Where is the middle ground on the discussion about vaccination?
There is no doubt the introduction of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccination has created a public debate never seen before. Trying to find out facts is wrought by conflict. The polarisation of ‘anti verses pro’ blurs the conversation so that no one is getting to use their democratic right to think for themselves free of bias, judgement and condemnation. As the sides divide many holistic practitioners are either trying to avoid being trapped, labelled and restricted by their professions image or trying to help their clients navigate the confusion.
Over the years I have had numerous conversations with clients about the choices they are making around whether to vaccinate in full, partially, delayed or not at all. They have sought an unbiased conversation that would allow them to flesh out all aspects to be considered. They have often wanted books to read or articles to review so they could make up their own minds. Accessing the pro-vaccine argument lacked any depth of explanation or the doctor couldn’t provide answers to questions. Too often the argument consisted of statements like, ‘it’s the right thing to do,’ ‘if you want to be a good parent you will give your child the best start in life,’ and even, ‘it’s saved children’s lives.’ These are not scientific statements. They are emotional statements. People want facts not opinions.
There are people who are pro-choice – believe it is an individual choice and not to be mandatory – and then there are those who are opposed to all vaccines in all forms and in all situations. The argument tends to be filled with graphs, statistics, and stories of parents who had experienced their child being vaccine injured. The science shows that at the time a vaccine was introduced the crisis of the disease was in decline. Improvements in health and sanitation had averted the threat. Vaccines have supported on-going improvements in childhood diseases, at best. The emotion associated with vaccine injured children has seemed to override the data of science, facts and statistics. But for those holding a balanced view, there is no doubt that specific childhood diseases such as whooping cough and polio are seen as significant and important vaccines to give to a child.
Even in our current climate we are seeing similar approaches with the COVID-19 vaccine. The science of any COVID-19 vaccine is unknown and so emotional arguments are rampant. The science of the COVID-19 disease is available but the conclusions are illogical and the media coverage of the pandemic is sensationalised. Plus the death rate is in decline so they have moved to a focus on cases. There are two specific groups in society at risk – those over 70 and those with co-morbidities in any age group. Those over the age of 70 have a 94.6% survival rate or a 5.4% risk of dying if they contracted COVID-19. The more co-morbidities an individual has the greater the risk they are of having complications. And what we have seen is that those who have died who were under the age of 70 often had health complications that put them at risk. Those who are 50 – 69 years old have a 99.5% survival rate or 0.4% risk of dying. Those aged 20 – 49 have a 99.98% survival rate or a 0.02% risk of dying. Note they have to add in extra decimal points to cater for the risks… and those aged under 19 have a 99.997% survival rate or a 0.003% risk of dying. In essence, those who are healthy with no co-morbidities have very little risk of dying.
No pharmaceutical medication, treatment, device or drug can claim to have no side effects. That means that there will be a proportion of the population that will experience adverse reactions to any medical approach including the COVID-19 vaccine. Should this portion of the population be exempt from such programs? Our laws and constitution actually already answer this and say, ‘Yes.’
To understand the controversy it is important to comprehend several aspects of vaccinations.
Let’s start with the concept of vaccination. The idea is that by giving a person minute doses of dead, fragments and/or alive viruses sufficient to stimulate an immune response helps boost that individuals immunity should they ever be exposed to the disease in the future. This can easily be likened to the homoeopathic principal of ‘like cures like.’ It makes sense. Our bodies naturally do this when exposed to viruses and bacteria in our daily lives. Traditional vaccines are made from growing the actual virus in chicken eggs or mammalian cells in a laboratory. These viruses are harvested and used in a vaccine.
Then we have to look at how they make a vaccine and what are the ingredients in a vaccine. Now this is where the real controversy lives. These ingredients are called adjuvants. They consist of heavy metal salts such as mercury or aluminium, chicken egg, formaldehyde, aborted foetal tissue, detergents, particulates of virosomes, natural and synthetic microbial derivatives and endogenous human immunomodulators. It is these adjuvants that trigger much of the adverse effects that people are concerned about.
When a vaccine is injected into an individual the immune system recognises the virus piece as foreign. This is called the antigen. The immune system produces an antibody to destroy the antigen. Once this process has been created the immune system stores the information and can quickly formulate a response in the future when the body is exposed to this antigen again. This is how immunity is developed.
