My Turn: Vaccines – right for some, wrong for others
Special to the Sun
TRUCKEE, Calif. – I am writing in response to the Oct. 7, 2011 opinion piece “Vaccines – the best prevention money can buy,” written by Dr. Arth.
One may conclude from Dr. Arth’s position on vaccines that he is a man of passion about this issue. Many of his statements, however, may be interpreted as misleading, disrespectful and inaccurate by many responsible citizens in our local community who are informed about the issues regarding vaccinations. Where as, vaccines may be considered “the best prevention money can buy” there is much research and evidence that supports alternatives to Dr. Arth’s position.
It is public knowledge that many of the vaccines provided by Dr. Arth’s practice and other doctors around the country have not been subjected to the checks and balances to ensure quality and effectiveness, known as the Criterion Standard. Thus, the CDC and FDA have created a public website entitled Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System “www.vaers.hhs.gov” posting the tens of thousands of “rare side effects” caused by vaccinations. Efforts are to make them safer from ingredients, like aluminum and mercury, that were linked to adverse reactions supported by research data. The “journalistic irresponsibility” and “no science to back up the claims” Dr. Arth speaks of comes at the hands of many doctors and other scientists with a substantial amount of science to back up their claims. These experts have the courage to stand up and present the necessary research that helps educate the lay person to make an informed decision regarding vaccines.
The Lake Tahoe community may choose to read the many research articles explaining the relationship between the immune system and vaccinations. Injecting vaccines may cause an emergency based response of the immune system known as a Th2 response. This is one reason why many children develop one or more of the thousands of autoimmune disorders, including eczema, asthma or other allergies. A compromised immune system is one of several reasons many children who are vaccinated get the exact illness they were vaccinated for. Furthermore, empirical evidence shows that individuals who have not had their immune system compromised by vaccinations live very healthy lives and recover quickly and safely from illness. There are many positive and healthy experiences in the Truckee community with children sustaining optimal health with extremely low visits to the doctor’s office. These healthy children cannot be the “overutilizers of precious health care dollars” Dr. Arth refers to, are they? It is also a misleading myth that unvaccinated children are the sole carriers of disease and are poised and ready to infect anyone that crosses their path.
Dr. Arth’s overall theme of cost effectiveness for the well-being of the greater good unintentionally parallels the message of a utilitarian system. Utilitarianism came about in the 18th century, developed with political and ethical undertones by British philosopher Jeremy Bentham. Utilitarianism boils down to the idea of the greatest happiness for the greater good and many believe this philosophy paved the way for modern cost-benefit analyses that Dr. Arth alludes to. We must remember this attitude has been linked to atrocity in Europe and Russia in the early to mid 20th century. The judges of Nuremberg Tribunal of 1946 ruled for humanity when considering how those in power forced individuals to risk their lives in drug, vaccine and other medical experiments during World War II. Thus, the result of this trial is what we have come to know as the ethical principal of informed consent. The rights of the individual cannot, ethically, be sacrificed for the greater good.
Vaccinations are the right choice for some individuals and the wrong choice for others. Many families choose to vaccinate on a modified schedule and others decide to vaccinate all at once or not at all. These decisions are made by informed, educated and responsible parents and families who have the best interest of their child at heart. The National Vaccine Information Center (nvic.org) is one such resource that provides much needed information to help parents and families make informed decisions about vaccinations. There are analogies out there that compare vaccinating to putting on studded snow tires for driving in the winter, and we know that even studded tires are not a fail-safe solution. Social positions that suggest all people be forced to do what is perceived right for the greater good is one that may be considered a utilitarian, unconstitutional and unethical philosophy.
Dave Conlan is a Truckee resident.
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