by Barbara Loe Fisher
The worldwide acceptance of mass vaccination to
suppress infectious childhood diseases once fiercely resisted is one of the
most successful public relations stories in the history of medicine.
As a result, epidemics of smallpox, which once swept through
18th- and 19th-century port cities such as Halifax, New York, and Boston without warning
and cut down entire families, are now dry facts relegated to medical books. Images of
children struggling through whooping cough, walking down the street coughing
spasmodically, and stopping at curbs to spit up sticky mucus are only fading memories for
grandparents alive to talk about what their parents told them. Baby boomers and their
parents still remember lining up in school in 1955 for polio vaccinations, with the hope
that this magic bullet would keep them out of the dreaded iron lung.
Mass vaccination has dramatically suppressed childhood diseases. In
Canada, recorded diphtheria cases dropped from 9,000 in 1924 to two to five by 1994. When
measles vaccination began in the United States between 1963 and 1965, doctors reported
more than 400,000 cases annually; by 1995, that number had dwindled to 309. Cases of
tetanus are almost unheard of in North America and Europe.
Yet the universal use of vaccines as a worthy goal that prevents
needless suffering and that benefits all mankind has begun to be challenged.
The voices of critics are heard in the living rooms of families whose
children have been injured or have died from reactions to routine childhood vaccinations,
and in courtrooms, where parents are suing vaccine makers and challenging mandatory
vaccination laws. In the U.S. Congress, legislators who have heard them have set up a
vaccine injury compensation program. At scientific conferences and in the pages of
prestigious medical journals, researchers and physicians are risking their careers by
discussing vaccine side effects. On network TV, millions are watching parents, who say
vaccines hurt their children, square off with policy makers, who say vaccines rarely hurt
anyone at all.
At the heart of the controversy lies a scientific challenge to the very
premise that mass vaccination with multiple vaccines safely and effectively controls
diseases and improves individual and public health. Simultaneously, ethical and legal
arguments challenge the right of government health officials to force vaccination on
everyone. Wrapped up in this scientific, legal, and political battle are beleaguered
pediatricians losing the trust of parents and a booming pharmaceutical industry with
billions of dollars invested in new vaccine development.
How it All Began
IN 1796, BRITISH PHYSICIAN EDWARD JENNER, ACTING ON A HUNCH,
SCRAPED cowpox pus onto the arm of an eight-year-old boy. He theorized that a mild bout of
cowpox would prevent a more virulent case of smallpox, and he was right. The procedure,
which he dubbed inoculation, enjoyed limited success at first. But it failed in
Jenners own 11-month-old son, and bad reactions to smallpox inoculation, which
eventually used lymph from the cow itself, were legendary.
One mother in England bitterly complained in 1883 about mandatory
vaccination laws that allowed public health officials to issue summons, threaten parents
with imprisonment, and impose stiff fines for refusing to vaccinate their children. She
said, In no country has the cry of the mothers been allowed a hearing. They who see
and realize that their children suffer from this practice have never been consulted as to
its initiative or its continuance. If the will of the mothers could be made potent and
effective, this cruel legislation would be at once and universally repealed.
But 19th-century physicians quickly adopted and promoted Jenners
new procedure despite public protests. Physicians and politicians were desperate for
anything that appeared to keep epidemic pestilences from invading the overcrowded, filthy
cities of Europe and the New World. They failed to realize that eliminating the root
causes of poor health poverty, malnutrition, water contaminated by human and animal
waste, spoiled food, and industrial air pollution among others would help prevent
the spread of many diseases.
Government-enforced vaccinations led to burgeoning
chemical/pharmaceutical industries in France, Germany, and Britain. The Pasteur Institute,
founded in 1887 by the famed inventor of the rabies vaccine, eventually created
Canadas largest vaccine manufacturer: Pasteur Mérieux Connaught. Today,
vaccinations are big business. In 1995, an international high-technology research firm,
Frost & Sullivan, projected that the worldwide human vaccine market will increase from
$2.9 billion to more than $7 billion by the year 2001.
Public health officials in every country assist the industrys
growth, often by force of laws that ensure citizens use about a dozen different viral and
bacterial vaccines, including ones to suppress even generally mild childhood diseases such
as chicken pox. Traditional public health measures improving sanitation, nutrition,
living conditions, health education, and access to affordable medical care, especially in
underprivileged populations often take a backseat to achieving a 100 per cent
Most medical doctors consider vaccines their single most important tool
in protecting public health. Few would question the profound importance of vaccines
to public health, wrote Richard B. Johnston, Jr., MD, medical director of the March
of Dimes and chairman of the Institute of Medicine Vaccine Safety Committee, in a 1994
National Academy of Sciences report, Adverse Events Associated with Vaccines. Not
only have deaths from the most common childhood infections been almost eliminated, but so
have the devastating morbidities of diseases like measles, paralytic polio, and congenital
rubella. This revolution has . . . led to major savings in medical costs and gains in work
productivity, as well as to reductions in deaths and suffering.
BUT CRACKS ARE APPEARING IN THE united front that the medical
establishement has maintained for two centuries. In industrialized countries, dissatisfied
patients and alternative health care proponents are questioning orthodox medicines
basic foundations, especially its heavy reliance on surgery and synthetic drugs. The
proliferating number of vaccines are just one more target for increasingly well-educated
and Internet-savvy health care consumers, who are wary of the many magic bullets drug
Remembering when doctors wanted every childs tonsils out,
mothers wonder why doctors now insist that they should stay in. Where doctors once
prescribed antibiotics for every sore throat, prescription-dependent patients are now
being blamed for new strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. A new drug promoted as a
lifesaver today is sometimes pulled off the market tomorrow for killing those who took it.
In the April 15, 1998, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association
analysis of drug side effects found that toxic reactions to correctly prescribed
medications make more than two million Americans seriously ill every year and kill
106,000, putting drug side effects among the top 10 causes of death in the United States.
Among children, antibiotics and vaccines cause more adverse reactions
than any other prescribed medicines, according to a Canadian study presented at the
annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy and Asthma in 1998. Sandra K. Knowles
and her colleagues at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto reviewed Canadian
data on more than 1,500 cases of drug reactions between 1985 and 1995. The antibiotics
amoxicillan and ampicillin accounted for 24 per cent of total adverse reactions, with
vaccines coming in second at 19 per cent. Baby boomers wonder what and who to believe.
