Friday, May 16, 2008

Vaccinations, Book Summary and Commentary

Sorry I took so long. Before anything I have exciting news to share with everyone. For those of you who still don't know I am currently pregnant with my second:) Please keep our little growing family in your prayers.
For some reason I get nauseous when I sit in front of the screen for long, so it's been challenging entering posts as often as I used to, so bear with me.

Second, I recently sent a group email about this new book I bought that discusses Vaccinations, and I got a lot of attention regarding the topic.

So without further a due, today I am Summarizing the introduction and first chapter of the book.

The book I am reviewing is : Vaccinations, a thoughtful parents guide( How to make safe, sensible decisions about the risks, benefits, and alternatives) By Aviva Jill Romm.
I chose this particular book after researching a couple of sources to buy the best book currently in the market that discusses the topic in an objective informed way.
My decision was greatly based on book reviews and finally Peggy O'Mara's review( publisher of mothering magazine) "The best book I've seen on the subject. Its commonsense, nonhysterical approach assures legitimate informed consent."

First a note about the author, Aviva Jill Romm .
It's important to know the background of the author of any book, to know where he/she is coming from, their inclinations and the like. Aviva Jill Romm is a Midwife, herbalist, and mother of four, she's also the executive director of the American Herbalist Guild.
She lives with her Family in Georgia.


Vaccines were controversial from the start from as early as the first half of the nineteenth century. In England there was horror of Injecting "filthy material" into humans to prevent disease.
Then vaccines campaigns gained public acceptance for the remaining of the twentieth century. The new millennium brings about new concerns about vaccine safety from professionals and parents of vaccine injured children. The national childhood vaccine injury act of 1986 was brought about by Barbara Loe Fisher, mother of a vaccine injured child.
The matter has turned into an emotional debate from both vaccine advocates and opponents, turning into a hysterical unclear argument on both sides.
This is increased by political forces making it very difficult for those who are unwilling to conform to vaccinations. Like having litigations and school regulations against parents and unvaccinated children.
The Author argues, that being a midwife and a health care provider she's a staunch supporter of
public health measures, she has seen what disease can do to the human body, and she knows that healthy living and alternative medicine is not always sufficient. Nonetheless there should also be individual freedom in health care, "particularly when it comes to injecting the body with substances that are known to cause adverse reaction and that may cause long term chronic disorders."
Her approach through out the book is find balance and help parents find an informed choice. She also goes further to providing the reader with options for promoting optimal child health through nutrition, hygiene, common sense, stress management, and herbal medicine, whether or not one chooses to vaccinate.

Chapter One: A Curious History
This chapter Like it's title gives a quick history of how vaccines started, mainly looking at it through the small pox disease.

In the fifth century a plague in Greece eliminated nearly 1/4 of the population. The people that survived the infections lived never again to be infected by the disease. Current vaccine practices are built upon the knowledge that a person who survives an exposure is protected against that disease.
The chapter goes about talking about the history of the small pox disease and the early attempts of inoculation by taking scabs and introducing them to healthy individuals, to protect them against the disease by exposure. The early attempts were documented by the Chinese.
Among these methods was taking 20 to 30 old day scabs from mild cases that had a few pustules, drying them, pulverize them with plants then blowing them in the nostrils of those net yet ill. Different methods based on the same idea were used in China, the middle east and India. Then later in Constantinople by cutting a cross in the flesh and applying smallpox exudate to the fresh wound.

Small pox was brought to the west from Africa, Asia and the middle east by crusaders and from slave ships brought to America. it flourished with unhygienic, overcrowded cities, and poor living conditions.

The concept of Immunity from naturally occurring disease was recognized, families understood the value of letting the disease run its course through the family so they would be protected against the next epidemic.

Jenner an English physician's work arose from this concept in the 1700's( considered as the father of Vaccines).
He came across a young farmer and cattle breeder who became immune to smallpox after contracting it from his cattle.He intentionally inoculated his wife and two young children with cowpox to protect them from small pox epidemics. The family was immune for 15 years.
This is where the term vaccine came from which is derived from "vacca" the Latin word for "cow". Jenner attempted to prove his theory of the cow pox vaccine by eposing an 8 year old with the cow pox then forty eight days later injecting small pox to the same boy.

he had some successful experiments but later his claims were disputed and it was found that some cases still contracted small pox after receiving the vaccine, he tried several other methods which were all a failure.
Later another esteemed physician published the benefits of vaccines which led to the endorsement of Jenner and his vaccines by the parliament. The public readily accepted it and the practice became common through out Europe to give vaccines to all infants. However there were numerous cases that still contracted the disease after getting vaccinated.
Then the death rate rose with the vaccinated and the unvaccinated alike, so multiple vaccination(given at once) solutions were proposed. Revaccination was also suggested.
In the early 1800's compulsory mass vaccination was introduced ( because vaccinated patients easily transmitted the disease to others).

The rest of the chapter gives numerous statistics of continued epidemics even after the introduction of mass vaccinations.

To be continued...

1 comment:

Rahma said...

Thank you so much for posting this. It's really interesting. You also made me curious about the kid stress-management tips she discusses. If you have time please let me know.