Vaccine Education in the Community (by Rachelle Seidel)

RachellePicIntroduction

There is so much controversy over vaccinations today compared to ten even twenty years ago. It seems parents today want to jump on an anti-everything bandwagon, from fluoridated water to alternative vaccine schedules to anti-vaccine movements. It seems this is the way of the “modern” way to parent. Everything has to be natural; everything has to be organic.

While I agree that eating healthy and organic makes total sense to me, no need to put those pesticides and human growth hormones in your body, we need to draw the line when it comes to public health. Not vaccinating yourself or your children puts the community at risk.

During my research for this project I have found that there is a lack of quality credible education when it comes to vaccinations. It seems most parents are lacking in knowledge when it comes to credible education around vaccines. I have found that many parents and websites have incorrect information.

I have tried to research several anti-vaccine websites and what I have found is that they do not want to outright say that they are against vaccines; rather they say that they should discuss the necessity of vaccines with their pediatrician. These anti-vaccine websites agree that there is no link between autism and vaccines, yet they post propaganda to scare parents away from vaccinating.

I believe that everyone should have access to credible vaccine information in order to make an informed decision for their families. Our future depends on this. We are far to sophisticated to be annihilated by diseases that we have managed to eradicate with vaccines. The time is now. Get educated.

Becoming More Informed: A Proposal

How people feel about vaccinating their children widely varies among the population. Is the variance due to social economic status? Is it due to demographics? Or is it due to education? In much of my research I have found that many factors may be at play as to why a parent decides to vaccinate or not. I believe there is one very important common theme that we can influence; and that is credible vaccine education. Education about the risks and benefits of each vaccination is so very important and can determine if parent decides to vaccinate or not. People may decide not to vaccinate simply because they lack correct information about vaccines, or even lack the knowledge that there are even certain vaccines available. I was interviewing a friend of mine on her thoughts about vaccination and she said something very interesting to me, “The only wish I have for parents today is that more information was readily available, the parents have the choices and not the government, and it was more widely open and talked about. Instead I am judged in a huge way when I only trying to do what’s right for my kids” (Keller, 2017). Some parents refuse to vaccinate because they believe that vaccines cause autism. This is clearly a lack of credible vaccine education. Claire McCarthy, MD has an answer for that, “I really, really wish that we knew what causes autism. It is heartbreaking to work with the families of autistic children and not be able to give them an explanation. And when they have a new baby, it’s truly terrifying to be on the journey with them, staring at that child, wondering what, if anything, we should do differently. But we’ve looked at this, again and again, and we just can’t find any solid evidence to show that vaccines cause autism” (McCarthy). As a healthcare provider, my goal is to make sure that people know where to get reputable education and information regarding vaccines so that they can make an informed decision on whether to vaccinate and where to receive them. Our communities need this education to protect our children, and our children’s children. Our future depends on it.

Informed consent is defined as “a patient’s consent to a medical or surgical procedure or to participate in a clinical study after being properly advised of the relevant medical facts and the risks involved” (Informed Consent.” Dictionary.com). I work in healthcare and I am also a parent. I have two children; my son is 23 and my daughter is 18. I was very young when I had my son and not educated in vaccines, so when I took him to the doctor’s office the doctor would tell me what vaccines he needed, I signed the consent form and the nurse gave him the immunizations. I never questioned the advice from the doctor. I did not know how vaccines worked. I wasn’t even sure what vaccines he was getting. Was I making a true informed decision when I signed that consent form? Later when my daughter was little and I took her to her doctor’s appointments I still made the decision to have her immunized, however I made a true informed decision. At that point I had already gone through schooling to be a medical assistant and started my pre-nursing work so I was well educated about vaccines. I never liked the idea of so many vaccines at once but the research I had done at that point told me that it was ok to do so. The only time I pushed back on the doctor’s wishes to give a vaccine was if she was not feeling well at the time. This time around I felt I was educated enough about vaccines to make an informed decision.

It is important to know what vaccines are available, what they prevent, and how they work. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) website is a very informative website for the general public that explains everything in layman’s terms as well as for healthcare providers. I found a great explanation on how vaccines work on their website: “The diseases that vaccines prevent can be dangerous, or even deadly. Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to help it safely develop immunity to disease. When germs, such as bacteria or viruses, invade the body, they attack and multiply. This invasion is called an infection, and the infection is what causes illness. The immune system then has to fight the infection. Once it fights off the infection, the body is left with a supply of cells that help recognize and fight that disease in the future. Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection, but this “imitation” infection does not cause illness. It does, however, cause the immune system to develop the same response as it does to a real infection so the body can recognize and fight the vaccine-preventable disease in the future. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation infection can cause minor symptoms, such as fever. Such minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity” (For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Most people believe that they get sick from vaccines, this is not true. The vaccine reaction imitates the infection; it does not cause an infection. Before you can make an informed decision about whether to vaccinate, it is important to understand how these vaccines work in the body. Not everyone is a candidate for every vaccine that is available, education and research is essential for parents to make that informed decision.

