questions about vaccinations and poverty

May 3, 2009 § 15 Comments

Could vaccines be weakening the immune system of our populations and causing recurrent infections and allergies at unprecedented levels? The only event that all infants routinely encounter at two months of age is vaccination with at least five different vaccines (Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis-Polio-Haemophilus). They are repeated at four months. Could this simple fact explain the onset of the recurrent illnesses that plague so many infants? If vaccines stimulate antibody production to fight diseases, why would they weaken the immune system? Is there any evidence that vaccines do cause illness and immune system dysfunction?

1. okay.  let me begin with the caveats.  ahemm… not a doctor.  im not a licensed anything.  im not an expert in the field of human health or viruses or what have you. im not a medical historian.

im just a person thinking about her health.  her kids health.  and her communities’ health.

and im not judging you if you vaccinate your kid.  or if you dont.  or whatever choices you have made for you and yours.  every mother makes the choices that are best her and hers.

2. that being said: i have some major questions around vaccinating an entire population against a disease.

and i understand that certain diseases have nearly been eradicated by the creation of vaccines.

and my problem with it is not primarily with the increase of autism or lead in the vaccine.

here is my problem with it.

we create a vaccine for a certain disease.  we then mandate that everyone must be vaccinated against this disease.  in a couple of generationd this disease has disappeared.  but other diseases have now appeared.  diseases that used to be rare or unheard of are now common.  so we create a vaccine against these new diseases. in a couple of generations these diseases are now also rare.  new diseases, old diseases appear.  we do the cycle again.

we talk about how children used to die from polio and now there is no polio. true. ish.

but are children world wide healthier today?  do relatively less children die now than 70 years ago?  or do they just die from different causes?

Over 25,000 children die every day around the world.

That is equivalent to:

  • 1 child dying every 3.5 seconds
  • 17-18 children dying every minute
  • A 2004 Asian Tsunami occurring almost every 1.5 weeks
  • An Iraq-scale death toll every 16–38 days
  • Over 9 million children dying every year
  • Some 70 million children dying between 2000 and 2007

3. i mean when we go into a forest and annihilate one species doesnt that mean that other species become stronger?  not just the species that used to be prey.  but also species that used to have to compete for the same food, for the same space?

i always feel weird talking about vaccines.  because folks will lay a guilt trip on you faster than you can blink if you are questioning the need for innoculating the entire human population against a virus or disease.  they will pull study after study.  anecdote after anecdote.  and i dont really have a lot of studies or anecdotes.  im not an ‘expert’ or a researcher.  im just a mama with a kid.  doing her best.

4.other folks will tell you how you are endangering the human race if you dont get every single vaccine out there.  how you are the reason that polio has re-emerged.  or the mumps.  or the reason that kids still get chicken pox.  they will tell you how children have died from these diseases.  died.  i tell you. died.  and its all your (and ignorant selfish mothers like you) fault.

5.but the children who for the most part die from childhood diseases.  (preventable! childhood diseases…ahem…) are poorer.  live in environmental conditions in which the water, food, and air have been significantly compromised.  perhaps if we worked at changing their basic living conditions, rather than letting capitalism, racism, sexism, and war run amok these diseases really could be preventable.

but we dont work to structurally change how we live in this world so that others might ‘simply live’.  we raise money (just a dollar a day!) to get kids vaccinated.  and then send them out to drink that unclean (polluted) water and breathe that structural readjustment exploitative trans national corporation’s billows of soot next to the village or right outside of the city.

and then we guilt trip mothers because some kids immune systems arent as strong or as stable as other kids.

would these childhood diseases be less prevalant or less potent if more children had stronger immune systems?  and if so, what is of greater benefit: creating the systems and societies that contribute to a stronger immune system or allowing empire and neo capitalism to kill thousands and millions and children while we try to annihilate virus after virus?

6. and what if these very vaccines are causing children to be immune to be one set of diseases while lowering the strength of their immune systems overall?

7. we know that stress, emotional, psychological and environmental stress has a direct effect on the strength of the immune system and the production of white blood cells.  can we work to lower the stress in children’s lives?  the stress of poverty?  of hunger?  of racism?

how powerful is lowering stress vs. upping the vaccine requirement?

