Money Better Spent On Nutrition Than Vaccine
Money Better Spent On Nutrition Than Yet Another Vaccine
Immunisation Awareness Society Inc
8 May 2006
The Ministry of Health has announced that it is considering adding yet another vaccine to the early childhood schedule. The Immunisation Awareness Society is concerned that a substantial amount of public money will be spent on a vaccine that will yield more illhealth than it prevents, while the underlying causes of many of the diseases and complications that New Zealand children suffer - poor diet and nutrition, exposure to tobacco smoke, lack of breastfeeding - are not being adequately addressed.
The pneumoccocal vaccine that is "next on the priority list" for the Immunisation Technical Working Group carries only seven of the 90 pneumoccocal bacteria. Research reported in The Scientist in 2003 found that the vaccine Prevnar replaces infections from the seven strains of pneumococci against which the vaccine is administered with infections from the other 83 strains of pneumococci.
Typically, the MoH refers to high risk children but fails to mention what the risk-factors for pneumococcal disease are. Research has shown that smoking, previous anti-biotic use, lack of breast feeding and attendance at day-care centres are all risk factors:
"This study shows the association of underlying illnesses, day care attendance, and lack of breastfeeding with risk of invasive pneumococcal disease in children. The association of recent antibiotic use and infection with penicillin-resistant S pneumoniae highlights the need to avoid unnecessary antibiotic use in children."
(Pediatrics, Vol. 103 No. 3 March 1999, p. e28)
It is interesting to note that all these risk factors are lifestyle issues - including antibiotic use. Overuse of antibiotics has been discussed at length in the media but many doctors continue to prescribe them unnecessarily and parents continue to demand them for their children.
Children and adults routinely carry all 90 strains in their noses and throats, even when they are not sick, and this vaccine does nothing to address the question of why only a very small percentage of children develop disease from the bacteria.
It is entirely likely that even the children with "no known risk factors" suffer from poor nutrition and inadequate vitamins and minerals in their diets. A lack of long-term breastfeeding in babies and a nutritionally bereft diet of high-sugar, processed food is likely to be responsible for the impact of pneumoccocal and other diseases across the population
Dr Erdem Cantekin, Professor of Otolaryngology at University of Pittsburgh, expressed considerable concerns about the conjugate pneumoccocal vaccine in 2000, saying:
"The alleged benefits for this new vaccine are greatly exaggerated and the risks are significant."
He pointed out that there are significant unanswered questions about the pneumococcus bacteria, concluding that:
"With all of these unknowns, the vaccination of newborns with seven pneumococcal serotypes and possible eradication of those serotypes, is an uninformed experiment at best."
Subsequent research proved him correct. When the Prevnar vaccine eliminates the seven selected strains, all the others proliferate inside babies' noses and throats, waiting for an opportunity to start an infection or to spread to someone else. It is interesting to note that the incidence of invasive pneumococcal and meningococcal disease in New Zealand, and other countries, has been on the increase since the introduction of a vaccine for Hib - another invasive disease. Removal of one invasive disease-causing pathogen allows others to proliferate and take its place resulting in outbreaks or "epidemics" of previously uncommon diseases.
Other research has shown that when Prevnar is administered at the same time as other vaccines the efficacy of the other vaccines is reduced. In a phase-2 randomised controlled trial conducted from August 2000 to January 2002, the immunogencity of the meningococcal C, Haemophilus influenza type b and Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis vaccines was diminished.
The Immunisation Awareness Society also believes the Ministry of Health is being disingenuous when it says that the addition of the pneumococcal vaccine would bring to 16 the number of shots a child is scheduled to have before the age of two. While this may be the number of times they get a needle in the arm or thigh, the actual number of vaccines is significantly greater.
"Babies between birth and two years currently get 25 vaccines for eleven different diseases and the addition of Prevnar would bring this to 29 vaccines for twelve diseases by the age of 15 months," points out the IAS.
Finally, the IAS believes that the approximately $5.5 million dollars per year that it would cost the taxpayer to vaccinate every child with Prevnar* would be far better spent encouraging breastfeeding up to the age of two and ensuring that all children have a healthy and nutritious diet, free from high-sugar and high-fat junk and fast food. Meanwhile, the vaccine manufacturer is laughing all the way to the bank.
*based on the stated cost of $100 for each four-dose programme of the Prevnar.