KUALA LUMPUR - Konferensi Uskup-uskup Katolik serantau Malaysia-Singapura-Brunei (CBCMSB) dalam…
These vaccines prevent our children from developing the following diseases:
DPT: Protects against Diphtheria / Pertussis (Whooping cough) / and Tetanus
BCG: Protects against Tuberculosis
Polio vaccine: Protects against Poliomyelitis
Measles vaccine : Protects against Measles
Rubella Vaccine : Protects against Rubella or also known as German measles
Hepatitis B vaccine : Protects against Hepatitis B disease
1. Neonatal Tetanus
If a newborn baby contracts tetanus, the baby develops a special type of tetanus called Neonatal tetanus. This condition is a very serious condition where the baby develops continuous spasms (contractions) of the whole body until their breathing is affected. This may continue for weeks. Many of them die. Those who survive may end up with severe brain damage.
Measles is a very serious disease among young children especially if they are malnourished. The complications include Middle ear infection, Bronchopneumonia (lung infection), blindness, encephalopathy (brain damage) and death.
3. Hepatitis B
This is a disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus. After the acute liver disease is over, many continue to have the virus in their bodies and develop chronic liver disease, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and finally death.
1. Neonatal Tetanus
Note: Of those reported in Malaysia, more than 90% of these cases came from Sabah. In brackets are number of deaths.
Measles in Malaysia in 1997
Total no of cases: 565
Peninsula Malaysia: 206
These figures show that about half of all the measles cases in Malaysia in 1997 came from Sabah.
Number of reported measles death cases (1990-1996): 0-6 cases a year, almost all exclusively in Sabah.
3. Hepatitis B
In 1998 we had one million Hepatitis B carriers in Malaysia. From the same survey carried out by the National Blood Bank of Malaysia, the breakdown according to race is:
East Malaysians: 11.4%
The most common mode of transmission of Hepatitis B is at or after birth.
Please note that the incidence in Sabah and Sarawak was extremely high before the Hepatitis B vaccination program was started.
In the earlier years Malaysia, especially Sabah used to have many cases of Neonatal tetanus and Measles. These were largely due to the huge number of illegal migrant population from the Southern Philippines and Indonesia who were usually poor, malnourished children and unimmunised. This was a huge burden to the medical services in Sabah.
On a personal note, I was the specialist and then Consultant in charge in the Paediatric Ward in Queen Elizabeth Hospital from 1987-1990. We used to have many cases of Neonatal tetanus and Measles Bronchopneumonia among the refugee population from the Philippines. Many of these cases died. For those that survived, the treatment would be very difficult and prolonged and took up a lot of the already very limited resources of manpower, money and materials. In this way, a lot of resources were diverted away from our local population. The issue was not that these refugee children be denied treatment but rather that they would not have contracted these diseases in the first place if they had been immunised.
Latest statistics show that all vaccine preventable diseases in Malaysia are on a downward trend. There are no longer cases of neonatal tetanus, polio and diphtheria.
These diseases are now no longer common because Malaysia has a very high coverage of vaccination among the population.
These diseases will become common again, if more and more people decide not to vaccinate their children for whatever reason. If this happens, these diseases would again become common and many children will die from these diseases.
Vaccination like everything else has some potential adverse effects. The majority of these are mild; a few are moderate and rarely will there be any severe adverse reactions. It is the duty and obligation of the doctor giving the vaccines, or supervising the nurses giving these vaccines to discharge his or her duty well, so that these adverse will be minimal. That is why the doctor would have to do a proper history taking to ask for past reactions to vaccines, and a proper examination to exclude any sickness, before the vaccine is given.
I have myself given or was responsible for nurses giving vaccines over the last 23 years. I estimate that I have been responsible for over 60000 vaccinations so far. I have never experienced any severe reactions so far. Most reactions are mild and do not cause any long-term harm.
As in all things there will be some controversies raised. These are the more common ones circulating especially on the Internet:
1. MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella ) vaccine causes Autism
There is no denial that the incidence and pick up rate of Autism is increasing worldwide. Many people blame the MMR vaccine for this. The main reason this has come about is because of a paper published by Prof Wakefield and 12 colleagues in 1988 in the Lancet (a leading medical journal). One has to bear in mind that this study only involved 12 patients, which is arguably too small a sample size to draw reasonable conclusions from. Subsequently 10 out of the 12 coauthors retracted. The Lancet later admitted that lawyers engaged by parents in lawsuits against vaccine producing companies funded Prof Wakefield.
