Vaccines: A personal choice
excerpt from The Vaccine Guide
Randall Neustaedter OMD
Vaccines: A Personal Choice
What constitutes personal choice in health care decisions? The first parameter involves the freedom to choose. When some group or authority dictates policies there can be no personal decision. This freedom is a fundamental right, and yet parents in many states have been denied the right to choose whether their children are injected with chemicals recommended by the vaccine industry. The requirement to vaccinate makes parents criminals if they refuse to comply. Religious and medical exemptions to immunization merely place the decision in the hands of another authority, the church or the doctor. This well guarded authority has been upheld by courts which require that parents prove their membership in a recognized church that proscribes vaccines before they qualify for a religious exemption. If parents who live in those states do make a personal decision that a particular vaccine is too toxic for their child, they cannot exercise their right to choose avoidance of vaccines. The remaining states that do provide parents with the option of a personal belief or philosophical exemption to immunization at least allow parents to choose for themselves.
The second parameter in a personal decision requires that you assess your own needs. This involves getting information and weighing your choices, evaluating the pros and cons of an issue. The reasoning for a family may differ from the reasoning for an entire population. You may find that your needs are significantly different than those of someone else. For example, is your child at higher risk than the general population due to overcrowding, poor nutrition, and inadequate sanitation? These are factors that could make an individual child more susceptible and more likely to come in contact with infectious diseases. A public health official may have a completely different agenda for the nation than you do for your own family. The strategy for eliminating diseases from a population usually includes universal measures for everyone regardless of risk of exposure or consequences for the individual. The population takes precedence over the individual. The following quote taken from an article in the British medical journal, The Lancet, makes this abundantly clear.
There is still much to be learned about how best to use vaccines for maximum benefit to the community as well as to the individual. For a pathogenic microbe to persist within a population, the density of susceptible individuals needs to exceed a critical value such that, on average, each primary case of infection generates at least one secondary. Thus, it may be to the benefit of society as a whole for an individual to be immunized but in that individual’s interest not to be! As with other matters bearing on altruism in society, the promotion of vaccination to secure herd immunity raises complex issues (Moxon, 1990).
The “complex issue” to an epidemiologist amounts to this for an individual parent. Are you willing to sacrifice your child to satisfy a public health official’s objectives? Some children will inevitably be sacrificed to achieve certain goals for the community. Are you prepared to take that risk with your child? In answering that question, consider whether you agree with the philosophy that underlies the methods. Is it necessary or even wise to wipe out diseases, to prevent the body’s management of childhood illnesses, to manipulate the immune system beginning at birth with toxic chemicals? What is the risk from these diseases? What are the dangers of vaccines? Why have parents not been told about the devastating reactions that can occur? This massive marketing scheme has been heralded as the greatest preventive health measure of modern times, all brought to us by the pharmaceutical industry and their vaccine researchers. It is time that vaccines and their promotion campaign be viewed with a critical eye. Are you ready to inject these powerful drugs into your child, on the advice of drug manufacturers, at the insistence of doctors paid by these drug companies, delivered to you by doctors trained by those same companies? Look at the facts and reach your own conclusions. Organizations of parents have been formed to fight the policy of mandatory vaccines for children. These parents represent their vaccine injured children. They have learned about vaccines because their toxic effects destroyed a child’s health. Listen to their experience and see their side before you meekly rest assured in the word of your doctor who tells you exactly what he was told by the drug company. Question the effects of drugs used on your child. These are not difficult issues to understand. You can take control of these decisions. Make sure that you feel comfortable in your choices. Don’t become the unwitting victim of wholesale drug policies. This is an area of your life and your family’s health that you can control.
