There is a discussion to be had about public vaccine policy. The media ought to start having it.
Last week (week of July 1, 2015), it was widely reported in the mainstream media that the autopsy of a woman who died of pneumonia earlier this year in the state of Washington found that she had been infected with measles, making this the first confirmed case of measles-related death in the US since 2003. Playing its usual role, the mainstream media is up in arms, blaming the deathon parentswho choosenot to vaccinate their children and telling parents that to not vaccinate is irresponsible. Rather than journalists doing their job by asking hard questions about public policy and seeking out the answers, they choose to act as nothing more than a mouthpiece for government health departments and dutifully tow the official line on vaccine policy.
The woman who died was not among the unvaccinated. On the contrary, she not only had been vaccinated, but reportedly was tested and found to have a protective antibody titer. She nevertheless became infected with measles while seeking medical attention in a clinic. She died from pneumonia, which can be caused by any number of other bacterial or viral infections besides measles, including the common cold and flu. The reason her immune system couldn’t handle the infection was because doctors had her on immunosuppressive drugs. Hence, medical intervention was a contributing factor in her death.
The media, as ever, is pushing the theory of herd immunity to encourage vaccination. Everyone needs to be vaccinated to protect infants and the immunocompromised, we are being told. The argument implies that the individual from whom the deceased caught the measles was unvaccinated, but that is pure speculation; for all we know, the person she contracted the measles virus from had been vaccinated, too.
It is quite possible for fully vaccinated individuals to get measles.
It is quite possible for fully vaccinated individuals to get measles. It is well understood that some people just don’t respond to the vaccine as intended; their immune systems do not produce a great enough amount of antibodies to be considered protective. This is true of about 5 percent of the population, and it’s the reason a second dose, or “booster” shot, is recommended. That second shot is likely unnecessary for most children who didrespond to the first, yet it’s given routinely to everyone anyway, even though the purpose is to target the few non-responders. Even after a second dose, however, 3 percent or so of the population still won’t respond.
Moreover, the vaccine-induced immunity, unlike the more robust immunity gained from natural infection, wanes over time. In fact, the CDC considers birth before 1957 to be “evidence of immunity” to measles for the simple reason that pretty much everyone back then was infected with it as a child and gained lifelong immunity as a result.
The theory of vaccine-induced herd immunity also overlooks natural herd immunity. Measles is a particularly useful example to illustrate the concept. This is what the measles mortality rate looked like before the introduction of the vaccine:
The vaccine was introduced in 1963, after the latest year shown in the above graph from the US Department of Health. Note that the above graph shows deaths from measles, notincidence of measles, which remained high until the introduction of the vaccine:
In fact, as already noted, it used to be that nearly everyone was exposed to the virus, usually in childhood, and gained lifelong immunity as a result. The virus was still around, but it was becoming less deadly to the US population due to an improving standard of living, better sanitation and hygiene, better nutrition (e.g., vitamin Ais importantfor reducing measles mortality and decreasing morbidity), advances in health care, and so on.
What the declining mortality rate indicates is that the US population was developing natural herd immunity. We were learning to live in symbiosis with the virus, natural exposure to which not only confers permanent immunity to measles itself, but may help prime the immune system of children to protect againstother diseases, as well.
But then along came the vaccine and destroyed that natural herd immunity.
While parents today are trained to have a hysterical fear of measles, back in the 1960s, when the vaccine was introduced, it was recognized as a generally mild disease with infrequent complications. In fact, in the era before the vaccine was introduced, it was accepted doctrine that the population would adapt to live in symbiosis with the virus—a respect for the balance of nature that was quickly discarded with the development of the vaccine.
The concept of “herd immunity” today is universally associated with the use of vaccines, but this is an application of the concept in fact borrowed from the observance of naturalherd immunity to disease. In the case of measles, researchers in the 1930s—long before the vaccine existed—observed that epidemics in Baltimore occurred in predictable cycles and only when the level of immunity in affected communities was less than 55 percent (far below the 95 percent or so level of vaccination hypothesized to provide herd immunity with vaccination).
