This afternoon I was cruising around facebook and happened upon a discussion about the meningitis vaccine. The group I was visiting was made up of parents who are questioning the safety of vaccines in general. The thread I saw today contained several comments indicating that even among this group of highly educated and skeptical parents, the fear of meningitis is causing them to consider giving the vaccine. It’s no wonder, when we are bombarded by campaigns like this one: Voices of Meningitis PSA video.
The stories on the Voices of Meningitis website are heart-breaking. One question I have about these cases is if those whose stories are told were fully vaccinated? I wonder how many of those cases occurred in children AS A RESULT of being vaccinated with the Meningococcal vaccine. I just visited the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) and did a quick search. What I wanted to know was, among the estimated 1% to 10% of vaccine reactions that are reported to VAERS, how many of the reactions for the meningococcal vaccine listed meningitis as an adverse reaction.
My query, which was restricted to meningitis as a symptom returned 103 cases. Here are a few of the details:
VAERS ID 160698: An 18 year-old female received the menincoccal vaccine.
Write-up: On 8/1/00 approximately 2 weeks post vax, the pt developed a
fever, myalgia, stiff neck and arthralgias. After approximately 24 hours of
developing the above symptoms, the pt developed a diffuse non-pruritic macular
rash on her lower legs, which spread to her abdomen and upper extremities. The
pt was seen initially in the clinic and thought to have a viral infection and
symptomatic care was advised at that time. Over the next 48 hours the pt
symptoms increased in severity and the pt experienced a syncopal episode. She
was then seen in the ER and that time transferred to the hospital where she
underwent a lumbar puncture. The pt was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and
VAERS Case 170356: 53 year-old male, vaccinated against menincoccal disease:
Write-up: It was reported that an adult male pt received a Menomune
A/C/Y/W-135 vaccination on 3/6/00. Reportedly, the pt died on 4/14/00. dx”d
with purulent meningitis. Autopsy done at medical examiner”s office. Further
medical follow-up is requested and ongoing. On 05/22/2001, the autopsy and
medical examiners reports were received. Autopsy report revealed the following
findings from the head and central nervous system. “The leptomeninges overlying
the frontal lobes have yellow-green opacified material present, consistent with
purulent meningitis process.” From the correspondence received from a physician
it was stated “This case was associated with large numbers of gram positive
diplococci having the morphology consistent with S. pneumonia. A silver stain
and a PAS did not support the presence of any other organism.”
VAERS Case 200387: 19 year-old female vaccinated against meningococcal disease:
Write-up: From initial information at manufacturer, it was reported that
a 19 year old female patient received Menomune A/C/Y/W 135, UB034AA, on 7/2/01.
Route/site were not reported. Patient had cultures sero group C. On 2/15/03,
patient had blood cultures and was positive for ? of meningitis group C. Patient
was hospitalized for 4 days, then died on 2/18/03.
There are 100 more cases like these three, and those are just the cases that are reported to VAERS. The AMA and CDC estimate that somewhere between 1% and 10% of vaccine reactions are ever reported to VAERS, so the death toll from the meningococcal vaccination is more likely to be in the range of 1,000 to 10,000. That’s a lot of deaths. What you need to know, in order to make an informed decision, is just how likely it is that your child will contract meningitis if he or she is not vaccinated.
I printed out the CDC’s report Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease: Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). The report is long, and full of lots of scary statistics. It is clearly designed to give the impression that menigococcal infection is monstrous and you, as a parent MUST vaccinate your children in order to protect them from the horrors of this very preventable illness. I say “preventable” because meningococcal infection IS preventable and it appears that the BEST prevention is to REFUSE vaccination!
Here is what I have learned:
According the the CDC’s MMWR (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report) from May 27, 2005, titled “Prevention and Control of Meningococcal Disease,” there are an estimated 1,400-2,800 cases of menigococcal disease in the U.S. each year. 2010 Census data indicates the U.S. population is 308,000,000. This means meningococcal infection occurs in 1 person out of every 110,000 – 220,000 people, or .00045 – .00091% of the population.
The case-fatality ratio for meningococcal disease is between 10-14% (CDC, 2005). This means that each year in the U.S. it is estimated that between 140-392 people die from meningococcal infection. This translates to an annual death rate in the U.S. of approximately 1 in 1,000,000; literally “one in a million.”
“During 1991-2002, the highest rate of meningococcal disease (9.2/100,000) occurred among infants; the rate for persons aged 11-19 years (1.2/100,000) also was higher than that for the general population.” (CDC, MMWR, vol. 54, No. RR-7, p. 2)
“U.S. surveillance data from 1998-99 school year indicated that the overall rate of menigococcal disease among undergraduate college students was lower than the rate among persons aged 18-23 who were not enrolled in college.” Rates were higher among freshmen, and highest among freshmen living in dormatories. (CDC, MMWR, vol. 54, No. RR-7, p. 3)
“Persons who have deficiencies in the terminal common complement pathway (C3, C5-9) and those with anatomic or functional asplenia are at increased risk for acquiring meningococcal disease. Antecedent viral infection, household crowding, chronic underlying illness, and both active and passive smoking also are associated with increased risk for meningococcal disease.” (CDC, MMWR, vol. 54, No. RR-7, p. 2).
We need some definitions and understanding of what causes increased risk for infection from meningococcal infection in order to understand WHY infants and children are more vulnerable than the general population.
(Caution: If technical information makes your eyes glaze over, you may want to either skim or skip the definitions. The translation of the definitions is basically that the immune system works together and if you upset one part of it there is a domino-effect, resulting in increased vulnerability to illness from a variety of sources.)
