“Comment,” Ensign, June 1986, 71
Thank you for the article “Don’t Bet on It” by Marvin K. Gardner in the April Ensign. The article may not provide answers to the entire problem, but it gave me strength and a sense of well-being to read it. I found it supporting my deepest feelings on this subject. It also gave my testimony of the truthfulness and power of the gospel an extra boost.
Thank you for the frank, down-to-earth way you dealt with gambling. There is no room for misinterpretation. I appreciate and applaud every word in the article.
It was inspiring to hear President Ezra Taft Benson promise at general conference that if we read in the Book of Mormon every day we will gain an increased understanding of it. I resolved to begin immediately and was thrilled to find three entirely new insights in the very first chapter.
The challenge to read a little every day seemed to relieve any pressure to finish in any given period of time, so I have decided to read the Book of Mormon in a foreign language that I haven’t used in years. It has been a painless way to revitalize my fading knowledge of the language because it is so easy to compare each verse to the English version.
John P. Pratt
I am concerned about the letter “More on DPT Vaccine” in the April 1986 issue of the Ensign and wish to update some of the information it conveyed.
Whooping cough, or pertussis, is highly communicable. It may induce pneumonia, seizures, lung disorders, or brain damage. Since 1980, all areas of the United States have reported an increase in the number of cases of pertussis, which has an attack rate of over 90 percent in unimmunized populations. There have also been epidemics in Japan and Great Britain as immunization levels fell.
According to the U.S. Department of health, there were 3,275 cases of whooping cough in the United States last year, and 2,288 in 1984. The disease can strike persons of all ages, but it is more severe in infants. One child who died of it in 1984 was less than two months old. She contracted it from her four-year-old brother, who had not been immunized.
Immunization remains the most effective way to protect against pertussis. Simultaneous immunization against diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis in infancy and childhood has been a routine practice in the United States since the late 1940s. Recent controversy about the DTP (or DPT) immunization has centered on the pertussis third of the vaccine.
One of the most disturbing allegations is that DTP is linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or “crib death.” The truth is that scientific studies have ruled out any link between SIDS and DTP immunizations. Many neurological disorders first become manifest during the first year of a child’s life, and since most infants receive DTP vaccine, by chance some infant deaths will occur soon after a baby receives a shot. The National SIDS Foundation has prepared additional information on this issue, which can be obtained by calling their toll-free number: 1-800-221-SIDS.
Some people have been told that parents should wait until their children are six months old before having them receive the first DTP shot. The danger in this approach is that the death rate from whooping cough is greatest for babies under six months old. That is why doctors recommend the first shot be given at two months. Furthermore, there is no proof that the incidence of reactions decreases when the vaccine is administered at six months rather than two months.
Some people have also been told that there are major differences between the British and U.S. vaccine and starting age of vaccination. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, both are whole-cell vaccines and of similar content and manufacture. British children receive the first dose between three and six months of age—not at six months.
Polio vaccine is routinely given with the DTP vaccine. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the incidence of temporary or permanent neurological damage caused by polio vaccine is about one child in four million. The DTP vaccine itself, however, could not induce the nerve damage caused by the polio vaccine.
Physicians have long known that the current DTP vaccine is associated with both local and long-term reactions. It is not a perfect vaccine, but analysis of all available studies shows that the risk is much less from vaccine complications than from the whooping cough epidemics that would likely occur if the vaccine were not used.
Drug manufacturers in Japan are currently working on developing a “purer” vaccine, but it will take at least five years or more for the vaccine to become widely available—if research and clinical application prove it valid and manufacturers can reproduce it. Until then, what can parents do?
1. Have your children immunized. The U.S. Public Health Service Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend a schedule of five DTP immunizations identical to that found in the July 1985 issue of the Ensign: at two, four, six, and eighteen months of age, followed by a preschool booster. All the DTP vaccine administered throughout the United States is the same, whether given in a physician’s office or a public clinic. Families with minimal income who cannot afford immunizations may be able to receive them at a reduced rate by contacting their local state or county health department.
2. Make sure your doctor or nurse knows your child’s medical history. Any child who experiences seizures before two months of age or who has a long-term illness may not be able to receive a full course of immunizations, and his or her medical history should be reviewed carefully. In addition, let your doctor or nurse know about any medicines your child is taking, and carefully consider any recommendations he or she may have.
3. Observe any reactions your child might have to the immunization. Normally, reactions occur within forty-eight hours after injections, but they may occur as long as seven days afterwards. Redness or tenderness at the injection site may be soothed by a cold cloth or ice. There also may be a lump at the injection site for a few weeks. Such local reactions require no treatment.
Mild to moderate temperature elevations may be accompanied by fretfulness, drowsiness, vomiting, and decrease in appetite. Approximately 50 percent of DTP vaccine recipients will develop a temperature of more than 100° F after one or more doses of the series. Approximately 6 percent will develop a temperature greater than 102.2° F, and 1.5 percent will develop a temperature over 104° F. You may give your child acetaminophen as directed by your doctor to reduce these symptoms.
4. Call your doctor or clinic if your child has a serious reaction. Many physicians consider a fever higher than 102° F to be serious when accompanied by prolonged crying. More severe symptoms include excessive screaming for more than three hours’ duration, a fever over 104° F, convulsions, or listlessness to the point where you have difficulty rousing the child. Be aware, though, that these reactions are rare.
5. Before each DTP vaccination, tell your doctor or nurse what reaction your child had to his or her previous DTP injection. If the reaction was severe, your child may be given a DT injection instead, which omits the pertussis portion of the vaccine. If you have further questions, contact your physician or local health department.
Denni Miller, R.N.