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Smallpox Vaccination: If the Choice is Left to You, What Will You Decide by Debra Otis
With recent talk about smallpox, terrorism and vaccination programs, I was inspired to do some research, present a summary and offer an alternative viewpoint. Although this article is rather long, I hope you will bear with me until the end, where the rare truth of this matter is revealed.
History and Common Misconceptions
Smallpox, or variola virus, is considered by many doctors to be one of the most dangerous pathogens known to man. The United States has not had any cases since 1949 and stopped giving routine vaccinations for it in 1972. The last recorded case in the world was in Somalia in 1977. Currently there are no proven antiviral agents effective for the treatment of smallpox. (There are alternatives, however. Please read on.)
The smallpox vaccine is made from a live virus related to the one that causes smallpox. Before 1972, life-threatening complications among those who received their first smallpox vaccination occurred at a rate of between 15 and 52 per million. That number included one to two deaths.
Today, decades later, misconceptions are rampant. According to a survey done by the Harvard School of Public Health published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January 2003, many Americans believe that smallpox still occurs naturally throughout the world and can be cured. About 65% said they would like to be vaccinated. However, that percentage drastically declined if people knew that their doctors shunned the vaccine. Twenty-five percent thought they could die from the vaccination.
After thirty years, smallpox vaccinations are now mandatory for hundreds of thousands of US military personnel and recommended for another half million emergency rooms staff and special smallpox response teams.
The smallpox vaccine is made of a live virus called vaccinia. Other vaccinations are from dead viruses. Whats interesting is that the current vaccine dates back to the 1950s and has been diluted by a factor of five. Its use poses a risk of serious complications, even death. A new vaccine is now in preparation.
New York Times Nonfiction Bestseller Both Alerts and Alarms
Since the 1994 publication of The Hot Zone, about a near disaster in the US with the accidental important of the deadly Ebola virus, Richard Preston has been an up-front, in-your-face writer of what doesnt want to be written about. So convincing was The Hot Zone that, after reading it, then-president Bill Clinton assembled specialists and government leaders to discuss its implications. He then increased his federal budget proposal to consider defenses against biological weapons.
In Prestons newest book, The Demon in the Freezer, A True Story, the spotlight shifts to smallpox. The demon in the freezer'' refers to the two known stockpiles of the virus. Research on the virus is being conducted at both sites, and is tightly restricted by the World Health Organization. One is at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. The other in Siberia is ominously named the Vector Laboratory. Portions of their inventory remains unaccounted for since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Intelligence experts believe Iraq and North Korea also have supplies.
Preston passionately portrays a predicament many dont even want to think aboutinfectious agents as potential weapons of terror. His arguments pinpoint the conundrum of eradication. Does having stockpiles aid and abet terrorism? Or does it provide a base for the production of safer vaccine and treatments? And, would a vaccine even be effective against a 21st-century biologically-engineered smallpox virus?
Preston educates us by journaling both an unpublished cooperative project undertaken by the CDC and Army scientists, as well as the peer-reviewed work of Australia researchers on mouse pox and the interleukin-4 gene that controls immune responses.
Discoveries in molecular biology can be like Pandoras boxan array of evil. But, perhaps, in the end, there is also a ray of hope. We can acknowledge, fear or celebrate the advances of the scientific frontier. Butunquestionablywe cannot ignore it.
As Preston sadly admits in closing: All I knew was that the dream of total eradication had failed
The virus's last strategy for survival was to bewitch its host and become a source of power. We could eradicate smallpox from nature, but we could not uproot the virus from the human heart."
The official World Health Organization Report on the eradication of smallpox asserts that the disease usually spreads "rather slowly" and that its victims rarely infect even five other people. The cycle of transmission can be broken by quarantining the victims and their families and vaccinating those nearby.
According to the CDC, vaccination within three days of exposure to smallpox will prevent or significantly lessen the severity of symptoms in most people. Vaccination four to seven days after exposure offers some protection from disease or may reduce disease severity. The smallpox vaccine provides high-level immunity from smallpox for three to five years, with decreasing immunity thereafter.
Even so, there is widespread agreement within the White House on the first stage of vaccinations. The second stage is likely to cover other health care workers and first responders, totaling as many as ten million people. The major question being debated is how fast to proceed in offering the shot to the general public. As they begin vaccinating, federal and state authorities will mount a pro-vaccination education campaign.
In the end, each person will be forced to consider the same questions top federal officials have been struggling with for months, said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, state health officer for Louisiana. It boils down to an individual perception,'' he said. Is this risk real or not?
