Another Perspective on the Safety and Sensibility of Vaccination
With a virtual “feeding frenzy” going on with the media right now, there is so much hype and fear being generated about measles that we are beginning to see a mob mentality develop around this issue. Unfortunately, all this hype is being continually stoked by innuendos and half-truths on the part of media personalities and pundits.
One celebrity medical adviser after another seems to be pushing the “party line” and advising the public to “get into line” to make sure their children are vaccinated. People are being bullied and accosted with slogans and hearsay, and told that the “right thing” is to shut up and vaccinate.
But why is there suddenly such a rush and an extreme amount of pressure being put on parents to immunize against the measles? Shouldn’t parents have the right to make “informed choices” regarding their own and their family’s health?
Louise Kuo Habakus, author of “Vaccine Epidemic,” and some attorneys affiliated with New York University School of Law believe that both basic human rights and the statute of informed consent are being violated by current state and federal vaccination mandates.
There is a tremendous amount of media coverage being devoted to this vaccination issue, yet extremely limited information regarding potential risks and side effects is being provided in return. Additionally, the safety and efficacy of most vaccines have only been perfunctorily studied, usually for a period of weeks following their administration. Long-term studies of vaccine health effects are virtually nonexistent.
Time journalist Walecia Konrad states: “Research surrounding vaccine safety is far from perfect. In fact, it’s not even very good. Which is stunning when you consider that the shots are given to more than 3 million kids every year … Drug manufacturers are required to demonstrate how well a new vaccine will do at preventing disease, but they need not investigate the particulars of how a given child might react—a much harder task. Vaccines can be released after trials on just a few thousand children. If a serious side effect hits one in 100,000, it might not show up in the testing phase.”
This is exactly what happened, according to a 1998 article in the journal Pediatrics, with the measles vaccine when it was found to increase the risk of acute encephalopathy and permanent brain injury.
Conflicts of Interest
It is extremely hard to find any studies on vaccinations that were not sponsored or influenced, in some way, by the pharmaceutical industry. According to New York Times reporters, “most of the experts who served on advisory panels … to evaluate vaccines for flu and cervical cancer had potential conflicts that were never resolved.” The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) “failed nearly every time to ensure that the experts … were not being paid by companies with an interest in their decisions.”
Further, it “found that 64 percent of these advisers had potential conflicts of interest that were never identified, or left unresolved” by the CDC. “Thirteen percent [of these advisers] failed to have an appropriate conflicts form on file at the agency at all, which should have barred their participation in the meetings entirely … and 3 percent voted on matters that ethics officers had already barred them from considering.”
There are numerous reports documenting the corruption and conflicts of interest at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other organizations responsible for approving and recommending vaccines.
According to a recent report filed by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS), which is intended to function as the government’s primary medication and vaccine safety surveillance system, is deeply flawed. This program is designed to identify the harmful effects of therapeutic drugs and vaccines from around the world, but it relies on voluntary reports submitted by consumers and health professionals who are under no obligation to do so. Reports may be filed with either the U.S. government or directly to the drug manufacturers, who must then report to FAERS.
According to the ISMP, “While drug manufacturers are now reporting adverse drug events in unprecedented numbers from around the world, we judged that the overall completeness of adverse event report was poor.” It estimated that as many as 50 percent of the reports filed by the pharmaceutical industry were missing critical information.
According to Beate Wieseler, the deputy head of the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care, an organization based in Germany, there is widespread bias and omission in medical publishing when pharmaceutical companies are involved. Typically only “positive” research will be reported, leaving out the non-findings or negative findings where a new drug or procedure may have proved more harmful than helpful, Wieseler is quoted as saying in a June 2010 article on livescience.com. “You can’t say this is an isolated problem. It’s widespread, and it affects drug companies, universities, and regulatory authorities.”
Much of that problem seems to arise from financial conflicts of interest when pharmaceutical or medical device companies fund the studies. Past research shows an association between industry sponsorship and positive outcomes or conclusions in most studies.
