I will start of this post by saying that I am very cautious about vaccines in my own animals and myself. I believe vaccines offer immunity for years, if not for a lifetime, and potentially down the generations as well via the colostrum. I'm not going to answer the vaccine question for you, or for your animals. Rather than attempt to sway you to my way of looking at vaccines, I'm offering some definitions and some resources so you can go out and do your own research and make up your own mind.
You can google any one of these words, or combinations of these words, and come back with hundreds of relevant and not-so-relevant websites. The links I provide will lead you to more links, as well as the names of well-known veterinarians. Go forth and learn!
Terms like disease, infection, bacteria, virus, sickness, illness, toxoids all get tossed around in conversations about vaccines. Do you find the terms confusing? I know I used to. So let's talk a bit about the labels we use.
Disease: a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific signs or symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury.
"bacterial meningitis is a rare disease"
|synonyms:||illness, sickness, ill health;|
Bacteria & bacterium: a member of a large group of unicellular microorganisms that have cell walls but lack organelles and an organized nucleus, can multiply outside the living cells of a host. A pathogen.
Virus: an infective agent that typically consists of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat, is too small to be seen by light microscopy, and is able to multiply only within the living cells of a host. Another type of pathogen.
Toxoid: A toxoid is a bacterial toxin (usually an exotoxin) whose toxicity has been inactivated or suppressed either by chemical (formalin) or heat treatment
Vaccine: a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease.
Nosode: homeopathic remedy created from some element of the disease itself, such as a discharge or diseased tissue.
Vaccinosis: "vaccinosis is the establishment of, instead of the acute natural disease, a chronic condition which now has the time to develop a multitude of manifestations not ordinarily seen" Dr Richard Pitcairn
Miasm: homeopathic theory, a general weakness or predisposition to chronic disease that is transmitted down the generational chain
Titers: the concentration of an antibody, as determined by finding the highest dilution at which it is still able to cause agglutination of the antigen. Used to check for immunity to a particular pathogen.
Antibody: a blood or lymph protein produced in response to and counteracting a specific antigen. Antibodies combine chemically with substances that the body recognizes as alien, such as bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances in the blood. The presence of antibodies indicates the body has been exposed to a particular substance.
Antigen: a toxin or other foreign substance, such as a bacterium or virus, that induces an immune response in the body, especially the production of antibodies
Pathogen: a bacterium, virus, or other microorganism
Vaccines are marketed as protection against disease. So, before we can talk about vaccinating - or not vaccinating - your animals, we should talk a bit about health and disease and how diseases are passed around.
The body has defenses each of these types of entry.
Organisms that are eaten are usually killed by the stomach acid.
Organisms that are inhaled are normally captured by the hairs and mucous in the respiratory tract and then expelled.
The skin is a physical barrier.
Organisms that get around these barriers are then attacked by the body. The immune system has a variety of cells that attack invaders and destroy them. For a more detailed explanation of the immune system, http://thyroid.about.com/cs/endocrinology/l/blimmune.htm has an explanation of each type of attack cell.
The theory behind vaccines is that the vaccine introduces a safe form of the disease organism into the body so that the body mounts a defense against it. Then the body has the immune cells and memory to fight that organism if ever exposed again
Some thoughts for you to ponder about vaccines:
Vaccines often introduce organisms into the body in a way that organism normally wouldn't enter. If the body is designed to kill a particular organism with stomach acid, and that organism is injected through the skin, will that change how the body responds? If an organism is normally inhaled, is injecting it through the skin the best approach?
Another question about vaccines is the use of combination vaccines. How often in nature would the body be exposed to multiple serious organisms in one single moment? In a single day? In a single wound?
Then there is the question of how to make the organism in the vaccine safe. A live vaccine risks introducing the disease. Killing the organism means it must be preserved. Many of the preservatives are known to be toxic, like the infamous thimerisol (mercury).
There is also a question of dosage. Would you give the same dose to a pygmy goat and a large meat goat? To a toy poodle and a great pyrenees? Currently, the manufacturers recommend one dose for all sizes.
There is also the question of how long immunity lasts. After a natural exposure and recovery from an infectious disease, immunity often lasts for life. So how often should vaccines actually be given?
How about the safety studies on the vaccine. If the vaccine is going to be a combination killed vaccine, did the safety studies use the same combination in killed form, with all the preservatives?
