Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vaccines, Part 1- Diseases are mild and/or rare

The vaccine debate is getting pretty crazy. My advice: stop debating and start researching. That's what I did shortly after my first was born, and I am finally gathering enough info to feel comfortable sharing some of it with you. This is a complex issue which each family needs to look into for themselves. Anyway, I hope this helps someone make a more informed decision.

My only point in this first post is that the vast majority of vaccine preventable diseases are mild, rare, or both. This is the first thing that really surprised me when I did my research. Most of these stats are straight from the CDC.

The Diseases (mild and/or rare):

Less than 5% of adults & teens who get it will need hospitalization, and only 0.1% will develop pneumonia. For children under 1 who get it (when it is most serious), 50% may need hospitalization, but only 0.5 % will die. It is most dangerous under the age of 2 months, when the vaccine is not yet safe for them. The CDC reported 39 deaths from pertussis in 2005; 32 (82%) occurred in infants younger than 3 months. The estimates of flu deaths that year were between 10-20,000 in comparison.
It usually lasts 1-6 wks and is characterized by coughing spells and wheezing. The person usually feels fine between spells. This would not be a fun disease to get, for sure, but keep in mind it is the vaccine with one of the worst safety records and the least effective vaccine out there (besides perhaps flu) (more on that to come).

Tetanus is a serious disease that leads to death about 10% of the time. BUT, it is very rare. 130 cases of tetanus were reported in the United States from 1998-2000. 15% of those cases were from people who use illegal injection drugs, as this raises your risk.

Also EXTREMELY rare with only 1 case reported annually, on average. The rate of death is 10%. The symptoms of diphtheria include sore throat, fever, malaise, difficulty swallowing, and, in complicated cases, difficulty breathing.

Polio has been officially eradicated from the Western Hemisphere. There have been 0 cases reported in the U.S. since 1985. They are talking of discontinuing this vaccine the way they did Smallpox. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria are the only countries with a problem with polio. But only 42 cases were reported in India in 2010.

Until the end of the 19th century, polio most often affected children from 6 months to 4 years of age. Infection at an early age generally left the victims with light consequences and permanent immunity to reinfection. Ironically, improved sanitation in cities in the 20th century led to fewer exposures to the polio virus and, therefore, fewer opportunities to become immune to it. This led to victims being struck in later childhood and even early adulthood, and to victims being more strongly affected by the disease. Rates of paralysis and death from the disease greatly increased. Coming to a peak in the early 1950s, the death rate from polio reached 5% and the paralysis rate climbed to 37%.

Hepatitis A:
Hep A is a self-limiting disease, which means it does not result in chronic infection or chronic liver damage. When it’s over, it’s gone. Of children younger than 6 who contract the disease, 70% will have no symptoms. Once you get Hep A, you have lifelong immunity and cannot get it again. It is generally a mild disease. It is also not very contagious. You must have close contact to catch it. It’s a mild disease that causes intestinal upset & sometimes jaundice. There were about 4500 reported cases in the US in 2007. The mortality rate is 0.4%, with most of those over age 50.

Hepatitis B:
Hep B is a chronic liver disease. But it is a blood borne pathogen, meaning it is only transmitted through sex and blood- IE, sharing needles or working in a medical setting. The chances of a baby catching it if the mother did not have it at birth are pretty much 0. About 90% of healthy adults who are infected with HBV will recover and be completely rid of the virus within six months. (WHO) If it is contracted in childhood (when it’s not likely), the chances of chronic complications rise to 30-50%. And it is 90% when contracted under 1 year of age. About 25% of people who contract it during childhood will die of liver cancer or cirrhosis. About 750,000 people in the U.S. have chronic Hep B. (these are not new cases reported, but people of every age & stage of the disease.)

Usually a VERY mild disease, causing fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. The death rate is extremely low at 0.00067% for people who catch it !! Deaths total 20-60 each year in the U.S. (before the vaccine!) Children usually get it before they are 2 years old, and it is much milder in adults. (Try to sell unnecessary drugs much??)

Chicken Pox (Varicella)
Another mild disease. Your chances of dying if you get it are 0.087%, and most of those are elderly people. There about 100 deaths per year in the U.S. (before the vaccine!) Chickenpox is relatively benign in children, but may be complicated by pneumonia and encephalitis in adults.

According to recent studies, the flu vaccine keeps 1.5 out of 100 people who would've normally gotten the flu, from getting it. Only 2.7% of unvaccinated adults will contract the flu! I went to the CDC to try to find mortality rates for the flu, but there really is nothing definitive. Even the # of cases reported is often all over the map. The reason for this is that flu is very rarely definitely diagnosed. I asked my husband, a doctor, "How often do you actually diagnose a flu for sure?" And he said, "almost never." This is true of most docs, because it's just not efficient to do so, and it's a difficult test. So the numbers often get very exaggerated when it comes to flu cases and even flu deaths. Keep this in mind when you hear reports!

Keep in mind that, in order to cause more fear, statistics reported on deaths from these diseases are often WORLWIDE stats. Living conditions around the world differ greatly from the US. Sanitation, nutrition, and especially access to treatment all play a HUGE role in the spread & severity of disease. Third world countries will of course have much higher rates of death from almost every disease. Keep this in mind when reading statistics. Are they US or worldwide stats?


  In your comments, I will only add them if they are on the subject of this actual post. I won't get off onto other things yet. There will be more posts to come. :)

1 comment:

GracefulMommy said...

This is good information here. Thanks for sharing!