The vaccine debate is escalating. With 18 states currently considering laws to mandate the new HPV (cervical cancer) vaccine for school entry, the number of persons questioning the necessity of vaccination is at an all-time high. Those promoting vaccination seem to be pulling out all the stops to defend their positions.

On February 4, 2007, New York Times Online published a review of a new book, “VACCINE: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesaver, by Arthur Allen. Here is a portion of David Oshinsky’s review:

“Allen is sympathetic to parental fears regarding the dangers of various vaccines, though he remains skeptical that scientific studies of these dangers, no matter how rigorous, will open many minds. At this point, he writes, much of the ‘antivaccinist’ leadership is composed of countercultural types who view life through the prism of conspiracy theory: the government lies, the drug companies are evil, the medical profession is corrupt; trust the Internet instead…To a large extent, says Allen, this antivaccination impulse is fueled by an ignorance of the past. Vaccines have done their job so well that most parents today are blissfully unaware of the diseases their children are being inoculated against.

“The end result is a culture that has become increasingly risk-averse regarding vaccination because people have greater trouble grasping the reward. The problem appears to be growing. As more children go unvaccinated in the United States, there has been a rise in vaccine-preventable diseases. Meanwhile, fewer pharmaceutical companies are now producing vaccines, citing the high cost of testing, diminishing markets and a fear of litigation. For Allen, a reversal of these trends will require something long overdue: a frank national discussion about the risks and benefits of vaccination. His splendid book is a smart place to begin.”(1)

Allen’s book appears to be one in a recent series of books that give tribute to the “wonder of vaccines.” Based on Oshinsky’s commentary, the author seems to promote his views by disparaging intelligent adults and dedicated physicians who have researched the problems associated with vaccines and consider mass vaccination to be the casualty-causing loss-leader of the pharmaceutical industry. The drug companies count vaccine injuries as few, at least in part, because safety is concluded through the use of large epidemiological studies. The larger one makes the denominator, the easier it is to discount the size of the numerator. For example, 231 injured in a study that involved 679,900 persons makes the percentage of those injured appear unarguably small.(2)

But vaccine injuries are real despite claims that occurrences are rare. Fears of developing autism as a result of vaccination have been dismissed by mainstream medicine which prefers to attribute the increase incidence of autism, currently at 1 in 166 children, to the unfounded mechanism called a “better diagnosis.” (3)

Thimerosal (mercury) in vaccines has received much attention in the association with autism. Undoubtedly, many children have been damaged by mercury in vaccines as the numbers of successful recoveries using chelation therapy attest. However, the rate of autism in California has continued to escalate despite the removal of mercury from most of the childhood vaccines.(4) The rest of the ingredients in the vaccines need to be investigated with the same intensity as mercury. The answers regarding the toxicity of these substances are still forthcoming.

Another avenue being heavily investigated is the search for genetic causes of autism spectrum disorders.(5) The identification of a corrupted gene will allow doctors to point an incriminating finger at defective parents as the “cause” of their child’s autism. A better use of scare research funds would be to investigate which bio-medical treatments are most effective for these ill children.

Chronic illnesses among children, such as allergies/asthma, diabetes, ADD-ADHD and cancer, have exploded over the last 10 years. Instead of suspecting the large number of vaccine antigens and aliquots of chemicals being injected into chubby little thighs in the name of “health” for problems as children get older, drugs such as Prozac and Concerta, designed for adults, have been given expanded approval for use in children. It is notable that since vaccines for rotavirus, hepatitis A and an annual flu shot have been added, children inoculated with all recommended vaccines receive more than 110 vaccine antigens by the time they enter kindergarten. Measurable amounts of formaldehyde, MSG, and aluminum are also present in the chemical soup. The image of four to five syringes being jabbed into infants every other month during the first year of life should be startling enough to make even the most trusting parent pause and question.

