Should Parents Be Allowed to Decide About Vaccines?
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USA Today1 recently ran an editorial under the headline, "Vaccine opt-outs put public health at risk" and called for elimination of personal belief exemptions in state public health laws, including those that require children to get dozens of doses of up to 15 vaccines in order to attend daycare and school.
"When vaccination rates are very high, as they still are in the nation as a whole, everyone is protected. Diseases such as polio, smallpox and measles are wiped out," the editorial claims.
"This 'herd immunity' protects the most vulnerable, including those who can't be vaccinated for medical reasons, infants too young to get vaccinated and people on whom the vaccine doesn't work.
But herd immunity works only when nearly the whole herd joins in. When some refuse vaccinations and seek a free ride, immunity breaks down and everyone is more vulnerable."
Not Sharing the Risks of Vaccination = Selfish?
The editorial goes on to claim that outbreaks of infectious diseases such as measles are due to the "selfish decisions" of a few, who take vaccine exemptions and place everyone else in the "herd" at risk.
The answer, the editorial board says, is to eliminate personal belief vaccine exemptions from state public health laws and presumably force all children and adults to get every government recommended vaccine. The article finishes off with the curious statement:
"Everyone enjoys the life-saving benefits vaccines provide, but they'll exist only as long as everyone shares in the risks." [Emphasis mine]
I call it curious, because nowhere in the editorial did they actually address the issue of health risks associated with vaccines, which is one of the primary reasons for having personal choice in the first place. If safety and effectiveness of the product could be guaranteed, fewer people would have major objections.
Also noteworthy is the editorial board's statement that herd immunity protects "people on whom the vaccine doesn't work." Right there, they admit that vaccination isn't a foolproof disease prevention strategy. Vaccines can and often do fail to prevent disease.
What USA Today Didn't Tell You
What they don't spell out clearly is that the risk of vaccine failure must be weighed in along with the potential risk of harm from the vaccine. That inconvenient truth is cleverly hidden amid inflammatory rhetoric designed to get people to rally against those pesky free-thinkers who have the audacity to do their own risk-benefit analysis.
While the USA Today editorial board admits that there are health risks associated with vaccines and vaccines don't always work, they still insist that people should not be free to make their own choices when it comes to vaccination. Why?
Apparently, their reasoning goes like this: the only way to have any hope of success in eradicating disease is by forcing everyone to blindly accept the known and potential unknown risks of vaccination.
And since there are risks — even though the newspaper's editors only acknowledge risk briefly in their OpEd — the only way they say mass vaccination policies are fair is by mandatorily distributing the risk across the entire population.
The simpler argument is that it is done for the greater good and opting out is therefore proclaimed to be selfish, which is an old utilitarian rationale that can be challenged on ethical grounds.
Sadly their reasoning is irrational. For starters, the premises of vaccine-induced immunity and herd immunity are both fundamentally flawed, and the medical literature is full of scientific evidence of this — none of which is ever mentioned in newspaper OpEds designed to make you fear and intensely dislike anyone who wants to make well informed, independent vaccine choices for themsleves and their children.
The theory of vaccine-acquired herd immunity, which is regularly used as a justification for forced vaccination, is based on the premise that it will work the same way naturally-acquired herd immunity works. The only problem is that it doesn't. For a refresher on herd immunity, and the differences between vaccine-induced and naturally-acquired immunity, please refer to my previous article "Expert Pediatrician Exposes Vaccine Myths."
Leave Parents Free to Choose Vaccines
Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) wrote an editorial opposing USA Today's call for an end to personal belief vaccine exemptions in state laws. She noted that US health officials now recommend twice as many vaccines compared to three decades ago.
If you follow the recommended vaccine schedule, your child will receive no less than 69 doses of 16 vaccines. Up to 15 of those vaccines are mandated by different states. Yet despite this cornucopia of "preventive medicine," American children are among the sickest in the developed world.
"With 95 percent of US kindergarteners fully vaccinated and one child in six learning disabled, one in 10 asthmatic and one in 50 living with autism, educated parents and health care professionals are asking legitimate questions about why so many highly vaccinated children are so sick," Fisher writes.
"They're examining vaccine science shortfalls and wondering why Americans are coerced and punished for declining to use every government-recommended vaccine while citizens in Canada, Japan and the European Union are free to make choices.
Vaccines carry two risks: a risk of harm and a risk of failure to prevent disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admit that US pertussis outbreaks are not due to a failure to vaccinate but failure of the vaccine to confer long-lasting immunity…
When doctors cannot predict who will be harmed by a vaccine and cannot guarantee that those who have been vaccinated won't get infected or transmit infection, the ethical principle of informed consent becomes a civil, human and parental right that must be safeguarded in US law. Non-medical vaccine exemptions immunize individuals and the community against unsafe, ineffective vaccines and tyranny."
