Vaccination foes needling doctors

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vaccineCEDAR HILLS — Kara Davis is a staunch believer that you shouldn't give cocktails to babies, especially if a newborn is injected with one in the arm or foot before ever leaving the hospital.

But while Davis and a growing population of like-minded parents share their concerns out loud and on the Internet, others, including a majority of hospital doctors, say those "cocktails" — also known as vaccines — are crucial to saving lives.

Davis, 53, although not an expert, recently persuaded her son not to allow his newborn to receive a hepatitis B vaccine, which is normally administered within the baby's first 48 hours. Davis did allow her six children to be vaccinated when they were young, but that was before she started doing research that generated her ill feelings toward the common shots.

A quick Web search on "vaccination risks" will gather a variety of Web sites on the subject. One of those sites is www.909shot.com, which is published by the National Vaccine Information Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates reform of the "mass vaccination system," according to the Web site.

Other sites, however, such as one published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov, have links to information that favors immunizations.

"I haven't felt good about vaccinations since my last child was born 20 years ago," Davis said. "I did have my kids vaccinated. I just had a really strong feeling that it wasn't good, but I didn't know why."

Davis said she doesn't feel comfortable with vaccinating children because she believes vaccines typically contain formaldehyde and mercury as preservatives. She also says babies are not susceptible to hepatitis B if their parents aren't carriers of the virus.

Because she believes that vaccines can be harmful to human health, Davis said she is skeptical of a system that heavily promotes their use.

"I believe doctors are trained in their medicine," Davis said. "They believe that a drug can cure anything, and that's just how they're trained. I don't blame them and I don't put them down, but I don't think they've been educated in any other way."

According to Diane Chipman, immunization coordinator for the Utah County Department of Health, vaccines are constantly being improved.

For example, Chipman says vaccines created after 1999 for infants no longer use trace amounts of mercury. Vaccines have a shelf life of about 18 months, Chipman said.

Utah's public school system requires students to meet certain immunization requirements, but parents can object to the immunizations based on religious, medical or philosophical reasons. Under those circumstances, about 5 percent of students in Utah County are not immunized, according to Dr. Joseph Miner, director of the Utah County Health Department.

If an outbreak of a communicable disease occurs, non-immunized children are required to stay home.

According to the department, students born before 1986 are required to have one vaccination each for rubella and mumps; four shots for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis; three polio and two measles vaccinations.

In addition to the previous requirements, children born after 1996 are required to have an additional DTP and polio vaccine, plus three hepatitis B vaccinations; one chicken pox vaccination, unless the child has already had the disease; and two hepatitis A vaccinations.

Children can sometimes have a negative reaction to a vaccine, but the symptoms are usually only a short-term fever or achiness, Miner said. There is speculation that vaccinations might be related to autism, but Miner says the relationship has not yet been proven.

"Anyone who would rationally look at (vaccinations) could not at all question that the benefits outweigh the risks," Miner said. "You can choose to not have your appendix out, if you have a ruptured appendix, because you don't want surgery. That would be something even less dramatic than refusing to immunize children."

Miner says vaccinations have saved thousands of lives. If parents stop vaccinating their children, Miner says, deadly epidemics are certain to recur, and the effect would be "disastrous."

Bill Lawler, a chiropractic physician in Cedar Hills, disagrees. Lawler recently wrote "Kids are Born to be Healthy," a book in which he emphasizes natural treatments and dedicates an entire chapter to vaccination skepticism.

"I consider myself a wellness practitioner," Lawler said. "I don't think I'm an end-all cure. I think I'm part of a team."

Lawler, 50, did not vaccinate his children, and he argues most of the diseases with required vaccinations are no longer epidemics because of "better sanitation and better food supply."

According to Lawler, many parents vaccinate their children on the advice of their doctors without doing any research. Although Lawler believes in using as little over-the-counter medication as possible, he says whether or not you should use vaccinations boils down to philosophy.

"On day one of life, when you give birth to your first child, you have to decide immediately, 'Do I believe this beautiful boy or girl has the capability to be healthy on their own, or do I have to put these vaccinations in them?"' Lawler said.

source - Desert News