individual basis, either – everyone seems to agree that for some vaccines are not a good idea. In reality, there are risks associated with vaccinating that affect the population at large. The above articles did not address these realities, so I will attempt to do so here. Since I encountered the Slate.com article first, I’m going to direct my response to the claims made there.
CLAIM: All (Or Most) Childhood Diseases Can & Should Be Prevented
In the Slate.com article, author Jed Lipinski writes that “Today, several states blame a rise in preventable diseases on the declining child vaccination rates.”
This implies that childhood illnesses should be avoided whenever possible, but is that really true? Is it really even possible? According to this article from the Wall Street Journal, we may have just traded one set of problems for another.
“Your great-grandparents faced infectious diseases that hardly threaten you today: tuberculosis, polio, cholera, malaria, yellow fever, measles, mumps, rubella, smallpox, typhoid, typhus, tapeworm, hookworm…. But there’s also a long list of modern illnesses that your great-grandparents barely knew: asthma, eczema, hay fever, food allergies, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis. The coincidence of the rise in these ‘inflammation’ diseases, characterized by an overactive immune system, with the decline of infection is almost certainly not a coincidence.”
Now, I’ll be the first to say that I’m more than happy to see smallpox and other diseases stay dormant.* However, research indicates that some of the diseases we commonly fear are actually beneficial. Measles – which has a lower fatality rate than the flu – may be PROTECTIVE against other more dangerous diseases, like CANCER. The same is true with mumps.(source 1, source 2) On the other hand, veterinarians have observed something that should concern us all – cats are known to develop cancerous tumors at vaccination injection sites. Though cats are obviously epidemiologically different, one might wonder if this phenomenon could partially explain the cancer epidemic in humans.
In his article, Lipinski also notes that a recent outbreak of measles cost families an average of $775 per case. While that’s certainly not a small sum, I wonder how it compares to the cost of managing the chronic diseases we see so much more of today: asthma, eczema, diabetes and the like.
CLAIM: Unvaccinated Children Threaten The Herd
Lipinski: Measles vaccines are about 95 percent effective when given to children. That leaves a 5 percent chance that kids who are vaccinated will contract measles. This means that no matter what, the disease still poses a public health risk, but we rely on others to get vaccinated to hugely reduce the likelihood of outbreaks. That’s the process known as herd immunity.
Herd immunity – as popularly understood – is a myth. And ironically, there is a measles outbreak in Texas right now that perfectly illustrates why. An unvaccinated child traveled to another country, contracted measles, and then came back and transmitted the virus to their 11 year old vaccinated sibling. (source) Why did the vaccinated sibling get sick? There are three possible reasons:
Reason 1: Current vaccination theory is wrong
For the past 100 years it has been accepted that vaccines stimulate the production of antibodies, which then convey immunity. However, several studies have found that an individual can have incredibly high antibody levels and still become infected, while this study indicates that in some cases antibodies are not even needed to effectively fight serious infections. (Rather, it’s the activation of macrophages that is the determining factor)
Many people believe that attempting to stimulate antibodies without inducing infection is like handing the answer key to a child without preparing them for a test. They may have some measure of success, but it does not mean that learning has taken place or that the child will be prepared for future tests. It seems that the body may have to do the work itself – stimulating the fever, sending macrophages into defense mode, making interferon, maturing dendritic cells, the whole shebang – in order to properly learn how to defend itself against a disease.
Reason 2: It’s A Fluke
Ask a vaccine proponent why the vaccinated sibling got sick and they’ll probably say the circumstances are the exception rather than the rule. In their mind, this child is probably one of the 5% for whom the vaccine just didn’t work.
Let’s take a look at that, though. When Lipinski states that the measles vaccine is 95% effective, what he means that it is 95% effective in producing antibodies. Does this provide real-world protection against measles? Consider this: The CDC has documented several outbreaks of measles in fully vaccinated populations. (outbreak 1, outbreak 2, outbreak 3) This, of course, leads us to . . .
Reason 3: Even when they provide some benefit, vaccines wear off quickly
“When I was in medical school, we were taught that all of the childhood vaccines lasted a lifetime,” writes Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D. ”This thinking existed for over 70 years. It was not until relatively recently that it was discovered that most of these vaccines lost their effectiveness 2 to 10 years after being given. What this means is that at least half the population, that is the baby boomers, have had no vaccine-induced immunity against any of these diseases for which they had been vaccinated very early in life. In essence, at least 50% or more of the population was unprotected for decades.
If we listen to present-day wisdom, we are all at risk of resurgent massive epidemics should the vaccination rate fall below 95%. Yet, we have all lived for at least 30 to 40 years with 50% or less of the population having vaccine protection. That is, herd immunity has not existed in this country for many decades and no resurgent epidemics have occurred. Vaccine-induced herd immunity is a lie used to frighten doctors, public-health officials, other medical personnel, and the public into accepting vaccinations.” (emphasis mine)
FACT: Real Herd Immunity Comes From Natural Immunity
Here’s the frustrating reality about vaccines. Right now I am seven months pregnant, and if I were living in Texas I would be concerned about the measles outbreak. Why? Because although measles has a mortality rate of .2% – which is 6.8% lower than the common flu - it does pose risks for unborn children and newborns. (source: CDC, Dr.Perez) Of course, if I had been allowed to contract this virus as a child I would have natural immunity, and both my baby and I would be protected right now.
