Saying no to shots? A growing number of Kitsap parents are choosing against vaccination
Washington DC. Parents of Kitsap County are exempting their children from shots in increasing numbers. It was said that roughly 7 percent of Kitsap students skipped one or more shots during the past school year. In 1998 the exemption rate was 1.8 percent. More parents are choosing to opt out due to concerns over the safety of vaccines. They fear vaccines can lead to debilitating neurological illnesses like autism and can cause illness and even death. It was also found that many of the parents came from affluent backgrounds and were well educated.
While experts say there is no link to vaccines, parents like Michael Belkin feel otherwise. Belkin lost his 5 week old daughter the night she received a Hep B booster. The state of Washington is attempting to make it more difficult to obtain vaccine exemptions. Belkin was part of a group protesting the Washington’s decision. Belkin feels parents should be free to make informed choices without facing obstacles for doing so. He has since had two children who are unvaccinated and remain healthy.
Concern over use of Pantevalent vaccine
Puducherry, India. Concerns over a new five-in-one vaccine were raised at a recent immunization seminar. Experts are worried about the safety, efficacy and appropriateness of the pantevalent (five-in-one) vaccines which will replace the trivalent (DTP). The pantavalent vaccine includes antigens against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (DPT), hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenza type B (HIB). The WHO has mandated this vaccine in it’s immunization program.
Dr Srinivasan,head, department of paediatrics, is concerned about the mandate, stating that only 44 – 59 percent of children are completely immunized against 6 major childhood illness. Srinivasan questions the wisdom behind issuing a mandate for an illness that has little potential to become a pandemic.
The pentavalent vaccine was first introduced to Sri Lanka in January 2008, but was quickly withdrawn in April after five deaths due to adverse reactions. Srinivasan said there are doubts about the quality of the pantavalent vaccine, and expressed further concern about whether the vaccine could risk the lives of the country’s babies.
Cost is another troubling factor. The government is already burdened by the cost of the current 6 vaccines given and costs `200 crore annually. The pantevalent vaccine would cost `1200 crore in three years when the subsidy is withdrawn.
Srinivasan expressed his final concerns stating;
“Though vaccines are useful tools in preventing morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases, they cannot be a substitute to safe drinking water, better sanitation and improvement of nutrition in children. Exclusive breast feeding can be the best immunisation a child could get free of cost and without any side effects.”
Vaccination fiasco: Central team visits Nagaur village
Nagaur, India. Investigations are being carried out after the deaths of two infants following the measles vaccine. Three other children are fighting for their life, one of whom has developed septicemia. A team has inspected the cold storage where the vaccines are kept and have queried health officials in charge of administering the vaccines. Samples have been collected of the suspected contaminated vaccine batch.
Finland Looks for a Mystery Person Spreading Poliovirus
Tampere, Finland. Experts are on the lookout for someone excreting live vaccine-derived poliovirus since roughly 1998. It is said that the individual likely received the oral polio vaccine and subsequently began replicating and excreting live poliovirus. Vaccine-derived poliovirus is different from wild polio strains and is easy identified. Finland’s environmental surveillance program identified two vaccine-derived polioviruses (VDPV) in 2008 from sewage samples, and since then, have isolated more than 70 strains of VDPV. Genetic analysis of the samples has revealed the viruses have all passed through the gut of one person, probably someone whose immune system doesn’t function properly. Scientists believe the person has been shedding live virus for 12 or 13 years.
There is nothing that can be done to stop the live virus shedding in some persons, and the problem can last for decades. Sometimes it stops on its own, and in other cases the viruses can develop into actual polio. There is also the threat of re-establishing the spread of polio. Experts fear that this may be a more widespread problem than originally suspected.
Living with Dravet Syndrome
Ottumwa, Iowa. A family must now deal with their daughter, three year old Hannah’s sudden onset of seizures after receiving the DTaP vaccine. She has been diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy than can cause up to 100 seizures a day. Her first seizure occurred within hours of receiving the shot and more followed. It is believed her seizures were triggered due to an adverse reaction from the vaccine. It has also been discovered that Dravet syndrome is caused by a mutation of the SCN1A gene. Her parents believe children should be genetically tested prior to vaccination to rule out possible adverse effects stemming from vaccination. For now, Hannah’s parents are focusing on caring for their daughter and raising awareness of the disorder.