An investigation by the Canadian news outlet CBC Marketplace investigation found that some alternative health practitioners are offering unproven vaccine “alternatives” to parents:
Some of the homeopathic practitioners that Marketplace visited offered treatments, called “nosodes,” as vaccine alternatives, telling parents that the treatment is as effective as vaccines against diseases such as measles, polio and pertussis (whooping cough), which is highly contagious and can be fatal for infants.
Nosodes are made when diseased tissue or excretions are diluted to the point where any trace of the original substance may not be present. Homeopathic practitioners argue that the memory of the original substance is enough to create immunity. Public health groups have been critical of this approach.
Some homeopathic practitioners also downplayed the severity of communicable diseases like measles, which are preventable by vaccination. Measles can result, in severe cases, in brain damage and death, and kill approximately one in 1,000 children worldwide who contract the disease.
Several said the likelihood of contracting these diseases was slim.
But while vaccine-preventable diseases like measles remain uncommon in Canada, a warning by the Public Health Agency of Canada from earlier this year warned of an unusually high number of cases, with outbreaks reported in five provinces.
“I think it’s frightening,” Shannon MacDonald, a registered nurse and adjunct assistant professor at the University of Alberta who researches vaccine trends, told Marketplace co-host Erica Johnson.
“If the herd immunity level drops and these diseases are introduced into the community, those children are not protected,” MacDonald says. “You have well-meaning parents who’ve been provided an option, which they’ve been told that it’s going to protect their children. And it’s a lie.”
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