Some people should not get certain vaccines due to illness or other contraindications. These contraindications are not the same for every vaccine. For example, someone who has a minor cold can still receive most vaccines. Someone who has a disease that affects the immune system should not receive the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine. Live vaccines either have to be given on the same day or four weeks apart from each other. Some people should not receive live vaccines if there is someone with a compromised immune system living in the home. Some of these contraindications mean that you should delay the vaccination or in some cases not receive it at all (Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated with These Vaccines?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).

There are also parents that use alternative vaccine schedules. There are many variations to alternative vaccine schedule though most still receive most of the recommended vaccines, they are just spaced out more. Dr. William Sears is a pediatrician that has authored or co-authored many parenting books and owns a private practice in California. He has appeared on many television shows and has developed his own “alternative” vaccine schedule. Dr.Sears vaccine schedule still starts at 2 months of age but children are never given more than 2 vaccines at a time. Dr.Sears asserts “By only giving two vaccines at a time (instead of as many as 6), I decrease the chance of chemical overload from grouping so many vaccines chemicals all together at once. This allows a baby’s body to better detoxify the chemicals one or two at a time. (Sears, 2016)” However, there is no proof that I could find, that giving more than one vaccine at a time is harmful or contraindicated. Spacing vaccines out like Dr.Sears recommends means that a child will receive vaccines at every pediatrician visit and there will never be a “fun” visit where they don’t get shots. This leads to anxiety and fear in children and then they will never want to come to the doctor. This proves my point that more quality credible education is needed so that parents can make an informed decision when it comes to immunizing their children and minimizing the risk of disease for the community.

There is a federally funded program called Vaccines For Children (VFC) that provides vaccines at no cost for children that are not able to pay. “In 1989 – 1991, a measles epidemic in the United States resulted in tens of thousands of cases of measles and hundreds of deaths. Upon investigation, CDC found that more than half of the children who had measles had not been immunized, even though many of them had seen a health care provider. In partial response to that epidemic, Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) on August 10, 1993, creating the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. VFC became operational October 1, 1994. Known as section 1928 of the Social Security Act, the Vaccines for Children program is an entitlement program (a right granted by law) for eligible children, age 18 and younger” (About VFC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The VFC program provides a limited supply of vaccines to providers at no cost and that specific supply can only be used for Medicaid patients or low income families, and cannot be used for children with regular insurance. They have very strict guidelines that the providers must adhere to. They must keep them separate from their regular vaccine supply and they must be kept in a VFC approved refrigerator. The doctor does not get paid for those vaccines nor do they get paid to administer the vaccine to those children.

No vaccine is without risk, as with any medical procedure or treatment. It is important to weigh the risks and benefits and make an educated informed decision. Some side effects are minor, like redness or soreness at the vaccination site or a low-grade temperature, these side effects usually go away in a few days. Some side effects can be more serious, though are very rare, such as a severe allergic reaction or Guillain-Barré syndrome (a disorder where the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system). While these side effects are extremely rare, it remains a risk that must be weighed against the benefits. Some parents think that the disease they are vaccinating against is so minor it is not worth vaccinating against. Look at the Rotavirus vaccine for example.Rotavirus is a virus that causes diarrhea and it occurs mostly in babies or young children. The diarrhea can be so severe that it can lead to dehydration and even death. Vomiting and fever are also common in children infected with rotavirus. “Before rotavirus vaccine, rotavirus disease was a common and serious health problem for children in the United States. Almost all children in the United States had at least one rotavirus infection before their 5th birthday. Every year before the vaccine was available: more than 400,000 young children had to see a doctor for illness caused by rotavirus, more than 200,000 had to go to the emergency room, 55,000 to 70,000 had to be hospitalized, and 20 to 60 died. Since the introduction of the rotavirus vaccine, hospitalizations and emergency visits for rotavirus have dropped dramatically” (CDC.gov).

There are things that people can do if they feel they have been injured by a vaccine. “The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a no-fault alternative to the traditional legal system for resolving vaccine injury petitions. It was created in the 1980s, after lawsuits against vaccine companies and health care providers threatened to cause vaccine shortages and reduce U.S. vaccination rates, which could have caused a resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases. Any individual, of any age, who received a covered vaccine and believes he or she was injured as a result, can file a petition” (National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program). There are steps that one must go through to be considered for compensation and information needs to be gathered for the attorneys and the process takes a long time. What I found interesting was that most if not all the vaccine injuries that were compensated were for allergic reactions. Per the vaccine injury compensation data, “Since 1988, over 17,935 petitions have been filed with the VICP. Over that 27- year time period, 16,187 petitions have been adjudicated, with 5,269 of those determined to be compensable, while 10,918 were dismissed. Total compensation paid over the life of the program is approximately $3.6 billion” (National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.” National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration). From 2006 to 2015 2.8 billion covered vaccines were given in the United states.

“Informed patients, working together with their healthcare providers, are the key players in keeping themselves and their children healthy and protecting the health of the public” (cdc.gov). I urge you to contribute your community and protect your future, our future. Our future depends on it. You can do this by first educating yourself about vaccines and then by educating others using credible information and resources. Your doctors and nurses are a great resource as well as researching all you can on line. It is important to make sure that the resources that you find are credible organizations and unbiased. The Centers for Disease Control website ( www.cdc.gov ) has been a wealth of credible information for me as a mom, a student and as a healthcare professional.

