Monday, April 1, 2013

Grr! A Manufactured Medical Neccessity

I'm not questioning the safety of vaccines. In fact, I'm willing to say that for vast majority of Americans, the innovation of vaccinations has improved our quality of life and lowered the childhood mortality rate.

What I do question is the necessity of some vaccines. Where will a newborn get an STD like Hepatitus B? Or about that more recent one for the human papilla virus? The commercials are full of lovely, vivacious young women and teenage girls, as if to say receiving this shot will make you beautiful (I forget what exactly the commercials say... some low information sound bites about preventing cancer).

The one I have the biggest problem with is the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. It's positively an outrage.

Among other complications, there is a risk of death associated with chickenpox; but it's small. Annually there are 4 million cases of chickenpox reported, with 4,000 to 9,000 hospitalizations, and 100 deaths. To put that in easier numbers to digest that is 0.1% to 0.02% hospitalized and 0.0025% apparently killed by the disease. The larger half of "death by chicken pox" cases are adults (55%), so the chances of a child dying of chicken pox is approximately 0.002%. Wow. That's a seriously underwhelming mortality rate. It leaves to question whether the chickenpox virus was the sole cause of death or not.

Now for the more important numbers. Adults make up only 5% of the four million annual reported cases of chickenpox. That's two hundred thousand cases. So at the rate of 55 adult chickenpox patients dying per year out of two hundred thousand, that's a mortality rate of... uh... 0.03% A small, but significantly higher risk factor, and one that makes it more clear that chickenpox was involved.

This image was lifted from UMHS Newsroom
Thanks to laws that require most children attending school to take the varicella vaccine, childhood chickenpox is rare. Good for kids, bad for adults. If chickenpox were still commonplace in children, I wouldn't bother with the vaccine, just let them have it and get it over with.  However, childhood chickenpox is now almost unheard of, and they have to have the illness or the vaccine by 13 years, or their mortality risk becomes much higher.

Modern medicine has manufactured a permanent medical necessity. Thanks a lot. At least my kids have a few years to find the endangered species before I have to give them the shot.


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