Why the Chickenpox Vaccine is Nuts!
Also, new - Article on Whooping Cough
When I was a child, chickenpox was universally understood to be a generally benign disease in otherwise healthy children. Every spring, chickenpox would wash through the younger grades at my elementary school, and initiate a new group of kids. Most of us remember the disease for its horrendous itching and the occasional scar, but I don't remember any of us fearing it. I grew up accepting Chickenpox as a fact of life, and a normal passage of childhood -- like skinning your knees.
According to the Merck Manual, Chickenpox is a highly contagious infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus. There is a 10 to 21 day incubation period. In children over the age of 10 the very first symptoms are headache, fever and malaise. Younger children usually DON'T have these symptoms. But in adults, the symptoms are generally worse. That is why it is important to contract this disease before the age of 10, since infection with the varicella-zoster virus is believed to create a lifetime immunity to chickenpox. Nursing babies often aren't susceptible to chickenpox -- if their mother had the illness as a child, she will pass antibodies, through the placenta in pregnancy and additional ones via her milk which confer a high degree immunity. About 24-36 hours after the first symptoms begin, the characteristic rash appears. The Merck manual then states, "Children usually recover from chickenpox without problems. However, the infection may be severe or even fatal in adults and especially in people with an impaired immune system."
My college textbook, Microbiology, by Davis, Dulbecco et al, describes the varicella-zoster virus as being part of a large family of viruses, known as the "Herpesviruses." This family includes the well-known herpes simplex viruses which cause fever blisters, Epstein-Barr virus (causes mononucleosis) and cytomegalovirus. One of the main characteristics of this family of viruses is their ability after primary infection to insert their viral DNA into a person's DNA and remain there in a latent form indefinitely. In the case of chickenpox, this is thought to explain how a person who had chickenpox as a child, can then develop shingles as an adult, in response to certain environmental stresses which may cause the virus DNA to un-insert itself from the host DNA and start replicating itself.
Sometime around 1995 a vaccine for chickenpox became available. It is a live-virus vaccine. Typically live-virus vaccines are made by growing the wild -type virus in ways that alter its ability to cause the disease. In essence it is similar to the natural virus, and capable of reproducing once inside the body, but is supposed to be less likely to actually cause the disease itself. However just because the symptoms are reduced does not necessarily mean that it is not causing harm inside the body. Their are many examples of infections that can silently damage organs, and not be discovered until many years later.
The normal route of entry of chickenpox into a child's body is through the mouth and nose-- usually inhaling particles that an infected person has coughed. This means that the virus will come in contact with the mucous membranes and trigger the beginnings of an immune response. After this initial "alert" of the immune system, the virus travels to the lymphatic system, where additional body defenses are mustered. Finally, after the body has had adequate time to gear up, the virus gains access to the blood stream and major organs. But by this time, the immune system is mounting a full response (thanks to its being alerted early by the mucous membranes and lymphatic system) and will usually protect the major organs from damage from this virus.
Now compare this scenario to what happens when one's first exposure to the virus is from a vaccine: The mucous membranes are bypassed. The lymphatic system is bypassed. The live virus gains immediate access to the bloodstream and major organs -- a situation that millions of years of evolutionary wisdom seems to have tried to avoid!
No one really knows what the long term ramifications of exposure to this virus in this unorthodox way are. Since it is so new, there is no long term data available. In fact there is no data to even suggest that after ten years, immunity from this vaccine is sufficient to prevent the disease -- possibly leaving people vulnerable to getting chickenpox as adults when the risks of this illness are much greater!
There is no evidence that when little girls who have received the chickenpox vaccine grow up and become mothers, they will be able to pass sufficient antibodies on to their babies to protect them from chickenpox in infancy -- which can also be dangerous in the very young. And like all vaccines currently on the market, there is no requirement that manufacturers study recipients of vaccines to identify possible long-term ill-effects from these biological agents. In fact to my knowledge, no vaccine manufacturer ever records data on the health of vaccinee's longer then 90 days -- and even following them that long is rare! But that does make it easy for them to dismiss epidemiological data that seems to suggest vaccines may play a role in the increase in a variety of autoimmune diseases, asthma and brain disorders.
What we do know as a result of vaccination for measles, another previously common childhood infection--also thought to be much less serious if contracted between the ages of 3-9, is that for many, the vaccine does not confer lifelong immunity, it merely POSTPONES one's susceptibility. Prior to widespread measles vaccination, epidemics in college-aged people were unheard of -- today (or a least prior to requiring re-immunization of college freshman) college students have become more common victims, and face a greater potential for complications then children.
When I first heard press reports about the new chickenpox vaccine, I remember thinking to myself, "That's crazy -- how in the world will they sell a new vaccine with unknown long term dangers to the public -- nobody's scared of chickenpox." But very soon my question was answered. While reading a popular parenting magazine one day, I noticed a slick multi-page advertising insert that compared the cost of this vaccine to lost wages of the working parent who must miss a week of work to care for their sick child. It was a shock to see the health of our children so shamelessly traded for the materialism of our culture.