Healthcare providers continue to view vaccination in the same way as described by Mr. Allan’s catchy book title: “Medicine’s greatest lifesaver.” This accolade is attributed to the reduction of childhood infectious diseases such as chickenpox, mumps and three-day measles. But can a negative truly be proven? Conventional medicine assumes that all children will be exposed and when exposed, all unvaccinated children will get sick. This is a faulty premise. If a vaccinated child does not contract chickenpox, is it due to the protection of the vaccine? Or was it because the child was never exposed to the virus?

What if an unvaccinated child is exposed but does not become sick? Isn’t that a testament to the health of the child’s immune system? Not every child in a classroom exposed to influenza comes down with the flu. Long term studies comparing the health of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated populations of children as they enter adulthood are very much needed to clearly define the benefits of vaccination.

A patient population from which this data could be evaluated is the nearly 35,000 unvaccinated children cared for by Homefirst Health Services in metropolitan Chicago. The good health of these children can be assumed; for example, there have been no reported cases of autism among this group.(6) Examining the health histories of these children could be a telling exercise. Discovering that large numbers of unvaccinated children have not contracted “vaccine-preventable diseases” –or if they did, they recovered uneventfully–would deliver a serious blow to the concept that vaccination is necessary to keep children healthy. An even more provocative study would be to examine the health of the unvaccinated, older children (those approaching 18 years of age) including a questionnaire investigating how many are on prescription drugs.

If vaccines were safe, manufacturers would not need to have federal legislation to protect them from liability. If vaccines were effective, no one would question the value of their use. If vaccines were good for us, state mandates would not be necessary to force them upon children. A growing number of adults are investigating vaccines, discovering the truth about their contents and refusing injections for their children.

Vaccines are grown on monkey kidneys, in chicken embryos and contain bovine (cow) serum. Vaccines contain particles of viruses, bits of bacteria and measurable amounts of aluminum, formaldehyde, gelatin, polysorbate 80, MSG and other chemicals. A responsible adult who concludes that this combination of pathogens and chemicals can be harmful is not a “countercultural type who views life through a prism of conspiracy theory” as Mr. Allen apparently contends in his book. Understanding that autoimmune reactions can be the consequence of injecting animal cells and foreign chemicals into the body does not require a medical degree or PhD. Instead of calling them names, parents and physicians who challenge the current dogma that has been spoon-fed to us for nearly two centuries should be commended.

According to Oshinsky, Mr. Allen calls for “a frank national discussion about the risks and benefits of vaccination.” I wholeheartedly agree. The real health risks of vaccination are well documented but rarely discussed. Beyond the impact of vaccines on health, the economic ramifications of vaccine injuries need to be exposed. Vaccine manufacturers and government officials attempt to justify the cost of vaccine programs by showing a correlation between dollars spent on immunization and healthcare dollars saved. For example, in 2005 it was reported that vaccinations saved more than $52 billion in total health care costs and 33,000 childrens’ lives.(7) Because injuries are reported as rare, dollars spent to care for those who are injured are never published to balance the other side of the accounting ledger.

Medical expenses of a vaccine-injured person can be substantial and need to be included in the economic profile. A distinct example comes from a study of Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reports between 1990 and 1995. A total of 697 patients were identified who experienced syncope (a fainting spell) within 12 hours following vaccinations. Six patients had falls that resulted in a serious head injury, including skull fracture, cerebral bleeding and cerebral contusion. All six patients experienced the episode within 15 minutes of vaccination and were injured either in, or just outside, the doctor’s office or clinic where the vaccination was given. Three of these patients required surgery, and two were left with substantial residual deficit at six months to two years after follow-up.(8)

Even though the number of patients in this report is small, these costs of their life-time care could be in the millions of dollars. Keep in mind this report encompasses only one injury example. Similar analyses for all other injuries should be undertaken. The expenditure of healthcare dollars to care for injured individuals could negate any meaningful “savings” touted by vaccine pundits.

