Vaccinations: Facts every parent should know

by Susan DeSimone (From Healing Newsletter Vol. 13 No.4)

One benefit of working in the holistic health field is having access to information that is rarely mentioned in the mainstream media. Two books that have had a major impact on me are, A Shot in the Dark by Harris Coulter and Barbara Loe Fisher, and How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor by Robert Mendhelson, M.D. These books reveal a disturbing reality: vaccinations are sometimes ineffective and may carry with them serious risks to our children's health.

To be honest, I was not entirely surprised by these revelations. A few years ago, I worked with a nurse practitioner who lost 80% of her hearing after receiving an MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) shot as a child. It was then that I realized vaccinations could have disastrous side-effects – a fact that is rarely, if ever, publicized by most pediatricians.

I spent many hours researching the subject of vaccinations for this article, and while it is certainly not my intention to frighten or dissuade parents from vaccinating their child, I feel it is important to share the information I have discovered on this very complex and controversial subject.

Most parents don't think twice about the possibility of complications which may arise following an injection. Some may feel uneasy about this invasive practice, but feel pressured by pediatricians and laws which mandate vaccinations for enrollment in daycare centers and schools. The truth is, exemptions exist in each state. There are religious exemptions, medical exemptions, and some states offer what is known as a philosophical or personal belief exemption.

Whether you choose to vaccinate your child or not, it is clear that your decision must be an informed one. But if you ask your pediatrician for information, keep this caveat in mind: the statistics your doctor will provide you with are quite biased and are not an accurate representation of actual vaccine related injuries. “Only the most blatant and undeniable adverse events caused by vaccines are officially recognized. The hundreds, or thousands of autoimmune responses and long-term neurologic effects that result in permanent disabilities are ignored and denied in the headlong effort to vaccinate at any cost,” says Randall Neustaedter, OMD and author of The Vaccine Guide.

Proponents of vaccines are quick to cite the polio vaccine and the eradication of smallpox as being the two great benchmarks of vaccination. Those who oppose vaccination, however, argue that infectious disease mortality rates in the U.S. and England declined steadily before the advent of vaccinations due to improved sanitation, hygiene and diet. If these two vaccinations were responsible for the decline of polio and the eradication of smallpox, how did these epidemics end at the same time in European countries who refused to vaccinate against the diseases?

Even the WHO (World Health Organization) has admitted, disease and mortality rates in Third World countries have no direct correlation with immunization procedures or medical treatment, but they are closely related to the standard of hygiene and diet. A 1973 issue of Scientific American revealed the same finding : that “over 90% of all contagious disease was eliminated by vastly improved water systems, sanitation, living conditions and transportation of food.” Mass vaccinations did not appear on the scene until a century after the decline in infectious diseases started (1850-1940), but inoculations were, and still are given full credit.

If vaccines are so effective in preventing disease why have epidemics occurred around the world following mass vaccination programs? In the Philippines for example, “after ten years of compulsory inoculation against smallpox (25 million shots) over 170,000 got smallpox and 75,000 deaths were recorded between 1911 and 1920” (from the Townsend Letter for Doctors article “Are Vaccines Generally Detrimental to the Human Defense System,” Feb/Mar 1994).

While health and medical officials who develop and promote vaccinations accept the “occasional” adverse/fatal reactions as the price that must be paid in order to gain control over infectious disease, there is a small but growing number of physicians who feel that vaccines may be a contributing factor in the increase of immunologic disorders in the United States and worldwide as well. These physicians point out that common ear, sinus, throat and bronchial infections are occurring at a rate unknown in earlier generations. Allergic diseases such as eczema and asthma are increasing in both severity and frequency. Millions of young adults are affected by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and autoimmune diseases are also on the rise. “These are fearful diseases such as cancer, leukemia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, lupus erythematosus, and the Guillian-Barre syndrome,” writes Dr. Mendelsohn ( in How to Raise a Healthy Child).

Under the current vaccination schedule proposed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children should receive 16 injections between the ages of 0 and 18 months. It has always been taken for granted that an infant's immune system has an unlimited capacity to respond to these vaccines, but in reality, a newborn's immune system is highly undeveloped and does not become fully mature until the child is 12 years old.

In order for the immune system to develop properly, it must be challenged naturally through exposure to viral and bacterial microorganisms. These microbes enter the system through the mucosal surfaces of the body, including the gastrointestinal, respiratory and genitourinary tracts, at the rate of about once every 6 weeks. In most cases of exposure the child does not become ill.

