Whooping cough has turned up in North America after decades of near absence. Caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacterium, whooping cough is emerging from the shadows in response to a fateful switch of vaccines embraced in the 1990s, just when it seemed the disease was licked. The vaccine used today (acellular pertussis vaccine) has proved less potent than its predecessor (whole-cell vaccine). (do not forget to read the analysis of Wallace about how vaccines DID not play a role in the decrease of deaths in modern society, but that rather simple inventions like the sewage systems played that role – see “Conspiracy of the vaccines” here)
The whole-cell vaccine offers up the full pertussis bacterium, bristling with scores of proteins that our bodies recognize as foreign and build an immune response against. The resulting all-hands-on-deck response engenders immune memory that will awaken when faced with a live pertussis bacterium, even years later.
But the whole-cell vaccine’s rampant immune reaction carries a downside. Babies commonly run fevers, get agitated and feel pain at the injection site. “Those babies are really unhappy,” says James Cherry, a semiretired infectious disease physician at the UCLA School of Medicine.
Harsher reactions can occur, too. Among more than 15,000 babies included in a 1981 analysis by Cherry and his colleagues, nine developed seizures shortly after an injection and nine others had an episode of listlessness. None of the babies showed long-term effects from these episodes, but such events are alarming for parents, Cherry says.
On top of that, the whole-cell pertussis vaccine was dogged by allegations that it might cause encephalopathy, which carries the risk of brain damage. Starting in 1946, anecdotal cases dribbled in that seemed to link encephalopathy in babies with the whole-cell vaccine. But a 1983 analysis of 33 cases found no connection.
So a search began for an alternative vaccine that didn’t use a whole cell. Public health officials endorsed the goal, and pharmaceutical companies developed acellular — meaning no cell — vaccines that contain up to five of the antigens found on the pertussis bacterium. Fewer antigens would still trigger immunity, scientists figured, with fewer side effects. (1)
This lead to a public backlash against this vaccine. (2)
Is this madness?
Is this biased prejudice against science?
Are some people just willing to risk the life of their kids?
But there are reports which link the vaccine with encephalopathy. (3)
There are mild side-effects reported for the “stronger” vaccine. (4, 5, 6)
There are also serious neurological disorders reported following whole-cell pertussis in comparison to acellular pertussis vaccines. (“Our results, and conclusions by the US Institute of Medicine, suggest an association between serious neurological disorders and whole-cell pertussis immunization.”) (7)
And this is not limited to this vaccine.
Scientists search for complications which include autism (measles vaccine), multiple sclerosis (hepatitis B vaccine), meningoencephalitis (Japanese encephalitis vaccine), Guillain‐Barré syndrome and giant cell arteritis (influenza vaccine), and reactions after exposure to animal rabies vaccine. (8)
The results show some complications. The risk is zero or minimal related to the risk for the disease. But in some cases it IS existent. But no matter what the case is, one should have the right to know and decide on his own. And only a parent should decide if the risk for encephalitis is minimal. Even if it is 1 in 1,000,000 it is still too much if you are that 1 case…
Too bad you must pay $60 to buy the article.
It would be logical to have such safety-related information free for the public good.
(and note that we are talking about an article of 2002, not cutting edge research…)
No matter how good science is, the decision should be left on the parents to make!
And the complications do not end here.
As scientists claim in an article for example, “Real evaluation of any vaccine can only be done after the vaccine has been in routine use for a substantially long period of time” (9). So we test vaccines on humans?
And yes, new research shows that some side-effects might not be related to the vaccines. See here for example. This research claims that “New evidence emerged in 2006 showing that cases of alleged ‘vaccine encephalopathy’ are due to mutations within a sodium channel gene. The weight of epidemiological evidence does not support a relationship between vaccination and childhood epileptic encephalopathies or autism spectrum disorders”. But this research does not nullify the results of the previous researches which showed a correlation between vaccinations and autism. Finding a gene responsible for a disease does not answer the question why it is more likely for a kind which was vaccinated to get the disease! We should be really careful at what we think we prove.
The National Childhood Encephalopathy Study (NCES), conducted in the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979, suggested the possibility of a relationship between the vaccine and encephalopathy. Methodologic problems with this study were quickly highlighted.(10) Funny how such problems are not-so-quickly highlighted in pharmaceutical companies-funded researches which based on minimal number of cases celebrate the “success” of new vaccines.
As I said above, there are researches which show that some risks DO exist for vaccines. There are small but they do exist! Should we ignore them? Should we put them under the mat because some OTHER researches did not find this correlation? Is that logical? Is that scientific? Is that ethical?
Another research shows small correlation between DTP vaccine and encephalopathy. [OR = 1.22] (11) Is that chance low? How low should a possibility be in order for a parent to decide? Would you decide to do something if it could result to the death of someone loved even at a 1 to 10,000,000 chances?
I am not against vaccination.
I personally was vaccinated.
I will vaccinate my children.
But I decided that based on all the facts!
I DECIDED THAT!
If you do not have the money and the time to search this matter, then be sure that OTHERS WILL DECIDE FOR YOU! And this is the worst thing of them all: Science in the dress of religion, telling people what to do without letting them make up their own mind.