8. now i know that folks like to throw out studies and numbers.  this hasnt been proven!  the number of participants in this study were to few!  im not really talking about the scientific method or what studies the govt has deemed important enough to fund on a scale that would produce results acceptable to the medical and lobbyist community’s critique.  my kids health cannot be reduced to a point on a graph. she is a living being, complex, loving, perceptive, and free.

Federal legislation of 1986 commissioned the Institute of Medicine to establish a Vaccine Safety Committee. The purpose of that committee was to search the medical literature for reports of adverse events associated with the vaccines routinely administered to children, and report their findings. Computer searches revealed 1,800 relevant articles. However, the committee’s rigid criteria for establishing a causal relationship between vaccine and adverse event made it nearly impossible for a disease condition to make their short list. Without a case-controlled study proving a relationship, the hundreds of case reports of immune system destruction following vaccines were relegated to coincidence. Case-controlled studies are expensive. They must include tens or hundreds of thousands of children.

Even the Vaccine Safety Committee acknowledged the onset of several autoimmune diseases as a result of vaccination (Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disease that causes muscle weakness and paralysis, following tetanus and polio vaccines; thrombocytopenia, destruction of blood platelets responsible for blood clotting, following MMR; and chronic arthritis following rubella). These types of symptoms have occurred following every vaccine routinely given to children—the suppressed immune system begins to attack the body’s own cells, usually the nerves and joints. Thousands of autoimmune incidents following vaccines have been reported in the medical literature and adverse event reporting systems. These autoimmune responses to vaccines have resulted in permanent, chronic disease conditions—deforming arthritis and muscle wasting and paralysis.

9.  all i can do is follow my intuition.  i was vaccinated as a child.  and look at me! im healthy! but my intuition says that there is something off about killing entire species of viruses and thinking that all the consequences will be beneficial for human beings.  it tells me that i am most likely to get harmful viruses and bacteria overgrown  when my immune system is weak.  and my immune system gets weak when i am not taking care of myself and emotionally/psychologically stressed.  it tells me that we have chicken pox vaccine because we dont want to pay parents to take time off work and take care of their kids.  it tells me that we are not in control of our bodies. and while a vaccine may (or may not) protect me from disease a…it may be sowing the grounds for disease b.  a disease i dont, we dont, know exists yet.

in other words life is a risk.  no matter how we roll the dice.


§ 15 Responses to questions about vaccinations and poverty

  • Aaminah Hernandez says:

    i have two serious problems with the idea of vaccinations:

    1) it isn’t an option. you *have to* accept them or your child can’t go to daycare, school, etc. at least here in the states. so, like you, i don’t fault parents that do them, and i don’t fault parents that make an educated or intuitive active choice not to do them. but i think it is wrong that the gov’t tells us we have to do them so that parents are no longer able to make that choice.

    2) too many vaccines are tested out on underprivileged populations or forced upon mothers who don’t know they have an option, meaning that they may be seriously risky but we ddon’t know it yet and poor/colored kids find out the hard way. two distinct examples i can give (and there are so many more):

    a) the chicken pox vaccine was NOT required at the time my son was born. it became required about 2 yrs later. BUT, i was told that it was required and therefore had it done to him. had i known it was not required, i would have abstained but i was told that i had no choice. several yrs later, i had a puerto rican secretary who recalled having that vaccine herself as a young child, back in puerto rico. needless to say, that was close to 2 DECADES before it became required here. her mother had been told nothing except that she had to take it. the reaction to it was pretty bad, and the child was hospitalized. and she ended up getting chicken pox as a teen anyway. anecdotal? sure. worth being ignored? no.

    b) the new hpv vaccine… what do we really know about it? have we had a chance to study the long-term effects of it? no. for that matter, why are we vaccinating all girls with it, but have not developed something to vaccinate all boys who are the ones who pass it on to girls? oh, and why is it so quickly a required vaccination anyway??? i mean, literally, because of my job, i am aware of a family who has had child protective services called on them because they haven’t gotten into the clinic to get their two teen daughters the third shot yet. why? why couldn’t these young ladies, or their parents, have made the decision that they don’t want it?

