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Leon's letters
The Tragedy of Vaccinations
Part 2 -  Are We Over-Vaccinating?

“If a thousand old beliefs were ruined in our march to truth
we must still march on.”


Stopford Augustus Brooke



Are We Over-Vaccinating?

Conversations with Merial’s representative regarding Léon’s fibrosarcoma provided startling yet educational information. More specifically, this gentleman said that when he was in veterinary school, students were taught to vaccinate every year for everything. Now, he said, it is clear that this protocol is wrong. He also said that the rabies and the feline leukemia virus vaccines have been implicated in the formation of vaccine-induced sarcomas. (1) This comment has been substantiated by other sources, including The Merck Veterinary Manual (2) and many of those involved in the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force: Roundtable Discussion. (3)

In order to have a greater understanding of the significance of the information provided by Merial’s representative, let us review a few pertinent dates and examine Léon’s case:

  - in 1989, and probably even before that, suspicions began to form regarding the possibility that vaccines caused the increase in feline sarcomas.

- in November 1995, little Léon was born.

- in November 1996, suspicions of vaccine-induced sarcomas could no longer be ignored, and the Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force (VAFSTF) was created to address this problem.

- in April 2004, Léon developed a fibrosarcoma in the dorsal neck/interscapular area. The pathology report says, “the tumor … is histologically identical to postvaccinal sarcomas in cats.” (4)

- in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA), the VAFSTF: Roundtable Discussion says,
 
 


“Regardless of the efforts of countless individuals, the problem of vaccine-associated sarcomas in cats has not been solved. Researchers in academia and industry continue to study this singularly complex problem, but it is reasonable to assume that the definitive solution will not be identified in the immediate future.” (5)

 

Annual Vaccination Protocol

After the birth of Léon, annual vaccination reminders were sent from the veterinary clinic like clockwork. During that time, no veterinarian suggested changing Léon’s vaccination protocol. In addition, no veterinarian mentioned the potential risks of over-vaccinating or the potential risks of adverse vaccine reactions. (6)

According to Léon’s passport he received the following vaccinations (it is possible that he had other vaccinations while in the care of his breeder): rabies, distemper, canine parvovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis, piroplasmosis and kennel cough. And, not only does his passport indicate that he was vaccinated up to four times a year, but it also reveals that sometimes he received six vaccines at once!

Prior to researching the topic of vaccinations, I believed that in order to protect the health of my canine companion he had to have an annual assault of vaccines. I also believed that vaccination protocols are based on accurate, objective scientific data and that vaccines are safe. Naturally I was appalled when I learned that I, along with countless others, had been misled -- if not lied to -- by the “experts.”

The truth is that annual vaccination protocols are not based on scientific data. As stated by Dr. Alice Wolf, DVM in “Vaccines of the Present and Future,”

  “The recommendation for annual revaccination is a practice that was “officially” started in 1978. This recommendation was made without any scientific validation of the need to booster immunity so frequently. In fact, the presence of good humoral antibody levels blocks the anamnestic response to vaccine boosters just as maternal antibody blocks the response in some young animals.” (7)  

Also, as stated in “Vaccination Principles (Approved by the AVMA Executive Board April 2001; revised April 2007),” “… current labels frequently contain revaccination interval recommendations based on historical precedence and acceptance rather than specific duration of immunity data.”(8)

In fact, the unsuspecting client is paying for a procedure that is not only unnecessary but also has the potential to adversely affect the health of the animal. The AVMA’s “Vaccination Principles” states clearly that “… while there is evidence that some vaccines provide immunity beyond one year, revaccination of patients with sufficient immunity does not necessarily add to their disease protection and may increase the potential risk of post-vaccination adverse events.” (9)

Adverse Consequences of Vaccinations

Although those who produce, promote and sell vaccines constantly reassure clients by saying that “vaccines are safe,” overwhelming data proves otherwise. (10-11) Following are just a few of the potential problems associated with vaccinations -- potential problems that are rarely, if ever, discussed with the client:

For example, in “Are we vaccinating too much?” (written by Dr. Carin A. Smith, DVM and published in the JAVMA in 1995), Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, PhD says, “There is a real concern that vaccines may predispose certain genetically susceptible individuals to immune-mediated disease.” Dr. Schultz also says, “The more antigens we administer, the higher the potential for hypersensitivity.” (12)

Potential adverse vaccine reactions are not limited exclusively to animals predisposed to vaccine-related complications. (Vaccines contain toxins, carcinogens and other potentially dangerous material. Vaccines may even contain unintended organisms.) (13) In fact, in “Vaccinations in Veterinary Medicine: Dogs and Cats,” Dr. Don Hamilton, DVM says,