Many believe health requires better nutrition, exercise, managing
stress, a positive attitude, and a less intrusive approach.
A 1997 study in the Canadian Journal of Public Health estimated that 15
per cent of Canadians had seen an alternative therapy practitioner in the preceding 12
months. A 1998 survey in JAMA found 39 million Americans made more than 600 million visits
to alternative health care practitioners in 1997, more than to primary care physicians.
The patients paid most of the $21.2 billion cost themselves because health insurance plans
generally dont reimburse patients for alternative health care. The patients wanted
alternative therapies primarily to prevent future illness from occurring or to
maintain health and vitality.
Embracing the more spiritual concept of achieving better health through
better living rather than through better chemistry, members of the Me generation
who challenged every institution and social more as teenagers continue to exercise
their counterculture instincts as adults by asserting their right to make independent
health care choices. Their demand to make vaccination choices puzzles and worries MDs,
including some outspoken alternative health care advocates.
VACCINES ARE SUPPOSED TO fool the body's immune system into producing
antibodies to resist viral and bacterial infection in the same way that actually having
the disease usually produces immunity to future infection. But unlike natural recovery
from many infectious diseases, which stimulates lifetime immunity, vaccines only provide
temporary protection. Thats why booster doses are often required.
Vaccination raises two equally contentious questions. First, is it
better to protect children against infectious diseases early in life through temporary
immunity from a vaccine or are they better off contracting certain contagious infections
in childhood and attaining permanent immunity? Second, do vaccine complications cause more
injury and death than diseases do? Both questions essentially pit trust in human
intervention against trust in nature.
The Rise of Asthma and Other Autoimmune Diseases
PHYSICIANS AND PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS PROMOTING CHILDHOOD vaccination
instist that vaccines do not harm the immune system in any way. They defend the use of
vaccines made in the laboratory from altered viruses and bacteria as well as
chemicals, such as formaldehyde, mercury, aluminum, monosodium glutamate, sulfites, and
antibiotics as necessary weapons for shielding vulnerable newborns from the
suffering caused by viral and bacterial infections.
Visitors to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
web site (www.cdc.gov) learn that
vaccines give your babys immune system the chance to practise and make
protective antibodies before real germs invade. If left totally to chance, your
babys first exposure to a disease may be from a germ too strong for your baby to
fight. Thats why before parents had vaccines for their children, many children died
from whooping cough, measles, diphtheria and other diseases. Those same germs exist today,
but todays babies are protected by vaccines.
The CDC warns that Immunizations must begin at birth and most
vaccinations [be] completed by age 2. . . . Children under 5 are especially susceptible to
disease because their immune systems have not built up the necessary defenses to fight
YET A GROWING BODY OF SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THAT VACCINES MAY
have inadvertently done more than just suppress infectious childhood diseases. Vaccine
critics point out that the increase in autoimmune and neurological disorders in the past
three decades in industrialized countries coincides with the addition of new vaccines to
the childhood vaccination schedule as well as rapidly increasing vaccination rates.
Between 1964 and 1992, the U.S. added six new vaccines to the mandatory
vaccination schedule, including five doses of live virus polio; two doses of MMR (measles,
mumps, and rubella); four doses of Hib (haemophilus influenzae type b, which is a type of
meningitis); and three doses of hepatitis B vaccine, while more strictly enforcing
existing laws mandating five doses of DPT (diphtheria, pertussis also known as
whooping cough and tetanus). Vaccination coveraghepatitis B, and Hib vaccines.
Asthma is an autoimmune disorder, an allergic condition that tops
the list of chronic respiratory diseases found in children in Western societies today. A
1997 study published in Science reported that the prevalence of asthma in
westernized societies has risen steadily this century, doubling in the last 20 years.
Asthma now affects one child in seven in Great Britain, and in the United States it causes
one-third of pediatric emergency room visits. Another study found that between 1964
and 1980, asthma in children aged six to 11 years increased 50 per cent. In 1995, the CDC
reported that, between 1982 and 1992, asthma increased 52 per cent for persons between the
ages of five and 34 years old, and deaths from asthma increased 42 per cent.
The 1978 Canada Health Survey found that only 2.3 per cent of Canadians
15 years and over reported having asthma. By 1991, its prevalence was at 6 per cent. More
than 1.5 million Canadians of all ages suffer from asthma.
Even more worrisome, however, are the findings of a large survey of
Canadian school children in 1995-96 that found a 13 per cent prevalence of asthma. From
the early 1970s to the late 1980s, the number of Canadian patients under 35 years
discharged from hospital with a diagnosis of asthma tripled. The greatest increase has
been in children under four years of age. As in the U.S., asthma deaths in Canada have
climbed along with its increased prevalence.
Asthmas economic burden is formidable. According to Canadas
1994 National Population Health Survey, the long-term disability costs associated with
asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis in 1993 totalled $1.8 billion, without counting
costs associated with treating asthma in children under 11 years old. In the U.S., the
total cost of illness related to asthma in 1990 was estimated at $6.2 billion.
Although public health officials attribute the recorded increases in
asthma to better case diagnoses, more air pollution indoors and outdoors, and smoking,
some scientists find evidence that vaccination and lack of contagious infectious diseases
in early childhood may later encourage the development of asthma and other allergic
In 1996, the British medical journal, The Lancet, published Danish and
British findings concerning child health, lung function, and allergy. Noting that the
incidence of early childhood diseases in Britain has fallen this century while those of
allergic diseases such as asthma, hay fever, and eczema rose sharply, the researchers
hypothesized that certain childhood infections, specifically measles, may protect against
They compared evidence of atopy (allergy) in two groups of young adults,
aged 14 to 21, in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. One group had recovered from measles during
a 1979 epidemic (before the measles vaccine was introduced); the other did not get measles
as children and were later vaccinated.
The researchers confirmed their hypothesis: About 26 per cent of the
vaccinated young adults had allergic conditions, twice the rate of those who had recovered
from measles. After adjusting for breast-feeding and other variables, they concluded that
their findings may indicate that measles infection prevents allergic
sensitization. Because this was the first population-based study to relate reduced
allergies to a specific childhood viral infection, they urged further studies in
developing countries, where childhood diseases are still widespread due to low vaccination
Vaccine promoters point out that measles complications kill one million
children annually, mostly in underdeveloped countries. In Guinea-Bissaus 1979
measles epidemic, the case-fatality rate in children under 3 was 25 per cent: it is better
to have asthma for the rest of your life that die from measles.