This one paper has caused so much trouble and subsequently so much money has been spent to disprove this earlier study.
Studies, which show no association between autism and MMR vaccine
A study involving children in Yokohama, Japan (31,426 children born between 1988 and 1996) showed Autism increased despite decline in MMR from 70% to 0% in 1993.
A study in Denmark between Jan 1991 to Dec 1998 (537,303 children) showed no difference in autism rate between those given or not given the MMR vaccine.
A Cochrane review published in 2012 assessed the adverse effects associated with MMR vaccine in children up the age of 15 years. The authors included randomised controlled trials, controlled clinical trial, cohort studies, case-control studies, time-series trials, case cross-over trial, ecological studies, and self-controlled case series studies involving approximately 14,700,000 children. What this means simply, was that almost every single precaution that could be taken was taken to ensure that all the studies conducted were as unbiased as they could be. The studies do not show evidence that MMR causes Autism.
Conclusion: All the above show that there is no evidence to link Autism with the MMR vaccine and these are well designed studies involving about 15 million children compared with the study quoted by Prof Wakefield which involved 12 children. It is definitely more prudent to trust the results from well-designed studies involving 15 million children than a poorly designed study by someone with vested interest involving 12 children (statistically too small a size to draw reasonable conclusions from).
2. Too many vaccines given when a child is young, overwhelms their immune system
This argument is also not based on scientific facts.
This argument is also not based on scientific facts.
It is true that in almost all countries now, children through the vaccination programs in their respective countries get protected from more childhood diseases as compared with the time period in the 1980s.
However the children now get exposed to less antigens (parts of germs used to stimulate the immune system of the body) today as compared with the time period of the 1980’s.
This has come about because of 2 reasons:
a) small pox vaccination is no longer given because small pox disease has been eradicated from the whole world.
b) Because of improved manufacturing techniques we now have acellular [part of the cell] pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine compared with whole cell pertussis vaccine in the 1980’s.
As an illustration, the current US vaccination program for children less than 2 years old has about 300 antigens. Compare this with the more than 3000 antigens in the 7 compulsory vaccines in the 1980’s.
As an analogy: the cars of today utilise less petrol, emit less toxic emissions and go further per liter of petrol compared with the car of the 1980’s. In a similar way, the vaccination program of today, give protection against more diseases, with less side effects and with less antigen exposure to the child compared with the vaccination program of the 1980’s
Conclusion: Young children today get less antigen exposure in their vaccines compared with the children of the 1980’s. If the immune system of children of the 1980’s were not overwhelmed then, they would be even less today since there are now less antigens involved in the immunisation program.
This fact has been blown out of proportion and must be seen in perspective. As opposed to the common view that millions are aborted everyday to provide for these vaccines, there are actually only 2 cell lines from 2 aborted fetuses from more than 40 years ago, involved in the manufacture of vaccines worldwide.
The first cell line is W 138 line (Westar institute 138) from a fetus aborted in 1964 by parents who felt they had too may children. The second is MRC5 (Medical Research Council 5) from a 14 week aborted foetus aborted by a 27 year old mother in UK for psychiatric reasons in 1970. These 2 cell lines are used to produce the MMR and Rubella vaccines and some other vaccines.
Vatican has issued a document to address this issue. The full article should be read by all interested in this area. This can be found at immunise.org/concerns/vaticandocument.htm. This is the quotation from the summary of this document and reference 15 in its complete form
“To summarize, it must be confirmed that:
· There is a grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines and to make a conscientious objection with regard to those which have moral problems;
· As regards to the vaccines without an alternative, the need to contest so that others may be prepared must be reaffirmed, as should be the lawfulness of using the former in the meantime insomuch as is necessary in order to avoid a serious risk not only for one’s own children but also, and perhaps more specifically, for the health conditions of the population as a whole – especially for pregnant women;
· The lawfulness of the use of these vaccines should not be misinterpreted as a declaration of the lawfulness of their production, marketing and use, but is to be understood as being a passive material cooperation and, in its mildest and remotest sense, also active, morally justified as an extrema ratio due to the necessity to provide for the good of one’s children and of the people who come in contact with the children (pregnant women);
· Such cooperation occurs in a context of moral coercion of the conscience of parents, who are forced to choose to act against their conscience or otherwise, to put the health of their children and of the population as a whole at risk. This is an unjust alternative choice, which must be eliminated as soon as possible.
