by on May 14, 2014

in Monthly

A current trend among families who want their children vaccinated, but who are leery of traditional vaccines, is the increased use of homeopathic vaccines.

Homeopathic vaccines, also known as nosodes, are often promoted as a natural alternative to traditional vaccination programs. Clinicians who promote these nosodes—mostly homeopaths and naturopaths—suggest that homeopathic vaccines may even work better and that they are significantly safer. Many of these practitioners sell homeopathic vaccines in their offices
Nosodes are sourced from infected saliva, feces and other natural secretions and later mixed with alcohol. It then gets diluted until it is harmless.

Health Canada has approved close to 150 nosodes for sale in Canada. Yet these products have never been approved as alternatives to vaccines. In fact, last year Health Canada asked that new warning labels be added to homeopathic vaccines. Labels must contain the following warning: “This product is not intended to be an alternative to vaccination” All companies that sell nosodes received warning letters in 2013 that they must comply with new regulations by March 2014.

A Canadian advocacy organization, Bad Science Watch, applauded this decision. Opponents of homeopathic vaccines now claim that Health Canada’s decision will allow consumers to get more accurate information.

Regardless of the above developments, a number of parents continue to opt for homeopathic vaccinations. Some pediatricians have refused caring for these families, explaining that parents who opt for homeopathic vaccines endanger their children. These pediatricians argue that they do not want to partake in further care because families are irresponsible if they continue using these vaccines after having been warned not to do so.

Other pediatricians have opted for education, hoping to convince parents to use the traditional vaccine schedule. I have honored the wishes of a number of parents who asked me to check their child’s immunity following the use of nosodes; in 100% of the cases objective blood tests showed a lack of appropriate immunity.

Parents who get blood test results back showing that homeopathic vaccines have failed to provide sufficient immunity often leave my office disappointed. My analogy which consistently resonates well with most of these parents is that the use of nosodes is a bit like closing the front door of your house but leaving the door unlocked, thus giving a false sense of security.

Last year Britain experienced a deadly outbreak of measles and this prompted the British Homeopathic Association to issue a statement acknowledging that traditional vaccines are the only way to reduce the transmission of measles.

The education of families and doctors regarding vaccine risks remain fraud with controversies. Dr Bob Sears, a well-respected California pediatrician, has attempted to settle for a compromised version of vaccination—essentially delaying some vaccines. He is the author of The Vaccine Book, a book that has become popular with parents who want to vaccinate their children but on their own terms (See www.askdrsears.com) At a recent meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a motion was passed decrying the use of non-standard vaccine schedules. Pediatricians who vilified Dr Sears at this meeting received a protracted and enthusiastic applause.

The Vaccine Education Center based out of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia runs a superb website for families who want to learn more about vaccine safety. It also offers a free Vaccine Mobile App for iPhone and Android devices. (See www.chop.edu/service/vaccine-education-center/home.html)

In the official journal of the AAP this month a research group based at Dartmouth College, New Haven, published very important data regarding effective messages in vaccine promotion. The authors concluded that current public health communications about vaccines may not be effective. They added that for some parents, efforts to convince them to vaccinate their children may actually increase misperceptions, or reduce vaccine intention. Attempts to correct false claims about vaccines may be especially likely to be counterproductive.

What do doctors do when it comes to vaccinating their own children? A Swiss study looked at how physicians immunize their own children. The study published in Pediatrics Vol 116, No 5, November 2005, showed that the majority of pediatricians followed the current vaccination recommendations. The study did however reveal that a significant proportion of non-pediatricians declined or delayed the immunization of their own children with combination vaccines, citing fears of immune overload.( This fear has been shown to be untrue by the Vaccine Education Center and other recent researchers)

Pro-vaccine messaging may have failed thus far and recent outbreaks of measles in various parts of North America may confirm this impression. This fact will continue to frustrate a number of doctors who fail to acknowledge parental concerns, and insist on using the law in future to mandate vaccination.

In addition to the Vaccine Education Center, I recommend the resources provided by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to concerned families (See www.vaccinesafety.edu/)

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