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Parents Get Prison Sentence for Failing to Vaccinate Children

Two sets of parents in Belgium have been sentenced to five months in prison and fined 4,100 euros ($8,000) for failing to have their children vaccinated against polio. If the parents meet the deadline to vaccinate, they can dodge incarceration. Because of Belgium privacy laws, the details as to why the parents refused vaccination are unknown.

Polio is the only vaccination required by law in Belgium, and France is the only other European county that also requires it. In the US, children can avoid vaccination easily for religious of philosophical reasons. In Saudi Arabia, pilgrims from countries with a polio epidemic must prove vaccination, as well as receive an extra dose from the Saudi authorities at the airport. To see if vaccination is worth it,

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While Polio has dropped 99 percent since eradication efforts began, the disease can spread rapidly, leaving all countries at risk of an outbreak. Bioethics experts classify those that refuse to be vaccinated as "free riders" who can only refuse vaccination because others have fulfilled their responsibility.

Do you think the prison-sentenced parents in Belgium have any rights in the case? Or, are they simply failing to fulfill an obligation to their children and society? Will the threat of prison convince parents that they must vaccinate their children, even if they hold a strong conviction against it?
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Ejmcmis Ejmcmis 9 years
My aunt (mom's older sister) died when she was two years old when she received the Polio vaccine (obviously I never met her). Actually, it was a pretty horrific death that my grandparents had to witness her go through it. She went blind then her body slowly deteriorated and about 3 months after receiving the vaccination, she finally found peace. Obviously this happened during the height of the polio epidemic. . But because of that when my mother was born, her parents waited until she was 4 years old to vaccinate her. . . With all that said, when I have kids, I will still vaccinate them.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
facin8me, we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this =) Not everyone caught measles and mumps, and not all who caught it died either. The overall issue is, do you take the risk of possibly catching something, or being affected by the ingredients in vaccines. Some people who think vaccines can't be dangerous obviously opt for them, others like myself aren't willing to take the risk. Mandy, I really liked your comment.
phatE phatE 9 years
wackdoodle - I didn't know you worked for Merk, and if I was in your shoes I would be tired too. :)
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
I think the problem with vaccines is that they aren't one-size-fits-all, but that is how they are given. Autism is more rampant now than ever, and for all we know it could be a reaction to one of the ingredients in the vaccines and gluten, since a gluten-free diet helps children with Autism tremendously. Or it could be a reaction from the ingredients and hormones that are pumped into meat, or fertilizer that veggies are showered with. Or how high the blood sugar is at the time of vaccination. Who knows? The fact is that children will react to the ingredients differently, but they have no way to test the child and subsequently customize the vaccines (other than dosage) per child. That is what mothers who have children with Autism are trying to get fixed, and that is what parents need to think about before blindly subjecting their children to vaccines their doctor is paid to distribute. Currently, there is no solution. Either way, it affects your child's life. Get them vaccinated and you risk them having a reaction because they ate an apple that morning, or candy in the waiting room, or because it's 68 degrees and 10am and she's wearing red. Who knows? Don't get them vaccinated and you take the chance that someone somewhere has a disease that was all but eradicated decades ago and gives it to your child. You never know. Cat are easy! I just keep them home all the time and make sure they don't come into contact with strange animals. Unfortunately, kids aren't like cats. :)
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
LilRuck-This forum is by no means the place for me to discuss metabolic pathways and DNA synthesis, but I stand by my statement. Small amounts of naturally occurring formaldehyde circulates in our blood. Those small amounts are harmless.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
Lilruck, you children's immune systems would not fight off polio and mumps like they would fight off a common cold. All viruses are not created equal, and some are better at evading immune detection. Your children do not have these diseases because they have not been exposed. The reason they haven't been exposed is because very few people have these diseases nowadays due to vaccinations. I think it's great that your children eat healthy and that your try to boost their immune systems with diet and exercise. It's part of my healthy plan as well. But I do not have any illusions that these measures would somehow make me superpowered if I came into contact with a virus that has evolved to evade my immunity mechanisms.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Well, they dont have to go if they just do it right? How bad is that?
