Emerging Worlds: Chronic Illness and Viral Infections













   
  The Vaccine Debate - Risk vs. Benefit

The benefits and risks of vaccine immunization programs are a hotly debated topic. On one side of the debate are the governmental agencies that over see the testing, approval and cataloging of complaints of vaccine usage. These agencies include the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). These agencies are joined by manufacturers of the vaccines in stating the vaccines in use around the world are safe. Many physicians agree with this view.

On the other side of the debate are many other concerned physicians and activists that insist that vaccines are not as safe as the government maintains and would like to see a reform of the policies that shape the legal and health guidelines for vaccine use.

There seems to be agreement among all reasonable parties that vaccines have greatly benefited humans by reducing occurrences of certain diseases like Small Pox and Polio but as one Senator recently put it "the level of immunization around the world may be a good intention gone to far". Many doctors and health professionals question the degree of certainty professed by government agencies about vaccine safety. They believe there is still much we don't know about the short and long term effects of vaccine usage, particularly in children. There is also mounting evidence that serious side effects from vaccine usage are occurring much more than the "rare" occurrences of problems the government admits to.

At this point in time, there is no one, truthful answer. The fact is that no one knows for sure. More detailed research is needed to fully answer the questions that are being raised about the effects of increasing vaccine usage on our health.

In this section we have included a variety of viewpoints concerning vaccine usage. It is up to each of us to become informed and make our own decisions regarding vaccine safety for our families and ourselves.

 
Overview of Vaccine Safety from the CDC

United States Government Center for Disease Control


Perhaps the greatest success story in public health is the reduction of infectious diseases resulting from the use of vaccines. Routine immunization has eradicated smallpox from the globe and led to the near elimination of wild polio virus. Vaccines have reduced preventable infectious diseases to an all-time low and now few people experience the devastating effects of measles, pertussis and other illnesses. Prior to approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), vaccines are extensively tested by scientists to ensure that they are effective and safe. Vaccines are the best defense we have against infectious diseases. However, no vaccine is 100% safe or effective. Differences in the way individual immune systems react to a vaccine account for rare occasions when people are not protected following immunization or when they experience side effects.

 
Shots in the Dark
By Barbara Loe Fisher - National Vaccine Information Center
Attempts at eradicating infectious diseases are putting our children at risk


THE WORLDWIDE ACCEPTANCE OF MASS VACCINATION TO SUPPRESS INFECTIOUS childhood diseases — once fiercely resisted — is one of the most successful public relations stories in the history of medicine. As a result, epidemics of smallpox, which once swept through 18th- and 19th-century port cities such as Halifax, New York, and Boston without warning and cut down entire families, are now dry facts relegated to medical books. Images of children struggling through whooping cough, walking down the street coughing spasmodically, and stopping at curbs to spit up sticky mucus are only fading memories for grandparents alive to talk about what their parents told them. Baby boomers and their parents still remember lining up in school in 1955 for polio vaccinations, with the hope that this magic bullet would keep them out of the dreaded iron lung.

 
SV40, Stealth Viruses and Polio Vaccines
Dr. W. John Martin
Center For Complex Infectious Disease


The somewhat eccentric elderly man contacted me to help with a legal victory he had engineered on behalf of a dying child. The child was said to have HIV but, with clear evidence of brain involvement, he possibly also had a stealth virus infection. A court order had been issued to test the specific polio vaccine lot the child had received for the presence of contaminating HIV. The order was very precise: at the behest of both the vaccine manufacturer and the federal government, there would be no testing for simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV), and no other testing allowed of the vaccine lot. The child supporter suggested that if I could show stealth virus in the patient’s blood, the child’s mother could reapply to the court for permission to test the vaccine for a stealth virus.

I gladly accepted the challenge, especially since my own request to FDA for access to undiluted polio vaccine lots for stealth virus testing had been refused. Knowing of my interest in the child's case, an ambitious trial lawyer took it upon himself to petition though the courts for release of other polio virus vaccine lots that had been received by various individuals he had represented in vaccine damage cases. He was asking the court to allow stealth virus testing in my University of Southern California (USC) laboratory. I saw his Brief on November 11, 1995 and suspected that it would lead to problems.

