Frustrated About Vaccines

I believe that vaccines are not the miracle they are proffessed to be. The research done on vaccines, the scientific reports, overwhelming numbers of anecdotal reports, these make me suspicious of the need for vaccination, and especially re-vaccination.

Batman suffers from some of the classic signs of vaccinosis, including extreme sensitivity and weakness in the hind end. I am beginning to suspect that Tweed-revaccinated recently at the shelter-is showing signs as well, but in his case it is fearfulness. Shawn is out of date on his rabies shot, and so if we picked him up, we’d have to get him revaccinated for him to be “legal” again.

This prompted me to find out once and for all exactly what the legal stand on vaccinations and titers was in Alaska. I’ve heard of titers being done in place of revaccination, with letters from vets stating that the animal meets or exceeds the levels of immunity required by law. From what I gather, this is usually only done with sick or old animals or with vets who agree that revaccination is detrimental.

The laws, on the other hand, are not so flexible. According to the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, who annually review and recommend proceedures for rabies prevention and control in animals, titers and letters are simply not a legal replacement for vaccines in any of the 50 states. The official stance is that even though antibodies may be present, this does not confer immunity. “Rabies virus antibody titers are indicative of a response to vaccine or infection. Titers do not directly correlate with protection because other immunologic factors also play a role in preventing rabies, and the ability to measure and interpret those other factors are not well developed. Therefore, evidence of circulating rabies virus antibodies should not be used as a substitute for current vaccination in managing rabies exposures or determining the need for booster vaccinations in animals.”

Again, from what I can tell, they’re interpreting things very oddly. In an article from Christie Keith (not a vet, and she is simply reporting information from elsewhere) she states:

“A titer test does not and cannot measure immunity, because immunity to specific viruses is reliant not on antibodies, but on memory cells, which we have no way to measure. Memory cells are what prompt the immune system to create antibodies and dispatch them to an infection caused by the virus it “remembers.” Memory cells don’t need “reminders” in the form of re-vaccination to keep producing antibodies. (Science, 1999; “Immune system’s memory does not need reminders.”) If the animal recently encountered the virus, their level of antibody might be quite high, but that doesn’t mean they are more immune than an animal with a lower titer. ”

From the same article:

“…other uses for titer tests in my opinion are to check immunization status on dogs with an unknown history, to provide documentation for legal purposes such as travel, or licensing in areas that accept rabies titers in lieu of rabies vaccination, to satisfy curiosity, or to provide peace of mind for pet owners.”

I looked up the Alaska state law on animals that are off of the legal vaccination schedule, and it’s a pretty big risk to not have your animals vaccinated. Any animal that is not vaccinated for rabies is subject to seizure and immediate vaccination or euthanization. Any animal that is suspected of being infected with rabies and/or has bitten someone and is not vaccinated is usually euthanized immediately for testing, no observation period. Ouch.

I’ve asked for advice from others who are on a reduced vaccination schedule, and the answers range from “vaccinate if you’re not willing to take the risk” to “falsify the records.” I don’t like the helplessness implied with the first answer, and I might consider the second out of desperation, if the records were paper rather than metal tags. It all smacks of subversity.

Even though the system seems ironbound, change is creeping. People are pushing for reduced vaccine schedules. Some areas have successfully implemented 3 year rabies rather than yearly rabies. Some areas are pushing titers as a legal substitute, but the national recommendations are dismissive. Articles like this one http://www.news.wisc.edu/8413 help, but aren’t enough. I am considering donating to http://www.rabieschallengefund.org/. They are funding a study to determine the real length of immunity from vaccines.

What will I do in the meantime? Refuse all vaccines but rabies, and learn how to treat homeopathically. It’s the best path I can choose right now. Walking the line between risks is a hard choice.

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One response to “Frustrated About Vaccines

  1. Vaccination policies are frustrating. The Canadian College of Veterinarians has now switched to the 3-year rabies shot, thank goodness. That’s the only shot we give our dogs, simply because we do travel to the US with them quite frequently. We do not vaccinate our cats at all, as they remain strictly indoors — this is one solution to your problem. Otherwise it’s a game of risks — what are the chances of someone discovering that your cats are unvaccinated where you live?

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