Benefits And Risks

Do the benefits of vaccinating a healthy American child outweigh the risks?
Giuditta Tornetta

A controversial subject
Lately, vaccination has been controversial. Dr Jay Gordon, a California pediatrician, told me, "The Institute of Medicine reported last year (in the Journal of the American Medical Association, November, 1999) that there are enough questions about mercury's toxicity to warrant eliminating this metal from shots 'as soon as possible' to use the IOM's words. Other constituents of vaccines have not received the same scrutiny but may also have at least minimal side effects that could be cumulative in a 10-pound baby receiving four separate inoculations on the same day."

A large body of medical studies confirms that vaccines protect against illness, yet there is very little science supporting the way vaccines are administered.

At present, many children receive the Hepatitis B vaccine within hours of birth and then six weeks later receive another Hep B shot together with DPT, Hemophilus Influenza B (HIB) Polio vaccine and the newest recommended shot, the Prevnar vaccine, which protects against certain pneumococcal bacteria that can cause life-threatening meningitis and blood infections.

According to the National Vaccine Information Center ( Hepatitis B is not highly contagious, unlike other infectious diseases for which vaccines have been developed and mandated in the US. Hepatitis B is not common in childhood. Hepatitis B is primarily an adult disease transmitted through infected body fluids, most frequently infected blood, and is prevalent in high risk populations such as needle-using drug addicts, sexually promiscuous heterosexual and homosexual adults, residents and staff of custodial institutions such as prisons, health care workers exposed to blood, persons who require repeated blood transfusions and babies born to infected mothers.

"The problems being reported in increasing numbers are occurring after hepatitis B vaccination," says Patti White, RN. "They appear to be autoimmune and neurological in origin. Such problems take weeks to months to produce noticeable symptoms, and cannot be spotted in a four- to five- day observation period. These are the only clinical studies that have been done by Merck or SmithKline. There is not one long-term study that we could

Dr Gordon continues says he doesn't believe vaccines are "poisonous" or that the tremendous increase in the incidence of autism is directly and solely linked to the mercury in the shots.

"I do think that there are adverse impacts on a child's immune system and central nervous system from some immunizations and the preservatives in the solutions, but I don't agree that we have figured everything out. Nor do I agree with the vaccine opponents who continue to shout at us all about the shots "not even working" and harming everyone who gets them. Many countries begin vaccines later and slower and I strongly believe we should do the same things. The expedient and economically superior method, which we use now, doesn't serve our babies well," he says.

The bottom line is that before you make any decisions about vaccination you should consult your pediatrician, discuss with him/ her your research and your concerns. Getting more then one opinion on the subject is advisable. Knowledge is power -- your child -- your decision!

Tags: immunizations vaccinations

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