Friday, 4 April 2014

CAND - Childhood Vaccines

So what does this "national voice of the Canadian naturopathic profession", the CAND, have to say about childhood vaccines?

Have a read of "Childhood Vaccinations and Immunity: A Naturopathic Perspective " published in the CAND Vital Link Newsletter, Volume 12, Issue 2, Spring 2005

The author, David Leisheid, taught at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine for 5 years, and currently appears to be well thought of in the naturopathic community. According to this 2012 write-up, he sits on a board that advises Health Canada:

Reviewing his paper on childhood vaccinations, I would like to draw your attention to the last paragraph of page 10, starting at the end of the third line: "Relying solely on childhood vaccinations to provide protection against significant harm from infectious disease is like putting the seat belt on in your car and still driving recklessly. The seat belt, aka the vaccine, really provides a minimal amount of protection."

This is blatantly false. Vaccines provide an enormous amount of protection. An enormous amount of protection, with little to no illness. No matter how much hand-washing you do, no matter how many servings of vegetables you eat in a day, if someone with the measles sneezes in your face, you are going to be sick if you are not vaccinated. 

The last line of the paragraph reads: "Similarly, we can gain more significant protection from infectious disease in our life’s journeys if we obey the laws of nature and have balance amongst the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of our lives."

If we "obey the laws of nature", "we gain more significant protection"? Nature is cruel sometimes. Nature is what provides these lovely contagious diseases in the first place. Illnesses that can cause permanent injury and death. Thank goodness we have more than nature now to keep us well. Lots of things in nature are gentle but they don't do a darn thing to keep us well. And lots of things in nature are fully natural and make us sick. The CAND allowed this to appear in their newsletter, and that is appalling.

The letter says that "[r]egardless of the belief system that health care professionals subscribe to, a number of issues must be considered before an objective, rational, informed decision can be made". Two of these issues, according to David Lescheid, are the following:

"The putative risks of vaccination 
• There are many additives to vaccines that may or may not be associated with significant diseases or reactions. The risks of certain vaccines must be carefully weighed against their reported benefits (Busse, 2004)."
 "The reported efficacy of the vaccine
• There are a number of vaccines like influenza (Simonsen et al., 2005) and
varicella (Galil et al., 2002a&b, Lee et al., 2004, Vazquez et al. 2004) with
limited reported effectiveness. The validity of continued support for these
vaccines has to be called into question."
We have masses of researchers that do the work for us when evaluating if a vaccine's benefits outweigh the risks. There is no need for people to do guesswork at home about childhood vaccinations. It is reasonable, and beneficial at times, for patients to be skeptical of individual doctors, but it isn't reasonable, or rational, to be skeptical of medical consensus. There are many qualified people sifting through the research for us. If a vaccine did more harm than good, it would not be supported by medical consensus. 

Recommendations that a vaccine is pointless because it is not 100% effective are not rational. If you could either do a coin toss to avoid the flu, or volunteer to be 100% susceptible, the coin toss makes more sense. That shouldn't spark debate.

As for the chicken pox vaccine, though not a perfect source, the wikipedia page for varicella vaccine provides some points of interest (, including this line:
"Ten years after the vaccine was recommended in the US, the CDC reported as much as a 90% drop in chicken pox cases, a varicella-related hospital admission decline of 71%[1] and a 97% drop in chicken pox deaths among those under 20.[8]"
In a nutshell, the chickenpox vaccine is very effective, but requires boosters over the lifespan. Deaths attributable to chicken pox have gone down with the introduction of the vaccine, while no death attributable to the vaccine has been reported. I'm failing to see where it's efficacy is being called into question. Multiple boosters may be required over the life course is not the same as it not being effective.

This paper on childhood vaccinations, combined with the points I showcased from the CAND official position paper on the flu vaccine, demonstrates that physicians, governments, and the media, should be concerned about the public seeking out vaccine advice from alternative health advocates. If this isn't enough to convince you, stay tuned for more posts.

CAND - Flu Vaccine

Before I shift to individual clinics, I'd like to draw attention to the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND).

It may be helpful to know what the association is, and what they do. From the association website:
"The Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND) has been the national voice of the Canadian naturopathic profession since 1955. The CAND membership consists of over 2,000 Canadian naturopathic doctors and naturopathic medical students. All are graduates of, or students in, an accredited four-year, post-graduate level, naturopathic medical program.