Now since nearly everyone is vaccinated at an early age, they don’t become infected with the disease in childhood and hence don’t develop the more robust permanent immunity conferred by natural infection.
The kind of immunity conferred by vaccines is not the same as that conferred by natural infection.
The kind of immunity conferred by vaccines is not the same as that conferred by natural infection. Vaccines favor an antibody response while actually suppressing what is known as cell-mediated immunity. For example, while the flu vaccine offers protection against specific strains of the influenza virus, it works by inducing an antibody response whilepreventing the cell-mediated immunity that would otherwise offer protection not only against those specific strains of the virus, but other strains as well. Hence, getting an annual flu shot can actually increase the risk of getting the flu. (There are over 200 strains of viruses that cause influenza or flu-like symptoms, the vaccine only targets a handful of them, and public health officials guess each year which ones they think will be in circulation in order to manufacture seasonal vaccines for those specific strains.)
While vaccine theory is premised on the idea of inducing humoral immunity, which involves an antibody response, scientists have learned the production of antibodies is neither always sufficient nor even necessary for the development of immunity.
Since the vaccine-induced immunity from the measles wanes over time, in the event of an outbreak, individuals are at greater risk of developing the disease in their adulthood, when it poses a higher risk of serious complications.
The government and media, of course, blame every outbreak on parents who choose not to vaccinate their children. This was true of the Disney outbreak earlier this year, even though the majority of cases were in adults.
Measles outbreaks can and do occur in highly vaccinated populations.
Measles outbreaks can and dooccur inhighlyvaccinatedpopulations. Even if there was a 100 percent vaccination rate, outbreaks could still occur for the reasons already noted: some individuals do not respond to the vaccine, and the immunity of those who do wanes over time.
Moreover, because of public vaccine policy, mothers today who were never infected during their childhood and hence never developed robust permanent immunity areunable to protect their newborn babies from the disease in the event of an outbreak.
Without the vaccine, women would be infected as children and develop a permanent, robust cell-mediated immunity while continuing to be frequently exposed to the virus, thus also providing a harmless natural boost to their antibody levels. When they become mothers, they would then confer protection to their infants by passing on antibodies through their breastmilk.
But now, since women were vaccinated as children, they likely have a waning antibody titer by the time they start having children. Because the vaccine has quite successfully reduced transmission of the disease, they have not received the beneficial natural boosting of antibodies. Hence, they aren’t able to pass on that antibody protectionto their infants.
Public vaccine policy has thus shifted the risk burden away from those in whom the disease is generally well-tolerated and onto those in whom it poses a higher risk of serious complications: adults and the most vulnerable members of society—infants.
Such long-term population-level negative consequences of vaccines simply don’t receive any consideration in the mainstream discussion.
In reports about the measles-related death in Washington, while amplifying public health officials’ recommendation that everyone make sure they and their children have been vaccinated for measles, the media has also failed to even approach the question of the more immediate individual risk associated with the vaccine. When the question of risksdoes come up, the media tends to treat it as though nonexistent. In the wake of the Disney measles outbreak earlier this year, for instance, the New York Times insisted that there was “no evidence” that vaccines can cause harm and accused anyone who suggests otherwise of being “anti-science”.
This is a puzzling denial, indeed, in light of the fact that, back in the 1980s, the vaccine industry was granted legal immunity by the government because manufacturers were facing so many lawsuits for vaccine injuries that they were going out of business. This in turn threatened public health policy, which prompted the government to step in and bail out the vaccine manufactures by barring consumers from suing them for damages under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.
Under the law, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program was also established to shift the financial burden of compensation for vaccine injuries from Big Pharma to the consumers. The program is funded by a $0.75 tax on every antigen dose of vaccines (so every time an MMR shot is given, being a combination vaccine, $2.25 is taxed for the purpose of contributing to the national vaccine injury fund).
