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Vaccination & Immunization Message Board

Vaccination & Immunization Board Index

I would like to point out that this is an extremely complicated topic. Many magazines have recently run articles on this issue. I will not name them so I stay in compliance with Health Boards policy. There have several polio epidemics in more developed countries recently. These countries have reasonably good sanitation and nutrition levels. Why did polio come back? The countries became lax with their vaccination procedures and there were not enough immune people to stop an outbreak. What do I mean? When more than 80% of a population has immunity to a disease, the introduction of the disease into the population is not normally a problem for the society because the disease cannot spread very far. It dies out before it goes anywhere past one or two people.

The reason that these childhood diseases have mostly vanished is due to vaccinations. All improved sanitation does is slow the transmission of diesease. Sanitation is crucial for waterborne bacteria and viruses. Example, cholera. Improved sanitation does little good for airborne viruses (think flu and the like).

Your opting out of the vaccination system and your subsequent good luck is largely based on the fact that the overall vaccination rate in the United States is over 80%. Your children, as a scientific fact, do not have immunity from the measles. The immunity (acquired through vaccine) of the other children and adults in your community shields your children from coming into contact with measles. If we transported 1 million persons from another part of the world that is less fortunate than the United States who did not receive vaccines, your children would be much more likely to get measles even if we provided these people with excellent nutrition and sanitation.

I do not think it appropriate to engage in a theological discussion as to whether God or Mother Nature is attacking or punishing the human race for developing vaccines. I do need to correct you in that scientists have commented that the difficulty in creating a vaccine for AIDS is largely in the the facts that the HIV virus rapidly mutates and comes in several strains and varieties.

I would point out that the human race is constantly trading the balance of artificial improvements versus the costs. Antibotics are clearly an improvement on the human immune system. I assume (although it is not my business) that you would give your children antibiotics for bacterial infections that could otherwise kill them. The trade off for the human race is that germs arise that are antibiotic resistant. God or Mother Nature (or whomever depending on your belief system) gave us legs for transportation. Using a horse or building cars is an attempt to improve on God. Cars and other transportation are good. The tradeoff is that we need to devote resources to care for or build these devices and have to deal with their pollution.

Coming full circle, a vaccine is another of these tradeoffs. Are the benefits worth the risk to the society? Clearly, my opinion is that the benefits outweigh the risks to the society. In this country, when 90% plus of the population vaccinates, an individual may be able to say that they don't need to take any risk because they will still get the benefits of the society's collective sacrifice.

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