Since the federal government is the largest purchaser of vaccines, the cost to the American taxpayer for mandated state vaccination programs needs to be discussed. The Vaccines For Children Program (VFC) allows children and teens to get vaccines through Federally Qualified Health Centers or Rural Health Centers, purchased by government dollars, if their private health insurance does not cover the vaccine. In addition, mandated vaccines increase the cost of insurance for everyone, even those who do not have children or do not want to receive the vaccines. These costs, in addition to the requirement to vaccinate children in exchange for a public education, must be part of that “frank national discussion.”

Yes, Mr. Allen, a nationwide open discussion is long overdue.


(1) Oshinsky, David. “Preventive Medicine.” A book review of “VACCINE: The Controversial Story of Medicine’s Greatest Lifesave” published on New York Times Online. February 4, 2007.

(2) Barlow, WE. et al. “The risk of seizures after receipt of whole-cell pertussis or measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2001 Aug 30;345(9):656-61. PMID: 11547719

(3) “A better Diagnosis: What Newsweek Missed,” by Dan Olmsted. January 20, 2006.

(4) M.I.N.D. Institute Study Confirms Autism Increase.

(5) “Genetic cause of autism.” January 18, 2006.

(6)”The Age of Autism: A pretty big secret,” by Dan Olmsted. Dec. 7, 2005. UPI.

(7) Ensuring a Stable Vaccine Supply. May 18, 2005.

(8) Braun MM, et al. Syncope after immunization. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 1997;151:255-9.

Pet Vaccinations – Pros and Cons

Recently, I had a client whose dog had a bad reaction to a vaccination. Although vaccinations are now a regular part of vet care for our pets, it’s a topic that has its share of controversy. In this article, I want to talk about the protective value of vaccines, as well as some of the negative effects attributed to them, and what to watch out for if you do decide to vaccinate your pet.

Many of us think of vaccines as a safe and necessary part of pet ownership. In the city of Fremont where I live, pet ownership requires proof of vaccination as part of its licensing system. But, like any medical treatment today, vaccinating pets has its advocates and opponents.

Opposition to vaccines in general has existed since its discovery and use, and in the last few years, more and more vets and pet owners have raised concerns about pet vaccinations and how necessary they are. Some even question their safety, claiming they might actually cause illnesses.
In general, the pros and cons are:


  • Vaccines protect pets against diseases


  • Some vaccinations may have side effects
  • Vaccinations are believed to actually cause illness
  • Vaccinations may cause injection site sarcoma
  • Your pet may get vaccines they don’t need

It’s nothing new or unusual to us to think of vaccines as part of pet ownership. When you adopt a pet, the routine information given to you is that you should take your new pet to a vet for a full checkup and for their shots. Most of us do that without a second thought.

It’s most likely that your vet will examine your pet and give it vaccination shots for diseases such as rabies and distemper. Puppies and kittens are given shots when they are several weeks old and then get “booster” or additional follow up shots later on. Even after our pets reach adulthood, we take them to the vet to get shots annually or every three years.

Vaccines are actually very small doses of the diseases in question, which is supposed to force the recipient’s natural immune system to kick in and fight off the viruses, thus making them stronger and better able to fight off diseases if they are exposed to them in the future. It may even make them immune to the disease altogether.
Although there seem to be more negatives to giving your pet its vaccinations compared to positives, the positive is that vaccines prevent diseases. This is one major point which can outweigh many negatives against it. I am not making a choice for you. That is up to you and your veterinarian. If you would like to read about the core pet vaccinations, you can do so at

Vaccination Controversy

Although vaccines are the conventional and accepted way to prevent diseases in us as well as our pets since its discovery, there is an increasing number of vocal critics of vaccinations.

Some vets and pet owners have claimed that vaccines are the source of immediate negative side effects as well as long-term health issues. Various illnesses are connected to vaccinations, such as asthma, allergies, anemia, digestive problems, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, autoimmune disorders, organ failure, seizures, neurological disorders, and tumors.