Complement: Immunology adjective Pertaining to the complement system noun 1. Any protein of the complement system 2. Complement system The term was first used for a heat labile factor in serum that caused immune cytolysis of antibody coated cells; it now refers to the entire functionally related system comprising ± 25 distinct serum proteins, which mediate the nonspecific inflammatory response to various antigens through a complex sequence of enzymatic cleavages; complement is thus the effector not only of immune cytolysis but also of other biologic functions; it is activated by 2 routes, the classic and alternative pathways.
Complement: a complex series of enzymatic proteins occurring in normal serum that are triggered in a cascade manner by, and combine with, the antibody-antigen complexes, producing lysis when the antigen is an intact cell. Complement comprises 25 to 30 discrete proteins, labeled numerically as C1 to C9, and by letters, i.e. B, D, P, etc., and with C1 being divided into subcomponents C1q, C1r and C1s. Components C3 and C5 are involved in the generation of anaphylatoxin and in the promotion of leukocyte chemotaxis, the result of these two activities being the inflammatory response. C1 and C4 are involved in the neutralization of viruses. The components also combine in various sequences to participate in other biological activities, including antibody-mediated immune lysis, phagocytosis, opsonization and anaphylaxis. The complement system is known to be activated by the immunoglobulins IgM and IgG.
alternate complement pathway, alternative complement pathway: the sequence in which complement components C3 and C5 to C9 are activated without participation by C1, C2 and C4 or the presence of an antibody-antigen complex.
complement cascade: the sequence of reactions, each being the catalyst for the next, that leads to the terminal complement pathway and cell lysis. There are two pathways for activation of C3, the ‘classical’ (below) and the ‘alternate’ (above).
classical complement pathway: the one in which all of the complement components C1 to C9 participate and is triggered by antibody-antigen complexes.
complement deficiency: various complement components may be deficient without serious effects on the host. C3 deficiency is most severe and occurs in humans, Brittany spaniels and Finnish-Landrace lambs. Increased susceptibility to infections results.
Terminal Complement Pathway: the final stages of complement activation in which C5, C6, C7, C8 and C9 are activated; common to both the alternate and classical pathways.
End of definitions… back to the discussion:
Okay…so this explains why infants are at greatest risk of infection from meningococcal disease, and it also explains why the rates in infants were so high between 1991 and 2002. The complement system is activated by the immune system’s response to antigens. Different parts of the system are activated by different antigens (viruses, bacteria, etc.). The complement proteins themselves are dependent on enzymatic processes in order to work properly, and they also depend on the stability of the permeability of the cell membranes.
One of the risk factors listed by the CDC is “antecedent viral infection” – meaning a viral infection that happened prior to exposure to menigococcal bacteria. This makes sense because if you have been exposed to a virus, C1 and C4 will be activated to fight the virus. Because of the way the system works, activation of the earlier complements disrupts the stability of the system and would be expected to cause a depletion in the successive complements (which are necessary to fight bacterial infections) – think of the see-saw metaphor, when one goes up another comes down.
Administration of the hepatitis B vaccine at birth was initiated in 1988-89 and by 1990 it was widespread. Hepatitis B is a virus.
Another risk factor mentioned by the CDC is “active or passive smoking.” Why would smoking cause an increase in the risk for meningococcal infection? Because of exposure to toxins that deplete antioxidants and minerals, especially vitamin C (necessary for glutathione), magnesium and zinc (necessary for integrity of cellular membranes, including the blood-brain barrier). When zinc is depleted or out of balance with calcium and mangesium, the blood brain barrier becomes more permeable (bigger holes), which increases the efficiency of passage of viruses (like measles and viruses in the herpes family) into the central nervous system. Cigarette smoke is ONE source of toxins that deplete minerals and glutathione. Mercury is another, and mercury accomplishes the disruption of minerals and antioxidants at a much greater level than cigarette smoke.
The childhood vaccination schedule was greatly increased throughout the 1990s and included multiple vaccines that contained toxic levels of mercury in the form of thimerosal.
Now… go back to the definition of the complement system and notice the importance of enzymes and enzymatic cleavage. Enzymes are catalysts. They make things happen. When enzymes are messed up, things do not happen the way they are supposed to. Mercury (and other toxins, including aluminum and lead) damages enzymatic processes throughout the body. This is why heavy metals are SO dangerous and why they cause SO MANY different manifestations of illness; they destroy the enzymatic processes in the body so NOTHING works they way it’s supposed to.
1. Why would adolescents now be at increased risk of meningococcal infection?
Answer: In the last few years adolescents have been the target of increased vaccination, including flu vaccines that contain mercury.
2. Why would college students (particularly college freshmen) be at increased risk of meningococcal infection?
Answer: Colleges and Universities have policies that require incoming freshmen to prove “up-to-date” vaccination before being allowed to register for classes. Freshmen are therefore vaccinated at higher rates than upper classmen. There is a very high risk for over-vaccination in college freshmen, particularly among those who may not have ready access to their childhood medical records and who, thinking there is no risk from vaccines, opt to simply get more shots rather than going through the steps necessary to prove they are “up-to-date” or have established immunity. Freshmen living in dormatories are more likely to be exposed to other freshmen whose immune systems are also damaged from mass over-vaccination, resulting in increased infections of all kinds.
3. How can you, as a parent, best protect your child from meningococcal infection?
Answer: Improve your child’s immune system by providing a healthy diet of whole foods that are rich in nutrients. Give supplements that are high in antioxidants, balanced B-vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. Give extra vitamin D3 during cold and flu season. Heal the gut if your child has gastrointestinal problems. Stress the importance of getting enough sleep and fresh air. Help your child learn to relax. And, just say NO to vaccines that damage your child’s innate immune system.