The mechanics of vaccination to build immunity, on the other hand, is quite unnatural. Rather than space exposure to a relatively minuscule level of microorganisms in a gradual manner, massive quantities of antigens are introduced into the body through a series of vaccinations that are given right in a row over a short period of time. All vaccines, with the exception of the OPV (oral polio vaccination) are injected directly into the bloodstream, by-passing the mucosal immune system known as the secretory IgA. The secretory IgA is the first in a series of defensive levels within the immune system. It serves as a buffer, filtering microbes so that the impact of these invading organisms is greatly reduced once it reaches the bloodstream. The IgA allows the antigen to be removed in the same manner in which it arrived – through the mucosal barrier – by sneezing, coughing and sweating. So a vaccine that has been injected “gives the body no warning, no generalized inflammatory response, no chance to recognize, duplicate or defend itself against future challenges from typical antigens,” writes Dr. Mendelsohn in How to Raise a Healthy Child In Spite of Your Doctor.

With this background information in mind, I myself tend to agree with Neustaedter's hypothesis: “the combined effects of massive, repeated antigenic stimulation from vaccines, which short-circuit the process of natural immunity and which are given at an extremely vulnerable time of life, cannot help but have adverse effects on the immunologic system of the child, possibly leaving this system crippled in its ability to protect the child throughout life.”

It is worth mentioning that many doctors themselves reject immunizations (see “Rubella Vaccine and Susceptible Hospital Employees: Poor Physician Participation,” Journal of American Medical Association, Feb. 20, 1981). Perhaps they know something we don't. Maybe they know that most vaccines are cultured in contaminated animal tissue, or that vaccines contain known carcinogenic material such as mercury and formaldehyde. Maybe they realize that the thymus gland of children who live in vaccinated populations atrophies much more, and much faster than in children who have been naturally exposed to antigens.

While pediatricians may be fully aware that vaccines can be a health risk, they are not willing to share this information with parents before they have their child inoculated. Parents should know that the accompanying insert to Connaught Labs’ DPT shot reads: “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has been reported following administration of DPT. The significance is unclear…85% of SIDS cases occur in the period 1 through 6 months of age, with the peak incidence at age 2 to 4 months.” That's a far cry from a fever, soreness or redness – which are the only side effects doctors usually mention. The Institute of Medicine has determined that DPT causes brain damage at the rate of one case for every 62,000 fully immunized kids, killing at least two to four infants a year, (it may be even higher - more like 900 a year due to its misclassification as SIDS), as reported by an article on vaccinations featured in the December 1996 issue of Money magazine. Sadly, it seems as if pharmaceutical companies are more interested in making profits than making safe products. According to Money magazine’s 1996 article, “for decades, American pharmaceutical companies have known how to produce the safer (acellular) DPT vaccine but decided not to bring it to market because it would increase production costs and lower the drug's 50% or higher profit margins.” Although this safer version of DPT, known as DaPT, is now sold in the United States, how many children had to die, or suffer from brain injuries before it was made available?

The vaccine industry is big business. “Worldwide revenues of nearly $3 billion are expected to more than double to $7 billion over the next five years as more vaccines are developed. Vaccine revenues are estimated at $1 billion a year in the US alone. This is up from $500 million in 1990, a 200 percent increase over six years. The cost to fully immunize a child has risen from $107 in 1986 to $367 in 1996, a 243 percent increase over ten years.”

In 1986, our federal government guaranteed that the vaccine industry would forever remain in the black by creating the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. Under this Act, parents receive compensation for children adversely affected by vaccines. Such action on the federal government's part gives pharmaceutical companies carte blanche – giving them the enviable position of marketing and selling their goods without having to shoulder any of the liability for them. When pharmaceutical companies could no longer get insurance coverage, our government stepped in and devised this convenient program which is funded by us via a tax which is tacked onto the cost of the vaccination. So now pharmaceutical companies have little incentive to make safer products. Since its inception, the government has paid out $633 million from this fund. They have established a limit of $250,000 in cases where a child has died as a result of being vaccinated. These payments are not very easy to come by, and the government's definition of a vaccine related death or injury is quite narrow. Only those reactions which are immediately noticeable following an injection are covered, such as: SIDS, viral meningitis, mental retardation, epilepsy and Guillian Barre. Litigation can carry on for years, which is not only costly, but traumatic for (Continued on next page “Vaccination”) the parents as well.

