Monday, 28 February 2011

Why do people reject getting the needle?

There are six reasons why people have needles stuck into them. They are as follows: 1.inoculations and vaccinations, 2.withdrawal of blood or withdrawal of spinal fluid, 3.diabetes test, 4.anesthesia,, 5.acupuncture, 6,illicit drug use.

I think most people shy away from getting a needle stuck into them because they think they will get sick or die from whatever it is that is being inserted in their bodies via the needles. Actually inserting illicit drugs into your body with a dirty needle will get you sick and you may also die.

The prime reason is because of the pain that generally goes with the insertion of the needle. Here is a tip for you. When you are at the dentist and he wants to insert a needle into your gums to freeze your gums and teeth for extraction etc., ask him to use the ‘baby’needle. The insertion of that needle doesn’t hurt as much as the ordinary needles because the baby needle is thinner.

For the purpose of this article, it is my intention to write entirely about the seventh reason as to why people shy away from the insertion of needles into their bodies.

As long as vaccinations against diseases have been around, there have been die-hard opponents convinced that these shots do more harm than good. ‘Vaccine phobia’ has perhaps never been expressed more vehemently than with the standard measles-mumps-rubella childhood vaccine,(MMR)which many insist is tied to autism. Even after the retraction last year by The Lancet ( a world renowned journal on medicine) of the controversial study that first proposed such a link, and subsequent charges of fraud against its lead author, 18% of Americans surveyed in a recent Harris Interactive/Health Day poll said they believed the MMR shot could cause autism. These theories lack scientific evidence and are biologically implausible.

I don’t intend to go into great detail about autism in this article other than to say that it is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize. How this occurs is not currently fully understood.

Autism has a strong genetic basis, although the genetics of autism are complex and it is unclear whether ‘autism spectrum disorder’ is explained more by rare mutations, or by rare combinations of common genetic variants. But whatever the causes are, it isn’t caused by vaccines.

Why are vaccines such lightning rods for suspicion and fear, despite scientific evidence that immunization campaigns have helped millions of people around the world live longer, healthier lives? One thing is for sure: the trend is not a new one.

According to a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, fear of vaccinations has been around since Edward Jenner administered his first smallpox shot in 1796. Skepticism waned during the middle of the 20th century however, as the first large-scale immunization campaigns beat back longtime killers such as diphtheria, tetanus, polio and measles.

And yet early in the 21st century, fear of vaccines has reared up once more. A study published in the March 2010 issue of Pediatrics found that although 90% of surveyed parents still thought vaccines offered good protection for their kids, almost 12% had refused at least one vaccine for their child.

These fears come at a real cost to public health, experts say: Declines in vaccination rates have been tied to recent U.S. outbreaks of measles and whooping cough, potentially fatal diseases the shots are meant to prevent. Doctors have noted the trend, even among adult patients.

"I have been increasingly frustrated with efforts to vaccinate people in my clinic and how my persuasion efforts, which are formidable, are not working," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

It’s strange when you think about it. Some people refuse to let a doctor or nurse inject anything foreign such as a vaccine into their body, notwithstanding the fact that they inhale nicotine and all the other deadly chemicals one finds in cigarettes into their lungs knowing that inhaling tobacco will eventually kill them if they keep it up.

Although vaccines seem especially singled out for distrust, very few people suspect other common therapies, such as cough syrups or antibiotics as a source of autism or other illnesses in kids. So why is there the lingering suspicion, despite so much solid science suggesting vaccines are both safe and lifesaving?

According to some experts, one reason may be that immunization campaigns have become victims of their own successes. We're not seeing these dangerous infectious diseases any more. For this reason, many people believe that it isn’t really necessary to be given shots for these vanishing diseases anymore. As far as I know, the only disease that has been completely eradicated is smallpox. That is why the vaccine for smallpox isn’t given any more to children. However, most adults over twenty years of age still have the telltale vaccination mark on their upper arm. What I find amusing is when I see the vaccination mark on the arm of a gladiator in a movie depicting life in ancient Rome.

