"The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted."--G. C.
Lichtenberg (174299), German physicist and philosopher
I'm not going to deny that many who are either anti-vaccination or pro-choice (i.e., those who aren't opposed to vaccines/vaccination per se but believe that vaccination shouldn't be mandated by the state) propagandize, but vaccination proponents (individuals and groups) are just as guilty. Here's the letter submitted by the director of the Immunization Action Coalition to be entered into the record of the House Committee on Government Reform hearing (8/3/99) on finding a balance between public safety and personal choice; it's replete with half-truths and other hallmarks of propaganda. (For a good Web site on propaganda--what it is, how to recognize it--go to http://carmen.artsci.washington.edu/propaganda/home.htm .)
Tuesday, August 3, 1999
RISK VS BENEFITS OF VACCINATIONS, DEBORAH L. WEXLER TESTIMONY
August 3, 1999
Representative Daniel Burton, Chair-man
Committee on Government Reform
United States House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Burton:
I respectfully request that this letter be included in the official
record for the hearing on vaccine safety and US vaccine policy that is
before the Committee on Government Reform today, August 3, 1999. The
Immunization Action Coalition, of which I am the executive director and
medical director, believes in vaccinating all people of all ages against
all vaccine-preventable diseases. Over 5,000 health professionals
actively support our mission. At least twice a year we send an emphatic
and clear message through our publications NEEDLE TIPS and VACCINATE
ADULTS! to approximately 500,000 health professionals reminding them to
vaccinate all people of all ages against all vaccine-preventable
I am writing to give input into three important questions concerning
vaccines on which the Committee on Government Reform is taking testimony
ARE VACCINES SAFE?
Millions of dollars and millions of hours are spent by the CDC, the FDA,
the AAP, the AMA, the AAFP, the American College of Physicians, VAERS,
the vaccine companies, and countless other agencies and scientific
groups to make sure our vaccines are safe. I choose to trust the
recommendations of these thousands of experts whose work it is to make
sure vaccines are safe.
[Yes, but are they safe? propaganda ploy: Propaganda Techniques: False Connections Transfer or authority ploy]
ARE VACCINES EFFECTIVE?
Vaccines save lives. Consider the following vaccine-preventable disease statistics:
15,520 people died of diphtheria in 1921. In 1997, no one died of diphtheria.
10,314 people died of measles in 1923. In 1997, 2 people died of measles.
9,269 people died of pertussis in 1923. In 1997, 6 people died of pertussis.
511 people died of tetanus in 1947. In 1997, 4 people died of tetanus.
1,000 people died of Hib disease in 1986. In 1997, 7 people died of Hib
[Disease decline ploy (take credit for)Diptheria
Vaccine introduced around 1940, but use 1921 figures, measles vaccine in 1962--use 1923
stats, Pertussis vaccine introduced around 1938 but use 1923 stats. Up to 90% of the
total decline in the death rate of children between 1860-1965 because of whooping cough,
scarlet fever, diptheria, and measles occured before the introduction of immunisations and
Deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases have decreased dramatically
through the use of vaccines. (See attached tables.) I have also
enclosed 19 personal stories and case reports collected by the
Immunization Action Coalition of people who suffered or died from
vaccine-preventable diseases. Three of the stories are highlighted
below: [fearmongering ploy]
Story #3: Family remembers hepatitis B victim as a girl with promise
A. J. is dead. No one knows how A. J. got hepatitis B virus infection.
Imagine if there had been a law that she needed to be vaccinated before
attending school. She'd be alive today. Ask her family if they wish
there had been a hepatitis B vaccination school entry law. After A. J.
died, the demand for hepatitis B vaccination by students in her school
increased dramatically. Hepatitis B virus is a silent disease that
anyone from birth through old age can contract. It is not just a disease
of adults. Prior to the implementation of routine infant hepatitis B
immunization, it was estimated that 35,000 children were infected with
hepatitis B virus annually in the US.
Story #11: Measles outbreak associated with an unvaccinated population
A measles outbreak occur-red in a religious community in St. Paul,
Minnesota, in 1996. Shortly after the outbreak, most of the unvaccinated
children and young adults in this religious community subsequently chose
to receive two doses of MNM vaccine.
Story #10: Pertussis claims the lives of two infants Families who make
decisions not to vaccinate their children sometimes don't know that
their children can infect others including younger siblings who are not
old enough to be vaccinated. The two infants who died were too young to
be vaccinated. Pertussis (whooping cough) is a disease that can be
contracted at any age, but it is particularly dangerous and life
threatening for infants because their airways are so tiny. Commenting
on the pertussis outbreak that led to the death of these two infants in
Santa Cruz County, California, public health chief Betsy McCarty, RN,
MS, said, "People who think they are doing the right thing
by not getting their children vaccinated, couldn't be more mistaken.
This is as important as putting your kid in the car seat, seeing they
have enough to eat, and locking up the poisons."
WHY DO STATES NEED SCHOOL VACCINATION LAWS?
This is a question that arises over and over again. All states have
mandatory vaccination requirements for certain vaccines at school
entry. Here are some reasons why states have vaccination laws:
Diseases spread in closed, crowded environments such as schools.
Unvaccinated schoolchildren are at greater risk of contracting vaccine
preventable diseases which are sometimes deadly. Unvaccinated
schoolchildren can bring vaccine-preventable diseases home to younger
children in their families and neighborhoods who may be too young to be
vaccinated. Unvaccinated schoolchildren put children who are medically
unable to be vaccinated (e.g., children with HIV infection) at risk for
Unvaccinated schoolchildren pose a risk to children whose parents chose
to vaccinate them but who are in the category of children who did not
respond to the vaccine. Unvaccinated schoolchildren can start school
outbreaks which disrupt education, increase absenteeism, and lead to
loss of income for parents who must stay home with their sick children.
Public health policy concerning the use of vaccines has made it possible
for people in the US and around the world to live longer, healthier
lives. There is no doubt in my mind that the work of the Immunization
Action Coalition has helped perpetuate the excellent health of this
nation by promoting the use of safe and effective vaccines for children
[Note: Groups That Provide Financial Support to the Immunization Action Coalition in 1999:---Chiron Corporation, GlaxoWellcome, Merck & Co., Nabi, North American Vaccine, Pasteur Merieux Connaught, SmithKline Beecham, Wyeth Lederle Vaccines]