Thursday, March 5, 2009

Vaccine Fights

Not a clinic day goes by without a worried mom asking my opinion on vaccinations. They are confused and afraid to do anything that may harm their children. I feel badly for them, victims as they are of mixed data on vaccinations and extreme positions taken by doctors who refuse to admit that there may be significant problems with vaccines and those who advocate that vaccinations are of the devil.

To those moms who are contemplating avoiding vaccinations altogether I tell them that this is not a good idea; our society would again be ravaged by deadly diseases we have forgotten about, like diphtheria, polio, measles, etc. If we lived in a perfect world without stress, overcrowding, unpolluted water and food we might get away without vaccines.

As an imperfect practitioner of the “middle way,” I decided early in my career that such a contentious issue cried out for a compromise until we came up with more rational and clear guidelines that would include not only hard data but the feelings, intuition and wishes of mothers who often get their children’s health issues right before the medical profession does.

Consequently, I have been sticking my neck out advising moms that they could delay immunizations until one year of age to wait for their children’s immune system to mature; then spread out the vaccines. Instead of blasting them with so many shots and challenges to their forming immune system, they could do one vaccine every other month, provided they feed their infants well (no sugar and trans-fats) and keep them out of day care centers.

I did just that with my own daughter who is now 8 years old. So far, I have seen not one case of health issues that might be blamed on this schedule of vaccinations or alleged side effects.

You can imagine my delight when I saw the report in the Salt Lake Tribune (March 4th 2009) reporting that many doctors are asking that the current schedule be reviewed; specifically, the timing and spacing of vaccines. Dr Sundwall, the Utah Department of Health director, Dr. Pavia, the chief of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the U. of Utah School of Medicine and 25 other doctors in Utah have expressed their opinion to the upcoming meeting of the Vaccine Advisory Committee in Washington DC later this month.

While most of these doctors are betting that the present schedule is safe, the fact that a dialogue is taking place is encouraging. Some of them apparently believe that the CDC statement that there is no link to health problems like Autism, while supported by present data, has not reassured many mothers who feel that the issue is far from settled.

I side with these mothers. Let us be as safe as possible, until the issue is settled to everyone’s satisfaction. I am afraid that economic interests have clouded the data, which happens too often when profits are to be had, even in the health care field.


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