Sometime, somewhere medicine decided it could best Mother Nature and vaccinations for kids were born.
Originally, diseases like polio and smallpox were commendable diseases to eradicate. But the god complex kicked in from there. Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, “cervical cancer,” the flu, rotavirus, pertussis…the list is now quite long. On the list is the vaccination for Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacteria that causes nasty things like pneumonia, ear infections and meningitis and is responsible for tens of thousands of childhood deaths in the developed world (the vast majority of the deaths occur in undeveloped countries and in children with compromised immune systems).
This is a serious disease and not something to sneer at. Personally, in my family, I would make choices to strengthen our immune systems so that we can fight off infections the way Mother Nature designed us to. The details of this are beyond the scope of this post but you can bet they involve dietary choices, exercise and supplementation.
For mainstream medicine, however, we have the Prevnar vaccination. To heck with all that “healthy lifestyles” junk.
In 2000, Prevnar was introduced by Wyeth and rapidly rose to one of the company’s top revenue sources. Here’s the problem: S. pneumoniae actually contains upwards of 90 different serotypes. I describe serotypes as cousins in the same family. The original Prevnar vaccination only protected against 7 of the cousins, although these were the cousins that were present in some 90% of infections.
In walks Mother Nature.
Much like a giant Wac-a-Mole game, when you smack down some of the cousins, the others rise up. What have we seen since the introduction of the Prevnar vaccine?
- Serious lung infections (empyema) caused by this bacteria are on the rise.
- Other cousins (serotypes) of the bacteria have risen up. These cause more severe infections and are resistant to antibiotics.
- The rates of disease in adults has climbed. Adults are now getting infected in new, unknown ways (not just from their kids).
You get the point. Mother Nature is winning AND she’s pissed off that we even tried.
But don’t worry, because in 2010 Wyeth came riding in on a white horse called Prevnar 13. This one now contained vaccinations for 13 of the cousins (instead of just 7). Everyone was now told they needed new vaccinations with Prevnar 13 (can you say, “financial boon?”).
We are slow learners.
This particular study takes a look at what has happened in the few years since the introduction of the Prevnar 13 and the story isn’t good. Here’s the details from a study down in Massachusetts on reports to the state public health system:
- There were 168 cases before Prevnar 13 was introduced (looking at 2007-2009) and 85 after in children 5 years of age or younger.
- After more kids were hospitalized (57.6% vs 50.6%).
- After more kids who got the infections had other conditions (23.5% vs 19.6%). In other words, it may be that, after the introduction of the Prevnar 13, kids with other conditions (like asthma), were now more likely to get infected.
- Children with other conditions had higher rates of infections caused by a nonvaccine type (27.6% vs 17.2%).
- These same children were also far more likely to be hospitalized (80.4% vs 50%) and have a much longer hospital stay (3 days vs 0.5).
- There was no difference in mortality rates before versus after.
Just to sum it up, the addition of the new vaccine is not saving lives, but it IS putting more kids into the hospital with infections that are harder to control. Unfortunately, this is the type of information that your pediatrician is not likely to hear about, much less share with you in an effort to fully educate you on your decision to vaccinate your child.