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  • Writer's pictureDR.FADI ALASS

Are vaccinations BAD?

Updated: Apr 20

Imagine you don't have the knowledge about a wild animal living in the woods a few yards next to your fence. If this animal ever attacks you, you won’t know how to defeat it because you're not equipped. Hopefully, you survived that attack, now you are prepared and know what this animal looks like, how it attacks, the harm it can cause, and its weaknesses. You now know how to stop this animal if it attacked you again. And the damage is incomparably minimal this time.

Viruses and bacteria have occupied Earth since the beginning of life. If they get over our immune barriers they will cause damage to our body in different ways. During infection, they will also spread to people around you. If your body is not prepared to defend itself and attack back, the damage will likely be huge and contagiousness high. Every unprepared individual that is going to be infected will spread it to more people around, and so with time, progressively more people will get infected in a short time. This is the basis for what is known as endemics (specific geographic areas) that may progress to pandemics (geographically global). With time, those who survive this infection will build weapons against it, and with or without residual damage, the infection will clear, and they will be able to fight the same germ if infected in the future. This is called "Natural Immunity". Natural immunity can be long-lasting or short-lasting. In the process of building natural immunity, millions of people may die, and severe residual damage may affect survivors.

Vaccinations are killed, or weakened viruses and bacteria, or non-living parts of viruses and bacteria that we expose our immune system to, so they will not cause significant damage, and will not significantly replicate so they will not widely infect others. Our immune system learns well about these germs, builds weapons, and trains armies to specifically and immediately respond to these germs if we are exposed again.

This is known as "active immunity".

Some vaccinations cause longer-lasting immunity and we only need to receive the vaccination twice while others may cause short-term immunity so we need to be vaccinated more often. Some are specific for an age group while others need to be given for life. Some are seasonal, others are not. Some are given intramuscularly while others are administered under the skin,  by mouth, or through the nose. Different routes generated different styles of immunity.

Vaccinations are prepared in labs and provided in sterile vials for injection. To keep the vaccine effective and sterile, other materials are added, and every ingredient serves a purpose. They can be stabilizers to keep the vaccine effective after manufacturing,  adjuvants to boost our immune response,  inactivating ingredients to kill viruses or inactivate toxins, residual cell culture materials that are used to grow the virus or bacteria, antibiotics to prevent contamination by bacteria during manufacturing, or preservative to prevent contamination after manufacturing.  These ingredients are kept to a minimum that serves the purpose effectively.

Vaccination was practiced first in The Ottoman Empire and first brought to Europe in 1721 by Mary Wortley Montagu who brought the practice of inoculation against smallpox from Turkey. In 1796, Edward Jenner, an English physician, performed the first official vaccination of smallpox in Europe, inoculating 8-year-old James Phipps with bovine cowpox, preventing human smallpox when he was intentionally exposed two months later. Despite what history says, the same practice principle has been practiced much earlier in human history by bringing kids near sick individuals, for example at the end of a chickenpox infection or with mild sickness hoping for a mild sickness or to prevent severe infection in the future. Unfortunately, a severe infection can't be prevented when exposed to wild, live virus. In 1872, Luis Pasteur created the first lab-produced vaccine.

Over the years, people learned a lot. Vaccinations have become more effective and much safer. Nowadays, pandemics like the Spanish Flu (which killed an estimated 50 million people between 1918 and 1919), fatal suffocation with infections like diphtheria, debilitating infections like polio and smallpox, meningitis, deafness, pneumonia, etc are rarely heard of. Thanks to vaccinations, infections like smallpox and cattle plague are eradicated, while others are eliminated like polio, measles, tetanus, flu, hepatitis B, mumps, and chickenpox.

While vaccinations proved to be effective, side effects are expected when we are inoculated with foreign material. Most of these side effects result from our immune response and indicate effectiveness (like fever and body aches). Some are related to local reactions (like swelling and tenderness). More serious side effects are increasingly rare in modern vaccinations and the rarity doesn't justify avoidance of vaccinations. While many reputable studies proved safety, different vaccines are still observed for reported side effects and studied. There is no scientifically proven correlation between vaccinations and autism or any other developmental delays.

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