E Buttram, MD
At the present time there are
growing public and professional concerns about the safety of currently
mandated childhood vaccine programs, as reflected in by a series of annual
Congressional hearings in Washington DC that have taken place since 1999,
sponsored by the U.S. House Government Reform Committee under the chairmanship
of Congressman Dan Burton.
At an annual conference of
the American College for the Advancement of Medicine during April 2001,
with several hundred physicians in attendance, when one of the speakers
asked how many in attendance had concerns about the safety of current
childhood vaccines, a large majority raised their hands.
The Autism Research Institute
of San Diego is now widely known as an active support group for families
with autistic children and is one of the more active organizations in
this field. Its founding director, Bernard Rimland, Ph.D., has provided
the statistics that, in their experience, from 50 to 60% of parents with
autistic children believe that their children were damaged by vaccines.
In our own office we have seen
many autistic children in recent years, and our own experience has been
very similar, many parents reporting that deterioration of their children
took place following vaccines.
As reviewed in presentations
at the Congressional hearings mentioned above, the following evidence
has been brought forward by various presenters as reasons for the growing
concerns about vaccine safety:
Safety studies on vaccinations
are limited to short time periods only: several days to several weeks.
There are no long-term (months
or years) safety studies on any vaccination or immunization. For
this reason, there are valid grounds for suspecting that many delayed-type
vaccine reactions may be taking place unrecognized at to their true nature.
A meaningful basic science
is grossly deficient for the vaccines. By way of explanation, there are
two general categories which comprise a basic science for any form of
medical intervention, in this case the vaccines:
- First, long-term surveillance
following the vaccines it to all intents and purposes non-existent as
previously mentioned, and
- Second, before-and-after
testing to determine the effects of the vaccines on various organ systems
of the body, especially the neurologic, immunologic, and hematologic
systems, have never been done in any definitive or systematic fashion.
There are a few isolated reports
of before-and-after testing of the vaccines in the medical literature,
but as far as I am aware, these have never had proper follow up. Although
there are others, the one example given below will give some insight into
the scope of the problem:
As reported in a letter to
the New England Journal of Medicine in 1984, tests of T-lymphocyte subpopulations
were done on 11 healthy adults before-and-after routine tetanus booster
Tests showed a significant
though temporary drop in T-helper lymphocytes (a class of white blood
cells which helps govern the immune system) in all of the subjects. Special
concern rests in the fact that in 4 of the subjects the T-helper cells
fell to levels found in active AIDS patients. (2)
If this was the result of a
single vaccine in healthy adults, it is sobering to think of the consequences
of the multiple vaccines (twenty-one at last count) routinely given to
infants with their immature systems during the first six months of life.
However, we can only speculate as to the consequences, as this test has
never been repeated.
Dating back to the 1930s pharmaceuticals
have added thimerosal (made up of ethyl mercury) to many of the vaccines
given to children.
However, it was not until 1999
that the FDA was compelled by a Congressional mandate to disclose the
quantity of mercury in the vaccines.
Many became gravely concerned
when it was learned that for many years infants had been routinely receiving
25 to 50 or more times the amount of mercury in a given day than was considered
safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. (3)
For centuries mercury has been
known to be one of the most toxic of the heavy metals. Very recently an
animal study has revealed a possible mechanism for this toxicity in which
mercury vapor exposures resulted in retrograde degeneration of neruonal
(brain) membranes, producing molecular lesions similar to those seen in
the brains of patients dying with Alzheimer's disease. (4)
Sequel To This Story Is Very Interesting
Apparently as an offshoot of
the Congressional hearings in which the thimerosal issue had been raised,
the Institute of Medicine (a scientific advisory board for the federal
government) issued a report on October 1, 2001 entitled "Thimerosal-Containing
Vaccines and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes."
In essence the statement gave
the opinion that, although a causal relation between thimerosal-containing
vaccines and the increasing incidence of neurodevelopmental problems in
children has not yet been proven, "the hypothesis is biologically
In other words, the Institute
of Medicine admits that there are valid grounds for suspicion that thimerosal-containing
vaccines could be contributing to the current epidemic of neurobehavorial
problems in American children including autism, attention deficit, hyperactivity,
learning disabilities, and behavioral disorders. However, due to deficiencies
in scientific infrastructure (their own words), there is insufficient
data to prove the matter one way or the other.
next from the issue of vaccine safety to the question of the need or necessity
for childhood vaccines:
It is true that vaccines played
a major role in the worldwide eradication of smallpox and eradication
of polio from the Western Hemisphere, but vaccine proponents would have
us believe that vaccines have been largely responsible for controlling
virtually all of the former epidemics of killer disease in the U.S.A.
With the exceptions cited above, the facts do not bear this out.
According to the records of
the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, from 1911 to 1935 the four leading
causes of childhood deaths from infectious diseases in the U.S.A. were
diptheria, pertussis, scarlet fever, and measles. However, by 1945 the
combined death rates from these causes had declined by 95% before the
implementation of mass vaccine programs. (5)
According to a report in Morbidity
and Mortality Weekly Report of July 30, 1999, improvements in sanitation,
water quality, hygiene, and the introduction of antibiotics have been
the most important factors in control of infectious disease in the past
vaccines were mentioned, they were not included among the major
In conclusion, with such a
scenario as described above for current childhood vaccine programs. I
do not feel there is any moral justification for the current mandating
of childhood vaccines at any level.
It is for this reason that,
for many years, I have supported the freedom of choice of parents to accept
or reject vaccines for their children based on informed consent.
E Buttram, MD March 2002