polio paralysis man
 It was around 11:00 in the morning and I was walking with our team of health workers. The Sun was not kind enough that day and still we had to go to this house which was not accessible by road. I love walking, but not at the middle of the day when the blazing heat becomes unbearable. Sherin, one of our most active Junior Public Health Nurse ( J P H N ) was talking about the grandmother of the 3 children living in the house we were about to visit. According to her, the grandmother was an illiterate and highly religious lady with whom one may find it impossible to win a verbal fighting. I was waiting eagerly to meet the old lady so that I can talk to her and make her understand the importance of Vaccination. After about a 10 minute sweaty walk, when we reached the house, we were greeted by an elderly man who seemed to recognise me as the “Doctor”.  He greeted us into the house and offered us a welcome drink, which I finished off in one long sip. After we were all settled, Sherin told the old man that the purpose of our visit was to vaccinate his young grandchildren. There was a minute of silence in the living room before which the old man cleared his throat and simply said, “we are not interested” !

I was not expecting such a response from the old man who was apparently one of my patient at the hospital. I even remember giving a booster dose of Tetanus Toxoid to this same man for an injury which he had sustained about a month ago. For him, TT is a medicine to heal the wound and the vaccination for small kids are totally unnecessary. I tried to convince the man about the benefits of immunizing children, but he was not shaken initially. But when I told him that the vaccines given to the small children were similar in action to the TT injection which he had taken earlier. But before he changed his mind, he had many arguments to make just like most of the “anti vaccinators.”

It will be better if you read the following articles before going into this one, in order to get an insight about Vaccination :

 

 

In this article, we will discuss some of the common excuses and arguments which I have heard from the parents who are against the idea of vaccination.

Are Vaccines Unnatural?

Vaccines are bad for human bodies and they contain the  live worms which causes the infections and diseases. That’s what some half-learned parents believe. But it is not like that. Vaccines are made from killed or live (attenuated) bacterias and viruses which are tested scientifically and titrated in such a manner that they are not capable of making the person diseased. Human beings who have a good immunity seldom become diseased after the entry of various infective agents. They might be infected with the agent causing the disease, but the immune mechanism working in their bodies will not allow the infection to progress to full fledged disease. This can occur even naturally in case of many diseases like Measles, Chicken Pox etc. By vaccination, we are introducing the infective agent in a form which is not capable of producing an illness, but is sufficient to trigger an immune response in the individual which in turn will protect the individual from future illness even if infection occurs. Religious beliefs which label vaccination as “Unnatural” is not true to be honest. It is an artificial procedure just like an artificial pacemaker for the heart diseases.

Can Vaccines cause Seizures and make one Paralysed?

This is another big weapon which parents here in India use against Health Workers in defence of their argument. Some children will have a fever after taking the shot and it can be easily controlled with fever reducing drugs like “Acetaminophen”. Those children who have a history of seizures associated with fever (Febrile Seizure) should be carefully monitored after taking the shot and if fever does develop, appropriate medicines can be given even at home. In addition to medicines, tepid sponging and bathing can also help to reduce fever and prevent the occurrence of seizures.Those children who have known neuronal damages (Like Cerebral Palsy, brain tumours, seizure disorders) should be advised to avoid the “whole” Pertussis component in DPT vaccine and “acellular” Pertussis containing vaccines should be recommended.

Parents who believe that the shot given at the thighs of young children can injure the nerves of the leg and  thus lead to paralysis of the leg are truly misinformed.

Vaccine Associated Paralytic Polio (VAPP) is one of the rarest cause of paralysis produced by a vaccine and it’s incidence is very low. It happens only with Oral Polio Vaccines (live) and that is why Injectable Polio Vaccine (inactivated) are rapidly replacing the former vaccines.

Life threatening side effects of vaccines are very rare. If at all any happens, the benefits of vaccination in all ways outnumbers the risks involved. If it is the fever that the parents are afraid of, I just have one thing to tell them – one day’s fever is curable, but some of the vaccine preventable diseases are not.

A paralysed man
Image courtesy – Wikimedia

 

Why Vaccinate when the Disease has been eliminated already?

This is a relevant doubt among the anti-vaccinators. Our planet has become a small place to live in these days, thanks to the well connected airways and shipways. The infectious agent can cross any geographical border easily and can infect anyone who is vulnerable. For example, Measles was once eliminated from the United States and recently they had an outbreak of Measles. This happened because there were many anti-vaccinators in those areas and the virus was introduced into that community by persons from developing nations where Measles is still at large. By not vaccinating your children, you are compromising the safety of the whole community. India has been declared as a “Polio Free” nation in 2014, but we have to keep the vaccination programmes against Polio running at it’s best because of the threat of importing the virus from our neighbouring countries.

There are few others who believe that good hygiene, proper sanitation, proper healthy food and lifestyle is enough to keep them healthy and vaccines are not required. They are thinking wrong! The above said practices are good enough for a healthy life, but they are not enough to prevent us from the Vaccine Preventable Diseases unless you keep yourselves locked up in your house for the rest of your life!

Are Vaccines Killers?

The World Health Organization and all the Governments in this world, with the United States as the leaders are on a secret mission to eliminate the human population by making vaccines to kill all the newborn babies in this planet and they are doing this to help the “Aliens” from the “AreYouStupid” galaxy. Story to tell all the illiterate people who think differently.

There was an article in a leading Malayalam newspaper about infant deaths and blaming it on vaccines. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) can occur due to many reasons and vaccines which are given to the infants are usually blamed only because of the timing at which they are given. Studies were conducted and it was found that those deaths were not  connected to vaccines in any manner. But these reports went unnoticed as usual.

Final Words

When I had explained about the various benefits of Vaccination to the old man and his family, they suddenly became very cooperative and helped us in Immunizing the 3 unimmunized children in their family. The grandmother (mentioned earlier) was still not fully convinced, it seemed. But the old man’s decision was final. At the end of the day, even though all of us (Health Worker’s Team) had to sweat a little bit, we had succeeded in converting one more family of anti-vaccinators to vaccinators. I hope this article will help you too in making a final decision regarding vaccination for your kids.

 

 

Dr Prasoon

Dr Prasoon

Author at BeingTheDoctor
Dr Prasoon, founder of BeingTheDoctor is a qualified medical practitioner who finds time to write articles on "health" and his "clinical experiences". He is currently engaged in providing primary health care services in rural India. Learn more in the "about" page.
Dr Prasoon
Why Some Parents Hate Vaccination?
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