  “… vaccines commonly contain materials other than the organism to which immunity is desired. These materials may be added as preservatives, adjuvants (materials to stimulate immune response, usually added to non-infectious [killed] vaccines), or antibiotics. Preservatives and adjuvants include such toxins and carcinogens as aluminum (alum), mercury (thimersol), and formaldehyde. Also, many foreign proteins are included if the organism was grown on foreign tissue such as chicken or duck embryos. Even more frightening, non-intended organisms are sometimes accidentally incorporated as contaminant ‘stowaways.’” (14)  

Some of the “contaminant stowaways” that Dr. Hamilton refers to have produced fatal results. For example, in “Human Illness Associated with Use of Veterinary Vaccines,” Dr. Ruth L. Berkelman, MD says,

  “In addition to problems associated with the vaccine virus strain itself, there are numerous examples of vaccines that have been contaminated with extraneous microorganisms, including live Mycoplasma organisms and bluetongue virus. In the early 1990s, a modified live virus vaccine containing canine distemper virus, canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus-2, and canine parvovirus was reported to have caused abortion and death when administered to pregnant dogs; the vaccine was found to be contaminated with bluetongue virus. Bluetongue virus causes disease in wild and domestic ruminants, and it was not known to cause natural infection and disease in dogs.” (15)  

Another serious, potential problem associated with vaccines is that some vaccines are known to shed into the environment, thereby perpetuating the disease that we are trying to eradicate. According to “The 2006 American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel Report,” “Vaccinated cats can also shed B. bronchiseptica for several weeks and, in some cases, for as long as a year after vaccination and may spread the organism to other cats and possibly other susceptible species.”(16)

Vaccines have even been known to cause the vaccinated animal to develop the disease that the vaccine was supposed to prevent. More specifically,

  “Although infectious agents in modified-live agent products have been attenuated, normal host immune responses are required if vaccinates are to resist disease from attenuated organisms. Thus, attenuated agents in severely immunosuppressed or genetically susceptible hosts may result in the disease for which the vaccine was designed to prevent. In the early 1980s, several casts vaccinated with attenuated rabies virus vaccines developed rabies. Furthermore, a live attenuated agent may revert to virulence, causing disease even in cats that are not immunosuppressed.” (17)  

For those who continue to justify the use of an annual or excessive vaccination protocol by saying that “adverse vaccine reactions are rare,” the fact remains that adverse vaccine reactions are not rare; they are rarely reported. And, as acknowledged in “The 2006 American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel Report,” “Because many adverse events go unreported, the calculated rate should be considered a minimum value; the actual rate is probably higher.” (18)

It is clear, therefore, that as stated by Dr. Tom R. Phillips, DVM and Dr. Ronald D. Schultz. PhD,

  “Extending the revaccination intervals for canine and feline core vaccines does not place the animal at increased risk to developing preventable disease, but it does reduce the potential for adverse reactions.” (19)  

Rabies Vaccine

The controversy surrounding the rabies vaccine (20) is beyond the scope of this discussion. However, as the rabies vaccine is required by law, it is appropriate to pose a few questions that pertain to over-vaccination, adverse reactions and the use of this vaccine. For example:

  1. As scientific data demonstrates that the rabies vaccine is supposed to provide protection for at least three years, (actually seven years and possibly even the lifetime of the animal), (21) why do some counties, states and countries continue to mandate the annual administration of this vaccine?

2. As a variety of serious health problems are associated with the use of the rabies vaccine (22) and as some animals do not even develop antibodies to the rabies vaccine, why does the law require the automatic re-administration of this vaccine? Is it not more logical to test the animal’s blood for antibody levels (titers) for the rabies virus instead of systematically re-vaccinating the animal? (23-24)

3. The “2006 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Revised” says, “As with pregnant dogs, veterinary medicine has advised against vaccination during illness, due to concerns about suboptimal seroconversion, or worse, conversion of vaccine to disease.” (25)

Therefore, as vaccine manufacturers and the majority of those in the medical community agree that vaccines should not be given to pregnant or sick animals, should we not allow certain animals to be exempt from the administration of the rabies vaccine? (26)

4. As the rabies vaccine is required by law, why does the law not require veterinarians to report adverse reactions to vaccines, or to any other veterinary product for that matter? (27)
 

Conclusion

After all is said and done, the yearly vaccine protocol is derived from “historical precedence and acceptance” instead of accurate scientific facts. Yearly vaccinations can and do jeopardize the health, and ultimately the life, of the animal. And, more than over-whelming scientific data is required to prove that vaccines are causing a wide variety of devastating illnesses, yet accurate scientific data is not even required to substantiate annual vaccinations!

