Vaccine safety is back in the news today, because the FDA has asked doctors to temporarily suspend giving the newest incarnation of the vaccine against rotavirus, Rotarix.
This vaccine is currently scheduled on CDC guidelines for infants in two doses between ages six weeks and 24 weeks.
Independent researchers found the vaccine to be contaminated with fragments of a virus of pigs, porcine circovirus 1 (PCV1).
There are several unfortunate things about today’s news:
1. Although the contamination was communicated to vaccine makers and the FDA in early February, the FDA has only now stopped doctors from giving a vaccine they knew to contain a foreign virus.
2. We do not know how this swine disease agent got into the vaccine.
3. We do not know what the effect of ingesting PCV1 is on human health.
But there’s a bigger issue here. This vaccine is useless in America. Rotavirus itself cannot definitively be shown to have killed any American children. Rotavirus is the most common cause of diarrhea in children, and essentially all Americans have gone through it by age three.
An older version of the rotavirus vaccine, RotaShield, was withdrawn from the market in 1999 because one of its side effects was a severe and life-threatening intestinal blockage. This side effect has also been reported with the new vaccine, but not in high enough numbers for public health officials to act on it.
Give a vaccine for a harmless illness to an infant that can cause a life-threatening emergency? No thank you.
The human immune system evolved to be exposed to diseases like rotavirus, adapt to them, and fight them off. To vaccinate against a benign disease like this and circumvent natural exposure may have negative long-term health consequences.
The health authorities have not been protecting our children’s health by mandating this vaccine in the first place.
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