There is evidence of sarcoma (cancerous tumors) at the site of injections. All these frequent shots may also be compromising our pets’ health by overloading their immune systems.

Not only do people object to these regular vaccinations as a source of a variety of problems, but some also claim that some vaccinations are unnecessary because of the rarity of some of the disease in question. There are vets who now offer tests to determine the level of antibodies (proteins in the immune system that identify and fight off viruses and bacteria) in animals so that they can decide on the needed vaccinations for individual pets.

Consider Each Pet Individually

I believe the best thing do to is to educate yourself as much as possible about all the vaccines out there, those being given to your pets, and to talk to your veterinarian about the best course of action for your pet.

Vaccinations have proven to be effective over many years of use and I think it’s important to prevent diseases, but keep in mind that each pet is unique and it’s best to determine with your vet the best course of action. A barn cat’s vaccination needs will differ greatly from the pampered lone kitty living in a condo.

The working sheep herding dog will probably need additional vaccines compared to the lap dog that goes outside only for walks and potty breaks. But also keep in mind that vaccinations are not 100 percent effective all the time.

You don’t want to vaccinate when it’s not necessary and you should keep close tabs on what your pet is receiving and how often to ensure maximum benefit and safety. When combination shots are given, ask what is contained in the shots and get an explanation of each component.

When vaccination shots are given, talk to your vet about where the shots are administered and why. After vaccinations, observe your pet to catch any signs of negative side effects or an allergic reaction. If your pet starts to vomit, has diarrhea, swelling, or otherwise acts ill, lethargic, or in pain shortly after receiving a vaccine, take your pet in to see the vet. It’s much better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health of your pet.

A User-Friendly Vaccination Schedule

Dr. Mercola’s Comment:

You may remember a the article I posted a couple of months ago written by Dr. Donald Miller that provides a great overview on the toxicity of mercury from various sources. After his piece was posted, Dr. Miller received responses from parents wanting to know what vaccines, if any, he would recommend children receive.

His response is a new piece that discusses the mindset behind the vaccine madness and a different approach that differs greatly from “obediently following the government’s schedule.”

In Dr. Miller’s view, and grounded in good science, parents should consider a more “user-friendly” vaccination schedule, one that takes the best interests of the individual into consideration rather than what the government judges best for society.

That’s a far better approach than the “one-size-fits-all” approach foisted on Americans that pushes the necessity of yearly flu vaccines although few people actually die from influenza and an admission by the CDC last year these vaccines don’t work anyway.

By Donald W. Miller, Jr., MD

Vaccination is a controversial subject, and many parents worry about subjecting their children to them. Readers of my article, “Mercury on the Mind,” about vaccines and dental amalgams, have asked what vaccines I would recommend their children receive. This article addresses that question.

In the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 12 vaccines are given to children before they reach the age of two. Providers inject them against the following:

* Hepatitis B

* Diphtheria

* Tetanus (lockjaw)

* Pertussis (whooping cough)

* Polio

* Pneumococcal infections

* Hemophilus influenzae type b infections

* Measles

* Mumps

* Rubella (German measles)

* Chickenpox

* Influenza (the flu)

Infectious disease was the leading cause of death in children 100 years ago, with diphtheria, measles, scarlet fever and pertussis accounting for most them. Today, the leading causes of death in children less than five years of age are accidents, genetic abnormalities, developmental disorders, sudden infant death syndrome and cancer. A basic tenet of modern medicine is that vaccines are the reason. There is growing evidence that this is so, but perhaps not quite in the way conventional medical wisdom would have it.

The Conventional Schedule

A 15-member Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC decides which vaccines should be on the Childhood Immunization Schedule. It calls for one vaccine, against hepatitis B, to be given on the day of birth; seven vaccines at two months; 6 more (including booster shots) at four months; and as many as eight vaccines on the six-month well-baby visit.

