Friday, April 12, 2013

Why vaccination is a no brainer for me



There is currently a measles epidemic in South Wales.  Measles epidemic?  A disease that was almost eradicated in the UK? But we have a UK wide vaccination programme - how can it be possible?

How can it be that  the UK had the second highest number of measles cases in Europe last year with 1,902 confirmed cases  not including the new cases in South Wales?  (The European total was 8,230).

It seems in the UK we are still paying the price for the scaremongering caused by the flawed "research" by Andrew Wakefield claiming a link between the MMR Jab & autism. His hypothesis is that he found a new form of bowel disease that was only present in autistic children and he linked this to the MMR jab.   And so he opened Pandora's Box as parents made the connection between MMR and Autism, despite the original Wakefield report being shown to be completely flawed, the author to have multiple conflicts of interest and to have manipulated evidence, despite Andrew Wakefield being struck off the Medical Register by the General Medical Council. Despite multiple studies which showed no link between the MMR vaccine and autism the seed of doubt had been sown in the minds of otherwise intelligent people.


Intelligent people who started to question whether they would vaccinate their child, who paid private clinics for individual vaccinations, who stirred up fear and panic among new parents and ultimately left children exposed to childhood illnesses which were on the verge of eradication.

And now we have a measles epidemic in South Wales, and pockets of breakouts across the country as unvaccinated children fall victim to diseases they need not have contracted.  And why?  Not only did the Wakefield report cause mass hysteria about an unfounded link between the MMR and Autism, parents then started to be swayed by pseudo science that it was better to let the body fight off the real disease, that a vaccination was toxic to the body and could cause allergies and then ultimately the human rights debate - it's our right to choose and not have the state impose their vaccination programme on us....

Fine...

Unless you contract one of these diseases because you haven't been vaccinated

I know about this.  My earliest childhood memory is of lying in bed, feeling blinded by bright lights as I battled measles.  And this disease left me scarred for life, nerve endings damaged leaving me deaf in one ear.  And I was lucky, it could have been worse,it could have been total deafness, blindness, brain damage, I was lucky to be left just with one deaf ear.  Not so bad, but actually a pain in the neck, literally.  My osteopath tells me that I have mild osteoarthritis in my neck from years of tilting it to one side.  My family are used to me not being able to tell which direction they are calling me from, noisy pubs are a no-no as the background noise makes hearing conversation a nightmare...

My children have all been vaccinated because I understand the impact of these diseases we are protecting them from.  Not all my children have received all their vaccinations however.  Daisy is vaccinated against whooping cough, tentanus, hib, polio and diptheria - she received the three first years vaccines as a matter of course and they were duly recorded in her red book.  And then we started the downward spiral of her intestinal failure and the immunosuppression and steroids and chronic infections and it was decided that giving her a live vaccine - which the MMR is, would be too risky.  I would give her the vaccine if I could, but I cant, that choice is not available to her.  Nor is it available to the children who are donor organ recipients or bone marrow recipients or who have had their immune system wiped out because of chemotherapy.

And when we learned that MMR was not an option I did not worry unduly, after all, how many measles, mumps and rubella cases are there?  Well 7 years ago not many but today, in South Wales, the count today stands at 700 children with the outbreak not expected to peak for another 4 weeks.

When Daisy developed chickenpox at the age of 2 she was hospitalised because she was so ill, the reality is that developing measles could kill her.

So am I being selfish in wanting to protect my child from a preventable childhood disease?  I do remember postponing Theo's MMR for a couple of weeks because he had a cold, I followed my instinct that giving him a live vaccine when he was below par was not a good option but I made sure he had the vaccine once he was 100% and I had the calpol at the read for the inevitable side effects ( mild symptoms of the disease is a common side effect), but at no point did I contemplate not getting any of my children vaccinated.

What about the women who queue for hours at vaccination clinics in the third world?  Are they worried about some flawed research or something someone has said on a parenting forum?  Or are they more concerned about giving their child the best chance of survival?

I was furious when I saw the news coming out of Wales that the scaremongering of the original Wakefield report and the doubts it has sown had come home to roost and children were dropping like flies, vaccine clinics suddenly inundated by panicked parents, often of teenagers who had missed their jabs as babies.