The Supreme Court has upheld legal immunity for vaccine manufacturers on the grounds that certain adverse reactions are ‘unavoidable’
The Supreme Court has upheld legal immunity for vaccine manufacturers on the grounds that certain adverse reactions are “unavoidable” and “design defects” are “not a basis for liability.” Justice Antonin Scalia described this special accommodation for Big Pharma as a “societal bargain”.
The line from The New York Times and other mainstream media that vaccines are harmless is hard to reconcile with the fact that corporations like Merck have been granted legal immunity by the government on the grounds that vaccines are unavoidably unsafe.
As a further illustration of how utterly ignorant and irresponsible such dismissals of the risks associated with vaccines are, one need look no further than the vaccine manufacturers’ product inserts. Merck’s product insert for its measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine states that “Unnecessary doses of a vaccine are best avoided….” Surely, there must be a reason? It happens there are many.
For mothers, contraindications to vaccination include pregnancy, as “the possible effects of the vaccine on fetal development are unknown” since there are “no adequate studies” into that question. “However,” Merck appropriately adds, “it would be prudent to assume that the vaccine strain of virus is also capable of inducing adverse fetal effects.” The vaccine-strain mumps virus “has been shown to infect the placenta and fetus”. Studies have shown that the vaccine-strain of rubella virus can be transmitted to infants through the breast milk. Whether this is also true of the measles and mumps viruses “is not known”. Merck advises that “pregnancy should be avoided for 3 months following vaccination” and that “Caution should be exercised when M-M-R II is administered to a nursing woman.”
The vaccine also “has not been evaluated for carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, or potential to impair fertility.” Among those who should not receive it are children who are hypersensitive to any of the vaccine’s components, including gelatin and eggs, the latter because the live viruses are propagated in chick embryo cell cultures. The rubella portion of the vaccine is propagated in “human diploid lung fibroblasts”; specifically, WI-38(ATCC® CCL-75TM), which contaminates the vaccine with human DNA from an aborted female fetus. (This has raised some concern over “ethical problems” at the Vatican; specifically about “cooperation in evil” and the “unjust” practice of forcing parents “to act against their conscience”.)
Another ingredient is “fetal bovine serum”. Another is “recombinant human albumin”; specifically, Recombumin® Prime, a product of Novozyems Biopharma US Inc. This is a genetically engineered protein (“recombinant” means it was made by dicing and splicing genetic material). The product was developed because of concerns that using the blood protein albumin from humans or cattle carries the risk of blood-borne contaminants like mycoplasma, prions, or viruses. (This has happened. In March 2010, the rotavirus vaccine Rotarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, was found to have beencontaminatedwith a pig virus after it was injected into a million children.)
Possible adverse reactions to the vaccine include:
Vasculitis (a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the blood vessels, causing inflammation that can lead to serious problems, including aneurysms)
Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas that occurs when the digestive enzymes it produces begin digesting the pancreas itself)
Parotitis (inflammation of the parotid glands)
Diabetes mellitus (diabetes)
Thrombocytopenia (a disorder in which there is an abnormally low amount of platelets, which help blood to clot)
Anaphylaxis (a life-threatening allergic reaction that can cause cardiac and respiratory arrest)
Arthritis (joint inflammation)
Arthralgia (joint pain)
Myalgia (muscle pain)
Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain, which can cause permanent brain damage or death)
Guillain-Barré syndrome (an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system, which can result in paralysis or death)
Febrile seizures (convulsions brought on by fever)
Afebrile seizures (convulsions without fever, which may indicate epilepsy)
It is perhaps not too surprising that many of these adverse reactions are the same as the symptoms or complications of wild-type measles itself, including: fever; headache; diarrhea; vomiting; encephalitis; seizures; pneumonia; rash; and, of course, death.
Of course, Merck and public health officials maintain that serious adverse events are rare, less than the risk of developing the same complications from the disease. But, then, the recent case in Washington is the first confirmed case of measles-related death since 2003, while there have been 65 deaths since 2003 reported to the nation Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) following vaccination with MMR.