An mRNA vaccine does not utilise the actual virus. It is not grown in a lab and cultivated to be used in the vaccine. Instead, the DNA of the COVID-19 virus has been synthesised in a laboratory. In genetics, when a cell wants to divide and grow it creates mRNA which takes the encoded information of the DNA and tells the cell what to do. In the situation of a vaccine, the RNA has encoded the virus information and takes it into an individual’s cells. The mRNA shares it’s instructions with the human ribosomes (found inside a cell that makes proteins) to tell the cell to create an antigen (a COVID-19 virus). Once our cells make the COVID-19 virus the immune system is activated to create antibodies to fight the disease. Ultimately, people are getting the virus so the immune system can respond. This explains the ‘adverse effects’ commonly listed because in the first 24 hours the individual actually has COVID-19 until their immune system can kick in and kill it off.
The greater concern expressed by those who want there to be choice about this vaccine is that no mRNA vaccine in the past has been proven to be safe for human consumption. The adverse effects, including death were too high. This current vaccine has by-passed the typical processes to assess if it is safe. The first step in creating a vaccine is animal trials. They were skipped. Instead they moved directly on to trialling it on humans. This is how they have established the 95% effectiveness rate of the vaccine. They haven’t tested the vaccine on pregnant women or children. They don’t know how the vaccine will interact with other medications or even other vaccines. They don’t know the long term effects of the vaccine. Normally, a vaccine could take up to seven years to collect sufficient data to deem it safe for the public. The long term impact aspect of the COVID-19 vaccine is being trailed in real life. The roll out of the vaccine on mass and the subsequent data they wish to collect is to provide the developers with the data usually collected prior to distribution.
There are valid reasons for caution. There are valid reasons to question the need and suitability of the fast tracked COVID-19 vaccine for any individual. But right now it is important to know what is available and what type of vaccine they are. The options include the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine which is the mRNA-based vaccine. It will require a minimum of two doses at this stage, although there is already talk that it might need a yearly booster shot. There are ten millions doses available in Australia. The University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. This vaccine uses a virus that is not the COVID-19 virus to enter the individual’s body. It uses the cells protein-making machinery (ribosomes) to produce a piece of the COVID-19, known as the spiked protein that is found on the surface of the COVID-19 virus. The spiked protein is displayed on the cell surface. The immune system recognises that the spiked protein does not belong on the human cell and activates an immune response by making an antibody. The antibody will then attack the cell lining to kill the spiked protein. It also requires two doses at this stage. There are 53.8 million doses secured for Australia.
The third fast-tracked vaccine is from Novavax and it is a protein vaccine. This means it is using the coronavirus spike protein in the vaccine to activate the immune system to build immunity. It is expected that two doses will be required and there are 51 million doses to be made available in Australia.
Another vaccine that is mentioned frequently in the media is the Moderna vaccine. It isn’t approved for use in Australia at this stage and it is also an mRNA-based vaccine.
Here in Australia we have a company called Vaxine that is developing safer, healthier, adjuvants that also enhance the function of the vaccine. They are exploring how to stabilise vaccines without using heavy metals. They are developing a vaccine for COVID-19 called COVAX-19 that is not being fast-tracked. Early results are indicating that this vaccine is as effective as the others being touted – 95% – but with fewer adverse effects. It will eventually be available in Australia once they have completed the ‘normal’ testing. This may take some time but given restrictions seem set for the remainder of the year this vaccine could be a more suitable one for many to consider. It is definitely one to watch. The creator of COVAX-19 is Professor Nikolai Petrovsky who is the Director of Endocrinology at Flinders Medical Centre and Professor of Medicine at Finders University. During his career Nikolai has developed vaccines against influenza, hepatitis B, sting allergy, malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, rabies and HIV. He speaks passionately about his work and goal to make vaccines safer.
Whether people vaccinate or not boosting the immune system naturally and supporting detoxification of toxins are important and valuable things to do. Increasing vitamin C at the time of getting a vaccine is always helpful. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that is excreted every 3-4 hours. There is little point taking large doses once a day as it will be excreted hours later. Smaller, regular doses is more supportive to the body. Vitamin C helps the immune system as well as detoxification. There are products that can capture heavy metals and other toxins and remove them from the body such as Bentonite Clay, Toxaprevent, and homoeopathics. Any energetic process can help align the body to a healthy vibration and can be encouraged. Methods such as tapping, BARS, flower essences, body energy techniques, Reiki and Kinesiology will all have something to offer in their tool kits. Intention and mindset are powerful and free. Hope and choice, even within restrictions, are often what people are looking for so they feel they have power over their own lives. These should never be forgotten when it comes to working with our clients holistically.
There really is no right or wrong choice for any individual, only what they feel aligned to for their wellbeing.
Former AHHCA President, Leonie Blackwell is a well respected Naturopath who has practiced for over 27 years in Drouin, Vic. A great way to find out more about Leonie and her business is to visit her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/drouinnaturopath