Recent Vaccination Trials
In recent trials of the vaccine on two hundred healthy young volunteers, about 40 to 50 percent had substantial local reactions, 30 percent felt impaired in their daily activities, and about five percent took time off from work or studies. None of the1500 college-aged volunteers died or suffered serious consequences.
However, at Baylor University, as well as at several other clinics around the US, researchers were startled at the intensity of the reactions. Nearly 38% experienced high fevers. Several were put on antibiotics because physicians worried that their blisters signaled a bacterial infection.
At the University of Rochester Medical Center, researcher John Treanor witnessed reactions ranging from a small rash to inflammation the size of a grapefruit. Rashes spread to other parts of the body in about five percent of the participants.
"The reactions we are seeing are totally out of line with today's vaccine experience and absolutely in line with historical experience," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "In the thirty years since we had routine vaccination, the public's tolerance level has gone way down.
In fact, at the CDC, where the level of expertise is high, smallpox vaccinations were briefly halted when ten people had serious enough reactions to begin antibiotics, said Walter Orenstein, director of the CDC's National Immunization Program.
"The clinic physician couldn't decide if this was a normal, primary exuberant take or a bacterial infection," he said. He added that swollen, itchy, red arms were routine.
Even for experts such as Dr. Kathy Edwards, the Vanderbilt University physician overseeing the study, the side effects were startling. "I can read all day about it, but seeing it is quite impressive," she said. "The reactions we saw were really quite remarkable." If President Bush moves forward with vaccination, Edwards warned doctors to expect a plethora of unsightly, unfamiliar complications.
"You are going to have to be prepared to see these individuals and to see really bad takes," she told state health officers. "You'll wonder if they are bacterial infections; in some cases the rash will move up the arm and onto the chest. The vaccinee requires a lot of TLC."
A San Diego Veterans Affairs study by Dr. Samuel Bozette estimated about 2.7 deaths per million based on the review of nearly 14,000 articles published in the last hundred years. But the CDC admits that this estimate may be low. There are more people at risk from immune suppression (from cancer and/or chemotherapy, organ transplants, and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS) and eczema or atopic dermatitis. These conditions could disqualify as many as 50 million Americans from vaccination. (See details from the CDC at the end of the article.)
They also note that negative consequences may be less severe than historically noted because of advances in medical care. And, rates may be lower for persons previously vaccinated.
In all states, smallpox vaccination is voluntary.
Here are further details about smallpox from the CDC.
Argument for Selective Vaccination
The November 2002 issue of Science magazine wrote that new computer models of the spread of smallpox indicate that a targeted vaccination approach can be nearly as effective as mass immunization.
Ira Longini Jr., a biostatistician at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta and a co-author of the study said, "When there's residual immunity, targeted vaccination is very competitive with mass vaccination. It can be effective in containing an outbreak."
Dr. M. Elizabeth Halloran, biostatistician and lead author of the study also noted, "It's a dangerous vaccine and it kills people."
University of Michigans smallpox expert Dr. James S. Koopman who worked with the disease in India the 1970s, more remembers the children who died from the vaccine than he does the people who succumbed to the virus.
"To [cause] that kind of really serious complications without knowing that you have a significant risk is unjustified," said Koopman.
Cost of Treatment of Vaccine Reactions
By the way, if you do have a serious reaction, be forewarned that treatments can be very expensive. There is no federal program to cover it. It is also unclear if workers compensation or health insurance would pay for it. And, workers may or may not be covered if they lose work time as a result of the vaccination.
A December 5, 2003 Washington Post editorial noted that the Homeland Security Act went out of its way to protect the vaccine's manufacturers and those administering it from any liability for any resulting injuries or deaths. No provisions were made, however, to compensate individuals who are impaired by it, or their families in the case of death. The rhetorical question was: Who stands to benefit the most from the proposed vaccination program?
I was delighted to have made contact with Dr. Vivian Virginia Vetrano* who presents an alternative view. She holds degrees in Homeopathy, Medicine and Chiropractic. She has graciously given me permission to write about her work.
She believes, as many do, that the body heals itself. When you supply the correct conditions for recovery, healing will be spontaneous.
It is claimed by medical historians that the vaccination process wiped out smallpox throughout the world. However, Dr. Vetrano exposes the truth that compulsory smallpox vaccination was abandoned because more deaths were caused by the vaccinations than there were cases of smallpox. But history gave vaccination the credit for eradication.
And, while history also claims that Edward Jenner "discovered" vaccination, its practice among indigenous peoples has been documented. In fact, vaccination was introduced to England before Jenners time but was discontinued because of its negative effectsincluding the rise of smallpox! Vaccination was discontinued in 1840.