Before a child reaches the age of two, he or she will have received 32 vaccinations on this schedule, including four doses each of vaccines for Hemophilus influenzae type b infections, diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis — all of them given during the first 12 months of life. Seven vaccines injected into a 13-pound, two-month old infant are equivalent to 70 doses in a 130-pound adult.

The schedule states, “Your child can safely receive all vaccines recommended for a particular age during one visit.” Public health officials, however, have not proven that it is indeed safe to inject this many vaccines into infants. What’s more, they cannot explain why, concurrent with an increasing number of vaccinations, there has been an explosion of neurologic and immune system disorders in our nation’s children.

Fifty years ago, when the immunization schedule contained only four vaccines (for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and smallpox), autism was virtually unknown. First discovered in 1943, this most devastating malady, in what is now a spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders, afflicted less than 1 in 10,000 children.

Today, one in every 68 American families has an autistic child. Other, less severe developmental disorders, rarely seen before the vaccine era, have also reached epidemic proportions. Four million American children have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). One in six American children are now classified as “Learning Disabled.”

Our children are also experiencing an epidemic of autoimmune disorders: Type I diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and bowel disorders. There has been a 17-fold increase in Type I diabetes, from 1 in 7,100 children in the 1950s to 1 in 400 now. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis afflicts 300,000 American children. Twenty-five years ago, this disease was so rare that public health officials did not keep any statistics on it. There has been a four-fold increase in asthma, and bowel disorders in children are much more common now than they were 50 years ago.

The Deteriorating Health of Children

Health officials consider a vaccine to be safe if no bad reactions — like seizures, intestinal obstruction or anaphylaxis — occur acutely. The CDC has not done any studies to assess the long-term effects of its immunization schedule. To do that, one must conduct a randomized controlled trial, the lynchpin of evidenced-based medicine, where one group of children is vaccinated on the CDC’s schedule and a control group is not vaccinated.

Investigators then follow the two groups for a number of years (not just three to four weeks, as has been done in vaccine safety studies). Concerns that vaccinations in infants cause chronic neurologic and immune system disorders would be put to rest, and their safety certified, if the number of children who develop these diseases is the same in both groups.

No such studies have been done, so vaccine proponents cannot say that vaccines are indeed as safe as they think they are. (One proponent, interviewed by Dan Rather on 60 Minutes, who has financial ties to the vaccine industry that he did not disclose, claims that vaccines “have a better safety record than vitamins.” He neglected to mention that the U.S. government has paid out more than $1.5 billion in its Vaccine Injury Compensation Program to families of children who have been injured or killed by vaccines.)

There is a growing body of evidence that implicates vaccines as a causative factor in the deteriorating health of children. The hypothesis that vaccines cause neurologic and immune system disorders is a legitimate one — vaccines given in multiple doses, close together, to very young children following the CDC’s Immunization Schedule. This hypothesis should be tested by a large-scale, long-term randomized controlled trial.

Rather than obediently following the government’s schedule, there is now sufficient evidence, grounded in good science, to justify adopting a more user-friendly vaccination schedule. One which is in the best interests of the individual as opposed to what planners judge best for society as a whole.

New knowledge in neuroimmunology (the study of how the brain’s immune system works) raises serious questions about the wisdom of injecting vaccines in children less than 2 years of age.

A Child’s Best Time Table

The brain has its own specialized immune system, separate from that of the rest of the body. When a person is vaccinated, its specialized immune cells, the microglia, become activated (the blood-brain barrier notwithstanding). Multiple vaccinations spaced close together over-stimulate the microglia, causing them to release a variety of toxic elements — cytokines, chemokines, excitotoxins, proteases, complement, free radicals — that damage brain cells and their synaptic connections. Researchers call the damage caused by these toxic substances “bystander injury.”

