Safety (Is It Free of Harm?)
Have you ever wondered why you get a reminder every year to
revaccinate your pet when your physician never prompts you to
do the same for your family or yourself? I'd like you to question
the notion that we need this frequent vaccinating, and go a step
further and listen to some evidence that this practice may actually
be harmful to our four-footed friends.
If someone, even someone in a white coat, suggests that you
take a drug or get injected with some substance, two logical
questions ought to immediately arise in your mind:
this beneficial to me (or does this work as intended)?
If we ask these two questions about annual revaccination of
animals, and we ask the right people, we'll get a negative answer
to both. We've already covered the first question in Part I:
efficacy of annual revaccination is clearly lacking according
to immunologists. A more important question is the safety issue,
as a growing body of evidence mounts showing a correlation between
vaccinations and chronic disease.
diseases have many names, including arthritis, hypo- or hyperthyroidism,
allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease,
repeated ear infections, skin disease, heart disease, diabetes,
kidney failure, and cancer. What makes them nightmarish is that
they linger, they are not easily cured, and they are slowly,
progressively degenerative, meaning the patient declines in health
over the time they are present. The best that conventional medicine
can do with chronic disease is to control symptoms through suppressive
therapies. This is fraught with problems, including side effects
from the drugs, and apparently "new," more serious
diseases arising from the continued course of suppression. So,
our greatest goal as animal caretakers should be to prevent chronic
disease in the first place.
The onset of chronic disease after vaccination is often delayed,
coming about 1-2 months afterwards. This is not close enough
for conventional medical minds to appreciate the correlation,
but it's there nonetheless. The evidence of this comes from both
anecdotal sources and research studies.
veterinarian has, for the last 10-12 years, asked those clients
him with an itchy, allergic dog, "When
did this itchiness begin?" The response is striking. Some
75% remember clearly: it began within 1-2 months of the "puppy
shots." Anecdotal evidence in human medicine is pointing
to a cause and effect relationship between childhood vaccines
and autism. There has been a marked increase in incidence of
this devastating disease that parallels the increased number
of vaccinations now required of children. The interval between
vaccination and disease? About one month.
In a research
study published in 1996, the authors looked at a deadly canine
of a confused immune system. Known as
immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA), it means the dogs' immune
systems attacked their own red blood cells as if they were foreign.
Needless to say, this is life-challenging and the death rate
is high, as one cannot live long without the oxygen-carrying
red blood cells. In the study, 58 dogs with the illness, presenting
at a veterinary teaching hospital over a two year period, were
compared to a control group presenting for other problems over
the same time. The question was asked, "Did anything precede
the onset of IMHA?" Lo and behold, a highly statistically
significant group of the sick dogs had been vaccinated with the
usual yearly vaccines one month earlier. It was so significant
that the authors entitled their paper, "Vaccine-Associated
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia in the Dog." (Duval and
Giger, J Vet Intern Med 1996;10:290-295)
In cats, researchers have known for the last ten years about
the correlation between vaccines and a malignant tumor. This
particular tumor arises where the vaccines are commonly given,
in the area of loose skin at the back of the neck, or in the
back of the hind leg. It appears to be uniformly fatal, even
with extensive surgery. And it has been clearly associated with
two particular vaccines, rabies and feline leukemia. Finally,
in 2000, recognizing the clear cause and effect relationship
between vaccination and this cancer, the disease was renamed
by the research community. It is now officially called Vaccine-Associated
In the early
days of homeopathic veterinary practice, a number of us would
something we would later call the "vaccinosis
phenomenon." It was instructive to us as to just how significant
an impact vaccinations had had on our animal patients. We would
be presented with a chronically ill animal, and after carefully
choosing and giving the appropriate homeopathic remedy, we'd
be met with disappointing results. A second or third prescription
would be made with similar dismal responses from the patient.
Finally, we'd go back to the owner and ask about vaccinations.
Inevitably the patient was vaccinated. "Whenever we got
the reminder postcard, we went in for the shots." Then we
would reanalyze the case in light of this knowledge, and look
at remedies that were particularly noted to have been applicable
in illness that arose after vaccination. When we'd prescribe
again with a "vaccinosis" remedy, the results were
often startling. Not only would the disease symptoms lessen by
50% or more, but the patient would start acting more normally.
The dog who was hyperactive would settle down and pay attention,
the angry cat would become a lover again, or the animal terrified
of visitors would come out and say hello. The owners were so
impressed with the changes that they would often call before
the next appointment to tell us how great things were going!
The inference we have made from this experience, repeated over
and over in different parts of the country in different practitioners'
hands, is simple: vaccinations are responsible for a significant
portion of the illness we see in the patients with chronic disease.
profession slowly continues to evaluate this practice of vaccinating
In 2000, the American Association
of Feline Practitioners came out with an official statement against
annual vaccination in the cat. They based this position on research
from Cornell where kittens, vaccinated once, measured seven years
later still showing evidence of immunity from those vaccines.
Quite frankly though, I don¹t think we can afford to wait
for the whole profession to catch up. Our animals are at risk
to become chronically ill if we continue this baseless practice
of annual revaccination. And, years from now when we look back
incredulously at how such a practice was ever thought to be wise,
wouldn't it be nice to be able to smile and pat your healthy
twenty-something pet and say, "We knew. We stopped. That's
why you're still here."
Read Part I