Mass vaccination critics counter that West Africas health and
living conditions, which could account for the high death rate, dont apply to Europe
and North America, where toddlers who get measles usually recover without complications.
Why not eliminate poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, and substandard medical care in
developing countries so that measles-related death rates come down, as in industrialized
countries even before vaccination?
Another study, this time comparing the prevalence of asthma and other
allergic disorders in child populations throughout the world, appeared in The Lancet in
1998. The authors found that the wealthier, more developed countries in Western Europe and
North America and Australia and New Zealand had higher incidences of asthma than did the
poorer countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa.
The authors of the 1997 Science article Asthma: An Epidemic in the
Absence of Infection? tentatively answered yes to their own question, concluding
that childhood infections may, therefore, paradoxically protect against
asthma. In a 1997 issue of Epidemiology, New Zealand researchers hypothesized that
it is theoretically possible that immunization may contribute to the development of
allergic disease. Of 1,265 New Zealanders born in 1977, 23 received no childhood
vaccinations, and none suffered childhood asthma. Among the 1,242 who got polio and DPT
shots, 23 per cent later had episodes of asthma, 23 per cent had asthma consultations, and
30 per cent had consultations for other allergic illness. Their conclusion was, The
findings presented here are consistent with the hypothesis that some component of infant
immunization may increase the risk of developing asthma in childhood.
A Tripling of Diabetes
DIABETES, A CHRONIC AUTOIMMUNE DISORDER THAT DISRUPTS THE blood's
glucose levels, afflicts some 125 million people worldwide. That number is expected to
double by 2025.
In the U.S., where 600,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, the
number of diabetics has increased a record threefold since 1958, to nearly 16 million, and
millions more may unknowingly have it. Now the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.,
diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure, stroke, and heart disease and lead to
amputations. In 1992, the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases estimated that diabetes cost the U.S. $45 billion for medical treatment plus $47
billion for lost work time, disability payments, and premature death. In Canada, the
Laboratory Centre for Disease Control found that the 1993 cost burden of diabetes exceeded
$1 billion, including $565 million in drug, physician, and hospital costs and $559 million
in mortality-related costs.
As early as 1949, the medical literature reported that some children
injected with the pertussis vaccine had reduced blood glucose levels. The pertussis
vaccine can cause diabetes in mice. In recent decades, scientists have suggested that
viral infections may be a co-factor in causing diabetes. Because both rubella and mumps
infections have been associated with juvenile diabetes, the introduction of the live virus
vaccines for measles, mumps, and rubella in the 1960s and 1970s also raised questions
about whether live vaccine virus could be a contributing co-factor to the onset of
In the May 24, 1996, New Zealand Medical Journal, J. Barthelow Classen,
MD, a former researcher at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the founder
and CEO of Classen Immunotherapies in Baltimore, reported that juvenile diabetes increased
60 per cent following a massive hepatitis B vaccination campaign for babies six weeks or
older in New Zealand from 1988 to 1991. In the October 22, 1997, Infectious Diseases in
Classen showed that Finlands incidence of diabetes increased
147 per cent in children under five after three new vaccines were introduced in the 1970s,
and that diabetes increased 40 per cent in children aged 5 to 9 after the addition of the
MMR and Hib vaccines in the 1980s. He concluded that the rise in IDDM [juvenile
onset diabetes] in the different age groups correlated with the number of vaccines
Classen discounts the conclusions of many vaccine safety trials,
especially 48-hour or several-day vaccine reaction follow-ups, which can miss the
development of autoimmune dysfunction that can take years to develop. According to
Classen, Previous vaccine trials are flawed because they are not designed to detect
associations between vaccination and autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes. Prospective
clinical trials are needed.
Government health officials dispute Classens research, and that of
others concerned about mass vaccination policies. In 1997, U.S. federal health officials
did admit that one of their own studies showed that "the possibility that hepatitis B
vaccination, particularly at older ages, may increase IDDM risk cannot be ruled out and
will require larger more detailed studies. Nevertheless, in 1998, they told the
public in a report written to rebut Classens findings, Dr. Classens
results are not consistent with current scientific thinking and have not been verified by
other researchers. . . . Comparison of diabetes rates between countries with different
vaccination policies also provides weak evidence because many factors, including different
vaccination schedules, may differ by country. Many factors, including genetic
predisposition and a number of possible environmental exposures unrelated to vaccines, may
influence the development of diabetes in different countries.
Last year, after Classen discussed the possible link between diabetes,
certain vaccines, and the timing of early childhood vaccinations on ABCs World News
Tonight, he was summoned to a closed meeting at Johns Hopkins University chaired by Neal
Halsey, MD, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious
Diseases, AAP liaison member of the CDCs Advisory Committee on Immunization
Practices, and Director of the Institute of Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University.
Officials from NIH, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the CDC, as well as
representatives from several vaccine manufacturers also attended the meeting. There, they
criticized Classen for speaking publicly about his findings. Later, World Health
Organization officials joined U.S. health officials in berating Classen.
Undaunted, Classen and a colleague appealed to vaccine policy makers in
a letter published in the January 16, 1999, British Medical Journal. We believe that
the public should be fully informed that vaccines, though effective in preventing
infections, may have long-term adverse effects, he said. An educated public
will probably increasingly demand proper safety studies before widespread immunization. We
believe that the outcome of this decision will be the development of safer vaccine
Like incidences of asthma and diabetes, the incidence of autism has
climbed dramatically in the past 30 years
OTHER SCIENTISTS RESEARCHING HEALTH PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH vaccines
have also felt the ire of public health officials. In 1998, an unsuspecting young British
gastroenterologist suddenly found himself in the eye of a hurricane for discovering a
possible connection between the MMR vaccine and autism.
In the February 27, 1998, issue of The Lancet, Andrew Wakefield, MD, and
13 colleagues reported on a new syndrome involving inflammatory bowel disease and autism
in children. Eight out of 12 normal children who developed severe intestinal disorders
soon after an MMR vaccination also became autistic. Previously, five of those eight
children had reacted adversely to vaccinations.