(Pediatricians and other professional colleagues who question this should read these two reviews by the neurosurgeon Russell L. Blaylock: “Interaction of Cytokines, Excitotoxins, Reactive Nitrogen and Oxygen Species in Autism Spectrum Disorders,” in the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association [JANA 2003;6(4):21 — 35], with 167 references. And “Chronic Microglial Activation and Excitotoxicity Secondary to Excessive Immune Stimulation: Possible Factors in Gulf War Syndrome and Autism,” in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons [JAPS 2004;9(2):46 — 52], posted online, with 54 references.)

In humans, the most rapid period of brain development begins in the third trimester and continues over the first two years of extra uterine life. (By then, brain development is 80 percent complete.) Until randomized controlled trials demonstrate the safety of giving vaccines during this time of life, it would be prudent not to give any vaccinations to children until they are 2-years-old.

From a risk-benefit perspective, there is growing evidence that the risk of neurologic and autoimmune diseases from vaccinations outweigh the benefits of avoiding the childhood infections that they prevent. An exception is hepatitis B vaccine for infants whose mothers test positive for this disease.

A user-friendly vaccination schedule prohibits any vaccines that contain thimerosal, which is 50 percent mercury. Flu vaccines contain thimerosal, which is reason enough to avoid them.

One should also avoid vaccines that contain live viruses. This includes the combined measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine; chickenpox (varicella) vaccine; and the live-virus polio (Sabin) vaccine. This stricture would not apply to the smallpox vaccine (also a live-virus one), if a terrorist-instigated outbreak of smallpox should occur.

Finally, a user-friendly vaccination schedule requires that vaccinations, after the age of two, be given no more than once every six months, one at a time, in order to allow the immune system sufficient time to recover and stabilize between shots.

Which vaccines should be put on this schedule (among those that do not contain live viruses or thimerosal) is not entirely clear. The top four would be:

* Pertussis (acelluar — aP — not whole cell) vaccine.

* Diphtheria (D) vaccine.

* Tetanus (T) vaccine (the first three on this list are to be given separately, not together, as is usually the case).

* The Salk polio vaccine, with an inactivated (dead) virus, one that is cultured in human cells, not monkey kidney cells.

Perhaps, it should only contain these four vaccines. A good case can be made for avoiding the three other newer vaccines on the CDC’s schedule: The hepatitis B, pneumococcal conjugate (PCV7) and Hemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines.

Your Doctor Won’t Like This

Your pediatrician will not like this schedule. They are taught in medical school and residency training that childhood immunizations are essential to public health. As one pediatrician puts it, “Achieving adequate and timely vaccination of young children is the single most valuable thing a doctor can do for a patient.” They do not question what their professors teach them, nor are they inclined to critically examine studies in Pediatrics and the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) that tell them vaccines are safe.

There were 482,000 cases of measles in the U.S in 1962, the year before a vaccine for this disease became available. Now, with all 50 states requiring that children be vaccinated against measles in order to attend school, there were only 56 cases of measles in a population of 290 million people in 2003.

These facts are well known and proudly cited by vaccine proponents. What is less known, and doctors are not taught, is that the death rate for measles declined 97.7 percent during the first 60 years of the 20th century. The mortality rate was 133 deaths per million people in the U.S. in 1900, and had dropped to 0.3 deaths per million by 1960. Measles caused less than 100 deaths a year in the U.S. before there was a vaccine for this disease (in 1963).

The same thing happened with diphtheria and pertussis. Mortality rates dropped more than 90 percent in the early 20th century before vaccines for these diseases were introduced. This was due to better nutrition (with rapid delivery of fresh fruit and vegetables to cities and refrigeration), cleaner water and improved sanitation (removing trash from the streets and better sewage systems), not to vaccines.

The World Health Organization promotes mass vaccination, but knowing these facts states, “The best vaccine against common infectious diseases is an adequate diet,” fortified, one might add, with vitamin A.