According natural health practitioners, past and present, smallpox is developed mainly by the toxins from fermenting and rotting food in the intestines. This is especially true when the diet is largely animal product and overeating. The organs of elimination then lose normal nerve functioning resulting in an even greater level of toxicity. The overload of these highly-irritating poisons must be eliminated quickly. The body chooses the quickest route: through the skin. The release shows up as eruptions.
Smallpox begins with chills, fever, backache, and vomiting. These are the bodys natural reaction to the elimination of toxins. They are not symptoms to be cured. And curing the symptoms only sublimates them, worsening the condition.
After the fever subsides, the rash appears. This is because the toxins are now out of the system and close to the skinmeaning the patient is on the road to recovery. The toxins cause an elevated rash (pustules) that become vesicles, like a blister, with a dimple. The vesicles may be filled with white blood cells if the individual is extremely toxic. The function of these white blood cells is to destroy the toxins in the vesicles. If cared for properly, the papules would dry up and form scabs that would fall off on their own.
If, however, the patient is treated by the standard Western model, a doctor would prescribe medication supposedly to kill the microbes causing the rash. In effect, the medication further burdens the body in its effort to cleanse itself.
In the past, the treatment was to wrap the skin with gauze soaked with antiseptic solutions of carbolic acid or mercuric chloride, both corrosive. This prevented the drainage of the ruptured lesions causing bacterial contamination. The solutions themselves also caused skin damage. At this point, the body began a second round of fever in attempts to stop the bacterial infection and poisons bound by the gauze. While I wont go into further details, its important to see that it is the interference with the bodys natural defenses that worsens the diseases progression.
Dr. Vetrano explains,
The symptoms thought to be smallpox are symptoms caused by the treatment. They were so yesterday just as they are today and always will be in the future as long as we insist on clinging to the idea that disease is something "caught" and that symptoms must be gotten rid of by unnatural means. As long as we try to eradicate disease with anything, and especially man-made chemicals, we will suffer more than if we merely put up with the symptoms.
She goes on to say that complications would be rare if, in the beginning, hygienic care had been administered. Frequent warm sponge baths would remove the poisons without them evolving into pustules. There would be no pockmarks if the scabs were left to fall off on their own.
Dr. Vetranos recommendation if someone were to come in contact with the disease is to immediately stop eating, go to bed and rest, and drink pure water only when thirsty.
Prevention and Cure: The Rest of the Story
I believe the best prevention and treatment of smallpox comes from using homeopathic remedies. While it is not the place of this article to launch into the discussion of the art and science of homeopathy, a few notes will help the unfamiliar reader.
Homeopathy is natural medicine that helps stimulate the body's own healing forces. Developed by Samuel Hahnemann, a German in the 18th century. The spread of his method is due largely to the effectiveness of treating cholera epidemics. And, its success in treating typhoid, smallpox, influenza and the plague have been well documented. Homeopathic medicine is safe and effective, and does not cause the side effects. It is used both as a cure for illness as well as a prophylactic (preventive). (For further information, see the links at bottom of the article.)
Homeopathic treatment during epidemics requires a slightly different approach than the personal interview that characterizes a standard homeopathic doctors appointment. . Homeopathy has been successful by identifying the predominant symptomatic picture presented by many cases.
In the United States there have been many, many success stories. For example, at the turn of the 20th century, smallpox epidemics in the US were treated by homeopaths using Variolinum as a preventative. Two letters are from 1907.
The effectiveness of the use of homeopathy versus allopathic medicine was contested even when that success was well-documented. They called the use of homeopathics during an epidemic "internal vaccination. Here is a letter vindicating the successful use of homeopathy during a 1940 U.S. smallpox epidemic. Please note that when Dr. Bonnell speaks of internal vaccination, he is talking about taking homoepathic remedies at the time of the epidemic.
As long as vaccinations are voluntary, we have the opportunity to make better choices. I hope this review has been helpful. Please refer to the additional resources and links below.
The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story, Richard Preston, Hardcover, 256 pages, Random House, ISBN#0375508562, $24.95
The Poisoned Needle, Eleanor McBean. 1st edition: October 8, 2002.
NORTH AMERICAN SOCIETY OF HOMEOPATHS
1122 East Pike Street, # 1122
Seattle, WA 98122
Phone: (206) 720-7000
Fax: (208) 248-1942
*Dr. Vivian Virginia Vetrano graduated in l965 from the Texas Chiropractic College, summa cum laude. After working at Dr. Shelton's Health School for several years she went on to study Naturopathy, Homeopathy, and Medicine. In addition to her Chiropractic degree she holds degrees in Homeopathy and Medicine. When she was an undergraduate she studied Radiation Biology at Trinity University, San Antonio and was the first person to make the public aware of the dangers of ionizing radiation through the many articles she authored on this subject.
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