The anti-vaccination movement has no better friends than in the alternative medicine world. In the Massachusetts study mentioned in my last blog, less than one-third of the homeopaths recommended immunization, and almost 10 percent actively opposed immunization. In England, the most common reason given for not having children immunized is the recommendation parents receive from a homeopath.
A study of children attending a Canadian naturopathic clinic raised public health concerns when it found that 9 percent were unvaccinated, compared to 3 percent of the general population.
A survey of Canadian naturopathic students found that 13 percent would recommend full vaccination, 74 percent would recommend some vaccination, and 13 percent were unwilling to recommend any vaccination.
While all vaccines carry a small risk of adverse effects, lack of immunization carries significant greater risks.
Children in the United States who were not immunized against measles were between twenty-two and thirty-five times more likely to contract the illness than those who received the measles vaccine.
As more people refuse to be immunized, the health of the community can be affected negatively.
During the 1970s and 1980s, and now over the last year, concerns about alleged side effects from the pertussis vaccine led to reduced usage, resulting in a major resurgence in whooping cough (also called “pertussis”).
This infection can be very serious in young children (in fact, several have died from a pertussis epidemic in California recently), which is why those alternative therapists who preach against established immunization programs do not have scientific support.
Reluctance to recommend vaccination, or actively campaigning against it, has been found in CAM practitioners in general, which is another indirect risk of CAM, since widespread vaccination is crucial for effective protection.
A broader concern raised by opposition to vaccination is what it reveals about the value therapists place on research evidence.
For example, only 30 percent of chiropractors in the Boston area promote immunization, the effectiveness of which is supported by high-quality studies, while 70 percent recommend herbs and dietary supplements with little or no research support.
Different values will impact different decisions, but all health care professionals should make recommendations based on the best research evidence available.
Here are some of my blogs on vaccinations over the last year:
Here’s the entire series:
You can read more about this topic in my book, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, which is endorsed by the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.