We all wish for our children to be healthy and free of disease. We wish the same for ourselves as adults, too. But it’s time to critically examine and have an open conversation about whether multiple vaccines in early childhood should be our nation’s No. 1 disease-prevention strategy.
In fact, such a conversation is long overdue. Many red flags have appeared that suggest vaccines not only have the potential for failure, but also for harm. There can be little doubt that we need to review the safety and effectiveness of the current vaccination program in the U.S.
If you’re not sure this is necessary, just consider some of the recent vaccine failures that have made headlines. The one-size-fits-all vaccination schedule in the U.S. is not safe for every child, and there comes a point when we may well be sacrificing too many children’s lives in the name of “the greater good.”
Gut Infections May Cause Vaccine Failure
Researchers from the University of Virginia School of Medicine conducted a study involving malnourished children in Bangladesh. One of the hallmarks of malnutrition is stunted growth.
Despite being given regular medical care, vaccinations and food, stunted growth increased among the children, from 9.5 percent at the start of the study to nearly 28 percent by 1 year old. Children with stunted growth were found to have infections in their intestines more often than non-affected children.1
The researchers believe the children may not be digesting their food properly, and the infections likely play a role. Similar results were found among U.S. children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The study also found that vaccines given orally to these malnourished children (and presumably to children with IBD or other gut infections) become less effective. The worse the gut inflammation in the child, the less effective the vaccines (including those for rotavirus and polio) became.
Gut inflammation is widespread throughout the world, including in the U.S. where poor diets prevail. Before blindly vaccinating, we should be looking into how such vaccines may react in children with IBD and other gut issues.
Are they even effective? No one really knows. According to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases:2
“Most vaccine assessments have occurred in well-nourished populations of higher socioeconomic status. However, vaccines are often used in populations with high incidences of malnutrition and infections, in whom the effectiveness of some vaccines is inferior for unknown reasons.
The degree and extent of vaccine underperformance have not been systematically studied for most vaccines across differing epidemiologic settings.”
Vaccine-Derived Diseases Now Circulating the Globe
There are three strains of wild poliovirus still circulating in the world, but vaccine-strain polio viruses also circulate.3
A large part of the problem is the polio vaccine itself, specifically the live attenuated oral polio vaccine (OPV) that is not being given to children in the U.S. any more but is used in many other countries.
[The U.S. stopped using OPV in 1999 when the only cases of polio in the U.S. were being caused by the live virus vaccine. Children in the U.S. today receive four doses of the injected inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) that cannot cause vaccine strain polio.]
In Ukraine, two children were recently paralyzed by vaccine strain poliovirus type 1 after they received live OPV. The World Health Organization (WHO) noted:4
“The risk of further spread of this strain within the country is deemed to be high.”
In early December 2015, the WHO was also notified of two additional cases of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV1) in Lao People’s Democratic Republic in Xaisomboun, a previously unaffected province.
To date, five cases have been associated with this outbreak, including a 7-month-old who received oral polio vaccine in September and a 14-year-old who has a history of receiving the vaccine.
Both suffered from Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) that was officially classified as confirmed vaccine derived polio virus cases.
Worldwide in 2015, there were 24 cases of cVDPV reporded with 10 of them in Madagascar, a country that somehow slipped under the radar when it came to cVDPV news reports this year.
The type-1 vaccine derived polio virus (cVDPV1) has also been isolated from the stools of 16 healthy people in other area provinces since the beginning of the outbreak.5
Not only can the oral polio vaccine cause vaccine-strain polio in the recently vaccinated individual, but some people who receive OPV are capable of shedding the virus in their body fluids for decades and can infect others with vaccine strain polio virus, particularly people who are immune compromised.6
Vaccine-Caused Polio is a Growing Problem
At this point in time, as health officials are declaring a victory in eliminating the wild polio virus in large portions of the world, vaccine-caused polio is a growing problem.
The polio virus in the vaccine can mutate into a deadlier version in the intestines of a recently vaccinated person or someone who “catches” the vaccine strain polio virus from that person, igniting new outbreaks.