 
Link Found in Seizures, Childhood Vaccines
By Daniel Q. Haney
The Associated Press - August 30, 2001


BOSTON — Two widely used childhood vaccines occasionally trigger seizures but do not appear to cause long-term disabilities, such as epilepsy or retardation, according to the biggest study of the subject.

The study, in which Seattle's Group Health Cooperative participated, looked at children who had received the DTP vaccine to prevent diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis and the MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. Both vaccines can cause fever and fever can lead to seizures.

The possibility of seizures is among the concerns that prompt some parents to oppose routine vaccinations, even though health experts say the benefit of preventing common childhood illnesses far outweighs any possible hazards. Although doctors have long known some childhood vaccines can trigger seizures, the most recent study, based on 679,942 youngsters, was intended to see how often they occur and to check for any lingering complications.

"Overall, it's very reassuring," said Dr. Robert Chen, director of vaccine safety at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which sponsored the study. The study found the risk of a so-called febrile seizure, one associated with a fever, was six times higher than usual on the day of getting the DTP vaccine, and it was three times higher than usual eight to 14 days after getting the MMR vaccine.

This translates into six to nine additional seizures for every 100,000 children getting the DTP shot and 25 to 34 for those getting MMR.

 
Vaccine is off the hook as the cause of autism but panel won't dismiss possibility
Anita Manning
USA Today - Apr 24, 2001


The vaccine that protects children from measles, mumps and rubella does not cause autism, as some parents have feared, a panel of experts said Monday. But the panel could not rule out a possibility that the vaccine may contribute to the disorder in some children.

A panel of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), a non-profit agency chartered by Congress to provide health policy advice, reviewed all the medical research available on the MMR vaccine and autism and concluded that, at least for the general population, there is no link.

"This conclusion does not exclude the possibility that MMR vaccine could contribute to (autism) in a small number of children," the panel wrote. It recommended that "continued attention be given to this issue," including more research and education.

 
Group Targets Doctor in Vaccine Controversy

United Kingdom


A doctor at the centre of an MMR vaccine controversy in the UK said last night he was living in fear after being targeted by an extremist anti-abortion group. The home address and phone number of Geoff Carlin, a Lanarkshire GP who is accused of dismissing parents from his practice who refused to let their children have the combined MMR vaccine, was posted on a website and e-mailed to thousands of people across the world by the UK Life League, a newly formed pro-life group. The organization, which was formed by Jim Dowson as an offshoot to his Precious Life Scotland group, insists parents should be given the choice to reject the vaccine, because the Rubella part of it was developed using cells from an aborted baby. Others believe the combined vaccine may cause autism.

 
Vaccine Safety
Dr. W. John Martin
Center For Complex Infectious Disease (www.ccid.org)


One of society's highest obligations is the protection of its children. Vaccine programs provide a proven method for childhood disease prevention. The safety of such programs has been entrusted to vaccine manufacturers and to government. regulatory agencies. Although widely touted as the major medical triumph of the 20th century, the development of viral vaccines has elements of less than stellar performance. The discovery in 1960 of live SV-40 virus contamination in formalin-treated poliovirus vaccine, produced in kidney cells cultures from rhesus monkeys, did not lead to an immediate recall of the contaminated vaccines. Rather the production method was switched to the use of kidney cells from the much less well characterized African green monkeys. This switch in monkey species was soon followed by the decision to forgo formalin inactivation by using a weakened (attenuated) live strain of poliovirus. Persisting concerns regarding contaminating viruses in the live poliovaccine led in 1972 to a joint study between the vaccine manufacturer and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Kidney cultures from all 12 monkeys tested grew African green monkey simian cytomegalovirus (SCMV). Only 4 of the SCMV isolates were detectable using the regular methods for virus detection. No changes in testing methodology were imposed, nor was the scientific community alerted to the findings. An excuse that was subsequently offered was that all such information about the study was deemed to be proprietary. The results of this earlier study were, however, not conveyed to me in 1977 when, as an FDA scientist, I notified the Director of the FDA's Bureau of Biologics that certain poliovaccine lots contained unexplained non-cellular DNA; and were therefore potentially viral contaminated.

