Apr 30, 2013 7:46 PM by Andy Koen
COLORADO SPRINGS - Immunization records shows one in six students in Academy District 20 opted out of at least one of their scheduled vaccines this school year. The district's exemption rate increased from 11 percent, or roughly one in nine students, the previous year.
While official immunization rates are recorded at a state-level, El Paso County Public Health director Hill Law acknowledges local vaccination rates could be higher.
"We definitely know there's always room to improve because we do not and have not reached our goal of being above 92 to 94 percent in specific targeted age groups," Law said.
So, why are Colorado Springs parents opting out? Doctor Candice Koch of Active Chiropractic Wellness thinks it has to do with how the vaccines are made.
"They inhibit it with the monkey liver as well as aborted fetuses," Dr. Koch explained of the vaccine manufacturing process.
Vaccines for Rabies, Hepatitis A, Rubella and Varicella are all manufactured using what are called "fetal diploid cells." The cells were originally harvested from two aborted fetuses back in the 1960's, one from the US and the other in the United Kingdom.
Neither abortion was induced expressly for the manufacture of the diploid cells. Also, the cells naturally self-regenerate and have been produced in laboratories ever since.
Dr. Koch says another major concern is the use of the mercury containing compound Thimerosal as a preservative. Some people believe the compound is linked to autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and speech and language delays.
"In my opinion, the side effects outweigh what you're getting for immunity," Koch said.
Thimerosal is 49.6 percent ethylmercury by weight and was first introduced as a vaccine preservative in the 1930's. The few scientific studies that have been conducted have not found a definitive link between consumption of the drug and Autism or any other disorder.
Nevertheless, the Food and Drug Administration phased out the use of Thimerosal in most vaccines by 2001. However, as Koch points out, trace amounts of the compound can be found in 16 of the 77 vaccine variants listed by the FDA.
"If you ask your doctor, okay is there Thimerosal in this, sometimes the doctor will have to go out and get a thimerosal free vaccine, because they say they're mercury free but you don't know until you actually ask."
Colorado law allows parents to exempt their kids from vaccines based on philosophical or religious grounds. In 2005, the Vatican encouraged Catholics to seek alternative vaccines that are not manufactured with fetal diploid cells.
The paper encourages pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines free of fetal human diploid cells and cautions parents from avoiding vaccines altogether, particularly for rubella as it can damage an unborn child if the mother becomes infected.
"It's certainly always a parent's and a family's choice," health director Law said of abstaining from vaccines. "At the same time, I really would like to have opportunities to answer any questions that may have the parent afraid to vaccinate when really it can be some simple question and answer and education."
She worries if too many parents opt out that infectious diseases could spread rapidly through the community. The health department has recorded an increase in cases of whooping cough in El Paso County this year.
"Vaccine campaigns far outweigh a risk to the child versus real disease," Law said.
Both she and Koch encourage parents to take a closer interest in their child's vaccines and always ask lots of questions.
If you'd like to study up about vaccines, the National Network for Immunization Information is a credible source for detailed and factual vaccine information.