Commentary by Ralph Campbell, MD
(OMNS Oct 11, 2017) Whether or not to vaccinate their children is a big question for parents to ponder. Instead of encompassing a one-size-fits-all attitude, there needs to be the realization of individuality on both sides of the needle---the vaccine itself and the target patient. Some vaccines are ineffective, and may in fact be harmful. [1-4] In my experience as a pediatrician, no drug or vaccine can be effective 100% of the time for 100% of children.
Promotion for profit
Pharmaceutical companies, the vaccine producers, seem not so much altruistic as profit-oriented. They have mastered the arts of promotion and obfuscation. On televised sports events, viewers are hit with beer ads and drugs for erectile dysfunction. On the evening news, the targets are the old folks already on a myriad of medications (the average for women over 70 years of age is five medications daily). And of course several "life saving" vaccinations are described that you supposedly need to "talk to your doctor" about. The same advertising format is used for both medicines and vaccinations: There is an opening brief statement of what the medicine or vaccine is for. Both the generic and the trade names are catchy and have a very "scientific" aura to them, meant to encourage confidence. But hold on: while recipients are dancing with joy and playing with their loving dog, turn up your set and listen to all those side effects.
A typical example is "Get your pneumonia shot" with a vaccine containing antigens from 23 strains of pneumococcus bacterium. The implication of the ad is that this bad bug is lurking around the corner ready to pounce, when in truth, most pneumonia in adults is viral, for which there is no vaccine or effective antibiotic. Another caveat is the fact that there are numerous strains of the pneumococcus, making it difficult to decide which ones to incorporate in the vaccine. I don't know who called them to task about this deception, but lately they have stated that the vaccine is for bacterial pneumonia, and still later, specifically pneumococcal pneumonia, plus a very small print disclaimer stating that not all strains are incorporated in the vaccine.
Another example is the "shingles vaccine" which has been falsely advertised. Occasionally after a person has had chicken pox, many years later and at a time when the immune system is not working at full capacity, the virus that has lain dormant in a nerve sheath can break forth with a fury, causing a painful, burning ugly rash of tiny blisters. The rash soon scabs over, but occasionally fairly severe pain may persist. The ad for the vaccine typically shows a horrible prominent rash. But this is not the typical rash that affects the skin overlying the nerve paralleling a rib, but one covering a large area on the abdomen. Since the chicken pox virus is named herpes zoster, the deception could be based on the fact that the other herpes (herpes simplex), often associated with a "cold sore," has been known to cause a horrible secondary infection in skin broken by scratching, as in a case of extreme itching from eczema. "Shingles has increased rapidly since the inception of the chicken pox vaccine. The reason is that adults are no longer exposed to the virus that boosts their immunity. So a vaccine can seem to "work" and can still put the public at a disadvantage. If you want your kids to get chicken pox now, the best and easiest way will be to expose them to one of the many new cases of shingles that have ironically risen because of the chicken pox vaccine."
(Suzanne Humphries, MD)
Was it shots, or sanitation?
The publicity about vaccination over the last several decades has suggested that some serious diseases have been eliminated by worldwide extensive, persistent vaccination programs. However, it is likely that modern sanitation (i.e. sewer and water treatment systems), containment (not sending the kids to school when they're infective), and hygiene (washing hands, avoiding contact with those infected) has played a major role in preventing the spread of viral and bacterial disease. Tetanus is only rarely seen in developed countries but, tragically, is still seen in undeveloped countries, when, for example, the umbilical cord of a newborn is tied off with a dirty piece of string contaminated with tetanus spores. The same is true for diphtheria immunization. Whether from the DT (combined with tetanus) or DPT (with added pertussis), the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the vaccine to be 95% efficient. Better sanitation, nutrition, and hygiene may also be important. At any rate, physicians just don't see the devastating picture of a patient with diphtheria any more. As for the pertussis component, the newer "acellular" version, designed to lessen the side-effects of the "whole cell" vaccine, has actually proven to be ineffective.