According to a 2010 article in the New England Journal of Medicine, outbreaks of vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPVs) have been occurring at a rate of once or twice per year since the year 2000.7
So are we really any better off? Polio can cause difficulty breathing and paralysis as the virus attacks and kills motor nerve cells that control your muscles. It can also cause death in its most severe form. However, what is not often shared is that in most cases of wild polio virus infection, it is a mild illness, causing flu-like symptoms that disappear in two to 10 days. Often, polio can occur and show no symptoms at all. Even the Mayo Clinic states:8
“The vast majority of people who are infected with the polio virus don’t become sick and are never aware they’ve been infected with polio.”
Although polio vaccine has been promoted as the best way of preventing polio, the vaccine has certainly not been the only, nor the ultimate, solution to prevent this disease.
Maintaining a strong and well-functioning immune system will always be the first line of defense, as this reduces the risk of any number of diseases, including polio.
Many Americans Dubious of Flu Shot’s Effectiveness
The flu shot is one of the most controversial vaccines of all, not only because it’s recommendedevery year, but also because of its many years of dismal failures. Not surprisingly, many Americans are now dubious of its effectiveness.
A recent Harris Poll of more than 2,200 Americans revealed one-third don’t believe the flu shot will protect them, while only 43 percent “strongly believed” it would. A sizeable number also correctly believed there were other ways to protect against the flu than a flu shot.9
Strategies mentioned included frequent hand washing, staying well rested, eating healthy and taking vitamins. Perhaps more people are becoming aware that the flu vaccine is often a major flop. For instance, last year’s (2014-2015) flu vaccine had an abysmal 18 percent effectiveness rate.
(For more, please see: Considering the Flu Shot? Here Are Five Reasons to Think Twice.).
What are the Risks of Long-Term Annual Flu Vaccination?
The long-term effects of annual flu vaccination are unknown, but it appears this strategy may be backfiring, leaving those who have been vaccinated annually less protected than those with no prior flu vaccination history.10
Research presented at the 105th International Conference of the American Thoracic Society in San Diego revealed that children who get seasonal flu shots are more at risk of hospitalization than children who do not. Children who had received the flu vaccine had three times the risk of hospitalization as children who had not. Among children with asthma, the risk was evenhigher.11
There remain more questions than answers when it comes to vaccinations, which is why we regularly see “mysterious” side effects – like narcolepsy – popping up after vaccinations enter widespread use. The swine flu (H1N1) vaccine (Pandemrix), for instance was causally linked to an increased risk of narcolepsy among children and adolescents.12
About 1,000 people who received the swine flu shot developed the neurological disorder and will live with it the rest of their lives. If this is news to you, it’s probably because few media outlets picked up on this story at the time.
NYC Judge Tosses Flu Shot Requirement for Preschoolers
In 2014, New York City began requiring pre-school children to get an annual flu shot in order to attend city-regulated, non-family daycare facilities. The NYC health department rule, instituted during the final days of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, affected more than 100,000 children between the ages of 6 and 59 months.
Earlier this month, state Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez judged the NYC flu shot mandate issued by public health officials to be “invalid and unlawful” because it is in “direct violation of the New York State Public Health Law.”13 Basically, the city’s health department officials do not have the regulatory power to impose a flu shot requirement on children without getting approval from elected representatives in the state legislature.
Immediately after the NY Supreme Court struck down the NYC unlawful flu shot mandate for pre-school children, a Bronx Assemblyman introduced a bill (AO8633) in the legislature to require all pre-school children in the whole state to get an annual flu shot.14
With your legal right to make independent vaccine decisions for yourself and your family being eroded at a rapid rate these days, the NY Supreme Court decision temporarily gives parents in New York City at least some control over which vaccines their children will get. But the new bill pending in the New York legislature, which would make annual flu shots a statewide mandate for all pre-school children, could be a huge problem if parents do not make their voices heard in Albany in 2016.