The team of British scientists, who had inadvertently stumbled upon the
connection while studying Crohns disease and other inflammatory bowel dysfunction in
children, emphasized that they had not proved a cause-and-effect relationship. They called
for more studies to investigate whether persistent viral infection, either from natural
disease or live virus vaccines, can lead to central nervous system damage in some
Nevertheless, in the same issue of The Lancet, CDC officials Robert
Chen, MD, and Frank DeStefano, MD, charged in an editorial that vaccine safety
concerns such as that reported by Wakefield and colleagues may snowball when the
public and the media confuse association with causality and shun immunization.
Other CDC officials discounted the studys importance, saying that the
childrens health problems were coincidental and not caused by
Soon after, a Reuters newswire story quoted Johns Hopkinss Halsey
saying it was highly inappropriate for Wakefield and his colleagues to discuss
a possible connection between the childrens health problems and measles or MMR
vaccines. Wakefield was later called before the Medical Research Council where British,
U.S., and WHO health officials criticized his report for unnecessarily scaring the public.
In contrast, autism experts defended Wakefield.
Bernard Rimland, who has a PhD in experimental psychology and is founder
and director of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, said, It is ludicrous to
claim that the link between many causes of autism and vaccination is just coincidental.
Dr. Wakefields group has greatly expanded our understanding of one possible
mechanism. The blunt truth is that some children are harmed by vaccinations. Research, not
denial, is the proper response to this report.
Portia Iverson, founder and president of CAN, the Cure Autism Now
foundation in Los Angeles, also took issue at the government-led criticism:
Approximately one-half of the hundreds of parents who call our office each month
report that their child became autistic shortly after receiving a vaccination. Isnt
it the responsibility of the government to take a pro-active position on behalf of these
children rather than a defensive one?
Although the medical literature identified only a handful of cases in
the 1940s, by the mid-1960s, after the DPT vaccine had been widely used and the measles
vaccine introduced, autistic children began flooding doctors offices. (Parents in
the U.S. and Canada who report vaccine-associated autism most often mention that their
childrens autistic behaviors followed DPT or MMR vaccination.) Today, 1 in 1,000
children are diagnosed as autistic, making autism more prevalent among children than
cancer, multiple sclerosis, or cystic fibrosis. A recent California study put the figure
at 1 in 312 children, a 273 per cent increase between 1987 and 1998.
Hepatitis B Vaccine Takes a Hit
CANADIAN PHYSICIANS HAVE ALSO FACED CRITICISM FROM GOVERNMENT HEALTH
officials who dismiss vaccine side effects. Byron Hyde, MD, chairman of the Ottawa-based
Nightingale Research Foundation and an internationally recognized authority on myalgic
encephalomyelitis (chronic fatigue syndrome), has accumulated data on several hundred
cases of serious immune and neurological dysfunction following hepatitis B vaccination.
His first case reports, in the early 1990s, came from Quebec nurses who reported a
constellation of autoimmune symptoms, including pain, fatigue, and mental dysfunction, and
were unable to work.
Hyde, a vaccination advocate, spoke out publicly about the side effects
in September 1997 at the First International Public Conference on Vaccination sponsored by
the National Vaccine Information Center in Washington, D.C. He told more than 500 parents
and doctors that in the early 1990s, both the vaccine manufacturer and the Canadian health
authorities repeatedly rebuffed his requests for an investigation into signs of
demyelinating disease, measurable loss of IQ, loss of stamina, intractable pain,
blindness, skin lesions, and other problems affecting health care workers following their
hepatitis B vaccinations.
Hundreds of cases later, he has concluded that almost all of these
people who had adverse reactions after the first immunization, after the second
immunization were individuals who had immunological side effects and who told their
physicians, and the physicians did nothing about it but continued to proceed with
immunization. . . . I think part of the problem is the pharmaceutical companies and the
governments themselves have attempted to say, Here, take this sugar pill, it is
danger-free, it is a wonderful thing, it has no risk, no problems, and doctors have
become lazy and actually believed this dangerous philosophy put out by the pharmaceutical
companies and the governments.
Researchers like Hyde are at the centre of a growing controversy about
the recombinant DNA hepatitis B vaccine licensed in the U.S. in 1986. Although health
officials estimate that more than 300 million people worldwide have chronic hepatitis B,
both Canada and the U.S. have historically had among the worlds lowest rates, even
before the vaccine was introduced. Unlike in parts of Asia and Africa, where the disease
often affects 5 to 20 per cent (and sometimes more) of the population, in Canada and the
U.S., less than 1 per cent have hepatitis B, and about 95 per cent of those infected
recover and get permanent immunity. However, health officials emphasize that those who
become chronically infected suffer dire consequences: poor health, liver disease, and
sometimes liver cancer.
Unlike whooping cough, a respiratory disease that can kill babies and
small children, which the pertussis vaccine was designed to prevent, hepatitis B is not a
childhood disease. Spread through infected body fluids, primarily blood, it is most
prevalent in high-risk adult populations such as intravenous drug users, prisoners,
individuals with multiple sexual partners, those undergoing blood transfusions, and health
care workers exposed to infected blood. Doctors reported about 10,000 hepatitis B cases in
the U.S. in 1997 with only 306 occurring in children under 14.
The only babies at risk are those born to hepatitis B-infected mothers,
but because few hospitals screen pregnant women for hepatitis B infection, in 1991, the
CDC recommended vaccinating all newborns before discharge from the hospital nursery. The
CDC maintains its recommendation despite this 1997 admission: Hepatitis B continues
to decline in most states primarily because of a decrease in the number of cases among
injecting drug users and, to a lesser extent, because of a decline in cases associated
with both male homosexual practices and heterosexual practices.
Widely touted as almost risk-free, health care workers in the U.S. and
Canada were among the first to get this, the first genetically engineered recombinant DNA
vaccine. Soon after, nurses and doctors in both countries reported postvaccination
symptoms like those described by Hyde, ranging from rashes and fevers that come and go,
debilitating fatigue, muscle weakness, joint pain, and memory loss to paralysis and death.
Many were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and other
autoimmune disorders, although most often they did not suffer from classic forms of these
diseases. As the U.S. passed laws and Canada recommended children get three vaccine doses
or be barred from school, children began to report the same reactions.
Recombinant hepatitis B vaccine is also being challenged by Bonnie
Dunbar, PhD, professor of Cell Biology, Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, who has
spent most of her 25-year career in academic and laboratory science in new vaccine
development. After reactions to hepatitis B vaccinations disabled both her brother and a
research assistant, she intensively investigated the vaccine.