In September of 1997, the First Inter-national Public Conference was held in Alexandria, VA. This conference was sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center, a child advocacy organization that promotes vaccine safety and informed choice. The presenters included eminent immunologists, neurologists, geneticists, biochemists, and legal experts, as well as practitioners of alternative medicine. Some of the key questions and possible courses of action raised at the conference are noted here to the right. Hopefully these suggestions will not fall on deaf ears. Parents have a right to safe vaccines for their children, as well as unbiased information on the risks as well as the benefits of each vaccine that is given to their child.

I recently gave birth to a healthy, happy baby girl. A few weeks after returning home from the hospital I started receiving “The Welcome Addition Club” Newsletter from the makers of Similac Infant Formula. (Needless to say, my baby will never taste a drop of formula in her lifetime!). It pains me to read the “Ask Your Doctor” column, especially when it gives advice such as: “Always follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your baby's doctor…Reactions to vaccinations, such as a mild fussiness or fever, may occur but are rarely serious.”

Well, I've done my homework, and beg to differ with the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Food and Drug Administration's Adverse Events Reporting System collected nearly 32,000 reports of adverse reactions following vaccination, with more than 700 deaths in a 39 month period ending in November 1993. The DPT vaccine was associated with more than 12,000 of these reports, including 471 deaths. (source: The American Chiropractor, Nov/Dec 1994). Bear in mind, as mentioned in part one of this article, since the FDA reporting system is voluntary, only 10% of actual reactions are ever reported – and the FDA concurs with this figure.

Numbers however, are cold and remote – they don't convey the feelings of emotional devastation experienced by parents and family members following one of these “rare” incidents. The following excerpt from an article of Money magazine (Dec. 1996) gives statistics a human face:

“When Miriam Silvermintz of Fairlawn, N.J. took her seven month old son Nathan to the pediatrician for his third series of vaccinations on Feb. 18, 1991, she was thrilled to hear the doctor say her baby was growing beautifully. Just five hours later, as Nathan lay in his crib, he shrieked in pain. Terrified, Miriam ran in and cradled her baby in her arms. Nathan collapsed, his eyes rolling back in his head, as he suffered a severe seizure. 'We called 911, and they worked on him for 45 minutes,' says Miriam, 'but I knew when I held him in my arms that he was dying.'

What killed Nathan? 'When I first called the pediatrician after the ambulance arrived, he said Nathan was probably having a reaction to his DPT shot,' Miriam recalls. 'But when Nathan died, the doctor did an about-face and said it had nothing to do with the vaccine.' Nathan's death was officially attributed to a congenital heart defect. But Miriam, now 36, and her husband Steven, couldn't shake the feeling that Nathan's death was somehow linked to the shot.”

Barbara Loe Fisher, Co-Founder and President of the National Vaccine Information Center told of similar cases at a forum in 1996:

“In 1988, Tina and her husband watched their healthy three month old son, Evan, get his first DPT shot and within hours, react with a swollen leg, bouts of high pitched screaming, and a fever. In the following days he was unusually lethargic, then lost head control and, finally, suffered a seizure, collapsed and died. The coroner listed Evan's death as heart failure but told his parents that Evan was a victim of sudden infant death syndrome.

In 1994, Tina gave birth to a healthy baby girl. When nine month old Miranda got her second DPT and HIB vaccinations, within 48 hours she woke her parents up with a scream that ended in a loud shriek. Tina ran to her daughter's crib and found her in the middle of a seizure that was followed by a collapse. Tina gave her baby CPR to try to revive her but Miranda died at the hospital an hour later. This time the pathologists concluded and the coroner agreed, the cause of death was a fatal reaction to DPT and HIB vaccines.”

