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Red Alert: The Vaccine Responsible for Half the Awards for Injury and Death

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  • In the United States, over half of the 2,480 compensation awards made made under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, which total more than $2 billion dollars, have involved brain inflammation and encephalopathy resulting in permanent brain damage associated with whole cell and acelullar pertussis vaccine in DPT and DtaP shots.
  • Previous research from Guinnea-Bissau demonstrated that a single dose of pertussis vaccine in DTP shots doubled the mortality rate in infants and more than quadrupled the mortality rate after the second and third DTP doses.
  • A recent Danish study suggests many infant girls in Africa die after vaccination with diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine and that aluminum-derived adjuvants in the vaccine may play an important role. (Past studies have shown that pertussis toxin and endotoxin in whole cell pertussis vaccine are involved in the development of brain inflammation, shock and encephalopathy but the role of the aluminum adjuvant has been less clear).
  • Mercury (thimerosal) preservatives and aluminum adjuvants are two additives commonly used in inactivated vaccines, including DPT vaccine. Although U.S. pertussis containing shots (DtaP/Tdap) no longer include mercury, they still contain aluminum. Mercury is used as a preservative and aluminum advjuvants are used to boost immune responses in an attempt to reduce the need for booster shots. However, both mercury and aluminum are known neurotoxins and can cause serious side effects when injected into the body.

The following referenced information contains opinion and perspective on a health topic related to vaccine science, policy, law or ethics that is being discussed in public forums, including in medical, law and other professional journals; newspapers, magazines and other print; broadcast and online media outlets; state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.

Readers are encouraged to go to the websites of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the perspective of federal agencies responsible for vaccine research, development, regulation and policymaking, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for information on vaccine policymaking; to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for information on regulating vaccines for safety and effectiveness; and to National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for information on research and the development of new vaccines.

The World Health Organization has stated that “vaccine hesitancy” is one of the top 10 global public health threats.

By Dr. Mercola

Pertussis vaccine in the combination DPT shot for diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis that is supposed to prevent whooping cough has been associated with brain inflammation,  permanent brain damage and infant death since it was used on a mass basis in the U.S. starting in the late 1940's.

A 1985 book DPT: A Shot in the Dark by Coulter and Fisher book described the questionable safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, which was replaced in the U.S. in 1996 by an acellular version (DtaP).

Recently, there have been reports of B. pertussis whooping cough outbreaks in California among both vaccinated and unvaccinated children and adults.

In fact, in 2010, the majority of confirmed or suspected reported whooping cough cases were in vaccinated people.

In an eye-opening report, the Watchdog Institute found that DtaP vaccine immunity only lasts about three years.

In addition, there is evidence that bacterial organism that causes whooping cough has evolved to become vaccine resistant, which is another big reason there is a rise in reported cases of B. pertussis whooping cough.

The DtaP vaccine, although reported to be less reactive, can still cause brain inflammation and brain damage in some individuals.

Powerful Profile of a Pertussis Vaccine Victim

While infants and young children are at greatest risk, NO ONE is exempt from the potential serious complications of vaccination, one of which brain inflammation after DPT or DtaP vaccinatoin.

In the video profile of pertussis vaccine injury above, Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), interviews a Houston family with a history of vaccine reactions that spans three generations. Now, a 12 year old child in the family has become permanently disabled from a reaction to the DtaP vaccine that was given to her, along with 6 other vaccines, at age 15 months.

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This family has chosen to share their heartbreaking story to help those, who have had the same experience, feel less alone, and to educate others about what it means to be vaccine injured. What happened to this family is a potent reminder of just how important it is to make well-informed decisions about vaccinations.

Infant Death Reports After DTP Vaccination in Africa

As discussed in Barbara's featured video, vaccine reactions can run in families, causing some people to be more susceptible to damage than others. There may even be differences between the sexes in general. We don't really know, as few studies have focused on teasing out such details.

However, a number of observational studies have suggested that many female infants in Africa below 12-months of age die after the "non-specific" effects of vaccination with diphtheria-tetanus toxoids and killed (whole-cell) Bordetella pertussis (DTwP).