With several other U.S. scientists, Dunbar is investigating whether the
genetically engineered hepatitis B vaccine tricks the immune systems of
genetically susceptible individuals into attacking their own bodies, causing debilitating
autoimmune and brain dysfunction. Recombinant hepatitis B vaccines contain polypeptide
sequences similar to those present in human brain tissues such as myelin while viral
polypeptides can induce autoimmune diseases resembling multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid
The drug companies report safety studies that monitored children
and adults for only four or five days after vaccination, said Dunbar. It takes
weeks and sometimes months for autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis to
develop following vaccination. In fact, a study group on hepatitis B vaccine with members
from the CDC, WHO, NIH, Merck & Co., SmithKline Beecham, Pasteur Mérieux Connaught,
and Pasteur-Merieux, MSD Joint Venture reported that a reasonable time limit to use
for the onset of MS postvaccination is about 60 days.
Dunbar is most critical of the science: No basic science research
to determine the biological mechanism of vaccine injury or long-term studies into the side
effects of this vaccine have ever been conducted in babies or children. In adults, only
limited follow-up has been carried out in genetically restricted populations.
Dunbar and her colleagues have applied twice for government funding to
investigate the role that genetic factors may play in hepatitis B vaccine reactions or in
vaccine failures. Their goal of identifying high-risk markers to screen susceptible
children and adults out of the mass vaccination program will have to wait. The NIH has
twice turned them down.
To continuing reports that the hepatitis B vaccine negatively affects
children and adults, U.S. government officials respond, there is no confirmed
scientific evidence that hepatitis B vaccine causes chronic illness, including multiple
sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, or autoimmune disorders. . . .
Surveillance of adverse events in the United States after hepatitis B vaccination have
shown no association between hepatitis B vaccine and the occurrence of serious adverse
events including Guillain-Barre syndrome, transverse myelitis, optic neuritis and
The CDC insists on vaccinating all newborns and young children on the
grounds that they may act irresponsibly later in life. While most hepatitis B
vaccine infections occur among older adolescents and young adults, vaccination of persons
in high-risk groups has generally not been a successful public health strategy.
Yet the vaccine manufacturers themselves dont know how long
vaccine-induced immunity will last. Merck & Co. stated in its 1996 product insert,
The duration of the protective effect of [the vaccine] in healthy vaccinees is
unknown at present, and the need for booster doses is not yet defined.
Government officials have also been on the defensive since last October,
when France became the first country to end hepatitis B vaccine requirements for
schoolchildren. Frances health minister acted after numerous reports of arthritis-
and multiple sclerosis-like symptoms. Pending citizen lawsuits against SmithKline Beecham
and Pasteur-Merieux, which make and sell the hepatitis B vaccine, may also have influenced
the French decision. In addition, attorneys representing 15,000 French citizens are suing
government health officials for understating the vaccines risks and exaggerating its
The day after France withdrew the vaccine mandate, a dismayed World
Health Organization stated that the decision taken yesterday may lead to loss of
public confidence in this vaccine, and decisions by other countries to suspend or delay
introduction of hepatitis B vaccine. . . . WHO strongly recommends that all countries
already using hepatitis B vaccine as a routine vaccine in their national immunization
programmes continue to do so, and that countries not yet using the vaccine begin as soon
Canadian parents take on the establishment
IN CANADA, THE HEPATITIS B VACCINE CONTROVERSY IS ALSO HEATING UP.
Although only three provinces (Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick) actually mandate
vaccines for school entry, parents can refuse on medical, philosophical, or religious
grounds. Even with these informed consent protections, Mary James, co-founder of the
Association for Vaccine Damaged Children (AVDC) in Winnipeg, points out that
vaccination is never presented as a choice to parents. Most parents are told that
their child must be vaccinated. Since most parents are not aware of vaccine risks or their
rights, they comply without questioning.
When parents were told last year that their children had to get three
doses of the new hepatitis B vaccine, James and her AVDC co-founder Leona Rew fought for a
court injunction to stop the program, arguing that Winnipeg public health officials were
inadequately informing parents of potential risks. Although they lost their bid to stop
the program, members of AVDC joined members of Parents for Informed Consent and the Eagle
Foundation in Winnipeg to raise their objections through television and radio appearances.
To better monitor vaccine risks, the federal governments
Laboratory Centre for Disease Control operates a vaccine reaction reporting system called
Vaccine Associated Adverse Events (VAAE). Although most doctors are not required to report
health problems following vaccination (except in Ontario, where AVDC activists got a law
passed), the system does receive about 4,000 to 5,000 voluntary reports every year.
Laboratory Centre for Disease Control officials stress that these reports only reflect
any event that is felt to be temporally related to the administration of an
immunization but not necessarily absolutely causally related. They state, Over
12 million doses of vaccine are distributed every year and very few concerns arise despite
intense searching. Until diseases are eradicated, immunization remains our best
Rew disagrees: Doctors and nurses still do not report adverse
reactions. We need a reporting system that has some teeth in it so that doctors are
compelled to do their job and report serious health problems that occur after someone gets
James, whose five-month-old daughter was partially paralyzed and died in
1984 following two polio vaccinations, and Rew, whose infant son had bouts of high-pitched
screaming and a seizure within hours of a DPT shot, emphasize that AVDC does not advocate
banning vaccines. Says James, The vaccines should be available like any other health
care product, but parents should know the risks as well as the benefits and be able to
make an informed choice. Right now, they are just getting one side of the story the
one that the government and drug companies want everyone to believe.
American protest forces acknowledgment
CANADA'S GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT RESEMBLES ITS U.S. PREDECESSOR. In 1982, a
television documentary, DPT: Vaccine Roulette, prompted a handful of parents, whose
children had been injured by or died from the DPT vaccine, to found an organization known
today as the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). Soon after, manufacturers
threatened to stop producing vaccines unless they were immune to lawsuits. Although most
vaccine injury lawsuits were then either won by drug companies or settled on the
courthouse steps by weary, cash-poor parents (with all evidence sealed from public view),
plaintiffs had won large enough punitive damages in the late 1970s and early 1980s to
worry vaccine producers about their liability.