 
National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Article, January 1998 Mothering Magazine www.mothering.com


The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 established the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) effective October 1, 1988. The law was passed in a climate of increasing lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers, threats by manufacturers to discontinue vaccine production, and dwindling vaccine supply. NVICP awards compensation for injuries from any one of the following vaccines: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP, DTAP, DT, TT, OT, TD), measles, mumps, rubella (MMR or any components), polio (OPV or IPV), hepatitis B, Hemophilus influenzae type b (HiB) and varicella (chicken pox) vaccines. Since its inception, the program has received over 5,000 claims seeking compensation; 85 percent of these claims were for vaccines administered prior to 1988. Of those 5,000 claims, over 1,100 awards totaling $800 million in compensation have been made to individuals or families. Compensation is awarded when there is evidence that a condition listed on the Vaccine Injury Table was caused by a vaccine covered by NVICP and when no other factor explains the condition.

 
House debates vaccine safety
By Arthur Allen


Aug. 5, 1999 | WASHINGTON -- "We as a government can no longer keep our heads buried in the sand like an ostrich, pretending there is no problem," said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., the arch-conservative, hatchet-faced chief of the House Government Reform Committee, as he waved a sheath of documents that he said showed thousands of casualties over the past year.

Burton's rather surprising target: mass immunizations. The shots we get with our mother's milk constitute the single most effective medical intervention of the past century -- but in front of a packed hearing Tuesday, Burton described mandatory vaccination as "a good intention gone too far" that "creates an inherent conflict between the interests of the individual and the community." He promised to lead a thorough reexamination of the nation's vaccination program.

 
About Vaccine Choices
Randall Neustaedter O.M.D.
(The following materials are excerpted summaries from Dr. Neustaedter's book)


What options are available to parents in their choice about vaccines? First, parents may decide they want less than the total range of recommended vaccines. It comes as a surprise to some parents that they can choose to have one or some vaccines and refuse others. You are responsible for your child’s health. You are in control. If a child suffers a dramatic and tragic reaction to a vaccine, it is the parents who must cope with it. The doctors may be sympathetic, but they are personally uninvolved. They view it merely as a casualty in the war against disease, if they admit any culpability at all.

 
Oral polio vaccine used despite risks
Dan Vergano
USA Today; Arlington; Nov 9, 1999


Since 1961, doctors have inoculated children against polio with four doses of either oral vaccine, made with weakened virus, or four injections of killed virus. In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that doctors stop using the oral vaccine, citing a paralysis risk from the live virus. Speaking in October at the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting in Atlanta, Paul Offit of Children's Hospital in Philadelphia warned that 10% of pediatricians still use the oral vaccine, ignoring the ban. "Four doses of oral polio vaccine for children is clearly against all guidelines," Offit said.

 
The First International Public Conference on Vaccination
Feature Article, January 1998 Mothering Magazine


The First International Public Conference on Vaccination was held in Alexandria, Virginia, September 13 to 15, 1997. The conference was sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a child-advocacy organization that promotes vaccine safety and informed choice. NVIC also offers support and information to parents whose children have been injured by vaccines. The presenters at the conference included distinguished immunologists, neurologists, gastroenterologists, geneticists, biochemists, and microbiologists, as well as legal experts, ethicists, and accomplished practitioners of alternative and complementary medicine who had experience modifying the severity of vaccine injuries. Highlights of some of the presentations follow...

 
Vaccination Quotes from Doctors and Scientists
Dr Mendelsohn, M.D.,Dr Kalokerinos, M.D., The Hope Project (Ireland),Guylaine Lanctot M.D. ,Jonas Salk,Harris Coulter.,The Lancet,Prof. G. Stewart,Virology, Science, US, March 26, 1977,JAMA, 1988


A case-control study has shown that 41 percent of meningitis occurred in children vaccinated against the disease. The vaccine's protective efficacy was minus 58 percent. This means that children are much more likely to get the disease if they are vaccinated. (JAMA, 1988, Osterholm et al., 260: 1423-1428.) Jonas Salk, inventor of the IPV, testified before a Senate subcommittee that nearly all polio outbreaks since 1961 were caused by the oral polio vaccine.