At that point, having studied a bit more about the history of vaccination, and the evolution of public perception about specific illnesses once a vaccine is introduced, I remember commenting to a friend, "Just wait -- in twenty or thirty years when childhood cases of chickenpox become rare due to the use of this vaccine -- everyone will be talking about what a DANGEROUS disease chickenpox was!" As it turns out, I was wrong -- it didn't take twenty or thirty years, it happened almost as soon as the vaccine was released. Pharmaceutical company spun articles and news reports began appearing that emphasized that chickenpox is not a benign disease. First they said that there were about ten deaths a year due chickenpox. A year later I saw an article that claimed there were a hundred deaths a year due to chickenpox. Next came a heart-rending article, splashed all-over the newspapers complete with color pictures and all of some poor child who had a "normal" case of chickenpox and then developed some serious heart complication. The child's doctor was quoted as saying, "Chickenpox is NOT harmless!"
I'm sure sales of the vaccine increased after that story came out -- funny how in the previous fifty years (prior to introduction of the vaccine) the media never had a story like that to run!
What the media never seem to mention in all these alarmist articles is that
most of the children who die from chickenpox were already immunocompromised
-- many are suffering from cancer or leukemia. Also nobody even thinks
to question what other lifestyle choices these families are making that may
place their child at greater risk -- Is the child exposed to cigarette
smoke? Does the child consume a lot of sweets, hydrogenated fats, refined
carbohydrates and/or animal protein (in other words the typical American
diet) which may be depressing his immune
Already many states are considering adding chickenpox to the list of immunizations required for entry into school. This is indefensible! Why should any parent be forced into presenting their healthy child for administration of a biological agent with still-to-be-determined long-term risks (but which are most certainly there!) in order to possibly prolong the lives of a very few already sick children (who might be less likely to get chickenpox if there were fewer active cases in the community.)
Furthermore, what will be the risk to these children's babies? The vaccine which takes a series of three shots to provide immunity cannot possibly protect a newborn from the illness, and it would be pretty naive to believe that a mother who had only received the vaccine, but never actually contracted the disease and developed full immunity would actually be able to pass on sufficient immunities to her newborn.
Maybe some parents believe that they can't keep their children from eating a junky diet, and thus they need this and other vaccines to protect them from possibly becoming quite ill, because their immune system--compromised by a poor diet, might not be able to adequately protect their child from serious harm from common diseases. But in a free country, does that mean that families who DO take personal responsibility for their health, and do eat healthy whole-foods plant-based diets low in processed foods and trans-fatty acids MUST forfeit their right to an undamaged immune system simply because the masses, persuaded by drug manufacturers choose to put their faith in science over nature?
Recently, an older relative had an outbreak of shingles. This was the first time this had ever happened to her, and the outbreak occurred near her eye -- which was especially a concern. Her opthamologist commented to her that he had seen an unusually large number of cases of shingles this year. That got me wondering about something. While this relative had just been through a particularly stressful period just prior to this outbreak, which most probably was a factor in HER getting the shingles, but why was the doctor seeing an unusually large number of cases all of a sudden?
I got out my old microbiology textbook and read the following: "Contact with chickenpox is said to provoke attacks of shingles in partially immune individuals." I wonder....now that the use of the chickenpox vaccine is becoming more widespread, could it be provoking cases of shingles in the older people whose own immunity may be waning?
The vaccine IS a live virus. Studies have documented that for a period of time after vaccination with a live virus vaccine, a person will "shed" some of that virus from their body, which may infect others. Most often, when a child comes down with chickenpox, that child stays home and is not out exposing the community for most of the time that they are infectious, but after a vaccination? Who keeps their children at home and away from older people for a couple of weeks while they may be shedding virus after being vaccinated? How is shingles provoked from shed vaccine different then shingles provoked from the wild chickenpox virus? We don't know. What about children who miss getting chickenpox in childhood because they were vaccinated...what happens when their immunity starts to wane..(which it always does with vaccines -- that's why you have to keep getting booster shots!) .will they be even more susceptible to provocation shingles?
Finally one last point I'd like to make. Since varicella-zoster is a herpesvirus which as I said earlier are known for their ability to hide in the DNA of our cells and then perhaps in response to specific environmental events eject themselves from our DNA (and sometimes this is not done with precision -- in fact scientific journals have indisputably proved that occasionally some of our own cells DNA can still be attached -- this is called "translocation of genes" in the journals) and begin reproducing our DNA inside new virus particles....well what are the implications of using an altered form of chickenpox virus (the vaccine) using an evolutionary brand new route of primary exposure (via the bloodstream) and then repeating this "experiment" millions of times (as we are in the process of doing) in widely disseminated geographical areas?
I fear that we are facilitating and speeding up the evolution of a multitude of simple life forms -- primarily viruses. Unfortunately more complex life forms (such as humans) cannot possibly even come close to evolving in a complementary way in order to survive assault by so many novel infectious agents.
Until someone can come up with data to adequately dispel all of my concerns I'd rather bet my family's health, and the health of our species on the wisdom of millions of years of evolutionary history rather then humankind's usually naive and misguided manipulations of nature. Unfortunately, the use of live vaccines by some, creates risk for us all -- I call it exposure to second-hand vaccination -- but at least second-hand vaccination doesn't bypass the normal engagement of our immune system.
If you liked this article, you may be also be interested in our new article on Whooping Cough. Also, Chapter four of my book is entirely devoted to the topic of vaccinations. Please take the time to read a copy -- as the whole book deals with the larger issue of how to help our children be as healthy as possible -- physically, mentally and emotionally. It is an easy and quick read and provide much useful information.
If you prefer to not purchase a copy, Compassionate Souls is widely available in libraries throughout America. If your library does not own a copy it can be easily procured through inter-library loan.
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