Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pins and Needles

My middlest kidlet received the shots required to attend kindergarten in Texas today. By my math, she should be able to safely drink water in Cambodian rivers now.

The shots she received were:

  • DTaP – Diphtheria, Tetanus, & Pertussis
  • Hep-A – Hepatitis Type-A
  • MMR – Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
  • OPV – Polio

In a few months, she is to receive another booster shot.

I understand the reasoning for DTaP. Pertussis has made a slight reemergence in Texas recently. Tetanus is almost certain given the number of rusty swing sets on playgrounds these days. (I cannot tell if that last sentence was irony or sarcasm.) Diphtheria is caught by touching yucky children. Kindergartens are chock full of yucky children.

I understand the reasoning for the OPV shot. While the odds of actually developing a poliomyelitis infection are slim – a gambler is more likely to win a multi-state lottery than a child developing it – infections still happen. A simple shot all but eliminates the chances of contracting it. The vaccination has not been known to have wide-spread severe reactions – or even mildly-spread reactions.

The MMR vaccination is a bit more problematic. An outbreak in Indiana recently has been cited as further reason to receive that vaccination. Additionally, approximately one percent of children that contract measles in the United States will die from it. The number of children dying from severe reactions to the shot is… not reported at all. Information from studies regarding long-term effects is not readily available either. I am not convinced that it causes Autism. At the same time, I am not convinced it is a solid “return on investment” either.

Hep-A is also problematic. Hep-A outbreaks are virtually unheard in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia – all countries which vaccinate for it. Those are also all countries / continents with good hygiene. And despite the immunizations, children will still get Hep-A on occasion. This might be a “chicken and egg” type thing but I am not convinced either way.

There is one thing which I am sure though:

She does not need to get all of these shots on a single day!


Weetabix said...

I can't quite decide what I think of all the vaccinations, but I think overall, I'm OK with them.

I remember doing a differential equations problem in college where viral disease vectors were the example. Apparently, if you eradicate a disease from an industrialized country, then stop giving the vaccination, you can get a nasty epidemic among the non-vaccinated generation when it gets reintroduced from a less medically forward country (illegal immigration, anyone?).

That said, I do believe we need more information on the effects. It seems as if many parents welcome it uncritically as a magic pill without considering the side effects.

I think I'm against the chicken pox vaccine. The effects of the disease on children are much less drastic than the effects on an adult whose vaccine "wore out."

Shawn McManus said...

There are certainly worse things. All of the shots for kindergarten are for highly communicable diseases too.

I do think it has led to a general acceptance of vaccinations which is a problem itself. Vaccinations are no sure proof ways of preventing diseases and many aren't as proven as OPV, MMR, or DTaP.

I believe that the chicken pox vaccine is a waste. I do have trouble with vaccinations against diseases spread by sexual contact. That should be entirely up to the parents of the children to be vaccinated.

My biggest problem is with the HPV vaccine. It is a realatively new vaccine, it is being heavily pushed to 11- and 12-year old girls. Information on health benefits are scarce. There have been many severe reactions resulting in death. Given Merck's track record, it appears that the HPV vaccine is being "pushed" solely for their profit.

Weetabix said...

I have a large problem with the HPV vaccine, too. I think the real thing that needs to be addressed there is behavior.

And getting a proprietary vaccine legislated as mandatory struck me as a bit mercenary.