According to a recent Danish study published in the Journal of Tropical Medicine:

"From an immunological point of view, we hypothesize that the adverse effects of DTwP vaccine may occur because of the Th2-polarising effect of the aluminium phosphate adjuvant in the vaccine and because intramuscular administration of the vaccine may cause chronic inflammation at the site of injection.

Sexual dimorphism [sex related differences] affecting immune functions and vitamin A supplementation may influence both the deleterious and beneficial nonspecific effects of immunization."

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Previous Studies Also Show Increased Infant Mortality from DTP Vaccines

Earlier this summer, I posted a report on the research of Dr. Peter Aaby, who has spent more than 30 years studying the causes of excessively high child mortality in Guinea-Bissau. His research has been published in dozens of professional journals, yet few are taking any notice. With archives of more than 1 million research files to back up his findings, Dr. Aaby has published several papers questioning the safety of the DTP vaccine (diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis).

Over the past decade alone he's published 34 papers—all questioning the safety of the DTP. (For clarification, the DTP is the older whole cell pertussis vaccine associated with a high number of cases of convulsions, brain inflammation and permanent brain damage and was, in the US, replaced with the DTaP vaccine in 1996.) Dr. Aaby's studies on the DTP vaccine given to infants in Guinea-Bissau showed that:

  • A single dose of DTP vaccine not only doubled the mortality rate in infants, but more than quadrupled the mortality rate after the second and third DTP doses.
  • There is a definite increased mortality risk to girls of combining DTP and measles vaccines.

Furthermore, just like the featured Danish study above mentions, vitamin A supplementation was found to influence mortality. Dr. Aaby discovered that girls were 41 percent more likely to die if they were given vitamin A at birth, while boys seemed to receive minor benefit from the supplement.

Taken together, the Danish study and Dr. Aaby's work indicate that there are differences between the sexes that are completely ignored, and vaccines alone or in conjunction with vitamin supplementation may impact girls and boys very differently.

Total Video Length: 0:21:27

Whole Cell DPT Vaccine and Encephalopathy

In the groundbreaking 1985 book DPT: A Shot in the Dark by Harris Coulter and Barbara Loe Fisher, the authors described the ingredients in whole cell pertussis vaccine (DPT) that include a number of toxic components, with bioactive pertussis toxin (PT) and endotoxin being among the most lethal. Pertussis toxin is the component thought to be primarily responsible for the most feared complication of B. pertussis (whooping cough) and the pertussis vaccine: brain inflammation (encephalitis).

Brain inflammation and permanent brain damage was associated with whole cell pertussis vaccine from the time it started to be used in the U.S. and Europe in the 1920's. Pertussis toxin is still used in labs to deliberately induce experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) in lab animals during experiments. Another toxin in the whole cell pertussis vaccine – endotoxin – can cause shock and death in humans and animals.

Dangerous Preservatives and Components: Mercury and Aluminum

I've written quite a bit about the potential health dangers of vaccines containing toxic preservatives and adjuvants. One of the immune stimulating adjuvants in vaccines, including whole cell and acelullar pertussis vaccines, is aluminum.

In the featured Danish study, the researchers hypothesize that the aluminum adjuvant in DTP may be associated with the increased death rate in infant girls. (It is important to note that DTP vaccine also contains a mercury preservative (thimerosal) and mercury, like aluminum, is a known neurotoxin).

And, while the study focused only on African children, who may be more susceptible to vaccine damage due to poor nutrition and other environmental factors that can affect healthy immune function, it does highlight the fact that some vaccine components carry significant risks and may harm individual children, who could otherwise have gone on to live healthy lives. In the U.S., most childhood vaccines (except influenza vaccine in multi-dose vials) are now delivered in thimerosal-free single dose vials.

Some vaccines used in the U.S. and around the world contain mercury preservatives, including the ones listed below. You can find a complete list of mercury content in U.S.-licensed vaccines here. You can also calculate the amount of mercury in shots that your doctor recommends by using the Vaccine Ingredient Calculator.  

