Herb Ray wrote:
>
> Dear Editor:
>
>     I have been personally active in the vaccine choice movement for
> several years.  I read your "House debates vaccine safety" article
> (http://www.salon.com/health/feature/1999/08/05/vaccines/index.html)
> with some dismay, primarily because of its lack of fairness.  Arthur
> Allen implies a picture of lunatic fringe, Flat-Earth-Society
> activists.  While there may be some who could justifiably be described
> this way (as would be the case with any movement, vaccines or
> otherwise), many of us, in my experience, are individuals who have
> devoted much soul searching and critical thinking to the subject.  Let
> me state for the record that I'm not a right-wing activist; rather, I
> live in Greenwich Village, New York City, and am registered in the
> Green Party.
>
>     Central to this issue is freedom of choice, a notion Allen almost
> scoffs at.  Why are we so proud of our country's political system?  I
> think that it's primarily the guarantees of personal liberty.  I
> believe that it was Winston Churchill who once said something to the
> effect that democracy was a terrible form of government, others being
> far worse.  Well, one terrible thing about democracy is tyranny of the
> majority.  Is mandatory vaccination appropriate in a free society such
> as ours?  This question is not merely a theoretical consideration of
> constitutional law.
>
>     An issue which is not being addressed by media is malfeasance and
> conflict of interest which appear to surround the
> pharmaceutical/medical industry, perhaps most especially in connection
> with the vaccine business where profits are huge and guaranteed by
> law.  Allen worries that "the tide could easily turn against vaccines
> unless public officials convincingly show they are taking pains to
> keep vaccines safe."  Well, if it turns out that public officials are
> concerned as much about industry profits as they are about safety,
> then isn't it appropriate for the "tide to turn?"
>
>     I invite Mr. Allen to explain why it is that he fails to report
> that the most senior and respected pro-vaccine scientist (Dr. Sam
> Katz, former ACIP Chairman, with ties to the American Academy of
> Pediatrics and Infectious Disease Society of America) LIED UNDER OATH
> (perjury) and was exposed for doing so by Chairman Burton.  Katz
> stated categorically that the whole cell pertussis vaccine was not
> given in the US anymore.  He was immediately contradicted by CDC
> officials and Dr. Kennedy of the University of Oklahoma, who stated
> that the whole cell pertussis vaccine is used in combination vaccines
> because the acellular pertussis does not have the intended response in
> vaccine cocktails.  Dr. Kennedy's point was that scientists have known
> for many years that whole cell pertussis vaccine has a 50% adverse
> reaction rate, many of which are serious reactions -- but, it is still
> being used for reasons of convenience.  Katz would definitely have
> known this, since he is at the center of U.S. vaccine policy.  Parents
> might ask why senior vaccine scientists should lie under oath to
> Congress to conceal risky vaccines.
>
>     Mr. Allen in citing "gross exaggeration" in connection with the
> FDA's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) fails to report
> that, according to the FDA's own estimates, VAERS is 90%
> underreported.
>
>     Here's an exaggeration for Mr. Allen:  The CDC, ACIP (Advisory
> Committee on Immunization Practices), and Merck maintain that there
> are between 140,000 and 320,000 new hepatitis B infections annually,
> while CDC data indicate only 10,000 reported cases annually.  Who
> stands to gain by this kind of gross exaggeration?  The numbers seem
> to suggest that infants are at greater risk from the hepatitis B
> vaccine than they are from the disease itself.  As journalists, you
> guys have to wake up!  Follow the money!  Something stinks.  Are you
> journalists, or are you stenographers, faithfully and uncritically
> reporting everything stated by industry and government?
>
>     Arthur Allen for some reason seems unhappy with Barbara Loe
> Fisher.  He implies doubt in connection with her claims of vaccine
> damage and her support of choice.  I have read some of her writings,
> scoured her web site, and heard her speak in public.  Her thrust has
> always been information to the medical consumer and freedom of choice
> in this American society.  This is what is touted by her and the
> National Vaccine Information Center, not homeopathy and other medical
> alternatives as reported by Allen.  Although she is the mother of a
> child whom she believes to have been seriously damaged by a vaccine,
> her position has consistently been one of fairness:  give us
> information, and give us choice.
>
>     One thing we all take for granted when we walk into a physician's
> office or a hospital is informed choice in connection with our
> treatment:  with vaccination, we are given neither information nor
> choice.  We have all been asked to participate in the religion of
> vaccination.  Am I accusing pediatricians of evil intent?  Not at
> all.  I believe that physicians are subject to the same industrial
> propaganda machine which victimizes us all.  Pharmaceutical companies
> materially participate in the funding of medical education:  a truly
> bad thing.  Doctors are inculcated into the pharmaceutical religion
> priesthood.
>
>     For several decades, parents were routinely discouraged from
> breast feeding their children, the prevailing medical wisdom being
> that infant formula was a product superior to mother's milk.  Today,
> we understand this to be an example of contemptible industry excess
> which had no foundation in good science.  Pediatricians made their
> recommendations believing that they were doing their best.  Industry
> is still being taken to task over this issue by the United Nations for
> their lies and improper conduct in third world countries vis--vis
> infant formula.  All of this is to say that you cannot -- must not --
> believe everything your doctor tells you, no matter how much he
> appears to believe it himself.
>
>     We have been taught to fret about measles, mumps, rubella, and
> chicken pox.  Why?  These are all normally mild childhood diseases.
> How many children died last year of chicken pox in this country?
> Ten?  Twenty?  And was it really chicken pox, or were their conditions
> complicated by other factors.  Chicken pox vaccine is being mandated,
> rather than merely made available.  Why?  Follow the money:  that's
> where the story is.
>
>     We are experiencing unprecedented increases in autism, and
> childhood type I diabetes.  Vaccine related auto-immune disease has
> been documented.  In New Zealand, researchers are confident in their
> determination of a vaccine/diabetes connection.  If there is strong
> evidence that our mandatory mass vaccination program is implicated in
> these and other public health problems, then why should we not have
> the freedom to opt out?  How many vaccine-damaged children does it
> take?
>
>     The mandatory vaccination conflict is large and complicated.   Mr.
> Allen's coverage was simplistic at best.  Perhaps he should refrain
> from writing on topics on which he has so clearly not done his
> homework.  It is truly a disservice to your readers.
>
>     On the other hand, Representative Dan Burton is to be applauded
> for his courage in challenging a dearly held American belief system,
> which belief system is probably more a fantastic pharmaceutical
> industry advertising success than anything else.
>
> - - Herb Ray