Wednesday, November 14, 2007

To be clear, I am a strong advocate for childhood immunization. I see no reason not to be. Immunizations have been one of the major success stories in medicine over the past century, and have been responsible for nearly eradicating a number of diseases. Polio, chicken pox, smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis are a few examples of diseases that were once common and once ravaged the American pediatric population, but have been nearly eliminated by immunizations. In addition, common bacteria like H. Flu and pneumococcus, which cause serious (even deadly) infections in children, have also been drastically diminished. Influenza is no longer the monster it used to be. And we are successfully reducing serious intestinal infections caused by Rotavirus, and decreasing the rates of Hepatitis. All of this has led to a healthier population. There is simply NO reason NOT to have your children immunized (the one exception being the new HPV vaccine, which I have problems with personally and is not considered a mandatory vaccine by the CDC).

I have run across some parents who have been reluctant to immunize their children, and some who outright refuse. To me, this amounts to neglect and endangerment. I've read the claims that immunizations are linked to autism, and they are flat out bogus. Let me be clear on this. There is NO, repeat NO, sound clinical evidence that childhood immunizations increase the risk of developing autism or any other mental or developmental disorder. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either grossly misinformed or outright dishonest. The studies have been done. These vaccines are safe. They save lives. The benefits far outweigh any risks that come with them. So I strongly disagree with any parent who refuses to immunize their children.

With that being said, today I ran across this article about Prince George County in the DC suburbs. They are having problems with about 2300 students who have failed to be immunized properly and whose parents refuse to do so, and since the children can't speak for themselves the government has decided to step in. As a result, these children are not allowed to attend public school until their records are up to date, and now the County prosecutor is threatening legal action against the parents, including a $50 a day fine and up to 10 days in jail for failing to comply. This leaves me in a dilemma. It is a rare occasion when I can't take a position on a particular issue, and so the reason for my post.

On one side, I strongly advocate immunization and, like I said, failing in this amount to neglect and endangerment. On the other, the conservative in me flinches at the notion of a government or judicial entity forcing parents, against their will, to inject their children with a foreign substance. Yes, it is safe. Yes, the benefit greatly outweighs the risk. But still, there is something inside me that wants to call this action far too authoritarian for America. Is it right for the gov't to force people to do this under the threat of imprisonment? Honestly, I don't know, and a strong case can be made for either side of the issue.

No matter how safe these vaccines are, there is always the risk (as with any foreign substance entering the body) of an allergic reaction. Granted, the risk is minimal, but sometimes these reactions can be serious. Would the gov't be liable if this were to occur? What if (again, very rare) a child actually dies from a severe allergic reaction?

I'm sure the Libertarians out there will be outraged and condemn the gov't for this action. They would say that the parents have the right to make the decision on behalf of their children, and accept the risk that comes along with it. The government should stay out of it. But that would ignore the public health issue here. These children are not protected from certain diseases and too many of these individuals in the community could pose the threat of triggering disease outbreaks. Recent outbreaks of mumps in the Midwest are an example. Is it right for parents to put other people at risk because they fail to properly immunize their children? Should they be held accountable?

Liberals will say, yes, the gov't should take action. After all, we take action on behalf of children who are victimized in the home in cases of abuse and neglect, why should this be different? I agree. But still, this is the government forcing parents to inject their children with a substance that they don't believe in. That's a difficult idea to accept, and it should be for any American.

If I sound like I'm waffling on this issue, that's because I am. I simply haven't decided where to stand on this issue. I was against governmental intervention in the Terry Schiavo case. I'm against legalized abortion. I'm against faith healing, especially when parents deny children needed medical care. Since I strongly favor protecting the innocent, I'm leaning towards siding with the government (gasp!) here with faith that it's in the best interest of the children and society, and hope that this doesn't become a template for forcing people to do other things against their will. I'm interested to see what my readers think.

16 comments:

Nancy Lee said...

