Debunking false ideas about vaccines

“Why are there doctors still encouraging parents to get vaccinated when it can cause harm to our children?”
“My baby died because of the vaccine injected to her.”
“Vaccines can cause autism.”

It has been a while since I remained silent about my thoughts with regards to this current hot issue in the Philippines. I try to ignore the rants of every citizen that happens to be irrational because it’s just giving me another headache. However, I realized that as part of the healthcare team, instead of staying quiet, I will try to do the best of my ability to make people understand what’s vaccine before their minds are polluted by negative opinions of people. Note: these people have no background knowledge with what vaccines do in our bodies, so they can just say things that aren’t even evidence based.

Just recently when I was scrolling in my Facebook feed, there’s this news that caught my attention. It says that a 10-year old girl died due to the dengue vaccine. It’s not a different article that I read a month ago saying that there were 2 kids who died when they were vaccinated with anti-measles.

First of all, why do I find the media over-exaggerating things? It seems like they’ve been spreading lies to thousands of netizens that this vaccine did killed the child. Can they do more research before implying that this vaccine really caused the death of the child?

For everybody’s information, the child died due to her sickness that was triggered by the vaccine. Any vaccine could have triggered her sickness and not only dengvaxia. She had an underlying autoimmune disease that’s called Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its healthy tissue. The disease is characterized by a variable clinical course with periodic episodes of inflammation and damage to the joints, tendons, other connective tissues, and organs as heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, kidneys, and skin.

What is a vaccine?

Vaccines are classified into two groups. The first group, live attenuated vaccines, comprises weakened versions of the pathogens; these mimic the kind of protective immunity induced in people who survive live infection. The second group includes inactivated vaccines, subunit vaccines, toxoid vaccines that consist of inactivated toxins, carbohydrate vaccines and conjugate vaccines. (Source: CDC)

How does it work?

Vaccines help develop immunity by imitating an infection. This type of infection, however, does not cause illness, but it does cause the immune system to produce T-lymphocytes and antibodies. Sometimes, after getting a vaccine, the imitation of infection can cause minor symptoms such as fever. Such minor symptoms are normal and should be expected as the body builds immunity. Once the imitation infection goes away, the body is left with a supply of “memory” T-lymphocytes, as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that disease in the future.  (Source: CDC)

Why did it cause the child’s death?

The dengvaxia is an attenuated virus to trigger the immune system to produce antibody. Therefore, if the immune system of the patient is weak due to its illness, how can her body make her immune system work to produce antibody when it is being attacked by its own? While most vaccines are effective and safe in SLE patients, in certain cases immunogenicity may be sub-optimal and vaccination can trigger a flare. So, instead of causing good, it posted more harm on the child. Bottom line is, there should have been thorough assessment.

Is vaccination 100% effective?

No, vaccines are never 100% effective. But close. Maybe 95% – 97% – and what that level of efficacy is really doing is building what’s known as herd immunity.

Herd immunity or herd effect, also called community immunity, describes a form of immunity that occurs when the vaccination of a significant portion of a population provides a measure of protection for individuals who have not developed immunity. Herd immunity theory proposes that, in contagious diseases that are transmitted from individual to individual, chains of infection are likely to be disrupted when large numbers of a population are immune or less susceptible to the disease. The greater the proportion of individuals who are resistant, the smaller the probability that a susceptible individual will come into contact with an infectious individual.

Let’s take the smallpox vaccine as an example. It was estimated to be about 95% effective for each individual. Once the majority of people were vaccinated, it became so hard for the virus to find new targets. Viruses can’t survive without infecting something. By denying the virus access to hosts, it died out. Even though the smallpox vaccine was not 100% effective in terms of individual humans, it is 100% effective in practice, because smallpox doesn’t exist anymore.

If a vaccine is close to 100% effectiveness in individuals (let’s say >90%), then 100% effectiveness can be achieved in practice on the large scale through herd immunity.

Does it cause autism?