Since the measles vaccine came into widespread use in this country, this disease has virtually disappeared, and it has prevented 100 deaths a year. But now, instead, several thousand normally developing children become autistic after receiving their MMR shot. Termed “regressive autism,” it accounts for about 30 percent of the 10,000 to 20,000 children who are diagnosed with autism in this country each year.

To put to rest concerns that MMR vaccination might cause autism (in a small percentage of children), NEJM, in 2002, published a population-based study from Denmark, where its authors concluded, “This study provides strong evidence against the hypothesis that MMR vaccination causes autism.”

The NEJM did not disclose that the “Statens Serum Institut,” where three of the authors work, is a for-profit vaccine manufacturer, Denmark’s largest, or that four other authors have financial ties to this company. Only one of the eight authors is not associated with this institute, and the CDC employs him.

The study compares the prevalence of autism in 440,000 MMR vaccinated and 97,000 unvaccinated children in Denmark born in the 1990s. A statistical slight-of-hand in age adjustment makes the study show no causal effect. But, when unmasked and reformatted, the data actually shows a statistically significant association between MMR vaccine and autism (as Carol Stott and her coauthors make clear in “MMR and Autism in Perspective: The Denmark Story,” in the Fall 2004 Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, posted online).

Pediatrics and the Journal of the American Medical Association also have published studies like this supporting U.S. vaccine policy, written by authors with similar, undisclosed conflicts of interest.

Looking elsewhere, however, one comes across a number of disquieting facts about vaccines.

1. Investigators have found, for example, live measles virus in the cerebral spinal fluid in children who become autistic after MMR vaccinations.

2. Antibodies to measles virus are elevated in children with autism but not in normal kids, suggesting that virus-induced autoimmunity may play a causal role.

3. A study published in Neurology this year implicates hepatitis B vaccine as a causative factor in multiple sclerosis.

One For All

A communitarian ethic increasingly governs health care in the U.S. It places a greater value on the health of the community, on society as a whole, than on the health of particular individuals. Public health officials have put together a vaccination schedule designed to eliminate infectious diseases to which the population is prey.

Officials recognize that these vaccines will harm a small percentage of (genetically susceptible) individuals, but it is for the common good. The communitarian code posits that it is morally acceptable, if necessary, to sacrifice a few for the good of the many. Or as one observer more bluntly puts it, “Individual sheep can be sheared and slaughtered if it is for the welfare of their flock.”

In this framework, health care providers become agents of the state charged with injecting vaccines into people that the central planners deem necessary. Physicians who remain true to their Hippocratic Oath and place the interests of their patient above that of the herd are considered to be out of step with the times, if not an anachronism.

Like central planners everywhere, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) promulgates a self-serving, one-size-fits-all vaccine policy. Members of this committee have ties to vaccine makers, such that the CDC must grant them waivers from statutory conflict of interest rules. Even so, and with little evidence to show that it is safe to subject young children to the ACIP’s crowded immunization schedule, states nevertheless dutifully make its vaccine recommendations compulsory.

All 50 states require children to be immunized against measles, diphtheria, Hemophilus influenzae type b, polio, and rubella in order to enroll in day care and/or public school. Forty-nine states also require vaccination against tetanus; 47, against hepatitis B and mumps; and 43 states now require vaccination against chickenpox.

In order to shield themselves from any liability for making vaccinations compulsory, all states provide a medical exemption and 47, a religious exemption. Nineteen states allow a philosophical exemption. Some require only a letter from a parent and others, from a physician or church leader. (To see the exemptions allowed in your state, their wording and requirements, []click here.) Parents, of course, can refuse vaccinations, but if they want to enroll their child in public school they will need to obtain one of these exemptions.

Doctors who conclude that the risks of the government’s immunization schedule outweigh its benefits are placed in a difficult position. If they counsel parents not to have their children follow it, health care plans, which track vaccine compliance as a measure of “quality,” will find them wanting.