I want to ask the mothers who have chosen not to have their child vaccinated,  why?  Have they based their decision on sound medical, peer reviewed evidence?  Have they weighed up the pros and cons? Please convince me that your decision is based on extensive research (not hearsay) and is in the best interest of your child.  

Do they really believe exposing their child to the childhood illness is a better option?  Have they for a moment wondered why rates of childhood mortality have decreased over the years?

Would they go on a holiday to a region where Typhoid jabs were recommended or malaria tablets required without taking the necessary precautions?  Would their son's thank them for exposing them to mumps infection rendering them infertile?  Would their daughter's thank them for leaving them with the risk of rubella while pregnant?  What would they say to a parent of a child left brain damaged by measles...

When our oldest two were toddlers we went on holiday to France and stayed at a very exclusive resort on the riviera (as you can when both of you are working and you only have two children and none with intestinal failure!).  In order to book the children into the kids club which was the whole point of us all being able to have a holiday, I had to arrange for our GP to fax through confirmation that our children had been vaccinated.  I have since discovered that in some countries children can be excluded from school if their vaccinations are not up to date - our UK system of free choice on the assumption that parents will make the right decision for their children is an anathema for parents in other countries.

So for the parents who are wavering about childhood vaccinations here are the facts:-

It is just a jab, the pain is fleeting, your child will thank you - come to my house if you want to see a child in real pain

Autism existed before immunisations

Children's life expectancy was severely reduced before the advent of a nationwide vaccination programme

Preventable diseases of childhood were on the verge of eradication before Wakefield's research, this is no longer the case

You are lucky to live in a country where this is all you have to worry about - get your child vaccinated!



(and if after all of this you choose not to vaccinate your child, please stay away from my child who does not have the luxury of choice)

13 comments:

Stephanie Nimmo said...

Not aware of measles being an issue here at mo (though I did miss starting school aged 4 because I was stuck in darkened rooms with measles - parallel lives again!), but we're experiencing a huge mumps outbreak locally. The theory is that lots of people took their children for the first vaccination but skipped the booster because of the Wakefield scares.. In my opinion a selfish approach, because it has affected immunity of entire community and therefore the most vulnerable.

Stephanie Nimmo said...

Daisy's Godmother is also deaf in one ear, as a result of childhood mumps - these are not easy diseases, they leave their mark and can lead to death - why would people choose to expose their child to a preventable disease, I just can't understand it.

Stephanie Nimmo said...

How do you know the MMR caused your child to become autistic? When Daisy was born I went through every scenario to explain why she had Costello Syndrome even blaming the mercury in a broken filling as the cause - this clearly was not the case. I would be interested to understand the evidence you have that giving your child the MMR caused her autism. And for those who continue to deny that Measles, Mumps or Rubella are serious childhood illnesses have a look at this letter by Roald Dahl about the death of his daughter Olivia from measles encephalitis http://www.encephalitis.info/images/iPdf/Resources/FactSheets/fs043MeaslesMumps.pdf

Stephanie Nimmo said...

My son got the MMR triple vaccine. My younger brother was terribly ill with measles as a small child and was lucky to emerge from it unscathed. My late (and learning disabled) sister died of kidney failure. Her death was undoubtably hasted by her contracting chicken pox whilst in hospital. I don't know if there is a vaccination against chicken pox? If there is, it would help people like Daisy (if it were safe for her to have) and my sister as chicken pox is dangerous to people who are in general poor health. I love the pic of Daisy with her daisies!

Stephanie Nimmo said...

You ignorant fool jane emson. MMR did not cause your daughter's autism. So you think it would be better for her to be seriously ill and deaf for life. What kind of parent are you? That would not make your daughter's life easier, it would make YOUR life easier. Selfish, uneducated and putting other people at risk, that is what you are.



Of course vaccines are not 100% safe. NOTHING is. Did you know chocolate can kill you. That you can die if you drink too much water. That's right, the stuff you get when you turn on the tap is a toxin. It is not 100% safe but do you hesitate to give it to your daughter? saying MMR causes autism has less logic than saying tap water causes it.



But the thing that gets me really, really, angry is you coming on here and telling someone her daughter is less important than your child.