What a way to start my morning... you've managed to make it really clear why we have to remain thinking people and not jump on one party position or another...on any issue. I think (at least for the moment! and since I think, this is subject to change before I even finish this comment!)so... I think that the government should not be allowed to force immunizations. However, I also want the government to protect me and all the little children put at risk by those who won't immunize...So...here's my first suggestion... those who refuse can home-school. That will miminize exposure to other children in schools; another possibility is alternative schools for those who won't...oops that comes close to separate but equal and we know that's a loser, so scratch that idea. Okay so...how about keep it simple...let them choose...that's the American way. They have to have immunizations or no public schools,that's the law; they have to educate the children because that's the law and we do try(I said try..)to live by laws...beyond that the choice is theirs...unless or until numbers increase measurably on these dangerous infectious diseases because of their choices, and if that happens then we the people do have the right to create another law that adds criminal penalties for not complying in order to protect ourselves...that's constitutional, right? On the same track but a different direction, I don't believe we have the right to legislate parents giving children immunizations against something that is not infectious in the general sense of the word... (I mean the vaccine against HPV for instance)
I think protection of the innocent is a precarious postition to take blindly... we need to protect our rights by continuing debate in my opinion... hope you get lots of comments on this one...
A child is waiting,
Take care...be aware,
Nancy Lee
ChildPersonfromtheSouth

BB-Idaho said...

Various folk resist "do good" mandates..motorcycle helmets, seat belts, speed limits. Jehova Witness refuse transfusions, etc.
Immunization, it could be argued,
not only protects the individual, but those around him, hence parental refusal endangers their child and the children of others.
It would be of interest to see how many people fight pertussis vaccination, but would rush in for shots in an Anthrax attack. I suspect making childhood immunization mandatory would increase resistance, human nature
being what it is: the answer may be education. Perhaps a trip through the old cemetary full of
children done in by Whooping Cough,
Diptheria, pox..all the deadly virus and bacteria we have learned to avoid.

The Loop Garoo Kid said...

Dr.

Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I suspect that the more you consider the issue, the more you will continue to lean toward "siding with the government" as a necessary intrusion which is in the best interests of cildren and society.

I am curious whetehr you believe that young women should be immunized against HPV virus.

Nancy Lee. Even if parents who refuse to have their children immunized could be compelled to home school them, that would not resolve the issue unless these children would also be banned from any contact w/ other children, which of course is impossible.

Regards.

Robert M. said...

This problem wouldn't exist if we'd abolish public education. Then schools would have the right to enforce immunization or not enforce it, and the problem wouldn't be there.

Radical, I'll admit, but it might work.

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

Nancy Lee: Remain Independent.

When the two-party system ignores
your concerns, this too will pass.
Stay Positive, remain faithful to
your fundamental principles.

Stay Alert, be aware. Kucinich on the Left, Ron Paul on the Right. How close, the Lunatic Fringe!

The Hate-mongers, and their pinhead
followers will eventually, just fade away.

Examine each issue, and we'll
find a concensus that works. Bi-partisanship, Law. Rules Governing Conduct! Without The Public School System, there would be no freedom. reb
__________________________________
www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

Jehovah's Witnesses.

They insist on their lawful right to ring my door-bell...1st Amendment!

However, they balk at military service, that defends this legal principle; If they refuse to serve as a matter of church doctrine, they should also forfeit their right to irritate. Let them build their 'Kingdom Halls' in Saudi Arabia.
Ring a Wahhabi's door-bell! reb
_________________________________
www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

John Washburn said...

Nancy, thanks for your input, you are welcome here anytime.

Robert, while I agree that public schools aren't good for education, I don't think doing away with them would solve this problem. Like Loop said, for this to work you'd basically have to quarantine anyone who hasn't been immunized, which is obviously not feasible.

BB-Idaho said...

SnakeHunter is right about the Jehovah Witness bunch. Their stubborness has led to Nazi concentration camps, see http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005394 as well as persecution in
this country at that time: see:
http://www.kansaspress.ku.edu/petjud.html While I agree with S Hunter about their stubborness in light of patriotism, perhaps he will recognize the relationship to
the first Christians who refused to
worship the Roman Gods or Caesar?
But, back on subject, the J.W.
DO accept vaccination. It could be concluded that vaccination refusal has no basis in uncommon religious or philosophical grounds but simply fear based on ignorance.

Kristina said...

First, let me say that I believe that all parents have the right to immunize or not immunize their children. Granted, I was not immunized until I went into the Navy, so maybe I have a biased viewpoint.