Weighing The Risks

And if their patient should contract and develop complications from the disease the vaccine would have prevented, they may find themselves confronting a lawsuit. If a child becomes autistic following a vaccination, however, the doctor is protected from any liability because the government requires it and the child’s parents, if they had chosen to do so, could have obtained an exemption. (Anti-vaccine advocates call developing autism, asthma and Type I diabetes after vaccinations “vaccination roulette.”)

Parents should have the freedom to select whatever vaccination schedule they want their children to follow, especially since health care providers and the government (except via its Vaccine Injury Compensation Program) cannot be held accountable for any adverse outcomes that might occur. But if parents elect to not follow the CDC’s immunization schedule, delaying some vaccinations, refusing others, or avoiding them altogether, then they must accept the risk that their child might contract the disease that the vaccine against it most likely would have prevented.

One consideration, which vaccine proponents do not address, is this: Could contracting childhood diseases like measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox play a constructive role in the maturation of a person’s immune system? Or, to put it another way, does removing natural infection from human experience have any adverse consequences?

Our species’ immune system — a one-trillion-cell army that patrols our (100-trillion-cell) body — serves two main purposes:

* It destroys foreign invaders — viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.

* And it destroys aberrant cells in the body that run amuck and cause cancer.

Our Natural Defense System

Behind the barricades of skin and mucosa, our innate immune system (composed of phagocytes, natural killer cells and the 20-protein complement system), which all animals have, is the body’s first line of defense. It reacts to invaders lightening fast and indiscriminately, but it is not very good at eliminating viruses and cancerous cells.

Vertebrates have evolved a second line of defense: The adaptive immune system. It targets specific viruses and bacteria and has better artillery for eliminating cancerous cells. This system matures during childhood, and it has a cellular (Th1) and humoral (Th2) component (Th = helper T cell).

The viruses that cause measles, mumps and chickenpox have infected countless generations of humans, akin to a rite of passage for each member of our species. Contracting these diseases strengthens both parts of the adaptive immune system (Th1 and Th2). Mothers who have had measles, mumps and chickenpox transfer antibodies against them to their babies in utero, which protect them during the first year of life from contracting these infections.

Vaccinations do not have the same effect on the immune system as naturally acquired diseases do. They stimulate predominantly the Th2 part of this system and not Th1. (Over-stimulation of Th2 causes autoimmune diseases.) The cellular Th1 side thwarts cancer, and if it does not become fully developed in childhood, a person can be more prone to have cancer as an adult.

Women who had mumps during childhood, for example, are found to be less likely to have ovarian cancer than women who did not have this infection. (This study was published in Cancer.) Could the fact that cancer has become a leading cause of death in children be a result of vaccinations? Only a randomized controlled trial can conclusively answer this question.

With rare exception, a well-nourished child who contracts measles will recover smoothly from the infection. Fifty years ago, almost all children in the U.S. had measles. And after contracting this disease, one has a life-long immunity to it.

The protection provided by vaccination is temporary. Adults who contract measles (when the protective effects of the vaccine wears off) are much more likely to have neurological, testicular and ovarian complications. Likewise, rubella is a benign disease in children, but if a woman acquires it during pregnancy, fetal malformations may develop.

One can argue, heretical as such an argument may be, that it would be better to let children have measles, at an age when the infection helps the adaptive immune system mature in a balanced Th1/Th2 fashion and complications from this disease are minimal, rather than vaccinate them against this disease (especially considering the risks of vaccination).

Pertussis and Diphtheria are a different matter. These diseases are more virulent. Children who contract whooping cough (pertussis) can be incapacitated for more than a month. Polio can be devastating in susceptible individuals. And no one wants to get tetanus (lockjaw). A user-friendly vaccination schedule would include vaccines against these diseases.

Whatever vaccination schedule one chooses, mothers should breast-feed their child for as long as possible — a year or more. Failing that, add Omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA (docosahexanoic acid), to the child’s formula.