Poliomyelitis is thought to only be caused by the polio virus; but many other viruses and bacteria may cause paralysis, and would have been called polio before 1955. In most cases, the polio virus is totally asymptomatic. It rarely produces a flu-like illness. But 1% of the time it can affect the nervous system, and a small portion of those people can have a profound effect while the majority will recover. The Salk vaccine, an injectable vaccine, was later followed by the Sabin oral form which many people preferred over a shot. Strangely everyone who took three Salk vaccines still was required to take the Sabin series too. After a few years of employing the oral vaccine, some cases appeared, indicating that an "attenuated virus" from the vaccine itself may have been the culprit. The recommendation was to return to the Salk-style vaccine, with some modifications from the original which had some huge problems. However, great strides have been made in third-world countries through better sanitation, since in areas without a safe water supply, water-borne infections thrive. [5,6]
Before the development of vaccines for the childhood diseases of measles, rubella (German measles) mumps, chicken pox, and pertussis (or whopping cough), it was common, every spring, to have epidemics in any given locale of one or more of these diseases, so that usually before adulthood a person had acquired the long lasting immunity that the natural infection produces. Vaccines do not afford this degree of protection. The further we have gone down the road of vaccination, the further a "catch twenty-two" situation develops. More children become susceptible to acquiring these diseases at the best age, so more kids are given the less efficient boost of natural immunity. There is a smaller pool of children in which natural disease could be acquired.
Measles vaccination had a rough start. Its development was pushed by president Kennedy whose older sister had had serious health effects from the rare complication of measles encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) although her treatment, in itself, had much to do with her disabilities. In prior times, complications from a measles infection, or in infants, were treated with an injection of pooled gamma globulin which was a source of measles anti-globulin. When the new vaccine was approved, it was recommended that it be given in one arm with a shot of gamma globulin in the other. Some physicians, including myself, skipped the gamma globulin because it made no sense. The measles antibodies in the gamma globulin would tie up some of the antigen in the vaccine, greatly reducing effectiveness. When the serious side effect, labeled "atypical pneumonia" appeared after the first killed vaccines were given, we were thankful we hadn't followed the official protocol.
Later, rubella or "German measles" vaccine was combined with the measles vaccine (MR): a first try but with dire consequences. From the rubella component, some developed mono-articulated arthritis (arthritis in just one joint---often a hip joint), unfortunately coupled with iritis (inflammation of the eye). Back to the drawing board, where constructive changes were made in the vaccine. Another M, mumps vaccine, was added to make the current MMR vaccine. Mumps with its usual, uncomfortable swelling of the parotid salivary glands (under the ears) isn't too horrible, but the rare complication of mumps, orchitis (inflammation of the testicles), certainly got the public's attention and approval of the vaccine, since this condition could wipe out manhood in one fell swoop. Unfortunately, today older children and adults are now susceptible to mumps, rubella and measles after their vaccine immunity has worn off. The solution?
More and more vaccinations
The concept of combining several vaccines into one shot was now well established. But also there was a feeling that vaccine manufacturers had the philosophy of "If we can, we will. New vaccines are approved at an astonishing rate. There are several combinations of three, and even five, vaccines in one shot justified by avoiding the "pin cushion" effect inflicted on infants. This approach raises the serious question: Is it safe to bombard, and possibly overwhelm, the immature immune system with all these antigens and attendant adjuvants and chemicals at once (or close together in time)? Hepatitis b vaccine is an example. It is given to the newborn even though this is a disease acquired from behavior involving dirty needles or high-risk sex. The reasoning is that the mother could have undiagnosed Hep B or the child could have a sibling or friend that could infect them. The problem is that all the studies that show this problem are from third world countries where nutrition is very poor. There are no studies showing the transmission in daycare centers in the USA. It is very difficult to get around the accepted immunization schedule by finding single vaccines.
I can't conceive how a conscientious parent could subject their offspring to such torture, but here is an example of a vaccination schedule:
Hepatitis b for a newborn with another shot at 1-3 months and a 3rd at 6-18 months. [That should get them by until they are old enough to actually engage in unhealthy practices. I am being sarcastic.] Rotavirus (a cause of diarrhea) given at 2 months and 4 months. DTaP (or now, back to the old DPT) given at 2, 4, 6 months, 15-18 months and 4-6 years. H. Influenza (a bacterial cause of meningitis, common in infants and toddlers and croup in older children) 2, 4, 6 months and later. Same for the pneumococcal vaccine. Polio 2, 4, and 6-18 months. Influenza from 6 months on, every year. MMR 12-15 months, 4-6 years. Varicella (chicken pox) 12-15 months and 4-6 years. Hep A (hepatitis A) 12-15 months, 4-6 years. Meningoccus (a cause of meningitis) 11-12 years and 16 years. Tdap (stronger in tetanus than the DTaP) 11-12 years and 16 years. HPV (human papillomavirus), 11-12 years.
