Homeopathic Vaccines, what are they?

Many individuals who take a pro-vaccine stance blame homeopaths for the decreasing rates of vaccination in modern community. People believe that homeopaths are influencing their patients to stop the use of conventional vaccines and rather use ‘nosodes’, or homeopathic vaccines. However, a study conducted in May 2016 aimed to evaluate the stance that many homeopaths take on the administration of conventional vaccines. Their survey found that there was one important factor in determining whether an individual was pro- or anti-vaccine, and that was whether they were medically qualified or not. In this survey they found that medically qualified homeopaths suggest following the conventional vaccination schedule as outlined by the government, while non-medically qualified homeopaths advocate for the use of nosodes or homeopathic vaccines. So, what are nosodes?

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Figure 1: Vaccination vs Nosodes

Nosodes are a homeopathic preparation that involves the serial dilution of a tissue that is infected by the bacteria or virus of choice. The infected material can come from a range of infected human tissues or bodily fluids. One procedure known to be used is taking the infected materials, sterilizing them using alcohol and diluted multiple times by a factor of 100 until they are at a non-infectious concentration. It is important to know that there are no guidelines or specific rules for how nosodes should be prepared. More than 45 nosodes have been in use since the 1830s, but do they work and can they be used as an alternative to conventional vaccines? In recent years, the use of nosodes has increased in popularity with the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, with many parents opting for the use of nosodes instead of conventional vaccines, with many families deciding not to vaccinate at all.

The important thing to know about nosodes, is that there isn’t much scientific evidence behind the preparation, efficacy, or safety of using them. Some studies have aimed at evaluate the efficacy of the Tularaemia nosode in comparison to the conventional Tularaemia vaccine, with findings showing the nosodes for Tularaemia only provided protection in 22% of the tested population, while the conventional vaccine was found to provide 100% protection. The reason why some individuals choose to use nosodes rather than conventional vaccines, is that they have fears surrounding the ingredients contained within vaccines and whether they are necessary and safe. Hovever conventional vaccines have to go through an extensive period of testing before they are allowed to be produced and given to the public, this testing ensures that there is a minimal risk of harm and maximal benefit. It is important to know that nosodes do not go through such rigorous testing the ensure their safety and effectiveness before release. There are still various reason why people can’t or choose not to use conventional vaccines, some of which will be discussed in later post, so stay tuned for more information!

Image result for vaccine ingredientsFigure 2: Common Ingredients present in Conventional Vaccines

If you are interested in finding out how vaccines work, please watch the video below and please feel free to comment if you have any questions!

How do Vaccines Work?

References

  1.       Eizayaga JE, Waisse S. What do homeopathic doctors think of vaccines? An international online survey. Homeopathy [internet], 2016 May [Cited 2017 Feb 14]; 105(2): 180 – 185. Available from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.library.uwa.edu.au/science/article/pii/S1475491615000843
  2.       Nieman P. The dangers of homeopathic vaccines. Calgary Herald [internet], 2014 April 10 [Cited 2017 Feb 14]. Available from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.uwa.edu.au/docview/1515174111?accountid=14681&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo
  3.       Joshi S, Mukerjee S, Vaidya S, Talele G, Chowdhary A, Shah R. Preparation, standardization and in vitro safety testing of Mycobacterium nosodes (Emtact-polyvalent nosode). Homeopathy [internet], 2016 Aug [Cited 2017 Feb 14]; 105(3): 225-232. Available from http://www.sciencedirect.com.ezproxy.library.uwa.edu.au/science/article/pii/S1475491616000175
  4.       Rieder MJ, Robinson JL. ‘Nosodes’ are no substitute for vaccines. Paediatric Child Health [internet], 2015 May [Cited 2017 Feb 14]; 20(4): 219–220. Available from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.uwa.edu.au/docview/1685380342?accountid=14681&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo
  5.       Jonas WB. Do homeopathic nosodes protect against infection? An experimental test. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine [internet], 1999 Sep [Cites 2017 Feb 14]; 5.5: 36-40. Available from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.uwa.edu.au/docview/204813254?OpenUrlRefId=info:xri/sid:primo&accountid=14681
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An Overview

Image result for vaccines

Figure 1. Available from: http://dhhs.ne.gov/publichealth/Immunization/Pages/Home.aspx

Anti-vaccination movements have existed for as long as vaccines themselves, and though arguments against vaccination have varied over time, they have often stemmed from similar roots; religious opposition, distrust in the medical sciences and misinformation through flawed vaccination studies.

Currently in Australia, childhood vaccination rates are at around 91-93%, between the ages of one and five years, across all National Immunisation Program vaccines. Although this percentage seems adequate, immunisation rates need to be at this level, or higher, in order to reach the Herd Immunity Threshold, and protect vulnerable individuals (who cannot vaccinate) within the wider community.

Unfortunately, there are pockets of communities in Australia where the immunisation rate is significantly lower, with several towns in New South Wales having rates under 75% for children under five years old. This is well below levels needed to achieve herd immunity for most vaccine preventable diseases, and these low figures can result in outbreaks of these diseases within vulnerable populations.

One of the significant reasons for this disparity in vaccination rates, and the increase in outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases such as measles, is the rise of anti-vaccination movement. These movements can spread fear and distrust in the medical field, leading to parents making the tough choice to not vaccinate their child. Unfortunately, this can have a negative effect on the wider community, not just the individuals making the decision.

Image result for confused mom

Figure 2. Illustrates the effect of having vast amounts of information available to parents. Available from: https://weareiu.com/blog/erica-miller/what-to-expect-iu-temp-housing

It is worth noting that, no matter what side you stand on, no parent makes a decision for their child with the intention of causing them any harm. Therefore, this blog aims to present and discuss perspectives on both sides of the argument, debunk any myths that are encountered and open up conversation between pro- and anti- vaccination movements. It is hoped that through this blog, we can educate the wider community to make better, scientifically backed decisions that benefit both the individual and the wider community.

References

  1.   Immunise. AIR – Current Data. Australian Government: Department of Health; 2016 [Cited: 16 Feb 2017]. Available from: http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/acir-curr-data.htm
  2.   Teach UNICEF. Data Analysis Activity: Herd Immunity. UNICEF; 2015 [Cited: 16 Feb 2017]. Available from: https://www.teachunicef.org/sites/default/files/Data_Analysis.pdf
  3.   My Healthy Communities. Immunisation Interactive Data Table. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; 2016 [Cited: 16 Feb 2017]. Available from: http://www.myhealthycommunities.gov.au/interactive/immunisation/table/postcode