Friday, March 12, 2010

Polio Virus and Vaccine

Ok, at this point I am tired and have spent way to long typing this post, so I am not going to worry about a friendly/entertaining intro and I am just going to jump on in. Is that ok with everyone? Good.

As usual, if you need a refresher or you missed a previous week, click on the links below.
Hep B

***Disclaimer: The information about vaccines in this post came from
The Vaccine Book by Robert Sears. I am in the process of reading the book and I am simply sharing as I learn. I strongly recommend doing your own research before deciding if vaccines are right for your child.***

Polio is a virus that is transmitted like the common cold or an intestinal flu. Most cases don’t show any symptoms, but some people have a minor sore throat and fever. One in every 250 cases develops muscle weakness and paralysis. Polio can be caught only once in a lifetime.


- is not common. There haven’t been any cases in the US since 1985 (that was the year I was born. FYI.) when an immigrant came in with the disease. No U.S residing citizen has contracted wild polio since 1979. The last case of wild polio in the entire Western Hemisphere was in 1991.

- can be serious. Most cases are harmless, but unfortunately some individuals become paralyzed. It is usually temporary, but two thirds of them suffer permanent muscle weakness. Most often it is not fatal.

- is not treatable. The person is supported with breathing machines in an ICU for several weeks until the paralysis wears off.

Interesting fact: In 2005 an Amish person from Minnesota got an oral live-virus polio vaccine overseas. (that live-virus vaccine is no longer given in the US) The live polio virus from the vaccine then spread from that person to a few unvaccinated children within that Amish community. Since these cases were caused by the vaccine and did not occur naturally, the United States is still considered polio free since 1985.

Polio Vaccine…
- given at 2 months, 4 months, 18 months and 5 years. (Just in case you were wondering, Zachariah has had two of these doses.)
- is an injected vaccine. It has been around for many decades.
- cannot cause paralysis. That was true of the old vaccine, which was given as a live-virus liquid by mouth. Thankfully, that was taken off the U.S. market in the early 2000s. Now we only use the injected, inactivated form, so there are no longer any paralytic reactions to the vaccine.
- has one of the safest side effect profiles of all vaccines. The standard side effects occur, and the only unusual reaction that has been reported is Guillain-Barre syndrome, which has been reported after various vaccines.
- has the following controversial ingredients:
- Baby cow blood serum
- Human albumin (blood proteins). This is also in the vaccine solution
- Glutamate. Which is a component of MSG.
- Formaldehyde and 2-phenoxyethanol. These two chemicals do have some toxicity when used in high amounts.
- Monkey kidney cells. This is probably the most controversial. (Hmm. I wonder why?)

Reasons to get this vaccine:
Universal vaccination against polio has eliminated this disease from North America, Europe, south America, Australia and Antarctica. Until polio is eliminated from the whole world, there is always a chance that polio could take hold in our country again if people do not receive this vaccine. Also, some people worry about immigrants bringing in polio (although this hasn't happened in twenty five years), so they feel better if their child gets vaccinated.

Reasons why some people choose not to get this vaccine:
The use of monkey kidney cells, cow serum, and human blood proteins gives some parents reason for concern. Since polio doesn't exist in our country, some parents feel safe about skipping this vaccine. The chance that an unvaccinated child will catch polio while living in the US is very close to zero. Some parents do want to give their child the vaccine, but they worry about adding this shot to the massive list that are given to newborns, so they choose to vaccinate their kids as they get older.

Closing paragraph from Doctor Sears:
Since polio was eradicated from the United States more than twenty years ago and isn't even found on this half of the planet, it is safe to say that we don't give this vaccine in order to protect each individual child from catching polio. Rather, we do it to protect our nation as a whole in the event an outbreak does occur. Although the ingredients may seem a little odd, we don't see many side effects from this shot. If we stop using this vaccine, polio may come back. Anyone who is over fifty knows just how scary that would be. For younger people, polio might not seem like a reality. When parents tell me they want to skip the polio shot for their child, I tell them, "Okay. Your child is almost guaranteed not to catch polio. You better just pray that not too many of your neighbors make the same choice, or in ten years we may all be in trouble." While I realize some parents think it isn't critical for infants to receive the polio vaccine during the early years (compared with the vaccines for diseases like pertussis and meningitis), I consider this vaccine very important from a public health viewpoint. Until the whole world is polio free, ongoing vaccination will help keep our nation protected.

My opinion:
The more I research these vaccines, the more I realize that I am NOT horribly opposed to all of them. I just think it is a very bad idea to inject all of these shots into such a young baby. That being said, I do not think this is a "must" vaccine. I do think it probably would be good for my kids to receive this vaccine at some point though. If for no other reason than to make sure polio does not come back into the United States. The ingredients are gross, and I am not a fan of freaking formaldehyde being in so many of these vaccines, but the older my kids get the less worried I will be about the effects they may suffer from these psycho ingredients. So yeah. I am not opposed to this vaccine as long as my kids are out of the baby/toddler stage when they get it.

Thanks for coming back and reading what I have been learning! Next week I will be reading/blogging about the controversial MMR vaccine. I'm not gonna lie. I am pretty dang pumped about researching this one. :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

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