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The Vaccines That Worry Parents Most

March 27, 2010 | 97,783 views

vaccines

A study conducted at the University of Michigan shows that, although parents overwhelmingly share the belief that vaccines are a good way to protect their children from disease, these same parents express concerns regarding potential adverse effects of vaccines.

They especially seem to question the safety of new vaccines.

The study is based on a survey of more than 1,500 parents that was conducted last year. About 12 percent of parents said they had refused to allow their children to receive a vaccine that a doctor recommended.

Those parents tended to shy away from four vaccines:

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, because of concerns about side effects
  • Vaccine for meningococcal diseases, because of the risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome, an immune system disorder
  • The shot for measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), because of potential autism risk
  • Chickenpox (varicella) vaccine

Of those who said they had refused a certain vaccine for their child(ren), the greatest share of parents said their concerns were based on something they had read, or heard, about the vaccine. An almost equal number said they believed that the risk for adverse effects from the vaccine was too great.

The study’s authors concluded that this finding indicates that current public health education campaigns on vaccine safety have not been effective, and that officials should make a better attempt at assuaging parents’ safety concerns.

The authors also suggested that the use of newer social marketing techniques (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) might be potential strategies for spreading the word about vaccines.

 

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

It’s ironic that this study found that health officials aren’t doing a good job at addressing parents’ concerns about vaccine safety. I happen to agree – but not for the same reasons as this study’s authors.

Contrary to what the study concludes, parents ARE getting the message health officials want them to hear. From pediatricians to schools, to legislators to local and national news outlets, the mantra that vaccines are good for you and as safe as can be is coming through loud and clear.

The only problem is, this is the age of the Internet. Unlike the old days, when parents had to unquestioningly accept everything health officials said as gospel truth, today they can think for themselves. If their 12-year-old athlete suddenly develops a neurological problem and is bedridden after the HPV vaccine, they can get online and find thousands of articles and blogs about HPV adverse reactions.

Or, more often than not, they do the research before their child gets a vaccine, by going online and scanning professional journals, or visiting health websites like this one. Then, when they’re in their pediatrician’s office, they’re armed with a wealth of information that, for certain, they wouldn’t get otherwise. Much of that information has to do with vaccine safety – or lack thereof.

So the problem is not that parents don’t know the truth about vaccine safety. For public health officials, the real problem is that they DO.

Do You Know YOU Can Use Patient Compiled Vaccine Injury Database VAERS?

VAERS is a national surveillance database to which anyone can post. It was established in 1990 as a direct result of the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986, which requires health professionals and vaccine manufacturers to report to the HHS specific adverse events that occur after the administration of routinely recommended vaccines.

An important aspect of VAERS, however, is that anyone can both read and post vaccine adverse events to this database. So if your doctor discounts your concerns when your child regresses or gets ill after a vaccine, you can report them yourself – and that’s what people are doing in record numbers.

You can access VAERS here. Or, you can go to Medalarts.org, which provides an easy, powerful search engine for looking up specific reactions or vaccines in the VAERS database.

Medalerts also gives monthly analyses and yearly summaries for VAERS. For example, if you go to the January, 2010 summary you can see that 2009 was a record-breaking year for the number of VAERS reports.

You will also see that Medalerts has graphed a 20-year history of several vaccine reports – and that the very vaccines parents voiced concerns about in the Michigan study are some of the ones with the highest adverse reaction numbers.

So What are the Most Dangerous Vaccines?

With over 70 vaccines included, VAERS is an excellent tool that can help you easily identify which vaccines are associated with the most side effects. It is important to know though that only a tiny fraction of the reactions are actually reported. Studies have estimated that a maximum of 10 percent, to as little as ONE percent of side effects are ever reported, so the true side effects are easily FAR higher than the statistics show.

Still, the VAERS database shows that, in the past three years, vaccine adverse reaction reports in general have shot through the roof.

For example, the top vaccine that parents in the Michigan survey were concerned about – the HPV vaccine -- has 68 deaths and nearly 18,000 events reported in conjunction with it.

No wonder parents are concerned about this vaccine!

In less than a handful of years, adverse reactions reported on the HPV vaccine – mainly Gardasil, since Cervarix was just recently approved for use in the US – number in the thousands, and are growing.

The Graphs Tell the Story

If you go back and look at the Medalerts graphs, you will see why parents are so worried about several of the vaccines on the market.

Looking at the chart, you will see that the reports were fairly low in 1990, as they would be since that was the year VAERS began. You’ll notice a steady increase in reports through the years – and then a sudden spike beginning in 2007, when several new vaccines came out, such as HPV and rotavirus.

If you look at those spikes, as well as the very highest lines on the graph, you will see that right up near the top are the newer vaccines parents said they are worried about – HPV, meningococcal (meningitis) and varicella. But according to Medalerts, the “old” vaccines, including MMR and polio, are maintaining a significantly high, but steady, level too.