    • chump says:

      this may vary state to state but in both minnesota and virginia, your cild could enroll in preschool without vaccines, but with a firm that you rejected them for ethical or religious considerations. our kid did. the thing is that like with the right to choose notto have te vaccines, no one ever tells you about this. they tell you you have to have them. not you hav to have them or…

      so unless you know to ask with the ivformation you will most likely be given you are faced with a chioce between vaccines and childcare, or no vaccines and none. no coercion there

  • Mamita Mala says:

    Vaccine requirements are insane and they way they are wave around parents’ heads by doctors and a system that gets money from vaccine companies. Let’s follow that trail shall we? And mainstream media is more than willing to lay guilt trips on parents too. Did anyone peep an episode of Law and Order which really was one big ole advert for vaccines?

    Here in the states some states are tougher than others. NY is a pain in the effing ass.

    Aaminah, PR was the testing ground for so much of the U.S.’s medical products from birth control to vaccines. Which is another huge problem for me personally/politically with all these requirements especially in communities of colors and especially through the public health system.

    As a mami, my goal has always been to make sure my chicas develop the healthiest immune systems as possible, as naturally as possible. In my 11 plus years of mami’ing, not even the dreaded ear infection.

    Doctors are not gods. They don’t have all the answers and I think no one knows the health of a child better than a parent.

  • Derek says:

    Thom Hartmann talked a little bit about this on his radio show. Some researchers found that in parts of Indonesia there were no cases of lupus, allergies, asthma, or other auto-immune disorders. And what they discovered is that virtually everyone had worms.

    For most of human history people had worms. And what they discovered is that when the worms attach themselves to the lining in your intestines they release a protein into your bloodstream that has a calming effect on your immune system. The reason being is that the worms want to survive.

    Another aspect that plays a big role in this is modern meat production. Regulations on agribusiness allows pigs and other wild stock to live in horrible cramped corners. The result is that animals frequently get sick. As a result they’re pumped full of antibiotics, and the result is that we get antibiotic resistant bacteria.

  • mama says:

    they offered the hpv when aza was a day old. what the fuck does a day old baby need with the hpv?

    the first time habibi took aza to the doctor and explained that we were delaying her immunizations the doctor gave habibi a lecture that if he hadnt known his rights…he would have assumed that vaccines were the law.

    here in cairo the nurses/doctors come door to door to give kids vaccinations. and when they came to our door and we were like…ummm…no thank you. they seemed appalled. which i cant understand. why would i give my kid a random oral vaccination because you came to my door with a thermos?

    i dont know what are the laws for vaccinations and schools in cairo. but in the states it was crazy. when aza was in day care we were lucky to be living in minneapolis which has one of the more liberal policies about vaccinations and school.

    the chicken pox vaccine gets me though. i got the chicken pox when i was 4. i was lucky that mom could take a couple of days off work and then stick me at a babysitters for another week. but i was told that the important thing was to get the chicken pox when you were young so that you had immunity for life and the symptoms would be pretty mild. why would we make the chicken pox vaccine mandatory? esp. when it is shown that the immunity from that vaccine wears off and you have to get boosters for it.

    also my cousins in the rural south are telling me that they have given their kids vaccines that i have never even heard of. and supposedly they are ‘mandatory’. which makes me think that their kids are being experimented on as we speak.

    shit is crazy.

    • Derek says:

      The only thing I can think of is that maybe it’s possible that HPV is transmittable from mother to child, and they’re trying to guard against that. I dunno. Anyone know anything about this?.

  • Umm Layth says:

    First time here. Good article.

    ——-Doctors are not gods. They don’t have all the answers and I think no one knows the health of a child better than a parent.——–

    This reminds me of something I read in the book Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom (end of page 9, beg of page 10) by Christiane Northrup where she took a shot at these physicians we are told to trust blindly.

    As a physician, I was trained to be paternalistic, the all-knowing outside expert. The public, in turn, is conditioned to believe that doctors are the paragons for healthy behavior. My parents routinely expect, for example, that I will yell at them if they miss an annual Pap smear – something I’ve occasionally done myself! According to a report from the University of California, 50 percent of doctors do not have a personal physician – something that all doctors advocate for their patients. Twenty percent don’t exercise, 7 percent believe that they drink “too much” alcohol, and 50 percent of female physicians don’t even do monthly breast self-exams! Yet people regularly give control of their health over to these models of unhealthy living.