Many states have exemptions for immunizations for philisophical reasons. Maryland does not. Maryland DOES have exemptions for medical and religious reasons. Since most of those parents will have put their exemptions in, these are probably not the children in question.

However, the immunizations in question are relatively new vaccination requirements. As a matter of fact, this is the first year that it is required for 10th graders. Prince George's County has a large migrant population and also a large non-English speaking population. I am wondering if some of these parents just don't understand what is going on.

I also think that some of it may just be plain stubborness or neglect. Of course those parents that are not getting their children immunized because of neglect are, in my opinion, no worse than those who do it for religious reasons. However, you may see other signs of neglect there.

Finally, in regards to educating the public about immunizations. There are many people who strongly believe that you should not mess with your body, that it is God's place. Heck, I didn't go to a doctor the whole time I was growing up, except when I broke my arm, for this very reason. Then, there are people who just think that our bodies should heal themselves. Yes, these people are on the "fringes" of society. However, we do have to be respectful of their beliefs.

Finally, if the school system wanted to exert such total control over my children, oh wait, they do! That's alright, you can tell me to homeschool. I already do. Oh, and my kids are immunized. I just don't believe that parents should be required to immunize their children.

Here is my question. If all the kids are immunized, how is there going to be an outbreak? I do understand that there are those children who cannot immunize for medical reasons. Are those the children that we are worried about? I could understand that. But, we keep talking about an epidemic.

Dave In Santa Fe said...

Our bodies have become profit centers and we are treated like a herd of cattle. In addition, some people would like to live as naturally as possible.

I think we have to question confidence in the CDC and the FDA, and the influence of the pharmaceutical companies on our culture at this time, the money spent on advertising, as well as the profit motive behind their actions.

Here's a couple of websites:

http://vaccineawakening.blogspot.com/

and

http://www.nvic.org/

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

With 300,000,000 people here now,
you're a number, regardless of political affiliation.

The public will decide if they want
Socialized Medicine, ala Canada & Cuba; perish the thought!

More Immigrants is based on the crazy notion that they will keep Social Security & Medicare solvent. Did you expect our politicians to level with us on that, from either Party? And we're
out-sourcing the good jobs.

You buy the beer, to get the free salty peanuts. (I'll bet a dime or
quarter that dave from santa fe...is a Dhimmicrat). Awww, that's O.K. I could be wrong. reb
__________________________________
www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

Dream said...

Since when is it a court's place to tell parents they MUST immunize their children with potentially damaging or even fatal results in those few that have reactions to immunizations?

This needs to be an issue between the parents, their children and their health care professional!

Offering immunizations to children is a great idea for those who wish to have them, but (and adverse to some of the reporting I've seen on this topic), it is NOT against the law for your child to go to school without having immunizations! There are definite health and religious grounds for NOT having immunizations.

I'm sure those parents who've had children damaged permenantly by some of the very immunizations the report is about ought to be up is arms over this!!!

Since when are we REQUIRED to force our children to go through a possibly life-saving, but possibly life-taking (or permenantly disabling) medical procedure???

The damage done by immunizations is well documented, but when the parents have taken the drug companies to court, the answer to them is usually, "well, it's considered "generally safe, and gee we're sorry your child is in the 1 to 2% of those who are immunized that have died or have life-long disability from immunizations.

OK, some parents may have simply been lazy or not given it much thought, or perhaps they don't really even have health concerns surrounding immunizations... Ask a parent whose child has died from them, or been severely disabled (permenantly) from those very same immunizations that this district is trying to legally impose on the children in this district!

I know there have been several in our area alone, and I live in a small town!

Even after your child is given the immunizations, there is STILL NO guaranty that your child will not develop the disease(s) they are being immunized for AND have a more severe case of it, which was definitely the case in our county with whooping cough... Those who had the immunizations got sicker by and large than those who had the immunizations.

Since when does a drug company (and the doctors that don't know any better, because of what they are taught in the drug-company controlled medical schools, as well as the incentives they are given and the massive marketing to them that "this is what is best", and are normally informed about those millions of children who have had the shots and died or become ill from them... Some doctors will tell you it is rare, others who have seen it first hand know what I'm talking about!

