Vaccination theory v Vaccination reality
Vaccination theory and our immunisation programme are alleged to be based on sound scientific evidence. However, some of the theory and execution of the programme does appear to have gaping holes in it…
- When a child is given a series of vaccination injections it is expected that the child will produce a mild fever as a sign of an appropriate response of their immune system. So, why is Calpol routinely recommended to be administered to reduce the expected response? Does it reduce the ‘favourable’ effect of the vaccination? Or worse still, does it increase the likelihood of an unfavourable outcome? As far as I understand, this has never been tested.
- Although this isn’t an anomaly, I find it just rude… Vaccination comes from the word vaccinia, which is Latin for cow. This stems from Edward Jenner’s use of cowpox to deal with smallpox. But don’t you think that referring to mass immunisation of people as herd immunity is taking it a little too far? Furthermore, 'herd immunity' is not effective in a vaccinated population, only an unvaccinated community.
- Smallpox is quite an interesting one actually… Have you heard anyone say “… well, vaccines have eradicated smallpox”? In England, free smallpox vaccines were introduced in 1840 and made compulsory in 1853. Between 1857 and 1859 there were 14,244 deaths from smallpox. After a population rise of 7%, the death rate rose by 40.8% to 20,059 between 1863 and 1865. In 1867, evaders of the vaccine were prosecuted, so very few were unvaccinated. After a population rise of 9%, the death rate rose by 123% to 44, 840 between 1870 and 1872. So, this evidence indicates that the smallpox vaccine increased the severity and incidence of smallpox when all other illness (that at the time had no vaccine) were on the decline.
- Ever heard of scarlet fever? Ever seen any one with it? At the beginning of the 1900s, scarlet fever accounted for the most deaths amongst the childhood diseases, and yet this disease declined in the same manner as measles, whooping cough, tetanus, diphtheria and TB. Ever heard of a scarlet fever vaccine? There isn’t one. If one had been introduced, would we still be using it?
- Tetanus is virtually unheard of in developed countries. It is estimated that 40% of the UK population doesn’t have an up-to-date vaccine of tetanus. In the building industry, where one may expect the incidence of tetanus to be higher due to nature of injuries sustained at work, there is no tetanus. Isn’t it plausible that we may actually have natural immunity that prevents such an illness from taking hold?
- As a physiologist, I learned that about 80% of immune system is on the outside. Very crudely, we are a hollow tube from mouth to… the other end. Our lungs and skin are also ‘outside’ (in the sense that they directly touch the outside world). Our body keeps things out it doesn’t want and utilises the things it does want. So, when we are naturally dealing with immunological challenges, we first deal with it at this level… So why do we by-pass all this part of our immune system and inject? Does an unnatural exposure produce an unnatural response? Well, vaccines don’t produce an immunity in the same way as natural exposure to a disease.
- Furthermore, just because you’re exposed to something, doesn’t mean you're going to develop symptoms from it. I’ve been exposed to people with TB and not ‘caught it’ (I’m not vaccinated against TB… My GP said it didn’t work). A particular person for whom I’ve been exposed to who had TB was also vaccinated against it! Whoa!
- So, they had TB antibodies… and got TB. It is assumed that if you have antibodies to a disease you are protected against it. Here in the UK, measles vaccine, part of the MMR vaccine, is quoted as being 90% effective. This translates as 90% of the recipients will produce ‘necessary’ antibody levels. It's actually termed 'efficacy' rather than 'effectiveness'. There is no definition of immunity derived from a certain level of antibodies.
- …and finally… Since vaccines don’t produce a lifelong immunity, when will adults need their next MMR booster so they don’t get these illnesses as adults?
This article first appeared on my blog on 3rd September 2007 and has been reproduced following a discussion on Sunday 19th August at a party... Always on duty :)