    (Quoted in Health, vol.6, no.2 (april 1992))

    Imagine how much worse this is as we shift into a more stressful lifestyle with each year that passes.

    How then am I, a mother who reads and researches night after night, to trust these doctors? I asked my old pediatrician to link me to a place where I could clarify things I was confused over regarding vaccines and she said just go to the AAP site. When I told her I just wanted my son vaccinated with one vaccine she got on my case and mentioned the word death pointing the finger at me.

    Why do we have so many darn vaccines and why is the schedule the way it is? Why are there still so many toxins in these vaccines? And why don’t we encourage more natural healing methods? We know why but the questions remain in the mind of any human being who has seen the change from 10 vaccines to these lists:

  • Derek says:

    I do get a little wary about the anti-vaccinations ideology. To the best of my knowledge, there was no evidence that vaccinations caused any cases of autism. Increases in autism is probably due to some other factor in our environment paired with larger proportions of people being diagnosed.

    There was a small movement in the UK to stop giving their kids vaccinations for measles, and it did seem to work…for a little while. If 1 child in 500 didn’t have the vaccination, then his likelihood of contracting measles was still quite low. However, too many people stopped giving their kids vaccines for measles, and there was an outbreak of it in the UK.

    I suspect part of the issue is that it’s been an entire generation who’s lived with vaccinations. So there is no direct knowledge of how vicious some of these diseases are.

    Another problem is that the pharmeceutical industry, particularly in the US, is horribly corrupt, and people know this. This distrust ties into their distrust of the medical industry at large. However, big pharma doesn’t take a hippocratic oath. And if a doctor killed a few thousand people, he/she would surely be out of a job, if not in jail. For big Pharma, that’s just an annoying law suit.

    There are other facets of this too. In the last 10 to 20 years there has been a massive movement, particularly at schools to do something about attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD and ADHD). The result was that we had a lot of kids who were force fed ritalin, leading to a lot of kids hooked on speed. However, recent research shows that ADD and ADHD can often be cured with an organic diet that eliminates a lot of sugar, caffeine, and high fructose corn syrup. There is other research out there that suggests that ADD and ADHD is perfectly natural, and developed as a benefit to hunter-gatherers. The theory suggests that some are wired for detailed domestic work and others are wired to be able to shift their focus quickly to better aid them in hunting. With modern culture and civilization in many parts of the world, there simply is no more need for hunter-gatherers. And schools in the US teach the detailed domestic method. The education is also hierarchical and extremely structured.

    The problem ultimately wasn’t that kids with ADD and ADHD should have been given ritalin. They should have been taught differently in a different environment, an environment that would use their mode of thinking as an asset instead of a disability.

    • mama says:

      but the chance of dying from the measles (in the quick google search that i did — info from the canadian govt) is 1 in 3000. and that was on a govt site promoting the mmr vaccine.
      ahem: A person may develop symptoms 10 to 12 days after being in contact with an infected person. The person may develop a high fever. After 2 or 3 days, tiny white spots may appear in the mouth. From day 3 to day 7, a characteristic red blotchy rash begins to appear on the face and spreads down the body to the arms and legs. This rash usually lasts 4 to 7 days. These symptoms generally last from 1 to 2 weeks.
      so i hear that a rash of measles broke out in the uk. but how many children died from it? how many children were significantly harmed? other than missing a few days to a couple of weeks of school…what were the consequences drawbacks?
      i think that we have had vaccinations for the past couple generations so that we dont remember which diseases were dangerous. and which were basic childhood moments. like the way that when we were children every kid got the chicken pox. thats just the way it happened. i assume in talking to adults from the states that they have had chicken pox. just assume it.
      now lets look at how chicken pox was discussed in 1999 right when the vaccine started to be pushed:
      –Chickenpox is not just an itchy, contagious rash. Chickenpox can cause serious problems, even death. Nearly four million people in the United States, mostly children, get chickenpox each year. About 9,300 people are hospitalized (80 percent are children and adolescents) for medical complications resulting from chickenpox every year and about a hundred people die. The most commonly serious problem seen in children with chickenpox is skin infection, which may result in scars. In some children with chickenpox, blisters can be infected with certain kinds of germs that can quickly cause shock, organ failure and “flesh-eating disease” (necrotizing fascitis). Other serious problems that chickenpox can cause in children include swelling of the brain, loss of muscle coordination, pneumonia, ear infections and Reye’s syndrome ( a rare disease that has been associated with aspirin use during chickenpox infection). Complications of chickenpox also include the lost time from work and school and the possible cost of sick child visits to the doctor, medications and hospitalization. Chickenpox needs to be treated as a serious disease. —
      what? the? fuck?
      damn hope my kid never gets that…oh wait…yes i do…
      please dont get me wrong. i am not making light of children dying from diseases. nor of them dying from poverty, starvation, contaminated environments, gun violence, or the other myriad causes of childrens mortality rates.
      and yes there is no ‘evidence’ of a link between vaccines and autism. but in order for there to be evidence. there has to be a big enough study done to get conclusive evidence. and who is going to fund that?
      i dont really have answers. i just work off a philosophy that says a strong immune system is really helpful to not catching viruses. and letting the body balance itself out and supporting the body while it is balancing itself is a good first step when discussing health.