Aside from obvious reactions such as these, there are also very subtle changes which occur after a child has been vaccinated. These changes were observed by Viera Scheibner, a retired Principal Research Scientist living in Australia, and her late husband Leif Karlsson, a biomedical engineer who specialized in patient monitoring systems [for more on Dr. Scheibner see Healing Newsletter, Vol. 12 No. 4]. Together they designed Cotwatch, a breathing monitor for babies who were thought to be at risk for “cot death” (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). “Initially we did not know about the controversy surrounding vaccination,” explained Scheibner in the Aug/Sep. 1991 edition of Natural Health. “We merely observed that vaccination was the single greatest cause of stress in small babies, as indicated by the standard Cotwatch equipment, and also the single greatest factor preceding cot death in a large number of cases. We concluded that the timing of 80% of cot deaths occurring between the second and sixth months is due to the cumulative effect of infections, the timing of immunizations and some inherent specifics in the baby's early development.” Scheibner conducted one study which focused on the breathing patterns of children who received the highly reactive DPT vaccine. She commented that researchers who concluded there was no correlation between SIDS and DPT “had little idea what they were looking at or what to look for. Most researchers arbitrarily accept that only deaths within 24 hours of administration of the vaccines can be attributed to the effect of the vaccine. Yet, babies may and do die for up to 25 or more days after vaccination, still as a direct consequence of the toxic effects of the vaccines. How do we know this? Because of the observed repetition of the pattern of flare-ups of Stress-Induced Breathing in a number of babies over a long period of time.”

Scheibner's book, Vaccination: 100 Years of Orthodox Research Shows Vaccines Represent a Medical Assault On the Immune System, summarizes 30,000 pages of medical papers. In addition to the causal link of the DPT to SIDS, Scheibner concludes that there is no evidence that vaccines are effective and that they are in fact highly noxious. Based in her findings, Scheibner was able to assert that “if vaccination’s were to be suspended, the cot death rate [SIDS] would at least be halved.”

It is clear that the DPT is the most dangerous of all childhood vaccinations. The culprit is the pertussis microbe (the 'P' element), known as Bordetella pertussis. In a study published in the Feb. 1979 issue of Pediatrics, where parents were asked to observe their children for reactions after the pertussis vaccine, only seven percent were unable to observe a reaction. There have been numerous studies conducted on the DPT indicating that there is “a high potential for damage to the neurological system, and that many cases of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and learning disabilities may be attributed to the pertussis vaccine itself,” stated Neil Miller, author of numerous books and articles on the topic of vaccination, in a 8/24/93 radio interview. A recent survey published in the Journal of the American Medical Association brought to light the fact that children receiving the pertussis vaccine were six times more likely to develop asthma than those not receiving the vaccine.

The American Academy of Pediatrics might do well to study the history of the pertussis vaccine in the two countries with the lowest infant mortality rates in the world: Japan and Sweden. During the 70s, despite a mass vaccination program, an outbreak of pertussis occurred in Sweden. This prompted medical officials to ban the DPT vaccine in 1979 after surveys revealed that 84% of children who had contracted whooping cough had been fully immunized against this disease. Although the rate of whooping cough has increased since 1979, deaths have remained rare. Sweden now has the second lowest infant mortality rate.

In 1975, Japan raised the age of the DPT vaccination to age 2, and since then there has been a steady decline in sudden infant death syndrome and spinal menningitis. Japan has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world, while the international ranking for the U.S., according to a 1993 Center for Disease Control report is an appalling 25.

While it is certainly not as reactive as the DPT, the OPV or Oral Polio Vaccine is also steeped in controversy. The OPV contains the live polio virus, while another form of the polio vaccination, the IPV or inactivated Polio Vaccine contains a killed form of the virus. Jonas Salk, inventor of the IPV, testified before a Senate sub-committee that since 1961, all cases of polio in the U.S. were caused by the Oral Polio Vaccine.

What many parents may not realize is that the live virus can be transmitted through the child's stool for up to eight weeks. Caretakers of children who have recently received the OPV are advised to thoroughly wash their hands immediately after changing the child's diaper. (The IPV may have some adverse effects, but it does not cause polio in recipients).

The fact that polio can be transmitted via a child's feces should be cause for alarm for those living in developing nations where living conditions are unsanitary and sewage systems are minimal or non-existent. The OPV is used in these countries because each dose is about $3 less than the IPV, but the potential for a polio epidemic in nations such as India and Bangladesh is very real. Public Health officials in these countries seem to have blinded themselves to the enormous risk involved following the administration of this live vaccine.

