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.
- Investigators have found, for example, live measles virus in the cerebral spinal fluid in children who become autistic after MMR vaccinations.
- 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.
- 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, [http://www.909shot.com/state-site/state-exemptions.htm]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.
In summary, this is a vaccination schedule that I would recommend:
- No vaccinations until a child is two years old.
- No vaccines that contain thimerosal (mercury).
- No live virus vaccines (except for smallpox, should it recur).
- These vaccines should be given one at a time, every six months, beginning at age 2:
- A) Pertussis (acellular, not whole cell)
- B) Diphtheria
- C) Tetanus
- D) Polio (the Salk vaccine, cultured in human cells)
American children are the most highly vaccinated kids in the world. This schedule is an alternative to the one that rules our "vaccine nation" (as the Village Voice terms it). In contrast to the CDC's immunization schedule, it is user-friendly.
Donald Miller is a cardiac surgeon and Professor of Surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle and a member of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness and writes articles on a variety of subjects for LewRockwell.com, including bioterrorism. His Web site is www.donaldmiller.com and you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.