Fortunately, judging by the newspaper's reader polls, few Americans agree with the USA Today editorial board. In fact, 82 percent of readers (as of this writing) "strongly disagree" with the editorial. In contrast, 85 percent of readers "strongly agree" with Fisher's pro-vaccine choice rebuttal. Clearly, most Americans who took the time to cast their vote expressed strong opposition to the newspaper's anti-choice stance and were not fooled by the same old emotion-based propaganda. And that's good news.
Is Mass Vaccination Causing Unforeseen Consequences?
When it comes to vaccination, there are a lot of unanswered questions. Some of these questions include:
- Could injecting up to 69 doses of various vaccines into a child beginning on the day of birth and throughout childhood create immune system problems over the long term?
- What are the multi-generational effects of forcing our immune systems to react to vaccines rather than naturally-occurring pathogens? One recent study2 found that women who received the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy had children whose immune responses to vaccination was far weaker compared to children whose mothers were not vaccinated.
Animals that are not yet weaned are typically not vaccinated as the mother's milk is known to interfere with antibody responses to vaccines. Many animals are titered to ensure they don't receive excessive vaccines, as the side effects are well known. As explained by veterinarian Dr. Jean Dodd:3
"A titer test is a simple blood test that measures a dog or cat's antibodies to vaccine viruses (or other infectious agents). For instance, your dog may be more resistant to a virus whereas your neighbor's dog may be more prone to it. Titers accurately assess protection to the so-called 'core' diseases (distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis in dogs, and panleukopenia in cats), enabling veterinarians to judge whether a booster vaccination is necessary."
So, we're titering animals but not children? There are plenty of reasons not to accept a mandated one-size-fits-all vaccination policy: the right to self determination being first and foremost. The decision to participate in a medical intervention or experiment that carries serious risks, whether the risk is high or low, should belong to each individual person, including parents of minor children who are legally and morally responsible for protecting their children.
The Case for Reasonable Doubt
What is some of the evidence raising reasonable doubt about the reasonableness of forced vaccinations? How about the following:
• Environmental toxins can reduce vaccine efficacy. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that exposure to perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) prior to, and after birth, can significantly weaken the effectiveness of vaccines. PFCs are found in countless products, including non-stick cookware and food wrappings, personal care, and cleaning products, just to name a few. If poorly regulated environmental pollutants can dramatically decrease vaccine effectiveness, then that means your risk-to-benefit ratio of vaccination is automatically skewed toward higher risk and lower benefit. As reported by ABC News:4
"The study found that higher levels of PFCs in both mothers and children meant lower numbers of disease-fighting antibodies in the children. Mothers who had twice the level of PFC in their blood had children with a 40 percent decrease in the number of antibodies formed after getting the diphtheria vaccine. The 7-year-old children who had doubled PFC levels had nearly a 50 percent reduction in their antibody levels."
• Vaccinated people are asymptomatic carriers of disease, and can still both spread and contract the disease. Mounting evidence shows that vaccinated people can actually unknowingly be infected with and spread diseases like pertussis (whooping cough) for which they were vaccinated. This was shown in an FDA baboon study5 last year, which concluded that while the pertussis vaccine can cut down on serious clinical disease symptoms, it does not eliminate transmission of the disease. As noted by the lead author of the research, when the baby baboons were newly vaccinated with either DPT or DTaP vaccines, they were asymptomatic carriers of pertussis and could infect others in their community.
Needless to say, if vaccinated people can be asymptomatic carriers of disease, this can place everyone at risk and really raises questions about the wisdom of vaccinating health care workers before permitting them to work with high-risk populations. Vaccinated people can still contract the disease because (a) most vaccine-acquired artificial immunity is temporary,6 and (b) because microbes can evolve to evade the vaccines.
For example, 97 percent of those who contracted mumps during the outbreak in Ohio earlier this year were fully vaccinated7 against the disease. Some are quick to say that "sure, vaccinated people can contract the disease — if exposed; which is why no one should be allowed to opt out of vaccination." However, when a vaccinated person can contract the disease from another vaccinated person… this entire argument clearly falls apart.
