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My thoughts on infant vaccines...

An immunization, or vaccination, is an injection of weakened or killed bacteria, viruses, or in some cases, deactivated toxins, that is given to protect against or reduce the effects of certain infectious diseases. Childhood immunizations have recently become a debatable subject.  With the rise of childhood cancers, immune disorders, and autism, it isn’t a surprise that parents and doctors alike are looking for answers.  Vaccines began with a great intention: saving lives.  But now in a day where environmental toxins are high and sanitation is exceptional, one must weigh the pros and cons of these injections.

The first vaccines were small pox, diptheria, tetanus, and pertusis.  Edward Jenner invented a method to protect against smallpox in 1796. The method involved taking material from a blister of someone infected with cowpox and inoculating it into another person’s skin; this was called arm-to-arm inoculation. However by the late 1940s, scientific knowledge had developed enough, so that large-scale vaccine production was possible and disease control efforts could begin in earnest. The next routinely recommended vaccines were developed early in the 20th century. These included vaccines that protect against pertussis (1914), diphtheria (1926), and tetanus (1938). These three vaccines were combined in 1948 and given as the DTP vaccine.  Vaccines have evolved over the years and there have been many attempts to make them safer.  However, it seems that the amount of vaccines being suggested for young children has sky rocketed.  The United States requires the most vaccines over any other country.

In a recent study in Journal of Human and Experimental Toxology found that countries that administer a higher number of vaccines during the first year of life experience higher infant mortality rate (IMR).  The United States ranks 34th in infant mortality  rate which means that 33 countries outrank the USA in this critical measure of public health. In addition, the United States’ immunization schedule for infants under 1 year of age recommends 26 vaccinations – the highest in the entire world.  The study examined the relationship between the aggressiveness of a country’s vaccination schedule and its corresponding infant mortality rate. Linear regression analysis of unweighted mean IMRs showed a high statistically significant correlation between increasing number of vaccine doses and increasing infant mortality rates, Author’s Goldman and Miller suggest a closer inspection of correlations between vaccine doses, biochemical or synergistic toxicity, and IMRs is essential.

Vaccine Schedule for Children under 2 years old:

Birth (or any age if not previously immunized)  Hepatitis B (HBV) (three doses)—HepB

1 to 4 Months   HepB

2 Months        Diphtheria, tetanus and acellular pertussis— DTaP; Inactivated poliovirus vaccine—IPV; Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine—PCV; Rotavirus vaccine (three doses)—RV; Haemophilus influenza type b vaccine (three doses)—Hib

4 Months        DTaP, Hib, IPV, PCV, RV

6 Months and Annually   Influenza – Flu vaccine or flu “shot”

6 Months        DTaP, Hib, PCV, RV

6 – 18 Months   Hep B, IPV

12 – 15 Months  Hib, PCV        ; Measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) vaccine—MMR; Varicella (chickenpox)

12 – 23 Months  Hepatitis A vaccine (two doses)—Hep A

15 – 18 Months  DTaP

The question of whether or not to give a child vaccines is a challenging one to answer. There are risks involved on either side.  There is the risk involved in contracting the disease and the risk in having the injection and suffering it’s side effects which may or may not be immediately apparent.  One mustn’t forget the theory behind vaccines when deciding whether or not to support their use.  You are actually injecting the disease into the child.  This is why they have adverse reactions.

The faulty theory behind the vaccines is that the antibodies are the key players in the child’s immune system, however, there is a series of complex reactions that occur for the body to overcome diseases.  Antibodies are only one component and beneficial bacteria are another.  It has been shown that bacteria on the skin and in the gut play a crucial role in overcoming other bacteria and viruses.  Funny enough vaccines negatively affect the intestinal flora suggesting that in some ways it is actually weakening the immune system.

There are a couple other reasons why vaccines should be given a second look.  First is that when you strengthen one part of the immune system, you weaken another.  It has been shown that vaccines do have some effect of protecting the body against disease, but by focusing merely on that one or two diseases, it often leaves the body vulnerable to other diseases.  These other diseases would normally pose no real danger, but once the immune system has been altered they become more dangerous.  The second reason why vaccines should be second guessed is that diseases can often be beneficial.  In Chinese medicine some of the diseases are fetal toxins being expressed out of the body and therefore having the disease run it’s course is a positive thing in the long run of the child’s health.