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
Blue- my information isn't outdated. I stated that thimerosal has been taken out. Formaldehyde is in no way a natural component found in your blood! It is a known carcinogen, which actually binds to DNA and is very difficult to remove. Wack, don't attack me for being childish... when I had children I researched the HECK out of this stuff, and it literally blew my mind and went against everything I had believed in. That being said, no, I am not vaccinated against most things. I would like to know if you have any children. I ask because this really becomes different when you have to make that decision. You talked a bit about back in the 50s/60s etc and how many children actually died bc of vaccines, then made a huge blanket statement that what has happened in the past 20 years is basically people got their terms mixed up. I would love to believe that theory, it's an interesting one, but unfortunately there isn't much to back it up. Facin8me... my children don't have to worry about polio, mumps, and measles because their immune systems work properly, not because they were given vaccines. I didn't choose to not vaccinate them because I thought "Oh everyone else is vaccinated, why should I have to?" That would be incredibly selfish, and stupid. I really didn't mean to offend anyone, and I'm sorry if I did. My anti-vaccine stance isn't something I take lightly, I don't just skip them for my kids and continue to live life. We eat foods most people haven't even heard of. My kids shock relatives when they gulp down a plateful of disease fighting foods (usually some disgusting green or brown color). I believe that my immune system (and my husbands and kids') works well, in the way that it was created. Not only do I believe that, but I also take issue with the ingredient list in vaccines, most of which I would never put in my body or my children's.
facin8me facin8me 9 years
"A vaccine against something like chicken pox gets in the way of the body's immune system trying to do its job." Um, acutally, no- vaccines stimulate the immune system to do its job so that when you encounter the pathogen "in the wild," your immune system knows exactly what to do to combat the infection. Vaccinations allow your body to identify "danger molecules" and develop the means to fight them quickly. "We do not suffer pandemics because of a lack of a vaccine, just as you don't suffer a headache due to a deficiency in Advil!!" Before vaccinations, we did suffer epidemics and pandemics of disease. Polio, mumps, measles...these are all things your children do not have to worry about due to vaccinations. And children who haven't been vaccinated can thank everybody else around them who have been vaccinated for protection against diseases. And let's not trivialize deadly diseases by comparing them to the common headache.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
Wackdoodle....I swear you're the voice to my nerdy brain. Are you sure your older cat wasn't vaccinated for FIP? That vaccine has pretty much been phased out for multiple reasons, including reactions much worse than what you've listed. The FIV vaccine has only been out for maybe 5 years, so unless you're really young (and very well educated for your age I must say ;) ), I think you got those mixed up. Current AVMA guidelines suggest a "less is more" vaccination protocol for felines, because of their immune response. If your kitties could potentially become exposed through contact with other cats, or through secondary contact (as you've stated) then it's a good idea to vaccinate accordingly. LilRuck-I'm afraid some of your information is outdated. Thimerosal is pretty much phased out of all vaccines, and is not used at all in the US or UK. Formaldehyde is used in vaccines currently, at levels lower than the amount found in humans naturally. Formaldehyde is actually a necessary chemical for DNA synthesis, and is found in circulating blood. The amount of formaldehyde in a standard vaccine is about five times smaller than the amount found in the circulating blood of an infant. "The FOURTH leading cause of death in America is because of prescription drugs, look it up." Do you have a source for that statement? I can't seem to find anything supporting this. At best you're linking prescription drugs to "Poisoning and Noxious Substances", which is listed as #4 in the National Vital Statistics Report. Additionally, your lumping of every man made drug in existence does not support your argument against vaccines. These are drastically different subjects. Vaccines do not cure or treat ailments and disease, their sole purpose is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Apples and oranges.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
You weren't out of line, I misunderstood to whom you were referring when you said "a hint of sarcasm". Obliviously I thought you meant I was being sarcastic, so you know I was just trying to clarify that I wasn't trying to be sarcastic or malicious. True, I didn't grasp your comment as you intended for it to be read but now I can see the way you intended for your comment to be read. ((bonks herself on the head)) Now I see. Still agree with you as far as the controversy surrounding that issue. I am freaking tired - you know working for Merck Pharma and the city of SF at the same time can be draining.