• Flu vaccination raises your risk of contracting more serious flu illness. Research published in 2012 showed that the flu vaccine increases your risk of contracting more serious pandemic flu illness,8 such as H1N1. This supported previous findings, such as that from a 2011 study,9 which found that the seasonal flu vaccine actually weakened children's immune systems, thereby increasing their chances of getting sick from influenza viruses not included in the vaccine. Unvaccinated children actually built up more antibodies against a wider variety of influenza virus strains than the vaccinated children.
• Vaccines promote disease mutations. Vaccines have also been found to place pressure on microbes to develop mutated versions of the disease, and/or enhance the ability of other similar strains to become more dominant and cause disease. For example, a veterinary vaccine study10 at the University of Melbourne (Australia) found that using two different vaccine viruses to combat the same disease in an animal population quite rapidly caused the viruses to combine (referred to as recombination), creating brand new and more virulent viruses.
In Australia, dangerous new strains of whooping cough bacteria were reported in March 2012.11 The vaccine, researchers said, was responsible. The reason for this is because while whooping cough is primarily attributed to Bordetella pertussis infection, it is also caused by another closely related pathogen called B. parapertussis, which the vaccine does NOT protect against.
Two years earlier, scientists at Penn State had already reported that the pertussis vaccine significantly enhanced the colonization of B. parapertussis, thereby promoting vaccine-resistant whooping cough outbreaks.12 According to the authors, vaccination led to a 40-fold enhancement of B. parapertussis colonization in the lungs of mice, and the data suggested that the vaccine may be contributing to the observed rise in whooping cough incidence over the last decade by promoting B. parapertussis infection instead.
Fraudulent Research Does Not Inspire Confidence
Please understand that efficacy of a vaccine relates to its ability to produce an antibody and this is NOT at all a good marker for whether or not immunity has been achieved, while effectiveness measures the ability of the vaccine to actually protect against infection. So let's look at the basic effectiveness of vaccines, and the reliability of the research backing up effectiveness claims. On a number of occasions, outright fraud has been revealed, raising serious doubts about whether or not the stated benefit — the ability of the vaccine to prevent disease — is even part of the risk-benefit equation. If not, you're taking on risk with very minimal, if any, benefit.
Case in point: in 2012, two former Merck virologists sued their former employer, claiming Merck overstated the effectiveness of the mumps vaccine in the company's combination MMR shot. A federal antitrust class action lawsuit was also filed that year, in which Merck was accused of falsifying test results and selling millions of doses of the vaccine that were of "questionable efficacy."
Clearly, vaccine effectiveness has a major bearing on disease outbreaks, and it would appear as though many vaccine failures are simply covered up by blaming outbreaks on the unvaccinated population. This way, ineffective vaccines can still be sold, while everyone's busy tarring and feathering those who have opted out of using every government recommended vaccine. You know, those who "selfishly" choose not to "share in the risks."
Another example: in 2012, a systematic review13 of pre- and post-licensure trials of the HPV vaccine showed that the vaccine's effectiveness is not only overstated (through the use of selective reporting or "cherry picking" data) but also unproven. According to the authors: "[T]he widespread optimism regarding HPV vaccines long-term benefits appears to rest on a number of unproven assumptions (or such which are at odds with factual evidence) and significant misinterpretation of available data."
A 2013 HPV vaccine effectiveness study also turned out to have significant discrepancies, raising doubts about the veracity of its conclusions. Upon closer scrutiny, the data actually revealed that unvaccinated girls had the best outcome. Furthermore, records obtained last year through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) revealed that the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program has so far awarded nearly $5.9 million to 49 victims for harm and/or death resulting from the HPV vaccine.
According to an April 7 report by WCPO News,14 the VAERS database has received more than 31,000 reports of adverse reactions to the HPV vaccine Gardasil. This is up from May 13, 2013, at which point VAERS had received 29,686 adverse event reports (including 136 deaths, 922 reports of disability, and 550 life-threatening adverse events). Is it reasonable to doubt the safety and efficacy of Gardasil? Ask Tracie Moorman, whose 15-year-old daughter Maddie became too chronically ill to attend school after receiving the HPV vaccine. "If I ever could have a do-over, it absolutely would be this situation," Tracie told WCPO in a recent interview.
Vaccinated vs. Unvaccinated: Who's Healthier?
Large studies comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children have not been a priority for vaccine researchers. This is a travesty, as this is the kind of research most desperately needed. Most vaccine studies are about developing more vaccines for children and adults to use.
Some claim that studies comparing the health of highly vaccinated and unvaccinated children cannot be done because it would be unethical to leave children participating in the study unvaccinated in order to do the comparison. But since some American parents are already delaying or avoiding vaccinating their children, this hardly seems like a reasonable excuse. It is more likely that comparing the health of vaccinated and unvaccinated children in appropriately designed studies are avoided because the results might upset the proverbial apple cart.