 

Works Sited

Keller, Nicole. “Vaccine Questions.” E-mail interview. 08 Feb. 2017.

Website- http://www.dictionary.com/browse/informed-consent?s=t

“Informed Consent.” Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.

Website- https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/vaccine-decision/index.html

“For Parents: Vaccines for Your Children.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 03 Aug. 2016. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.

Website- https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd/should-not-vacc.html

“Who Should NOT Get Vaccinated with These Vaccines?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 02 Dec. 2016. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.

Website- https://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/

“National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.” National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, Feb. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.

Website- http://www.loving-attachment-parenting.com/alternative-vaccination-schedule-dr-sears.html

Sears, William, MD. “Alternative Vaccination Schedule – Dr. Sears.” Loving-Attachment-Parenting.com. Loving-Attachment-Parenting.com, 2016. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.

Website- https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/programs/vfc/about/index.html

“About VFC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.

Website- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/claire-mccarthy-md/the-top-7-reasons-parents-tell-me-they-dont-want-to-vaccinate_b_5441537.html

McCarthy, M.D. Claire. “The Top 7 Reasons Parents Tell Me They Don’t Want to Vaccinate.”The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 04 June 2014. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.

Website- https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/rotavirus.html

“Rotavirus VIS.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Oct. 2016. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.

 

Annotated Bibliography

https://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/

“National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.” National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration, Feb. 2017. Web. 08 Mar. 2017.

This is a very informative reputable website. I found tons of helpful information for my essay about the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program that I was not aware of before. The site goes over the process for filing a petition for someone who feels that they have been injured by a vaccine in step by step detail.

Not all vaccines are covered by this program; the website outlines which vaccines are covered and which are not. There is even a link where you can access data about all the petitions filed and what the outcomes were since they started the program. This data was updated on March 1st of this year so it is all current.

http://www.loving-attachment-parenting.com/alternative-vaccination-schedule-dr-sears.html

Sears, William, MD. “Alternative Vaccination Schedule – Dr. Sears.” Loving-Attachment-Parenting.com. Loving-Attachment-Parenting.com, 2016. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.

I found this website only because I was looking specifically for the alternative vaccines schedules. I was surprised to learn that both of Dr.Sears alternative vaccine schedules still include most vaccines, however I do not agree with his theory about the reasons for only giving no more than 2 vaccines at a time.

There are reviews and replies at the bottom of the website page that I found particularly interesting. Vaccinations are such a hot topic and have sparked many debates. There are several “debates” or arguments going on in the reviews and comments that are interesting reads.

Keller, Nicole. “Vaccine Questions.” E-mail interview. 08 Feb. 2017.

I learned a ton from interviewing my friend Nicole. She only gives her children some of the recommended vaccines and she does it at her own pace. Some of what she was telling me that she knew about vaccines is what got me started on the vaccine education path, her information was simply just not correct.

For example, she told me that there was a program that supplied doctors with free vaccines and the doctors were then charging patients that could not afford the vaccines; in other words, the doctors were receiving profits for something that the federal government provided them for free.

I knew this not to be true, the program that she was referring to was the Vaccines For Children program. It is a federally funded program that supplies provider’s offices with vaccines but there are strict rules about storage and who they can be used for. The providers cannot charge for those vaccines; however, they can charge an administration fee to administer the vaccine. If the patient cannot afford to pay that fee they must waive it, they cannot deny the patient the vaccine.

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2 comments

  1. Jack Bello

    This is a read that brings up an issue that a lot of people wonder about, and are concerned about. You take the issue head on, and really do a great job of backing your claim, and creating awareness for vaccinations and the safety and issues that they bring. Your evidence is very thorough, as you have a great amount of statistics, and quotes from experts to back your strong claim. When you make a claim to make awareness, you really have to know what you are talking about. You clearly have done a great deal o research, and know this topic inside and out.

    The best part of your paper is your call to action, rather than just simply make a claim, you give the reader a practical way to spread more awareness, beyond just reading your paper. I think this is so important when you try to make such a strong claim. Excellent paper!

  2. Justin Brandon

    This is a very big topic in our community so I am glad you took the time to address it. Your introduction is super strong and you really show your how committed you are to the topic! I think it makes your paper even more credible because you work in the health care field AND you included some personal experiences about getting vaccines for your kids when they were younger. I don’t think we ever really considered not giving our kids their vaccines, and I feel that this doesn’t mean we weren’t well informed, but more just sticking with the status quo. Everyone was doing it…

    I think the biggest strength in your paper was all the information you were able to include. I think this would be a great read for anyone who has young children and is wondering about the benefits vs risks. It would make a good hand out at any pediatrician’s office or for child birth classes.

    If there was one thing I think you could have done differently, it would be to break up your first paragraph. It was long and a little intimidating… that said, you did a great job with it because it kept me interested enough in your topic to read every word.

    Overall, I think you have some really great writing here. You state your point and back it up with some solid citations and an interview. Great Job!!
    JB

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