phatE phatE 9 years
Oh whatever.. I was being sarcastic which you obviously aren't able to grasp. I never said you control the opinions of scientists or that you were speaking on behalf of them lol.. you said: "Additionally, my cats are not human. They cannot be compared to humans on matters of health or medical treatment as they are a different SPECIES with different biological processes." and I replied in a sarcastic manor which wasn't nice and I apologize. It wasn't meant to cause a stir.. "wackdoodle, animals are always being used for comparison.. they for sure aren't human, but you may want to catch the entire scientific community up if there is no value in that comparison." my reference to "catching the scientific community up" was not meant to be taken seriously and in no way did I say you represented them.. I basically responded to your opinion that animals cannot be compared to humans on matters of health or medical treatment because they are species with different biological processes because I found quite a bit of irony in it, considering animal testing is wide spread and used for multiple scenarios. sorry if I was out of line..
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
Oh, not sarcasm but an attempt to show the futility of suggesting that I can somehow control the thoughts and opinions of "scientists" or that I was somehow speaking on behalf of the scientific community. I agree with you animal testing is indeed a controversial issue. A complicated and controversial issue and I guarantee you do not want to know how I would resolve it. This isn't the appropriate place for that proposal.
phatE phatE 9 years
hints of sarcasm in that.. it was just funny to me because animal testing is done so frequently for basically everything. it's actually a really controversial issue.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
PhatE - I am not a scientist or part of the scientific or medical community, so my advising the "scientific community" of something would be like me claiming to speak for every black person or atheist - impossible and ridiculous.
phatE phatE 9 years
wackdoodle, animals are always being used for comparison.. they for sure aren't human, but you may want to catch the entire scientific community up if there is no value in that comparison.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
Lilruck - please point out the flaws in my post. Not the assumptions you are making about my post. And you're little jab about working for Merck shows one that you are childish and two that you have an agenda not based in reality. I understand that you may have a deep emotional issue or connection to this issue that makes you take my response and view it as some sort of personal attack however it is not. My opinion on the matter at hand as well as logic, reason and intelligent debate are all I was bringing to the table. One can believe that everything is a conspiracy by big government and corporations to get you all one likes. Jumping from issue to issue and comparing apples, oranges and fish to each other is not an acceptable cohesive way to make an argument. Unless the argument is that one can let emotions and a tiny bit of information destroy ones ability to reason. Additionally, my cats are not human. They cannot be compared to humans on matters of health or medical treatment as they are a different SPECIES with different biological processes. Here's a question for you lilruck - have you been vaccinated? What direct ill effects have you suffered as a result of the vaccines you received?
phatE phatE 9 years
I think it's incredibly harsh to throw parents in jail and fine them, but I also feel like there is probably more to this story than given. Beyond that.. I see both sides. I think vaccinations are a positive thing, and have worked for the majority of people. I can see why the amount given at once could be a big issue for little ones, and how spreading them out, or changing that up would be beneficial, but I also think more people than not have benefited from them. However, I have a dog (which is not a child) but last year she was diagnosed with poly-arthropathy at the age of 2. it's an immune mediated illness that's similar to lupus, but instead of attacking organs, attacks her joints during flair ups. she went on a steroid treatment and i was told I couldn't vaccinate her. Well, my parents were watching her, and that wasn't communicated to my vet, so last may she had her vaccinations and 6 weeks later relapsed, and that turned out to be the cause. My vet said she would rather treat the illnesses that the vaccines prevent, than have to deal with this.. basically saying the actual disease is the lesser of the two evils.. Now again, I am not comparing this to a child, but I also think this opened my eyes to the point that cookie cutter options really aren't what's best for everyone.. For my dog, I have to take into consideration where she is boarded, and she can't go to the bark park anymore.. she can only be around "vaccinated" friends, but besides that she's fine, and active and free of it.. I can see how people who've seen the relation between the vaccinations and autism would rather treat whatever arose from the lac of vaccinations than deal with a life time of Autism. The autism link has been related to the MMR (mumps measles) not polio. And it's basically because of the mercury found in it. I also think the dose and amount given in such a short time span is a possible link. both of those are things that can be modified and so bottom line, i think every child should be looked at individually and parents (within certain guidelines) should be able to have some options regarding this. If my dog were an actual child, vaccinations wouldn't be an option, so then, what would I do in Belgium? One scenario can't be the only way.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