The CAND is instrumental in positioning naturopathic medicine at the forefront of Canadian health care. It promotes naturopathic medicine to the public, corporations, insurance companies and the federal government. It also facilitates communication within the profession and represents the interests of qualified naturopathic doctors throughout Canada.

The CAND is a not-for-profit professional association. Its membership consists of naturopathic doctors, naturopathic medical students, suppliers of natural health products for professional use, and supporting members. The CAND works collaboratively with all the provincial naturopathic associations in Canada."
So, what does this "national voice of the Canadian naturopathic profession" have to say about the flu vaccine? Read their official position paper on the vaccine here:

Under the heading "Information on the 'Flu' Vaccine" it says:
"Children are at the greatest risk of side effects including: fever, body aches, allergic reactions and potentially a severe paralytic illness."
This statement is an exaggeration, and a cruel one for vaccine anxious parents. Children under 2 years of age are most at risk of flu complications, including death. Far more children die from flu than from vaccination. To discourage vaccination is unethical. The paralytic reaction to the vaccine occurs in no more than one out of one million vaccinated persons, and can occur when contracting the flu 'naturally'.

Also stated in the position paper under the heading "Reported concerns and contraindications to the flu vaccine":
"Thimerosal, a mercury-containing compound, is commonly used as a preservative in flu vaccines."
This is an alarming statement for vaccine anxious parents to read, when no further explanation is provided. Yes, there is mercury in the vaccine. It is there to keep dangerous microbes from growing in the vaccine. The amount is less than what your child would receive from eating a tuna sandwich. I'd give my child a tuna sandwich once per year if it would increase their chance of seeing their next birthday. I am willing to risk the mercury to keep my child from feeling miserable for a week or more, hospitalized, or dying. Once a year I have a lobster feast, a moderate mercury food, and I really go to town with that lobster feast. It's once a year, and I don't bat an eyelash, so why on earth would I worry about the flu shot over a wee bit of mercury?

Under the heading "Points to consider before making a decision on flu prevention":
"Vaccinations prevent the body from naturally responding to external pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Individuals who regularly maintain a strong healthy immune system will protect themselves from any adverse effects of the flu, will build permanent immunity and will decrease the potential for developing unknown side effects from long term exposure to vaccinations."
Once again this position paper paints an inaccurate picture of the flu and the vaccine. Young healthy adults are hit hard by H1N1. Hospitalized individuals are not all people with compromised immune systems. Telling readers that maintaining a healthy immune system will protect them from adverse effects of the flu, in my view, is fraudulent. Printing a line that reads "....potential for developing unknown side effects from long term exposure to vaccination" will undoubtably feed the anxiety of parents worried about vaccine exposure.

In the last paragraph of page 2, you will find:
"The flu vaccination was developed by the allopathic health care system to decrease the risk of contracting the influenza virus. However, the best way of preventing any flu or complications from any flu is through prevention. The main focus of prevention needs to be on daily healthy habits that ensure an optimum immune system and overall health. A strong immune system is the most effective prevention strategy against the flu or any other virus. If you have additional questions or concerns, please discuss these with your naturopathic doctor or other health practitioner."
The flu vaccine was developed because flu prevention without a vaccine wasn't going well. Darn those allopathic medical professionals for interfering by creating something that saves people's lives. I agree that a healthy diet and exercise lower a person's risk of developing diseases like cancer and heart disease, but they don't do a whole lot for protecting that same person from contracting a virus they aren't immune to. If I eat my kale chips, go for a run, and then someone with the flu sneezes in my face on the way home, guess what? I've got the flu. My 3 year old said it well when she was sick with a sore throat recently. She said grumpily, "[my] throat is sore, but I ate my carrots!!". Flu prevention without a vaccine can only go so far.

That last line of page 2 worries me greatly:
"If you have additional questions or concerns, please discuss these with your naturopathic doctor or other health practitioner"
The CAND, whether directly or indirectly, is suggesting with that statement that your naturopathic doctor should be your first point of contact for medical information on the flu. Given the number of inaccurate points in this position paper, that is scary. A vaccine anxious person is not going to read this position paper and feel at ease about vaccines.