All DTwP products (Diphtheria, Tetanus & whole cell Pertussis)

Meningococcal multi-dose vials

DT (Diphtheria & Tetanus) multi-dose vials

All multi-dose vials of seasonal- and swine flu vaccine, typically recommended for adults and children over the age of three.

All Tetanus Toxoid vaccines, including DT and Td vaccine

Total Video Length: 0:41:58
Download Interview Transcript

The aluminum-derivatives used in the manufacturing of some vaccines have been shown to affect brain and immune function in lab animals and humans and a number of other vaccine ingredients also have also been associated with health problems in humans, such as:

Formaldehyde, a known cancer-causing agent

Phenol (carbolic acid)

Neomycin and streptomycin (antibiotics)

Resin and gelatin, known to cause allergic reactions

Polysorbate 80 (Tween80™), which can cause anaphylactic reactions, and may cause miscarriage and infertility (see the next section for details)

Triton X100 (detergent)

The Dangers of the Pertussis Vaccine

Each vaccine brand has its own patented formulation and there are also differences between the vaccines licensed and released in Africa and Europe, versus those licensed and released in the U.S. Therefore, it's difficult to know whether the two DPT studies featured in this article directly relate to the DPT vaccines given in countries outside of Africa.

That said, I believe that studies such as the ones mentioned here are like smoke signals, reinforcing the fact that there are significant health risks associated with vaccines, even though science still has a long way to go to pin down the exact biological mechanisms involved when vaccines cause injury and death.

The authors of the DPT study simply state that the deaths are due to the "non-specific effects" of vaccination, although their hypothesis is that the aluminum adjuvants may play an important role. As mentioned previously, DPT vaccine also contains pertussis toxin and endotoxin and there is inadequate scientific knowledge about exactly how those toxins interact with aluminum adjuvants and mercury preservatives to cause acute  inflammation in the body that may contribute to sudden infant death or encephalitis that that leads to chronic brain inflammation and permanent brain damage.

In the US, children are given multiple doses of an acellular pertussis vaccine (DtaP, Tdap) to try to prevent B. pertussis whooping cough. Acellular pertussis vaccines do not contain mercury preservatives and have reduced amounts of bioactive pertussis toxin and endotoxin. They appear to cause fewer cases of brain inflammation and permanent brain damage but are still not entirey safe for every child. Pertussis containing vaccines (DTaP) are given five times to children under age six, plus booster doses (Tdap) for teenagers and adults.

The question is, are whole cell and acellular pertussis vaccines as safe as they can be?

As Barbara Loe Fisher discussed in a previous article, pertussis vaccines can contain various amounts of bioactive toxins, including aluminum and mercury additives, and are known to have killed and brain injured some children. In fact, over half of the 2,480 awards for vaccine injury and death totaling $2 billion dollars made under the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act involved the pertussis vaccine in DPT or DtaP shots.

There is also evidence in the scientific literature that suggests universal use of the pertussis vaccine for more than 60 years has put pressure on the B. pertussis organism to evolve and become vaccine resistant and there is evidence that whooping cough outbreaks are occurring in highly vaccinated countries, such as the U.S. as a result!

New Study Shows Protection from Whooping Cough Vaccination Fades in Three Years

In related news, another preliminary study (presented at the American Society for Microbiology conference in Chicago in September) has revealed that the acellular pertussis vaccine loses much of its effectiveness after just three years.  This is much faster than previously believed, and could also help explain the recent whooping cough outbreaks in the U.S.

According to CBSNews:

"[I]ts authors said the results need to be confirmed through more research. Nevertheless, the findings are likely to stir debate over whether children should get a booster shot earlier than now recommended.  "I was disturbed to find maybe we had a little more confidence in the vaccine than it might deserve," said the lead researcher, Dr. David Witt…"

Unfortunately, stacking on additional booster shots is likely to make matters worse rather than better, especially in light of the fact that the mass use of existing pertussis vaccines has already led to vaccine resistant strains that are evolving and could become much more virulent. If anything, all of these findings taken together—the increased infant mortality in baby girls, the mutation factor, and the faster-than-thought wane in effectiveness—offer a potent illustration of how a perfect storm is created if we do not change how we think about public health policy that relies so heavily on mass vaccination.