For most people, vaccines were an easy sell when it comes to combating such diseases as measles, mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough and polio. I had TB when I was five and chickenpox when I was in my mid teens however I was spared the rest of those insidious diseases because I was vaccinated as a child. As a senior, I also get my annual free flue shot.

In generations past, the overwhelming benefits of vaccination were easy to spot as the numbers of children killed or disabled by infectious disease trickled away.

"We actually had an incident during the 1950s where the vaccine (in rare cases) may have caused polio," noted Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a child neurologist with Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "Do you think people cared? They were so scared of polio that they kept lining up for the shot." he added, "In today's day and age that would never fly. We're not seeing the natural infections any more therefore we have a skewed view of the benefits and risks."

The fear seems also to have been fueled by an ever expanding and complicated vaccine schedule for younger children, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommending 11 vaccines in multiple doses during the first six years of life.

All of that can play into parents' natural protective instincts for their children, Families always worry about their children's health, so it follows that if a claim comes up that vaccines could impact on their child's health, they begin to worry. In many parents' minds, more vaccinations must imply a higher potential for something untoward happening, and thus the wider benefits of immunization become overshadowed by that concern.

Also lying at the heart of things is probably the simple fact that people are afraid of needles penetrating their bodies, or their children's bodies. Unlike pills, for example, "shots are considered invasive. It's an aggressive act," explained Offit, who has just written a book, Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine

Movement Threatens Us All. "A child is taken against their will, pinned down on a table or held by their mother. It can hurt and children can get as many as 26 inoculations in the first six years of life. People don't understand what's in the vial. To them it's just some kind of biological agent."

There is some valid reason for thinking that the insertion of needles will harm people. I know because I suffered from two terrible reactions with respect to the insertion of two needles. This happened to me within a week of each insertion. It was in the summer of 1953 when I was in a Canadian naval base in Esquimalt on Vancouver Island.

I was on guard duty and got sunstroke. My temperature had risen to 105 (which can be fatal) so I phoned my superior officer and told him that I was close to passing out. He told me to walk directly to the base hospital which was about a block away.
After I was put on a gurney, a large spinal needle was inserted in my lower back to withdraw some spinal fluid for testing. Unfortunately, too much was withdrawn and I was slowly being paralyzed. The doctor was called and he ordered some of the fluid to be reinserted into me again.

A week later, an orderly inserted a needle into my left buttock so that I would get my (four times a day) 250,000 units of penicillin. Unfortunately, he accidentally injected the drug directly into my sciatic nerve which runs from our backbones then passes through our buttocks and finally continues down our legs. I thought I had been shot. I later told the doctor that I refuse to take another shot of penicillin. He said that instead of getting the drug via the needle, he would give it to me orally.

Why I wasn’t given it orally from the beginning, I don’t know. For two weeks I needed a cane to walk and for the next thirty years, whenever I walked too far and even stood still too long, I suffered from severe pain in my upper left leg. I don’t blame the orderly however for this unfortunate mishap. The sciatic nerve isn’t in any particular place in people’s buttocks. There is simply no way of knowing where it is in any particular person’s buttocks.

Vaccine scares are nothing new. When Edward Jenner first pioneered the use of the mild disease cow pox to inoculate against the deadly small pox in the 18th century, satirists drew cartoons of vaccinated patients sprouting cow's heads. Now, it seems, every country in the developed world has its own type of scare. In France, protesters claim that the hepatitis B vaccines cause multiple sclerosis, in the US, that the vaccine's mercury additives are responsible for the rise in autism. In the UK, there was a furor over whooping cough and then, famously, MMR. All have been exposed as groundless fears, yet anti-vaccine feeling continues to reverberate on the internet. Now doctors warn that such rumours from the UK, Europe and the US are spilling over into the developing world, where they are threatening to derail global vaccination programmes. This could mean putting the lives of thousands of children at risk.

