Archive for December, 2010

Vaccines, Vegans, & Autistic Puppies, Oh My!

December 7, 2010

With flu season I’ve been seeing more anti-vax comments online, so I have decided to rewrite this post and update it to help deal with this vexing issue.

The issue of vaccines has been a much debated one in the vegan sub-culture and is one of the areas in which I think well meaning vegans can have rational disagreements, some fully support getting all recommended vaccinations, some selectively vaccinate, and others choose to abstain. Unfortunately while researching this post I came upon a shocking number of vegans citing the misinformation about mercury and “toxins” as a reason they choose not to vaccinate. Such objections just aren’t supported by the science. On a whole vaccines are a benefit to human health but some vegans have issues with animals suffering to make vaccines through animal testing and animal derived ingredients.

The current flu vaccine is made using fertilized chicken eggs, about 1-5 injectable doses produced from each egg, though one egg can produce over a hundred doses of the nasal spray FluMist, so this may be a reasonable lower impact compromise for some individuals. Many other vaccines are also produced using various animal ingredients such as bovine serum, gelatin, milk derivatives, and other forms of animal tissue. The egg method of vaccine production is slow and inefficient and that has been reason enough for the industry to seek out more efficient and hopefully animal-friendly vaccine production methods.

Among these advances are methods using cell lines derived from vero cells, canine kidney tissue, or caterpillar cells, “the cells can be grown essentially forever in the laboratory. And so, no animals need to be sacrificed.” One benefit of such methods is that a new batch of vaccine can be produced in days as opposed to a couple months with the embryonated egg method. Other advances include plant based vaccines with research in Texas working with tobacco plants leading the way.

For a more on other “controversies” surrounding vaccines please check out this post on Vegan Skeptic.

Some folks have taken their anti-vax ideology to extremes…or its logical conclusion.

In a recent article in the Daily Mail, Catherine O’Driscoll is taking the anti-vax propaganda to a new level. She is worried that vaccines are making puppies autistic. The question of how a layperson can diagnose a sometimes-subtle spectrum disorder in a non-human is enough to throw some doubt onto her story, but this woman raises so many red flags you would think its May Day.

She claims, “We are not anti-vaccination,” explaining, “What we are saying is that currently our pets are receiving far too many.” Yet on her own website she also says, “I do not vaccinate my dogs at all – because I believe that vaccines are capable of destroying health.”

So just like Jenny McCarthy does for children, she is using the “too many, too soon” argument as a Trojan horse for the elimination of all vaccines.

This is old news people, but guess what, vaccines DON’T CAUSE AUTISM! The question has been extensively studied, and despite the public controversy stirred up by entertainment celebrities, the scientific consensus is that vaccines for humans and animals are generally safe, with very low incidence of side effects. To not vaccinate your pet is to leave them susceptible to a wide variety of potentially deadly diseases like Parvo, Distemper and Rabies. An un-vaccinated pet runs the risk of infecting multiple other animals or even infecting a person with rabies.

Why would someone promote something so foolish? Well, maybe she really believes it (people believe weirder things). But you should also note that in addition to books and DVDs, her website is offering one- or two-day seminars to learn an energy healing/acupressure technique she calls the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) for £55 to £170.

Whether it is financial interest or genuine delusion causing her to do it doesn’t matter in light of the fact that she may be responsible for many preventable canine deaths.


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