Stephanie Nimmo said...

Hi Jade, my name is Nicola Keaney and I work for ITV and we are currently in Wales hoping to speak to parents who disagree with MMR immunisation. Would you be free to chat? My number is 07903 757812 or my email is nkeaney@hotmail.co.uk would love to talk more x

Stephanie Nimmo said...

I was recently talking to a lady with severe ME who was talking to some anti-vaxers online about how she could "detox" from the toxins that were given to her 13 years ago which she believed were still causing her severe symptoms now (severe pain, various neuropathic symptoms such as burning sensations in different parts of her body, severe intolerance to light, orthostatic intolerance, to name a few). I find this theory totally counter-intuitive, because a small vial containing small quantities of a substance which is toxic (though it doesn't seem to have poisoned anywhere else) could not possibly still be causing severe illness after that time.

There have actually been a number of people who got ME after getting vaccines, and the likely explanation is that the injection (not the content of the vaccine, as numerous vaccines have been involved) disturbed a nerve that was infected by a virus, most likely the Coxsackie B enterovirus. What happens next is either that the virus goes on to infect other parts of the nervous system, or the body develops an auto-immune disease. The same could happen with polio (poliovirus is also an enterovirus).

What made me angry is that the anti-vaxers were making no effort to dissuade the poor lady from taking these "detox" measures, such as regular injections of vitamin B12 which caused worsenings in her condition. They will never miss an opportunity to push the anti-vaccine agenda. In the end I gave up because I couldn't persuade her that "these lovely people" were liars.

Stephanie Nimmo said...

There is a chicken pox vaccine, given routinely in the USA, not here. My older two were vaccinated against it because at the time my little one had leukaemia and for him, getting chicken pox was not an option.

Stephanie Nimmo said...

My daughter has autism. The MMR did not give her autism. Yes, life is very challenging but autism can't kill her. Measles can. Which would you rather?

Stephanie Nimmo said...

Thanks, Benedicte. I had a feeling there was a vaccine out there. As you say, chicken pox can be very serious indeed if one has a lowered immune system, for example. I hope your little boy is better now. xx

Stephanie Nimmo said...

I have 3 children with autism (the youngest of whom also has complex medical needs). All three were vaccinated and all three were BORN with autism. The evidence emerging now is that there is a genetic cause for autism and from personal experience I know that our genetic consultant lights up like a Christmas tree when we walk because we support this theory. My oldest son was due for his MMR as the initial Wakefield report was published, My husband and I thought long and hard about it, had the health visitor out carrying the weighty Surgeon Generals response to the Wakefield report and went ahead and gave it to him. We did this for all the reasons that Steph has mentioned primarily because autism does not kill measles does. I know how hard parenting a child with autism is and remember in the early day's been desperate for a reason as to why my beautiful babies had this awful disability so I understand Jade why you feel this way. With the benefit of many more years experience (mine are all now in their teens) I know that the reason is not important, helping my children to have happy fulfilling lives to the best of their abilities is. Jack, my youngest, was also seriously ill when he had chicken pox so this measles epidemic is frightening. Luckily for us at the moment we have no cases reported locally and I pray it stays that way. Mass vaccination campaigns are not merely about protecting individuals but protecting communities, particularly those who are vulnerable, as adults this is something we all have responsibility for. It is for this reason that carers, with no personal risk factors, are still advised to have a flu jab every year to protect those whom they care for who would be seriously compromised if they contracted the illness.
I haven't commented here before but just want to say that I have followed Daisy's journey for sometime and she is truly a inspiration. She is a beautiful little girl with a smile that speaks volumes.

Stephanie Nimmo said...

Unfortunately, late-onset autism often starts to display it's symptoms around the time the MMR is traditionally given. Causing some parents to blame the vax because of false research. Late-onset autism has been around since the beginning of time, way before the MMR vax was ever invented. Some even think the very nonscientific forklore term "changling" describes that very thing happening. Your normal toddler going to bed and waking up different.

Stephanie Nimmo said...

I realise I am adding to this conversation somewhat late, for which I apologise. I would like to thank you for being one of the few parents online who actually advocates vaccination. I, for one, would much rather be Autistic than dead.