Thursday, April 29, 2010

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate THAT is the Question: PBS’s Frontline showed a segment on childhood vaccinations. As many know whether to vaccinate a child for the various so called childhood diseases is a controversial subject today. One woman interviewed in the Frontline documentary said that we had not had a case of wild polio in this country for decades and that wild polio is all but eliminated from the planet so she saw no need to vaccinate for that here. I differ with her STRONGLY. Polio is NOT eliminated from the planet. She is making, in my opinion, a HUGE error because we are a globalized society. There IS wild polio still remaining in some third world countries. In addition, there are global areas which are at war, areas of turmoil and areas which present different religious obstacles preventing (hard to believe as it may be), immunizations. All it takes is one unvaccinated person entering this country harboring the virus and settling in an area where there are numbers of children and even adults who are not vaccinated against this dreaded disease for that child to create an epidemic which will spread to the unvaccinated. This is unacceptable, it is immoral and, in my opinion, it is wrong.

I speak unfortunately not as a scientist or physician but from personal experience. I contracted polio in 1954 at five years old, six months before a vaccine was available. If the vaccination had been available then and I had not been vaccinated, I would have later thought it criminal not to have been vaccinated against it.

There are, of course, other aspects of this complex problem. Perhaps SOME of the diseases within vaccinations could be eliminated or injections spread out more evenly or the other substances within the vaccine itself could be examined BUT, in my opinion, it is UNCONSCIONABLE with respect to polio in particular for anyone to say that because wild polio has not been seen in this country that this disease is eradicated. Polio is NEVER ERADICATED UNLESS children are immunized with the polio vaccines to prevent it. It CAN return at any time and WILL if children are not immunized against it.

I can testify to the fact that polio is a life long horrendous, deformative and expensive disease. I was considered "lucky" at that time as it completely paralyzed only my right leg. My left leg was functional but is still somewhat compromised. Polio for me meant constant hospital returns, three painful surgeries to ameliorate its after effects and it meant paying for expensive equipment to this day.

After mid life when bones become weaker it meant THREE successive FEMUR fractures of my polio leg. That leg is extraordinarily fragile. It has meant additional hospitalizations as an adult taking one year per each fracture to heal because that leg does not heal quickly. The risk to that bone is significant as now, falling is a regular occurrence. Aging makes life even more difficult for a post polio survivor. Fracturing that bone a fourth time could be life altering or even life threatening!

Polio is a life long, utterly deforming, and an EXPENSIVE disease. It has caused UNTOLD hardship, psychological damage and as an adult it has cost me my stamina that others of my age still possess. Polio has had HUGE complications in my life and it is, in my opinion, UNFORGIVABLE for a child not to be immunized, at the very least, for that. Life is a risk. The risk of acquiring polio is much too great and the benefits of vaccination to prevent polio are much too good, not to vaccinate. To vaccinate or not to vaccinate that is the question. The answer for me is abundantly clear. For THAT disease, it is an absolute and unequivocal YES!

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