Conspiracy theories aside, the largest and most powerful industry in the world is the pharmaceutical industry. The health care “industry” is the largest lobbying group in Washington, D.C., and it outspends the military-industrial complex by more than 4 to 1. Lobbyist spending by the pharmaceutical industry alone in 2014 was more than $227 million. Why should this industry care so much (and spend so much) to ensure that we vaccinate our offspring?
Curiously, the number of vaccines being recommended for children and adults in our society keeps increasing. Even more vaccines are in the pipeline for a great number of benign and harmless conditions. The vaccine industry has become a cash cow for the pharmaceutical industry, largely because it has both a captive audience and complete immunity from legal action.
By granting the pharmaceutical industry complete immunity from vaccine-related injury claims, a very important system of checks and balances has been discarded from the medical system. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), vaccines are considered inherently unsafe and risky.
The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System and the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program were both established to provide a clearinghouse and a no-fault compensation program for vaccine-related injuries and deaths. According to HHS records, over $2.8 billion in compensation awards has already been paid to petitioners and more than $121.6 million has been paid to cover attorneys’ fees and other legal costs since 1986. This number fails to reflect that more than 70 percent of claims made to this department are denied.
If vaccines are so effective and beneficial, why does this industry need to spend so much to try to convince us that they are? Wouldn’t the right decision be obvious to someone who has seen all the data and studied the results? What is so wrong about giving individuals the freedom to make their own choices regarding vaccination?
If vaccinations are indeed as effective as we have been told (by the industry), then why would it matter at all if a small (or even a large) group of individuals chose to forgo vaccinations and “go bare”? Wouldn’t this decision just affect those who chose to forgo treatment? A reasonable vaccine is intended, in fact is designed, to work in exactly these circumstances: It is supposed to prevent those who are vaccinated from catching illness from those who are not. If vaccines actually worked, this question of personal choice would be moot. But do they actually work?
The Efficacy Question
Current CDC data indicates that the majority of (but not all) cases of measles in recent years affect the unvaccinated population. About 50 percent of those affected in the current (2015) California measles outbreak were not vaccinated, according to the California Department of Public Health. Exactly how many vaccinated individuals have been affected is still unclear.
It also appears that many more adults have been contracting this condition (27–45 percent of affected individuals in the last few years were adults), which raises this question: Why is a childhood illness now affecting so many adults? This represents a very important problem with vaccination.
In 2003, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report confirmed the largest school-based cluster of measles since 1998, which included a group of nine confirmed cases identified in an eastern Pennsylvania boarding school. Seventy-seven percent of these students had been previously vaccinated while only two students who got ill were unvaccinated. Apparently the measles vaccine is not doing what it was designed to do: prevent measles in a vaccinated population.
What about other vaccines?
According to The New York Times, there were 93 childhood fatalities from the flu between October and December 2003, but 66 percent of these children had already been vaccinated against the flu. Again, vaccination against the flu does not seem to provide a great deal of protection.
According to a recent report in the Journal of Virology, annual influenza immunization weakens the immune system and makes it more likely that a previously immunized individual will contract the flu. Researchers found that “epidemiological data suggest that previous vaccination against seasonal influenza increased the risk of infection with pandemic influenza … [and] may have potential drawbacks that have previously been underappreciated.”
Current recommendations mandate annual influenza immunization in all age groups and ignore these important epidemiological results. We do not know if this phenomenon is unique to influenza, or if it affects other vaccinated populations as well. This might account for the rising rates of measles infection in previously immunized adults.
In another outbreak reported in The New York Times in 2010, more than 1,500 orthodox Jewish boys developed the mumps in Brooklyn, N.Y. According to the New York City assistant health commissioner for immunization: “Most of the young men who were infected had been vaccinated for measles, mumps, and rubella … This is a well-vaccinated community.” This outbreak suggests that vaccination efficacy may be less than expected.
A report in The New York Times covered a whooping cough (pertussis) outbreak in New Rochelle, N.Y., in 2003. At least 19 people were affected, “many of them children who had been vaccinated.” The health commissioner from the Westchester County department of health admitted, “Vaccination would not make someone completely immune.”
