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[IP] vaccinations

A recent post wrote
"I just read the article that said 5 people have died
of a heart attack that had recently received the
smallpox vaccine. This might be premature in asking
but I was wondering how everyone felt about whether
you would want to get the vaccine. "

Now - with cardiovascular disease being the current leading cause of 
death in this country, it is not surprising to me at all that if a very 
large number of people receive this vaccine, a few of them will shortly 
thereafter die of heart attacks.   I would also expect that a few of 
them would die in car crashes, a few would undergo divorces, and a few 
would get pregnant.  I would not presume that the vaccine caused the 
heart attacks any more than that it caused the divorces - not until it 
was shown to be a problem in people with no other risk factors.

Vaccines and antibiotics are the two greatest triumphs of Western 
medicine to date.  (Okay, we'll throw insulin in there too, but it 
doesn't affect as many people.....)  Remember, please, that at the turn 
of the century, infectious disease was the #1 cause of death in this 
country, routinely killing the young and robust as well as the old and 
frail.   It is precisely because vaccines work so well that we now have 
the luxury of being paranoid about them.  They do suffer from the 
public-relations problem, however, that (unlike antibiotics) you need 
to take vaccines while you're healthy - so our tolerance for side 
effects from them is quite low - even more so when actual disease they 
protect against seems unlikely to strike.  Why is the disease unlikely 
to strike?  Because the population has been almost entirely vaccinated, 
and vaccines work!      (Yes, yes, there are other reasons too - clean 
water, food, and sanitation, etc. - but very few people worry about 

This is not to say that our current vaccines are entirely risk-free - 
they do cause problems for that unlucky one in a million (more or less, 
depending on the vaccine) and unfortunately we usually can't predict 
who the unlucky one will be.  But - we play dice with our lives every 
day, and getting an FDA-approved vaccine is one of the safest bets 
going (far safer than getting into a car, for example).  I myself 
received the smallpox vaccine back in the "old days", and I got a 
closely related "vaccinia" vaccine when I worked in an immunology lab 
four years ago.  Like almost everyone who got these vaccines, I am 
fine.  I snap up every vaccine that is offered to me, and I do so for 
my diabetic daughter also - even more so for her, because illness is a 
bigger problem for a diabetic than for a non-D, and we just want to do 
anything we can to keep her from getting sick.

That being said, smallpox is the one disease that had been eradicated 
from the globe, at least in nature.  So the risk of this particular 
disease truly should be zero (unless of course those "top secret" last 
samples of the virus were nefariously raided and made into biological 
weapons).  Can't say that I know whether there really are smallpox 
bombs around, so -  I'm not going out of my way to get this particular 
vaccine for my daughter.   But if it were recommended, you bet I'd be 
happy to inject her myself.

- Maria Oyaski
mom to Sigrid, dx'd Sept. '02, will be Cozmo-pumping on Wednesday (just 
in time for her 18-month birthday).
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