Furthermore, the possible adverse reactions listed in the product insert are just a list of known reactions from short-term studies—(and the vaccine manufacturers conduct their own studies to get FDA licensure)—and postmarketing surveillance. The long-term effects of vaccination and its interference in the natural development of an individual’s immune system haven’t been well studied, such as whether vaccination has contributed to the alarming increases in asthma, allergies, and autoimmune diseases.
The continued use of mercury as a preservative in flu vaccines and the use of aluminumas an adjuvant in numerous other childhood vaccines are particularly worrisome practices. Both are known neurotoxins that can pass the placental and blood-brain barriers.
There has never been a study of long-term health outcomes between vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. As much as the media likes to say that science has shown that there is no risk of developing autism from vaccines, there has never been a study comparing autism rates of individuals who’ve received the CDC’s recommended schedule and unvaccinated individuals.
Public policy treats vaccination as a one-size-fits-all solution—thus playing Russian roulette with our children.
This is all just scratching the surface. The point is that the media treat the subject of vaccines as though there wasn’t even a discussion to be had—just fall in line and get your damn shots! This is dishonest and anti-intellectual. The popular accusation that anyone who questions public vaccine policy is “anti-science” is a particularly hypocritical creed reflective of the intellectual dishonesty and sheer laziness of mainstream journalists who bow to the altar of the state religion and preach official dogma rather than doing their jobs.
Notwithstanding the pretense to the contrary from public health officials and the mainstream media, there is a discussion to be had about public vaccine policy. We ought to start having it.
Note: This article was reprinted with the author’s permission. It was originally published by Foreign Policy Journal.
It only takes a quick scan of the literature online to notice that there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of articles regarding outbreaks of pertussis, measles, and other contagious diseases around the United States in which the vast majority of the people infected had been fully vaccinated.
So when it comes to blaming those who choose not to vaccinate (for whatever reason they wish), it doesn’t make any sense. The facts just don’t bear it out.
Reno County in south-central Kansas is reporting more than 70 suspected cases of pertussis (whooping cough) this year, as of July 18. Forty-one of the cases are “confirmed or probable,”according to the Reno County Health Department.1 That number is up from 18 reported as of June 29. The county accounts for 20% of the total pertussis cases in Kansas.2
A local newspaper, The Hutchinson Newsquoted Reno County Health Department Director Nick Baldetti as saying, “There’s serious concern for a potential exponential spread through our schools.”2 Baldetti’s department is apparently working with school districts in the area to set up clinics to vaccinate children prior to and during enrollment for the school year in August. “This is truly a widespread outbreak. And it is truly on us, as a community, to ensure we are protecting those in our community that cannot protect themselves,”2 said Baldetti.
According to an Eyewitness News 12 report, Ray Hemman, the public information officer for the city of Hutchinson school district, all of the reported cases of pertussis in that district are of children who had been vaccinated against the disease.3 The childhood pertussis vaccine is called DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis).
Hutchinson is the largest city within Reno County and is the county’s seat of government. Other districts within Reno include Buhler, Burrton, Fairfield, Haven and Nickerson and Pretty Prairie.
The Hutchinson News reports that, although “scientists say people are protected from the disease if vaccinated” (an inaccurate statement, given the children infected children in Hutchinson school district), people vaccinated against pertussis can spread the disease to others.4
And this is precisely the point to bear in mind as you read about pertussis outbreaks. The outbreaks are not necessarily occurring because of the lack of so-called “herd immunity”—not enough people being vaccinated. They may well be occurring because of the vaccinated population itself.
Remember last year’s pertussis epidemic in California? There were some 10,000 reported cases of pertussis—the worst outbreak of the disease in the state since the 1940s.5
Throughout the year, there were numerous articles in newspapers and other media sources blaming the unvaccinated community for the outbreak. The headlines provide a sense of the obvious bias. Headlines such as “Anti-Vaccination Beliefs are Contagious Like a Disease” in The Washington Post,6 or California’s Deadly Whooping Cough Epidemic Blamed on Anti-Vaccine Campaign” on RT.7
The bias is troubling on many levels. The articles implied or outright said that the reason there were so many cases of pertussis in California was that vaccination rates for children in the state were low relative to other states in the country, and that they had continually been dropping.
