Vaccination debate continues in Vancouver
A Vancouver group is hosting a “summit” to publicize what its founder considers to be the importance of natural human immunity over vaccines.
Vaccine Summit Vancouver 2013 on Tuesday (March 12) at SFU Harbour Centre promises—according to the Vaccine Resistance Movement website—to hear testimonies from parents who believe that their children have been injured by inoculations, as well as presentations by unnamed “researchers” and “experts”.
The symposium follows the publication last month in the British Medical Journal of a study that established a “causal association” between the 2009 H1N1 flu shot Pandemrix and an increased risk of the sleeping disorder narcolepsy among children in England. Last year, B.C. health workers refused to comply with the mandatory flu vaccination ordered on them by the provincial government.
For VRM founder and event organizer Joel Lord, the stand taken by health workers’ unions was a “very important precedent”.
“That is a big indication that they’re aware of the danger behind these shots and feel it’s necessary to safeguard their natural immunity,” Lord told the Georgia Straight in an interview at an East Vancouver coffee shop.
Lord related that his concerns about vaccines started a few years ago when his young daughter took the Gardasil vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause cervical and other cancers.
“She has had a litany of food allergies that sprung up after having gotten the shot,” he said. “But, again, it’s the hidden dangers that I’m concerned about.”
Lord’s VRM website states that the organization is “grass roots” and “non-profit” and accepts donations. In an article on the site, Lord uses words such as malfeasance, fraud, deception, conned, and failure to describe the vaccine and pharmaceutical industry.
Last year, UBC neuroscientist Chris Shaw coauthored a paper suggesting that HPV vaccines containing antigens present in Gardasil “pose an inherent risk for triggering potentially fatal autoimmune” reactions.
In 2011, Shaw cowrote another study indicating that aluminum adjuvants have a “potential to induce serious immunological disorders”, including “long-term brain inflammation”. (Adjuvants are substances used in some vaccines to boost the human body’s immune system to react strongly to the vaccine.)
Dr. Monika Naus, medical director of immunization programs and vaccine-preventable diseases at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, maintains that vaccines have “an excellent safety record”.
Naus, who is an associate professor at UBC’s school of population and public health, recalled that the last time a vaccine was withdrawn in Canada was more than 20 years ago. That was Trivirix, a measles, mumps, and rubella shot associated with mumps meningitis in about one out of 60,000 recipients, she told the Straight.
When asked about events like the March 12 antivaccine summit, Naus replied: “A lot of it is uninformed and can jeopardize the health of the population. Over a number of years, we’ve certainly seen a drop in immunization uptake in the province.”
As an example, she mentioned that only about two-thirds of children in B.C. are fully vaccinated with all of the recommended shots by the time they reach their second birthday.
A report released by the B.C. Ministry of Health in January states that between 2007 and 2011, seasonal-flu vaccine coverage for 12- to 64-year-old people with high-risk medical conditions was about 40 percent. For seniors, starting at age 65, it was 59 percent.
The paper also points out that although the proportion of kindergarten students who were up-to-date with their diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and polio booster shots in 2010 and 2011 was pegged at 77 percent and 76 percent, respectively, the rate has now increased to 80 percent. “Anti-immunization sentiments remain one of the biggest barriers to increasing coverage rates in B.C.’s immunization program,” the report notes.
Naus added: “Another factor is that—in general, and probably more in this province than elsewhere—people are into organic, and they think that drinking orange juice and exercising and getting sleep at night are going to give them the kind of immunity that vaccines could. But that’s, of course, not true.”