      • Derek says:

        I do agree that a good immune system is a good first step. And I certainly agree that there is some serious overkill with some of these vaccinations. I also remember having chicken pox as a kid (I think I was in the 4th grade) and it wasn’t fun. I think I was out of school for a week. My understanding is that it can cause serious problems for adults, even death. Although, I’ve never heard of a child dying from it. I suppose it’s possible, especially if the child was already ill from something else.

        My understanding is that there are a lot of organizations that are working on autism now. I figure they would fund a study. Although, you certainly have a point. A industry or company wouldn’t likely fund something that would hurt their profit margins.

        Part of my discomfort for the anti-medical-anything comes from my own direct experience. My grandmother was a practicing member of the church of Christian Science. It’s a religion that’s quite strange, and believers will disavow the belief in viruses or bacteria, and that they only way to heal an illness is to pray to God for wellness. The faith also disallows those who are ill from talking about their illness, otherwise, it is taught that the illness will continue. This leads to some serious problems, as one can imagine. My grandmother developed a case of basal cancer on her face that badly disfigured her. It went untreated until the day she died. When she died the medical examiner found a serious case of untreated breast cancer that must have put her in horrendous pain.

        I personally have a distrust of the medical industry, especially here in the U.S., since it’s all profit driven. But even that I think beats a going-it-on-your-own approach. Ideally, people would be far better educated about their own health and act accordingly, but for a lot of people it’s probably not feasable.

  • mama says:

    @derek not making an argument about the connx between autism and vaccinations. frankly the discourse in that argument is really really able-ist. and i dont want much to do with it.
    2. im not putting my faith in god. or faith healing. or whatever. frankly i think that guilting folks into not taking care of themselves is well…evil…sorry. not into it.
    3. you need govt support to fund any study of that size and magnitude. ind org’s do not have that level of resources or reach to be able to est whether or not there is a connx between autism and vaccinations.
    4. but my main concern with vaccinations is not – about – autism. its just not about that.
    5. my point is that life includes risk. and we have to accept that sooner or later.
    6. i advocate for parents to be able to decide what risks they are going to take. we cant control ‘nature’ or ‘evolution’ of viral species. as social policy i question requiring that all parents vaccinate their children against a myriad of species. what are the effects of this vaccinations? are we creating the space for even more resilient species to thrive?
    im not telling folks to vaccinate kids. or not to vaccinate their kids. i am saying that as social policy i would feel alot more comfortable with changing the environments in which kids grow up rather than giving them a shot and then sending them into the same fucked up environments.
    can we create the space in which parents can be educated about their own health and their kids and act accordingly?
    if you want vaccinations for you kids. good. if you dont. good.
    the immune system seems to thrive in environments with diverse bacteria and viruses. which gives the immune system the chance to develop strategies and immunities to wide variety of foreign species.
    anecdote: a couple of years ago i had a really bad sinus infection. so i took antibiotics. still in pain. took the next round of antibiotics…a month later still in debilitating pain. so i took echinacea (which increases the white blood cell count rather than killing the foreign species directly) and i finally got well. because my body was creating in enough numbers the type of white blood cells that were responding specifically to the foreign species creating the sinus infection. that was an important lesson to me. when i used the antibiotics. they were killing the weaker bacteria but leaving more room for the stronger bacteria to become stronger and more numerous. my body when it was given support from the echinacea was able to create what it needed to drive out the bacteria.
    am i saying that everyone needs to go out and buy echinacea? no. it worked for. its individual. but we ought to have that choice to decide what works for us. if vaccines work for you and yours. good. vaccines are available. but if you have other ways of dealing with health and illness. go for it.
    no one should be denied full medical assistance. and no one should be punished for having other ways of establishing health in their bodies.