An article in Salon titled “California’s Whooping Cough Outbreak is Officially an Epidemic,” published on June 16, 2014,8 quoted the following from an NPR article, “Vaccine Refusals Fueled California’s Whooping Cough Epidemic”:
They compared the location and number of whooping cough, or pertussis, cases in that outbreak with the personal belief exemptions filed by parents who chose not to vaccinate for reasons other than a child’s health. (Some children with compromised immune systems aren’t able to be vaccinated. … They found that people who lived in areas with high rates of personal belief exemptions were 2 1/2 times more likely to live in a place with lots of pertussis cases. “The exemptions clustered spatially and were associated with clusters of cases,” Jessica Atwell, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and lead author on the study, told Shots. It was published online in the journal Pediatrics.9
The problem is that in all these articles there is a tendency to confuse correlation with causality. The two are not the same. In other words, the fact that there is a pertussis outbreak in an area of low vaccination rates does not mean that the low vaccination rates were behind the outbreak. There may be a correlation between the two, but that does notprove that the former caused the latter.
Let’s start with an interesting view from Dr. Anne Schuchat, who is the director of the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. In an article titled “CDC: Whooping Cough Heading to a 50-Year High,” published by WebMD Health News on July 19, 2012, Dr. Schuchat is reported to have said that “better diagnosis and reporting of whooping cough may be contributing to the increased numbers, along with the fact that the disease tends to peak and wane in cycles. It does not appear that anti-vaccination sentiment among parents has contributed to either the national rise in cases or the Washington State epidemic.”10
Simple. It turns out that in many cases, people (both children and adults) who get pertussis are up to date with their vaccinations. Note the following excerpt from “Immunized People Getting Whooping Cough” published by KPBS of San Diego State University on June 12, 2014: “Most of the people who got whooping cough in San Diego County so far this year were up to date with their immunizations, according to county data. Of the 621 people who contracted the illness, 85% had all their preventative shots—calling into question the efficacy of the vaccine.”11
In a study reported by Reuters on April 2012 and published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, Dr. David Witt and other researchers looked at 132 patients at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael, CA who tested positive for whooping cough during March-October 2010. Get this… 81% of the patients were fully up to date on the pertussis vaccine, 11% had received at least one round of the vaccine, and only 8% had never been vaccinated.12
More? In 2012, there was a major outbreak of pertussis in Vermont. As of August 10 of that year, public health officials had determined that 90% of 178 infected children in the state between the ages of six months and 18 years old had received at least one dose of the pertussis vaccine, and that about 80% of them had gotten 5-6 doses.13
I love watching old black and white newsreels from the first half of the 20th century. It’s a fascinating period of history, and it’s one of the few in which we can go back and revisit almost as if we were there. There was a span of years immediately after World War II, however, that is particularly interesting, because it doesn’t normally get a lot of attention, compared to the war years and the “the fabulous ’50s.” The second half of the 1940s often tends to get short-changed, perhaps because it was more of a transitional time of rebuilding and regearing after the war in preparation for getting back to normal life in the United States.