In South Africa, concerns about MMR, generated by coverage in the rest of the English-speaking world including the UK, have led to unwillingness to receive the vaccine, and subsequently there has been an outbreak of nearly 7,000 cases of measles. For children with poor health and limited access to medical services, this decision has been disastrous. There have already been hundreds of deaths of children who didn’t get the inoculations because of this unfounded fear.

Meanwhile, in India the government has recently overturned recommendations from its own scientific advisers to include the Haemophilus influenzae bug (Hib) vaccine in its basic childhood programme, despite the fact that the World Health Organization says that 20% of the 400,000 childhood deaths from pneumonias caused by Hib worldwide occur in India. In the UK, childhood Hib vaccination has seen Hib-caused meningitis (the more common Hib illness in the developed world) fall away to almost nothing. Yet Indian lobbying groups in India, led by opposition politicians, still claim that Hib vaccines are not only unnecessary, but have caused a number of deaths. The tactics of the Indian anti-Hib groups draw directly on the work of UK and US anti-vaccine websites.

Anti-vaccine fears, and the groups set up to highlight them in the developed world, may not directly cause these problems, but are they are fuelling and amplifying them according to Dr Heidi Larson of the vaccine programme and policy group at Imperial College London.

Shockingly, just five minutes after looking at websites critical of vaccines, increases your perceptions of the risks and reduces the perceptions of the risks of not being inoculated, according to a recent paper from a German group published in the Journal of Health Psychology. Rumours about vaccines quickly gain credence in the internet hothouse, with sites feeding off each other. Many sites will tell you that four girls in India died within 24 hours of receiving HPV vaccines. What they don't say is that two died in road crashes, one from a snake bite, and one fell down a well. Add this rumour to the feeling that vaccination is something that is done to you by government, by global agencies or by big pharmaceutical companies, and conspiracy theories are virtually guaranteed.

So what can be done? So far, campaigners have insisted on more information, awareness and education. But this approach has failed. Instead, the idea of each country taking ownership is being explored, along with advocacy and immediate action to quell rumours.

In South America, which has astonishingly high rates of vaccination, indoctrination clearly works. Brazil's rates are 98% of children across all of the childhood vaccines. This is partly because campaigners such as Ciro de Quadros, the legendary former director of the Pan American Health Organization, have made vaccination rates a matter of local pride. Every mayor in Brazil will tell you that the vaccination rate in their town has been successful. Grassroots advocacy has also been a powerful counter force to rumour in countries such as Bolivia and Peru, which are as poverty-stricken and with infrastructure as poor as some in Africa. I know this to be a fact as I have visited those two countries.

At a congress dealing with this issue, pediatricians from African countries with the poorest vaccination rates, such as Ethiopia, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, were enrolled in workshops, they were told how to develop grassroots advocacy at home, by linking up to women's groups and local chiefs.

Lois Privor-Dumm of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University is the strategy director of the Hib Inititative, which aims to get Hib adopted more widely. She cautions that "it would be wrong to characterize all opposition to vaccines as cranky or anti-science," because there can be problems with vaccines. "There is often a grain of truth at the bottom of it, and you need to listen."

Yet the risk they pose is so strong that Larson has now set up a vaccine trust group to monitor rumours that threaten vaccination programmes. "When we look at vaccine scares, we see evidence that there was a problem flagged far in advance," says Larson.

If any parent reading this article is seriously considering not having their children immunized against infectious and deadly diseases, consider what will happen to their children if they catch any one of these diseases.

Diphtheria is a very contagious and potentially life-threatening infection that usually attacks the throat and nose. In more serious cases, it can attack the nerves and heart. Because of widespread immunization, diphtheria is very rare in the United States and Canada. However, some people are not adequately vaccinated, and cases still occur in these two countries.