However, that doesn't mean there is a total absence of evidence about the health of vaccinated versus unvaccinated children to give us an indication of whether or not the use of many more vaccines by children in the U.S. is contributing to so many being chronically ill and disabled. In December 2010, a survey was initiated by VaccineInjury.info to compare the health of vaccinated children with unvaccinated children. The survey is ongoing, so if you would like to participate, you can. Though this is obviously not a double-blind controlled study, and depends on the individuals submitting the data to give accurate information, it is still revealing.
Do You Want the Right to Choose Vaccination for Yourself and Your Child?
So, what do we know, and what can we be sure of? One thing that appears to be beyond dispute, based on overwhelming evidence that spans across decades, is that pharmaceutical companies have repeatedly demonstrated their willingness to bribe, lie, threaten and commit fraud in order to bring, and keep, their products on the market. This kind of behavior is so commonplace, it appears to be part and parcel of the accepted modus operandi of the drug industry, albeit unofficially.
So, based on what you know, do you think parents should have the legal right to choose whether or not to give their children every one of the dozens of doses of 15 vaccines that health officials mandate for infants and children attending school and daycare? Do you want that right to know and freedom to choose for yourself which vaccines you are going to get?
I cannot impress upon you strongly enough the importance of your active involvement when it comes to defending our legal right to make informed vaccine choices in America. In order to protect the health of as many children as possible, we cannot continue to ignore the signs that using vaccines as the nation's primary disease prevention strategy may have been taken too far in the past three decades — to the point that we're now seeing the health of too many children and adults being compromised.
When you follow the money, you realize that multi-national drug companies marketing vaccines and the organizations they fund are the ones pulling the political strings to eliminate non-medical vaccine exemptions in U.S. state laws. Eliminating the freedom to know and right to choose nationwide would be a major coup by a pharmaceutical industry already making huge profits from vaccine laws that require every person born in America to purchase and use their products. At the same time, the safety of vaccine policies are primarily based on the word of these very companies that not only have their products mandated but also enjoy a liability shield from vaccine injury lawsuits in civil court that was given to them by Congress and the Supreme Court!
Is any of this really wise?
No Time to Waste – Take Action Now
The non-profit National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has been working for 32 years to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education and defend the informed consent ethic in vaccine policies and laws. NVIC is leading a grassroots movement to secure and protect broad medical, religious, and conscientious belief vaccine exemptions in state public health laws to prevent parents of minor children and adult workers from being discriminated against and harmed by "no exceptions" mandatory vaccination policies.
On NVIC's "Cry for Vaccine Freedom Wall," you can read (and post) first-hand accounts of threats and coercion by pediatricians, government officials, and employers harrassing and punishing Americans for refusing to get every government recommended and mandated vaccine. It is heartbreaking to read how many people are being bullied into using vaccines against their will – even individuals who have already suffered vaccine reactions and injuries!
In the past few years, states like Washington, Oregon and California have restricted the use of non-medical exemptions and the Colorado legislature is currently debating similar legislation. NVIC has testified and has educated families and helped them testify in public hearings in those states.
To become active in your state and make sure your community and elected officials are fully informed about the importance of protecting vaccine exemptions in state laws, sign up for the free online NVIC Advocacy Portal. You will be notified by email when vaccine legislation is moving in your state to restrict or expand vaccine exemptions. You will also be put into direct electronic contact with your own elected officials and can let them know your views with a touch on your smart phone screen or a keystroke on your tablet or computer. If we all stand up for our right to know and freedom to choose the way we want to stay healthy – including whether or not we choose to use vaccines – we will be protecting a fundamental right we cannot afford to lose.
Dr. Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic physician, board certified in family medicine, and a multiple New York Times bestselling author. A sought-after natural healthcare expert for all major news networks, health shows and national magazines, www.Mercola.com is the #1 natural health website in the world.
Sources and References
1 USA Today April 13, 2014
2 Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2013 Nov;32(11):1257-60
3 Dr. Jean Dodd’s Pet Health Blog
4 ABC News January 24, 2012
5 Science November 25, 2013
6 NPR April 18, 2014
7 USA Today April 16, 2014
8 Medpagetoday.com September 10, 2012
9 Journal of Virology 2011 Nov;85(22):11995-2000
10 Science 2012 Jul 13;337(6091):188.
11 Sydney Morning Herald March 21, 2012
12 Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0010
13 Current Pharmaceutical Design 2012 Sep 24. [Epub ahead of print]
14 WCPO News April 7, 2014