Friday, August 12, 2011

Letter to the Missionary Medical Department, Part 4 of 5

  • Relevance of Vaccination for Certain Diseases

According to the Utah Department of Health’s website, all missionaries are required to have a hepatitis B shot. Hepatitis B is spread by contact with blood and bodily fluids such as semen. According to Mayo Clinic’s website, the greatest risk factors for hepatitis B are working with human blood, promiscuous sexual activity, and sharing needles during intravenous drug use. Since missionaries typically won’t be required to participate in promiscuous sex or shoot up on street drugs as part of their missions, the chances of contracting hepatitis B are extremely low. Those missionaries going to parts of the world where hepatitis B is prevalent may wish to receive the vaccine, but there are risks involved with the vaccine as well, and the decision should be left to the individual.
On March 1, 1999, Dr. Phillip Incao M.D. testified before the Ohio House of Representatives that hepatitis B vaccination did more harm than good and that its requirement to enter public school in the state of Ohio should be revoked. He explained that between July 1990 and the end of 1998 there had been 17,497 cases of injuries, hospitalizations and deaths related to the hepatitis B vaccine reported to VAERS. 146 of these cases were deaths of people who had received the hepatitis B vaccine alone, without any other other shots. (Cave 118-119) Dr. Incao also cited three controlled studies comparing vaccinated children to unvaccinated children in England and New Zealand which showed that the vaccinated children had significantly more asthma, ear infections, hospitalizations and inflammatory bowel disease than their unvaccinated cohorts and also several reports in international medical literature, some dating back to 1987, which show that the hepatitis B vaccination causes chronic autoimmune and neurological disease in children and adults. (28) Interestingly enough, my brother developed a series of ear infections after receiving the requisite vaccinations for his mission. Before that, he had not had an ear infection since childhood, when he received the recommended schedule of vaccinations.
    The Utah Department of Health also states that all missionaries should receive an MMR shot as well. Rubella is a relatively mild disease, unless it is contracted by a pregnant woman during her first trimester. In that case it can sometimes cause birth defects and miscarriage. Doctors such as Otto Sieber, Vincent Fulginiti, Steven Schoenbaum and their colleagues found through their research that the most effective way to prevent rubella in pregnant women through vaccination was to vaccinate adolescent girls and young women who did not have natural immunity and planned to become pregnant sometime in the future. (Neustaedter 156).
Since pregnant women are not permitted to serve full-time proselyting or service missions, and sisters who are preparing to serve missions will have some time before they marry and become mothers, rubella poses little immediate threat to sister missionaries and vaccinating other people (such as men and children) to prevent spread of the disease is less effective. Some sisters may decide they want the vaccine, but this should be a matter of individual choice since acute and chronic arthritis have been shown to afflict both rubella vaccine recipients and a homeopathic preparation safe for pregnant women is available. The Swartz study showed that women in their mid-twenties to thirties had the highest rates of joint pain and arthritis following vaccination, though arthritis was frequently seen in teenage girls and women in their early twenties. (29) The 1972 Weibel study replicated these findings. (30)  As for the elders, since pregnancy is an impossibility for them, and it is inefficient to vaccinate them to prevent the spread of rubella, there seems to be little reason for them to require a rubella vaccine for them. The same is true for sisters who are past child-bearing age.
    The Utah Health department states that missionaries need a hepatitis A vaccine, however a 1999 study by the CDC showed that about a third of the US population has serologic evidence of prior Hepatitis A infection, so for many American missionaries, hepatitis A vaccination may not be necessary. (Neustaedter 164).
    Missionaries are also required to receive a tetanus shot. Tetanus is an extremely rare disease in developed countries. Tetanus can only be caused by deep punctures and serious wounds that are not well taken care of, this is true even in less developed areas of the world. For instances where a wound may put an individual at risk for contracting the disease, a Tetanus Immunoglobulin (TIG) shot is available that directly attacks the circulating bacteria if given within a few days of injury. The tetanus toxoid (vaccine) will not confer immunity in a previously vulnerable person until the second dose of the series is given, 1 to 2 months after the first. (Neustaedter 262)

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