The U.S. Congress immediately began writing legislation for a vaccine
injury compensation system and asked physician organizations, vaccine manufacturers, and
the co-founders of NVIC to present their concerns. The physicians and manufacturers wanted
Congress to remove all liability and to guarantee protection from lawsuits for vaccine
injury and death. Congresss final decision required parents to first file for
federal compensation by suing the secretary of the Department of Health and Human
Services. But parents won the right to sue vaccine manufacturers or negligent physicians
if vaccine-injured children were offered too little financial support for their
catastrophic vaccine injuries or were turned down entirely although bringing a
lawsuit would then be more difficult. Parents also retained the right to sue for unlimited
punitive damages where manufacturers engaged in fraud or intentional wrongful
withholding of information relating to the safety or efficacy of the vaccine, or
engaged in other criminal or illegal activity relating to the safety and
effectiveness of vaccines.
Government health agencies opposed the proposed federal compensation
legislation, maintaining that vaccinated children who developed serious health problems
had an underlying genetic disorder or a health problem that would have
spontaneously occurred even without a vaccination. It was only after the book DPT: A Shot
in the Dark (Coulter and Fisher, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985) was published and
parents held public demonstrations at the CDC in Atlanta and in front of the White House
the following year, that President Ronald Reagan signed the National Childhood Vaccine
Injury Act into law in 1986. (Pressure by parents eventually led to the FDA licensing of a
purified pertussis vaccine in 1996, which has been associated with fewer reactions.)
Today, parents of vaccine-injured children and their lawyers criticize
the laws implementation because three out of four applicants are turned away. With
government lawyers and health officials fighting every claim, more than $1 billion lies
idle in a vaccine injury trust fund. Still, under the act, more than $1 billion has been
paid to 1,000 families whose members, the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, D.C., has
judged, were harmed by routine vaccinations. The majority of the awards have been for
DPT-vaccine related brain damage or death, with a lesser number for MMR and polio vaccine
reactions. (NVICs web site, www.909SHOT.com, describes some of the vaccine injury
The 1986 law, which mandated the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the
prestigious National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review the medical literature for
evidence that vaccines can cause injury and death, was historic societal acknowledgement
that vaccines can be harmful. In 1991 and 1994, NAS published the evidence in three
One high-level physician committee examining the medical literature
wrote, the lack of adequate data regarding many of the adverse events under study
was of major concern. . . . The committee encountered many gaps and limitations in
knowledge bearing directly or indirectly on the safety of vaccines. Nevertheless,
the IOM did find enough scientific evidence to confirm that the DPT vaccine can cause
acute brain inflammation and permanent brain damage that ranges from learning disorders to
severe and profound retardation; the DT (diphtheria and tetanus) vaccine can cause
Guillain-Barre syndrome, including death, as well as brachial neuritis; the rubella
vaccine can cause acute and chronic arthritis; the live oral polio vaccine can give polio
to the person being vaccinated or to someone who comes into contact with that
persons body fluids; and the MMR vaccine can cause shock as well as a potentially
fatal infection from a vaccine strain of measles virus.
Because scientific studies did not exist, physician committees could not
properly evaluate a long list of other vaccine-associated health problems, including some
of the chronic autoimmune and neurological disorders such as diabetes and multiple
sclerosis at the centre of the vaccine safety controversy. The big news, though,
was that the medical community had told the public that vaccines can injure and kill.
While health officials stressed anew that the benefits [of vaccines] outweigh the
risks, parents of healthy children better understood the cry of parents of
vaccine-injured children: When it happens to your child, the risks are 100 per
Under the 1986 law, the federal government also set up an improved
vaccine reaction reporting system, which, like Canadas reporting system, depends on
physicians reports. The U.S. Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System receives between
12,000 and 14,000 reports of hospitalizations, injuries, and deaths following vaccination
every year, but as in Canada, parent groups claim that less than 10 per cent of doctors
report vaccine-associated health problems and that the government does not adequately
A Matter of Law
UNLIKE CANADA, HOWEVER, EVERY U.S. STATE LEGALLY REQUIRES vaccinations,
and public health officials vigorously enforce these laws. Refusing to vaccinate
ones children can result in denial of an education, including enrolment in day care,
elementary school, high school, college, and graduate school; denial of health insurance;
denial of employment; and threatened denial of government benefits for poor children,
including food and medical care. In addition, parents who dont comply with
vaccination laws have been charged with child medical neglect and threatened with having
their children taken from them.
All 50 states provide a medical exemption to vaccination laws that
doctors licensed to prescribe drugs can write. All but two states allow exemptions for
religious beliefs, but some states require that parents belong to a religion that has a
written tenet opposing vaccination (several state high courts have found this requirement
unconstitutional). Some 16 states provide for philosophical or personal belief
exemption, but most parents are unaware of these exemptions and fewer than 1 per cent in
most states exercise them.
Although American vaccine laws fall under state, rather than federal,
jurisdiction, as soon as the CDC licenses a new vaccine and recommends it for
universal use, state health officials automatically make it mandatory. So,
while state health officials only required children to show proof of smallpox vaccination
to enter school in 1949, in 1999, most states require children to be injected with 33 or
34 doses of nine or 10 different vaccines.
Tracking system to enforce vaccination
TO ENCOURAGE HIGH VACCINATION RATES, FEDERAL OFFICIALS GIVE GRANTS and
other financial incentives to state health and education agencies, or withhold them. In
1993, the Clinton administration launched an Immunization Initiative, and
Congress authorized more than $400 million for states that enforced mandatory vaccination
by using social security numbers to track children from birth. Simultaneously, a grant
program rewards state health departments with up to $100 for each fully vaccinated child.
The government eventually plans to link state vaccine tracking systems
together to create a government-operated centralized electronic database monitoring
everyones medical records, including vaccination status, from birth. One federal
proposal would link a national ID smartcard to obtaining a drivers
licence and other societal privileges, such as health care or getting a job. Individual
legislators, at both the state and federal levels, have already proposed tax penalties for
citizens who dont fully vaccinate their children.
In addition to government grants, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
(Johnson & Johnson) has awarded nearly $10 million to states to set up vaccine
tracking systems to enforce vaccine laws. In 1989, Johnson & Johnson joined with Merck
& Co., the U.S. manufacturer of the MMR, chicken pox, and hepatitis B vaccines, to
form Worldwide Consumer Pharmaceuticals Company, with the goal of becoming one of
the premier worldwide consumer products companies. By 1997, Mercks vaccine
sales had reached $1 billion.
