Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Vaccines—Polio/IPV

The IPV is recommended at 2m, 4m, 6-18m, and 4-6y. Doses must be given at least 4 weeks apart, and while 4 doses are on the recommended schedule, 3 doses is considered sufficient vaccination so long as the final dose is given after age 4. The IPV is not recommended over the age of 18years unless the person will be traveling to certain regions with high rates of polio. The MTC does not have this on their list of recommended vaccines (although it might be recommended for specific missionaries if they are going to those areas).

Polio gets a bad name because of cases like FDR, who developed lifelong paralysis. Many people know someone who was paralyzed by polio…what they do not realize is that millions of other people had polio and were NOT paralyzed. In fact, only around 5% of cases of polio resulted in any kind of paralysis, and fewer than 2% of those had lifelong paralysis. In other words, only something like 1 of 2000 infected people had residual paralysis, and not even all of those were para- or quadriplegics. The truth is that polio just isn’t as dangerous as we have been told. Now this is not to say that it’s no big deal—the risks were and are real, but they are just not terribly common.

That said, there have been NO cases of wild polio reported in the western hemisphere since 1991. In other words, the only cases of polio in the USA in the last 16 years have been those caused by the vaccine. Polio IS still found in SouthEast Asia (58%), Africa (21%) and the eastern Mediterranian (21%). However, researchers believe that polio will be fully eradicated from the planet by 2010. Polio is a ‘posterchild’ for vaccination, just as smallpox was. (Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1980, and the vaccine has not been administered since that time, although small samples of the virus do still exist in laboratories.)

For decades the oral (live) polio vaccine was given. As with any live vaccine, it was quite effective, but also very dangerous (it caused paralytic polio in about 10 people each year). Now the USA uses only the injected Inactivated Polio virus (IPV), but since this is a relatively new vaccine here, we don’t really know how effective it is. Doctors believe that 3 doses provides about 99% immunity, but we don’t know if that is accurate, nor how long it lasts. France has been using the IPV for years, and gives boosters after the initial series. However, the CDC believes that polio will be completely eradicated by 2010, and at that time polio vaccinations will be unneeded, so they have not pursued the matter.

SO, it’s entirely possible that this vaccine will be outdated by the time my next child is born…but, in the meantime, it is here, so I will write up the remainder of my research about it.

IPV contains formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol (ethanol—toxic, depressant, tranquilizer), and neomycin, streptomycin, and polymyxin B (antibiotics—Included to prevent germs in the vaccine cultures!)

The vaccine serum is grown in cells taken from monkey kidneys. There are documented cases of monkey viruses spreading to humans via polio vaccinations, and there is current suspicion that SV40 (another monkey virus) may be being transmitted, and may be causing certain cancers in humans. Some experts even believe that early HIV/AIDS transmission to humans came via contaminated polio vaccine serums. Of course this cannot be proven, but the spread of AIDS among humans occurred at around the same time and in the same areas as the increasing usage of the polio vaccine, so the theory is not unfounded.

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My Conclusions
Polio can be a dangerous thing, with lifelong side effects. The oral polio vaccine was scary, but the IPV seems relatively safe…on the other hand, if we are truly within a few years of fully eradicating this disease (and it has been gone from our area for over a decade) then what is the genuine risk to my children? If eradication is not successful, or if we travel to infected areas, then the vaccine makes sense…but if it really is on the way out, then what is the point of exposing oneself to the risks of a vaccine when there is no risk of exposure to the disease?

2 comments:

alisaterry said...

Polio is passed through the feces and was already in rapid decline before the vaccine was introduced. It's really a matter of hygeine more than anything else.

Your biggest threat is getting it from people who have received the Oral Polio Vaccine, which is what caused the 5-6 person "outbreak" in the Amish community a few years ago. A tourist brought the OPV strain in, and none of those 5-6 children actually got sick.

The IPV will not protect you from the OPV virus.

Chelsea said...

This is what my mother constantly hounds me about when I try to say we rarely see cases in the US of certain diseases like Polio. She insists that people coming from other countries are going to spread it all over the US. I'm just not convinced of this-it is difficult to decide if it's worth the risk of my child contracting a nasty disease, to not vaccinate her. Thank you for writing all of your thoughts on the subject.

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