So what are the other top vaccines that are being reported to VAERS? Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (DPT), hepatitis, pneumonia, varicella, HPV, shingles, meningitis, and rotavirus.

They are all vaccines that have been in the news, and which I have warned about many times.

US Supreme Court to Hear Case about Side Effects

Earlier in March, the US Supreme Court decided to rule on whether drug makers can be sued by parents who believe their children were harmed by a vaccine. USA Today reported March 8 that Robalee and Russell Bruesewitz asked the court to intervene, after the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that federal law bars them from such suits.

The parents filed the lawsuit originally against Wyeth, after their daughter, Hannah, suffered debilitating seizures within hours of getting her third DPT shot. Hannah is now a teenager, and suffers from residual seizure disorder.

The court is expected to hear the case in the fall – and all eyes will be on it.

Proof That Vaccines Didn’t Save Us

In the past few weeks HHS, the CDC and the FDA have been redesigning their websites. If you are a frequent visitor to these sites as I am, you will find that direct links to important information, such as vaccine manufacturers’ package inserts, which provide a wealth more information on possible side effects, are harder to find than they used to be.

However, the good news is, thanks to the Internet, you can still find all the vaccine information you’re looking for. And you can still make reports to VAERS, and look them up.

Through numerous websites such as the National Vaccine Information Center, as well as blogs and subject-specific websites, including my site, you can still access “the rest of the story,” such as this excellent report showing that, contrary to health officials’ claims, vaccines did NOT eradicate diseases in the developed world.

This excellent website shows in clear detail that the very diseases health officials say could kill us without vaccines not only were already on the decline when the relevant vaccines were introduced, but practically bottomed out.

Not only that, as this website explains, the disease graphs also:

“… illustrate that increases in the number of governmental mandated vaccines correlates with significant increases in death rates for children under the age of five (5); and that the practice is linked to sudden infant death syndrome; various degenerative diseases, including diabetes; and appears to cause general immune system impairment in infants and children.

Evidence also points to the practice of immunization as a principal factor in the recent massive increases in neurodegenerative conditions such as autism in children.”

If you compare the disease incidence charts to the Medalerts graphs, the striking thing you will see is that we have traded a bottomed-out disease incidence for runaway vaccine adverse events reports!

And they call that progress?

It only makes me wonder why health officials don’t acknowledge truth, when it is all right here. The data shows vaccines haven’t done a thing to stop disease in the US.

But don’t just take my word for it. Instead of ending this article on a sour note, I’d like to call your attention to an uplifting report that, perhaps, government health officials weren’t counting on. It just came out, in the form of a commentary in the March 10 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In “The Missing Voice of Patients in Drug-Safety Reporting,” this well-respected science-based, peer-reviewed journal suggests that it’s time for ostrich-like thinking in drug research and adverse reporting to come to an end. The journal says:

“The current drug-labeling practice for adverse events is based on the implicit assumption that an accurate portrait of patients’ subjective experiences can be provided by clinicians’ documentation alone.

Yet a substantial body of evidence contradicts this assumption, showing that clinicians systematically downgrade the severity of patients’ symptoms, that patients’ self-reports frequently capture side effects that clinicians miss, and that clinicians’ failure to note these symptoms results in the occurrence of preventable adverse events.”

No kidding!

We Need to Do a Better Job of Representing the Data

The purpose of the Michigan study was to find out what health officials can do to convince parents that vaccines are safe. They concluded that officials needed to do a better job at representing the data by selling safety through pediatricians and social marketing.

I couldn’t agree more.

Whether it’s through pediatricians, the media or social marketing, we do need to do a better job of representing the data – with one caveat: we also need to listen to the patients and their parents, and take their vaccine concerns seriously.

It’s time for health officials to recognize that parents want – and deserve – to be shown the science and the real data, and be given a choice when it comes to vaccinating themselves and their children.

CDC Wants to Muzzle the Media

Unfortunately, I see no signs of this actually happening. On the contrary, the US Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently told Reader's Digest that health officials had decided to tackle the problem of increasing concerns about vaccines causing autism by suppressing the press.

Yes, you read that right: in a March Reader's Digest interview in connection with H1N1 vaccines, Sebelius said:

“There are groups out there that insist that vaccines are responsible for a variety of problems despite all scientific evidence to the contrary.

We have reached out to media outlets to try to get them to not give the views of these people equal weight in their reporting to what science has shown and continues to show about the safety of vaccines.” [Emphasis mine.]

Not give them equal weight in their reporting? Isn’t telling both sides of an issue what “objective” journalism is all about?

The saddest part of this is that Sebelius is serious. Health officials’ latest answer to parents’ vaccine concerns is, if they can’t manipulate and fool you outright, then they’ll just muzzle the media.

Folks, you simply must realize that there’s no substitute for doing your own homework, especially on important topics such as this one. And always remember, you have the power to take control of your health, and the health of your children. Use it!


[+] Sources and References

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