    • Derek says:

      I dunno if there are any connections between vaccinations and autism. From what little I know on the topic, it was over-hyped media reporting. I certainly think a real study should be done on it, that isn’t biased one way or the other, so a definitive answer can be found. I agree that such a study needs to be funded, and if government is the only one who can afford the cost, then it needs to fund such a study.

      I also agree that all parents should have the right to decide whether they want to vaccinate their child. But it brings up an ethical dilemma. With that choice, does that not pose a danger to other children, especially considering the population density of our species today? Does that pose a risk of an unforeseen pandemic that has yet to occur?

      This is the thing that makes me a little uncomfortable about this. It’s not really a question about vaccinations or antibiotics, or using any other particular strategy to maintain health. It’s a question of whether we allow parents the right to harm their child’s health, regardless of their intentions.

      I’m uncomfortable with either choice of allowing parents to have complete control over these decisions, or having Gestapo-like government mandates. What to do about this, I don’t know. And since I’m not a parent, I don’t know if I would feel differently if I had a child.

  • mama says:

    1. and there is a social ethic question around vaccinating an entire population. look at the swine flu. all of these pigs world wide are vaccinated against the flu. so that whatever viruses can survive have evolved to be so strong and virulent. you have cases of measles and mumps popping up. and this is being blamed on parents who choose not to vaccinate their kids. but maybe what is happening is that viruses are evolving to be stronger than the vaccination. this the question that i am asking. is it socially beneficial to vaccinate children universally against a certain virus. when we know that we cannot control the evolution of viruses. are vaccinations creating the space for stronger and more dangerous viruses to emerge…? in the woods when i eliminate one species…(like wolves or old trees) can i honestly predict what will happen to that ecosystem? are we in the end doing more harm than good to our children?
    2. what do you mean by harm their childrens health? if one person is harming another person then that needs to stop. but i do question by how we define ‘harm’. for instance about 97 percent of children in child protective services are of color. and they have shown in studies that social workers are more likely to recommend give the same circumstances social workers are more likely to recommend removing children of color from their parents than white children. in other words there is an implicit social policy that says that simply having parents of color is harmful to the children.
    no child should be hurt. no childs body should be hurt.

  • Derek says:

    I agree, that it’s a good question to ask if we aren’t creating super viruses or bacteria by using vaccinations. I think a sound approach needs to used, what that approach should be, I don’t know. I think it is better left in the hands of people smarter than I.

    With the swine flu, I think it’s just a natural response to little regulation over the meat industry. As I understand it, there are different classes of antibiotics. There are commonly used antibiotics, and “last resort” antibiotics, which are used to protect people if something really nasty comes up. About a year ago I read in the Washington Post that the FDA had approved allowing the meat industry to commonly use these “last resort” antibiotics. The much disgusting thing is no antibiotics need to be used at all if the meat industry was just regulated the way it should be.

    There are cases where parents have prevented their children from having access to medical care for philosophical reasons or on religious grounds. How “harm” is defined is another slippery slope, and hard to narrow down.

    I wouldn’t be surprised that social workers will have attitudes of racism, for the same reason that police officers often have those same attitudes. A social worker will not necessarily see what causes certain kinds of behaviors, such as how POC will deal with issues of poverty or other stresses in their life. What they will see is a similar set of behaviors and attribute those behaviors to certain characteristics, such as race. It is the representativeness heuristic at it’s worse.

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