As a mother of two, the issue around vaccinations has also been up for discussion in our household as we obviously only want what’s best for our kids. Sister Sazhia Karsten from the Little People Wellness Clinic at LifeLab shed some light on the topic.
According to Sister Karsten, vaccinations have been around for decades for a reason. It is all disease orientated and if it were not for vaccines, we would still have seen much more of the old diseases like smallpox, tetanus, diphtheria and polio (which has basically been eradicated due to vaccines). Now, with COVID-19, the reason why everyone is pushing for a vaccination is because everyone knows it works.
Build those antibodies
Sister Sazhia says the human body is just not able to fight these kinds of diseases on its own. We need the antibodies that act as soldiers to identify these diseases to be able to know what our bodies are dealing with and to prevent us from getting extremely ill. The only way to get these antibodies is by vaccinating with – in some cases – a capsulated form of the relevant disease. Yes, some of these vaccinations are physically the disease itself but it has been broken down in such a way that it cannot infect the body and cause you to actually get the disease and become ill. It rather stimulates your body to make an army of antibodies that can fight the disease if or when it hits.
Although Sister Sazhia does not have an overly broad knowledge on homeopathic prophylaxes, she says that they are based on the theory that disease symptoms can be treated by minuscule doses of substances that cause that same disease. According to her knowledge they do not necessarily provide life-long protection like medicinal vaccines. While homeopathic prophylaxes and other homeopathic products aren’t likely to cause direct harm, she says it is still important to educate parents and explain that they are not necessarily an alternative to conventional vaccines. She says that some pediatricians and general practitioners have even noticed the return of signs and symptoms of certain diseases during the COVID-19 pandemic that were not meant to be there, mainly because of people not being vaccinated and delaying vaccinations due to the lockdown restrictions.
Protecting the vulnerable
What we should also keep in mind is that all children are not necessarily protected against diseases 100% even if they themselves were vaccinated. It could be that a child has an underlying illness like cancer where the cancer cells would then inevitably destroy the vaccine’s antibodies. These children are another reason why kids need to be vaccinated, to protect the vulnerable from being infected. In some cases, cancer patients are not allowed to be vaccinated, because their immunity is already broken down badly by chemotherapy. They can therefore be infected much easier than the norm and the risk for them is much higher.
We don’t just protect ourselves by being vaccinated, we also protect the people around us who may not be able to zero convert due to medical or other reasons or babies too young to receive their vaccines.
Vaccines and autism
Sister Karsten says that many years ago, a medical doctor published an article in a medical magazine that claimed that the combo vaccine, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) causes autism. His study was based on a very small number of children, but due to the fact that it was published in a medical magazine, people trusted the content. After the article was published, people started to do studies to prove him wrong. What was found, is that the age at which autism can be identified in a child was basically at the same time that the MMR vaccine is given and that it was not the vaccine itself that caused autism. Now, there are people who don’t want to do the MMR vaccine at all, or people who just wait to do the vaccine at a later stage. The latter might be the better option, but we should also keep in mind that the vaccine had been developed specifically for children above 12 months because that is the group with the highest risk. Considering the future impact of not vaccinating, Sister Karsten says that boys who get mumps can become sterile. The MMR vaccine is also important for girls, because you are not born with these antibodies (unless your mother had enough antibodies during pregnancy due to being vaccinated herself as a child or before pregnancy). You can therefore one day protect your children from these diseases with maternal antibodies until they are ready to get their own MMR vaccines. The stigma around the combo MMR vaccination caused many parents to prefer to only vaccinate with the MMR when the child is older than 2 years and then Sister Karsten would just ensure that the child is fully vaccinated against measles, an illness that can cause blindness, brain problems and even death. Even with numerous counter studies that have been done, many people still believe that the combo vaccine might cause autism and therefore they would rather do it this way.
Best time to vaccinate
Since our bodies react to vaccinations differently at different ages, studies have been done to determine the best possible times or ages for kids to be vaccinated for certain diseases. Most of the diseases that children get vaccinated for are the most dangerous for children under the age of 2 years, which is why most of the vaccinations are done at such an early age. Sister Karsten suggests that if you don’t want to vaccinate your child at the prescribed age, rather delay it and just do it at another stage. “But still, please do it!”
The pneumococcal vaccines ensure life-long protection and even though the antibodies may decline with time, the possibility of you ending up with a ventilator is very small. The same goes for measles. Your antibodies may decline over time and you might still get measles when you’re older, but it won’t necessarily affect your brain. You might get a rash and that’s it. The chickenpox vaccine protects you from the children’s disease, but also from getting Shingles, a viral infection that you get from having chickenpox which causes immense pain in adults’ nerve endings. If you have been vaccinated for chickenpox as a child, you are also protected against Shingles.
Vaccinating your child doesn’t just protect and have an effect now, it is also about protecting your child’s future.