Keep Educating Yourself on Vaccines

It is becoming increasingly necessary to continue to educate yourself and your family on the issues surrounding vaccinations of all kinds. There are so many problems; no one article can possibly cover them all.

You can find and search all vaccine related articles on my Latest Vaccine News page. I also recommend you familiarize yourself with the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) web site. As a leader for vaccine safety, the NVIC offers information on everything from laws to informed consent to late-breaking vaccine news.

What You Can Do to Make a Difference

While it seems "old-fashioned," the only truly effective actions you can take to protect the right to informed consent to vaccination and expand vaccine exemptions, is to get personally involved with your state legislators and the leaders in your community.


Mass vaccination policies are made at the federal level but vaccine laws are made at the state level, and it is at the state level where your action to protect your vaccine choice rights can have the greatest impact.

Signing up for NVIC's free Advocacy Portal at not only gives you access to practical, useful information to help you become an effective vaccine choice advocate in your own community, but when national vaccine issues come up, you will have the up-to-date information and call to action items you need at your fingertips to make sure your voice is heard.

So please, as your first step, sign up for the NVIC Advocacy Portal.

Contact Your Elected Officials

Write or email your elected state representatives and share your concerns. Call them, or better yet, make an appointment to visit them in person in their office. Don't let them forget you!

It is so important for you to reach out and make sure your concerns get on the radar screen of the leaders and opinion makers in your community, especially the politicians you elect and are directly involved in making vaccine laws in your state. These are your elected representatives, so you have a right and a responsibility to let them know what's really happening in your life and the lives of people you know when it comes to vaccine mandates. Be sure to share the "real life" experiences that you or people you know have had with vaccination.

Share Your Story with the Media and People You Know

If you or a family member has suffered a serious vaccine reaction, injury or death, please talk about it. If we don't share information and experiences with each other, everybody feels alone and afraid to speak up. Write a letter to the editor if you have a different perspective on a vaccine story that appears in your local newspaper. Make a call in to a radio talk show that is only presenting one side of the vaccine story.

I must be frank with you; you have to be brave because you might be strongly criticized for daring to talk about the "other side" of the vaccine story. Be prepared for it and have the courage to not back down.  Only by sharing our perspective and what we know to be true about vaccination will the public conversation about vaccination open up so people are not afraid to talk about it.

We cannot allow the drug companies and medical trade associations funded by drug companies to dominate the conversation about vaccination. The vaccine injured cannot be swept under the carpet and treated like nothing more than "statistically acceptable collateral damage" of national one-size-fits-all mass vaccination policies that put way too many people at risk for injury and death. We shouldn't be treating people like guinea pigs instead of human beings.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

I encourage you to visit the following web pages on the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) website at

  • NVIC Memorial for Vaccine Victims: View descriptions and photos of children and adults, who have suffered vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths. If you or your child experiences an adverse vaccine event, please consider posting and sharing your story here.
  • If You Vaccinate, Ask 8 Questions: Learn how to recognize vaccine reaction symptoms and prevent vaccine injuries.
  • Vaccine Freedom Wall: View or post descriptions of harassment by doctors or  government officials for making independent vaccine choices.

Connect with Your Doctor or Find a New One that Will Listen and Care

If your pediatrician or doctor refuses to provide medical care to you or your child unless you agree to get vaccines you don't want,  I strongly encourage you to have the courage to find another doctor. Harassment, intimidation, and refusal of medical care is becoming the modus operandi of the medical establishment in an effort to stop the change in attitude of many parents about vaccinations after they become truly educated about health and vaccination.

However, there is hope.

At least 15 percent of young doctors recently polled admit that they're starting to adopt a more individualized approach to vaccinations in direct response to the vaccine safety concerns of parents. It is good news that there is a growing number of smart young doctors, who prefer to work as partners with parents in making personalized vaccine decisions for children, including delaying vaccinations or giving children fewer vaccines on the same day or continuing to provide medical care for those families, who decline use of one or more vaccines.

So take the time to locate a doctor, who treats you with compassion and respect and is willing to work with you to do what is right for your child.

+ Sources and References