Any immunization can produce an adverse reaction.  The only way to truly prevent a child from having a reaction is to not have your child receive it.  Children should be watched closely after vaccines.  The most common reactions include: irritability, malaise, low grade fever, and soreness or irritation and the site of injection.  More rare but very serious reactions include: allergic reactions, seizures, neurological problems, and persistent screaming for 3 hours or more.  Although the most common reactions to vaccines seem a small price to pay for the protection against possibly life threatening illness, most often then not there is imbalance lurking beneath the surface that may present later in life or in a form that doesn’t seem as a result of the vaccine.  It takes a trained acupucnturist to be able to identify and treat these imbalances.   There are three different types of patterns involved with vaccines: qi deficiency, phlegm, and thick phlegm.

Once a practioner is able to identify one of the three patterns, they can treat accordingly.  Children that fall into the qi deficient pattern will need tonifying.  Suggested points are Lung 9, Stomach 36, and Spleen 6.  The prognosis of the qi deficient child depends on the strength of the child.  There is a chance that during treatment this evolves into the phlegm pattern.  The phlegm pattern child is suggested to be treated with Lung 7 and Stomach 40. The focus is to discharge as much phlegm as possible.  If the child has thick phlegm then bai lao, Bladder 18 and Bladder 20 should be added.  The child that falls under the thick phlegm pattern will be difficult to diagnosis because the symptoms have been suppressed into a deeper layer.  This pattern is also considered a lingering pathogenic factor and will be more difficult to treat.

The most important thing when deciding whether or not to vaccinate is to consider whether or not you are capable of treating the child effectively and/or can find to someone who can.  It is not recommended to opt out of vaccinations unless you have a plan of treatment if the child were to contract the disease.  Almost all childhood diseases can be treated naturally and safely assuming the child has a strong immune system and an experienced acupuncturist or other medical practitioner is available to aid in recovery.  If a child has been vaccinated, treatment should be sought out to decrease the damaging effects.

At the end of the day, whether or not to vaccinate a child is a very personal choice with risks at both ends.  Either choice should be researched extensively and the pros and cons should be weighed.  I feel far too often parents do what their pediatrician tells them to do or follow the social norm without taking the time to research for themselves.   The child’s wellbeing lays in the hands of the parents.  I feel that if, when, or how many vaccines the child is given should be a decision that is well thought out.

Here are some alternative treatments for reactions to vaccines that can be used in conjunction with acupuncture treatment.

Homeopathy:
Thuja- help prevent a fever or irritability.  If there is any negative reaction to the vaccine this remedy is crucial.  Give child a dose of Thuja 200x immediately after injection

Ledum- useful for all puncture wounds.  Can be used for pain and swelling at the site of injection.  Give child Ledum 12x or 6c immediately after injection and another dose 4 hours later

Bach Flower Remedy:
Bach Flower Rescue Remedy is good to relieve emotional stress and fright after the vaccination.  Mix 1-2 drops in a bottle or glass of water and have child sit it over several hours before and after the injection.

Probiotics:
It is crucial that all children be taking probiotics whether or not they are getting vaccinated.  For those being vaccinated, it is important to reestablish a healthy gut flora since the vaccines disrupt the natural state.  For those that haven’t been vaccinated, a healthy gut flora is of upmost importance to insure a strong immune system to fight off and/or recover quickly from any possible childhood disease.

“History of Vaccine Schedule.” The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2013.

Zand, Janet, Rachel Walton, and Bob Rountree. Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child: A Practical A-to-z Reference to Natural and Conventional Treatments for Infants & Children. Garden City Park, NY: Avery Pub. Group, 1994. Print.

“Infant Mortality Rates Regressed against Number of Vaccine Doses Routinely Given: Is There a Biochemical or Synergistic Toxicity?” Infant Mortality Rates Regressed against Number of Vaccine Doses Routinely Given: Is There a Biochemical or Synergistic Toxicity? N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2013