No. Some people have had concerns that Autism might be linked to the vaccines children receive, but studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing ASD. If you want, you can just google it or visit CDC.

Due to these news about how vaccine can affect children, it has grew concerns about “vaccination hesitancy”. What is “vaccination hesitancy”? Simply put, it as a psychological state where parents are unsure about whether or not to vaccinate their child. Some hesitant parents will fully vaccinate. Others will leave-out or delay certain vaccines. Hesitant parents are different from declining parents who never did or no longer vaccinate at all. Declining parents have often made their decision and are less likely to change.

So, what to do now?

I’m encouraging doctors and nurses to discuss issues of concern about vaccination with parents and carers. By doing this, it will make vaccination decisions more informed and more satisfying for parents. It also move them towards vaccinating; increase parental satisfaction and build trust in health professionals.

Take-Home Messages

  • Although the history of vaccination in SLE patients had been controversial, the risk benefit balance is in favor for vaccination to reduce the risk of infection as compared to the risk of flare.
  • Educate yourselves. Always do research before posting things online about vaccines because this is an alarming effect for parents and carers.
  • As a supporter of vaccination, I want to see children protected with safe and effective vaccines. For the parents, I understand the challenges of raising children. It’s easier said than done.
  • I’ll say it again, even if it’s not 100% effective, even if there are mild side effects, I believe that the benefits of preventing diseases through vaccination outweigh the risks.
 
 

Medical student feels

The more I read, the more I feel so inadequate. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. Can I still do this for the next years to come?

Yet despite this internal battle I face daily while learning in medlical school, almost always when the tears just barely begin to well up in my eyes, a feeling of peace overwhelms me. Maybe I’m inadequate. Maybe I’m not good or smart enough and maybe I can’t do this…

BUT..

With my God, nothing is impossible. And with Him, all things are possible. The things that were only asked of me to do is to just take up my cross daily, follow and love Him, which right now, as much as I don’t like some of the things that I am doing- missing important events, staying up late to complete paperworks and read tons of chapters, getting stressed out with clinics, etc., means I need to do my part and try my hardest to learn this material to the best of my ability. All I can ask of myself is my best effort, and God will take care of the rest.

In a world and a life with so much uncertainty and unexpected challenges, I find comfort that my worries are irrational in light of a God that will see me through any and all circumstances and will never abandon me.

And so, I press on, trying to replace my worries with God’s love and grace, which, no matter what happens, will protect and carry me wherever this crazy life should take me.

When a good God allows adversity

Have you experienced the most painful and faith-rattling circumstance in your life? A circumstance that left you anxious, desperate, frustrated and disappointed?

2 years ago, I was struggling in my studies. It made me so down like it hit me rock bottom ’cause I felt like God wasn’t answering my prayers. The struggle was hard to bear and it took me quite a while to accept the things that had happened because never in my entire life did I struggled in my academics (well, not until I studied medicine). The pressure’s really real especially when you are currently studying in the country’s #1 medical school. However, I realized that the Lord taught me to be humble and to rely on Him because I was too proud of a person. The situation also taught me a lesson about the scope of the human’s ability to choose acceptance over denial and faith over fear.

Just this week’s reflection, little did I know that what had happened to me was not as destructive as I thought it would be. I have always thought that my problem was worse than everyone else’s. I was very self centered and only cared about myself. I have not thought about the thousands of people who had experienced worse situations than me, just like Joy Mendoza, whom I knew from her personal blog and book. She was an innocent and beautiful lady of God. She had parents who were very active in church and all out to share the gospel, she lived a happy life but unexpectedly their house was ransacked and she was raped by 10 people in her bathroom and bedroom. Naturally, we always ask the Lord, “Why did this have to happen? I am a good person, I have always followed You, God? I have been a good child meanwhile the bad people are living in relative happiness. Why?” We question God’s goodness and fairness. Sometimes we even doubt His existence. How can an all-good and all-powerful God allow good people to suffer and bad people to prosper? We are tempted to think about these negative things.