There is a series of five newsreels I recently found that sheds some light on the polio epidemic during the immediate post-war period and offers another perspective to that health crisis, which ultimately fueled the development of Jonas Salk’s inactivated injectable polio vaccine (IPV) in 1954 and its licensure in 1955. To view these films, just click on the following:
To put the polio story into context, it’s important to note the number of reported cases ofpoliomyelitis during the late-1930s and early-1940s. During 1933-1937, there were a total of 37,463 cases (4,930 deaths), followed by 31,993 cases (4,165 deaths) in 1938-1942, 12,449 cases (1,115 deaths) in 1943, 19,029 cases (1,433 deaths) in 1944, and 13,619 cases (1,189 deaths) in 1945.1
The number of cases had clearly risen in 1943 but had begun to dramatically drop in 1945, not rise. However, there still existed a fear of the disease in the country due to upward spikes in 1943 and 1944 and the occasional serious epidemics that had been occurring since 1910. One of the worst ones had taken place in New York City in 1916, with more than 27,000 reported cases and some 6,000 deaths.2 Plus there was the tremendous public exposure that the disease had garnered due to the fact the President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself had polio. His legs had been paralyzed in 1921. In 1938, President Roosevelt sponsored the establishment of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (NFIP).3
Despite the declining cases of polio in the U.S., in 1946, President Harry S. Truman declared war on polio. In a speech from the White House, President Truman said:
The fight against infantile paralysis cannot be a local war. It must be nationwide. It must be total war in every city, town and village throughout the land. For only with a united front can we ever hope to win any war.2
Almost immediately, the US government stepped up its nationwide mass fumigation campaign using the extremely toxic chemical DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane). The goal was to exterminate mosquitoes, which were believed to be spreading polio. In a Universal Newsreel (produced by Universal City Studios) from 1946 showing mass DDT spraying in San Antonio, TX,4the narrator can be heard saying:
With a possibility of a grave infantile paralysis epidemic, San Antonio health authorities attack germ carriers on a citywide front. With war-discovered DDT and special sprayers, sections of the city are literally fogged with the insecticide in the fight to stop the spread of polio. Every suspected spot is sprayed. The drastic cleanup is ordered as polio and alive diseases show alarming increase. Even streams come in for disinfecting, and in the parks precautions are taken to prevent gatherings of youngsters. Literally tons of DDT are used on this dread disease that attacks our young. Again, war, destructive in parables, contributes one of its discoveries to save life.4
The DDT fumigation effort in the U.S. had actually been going on since at least 1945. In another Universal Newsreel, narrated by Albert Grobe, you can see a North American B-25 Mitchell bomber aircraft loading up with DDT and then flying over Rockford, IL on August 27, 1945 releasing the toxic chemical.5 The narrator can be heard saying:
Today’s target for this B-25 is Rockford, Illinois—a peacetime mission to spread 500 gallons of DDT, the Army’s miracle insecticide over the city, stricken with an infantile paralysis epidemic. By spraying the city, authorities will test the theory that insects are carriers of the dread germ. Air Force pictures show the method devised by the Army’s branch of preventive medicine. Flying at an average altitude of 150 feet, the plane sprays a strip more than 150 yards wide at the rate of 215 gallons a minute. A bomber turns to the ways of peace, becomes an instrument of science, and may become the means of saving countless lives.5
As the DDT campaign proceeded, the incidence of polio began to sharply rise in the U.S. The number of reported cases of polio in the country in 1946 hit 25,191—nearly twice the number as in the previous year.1In 1947, the number of cases dropped to 10,737 (580 deaths), but then rose again to 27,680 (2,140 deaths) in 1948.6
The number of cases remained high during 1949-1951, with a total of 103,719, or an annual average of 34,573.7
In 1952, the number of polio cases peaked at 52,879, and then began to decline to 35,592 in 1953, 38,476 in 1954 and 28,985 in 1955.8The rates of polio were already well on a downward trend by the time the Salk vaccine was licensed in 1955 and began to be used on a mass scale.
Interestingly, DDT fumigation in the US had reached its peak in 1951. In 1952, the fumigations were subsiding. In 1953, polio cases were also subsiding at about the same rate. By 1953, the number of polio cases had dropped by nearly 40%.9After 1954, even though DDT was still produced in the U.S., the distribution of the chemical shifted to developing countries.9Large quantities of DDT began to be bought by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations (UN) and exported.10
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “DDT exports increased from 12 percent of the total production in 1950 to 67 percent in 1969.”10
During the 30 years before DDT was banned in the U.S. in 1972, a total of approximately1.35 billion pounds of the chemical was sprayed throughout the country10… based on afalse theory that mosquitoes carried a germ that spread polio, and under the false assumption that DDT was completely harmless to humans—so much so that one of the popular advertising slogans of the 1940s and 1950s was, “DDT Is Good For Me-e-e!”