With the powerful combined forces of vaccine manufacturers, medical associations, government committees, the legislature, and the media at work, it is not surprising that vaccine acceptance pervades our culture. Public health policies support this vast industry. Considering the range of organizations and forces involved in this field, a multitude of motives emerges which drive the vaccine campaign. First and foremost is modern medicine. The medical world has very little to offer in the treatment of infectious disease. This impotence in the face of illness leads to a strong desire to prevent these untreatable problems even at a high cost in the form of side effects. Viruses and whooping cough are not responsive to antibiotics. That covers measles, mumps, rubella, polio, chicken pox, hepatitis, and pertussis. More and more bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. That threatens the effectiveness of the few drugs that treat the remaining microbes in question, hemophilus, diphtheria, and tetanus. The ineffectiveness of allopathic medicine creates a compelling desire to develop vaccines. This shifts the research arm of the industry into hyperdrive. The fact that other forms of treatment could be utilized to treat the infectious diseases is ignored. Allopathic medicine denies the effectiveness of any treatment besides its own drugs. The model does not allow for recognition of other healing systems. This occurs even when another healing modality proves effective. That merely encourages the harshness of the medical world’s opposition. For example, when homeopathic medicine proved clinically effective in treating yellow fever epidemics and severe influenza outbreaks, the allopathic medical establishment redoubled its efforts to discredit and destroy the competition (Coulter, 1973). Modern medicine has bet its money on vaccines to such an extent that the belief in their goodness pervades all discussions. The universally accepted credo that the benefits derived from vaccines outweigh their risks fuels the research, adoption, and dissemination of vaccines despite any evidence that they may be harmful.
The nearly compulsive desire to wipe out diseases governs public health policies. In this great battle we lose lives to vaccine injuries. Even this unfortunate fact is vehemently denied. The obvious self-justification that more lives would be lost to the disease is a specious and convenient argument that ends discussion. The medical world first blinds itself to the possibility of treating these illnesses with anything beyond its own meager methods, then justifies its use of toxic drugs to wipe out the offenders. The concept of mutual existence between humans and these microbes has never been considered. The possibility that the body can be encouraged to manage these diseases has never entered the world view of modern medicine. This results in a simple, self-perpetuating philosophy. Vaccines are good, diseases are bad. And this war cry is echoed throughout the modern world.
The vaccine business also provides jobs for physicians. Positions for vaccine experts occur in the form of pharmaceutical researchers, academic researchers, and professional organization as well as government committee memberships. This medical wing of the vaccine industry supports itself through promotion of vaccines. Their promotion of vaccines ensures self
Drug manufacturers realized that the allopathic goal of wiping out diseases held the promise of vast fortunes. They were quick to combine forces and supply physicians with the armaments for their massive campaign. Vaccine researchers have provided the vaccine manufacturers with a guaranteed world market for their product. Their alliance in this effort is apparent at all public hearings, government committee meetings, and court cases involving vaccine toxicity and injuries to children. The vaccine producers have one goal — profits. They will produce a vaccine for anything if they are guaranteed a market, especially if they are protected from lawsuits. They are not motivated by improving world health. They are not willing to lose money on vaccines. If vaccines stop producing a profit, they stop producing vaccine, a simple equation.
Government provides the seal of approval for the vaccine campaign. Politicians get into the vaccine business because of their own personal beliefs, their alliance with the medical establishment viewpoint, and their need to adopt popular causes. Protecting children and improving the health status of disadvantaged populations represent noncontroversial political positions. If the pharmaceutical industry profits from such government decisions, then all the better. They mount a tremendous lobbying effort and mandatory vaccine policies translate to lucrative gold mines. Testifying at government hearings, providing expert paid researchers for government committees, advising politicians about vaccine campaign plans, all represent solid marketing strategies. After all, the government is a vaccine company’s biggest single customer.
For many reasons the factors that influence a government to adopt vaccine requirements may differ considerably from the individual parent’s personal goals for a family. Politicians, vaccine companies, and medical organizations have their own concerted agenda for their immunization campaign. This agenda may coincide with your choices as a consumer of medical services, or it may not. Since administering the vaccines involves significant health risks for your child, it makes sense to base your choice on health considerations for the individual and not on a public policy determined by drug companies. Vaccine promoters make the claim that everyone must continue to comply with government recommendations or the diseases will return, but they have no proof that this will occur. The much touted success of vaccine campaigns is debatable in any case. The incidence of the diseases in question has consistently declined over the past hundred years. Vaccines in current use have only been around since the 1950s and some are much more recent. The pressure to vaccinate is founded upon vaccine company claims and parents need to be aware of the motives and methods involved in these public health measures.