FACT: Vaccinated Children & Adults May Pose A Danger To The Pregnant, Elderly & Immune Compromised
According to Merck, individuals who are vaccinated with certain live viruses should not be around vulnerable groups for up to six weeks. Here’s what the package insert for the VARIVAX varicella vaccine says:
“vaccine recipients should attempt to avoid, whenever possible, close association with susceptible high-risk individuals for up to six weeks. In circumstances where contact with high-risk individuals is unavoidable, the potential risk of transmission of vaccine virus should be weighed against the risk of acquiring and transmitting natural varicella virus. Susceptible high-risk individuals include:
- immunocompromised individuals
- pregnant women without documented history of chickenpox or laboratory evidence of prior infection
- newborn infants of mothers without documented history of chickenpox or laboratory evidence of prior infection and all newborn infants born at <28 weeks gestation regardless of maternal varicella immunity. (source)
The idea that vaccinated individuals could pose a danger is not commonly discussed, but evidence points to it. Polio outbreaks have been reported in the Amish even though most of them decline vaccinations. The source of polio was identified as a mutated vaccine strain, which the CDC believes came from contact with the outside world. (source) Merck also states in their clinical literature that women vaccinated with MMR may pass rubella through breast milk to their babies, and a study published on the CDC website indicates that asymptomatic vaccinated children can be carriers of whooping cough bacteria. (source1, source2)
Because they are usually asymptomatic, individuals who recently received live-virus vaccines often do not take any special precautions when interacting with vulnerable groups. They may visit hospitals, nursing homes and nurseries. On the other hand, individuals who contract viruses naturally are often only contagious for a very short period before they begin to experience symptoms that prompt them to stay home. (source)
Vaccines that may contain live viruses are: Chickenpox, measles/mumps/rubella, pneumonia, shingles, the flu, and smallpox.
CLAIM: The Vaccine-Autism Link Has Been Disproven
For Lipinski, the fact that the “CDC makes clear there is no connection between vaccines and autism” is good enough. He considers it a “dangerous idea” perpetuated by well-meaning but misinformed parents.
But is there really no connection? An Italian court recently ruled that the MMR vaccine can trigger autism, and it is listed as a possible adverse event on several vaccine inserts, including the DPT vaccine Tripedia. (Here’s a link to the insert) Manufacturers say a causal link has not been proven, but they are required to list it on the package due to the “seriousness or frequency of reporting.”
Personally, I don’t think vaccines are **the** driving factor behind every case of autism, but I think they can be a contributing factor. Whether the Federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program agrees is not known, though they have paid out millions of dollars to autistic children while keeping the details of each case sealed. This, of course, leads me to my last point . . .
FACT: Vaccine Manufacturers Cannot Be Sued Or Held Criminally Liable
Until vaccine manufacturers can be held liable in court for the damage caused by vaccines, prosecuting parents for the “damage” of not using them should be out of the question. That’s right, vaccine manufacturers are untouchable in civil and criminal courts. Thanks to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act established in 1986, “No vaccine manufacturer shall be liable . . . if the injury or death resulted from side-effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.”
In plain English, this means that “If you got up this morning, put some bread (gluten-free, of course) in the toaster, turned your back, and the toaster was on fire, burning up your kitchen, you’d be able to sue the manufacturer. In discovery you’d be able to subpoena all the records from the company on toaster fires, design and manufacture of the product, reports to consumer agencies on defective toasters, and eventually you’d be in possession of just about all the necessary information on toaster fires. You could present this to a jury and twelve of your fellow citizens would determine if the company was negligent in the design or manufacture of their toaster, and if so, how much you should recover.” (source)
If, on the other hand, you suspect that your child has been damaged by vaccines, you get to go to a special court ”where all the rules are stacked against you. You don’t have a right of discovery (it’s by permission of the court), you can’t get government records, and the Special Masters are paid by the same government which is promoting the vaccines. In fact, part of the publicly expressed rationale for the court is to maintain public confidence in the vaccination system. That’s a little like saying the purpose of a police brutality trial is to convince the public that all police do a great job.” (source)
There is a saying that goes . . .
“Ignore your rights long enough and they’ll go away.”
As a parent, I consider my ability to act in the best interest of my children one of my most sacred responsibilities. Though I confess that I would be tempted to do so even if it was not in the interest of the greater good, I don’t believe that refusing vaccines in any way creates that kind of conflict of interest.
What do you think? Should parents who don’t vaccinate be held civilly or criminally liable?
* In case it appears that I am trying to pick and choose when it comes to vaccination, history demonstrates that the smallpox vaccine did not eradicate the disease. In fact, the worst epidemics occurred after compulsory vaccination levels reached 95% in England. (source)
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