Vaccines: Shoot em up.

The Vaccine Debate.

There is much to be said. In any debate with many speaking points, it is so easy to muddle topics and develop misunderstandings and draw inappropriate conclusions. This is occurring far too often in all the flub about vaccines. So, I’d like to first state what I am not here to speak on:

  • I’m not here to speak of evidence for or against vaccines efficacy.
  • I am not here to support nor rebut the claims of side effects of vaccinations.
  • I am not here to wade through the science of additives and preservatives.
  • I am not here to discuss new vaccinations available for adults.
  • I am not here to give advice for natural immunization.
  • I am not here to defend nor accuse pharmaceutical agendas.

Clearly, there are many parts of this debate I will not be participating in.

What I am here to do is present a topic that I don’t hear much about (and which I think needs to be at the base of this current debate):

Infectious Disease & What to do about it.

When a patient approaches me and says “I’m against (or for) vaccines”, I have to take a step back and realize: We have to have the talk. What talk?

 

The talk about the generalizations.

Choosing sides about vaccines is as simplistic as saying ‘I’m against carbohydrates’, or ‘Cancer has a cure’, or ‘I’m against bacteria’. (If these statements sound reasonable to you, come see me.)

Generalizing is just not good healthcare.

Of course, there is a fine line where we dabble in being so individualized (read:self-centred) that it becomes heresy to present anything about life that is general at all.  I’m not referring to hauling back on all generalization, what I’m speaking to is making broad statements about a process that covers such a wide variety of diseases: different causes, outcomes and treatments. To pick a side (any side), and defend it strongly is 1. dangerous 2. arrogant 3. unreasonable.

 

Vaccines are not politicians trying to sway your vote.

They don’t need a campaign team to “Get out the vote”. They don’t have a particular stance on gun control or marriage. It doesn’t bother them if you want them or not. They have no distinct personality. (ok, maybe that’s like some politicians.)

They are protein portions (with or without preservatives) that react with the immune systems to create protective responses against a variety of bugs. That is the only generalization I can distill. All the rest is variable. The bug, the risk of contraction, the consequence & the treatment, the side effects, those are all individualized. Not to you, but to the disease and the injection.

 

Currently stances on vaccination are looking increasingly like a religious baptism,

with a bible to support either position and unfortunately are disregarding the variability (and all the hard working researchers trying to wade through the data) in each individual disease & vaccine. Instead, both sides are fervently trying to tear down the other’s argument in fear of being overtaken – when vagueness of vaccination is really what’s halting any intelligent conclusions.

The bugs in question (on the Canadian Childhood Vaccine List) can enter our systems, and depending on our bodies, our histories, and mostly the bugs’ propensity, they can cause serious harm.

There are certainly questionable ingredients in vaccines that have potential to do the same.

Fear-mongering, pharmaceutical agendas, efficacy, side effects, and anecdotal forums aside, what I see missing from the discussion on vaccination is:

  • Do you know the consequences of  each of the diseases you are vaccinating for?
  • Do you know your risks for contracting it?
  • Is there a cure or treatment for this disease, and if so is it available to you at a moment’s notice?
  • Knowing these 3 answers, are you willing to risk contracting this bug?

Now most importantly, if you do contract the disease, (vaccinated or not) Do you have a Plan of Action, to protect yourself and the public?

And the question that is less relevant but still important is: 

 

Is your decision an opinion or an informed choice?

If we could remove the dialogue of “For or Against”, we could look at these vaccinations individually – and ask the above questions – We could open the discussion for a supportive informed consent, we would choose the vaccines for diseases we feel most scared of and would develop a plan for what to do if any unvaccinated conditions arise – how to treat oneself, and protect the public from potential exposure.

 

As Patients: 

Ask yourself if you are willing to take sick days if you have indications of illness that can spread? Are you willing to report it to your doctor, or are you afraid of their judgement of your vaccination choice? Will you take the recommended treatment or do you have a better option to stop the disease course?\

 

As Doctors: 

Are you willing to put statistics and logic aside and listen to your patient’s fears and concerns? Can you help to create Plans for Action so they feel supported? Can you create a safe space for honesty, so that diseases can be caught early rather than too late?

Ideally if we can stop this tug of war of beliefs, your physician will be by your side, there to inform you and support your choices in health.

I’ve done some of the research for you. It’s here: Vaccinations – The Diseases. 21 Infectious Diseases, Their Consequences & Risks in Canada. Ask for help interpreting it. Be informed, not arrogant. Lay down your arms.