1. This is particularly true in the case of vaccination against German measles, because of the danger of Congenital Rubella Syndrome. This could occur, causing grave congenital malformations in the foetus, when a pregnant woman enters into contact, even if it is brief, with children who have not been immunized and are carriers of the virus. In this case, the parents who did not accept the vaccination of their own children become responsible for the malformations in question, and for the subsequent abortion of foetuses, when they have been discovered to be malformed.
This part of this article is meant for those participants who attended the above recent meeting.
Two speakers at this recently concluded meeting held in Kota Kinabalu on Nov 14-16, 2013 raised certain controversies. I would not respond to these issues raised point-by-point, but would just mention the following:
1. The issue of vaccination/immunization is primarily a scientific/medical issue and should not have been brought up at a religious meeting where the audience is unable to understand a medical issue well.
2. The 2 speakers who touched on this topic are not experts in this field nor are they involved in the day-to-day care of children who suffer from the diseases these vaccinations protect them from.
3. The 2 speakers were at best speaking in their own personal capacity. They shouldn’t have done this at this meeting, to give the impression that this is the view of the Catholic Church.
4. The sources of information that they quote from are at best very dubious. None of the sources in standard medical literature that have been quoted here were quoted.
5. The inferences drawn from the information given are again very flawed. An example given for this is that at the meeting it was mentioned “Hepatitis B is primarily a sexually transmitted disease, so questioning why is Hepatitis B given at birth “. The actual situation is this; in the Asia Pacific region, Hepatitis B is primarily a disease contracted in the perinatal period (at or immediately after birth). This is why the vaccination is given at birth. Because of this one vaccination, millions of people across the Asia Pacific region have been prevented from contracting Hepatitis B and so will no longer develop chronic Hepatitis B disease and the resulting chronic liver disease, Cirrhosis, and Liver Cancer in the years to come.
6. Some statements were made without any supporting evidence. An example is the statement “that in most countries today, fertility is declining and because these countries have a vaccination program, so the cause of this decline in fertility is vaccination”.
No evidence to support this statement was given. The declining fertility is a real concern worldwide. However it is to be acknowledged that this is a very complex issue with many causes. However the generally agreed causes for this decline include the following:
a) Women getting married older and thus starting families later
b) The increasing affluence of society generally leads to smaller families because of increasing attention to material needs, and less worries about having many children to support the parents when they grow old
c) Increasingly a trend among couples not interested in having children or desiring fewer children
Thus blaming the decline in fertility on vaccination is not only ridiculous, it is downright illogical.
Before one decides not to give his/her child vaccination, one has to think hard and long, knowing all the facts at hand. If the child is not vaccinated he/she may contract the disease and die or become permanently disabled. However he/she may recover fully but pass the disease to less fortunate children who are from the poorer segment of society and malnourished. These children will likely suffer the full consequence of the disease and die or end up permanently severely disabled.
If more and more people make a decision not to vaccinate their children, these infectious diseases will likely come back again into our society with a vengeance.
While we think we are making a purely individual decision not to vaccinate, our individual decision is not really an individual decision but one that can cause great harm to another or many other children in our society.
Vaccination is one of the most significant success stories of modern medicine. Hundreds of millions of lives have been saved because of vaccination. In this process, we have also managed to eradicate one disease (smallpox) from the world. We are now in the midst of trying to eliminate the second one (poliomyelitis). The issue is not that vaccination is not good, but that the children who need it the most (the poorest in any country and especially in the poorest nations) are not getting the vaccinations they desperately need. Our duty then is to do our best to enable a fairer distribution of these vaccinations. All the preventable infectious diseases are now on the decline in Malaysia. Let us not throw away all the good work that has come about through the untiring efforts of so many dedicated people by now deciding not to vaccinate our children.