The OPV has also caused Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is a nerve condition characterized by numbness and weakness of the limbs, but what is most frightening about both the OPV and the IPV, is the fact that, since they are cultured in monkey tissue, they may also contain live monkey (simian) viruses. An article in the March 1992 issue of the Lancet provided evidence that “the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may have been created after simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) entered the human population when green monkey kidney tissues infected with SIV were used to produce polio vaccines. [This article] pointed out that scientists at the Food and Drug Administration and [those within the industry] suspected as early as the 1950’s and knew by the 1970’s that polio vaccines had been contaminated with simian viruses and that at least one of these monkey viruses - SV40 - was later found to cause leukemia and cancerous tumors in lab animals,” stated Barbara Loe Fisher at a workshop on Simian Virus - 40 in January, 1997. She continued: “California microbiologist Howard B. Urnovitz, Ph.D. …provided compelling evidence at the Eighth Annual Houston Conference on AIDS in America that the human immunodeficiency virus Type 1 (HIV-1) is a monkey hybrid that was created after more than 320,000 Africans were injected in the late 1950’s with experimental live oral polio vaccines contaminated with live simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV).

Pointing out that endogenous retroviruses can easily recombine with fragments of other viruses, both human and animal, and form new hybrid viruses called chimeras, Dr. Urnovitz explained how SIV could have recombined with the normal genes of the Africans who received the contaminated vaccines, and created a monkey-human hybrid known as HIV-1.” The Measles, Mumps and Rubella or MMR is also cultured in animal tissue, namely chick embryos. With the understanding that a virus can incorporate genetic material from the animal tissues in which they are incubated, the child who receives the MMR may also be receiving other animal viruses. These viruses, in theory, may make the child susceptible later on to immune disorders, including autoimmune diseases.

Harris L. Coulter, Ph.D, medical history scholar and president of the Center for Empirical Medicine in Washington, D.C. reported in April of 1997 to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations that the MMR as well as the DPT may be the root causes of diabetes in the U.S. “Both untreated rubella and the rubella vaccine (part of the MMR inoculation) produce immune complexes that can damage the pancreas and significantly reduce the levels of insulin that organ is able to secrete…As a vaccine, there are now many case reports directly linking the onset of diabetes - sometimes within only a month's time - with receipt of the mumps vaccination,” said Coulter. I myself have seen this happen. Last January, a good friend of mine took her 17 month old son to the doctor for his first MMR injection. One month later, after coming down with a virus that he had difficulty recovering from, he was diagnosed with type I diabetes. Type I diabetes is supposedly a hereditary disease, but neither parents are diabetic, and it is virtually non-existent on either side of the family.

There are other long-term consequences of the MMR that also need to be considered. “Widespread measles vaccinations seem to be shifting the incidence of the disease into older age groups; 80 percent of cases now occurring in people aged 10 to 19 and with atypical, often untreatable symptoms,” writes Richard Leviton in the Jul/Aug. edition of Health Freedom News. Although mass vaccination of the MMR has caused a dramatic decline in the incidence of measles, outbreaks still occur in older populations and in infants born to women whose immunity from vaccination has waned. The July 1995 issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine describes the failure of the MMR vaccine in a highly vaccinated high school population in New Mexico. Of all those who contracted measles, 97% had received the measles vaccine.

The issue of whether or not to vaccinate is contentious to say the least. Those in favor of mass vaccination programs contend that it is an issue of public health - it is the only means of preventing widespread epidemics. But activists like Barbara Loe Fisher believe that the price paid to protect the public at large is too great. As she puts it: “ the epidemiologists look at mass vaccination the way a military general studies a battle. A general knows he must sacrifice men to take a hill. This is how government health officials see mass vaccination. They start getting the idea that some children are expendable. I cannot think of any other instance in our society where we say it's ok to kill children, to have them brain damaged, because it's for the greater welfare of society.”

It is no secret among those in the holistic health field that the germ theory paradigm needs to be reconsidered. Many of us realize that health is not merely the absence of disease. Rudolph Virchow, German pathologist and founder of cellular medicine has stated, “If I could live my life over again, I would devote it to proving that germs seek their natural habitat - 'diseased' tissue - rather than being the cause of 'diseased' tissue.” Dr. Gerson taught us that disease is merely a symptom of a weakened immune system. He knew that the best way to attain healthy immunity was through eating a healthy diet of organically grown foods – foods that are unrefined and free of preservatives. In add-ition to a proper diet, one cannot discount the value of adequate rest and sanitary living conditions, not to mention lots of love! “When we build our children's immunity this way,” notes Dr. Harold Buttram in the Winter 1985 issue of Mothering magazine, “many diseases will pass as subclinical infections without acute illness, or if there is illness, it will be relatively mild.”

It is important for parents to realize that they do have a choice – it is up to us to decide which vaccinations our children will receive – if any.