Tracking System Would Eventually Become Global
A NUMBER OF PRIVATE COMPANIES AND ORGANIZATIONS ARE ALREADY WORKING with
governments around the world to ensure the integration and harmonization of
immunization registries through the promotion, standardization, and acceptance of
computerized patient records systems that would monitor the health status of every
The Childrens Vaccine Initiative (CVI), launched in 1990 at the
World Summit for Children in New York City, wants to develop global strategies for
the development and utilization of vaccines by all the worlds children.
Headquartered in Geneva, CVI receives money from the United Nations Childrens Fund,
the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank, WHO, and the Rockefeller
Foundation. CVI is also financially supported by the worlds largest manufacturers
and marketers of vaccines. To conform to CVI goals, in 1994, CDC health officials
developed a National Vaccine Plan for the U.S., which provides a framework in which
diverse domestic and international, public and private-sector activities in immunization
and vaccine development can be effectively coordinated and describes the way
in which the United States should promote immunization to protect the health of all
people, including accelerating the development and use of promising new and improved
An HIV vaccine for children?
IN A FEBRUARY 12, 1997, MEETING OF THE CDC's Advisory Committee on
Immunization Practices, which makes vaccine policy for the U.S., committee member Neal
Halsey reminded HIV vaccine researchers and developers that the government plans to target
preteens for universal application of an HIV vaccine. Halsey told them, One of the
things thats happened in the past with vaccines is that sometimes the manufacturers
have developed them and tested them primarily in an age group or a population which may
not be the final target population that this committee has considered. . . . We really see
age 11 to 12 as the target age for introduction of vaccines for prevention of sexually
transmitted diseases. . . . It would be nice if there were studies that were planned in
parallel when you move another step in the direction of actually having a candidate
vaccine, realizing where we think we would want to use universal application of such a
As the number of reported AIDS cases in the U.S. continues to drop
(about 58,000 in 1997 compared with 103,691 in 1993) and the number of AIDS cases in the
Third World veers out of control, vaccination supporters have accelerated their push to
put an AIDS vaccine on the market. In 1997, President Bill Clinton challenged scientists
and industry to make an AIDS vaccine available within 10 years and added more money to the
yearly $150 million already committed to this purpose. The U.S. media compared his call to
President John F. Kennedys challenge to American scientists to put a man on the
At least three dozen different experimental HIV vaccine trials are
underway in the U.S., using numerous approaches. Pasteur Mérieux Connaught has created
one vaccine from a weakened, genetically engineered canarypox virus. Researchers are
testing it as an injection, and it also will be swabbed or dripped onto the genital and
urinary tracts and nose and throat. Another experimental vaccine uses a new strategy based
on genetically engineered salmonella bacteria. In 1998, the Chicago-based International
Association of Physicians in AIDS Care called for use of an experimental live HIV vaccine,
although physician advocates admitted that a live HIV vaccine could theoretically mutate
into an AIDS-causing strain. A report on monkey tests from the 12th World AIDS Conference
last July confirmed that many monkeys or their offspring died or developed AIDS symptoms
after receiving live HIV vaccines.
Last June, the FDA gave VaxGen, Inc., a San Francisco biotechnology
company, permission to start Phase III human clinical trials of a genetically engineered
vaccine containing recombinant forms of two HIV strains. VaxGen, which is committed
to making an HIV vaccine for worldwide use, is testing its vaccine on 5,000
volunteers in Thailand and North America, including cities such as Philadelphia and Los
Most HIV-negative volunteers who get an HIV vaccination in experimental
AIDS vaccine trials will test HIV-antibody-positive for life. In New York City,
technicians now ask those getting blood drawn if they have volunteered in an AIDS vaccine
trial stark acknowledgement of a new generation of vaccine-induced HIV positives
who, researchers insist, are not HIV infected.
As public health officials increasingly define disease control in
global, rather than national, terms, mass vaccination proponents and vaccine makers must
find ways to finance delivery of newer and more expensive vaccines to poor countries. They
accomplish this by first making the vaccinations mandatory in rich countries, as HIV
vaccine developer Stanley Plotkin, MD, of Pasteur Mérieux Connaught explained in 1996:
The keystone of the [global mass vaccination] system is that the research costs [of
drug companies] are recouped in North America and Europe, and the vaccines are sold in the
developing world at much, much lower margins. . . . The relatively high rate of childhood
vaccination seen lately in most parts of the world is the result of that system.
Just last year, the CDC illustrated this funding formula by recommending
that all American babies under six months receive three doses of the newly licensed live
rotavirus vaccine for diarrhea. Although a serious health problem in the Third World,
where 870,000 babies lacking adequate nutrition or medical care die from dehydration
caused by severe diarrhea every year, most American and Canadian babies fully recover from
bouts with rotavirus and are left with permanent immunity. About 20 to 40 babies die of
rotavirus infection in the U.S. every year.
Vaccine production problems and new epidemics
THE ROTAVIRUS VACCINE, WHICH WILL cost $40 a shot in the U.S., is the
first rhesus-human reassortment vaccine, created by co-cultivating rhesus monkey rotavirus
strains with human rotavirus strains to create a genetic human-monkey hybrid strain of
rotavirus. This production process, while more sophisticated, recalls the use of rhesus
monkeys to produce the original Salk polio vaccine.
In the rush to put a polio vaccine on the market in 1955, polio vaccine
pioneer Jonas Salk unknowingly used rhesus monkey kidney tissues contaminated with monkey
viruses. In the late 1950s, after lab technology advances could screen for monkey viral
contaminants, scientists identified simian virus 40 (the 40th monkey virus identified in
the vaccine). SV40 was found to cause cancer in lab animals in 1959, but by then, some 98
million American children had already received the vaccine. Today, Michele Carbone, MD, a
molecular pathologist at Chicagos Loyola University Medical Center, and other
researchers around the world are culturing out SV40 from cancerous brain, bone, and lung
tumors in adults and children in an effort to understand the inexplicable rise of these
After they discovered the SV40 contamination, polio vaccine makers in
the U.S. switched from the rhesus monkey to African Green monkey kidney tissues to produce
live polio vaccine. However, African Green monkeys can be infected with simian
immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and not appear sick. In 1992, Walter S. Kyle, whose article
Simian retroviruses, polio vaccine and origin of AIDS was published in The
Lancet, hypothesized that SIV contaminated both experimental and general use oral polio
vaccines using African Green monkey kidney tissues. There could have been multiple
crossovers of the SIV virus from monkeys into the human population at different points in
time where, in humans it took the form of HIV, he wrote. This may explain why
different populations have been affected at different times with HIV during the past 30
years a time span that correlates perfectly with the dates that those
populations were vaccinated in their respective countries during different phases of the
worldwide polio vaccination campaigns.
