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The Verge of Vaccine Mania
A Shot for This, a Shot for That. How Much Is Too Much?

By Nicholas Regush



     With so many vaccines recommended before children enter school, how can parents be sure that all of the immunizations work together safely?

     Beware old files. They may hold the ingredients for gastrointestinal upset. The file that I just had to stick my nose in was slugged, “Vaccine advocates with ties to vaccine makers.”

    I like to keep tabs on what might be considered conflicts of interest in medicine. At the least, it diminishes the chance that I’ll embarrass myself by putting on a national TV network news show someone who is involved in public health policy but whose voice, eyes, ears and perhaps other anatomical components are leased, if not wholly owned, by industry.

     Flipping through the contents of the file, I noticed a letter that had been sent to ABC NEWS from a well-known vaccine advocate. It partly had to do with a story I had produced for World News Tonight. The story was a rather soft warning, based on preliminary scientific information, that certain vaccines given in infancy could potentially cause long-term harm, primarily because the body’s immune function could be altered in some way.

     As far as news stories go, it was fairly low-key and in no way condemned vaccines, but rather it suggested that more research on long-term effects was imperative. In fact, the story made clear that vaccines have contributed enormously to warding off many diseases, a view I continue to hold strongly today.

Inexpert Analysis? 

    What caused a burning sensation in my gut in reviewing the letter was the writer’s criticism of Barbara Loe Fisher, who, as co-founder and president of the nonprofit National Vaccine Information Center, has spoken out on vaccine issues affecting health-care professionals and tens of thousands of families affected by vaccine-related side effects. The letter writer suggested that since she wasn’t an “immunization authority,” Fisher shouldn’t have appeared in the World News Tonight story.

    As readers of this column know, I can get quite annoyed when so-called health professionals try to bash people who do not share their views. I’ve noted that this is a practice that has become increasingly common and downright shameless.

    In any case, we had checked out Fisher’s credentials, as we do with others. She had served on the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, chaired the Subcommittee on Adverse Vaccine Events and written a highly touted book on vaccine safety issues, particularly those surrounding the whole cell pertussis or whooping cough vaccine. But what really caught our attention at World News Tonight, and what separated Fisher from the pool of academics, including the letter writer, who advocate vaccine policy, is that she had a history of asking straightforward, pertinent questions about safety.

Vacuum Filler

Questions such as:

  • Why are there no studies on the long-term effects of vaccination?
  • Why are there so few studies that have examined what happens in the body at a cellular/molecular level after vaccination?
  • Why are we vaccinating children in a vacuum of scientific knowledge?
  • Why are there no long-term studies to assess illness and deaths related to vaccination?

    These are the kind of fundamental questions that anyone involved in vaccine policy should be addressing, but that is hardly the case. People like Fisher are badly needed on TV and radio news programs and in newspaper stories to raise these questions again and again — until the academics wake up and do some real research.

    These days, children can get as many as 21 vaccines before they start first grade. There are about 200 more vaccines in the pipeline. Scenarios for the future even include consuming vaccines in nose sprays, ointments and fruits and vegetables.

    I call it vaccine mania. It has gone beyond what anyone can possibly defend on scientific grounds. Pumping more vaccines into the body without understanding such basics as how they’ll affect immune system function over time borders on the criminal.

It’s OK to Ask Questions, Right?

    What it all boils down to is that vaccine makers, their advocates and government institutions that promote vaccines, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have long ago abdicated their responsibilities to the public. They aren’t even bothering to acknowledge the types of questions Fisher routinely raises.

    And when someone like Fisher goes on television for a few seconds to raise fundamental questions about vaccine safety, one of the good soldiers of the vaccine movement tries to turn off a little heat by stabbing her in the back. (By the way, we at World News Tonight were informed that there were many real experts ready to do business with us next time we planned a piece on vaccines.)

    I had planned this week to list some people and institutions heavily tied to the vaccine industry, but I first had to get this piece of foul history out of my gut. Tune in next week.

    And thanks for the volume of letters that comes in every week to Second Opinion. I try personally to answer as many as I can. 

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