There is germaphobia, the fear of germs. Or Germans. One of the two. Oddly, I do not fear most germs, despite my daily reminders as to how destructive these wee beasties can be. I recognize their limits and my immunologic strengths and know I have more to fear from cars or unsaturated fats than E. coli or influenza.
There is also a fear of vaccines, the too many too soon that is said to be at the heart, or maybe the left atrial appendage, of one of the imaginary problems with vaccines. There are, by my counting, 5 live attenuated viruses and 21 different antigens in the vaccine schedule by age 6, for a total of 26 or twice thirteen. Some fear those antigens and viruses, making it a triskaidekaphobia times two (1).
From my perspective the paltry quantity of antigens children receive with the vaccine schedule are, when compared to the enormity of antigens in the environment, a rounding error. We are awash in bacteria, fungi, viruses and an enormous number of environmental organisms. I think of each of us like Pig-Pen, but instead of dirt, we are in a cloud of micro-organisms.
Our immune systems, contrary to the opinions of the unimaginative who direct scorn and derision at Dr. Offit, can cope. As discussed, we have a ability to stave off the phenomenal number of organisms that would just as soon use us as the ultimate supersized meal. Of course, it is not all the immune system that keeps the wee beasties away. Being warmer than ambient temperature helps. Understanding disease epidemiology, hygiene and the prn malum q 24 h also keeps the doctor away. (more…)