Jerre Wroble recently had a column on the concern regarding requiring universal flu vaccination [“Crap Shot,” Nov. 10, City Weekly]. Recently, Rep. Michele Bachmann implied that the HPV vaccine is dangerous by relating the story of a mother who said that her daughter “suffered mental retardation because of the vaccine.”
Such comments and claims can deter vaccination programs that stop infection, sickness, mental retardation and death. Vaccines have freed most of the world from some of the world’s most horrific diseases.
Many studies have verified the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, but, as noted in the story, some people still say vaccines are dangerous. One argument is that thimerosal might cause autism. Despite studies to the contrary, it is still a widely held belief. But the big news is that thimerosal is not in most vaccines in the United States. It was used for long-term stability/shelf life in vaccines, but the United States phased it out.
The other concern is about adjuvants. Often used in combination vaccines, they perk up the immune system to react to the vaccine. They have been proven safe.
We often ingest particles that are foreign. A recent study found that when we eat with metal utensils, nanoparticles are ingested. If you have pets, you ingest their hair. And if you are near someone eating peanuts, you are ingesting some of their particles.
Concern about putting strange things in your body is the same argument made by vegans and many others. But being a vegan doesn’t affect anyone else negatively. Not getting vaccinated while working in the health-care industry can be deadly. Many people in hospitals and those needing home health care are susceptible to diseases that may not be a problem for most people. But when the very young, very old or very sick are exposed to the flu or any other disease, there is a significant risk of deadly complications. Diseases that may have minor impact on most people with a strong immune system can kill or permanently disable others. Most hospitals are now requiring employees to get flu shots due to the potential to infect patients. It just makes sense that anyone working with the sick should do no harm.
Recently, California experienced a deadly whooping-cough epidemic that resulted in requiring all middle and high school students to be vaccinated with a pertussis booster. Utah just experienced a measles outbreak that was caused by several members of a family not getting vaccinated before traveling overseas.
In Nigeria, statements were made that the polio vaccine might induce sterility and might also cause the disease (putting something foreign in a body). A governor suspended a polio-vaccination program, which led to an increase of polio cases and stopped the worldwide eradication of polio. This is an example of what will happen if unfounded and unscientific statements are used to raise objections to vaccination.
Vaccination for polio (and any other disease) doesn’t just inoculate a person against the disease; it also efficiently blocks transmission of the virus and protects others in a community. The oral polio vaccine eliminated polio in the United States without many of the outrageous claimed side effects.
A good example of how much of an effect vaccination can have on stopping disease is that within 15 years of approval of a chickenpox vaccine, deaths from chickenpox in the United States decreased from 105 per year to 14 per year.
False claims about vaccination are a personal issue with me. I contracted polio as a child, which had a significant impact on me and my family. Also, my uncle died of whooping cough as a child.
The best argument against false claims about vaccination problems are in the hospitals around the world, where disease victims go to try to be cured of paralysis from polio, organ failure from hepatitis, and mental retardation from measles and meningitis. It is hospitals where people who contract life-threatening pneumonia go to be cured. It is not an issue that should be optional for an individual who works in the health-care industry. Catching a life-threatening disease in a hospital that is supposed to treat disease is a travesty.
Reluctance to be vaccinated or have your child vaccinated affects many others. It’s almost like refusing to fight disease. The unvaccinated significantly increase the spread of disease, and they are a threat to those closest to them, their family and friends and anyone they work with. Vaccination stops the spread of disease. It significantly decreases U.S. health-care costs. It is a public-health issue and shouldn’t be used to try to make points in politics. Vaccines are less dangerous than politicians.
Salt Lake City