Wackdoodle your response is so flawed I do not even know where to begin. Do you work for Merck? It seems to me that your idea of "health" is a drug for every problem, a shot for every illness, and another pill for just plain old fun. Vaccinations are a horrible example of true prevention. I don't understand what makes you trust these vaccine makers? Especially since your vet admitted that the dose was "too large". That is a red flag that maybe these guys don't know exactly what they're doing. Imagine if your child had gotten "too large" of a dose, and died? Would you just be glad that you were part of the reason they can finally work out all the kinks? And I just have to take issue with the term "preventative medicine". Human made drugs do NOT promote health. The FOURTH leading cause of death in America is because of prescription drugs, look it up. As far as pairing the vaccines with "different suspension agents", here's the thing... they're ALL toxic! Mercury (Thimerosal) is toxic, and so are the other ingredients they've brought in to replace it. We do not suffer pandemics because of a lack of a vaccine, just as you don't suffer a headache due to a deficiency in Advil!! A vaccine against something like chicken pox gets in the way of the body's immune system trying to do its job.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
And as far a the cat vaccines - when I was younger I got my first cat vaccinated against FIV and feline leukemia. He had a horrible response to the vaccine. He was sluggish and just not himself. For weeks he would just lay in the drive way and just seem out of it. Eventually he'd bounce back but those days would frighten the crap out of me. My mom had let me get this cat before she died and I couldn't bare to lose him after losing her and I thought I had made a mistake in getting him those shots. Years later when I got my next cat I was hesitant to get her the FIV and leukemia vaccine. I told my vet about my previous cat's behavior after getting the shots. Her response is that Vets now know that they can not just blanket give cats those large doses of vaccine without taking into consideration the cats size and age. The dosage that my old cat received was too large because that's the way it was done back then. My subsequent kitties haven't suffered any ill effects from getting their vaccines mainly because their current Vet treats them according to their size and age rather than overdosing them. Even though my current girls are purely indoor dwellers I still get them their shots - mainly because I come in contact with other cats and dogs and I occasionally pet-sit for friends. I don't want my girls getting ill because they've come in contact with an another animal that is carrying some disease.
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
LilRuc - I speak of nothing as a "Godsend" as I am an atheist. Vaccines are a tool to attempt to control virulent and rapid spread of communicable infectious diseases that had in the past disseminate the populace. And to that end vaccines have done exactly that - they have control the virulent spread of communicable infectious diseases in the population that has had them. Vaccines are not cure diseases. If you think that immunizations are meant to cure disease then that is your misunderstanding of the intent of the them. Vaccines are preventative medicine. And the diseases of the past still exist except now when they show up they're mutated and resistant to the current crop of medications we have. So measles, mumps, rubella, whooping cough, polio are now new and improved and more deadly than ever and even people who had been immunized in the past can now get these new and improved diseases. Thus these un-immunized children are posing a threat to those that had previously been immunized because they are breeding a new antibiotic resistant strains of these diseases. Additionally, the parents of these children and their doctors have not seen the diseases of the past so they are written off as "colds" or the "flu" and treated ineffectively. This ineffective treatment and failure to recognize a highly contagious disease leads to the rapid spread of the new form of the disease. Thinking back a bit in history to the 1950s, 60s, 70's the "hey day" of vaccines, how many people died as a result of being vaccinated? How many cases of autism were there in the those years? The answer is approximately the same ratio by population as there are now. What has happened in the last 20 years is other disorders originally referred to medically by other names have been recategorized as autism. With the proper retroactive adjustment of diagnoses made in the past and applied to the population of the time period - the ratio of people with the disease has remained fairly constant. Also children who had not been immunized post-WW2 were/are as affected by autism in the same numbers as children who had been immunized. Yes, there are some anomalous cases were children who had received vaccines had allergic reactions