Whooping cough certainly hasn't been eliminated as a public health problem. However, the incidence of whooping cough has decreased by more than 90% over the last 50 years, but there are still outbreaks. While most other diseases that are vaccinated against in childhood are decreasing in frequency, cases of whooping cough have actually increased since 1990. This is likely due to the lower effectiveness of older vaccines, decreased protection from the disease (immunity) in adults and adolescents, and increased reporting of whooping cough by doctors. Between 2,000 to 10,000 cases a year have been reported in Canada over the last 10 years. In Canada, 1 to 3 Canadians die each year from whooping cough. In unvaccinated populations, most cases occur in children under 5, especially in babies less than 6 months old. Because the effects of the vaccination wear off, adults are also susceptible to the disease. The cough can last for 1 to 2 months and may be worse at night. Even after treatment to kill the bacteria, a person may continue to cough as the body repairs the damage to the lining of the trachea (windpipe). It’s called whooping cough because of the whooping sound emanating from the victim’s mouth.

Measles, also known as Rubella or Morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus. Measles is spread through respiration (contact with fluids from an infected person's nose and mouth, either directly or through aerosol transmission), and is highly contagious—90% of people without immunity sharing living space with an infected person will catch it. Victims of this disease will also be covered with a very itchy red rash for at least four or five days.

Poliomyelitis, often called polio or infantile paralysis, is an acute viral infectious disease spread from person to person, primarily via the fecal-oral route. It is a very crippling disease. In about 1% of cases the virus enters the central nervous system, preferentially infecting and destroying motor neurons, leading to muscle weakness and acute flaccid paralysis. Different types of paralysis may occur, depending on the nerves involved. Spinal polio is the most common form, characterized by asymmetric paralysis that most often involves the legs. President Delenor Roosevelt suffered from this infliction and spent a good part of his mature life in a wheelchair. A vaccine (Salk vaccine--named after the doctor that discovered it) for polio was developed in the 1950s. Polio vaccines are credited with reducing the global number of polio cases per year from many hundreds of thousands to around a thousand a year. Enhanced vaccination efforts led by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and Rotary International could result in eventual global eradication of the disease.

Tetanus is an infectious disease caused by contamination of wounds from bacteria that live in the soil. The causative bacterium Clostridium tetani is a hardy organism capable of living many years in the soil in a form called a spore. Tetanus occurs when a wound becomes contaminated with bacterial spores. Infection follows when spores become activated and develop into gram-positive bacteria that multiply and produce a very powerful toxin (poison) that affects the muscles. Tetanus spores are found throughout the environment, usually in soil, dust, and animal waste. The usual locations for the bacteria to enter your body are puncture wounds, such as those caused by rusty nails, splinters, or insect bites, burns and any other break in the skin. Tetanus results in severe, uncontrollable muscle spasms. The jaw is locked by muscle spasms, causing the disease to sometimes be called ‘lockjaw.’ In severe cases, the muscles used to breathe can spasm, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain and other organs that may possibly lead to death.

Mumps is an infection caused by the mumps virus. Anyone who is not immune from either previous mumps infection or from vaccination can get mumps. Before the routine vaccination program was introduced in the United States and Canada, mumps was a common illness in infants, children and young adults. Because most people have now been vaccinated, mumps is now a rare disease in the United States and Canada. Of those people who do get mumps, up to half have very mild, or no symptoms at all and therefore do not know they were infected with mumps. The most common symptoms are fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite followed by onset of parotitis (swollen and tender salivary glands under the ears; on one or both sides). The most common complication is the inflammation of the testicles (orchitis) in males who have reached puberty, but rarely does this lead to fertility problems. Other rare complications include: Inflammation of the brain and/or tissue covering the brain and spinal cord (encephalitis/meningitis) Inflammation of the ovaries (oophoritis) and/or breasts (mastitis) in females who have reached puberty.

These are just some of the diseases that children and adults should be vaccinated for. In the developed world, our children are well nourished and healthy and have easy access to medical care. However, it's by no means a guarantee that they will not die of an infectious disease, but vaccination helps enormously.

How shameful it is that the actions of those not threatened by infectious disease are still putting the lives of those who are, at risk simply because they think vaccinations will harm their children. That belief is ludicrous and unfortunately, some of these fools may finally become aware of their foolishness when their children die from these terrible diseases. When a parent ignores the importance of inoculations against fatal diseases, the fool and his child are soon parted; permanently.

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