But, there were 4 pillars of non-negotiable truth that I just learned that would help us all in turning each adversity into victory shared by Peter Tan-Chi:

GOD IS SOVEREIGN

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Psalm 115:3 But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.

Our Father in Heaven is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. And with that, He is in full control of everything; that nothing in the universe occurs without God’s permission. He has the power and knowledge to prevent anything He chooses to prevent, so anything that does happen must be allowed by God. Yes, He could have prevented us from any adversities, tragedies and even problems but He allowed it to happen, then we must trust that it is ultimately for our good.

Therefore, the only way to survive is to turn to the Lord, not away from Him. What option do we have? To give in to the despair or would we choose to look at the possibility that divine orchestration was involved? Let’s just cling to the verse Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose.” A sovereign God makes no mistakes. Tragic circumstances are ordained for a reason. While this is difficult to comprehend in the midst of suffering, it doesn’t change the reality that God desires our greatest good.

GOD KNOWS EVERYTHING

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1 John 3:20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.

Like I said earlier, our God is omniscient. He knows the number of strands in your hair, He has counted and even named each stars in the night sky, He can count every grain of sand and before there is a word on our tongues He knows it all. And because He knows everything, He was not caught by surprise when the adversity stroke. We may never understand His wisdom, but we have to simply trust His will.

GOD LOVES US

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Thankfully, I found my hidden container with handful of encouraging notes and verses from my youth camp days inside. Here are some of the verses inside that reminded me of the Lord’s love for us. First, God loves us unconditionally. His everlasting love for us was demonstrated at the cross through His Son, Jesus, when He died for our sins and suffered for our sake. He showed His love through action and not just emotional feelings. James 1:17-18 says “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.” He has given you many scriptures that overflow with illustrations of His love, giving us assurance and promise.

God assures you in Psalm 100:5, “For the LORD is good and his love endures forever, his faithfulness continues through all generations.” This verse not only tells us of His goodness and love, but says that it is for us today, generations later. God is faithful through all generations.

GOD IS GOOD

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We must firmly believe that God is good ALL THE TIME. Wait, but what about the bad things that just happened to me? Yes, while the bad things may happen to any of us, bad things don’t have to define who we become or whom we choose to be. We can still choose to believe that God has a divine plan. We can still choose to love and forgive. We can still declare God’s victory in our lives to bless others and glorify God.

The reality is all of us go through trials, difficulties and hardships. Some are temporary illnesses, while others are long term, even incurable. When we cannot understand the why, we must look to the Who. So, despite the unimaginably hurtful circumstance that we may have experienced, our relationship with God, strengthened by God’s sovereignty and Word, should shine like a rainbow after a storm.

Always try to turn every adversity into victory. Remember that there’s a purpose why we were given such adversity; that there’s always beautiful surprises that can bloom from painful seeds.

Are you discouraged by circumstances? Are you broken by sin, by tragedy? Are you trap by chains of shame, unforgiveness and bitterness because of the trauma that you experienced in your life? You know what, Jesus can set you free, Jesus can heal you. All it takes is a prayer to surrender everything to him. Your life, that pain, that trauma and He will set you free. It’s only the Lord who can heal us, who’s going to make us precious. He is The One who makes us whole again.

You can pray with me if you like 🙂

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Does this mean I will be problem-free from this day forward?  I don’t know. I do not know what trial we may still encounter in our lifetime. But God still affords the same bountiful grace He has supplied. He has given the assurance of His presence with us in times of trouble.

Fasting from Social Media

Going to medical school, in some ways, is like going back to high school with school every day again. It’s a change from the style of learning you’ve become accustomed to. Additionally, you may have more classes at once than you had during college. received_10206928523001811 However, the amount of information you have to know (and the detail to which you are expected to know it) makes college seem like it was a walk in the park. However, we are encouraged to look for activities that will help reduce stress other than studying and I can’t deny that social media is on top of my list. It’s one of the most effective stress-reducing activities for me. When I’m too tired to function and then try to scroll my feed on Instagram, I become awake and energetic instantaneously. Haha. Amazing how it can also save you from dozing off. But, I didn’t realize that social media was also one of the reasons why I always compare myself and still feel inadequate in my abilities as a friend, sister, classmate, and daughter.