Now that I know -- not to mention that the pharmaceutical companies, teaching institutions, veterinarians and regulatory groups know, or should know -- about the problem of excessive vaccinations and the plethora of adverse vaccine reactions, I would like to know why my canine companion, Léon, was over-vaccinated. I would also like to know why the majority of veterinarians are so diligent in sending annual vaccination reminders yet are grossly negligent in changing their vaccination protocols and advising their trusting clients of potential vaccine-related problems. (28)

The question is no longer, “Are we over-vaccinating?” The question is, “Why are we over-vaccinating?”

Jeanne, on behalf of Léon, and dedicated to those who have suffered an adverse vaccine reaction.



The Tragedy of Vaccinations
Part I - Do Vaccines Cause Cancer?
Part II - Are We Over-Vaccinating?
Part III - Why Are We Over-Vaccinating?
Part IV - Preventing Adverse Vaccine Events

Click here to return to Letters index page


References:

(1) “Do Vaccines Cause Cancer?” by Jeanne, website writer for www.noble-leon.com
(2) “Soft-tissue Sarcomas” - The Merck Veterinary Manual -- www.merckvetmanual.com
(3) “Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force: Roundtable Discussion - The current understanding and management of vaccine-associated sarcomas in cats” - Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA): June 1, 2005, Vol. 226, No.11 -- www.avma.org
(4) Léon: French Bulldog – Surgical Pathology, report of May 10, 2004
(5) “Vaccine-Associated Feline Sarcoma Task Force: Roundtable Discussion - The current understanding and management of vaccine-associated sarcomas in cats” -- www.avma.org
(6) “Changing Vaccine Protocols” by Dr. W. Jean Dodds, DVM -- www.noble-leon.com
(7) “Vaccines of the Present and Future” by Dr. Alice Wolf, DVM – World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress: Vancouver 2001 -- www.vin.com
(8) “Vaccination Principles (Approved by the AVMA Executive Board April 2001; revised April 2007)” – American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) -- www.avma.org
(9) Ibid
(10) “Layman’s Literature > Vaccines” -- www.noble-leon.com/resourcesLayman/
(11) “Advanced Literature > Vaccines” -- www.noble-leon.com/resourcesAdvanced/
(12) “Are we vaccinating too much?” by Dr. Carin A. Smith, DVM - JAVMA, Vol. 207, No. 4, August 15, 1995
(13) “Vaccine Ingredients” -- www.mercola.com
(14) “Vaccinations in Veterinary Medicine: Dogs and Cats” by Dr. Don Hamilton, DVM -- www.healthyhappydogs.com
(15) “Human Illness Associated with Use of Veterinary Vaccines” by Dr. Ruth L. Berkelman, MD -- www.journals.uchicago.edu
(16) “The 2006 American Association of Feline Practitioners Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel Report” - JAVMA, Vol. 229, No. 9, November 1, 2006 -- www.aafponline.org
(17) Ibid
(18) Ibid
(19) “Canine and feline vaccines” by Dr. Tom R. Phillips, DVM and Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, PhD, 1992. In: Kirk, R.W., Bonagura, J.D. (Eds.), Current Veterinary Therapy XI. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, pp. 202-206
(20) “The Big Scam - Rabies Vaccination” by Dr. John Fudens, DVM -- www.whale.to
(21) “Duration of immunity for canine and feline vaccines: A review” by Dr. Ronald D. Schulz, PhD - Veterinary Microbiology 117 (2006) 75–79 -- www.eskievet.com
(22) “Canine Rabies Challenge Studies Begin!” - The Rabies Challenge: World-Famous Scientists Donate Services to The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust -- www.rabieschallengefund.org
(23) “Practical significance of rabies antibodies in cats and dogs” by Michel F. Aubert - Revue Scientifique et Technique: 1992 Sep;11(3):735-60 -- www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
(24) “Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine - Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory” -- www.vet.ksu.edu
(25) “2006 AAHA Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Revised” -- www.aahanet.org
(26) Letter from Dr. Bob Rogers, DVM of Critter Fixer Pet Hospital to Dr. Tom Sidwa of the Texas Department of State Health Services -- www.pet-wellness-update.com
(27) “Reporting Léon’s Adverse Reaction – Lingering Questions” by Jeanne, website writer for www.noble-leon.com
(28) “The History Of A Passion For Change” by Dr. Bob Rogers, DVM -- www.critteradvocacy.org





March 2008
 
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