If any kids are damaged for life from these shots will they be able to take legal action against the courts who forced this on them under duress (The threat of going to jail if they did not allow a doctor, nurse or other medical practitioner to give these kids shots, and at a courthouse?)

Sometimes, kids who have the shots die rapidly, other times, there aren't signs for MANY years, other than what is considered by the medical community to be "mild to moderate complications" after taking the shots.

Offer the shots to those who cannot afford them, absolutely! Force or coerce the parents to have their child given shots that in some cases (And many, many cases are documented with no per-existing contraindication to a child having immunization shots, yet they still wind up deceased OR having life long problems, from mild mental deficiencies, to severe physical and emotional disabilities that cost millions of $ over the child's lifetime to care for in special education, in hardship to the families, and so on...

We've seen a mass rise in autism, which is one such outcome... a child going from being perfectly normal in all ways to having a variety of problems, such as Asperger's symdrome, brain damage, ADHD, and on and on!

There ARE alternatives that work just as well as a child getting the shots... One such alternative are homepathic Nosodes, which are used in other countries, such as England, and are found to be just as, if not more effective (depending on the study and the specific disease you are trying to protect a child from) than the common immunizations we heard about here in the US.

They are also used here and there are doctors who will use them, for parents who have concerns, as well as patients who have a contraindication to the immunization shots! WHY? Because they are safer by far! I haven't heard of a single case where Nosodes have caused a death or severe disability. With standard immunizations shots, one only need to Google online (even in the NIH, WHO and other prominant medical web sites) to see that forcing immunizations is simply not a good idea.

To me, this pressure on parents is akin to a court forcing kids to run across a freeway, and those who make it OK will live and probably not notice anything... those who don't, well.. I guess they just weren't fast enough...

I'm curious as well about what constitutes a religious belief exempting a child. I hope organizations like the ACLJ and others like them jump on this one, and HARD to protect not only the parents from facing jail time, but saving these kids from a dangerous, but routine practice in our country (and morally, medically, and religiously wrong in my book, and I'm sure of many others as well - especially those who are educated about immunizations.)

Another thing the court & the medical providers seem to be missing is that immunizations may well be responsible for illnesses from contamination, such as those with recurring EBS who were given small pox vaccines when they were younger! (Know anyone with fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? Unexplained nerve damage? MS? These could be, and one doctor admitted, that was involved in early vaccinations, that the small pox vaccines were contaminated, only they were not aware of it at the time, with EVB, and yep! it HAS shown up and disabled MANY, MANY people!)

AND... last but not least, what about the so-called "super-bugs" that have been created? OK, I give into part of this as being largely due to the overuse of antibiotics, but then who prescribed these? AND who's to say it is not a direct result of, at least in part, immunizations via major medical methods approved, researched and thought to be OK for everyone by the FDA and the medical establishment!!!

If my children were younger, I would certainly NOT subject them to such a risk with Nosodes available and with the medical knowledge I have now (about 12 years of college courses, and many, many medical conferences along the way for MEU units), I would certainly NOT just allow anyone to give my child just any immunizations!!! That is simply asking for problems, and one of my children DID have some pretty severe reactions to some of his immunizations, but thankfully nothing permenant as far as we can tell.

IF you are gong to have your child immunized, where are these immunizations being manufactured? If not made in the good ole' USA, or perhaps Canada, I CERTAINLY wouldn't allow ANY immunizations from China or other countries where the quality controls certainly aren't being watched!

Would you trust your health to a country that has poisoned our cats, dogs, children, food, air, and so on? I should hope not! (NO matter how much garbage there is about "manditory vaccinations!" (which BTW us simply not true in nearly ALL states!)

I could go on as to how over-immunization can lead to other problems, such as adrenal failure & even diabetes in part, and even some children's weight problems may be a result from a damaged thyroid from an immunization gone wrong...

In this day and age, I would trust Nosodes, but NOT standard immunizations from ANY drug company!

I hope this issue gets brought before the Supreme court! Why should ANY parent have to do more than tell their child's school that I simply have religious reasons for not immunizing their children & keep them out of school (home school) if there is an outbreak at a school... BTW, if there is, with some diseases (such as whooping cough, which happened in my town) ALL the kids are sent home anyhow, so why the schools are involving the courts is beyond me, is irresponsible, and even if a parent doesn't like the idea of immunization, as long as they have done their research and understand the risks of NOT having a child immunized (AND those of having a child immunized), that needs to be enough!