Social media was also one of the reasons why I’m so addicted to beauty products (nothing wrong with trying to look good and feel good) because I love hearing people compliment me especially my eyebrows (Lol! Sanguine problems.), and I hate to admit that it’s the reason why I’m so addicted to online shopping. I always purchase clothes and things thrice a month and wouldn’t mind if I’m carrying an empty wallet. Other than that, I was surprised to know that I can survive eating once or twice a daily for a person who really has a big appetite. All of these things are the work of the enemy. I knew what I did was unhealthy but I still continued doing it.

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Thank God for Your neurons

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Lord Jesus,

I thank You for my neurons. For my well functioning dendrites and axons.

You created my brain for the purpose of bringing glory to Your name. I do not want my brain to be conformed to the patterns of this world, instead I ask You to enter all areas of my brain that You might give me the ability to process academic and spiritual wisdom from your Holy Spirit.

I believe that you created my inner most being and that my brain is fearfully and wonderfully made by your hand.

Lord I repent of all the times I have not regarded my brain and my learning abilities as a gift from You. I ask you to forgive me for the negative thoughts and words that I have spoken against my own brain and learning abilities.

I repent of trying to solve my learning problems through my own efforts rather than turning to receive your love, grace and healing touch first.

I pray that I will not have a Spirit of fear about learning new things. I accept your gift of the spirit of power, love and self-discipline into my brain.

Give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that I might succeed in school and to know You better.

Thank you, Lord, for using me. For choosing me.

Thank you for blessing me with Your bounty. Your favor. Your love.

I feel more peaceful and fulfilled than I ever have in my entire life.

I am learning so much. Growing so much.

You are so good to me, Lord Jesus.

I don’t deserve Your love, Your grace, Your favor nor Your blessing.

Yet, you still love me.

Your little doctor in the making,

Delbeth

I’m going to be like him someday!

 

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Dad,

I could start this letter by thanking you for many things but I would like to say first that there are no words to actually describe how much I love you and how thankful I am for your life. I am so blessed to have you as my role model, hero and father.

Thank you papa for providing shelter to cover our heads, food to feed us, things we actually need and for allowing us to have good education. Thank you for loving, leading and guiding us. Thank you also for loving mom because from you, I’ve learned what it means to love your spouse. Thank you for sacrificing for us-waking up in the middle of the night to respond to emergency calls, making rounds, going home late and for always waiting patiently for your seven daughters plus wife to get finish from dressing up every occassion. Even until now, dad, you chraracter amazes me and that’s the reason why I respect and look up to you.

Even though you are a busy man, you still never as in ever fail to give time for us, you ALWAYS give time for us like how you also give time for treating your patients. Papa, I can never fully express my gratitude to you. You will always be the first man I will ever love. I would be completely lost in this world without you and Mama. God knew exactly what He was doing when He chose you to be my father!

(Don’t mind my stressed face, please. Haha.)

Mondays get me down

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If you are like me, you probably start the week a bit slow. I used to hum a song that says Mondays get me down. Perhaps it’s because of the hangover from the weekend’s gimiks with friends, activities you joined from church or school or probably, your past time at your house. I had to force myself out of bed and take a shower. Mondays find me lazily preparing for school in the morning and yawning through the professor’s lectures the rest of the day. I usually can’t concentrate. No brilliant ideas surfaced, and my schoolwork was so-so. I’d finally get perked up in the afternooon but, by then, the day had practically gone by. One cup of coffee from the nearest coffee shop should do the trick.

