Thursday, March 5, 2015

World Vaccine War

World Vaccine War

If there were a vaccine for what I've got right now, I would gladly have taken it. If there were any unnatural cure for it, I would take as much as is allowed. I went to the gym on Monday and had no signs of illness. On Tuesday I woke up with a cough, and before long a Mack Truck ran over me. Coincidentally (?) I started writing this Blog on Tuesday. Once I have an idea I usually knock it out in a few hours and publish it. This is day three of effort. I am not sure if this was caused by high fructose corn syrup, corn fed beef, or lack of fresh air, but I have had more fun getting a root canal. 

What is it? Well, according to the folks at the urgent care place this morning, it is the pseudo-flu. That is, I have fever, chills, overwhelming fatigue, and an awful cough. My stomach muscles hurt so much from coughing that I act like a little girl when a paroxysm comes on. What I don't have is a positive test for the flu. The doctor says they have seen quite a few such cases. I am grateful I do not have the flu, not because this feels any better than the flu, but because I got the flu shot in October and would hate to say I was vaccinated but got the flu anyway (though they didn't guess very well about what to put in the vaccine this year). As I said, if there were a vaccine for the pseudo-flu I would first in line to get it next year.

On February 28 World Magazine published on its website "To vaccinate or not to vaccinate". The posting included your   Curmudgeon's "Vaccine Insanity" along with an evaluation by an Austin, TX, medical doctor of his view of vaccines (positive) and a statement of recommendations by the Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Augusta, GA. World characterized these three contributions as the perspectives of experience, medicine, and church leaders.

As of this writing there have been over 100 responses, and these have been overwhelmingly negative. The editors have received so much flak that they have promised that other material about vaccines will be forthcoming.

I agree on one point with
a few of the respondents. With them I question the propriety of a Session's (though it consists of 1/3 medical doctors - no doubt the other 2/3 are lawyers and bankers) giving recommendations to the congregation on vaccinations. A Session would be well within its rights to adopt a policy that no children would be alllowed to participate in children's ministries who had not received the vaccinations on a list compiled by medical experts, for the Session has a right to set policies that protect the welfare of the gathered congregation. But a Session, as governing body of the church, has no more justification to advise parents about vaccinations than to advise them about diet and exercise, about whether parents should allow their sons to play football or their daughters to play softball, or about where and how children should be educated. Church leaders have no business telling parents whether or not to vaccinate their children, but they have every right to say that children who have not received required vaccinations may not be left in the nursery, or attend the Sunday School, or go to the church camp. A church leadership body that gives counsel about vaccinations steps outside its Christ-given sphere of authority and competence. The adoption of such recommendations reminds of what mischief can occur when world-and-life-view Christianity prevails and the doctrine of the spirituality of the church is neglected or denied.

Most of the other objections have themes that unfortunately seem to get their fair share (or more?) of credence among a portion of the conservative Christian community. Most of these I addressed in the vaccination Blog. There is no need to go back over them. People are gonna beleive what people are gonna believe.

However, the  most weighty of the objections against some vaccinations is moral and concerns  how some vaccines are manufactured. Some opposition to vaccines is grounded in wrong information, spread innocently or intentionally, that vaccines contain human tissue from aborted babies. This is demonstrably untrue. Vaccines do not contain human tissue aborted or otherwise.

There are, however, some vaccines, that must be cultured in human cells. From whence these cells? They are provided by laboratories that produce cell lines. What is the origin of these cell lines? They came originally from two abortions, one peformed in the U.S in 1961 and one in the U.K. in 1966.

Manufacturers of vaccines use diploid cells (cells that have two sets of chromosomes) that have been replicated from these two abortions. Vaccines do not contain human tissue, but they are cultured in genetic material which comes from those two aborted children.
Descendant cells are the medium in which these vaccines are prepared. The cell lines under consideration were begun using cells taken from one or more fetuses aborted almost 40 years ago. Since that time the cell lines have grown independently. It is important to note that descendant cells are not the cells of the aborted child. They never, themselves, formed a part of the victim's body.(National Catholic Bioethics Center)

Does the origin of these cell lines mean that it is morally wrong to use vaccines that require use of them? The Roman Catholic Church, which is staunchly anti-abortion, acknowledges that the issue is not uncomplicated but, nevertheless, holds that such vaccines may be (and perhaps should be) used while believers should work for a time when vaccines can be produced without the use of these cell lines.
One is morally free to use the vaccine regardless of its historical association with abortion. The reason is that the risk to public health, if one chooses not to vaccinate, outweighs the legitimate concern about the origins of the vaccine. This is especially important for parents, who have a moral obligation to protect the life and health of their children and those around them. (National Catholic Bioethics Center)
The issue of the relationship between two 1960s abortions and today's vaccines raises the issue of degrees of separation from evil. In the New Testament congregation of Corinth questions arose about whether it was wrong for Christians to eat meat purchased from the market if it came from worship in pagan temples. Would a Christian be supporting, even participating in pagan worship, if he ate meat from a pagan temple. Should a Christian ask the meat market, "Where did this beef come from? Did you get it from the pagan temple?" Paul said,"No. Ask no questions for conscience's sake."

Now suppose an innocent person were murdered by the Mafia. You need a cornea transplant to save your eyesight. Would you take the cornea knowing how it became available? You are free to do so. The man was murdered though not with the intent of providing you with a cornea. You are not culpable in his murder if you accept the cornea that was harvested from his body. Nor do I think Christians are culpable if they receive or allow their children to receive vaccines that come from the cell lines that came from those two abortions. Neither abortion was performed for the purpose of obtaining cell lines for manufacturing vaccines.

One commenter took me to task for my humorous comment about being willing to make the sacrifices of eating corn fed beef and pecan pie made with corn syrup:
This statement, with a distinct tone of arrogance, coming from someone who hopefully agrees that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, is appalling. It would seem that he believes the ingestion of toxic substances passing as "food" will have no effect on others; it's simply his choice, or as he chides, his "sacrifice."... Are we not wonderfully made? Did God not design us with immune systems to adjust, adapt, nurture, and heal? Why would we purposefully consume things that would compromise such a miraculous sustainable system? Food is medicine. Pursuing our health (to the best of our ability) is a means of praising God.

I am no fan of dying. But, I hate to break it to the commenter. We're all going to die. Remember Jackie Kennedy. When diagnosed with lymphoma she asked, "Why did I do all those sit-ups?


1 comment:

Kirk Skeptic said...

The same sorts of people who reject vaccination seem to love doing very unnatural things to themelves like colon cleansing (it's not a sewer pipe), fall for pseudoscience like magnetized water (!), and are willing to risk a bout of e coli from organically-grown spinach in order to avoid pesticides.

You're spot on about the spirituality of the church and "mission creep." I'm sure that the gentlemen of the session mentioned herein would love my advice on how texts should be preached, Psalms chosen, and the mode and frequency of communion....not.