Dogs Get Vaccinated for Lyme Disease Why Can’t People

Dog in the woods

In 1975 Dr Allen Steere was sent to the Connecticut town of Lyme to look into a mysterious cluster of kids who had gotten arthritis – what he found was tick born Lyme Disease. After the discovery, isolated the spiral-shaped bacterium that causes Lyme disease, and then they looked for ways to make people immune to it. Lyme disease was and is currently epidemic in certain locations, particularly in the northeastern United States. By the mid-1990s, two pharmaceutical companies began trials of candidate vaccines.

Dr. Gregory Poland is a vaccinologist at the Mayo Clinic. He says the vaccines helped people build up lots of antibodies that killed the Lyme agent relatively quickly.

“When a tick bites you and sucks your blood, it is sucking up the antibodies out of your blood,” Poland says. “Those antibodies go into the tick’s gut, kill the Lyme organisms so that when that tick then regurgitates into your skin, you don’t get Lyme disease.”

Introduced in 1998, the vaccine sold well at first. But then opponents spoke out and said people were becoming arthritic due to the vaccination. Whether that is true or not it did not show up in any of the studies conducted on the vaccinations during the trials for FDA approval. Then there were threats against the scientists who had worked to help protect people against Lyme Disease. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control looked into the claims, and then continued to recommended that people exposed to tick-infested areas get the vaccine. It wasn’t a mandatory vaccination and people were able to opt in or out of it but that didn’t satisfy opponents.

The opponents to the vaccination believed then and still do that the answer is to kill the deer in areas where there is an epidemic because the deer are to blame for the ticks. They feel that because people have chosen to live further and further from towns and cities moving into rural areas the deer should be removed because they are the cause of so much hardship. This isn’t like allowing hunters to just go out for more weeks in the year or allow them to kill more animals for meat (I am not a fan of hunting but at least they eat what they kill and the death had some purpose) this would be mass murder of multiple deer populations.

Meanwhile sales plummeted on the vaccination people were refusing to use the vaccination and doctors weren’t ordering it. Four years after offering people immunity against Lyme, SmithKline Beecham stopped making the vaccine. The second vaccine-maker, Pasteur Mérieux Connaught, saw what had happened and never put out its own product.

Now there are people who live in areas of rampant infection who in desperation have gone to veterinarians to try and convince them to inject them with the canine version of vaccine. There are even people who have convinced the veterinarian to give them the vaccination meant for the area dogs.

In areas effected by the Lyme Disease epidemic there are people who want the vaccination to be made available to them and not just their dogs. They understand just like with any vaccination for dogs or humans there can be side effects but for something o prevalent in their communities which can be prevented they want to prevent their families from potentially falling victim to Lyme Disease. Plus to add insult to injury for them if they do come down with signs they will only be given the proper blood test for Lyme Disease after everything else had been eliminated making them suffer longer then necessary without treatment.

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  1. I’d like to see how much the opponents would protest if they got Lyme disease.
    I guess huge numbers of people will have to die from the disease before the scientists will spend the time and money to find a cure.

  2. Wow. I had no idea about any of this background.

  3. Stephanie Hungerford says:

    I totally agree Lyme disease is so not fun. I have known to many people that have had lyme disease. If the Mayo clinic is for it I sure am.

  4. Very interesting debate. I’ve known there were vaccinations to prevent lyme disease for dogs but I didn’t know there were no vaccinations for people. I’d be concerned about the side effect of arthitis that people are claiming. At least a person could recognize the possibly symptom and hopefully take action but what about dogs? What if you give your dog the vaccination but he can’t tell you whether it is made him arthritic or not? Thankfully, we don’t get exposed to ticks very often so I have not been compelled to get vaccinated for it myself or for my dogs. It is something to think about though.

  5. I give my dog the vaccine, but I do believe that it gives him arthritis. I never had a dog with arthritis until I started giving the vaccine, but think that it is less of an evil that Lymes disease.At least there are pain meds for arthritis, which I know is very painfull as I suffer from it myself.

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