Later, I realized that it’s not Mondays that get me down. It’s my attitude. If I truly wanted to honor God with my studies, then I would pursue excellence no matter what. I won’t write term papers, answer exams or listen to the professor just so I would pass the course. I would do all these because I am serving the Lord.

And here’s what’s encouraging. Even if we should not expect something in return, God promises us a reward for serving Him. To get the highest grade or a teacher’s commendation or our classmates’ admiration or an exemption from the finals are perhaps some of those rewards. But the joy that our accomplishments bring to our parents and the honor it gives God are the best returns for our hard work.

Do your work willingly, as though you were serving the Lord himself. In fact, the Lord Christ is the one you are really serving, and you know He will reward you. Colossians 3:23, 24

(Devotion: Real time)

The Life of a Medical Student

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Before I started medical school I really had no idea what a typical day would it be like for a medical student. Other than going to school, how many hours of class do I attend to?What else is there to do other than studying? All I knew is that I was enrolled to a medical school with a problem-based learning approach. Who would have known that medicine would really change my life. Well, for the good. Of course.

1. Change of lifestyle

During the first day, we were welcomed with a message, “your life will be over for four years.” I am not going to sugarcoat things but the first whole year will be hard. You’re bound to spend more time studying than you did in your undergraduate studies.

I was having difficulty in adjusting with the problem based approach, in managing my time with studies, and maintaining a good study habit. The year did not only taught me about medicine and disease, it taught me about myself, my strengths and weaknesses. It helped me reevaluate my priorities and find meaningful ways how to cope up with stress and insecurities.

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Problem Based Learning

Do we really have to be less social in medical school?  As human beings, we strive to thrive so our initial instinct is to shy away from the crowd in order to maintain focus. However, it is important to look after our mental health or else we’ll end up burned out in no time. We can continue to socialize and build community with peers and also have a life outside of medical school. So, don’t be afraid to have fun and de-stress with people. Go to the movies after that difficult and draining exam, go and drink coffee with non-medical people or just stay at home and spend time with your family.

2. As you build self-discipline, you build time management.

In Medicine, you are given a bulk of chapters to read and if you don’t finish reading the set of chapters given to you, trust me, you’ll be in misery. Why? Another set of chapters are given to you the next day and you’ll be left behind. When you do not have control over your own self, how can you control time? So, time management is important though it can become an overwhelming task.

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It was all sweat, tears, and blood in order to finish bulk of chapters consisting hundred or more pages just to pass the exam. It was hard to stay optimistic despite countless of failed exams, absorbing and cramming the whole concept in order to be able to participate the small group discussion. But it developed my character on how to discipline myself. It helped me create new habits of actions toward improving myself and reaching my goal.

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Wait for me a little more, will you?

1aWait for me a little more, will you? Wait for me ‘til I’m ready. Wait for me to finish medical school. Wouldn’t that be great not to have medical books in between our dinner dates and movie dates? That I no longer have to make our incoming exams and bimonthlies an excuse for forgetting our anniversary date. Wait ‘til I’m already a doctor. Until I am able to take care of you 24/7. Wait for me ‘til I’m mature enough, ‘til I’m ready to share my love to you, ‘til I’m already a wife material, ‘til I’m ready to become the mother of your children, ‘til I’m done chasing my dreams and you. Wait if you can. Keep those feelings intact. Wait even though waiting feels like a journey to a desert. Wait and be hopeful with the Lord. I’m pretty sure that even though waiting is hard, God’s grace will sustain you. Don’t focus on me. Focus on God, wait on Him, seek Him.

Just keep making your life exciting and full, so when we do finally come together, we can bring each other joy. Build your faith and dependence on God, make your family happy, cultivate friendships, be the right person for me as I try to be the right person for you. And then when I’m ready, surprise me. I tell you, it will be one of the most beautiful moments in our lives. It will be worth the long wait.

Wait ‘cause I’m just here. I’m just working my way toward you.

Don’t give up on us… yet.

Yours truly,

Delbeth