 
FDA Calls Bovine-Based Vaccines Currently Safe
Charles Marwick
JAMA: Medical News and Perspectives, September 13, 2000, Vol. 284 No. 10,


Bethesda, Md In December 1993, concerned about the increasing numbers of animals being diagnosed as having bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or "mad cow disease") in countries abroad, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that US manufacturers of medicinal and biological products not use materials from animals in countries reporting BSE. These materials include serum, bone, and nervous system tissue. The agency's position was that the agent of BSE could be present in these materials and transmitted to patients, where it might cause Creutzfeld-Jakob disease (CJD.At the time, the countries known to have cattle infected with BSE were Great Britain (which reported the most cases, more than 17,000 in 1993), France, the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, and Oman. Other countries reported cases of BSE that were discovered in imported cattle. A list of all these countries is maintained by the US Department of Agriculture. Concern was heightened in 1996 when investigators reported 10 clinical cases in England of a new variant of CJD and suggested that these could be related to BSE (Lancet. 1996;347:921-925). This development prompted another letter from the FDA to manufacturers, addressing the need to "take whatever steps are necessary to reduce potential risk of transmission of BSE agent.

 
Revealed: Full Scale Of Vaccine Blunders
Martin Bright and Antony Barnett
Sunday October 22, 2000


US authorities horrified by conditions at factory in BSE-tainted polio drug scare. The drug factory at the centre of the polio vaccine scandal has a history of contamination and production blunders, leading to fears that its vaccines against other diseases are unsafe. The lives of thousands of old people and children have been put at risk by drug shortages caused by a catalogue of problems that have plagued the Medeva vaccines plant on Merseyside. One serious incident led to British soldiers being sent abroad without protection against Yellow Fever. Last year, investigators from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were horrified by the conditions they found at the plant in Speke, near Liverpool, which also makes vaccines against flu, tuberculosis, tetanus and Hepatitis B. On Friday, the Department of Health was forced to recall Medeva's oral polio vaccine after it was discovered that the firm had potentially been using BSE-infected material. This weekend, an investigation by The Observer can reveal that the problems surrounding the polio vaccine may prove to be the tip of the iceberg.

 
RELATED LINKS



For more information on Vaccines go to these web links.

 
A Shot in The Dark
By Pat Wechsler
New York Magazine 1996


When a vaccine became available that would eradicate polio, a panicked government rushed it to the public. But did it act too quickly? Early batches of the vaccine were contaminated with a monkey virus that now may be linked to cancer. And New York is one of the areas most at risk.

IN THE LATE FIFTIES AND EARLY SIXTIES, APPROXIMATELY 9 MILLION New Yorkers--most of them under 10 years old--lined up to be inoculated with a brand-new vaccine that would protect them against the No. 1 public-health problem of the day: polio. They may, however, have received more in those shots than the intended vaccine. Scientific studies obtained by New York--some of them decades old--indicate that millions, if not tens of millions, of batches of the miracle Salk vaccine were infected by a tenacious virus that concealed itself within the renal cells of the rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys with which the vaccine was made. Scientists have been aware since the late fifties that this virus--later identified as Simian Virus 40, or simply SV40-caused deadly tumors in laboratory hamsters. But they are only now finding the footprints of SV40 in humans in rare lung, bone, and brain cancers. In research published in leading scientific journals, several labs have identified SV40's DNA, as well as some of the whole virus, in cancer tissue from people now suffering or already dead from incurable ependymomas, mesotheliomas, and osteosarcomas-the same types of rare tumors scientists had been able to produce by injecting concentrated doses of the virus into lab hamsters. One recent research project suggests a correlation between the geographic distribution of certain bone-cancer victims and the states--including New York-that received contaminated batches of the polio vaccine.

 
Doubt Cast on Causal Link Between MMR Vaccine and Autism
Susan J. Landers
American Medical News May 14, 2001


No change is called for in administering the current measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, a new IOM report concludes.Washington -- A new Institute of Medicine report has failed to find any apparent link between the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and autism. The evidence reviewed by a 15-member committee "favors rejection of a causal relationship at the population level between MMR vaccine and autistic spectrum disorders," said committee Chair Marie McCormick, MD, ScD, professor and chair of Harvard's Dept. of Maternal and Child Health. The committee released its findings April 23. However, Dr. McCormick left open the possibility that the MMR vaccine could, "in rare cases," contribute to the development of autism in a small number of children.