If I had a child in that district, or even if I lived in that community, I'd likely be filing suit against this garbage, as it is taking away the rights of parents to protect their children from potentially harmful, if not deadly medical procedures!

One last thing.. recall the measles outbreak in CA of college kids a number of years ago? My kids BOTH got measles, had had ALL of their shots, and they simply did not work (they were younger when this happened... my daughter was in kindergarten, my son in preschool.) What happened there? My kids were sick for what seemed like forever, and I feared for their lives! The medical community did everything they could to NOT document either of their cases!

Essentially, this is insane at best! Our children are NOT guinea pigs for the medical community &/or some drug company!

I wonder how many will have problems from this group of kids later on! They ALL need to be tracked for many years to come!

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

Caution! (Verbum sap).

"dream said" is quite verbose! If you tap it, you'll get...

'Profile Not Available'

At Times, this Speaks Louder than all the Wordyness, all of the Harangue!

Summon up some courage 'dream', let us know who you are. Responsibility Matters! (John might choose to delete). reb
__________________________________
www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

John Washburn said...

Reb, I thought about deleting Dream's comment. I understand what you're saying. This is probably some fringe anti-vaccine activist group that is using my blog to advance their lunacy. But as someone who protects and defends the Constitution I have a problem deleting anyone's comments, even those that amount to hate speech, unless they somehow incited action against the Constitution. I prefer, instead, to combat lunacy with facts and reason. Education is often the most powerful weapon on the planet. So here goes.

Dream's comment is riddled with speculation and anecdotal evidence. It is inaccurate, to say the least, and probably closer to radical when it comes to content. First, he claims that 1-2% of people vaccinated have serious complications. I'm sure he can quote a "study" on this claim, but the fact that he supports it shows a gross lack of fundamental knowledge on the subject and obvious difficulty with analytical thinking. 1-2% means that one in every 50-100 people who are immunized have a serious complication. How insane is that? Here's some perspective. In our clinic we administer approximately 50 vaccines a day. In four years, I have not seen a single serious complication from these vaccines. Many of these studies will define "serious complication" rather loosely, including pain as one of these complications. Why? Basically so they can publish a study showing high rates of complication. Thus, giving these fringe groups more ammunition for their hurtful cause.

He also makes the claim that whooping cough is worse after being immunized. This is laughable. Again, he has no actual scientific evidence of this (not that that has ever stopped people like this from their fear mongering, scientific evidence is only important if it fits their agenda). My guess is that he talked to a few people in his town that had been diagnosed with pertussis, and (in his opinion) felt that those who had received the vaccine had a more severe case. Based on this technical scientific study, he concludes that the pertussis vaccine causes people to acquire more severe cases of pertussis. Yikes!

He accuses doctors of being on the payroll of the drug companies. To this I say: where's my check? The vast majority of doctors have received nothing more than a few ballpoint pens and ham sandwiches from the drug companies. He also states that drug companies own the medical schools, without mentioning that most med schools are state funded.

He voices concern over foreign-manufactured vacccines. This is understandable, but he doesn't mention that many US labs are getting out of the vaccine business because of litigation fears that have been driven by people like himself and their misleading agenda.

I could go on ripping apart this guy's comment, but most of my readers possess enough intelligence to recognize him as a phony and a lunatic. So I'll stop there.

SNAKE HUNTERS said...

John, perhaps you're right, but the First Amendment Privilege does
not forgive gross distortion,
expounded by anonymous rascals that shamefully hide their identity behind a phony profile.

On the other hand, your accurate
response leaves them dangling in
mid-air with mud on face.

What say you, dream-peddler? reb
_____________________________
www.lazyonebenn.blogspot.com

BB-Idaho said...

It may be that 'Dream' is correct in the relationship between antibiotics and drug resistance, but that is unrelated to vaccines.
As for 'nosodes', oral consumption of pus may be preferable to some to a shot in the arm, but science
finds, as we would suspect, no resultant specific antibody formation. How do you spell
placebo?