Now let's circle back for a moment to the common expression "disease-causing pathogens" and "contagious diseases". The entire theory of vaccination is based upon Pasteur's original work with germ theory. One little complication with that - Pasteur may have gotten it wrong.
Started by Pasteur, the basic premise of germ theory is that germs/bacteria/viruses cause disease. Béchamp, Bernard and others continued the research and drew some interesting conclusions which turn the conventional medical model of germ theory on its ear. Here are a few links to Pasteur and the issues with his theory. (These links often vanish from the internet almost as quickly as they are posted. )
There is much debate over whether or not Pasteur recanted before his death. http://www.mnwelldir.org/docs/history/biographies/louis_pasteur.htm This link appears to offer solid research that Pasteur did NOT recant. His contemporaries Claude Bernard and Antoine Bechamp had very different ideas about pathogens and disease, so you may choose to google them as well. I personally think Bernard got it right with his thoughts on pH and the health of the host. A healthy host with correct pH fights off pathogens.
Nosodes are similar to vaccines because they trigger the body to mount an immune defense against a pathogen. Nosodes are different from vaccines because they contain the energetic or vibrational signature of the pathogen, rather than the actual pathogen. Many feel the nosodes may be a safer option. Others feel the nosodes are ineffective. I personally am comfortable with nosodes.
Many folks have their horses and goats tested for contagious diseases. Animals that test positive are removed from breeding programs, or removed entirely.
Many goat producers cull (remove from their herd) any goat that tests positive for CAE, CL or Johnes (you can do an internet search on these pathogens for more details).
Horse folks euthanize horses that test positive for EIA (Coggins test)
So far, dogs don't get culled for diseases.
Logic tells me that an animal showing symptoms for a disease, obviously struggling to thrive, and testing positive for that pathogen's antibodies, is a good candidate to be removed from the breeding pool.
However, what about culling animals that are thriving, symptom-free, yet test positive for the pathogen's antibodies? That positive titer means that animal fought that disease and WON. Do we truly want to remove that superior immunity from the gene pool? If you subscribe to the theory that pathogen transmission is controlled by the health of the host, how much risk is a positive animal creating for the herd? I don't have an answer - just asking the questions to get you thinking logically about where our culling choices could be taking us.
Many veterinarians have written and researched extensively about vaccines, nosodes, vaccinosis and miasms. A few of the most well-known are:
Dr Richard Pitcairn
Dr Donna Starita
Dr Edgar Sheaffer
Dr Martin Goldstein
Dr Jean Dodds
Each of their websites has links to various books and articles that offer more clues. You can also google their names combined with any of the vaccine terminology to uncover more articles of interest.
For a look at the human side of pathogens and vaccines, I suggest the book Evidence of Harm by David Kirby.
After doing your research, you have likely narrowed your approaches down to:
Let my vet and doctor decide for me because I am overwhelmed
Do a modified reduced vaccine schedule, and take steps to reduce the vaccine side-effects
Run blood titers and vaccinate only as needed
Use nosodes instead
Focus entirely on improving my health and immune system and my animals as well
If you choose any of the first 3 options, there are some additional steps you can take to minimize the effects.
As soon as the needle is withdrawn, slap a bentonite clay poultice over the injection site.
Give zeolite orally for several days to absorb any heavy metals (I use Waiora NCD)
Give prebiotics with meals for a couple days before and after the vaccine
Give Ester C (buffered vitamin C) for a couple days before and after the vaccine
Give homeopathic Thuja occidentallis 30C once after the vaccine
If possible, use single-valent rather than combination vaccines. (Hint: some users report killing live vaccines in a hot water bath just before use to avoid the preservatives in killed vaccines. Use this method at your own risk.)
Separate single vaccines by several weeks
Do not vaccinate during stress, or within 2 weeks prior to stress (stress=travel, showing, breeding, pregnancy, deworming, weaning, trimming, etc)
*For a large herd all getting vaccines on the same day, zeolite, prebiotics and Ester C can be added to drinking water or blended into feed. Clay can be applied at the time of the shot, and allowed to dry up and fall off without further handling. The thuja can be given orally at the time of the shot.
I encourage all people who share their lives with various critters to form their own conclusions about appropriate care for their animals and themselves. These links, thoughts and questions will give you a starting point in your search for your own truth. Enjoy!
copyright (c) 2016
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration or AVMA, and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult your veterinarian or doctor about any changes to your or your animals' health program.