When it comes to making a choice about whether to vaccinate or not, parents usually have two simultaneous voices vying for their internal mental attention. If they have come this far in their thinking, if they are questioning whether it is actually wise to give their child these shots, then doubts have crept into the equation. They are not absolutely sure that the pediatrician is telling them the whole story. They are not altogether convinced. The doubts speak through an instinctual, protective, parental voice. They have heard about vaccine side effects through friends or articles and books. They want information, but their pediatrician is not forthcoming. All they get from that side is calm reassurance that the vaccines are safe, that the diseases represent a far greater risk. It is a comforting paternalistic tone that lulls their distracting doubts and intimidates through a subtle coercion. Belief systems cannot really be questioned. Too much time is usually spent proving that they are correct. Some parents, however, continue to question the accepted wisdom despite the heresy this entails. They want to be responsible and make the right decision. So this voice says, maybe giving all these vaccines is not the best thing to do right now. My baby seems so vulnerable and delicate. Maybe we could wait. Confronted with this possibility the pediatrician usually becomes furious and accusatory. Parents remain in a quandary. If they have little information, they usually succumb. With no support for their doubts they capitulate. Only the most stalwart parents continue to pursue their questions. In most cases the second voice raises its competing song. This voice doubts the doubting voice. How could all of these people be wrong about vaccines? We must be crazy to question what is so accepted by everyone around us. Lulled thus into submission, the first voice often turns tail and slips off to sleep again. It arises fleetingly when the mother watches the syringe enter her baby’s skin, sees her baby scream, and dreads the possible reactions she has acknowedged when signing off her informed consent.
Anxiety is the keynote of this internal fugue. Emotions run high when confronting time honored beliefs. Ultimately, a parent’s choice comes down to one question. Are we more anxious about the diseases or the vaccines? The fear of diseases runs deep in our culture. Anxiety on this score already tops the charts. It is fueled by vivid stories recounting the horrors of infectious diseases of bygone eras, deaths from diphtheria, iron lung hospital wards during the great polio wars. High drama in the fight against disease provides the backdrop for the savior legends of modern medicine, the inventors of vaccines, Pasteur, Salk, Sabin. Anxiety about diseases stirs easily in the parental breast.
Anxiety about vaccines runs along more vague and nebulous lines. Parents have few resources to inform them about problems with vaccines. Their fear of vaccines stems from their own childhood experiences with needles. They have personally felt the initial pain and the subsequent illness caused by vaccines. Inflicting this on their children is not a pleasant prospect. Of course, this anxiety is consciously repressed because of its illogical nature. Other anxieties stem from hearsay and second-hand information that leaks into mainstream culture only sporadically. Reports of the dangers associated with vaccines are vehemently denied by a vast industry that controls the media. In 1982 when NBC TV released a vaccine exposé which revealed the devastating damage to children caused by the pertussis vaccine, the CDC, AMA, and American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) called it biased, histrionic, amoral, and psychopathic. The producer of the show said the American press did not pick up the story “because doctors have squelched it” (Coulter, 1991). Parents have little access to these reports unless they subscribe to magazines such as Mothering that continually recount the problems associated with vaccines. There is little support for parents’ doubts. These anxieties are labeled hysterical and repudiated. Parents wonder if their concerns are exaggerated. Given their doubts about vaccine safety and the doubts about these doubts, it is no wonder that parents are confused. In fact, parents have anxiety about vaccines because they sense the stress on the system that vaccines do cause. They have experienced this in their own bodies and in the reactions of their children. In some children this reaction presents more obvious symptoms than in others. Parents who have seen dramatic changes in their child’s behavior following a vaccine will be more anxious about giving the next one in the schedule.
One thing that vaccines surely accomplish is the relief of parental guilt. When parents give the vaccines they rest assured in the belief that they have done everything humanly possible in modern medicine. If the disease strikes, then it was an unfortunate case of vaccine failure, a not uncommon event. Ninety percent or more of measles cases now occur in those previously immunized, for example. If a crippling reaction to a vaccine occurs, at least parents do not feel guilty, because they did what they were told. They may be angry and distraught, but at least it was not their fault. The less thinking that occurs prior to giving the vaccine, the less guilt. Authorities who have deeply considered the issues surrounding vaccines have already chosen the path that parents must follow. If their motives are not always in the best interest of the individual child, well, parents will never discover it.