At the 1996 Eighth Annual Houston Conference on AIDS in America, a
retrospective scientific analysis by California microbiologist Howard B. Urnovitz, PhD,
supported the thesis that SIV, which is highly similar in genetic structure to HIV-2, may
have contaminated experimental live oral polio vaccines. In some African children given
this contaminated vaccine in the Congo between 1957 and 1959, says Urnovitz, SIV could
have recombined with their own normal genes to create the monkey-human hybrid now known as
There is no scientific consensus on HIVs origin. Earlier this
year, Beatrice Hahn, MD, and Anthony Fauci, MD, pointing to chimpanzees that Congolese
were slaughtering and eating, announced that they had solved the mystery. Hahn reported
that three West African chimps were infected with SIV strains that very strongly resembled
three HIV subgroups.
Kyle and Urnovitz both challenge these findings. They have been
eating monkeys in Africa for thousands of years, said Urnovitz. Why did HIV
only crop up in the late 1950s? The buffet theory of the origins of HIV just doesnt
hold any water. . . . There are many confounding theories being forwarded, but they all
come back to contaminated polio vaccines. Adds Kyle, Hahns discovery
could as easily be explained by the fact that chimps also eat African Green monkeys.
A Brave New World
IN 1997, CDC OFFICIAL WALTER ORENSTEIN, MD, TESTIFYING BEFORE THE U.S.
Congress, painted a picture of the future in his annual appeal for more vaccine funding.
On the horizon are vaccine technologies that would have been considered science
fiction just a decade ago but are now reported at scientific meetings, he said.
Snippets of synthetic DNA have worked as experimental vaccines in animals. Edible
plants have been bioengineered to become vaccine factories. . . . Vaccines have been
enclosed in microscopic capsules, permitting them to be released slowly over time.
Vaccine researchers are seeking $500 million from all the worlds
governments to create a genetically engineered supervaccine that will be given
orally at birth. This supervaccine the CDC and CVI call it the Holy
Grail will contain raw DNA from 20 to 30 viruses, parasites, and bacteria
that will insert itself directly into the cells of babies. The vaccine will be
time-released over several months. Disease organisms scheduled to be included in the
supervaccine, many containing multiple strains or types of each virus, bacteria, or
parasite, are pneumonia (three viruses), AIDS (two viruses), dengue haemorrhagic fever
(four viruses), diarrheal disease (several viruses and bacteria), diphtheria, hepatitis,
malaria (two parasites), measles, meningitis (six viruses and bacteria), polio (three
viruses), schistosomiasis (one parasite), tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and
In all, vaccine manufacturers and U.S. government researchers are
developing more than 150 different viral and bacterial vaccines. A nasal spray flu vaccine
targeting children will be ready by the fall of 2000; adhesive skin patch vaccines and
high technology jet guns will deliver vaccines designed to prevent ear infections, strep
throat, asthma, genital herpes, gonorrhea, stomach ulcers, and even cancer and the common
cold. If the microbe fighters have their way, the Brave New World of the
future will truly be infection-free.
Or will it? In 1993, scientists at the American Society of Microbiology
annual meeting reported that diseases such as tuberculosis, meningitis, and gonorrhea have
become resistant to antibiotics because of their overuse in the past decades. One study
shows that pediatricians are prescribing antibiotics to 44 per cent of children with
common colds. In 1998, evidence of penicillin-resistant strep bacteria caused worry that
more people will suffer or die from severe pneumonia, bacteremia, and meningitis.
Last year, a U.S. Public Health Report warned that the overuse of
antibiotics in animals, which transfers resistant microbes from livestock to humans
through the food chain, is producing resistant bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant
salmonella, enterococci, and E. coli. Health officials warn food producers that
antibiotics should never substitute for inadequate hygiene.
Now there are signs that viruses and bacteria, eager to survive, may be
outsmarting vaccines. A 1998 British Medical Journal study found that B. pertussis
infection (whooping cough) is occurring in vaccinated populations in the Netherlands,
Norway, and Denmark despite vaccination rates as high as 96 per cent. Among other causes
of the whooping cough outbreaks, scientists have found an increasing incidence of strains
of B. pertussis with a mutated surface protein.
Last year, a CDC study identified eight distinct genotypes of a
wild-type measles virus in populations around the world, possibly because the vaccine put
pressure on the virus to mutate. In January of this year, the CDC reported a 1998 measles
outbreak in Alaska in which 51 per cent of the children had received one or more doses of
measles vaccine. Will health officials add yet another booster dose, as they did during
measles outbreaks in the late 1980s when they realized that one dose failed to do the job?
While the global village gets smaller and smaller, our health officials
warn parents that terrible diseases killing children in the Third World are just a
plane ride away. The only way to protect yourself and your children, say the
doctors, is to do what we say and use all the vaccines we have created to keep everyone
Yet some parents and doctors, concerned about the future, are looking
beyond the present. What we forget is that millions of years of evolution have taken
place on this planet, and up until the last 100 years, humans have lived in relative
harmony with microbes. Yes, there have been epidemic infectious diseases in history, but
they have always resolved themselves, said Richard Moscowitz, MD. I dont
think there is any real appreciation for what we may be doing by using so many vaccines to
try to eradicate so many organisms.
If we stay the present course, will mankind be free from infectious
disease but crippled by chronic disease? Will eradication of feared diseases, such as
AIDS, through mass vaccination be one of mans greatest triumphs or will we live in
fear of deadly mutations of microbes that have outsmarted mans attempt to eradicate
them? We may look back at the crossroads we are at today and wish we had decided to make
peace with nature instead of trying to dominate it.
Whatever government and industry decide to do, public support for mass
vaccination programs may continue to erode if public policy precedes science and
individual health is dismissed as less important than the public health. Perhaps the peace
we need to make is not as much with nature, as with ourselves.
To comment, write to BarbaraLoeFisher@nextcity.com
Ms. Fisher is co-founder and president of the National Vaccine
Information Center. http://www.909shot.com