to suspension agents used in the vaccine but those children's reaction did not necessarily result in the development of autism. Interestingly, when I receive booster shots or any shot that is in an suspension agent my physician has to request special versions of the vaccines because I have a severe allergy to the new suspension agents that are use to allay the fears of parents. What's meant to protect and try to eliminate any possibility that vaccines are causing autism can actually be fatal to me and a number of other people. No one is trivializing the pain or suffering of people affected by autism. However it seems that out the pain of families looking for answers to help their children that are suffering from autism have the desire to blame something more tangible than an as yet specified genetic defect. As has been pointed out by many scientists and autism groups a main problem with the argument that vaccines are the cause of autism is that vaccines have long since been reformulated and placed in different suspension agents which are commonly interacted with by most people with no negative effect. And second about the time when a parent would notice a pronounced behavioral changes in their child leading to the diagnosis of autism is also the time that children receive their major booster shots. The answer is not to stop immunizing every child altogether but to find the gene that causes autism and to see if altering the schedule at which children are currently immunized will still effectively control the spread of infectious disease and protect the child in the long run. As for children who have purposefully not been immunized they are also diagnosed with autism at the same time and in the same proportions. What is known is that if those un-immunized children who become exposed to and contract those diseases die at a significantly higher and faster rate than immunized children. From the SciAM Issue of Infectious Diseases (6/2005) - "Vaccines have accomplished near miracles in the fight against infectious disease. They have consigned smallpox to history and should soon do the same for polio. By the late 1990s an international campaign to immunize all the world's children against six devastating diseases was reportedly reaching 80 percent of infants (up from about 5 percent in the mid-1970s) and was reducing the annual death toll from those infections by roughly three million. Yet these victories mask tragic gaps in delivery. The 20 percent of infants still missed by the six vaccines-against diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, measles, tetanus and tuberculosis-account for about two million unnecessary deaths each year, especially in the most remote and impoverished parts of the globe. Upheavals in many developing nations now threaten to erode the advances of the recent past, and millions still die from infectious diseases for which immunizations are nonexistent, unreliable or too costly." Scientific American has done many great and informative issues on Autism and the supposed autism epidemic and how scientists are trying to find and eliminate the gene that causes autism. They actual ran an article recently about why calling autism "an epidemic" is an ultra radical emotional response when the number of people affected has not increased exponentially to epidemic levels. The number of cases of autism have not grown exponentially over the years in comparison to the number of people being vaccinated. Autism existed long before vaccines and even if we rashly abandoned mandatory immunizations for children and immigrants, the threat to everyone's lives (immunized and un-immunized) would be catastrophic.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
BlueSarah - thanks for that info! I actually researched that before my cats got the rabies vaccine last year. I think a lot of vets are annoyed by me because I don't just take their words. I will only get the upper respiratory one this year. My Vet comes to my house now because one of my cats HATES going to the Vet, but there's still a chance of taking one to the Animal ER, so it's still a threat. Thanks!
janneth janneth 9 years
They are only asking them to get one vaccination, polio.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
Wackdoodle, I do not consider my children "special" or "above" having to get vaccinated. You speak as if vaccination is this Godsend, foolproof, end-all to any disease. That is NOT the case, by a longshot. And please don't talk about being immune when vaccination is the cause for all sorts of immunity problems today. Lickety and Blue, consider this when you think about the current aggressive vaccine schedule (of which I wholeheartedly agree with). Infants are vaccinated against Hepatitis B, which can only be contracted by contaminated needles, infected blood, etc. Definitely no good reason a baby should have that.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
Lickety you brought up a good point that I forgot about. The current vaccination schedule is aggressive, and I think it should be updated to reflect the changing times (and dangers of vaccinating too early for too much). When I have children I will do much more investigating than my current job (microbiologist) has given me. I think if a doctor is pressuring you into a vaccination schedule that seems too aggressive, you should find a new doctor that suits your beliefs.
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