The Dutchess County Department of Health issued a Public Health Alert regarding an outbreak of varicella (chicken pox) on May 9, 2006, stating: “Between April 6, 2006 and the present, there has been [sic] 25 students diagnosed with this condition. To date, all of the cases have occurred in previously vaccinated students.”
According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, most of the 6,584 total cases of mumps reported in 2006 occurred in young adults who were already fully immunized.
If vaccines are so effective (and so beneficial) why do a substantial number of outbreaks take place in the immunized population? If these vaccines were as good as the manufacturers, the FDA, the medical organizations, and the media pundits suggest, then (by definition) the immunized population should not develop these conditions. Furthermore, those who have been immunized should have nothing to fear from those who haven’t. After all, isn’t that the entire point of vaccination?
It turns out that the explanation for this phenomenon lies in what has been described by the Infectious Diseases Society of America as “waning immunity.” Waning immunity is the process by which immunity induced by a vaccine diminishes over time. This phenomenon is in contradistinction to permanent immunity, which is a result of most illnesses (including measles), and as the designation implies, it is usually lifelong.
When healthy individuals contract actual illnesses in childhood (measles, mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough, etc.) the resulting immunity is usually permanent. This means that actually getting sick with a childhood infection imparts lifelong protection, with a near-zero risk of ever contracting the disease again (barring some unforeseen immune system compromise). On the other hand, vaccines generally require multiple doses to stimulate an immune response, which tends to wane within 1–5 years. If vaccines are not repeated frequently, throughout one’s lifetime, their protective effects simply evaporate.
Varicella vaccine (chicken pox) induced immunity lasts about one year on average. This phenomenon should raise serious concern within the medical community since chickenpox is a relatively benign condition in childhood, but when contracted as an adolescent or an adult (after the vaccine immunity has waned) it can lead to much more serious complications including pneumonia, sepsis, and encephalitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Another problem associated with the introduction of the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine is the number of cases of shingles (a far more serious condition with potentially long-term complications) that has arisen in response. Chicken pox is a typically mild childhood illness but it is being replaced by a much more serious adult disease: shingles, or herpes zoster. Researchers published in the International Journal of Toxicology believe that the presence of actual cases of chicken pox in the community stimulates the adult immune system and prevent shingles outbreaks (caused by a reactivation of the chickenpox virus). When the immune stimulation from chickenpox is absent (due to the use of the vaccine) there is no background reminder for the immune system and the virus reactivates in the form of this painful condition known as shingles.
Allowing children to become sick with chickenpox virtually eliminates shingles from the adult population. Similarly with measles, by allowing children to contract this illness and develop permanent immunity, very few adults will get the disease, and the rate of more serious complications will be much lower, since adults get more complications from this illness than children.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine immunity gained from the DTaP vaccine (Diptheria, Tetanus, acellular Pertussis) wanes extremely rapidly, and the risk of developing any one of these diseases increases by 42 percent each year after vaccination ceases: “The odds ratio for pertussis was 1.42 per year, indicating that each year after the fifth dose of DTaP was associated with a 42 percent increased odds of acquiring pertussis.” The waning of vaccine-mediated immunity in these cases can be devastating, as we have seen with pertussis in the elderly.
The meningitis vaccine, which is currently recommended by age 7, wanes so rapidly that booster shots are necessary to maintain adequate immunity into the teenage and adult years when the risk of this condition is at its peak (in college and graduate school years).
All of this indicates that vaccines have failed on at least two distinct fronts: (1) They fail to provide lasting immunity, and (2) they create an older population of individuals at much higher risk for far more serious disease, since most childhood diseases are safer and more benign when they are acquired in childhood. Most of these illnesses are associated with many more complications when acquired as an adult.
Decline and Attenuation
A frequent claim made by measles vaccine advocates is that the vaccine saves lives, but deaths from measles declined to near zero before the measles immunization program was even started. Claims made by vaccine advocates are simply not based in scientific reality. Data derived by healthsentinel.com from the Historical Statistics of the United States clearly illustrates this fact.
This data unmistakably demonstrates that the measles vaccine had nothing to do with the decline of measles-related deaths. The risk of complications, including death, was inexorably declining before the vaccine was ever introduced. Those who claim great benefits from the introduction of the measles vaccination are simply misinformed or confused. Making false statements in this regard is propaganda and should cease.
There is another important conclusion that can be drawn from the above data, and that is that, even though measles cases remained stable prior to the introduction of the vaccine, the virus naturally attenuated and adjusted itself to the population. It acclimated itself to coexist with us. This phenomenon is not unique to just this virus, but seems to take place in a large number of similar situations. Epidemiological studies reveal that most diseases go through a similar process of natural attenuation whereby the disease is initially aggressive but later adapts to the host (who, in turn, adapts to the disease). This mutual adaptation and adjustment appears to be the rule of nature, rather than the exception.
What isn’t revealed by the above graph is the phenomena that took place after the measles vaccine (and other vaccines for childhood illnesses) were introduced: there was a rapid escalation of chronic illness beginning in childhood and extending into old age. Today, more than 50 percent of children suffer from some form of chronic disease, and most adults report similar findings.
This phenomenon coincides with the advent of vaccination practices and is very likely related. Many theories exist, but it may be that the immune system requires certain childhood illnesses in order to fully mature. Vaccines may also injure the immune system, and there are a great number of additives and contaminants in the average vaccine, thus making this theory plausible. But additional data from the Human Microbiome Project of the National Institutes of Health strongly suggests that the immune system requires certain bacterial and viral infections at key developmental stages to trigger normal immune system maturation and development.
Recent research reported in the Annals of Rheumatology confirm that certain infections impact the human gut microbiome and are associated with a reduced incidence of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. This corroborates the theory that infections help (rather than harm) the immune system by stimulating its maturation. In contrast, the absence of key childhood infections (vis a vis vaccinations) harm it (by omission) and may allow chronic inflammatory conditions to develop.
Theories abound about why the elimination of certain acute childhood illnesses work against the immune system, and much more study of this phenomenon is certainly warranted. There are enough anecdotal reports as well as verified cases of vaccine injury today to suspect that we have only touched the tip of the iceberg when it comes to long-term vaccine effects on the immune system.
Vaccines have been linked to a great number of chronic conditions, including Type I Diabetes, seizures, chronic inflammatory conditions, autoimmune diseases, and many others. Much more research is needed to determine if these connections are real, but the evidence (and the mechanism of action) is extremely compelling. The reassurances provided by organizations and individuals with vested interests in these products are not convincing in light of the science behind these observations. Extreme caution regarding vaccine interventions is definitely warranted.
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a physician-led organization, has called for a moratorium on mandatory vaccination, citing over 11,000 annual cases of vaccine reactions with 20 percent leading to disability or death. These are only the short-term manifestations of vaccine injury. So far, no one has even begun to calculate the long-term effects that these treatments may have on the health of our population and society.
Be aware of emotionally targeted marketing practices designed to bully and intimidate parents to make hasty immunization decisions. These decisions should not be made lightly and without a full review of all the available data. There are enough unanswered questions regarding the safety (and efficacy) of immunization practices to make any reasonably intelligent person hesitate in an attempt to clarify the benefits and risks of these interventions.
It is ultimately quite clear that there is a fundamental lack of unbiased information regarding the short- and long-term safety and efficacy of these treatments. The entire industry and its regulatory bodies are rife with issues suggesting a breakdown of objective scientific protocol, conflict of interest, and abuse of public trust. If the health and safety of our children and all future generations is at stake, perhaps it does make sense to pause, “to measure twice and cut once.” This is our responsibility as citizens and parents.
Ronald Whitmont, M.D., practices medicine in the Hudson Valley and New York City. His website is homeopathicmd.com. He is a clinical assistant professor of Family and Community Medicine at New York Medical College, and he is also president-elect of the American Institute of Homeopathy.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.