Why I would have trouble complying with this schedule
To my earlier comments above on Hepatitis B vaccine, I would add HPV as a "bad-habit acquired disease" because cervical cancer is most prominent in promiscuous persons, and those with nutritional deficiencies and smokers. This virus is supposedly a major contributing cause of cervical cancer. It is transmitted by sexual activity but also by casual contact and can be passed from parent to child from innocent contact, at just days of age. Some studies indicate that the infection, many times, is self-resolving. Informed parents should have input in the decision to accept or reject these vaccines rather than some "health" authority deciding that children inevitably will practice risky behaviors. Most children already have some form of HPV at some time in their lives. It is a normal, commensal virus, just like polio virus was. I feel the Varicella vaccine is unnecessary, since chicken pox is very rarely fraught with complications, and the naturally acquired disease provides superior immunity. Simple but careful skin care is the most important thing to understand in terms of pox diseases and even with tetanus-prone wounds.
Hepatitis A is a diarrheal disease acquired from fecal contamination and can be prevented by hand washing, and peeling or thoroughly washing fruit, and cooking of other foods. In regions where it is endemic, one can avoid it by following these practices and drinking only safely bottled water. There is no chronic or dangerous form of Hep A unless you are severely immune compromised. One of the "newer kids on the block" have been the meningococcal vaccines, to prevent specific types of meningitis. This bacteria has been known to rapidly spread when people are crowded together as in an army camp. I don't feel that it would need to be given routinely. It will be very difficult to assess its value; only time might tell. Also, I see no need for the pneumococcal shot for children, although pneumococcus is sometimes a cause of middle ear infections.
No exemptions; no exceptions
For decades there have been means to allow parents to have some input on whether to accept or reject a vaccination for their infant or child, such as a religious exemption. But now some states have done away with all but medical exemptions (such as the child having an immune system disorder or having had the spleen removed). California and Michigan have gone to the extreme abuse of parental rights by forbidding public school attendance for a child that has not fully completed immunization requirements. This means all vaccines for all enrolled students. To me this seems unwarranted because it tends to reduce natural immunity.
Overblown measles scare at Disneyland
Besides the problem of vaccines attempting to replace natural immunity, we have the problem of air travel shrinking the world in which a person from most anywhere can be incubating an infectious disease, hop on a plane, and land in a population is not protected by immunity to that disease, then promptly exhibit active disease and begin spewing the virus about. Such an incident occurred at the end of 2014 at the California Disneyland in which some never-identified visitor spread measles virus to seven known contacts. With diligent epidemiology, it was determined that 125 cases of measles (including secondary cases) developed, in California alone, from this small nucleus. This prompted agonized cries that irresponsible parents were not getting their children vaccinated. 45% of these were unvaccinated and the vaccination history was unknown in 43%. Note that an "unknown" can be a vaccinated person who cannot produce a record. This is actually very common. How many of us can produce your vaccine records from childhood? Twelve were infants too young to be vaccinated. But the number of intentionally unvaccinated was small, 18 children and 10 adults. Although much was made of foreign visitors to theme parks bringing in measles, CDC has reported only 6 cases since 2011. Furthermore, with some of those cases being partially or even fully immunized and not knowing the vaccination history in nearly half, the case for the urgency to vaccinate seems flimsy.
Further fake news from the vaccine industry
The yearly campaign for the influenza vaccination has been repeated for many decades. In a recent CDC report, an estimate of 23,607 of deaths was related to influenza. The relationship is often due to a secondary bacterial infection in an otherwise unhealthy person, even one with a known chronic illness. It is now widely understood that one reason for the reported success of vaccination is due to the fact that it is healthy (and more wealthy) people who get the vaccine. [1,2,9] Older people not in good health who tend to be at a higher risk for infection may be infirm, so they may not easily get out to receive a vaccination. This is called "healthy user bias." This can bias the statistics, making it appear that the vaccination given to healthy people is more effective. Nevertheless, we are reminded every year of the fate of those estimated 23,607 people. It matters not whether the current strains of the virus were, or were not, incorporated into the vaccine. In order to be ready for the flu season, early on the strains for incorporation into the vaccine are chosen. Unfortunately there can be rapid mutation in the interim, rendering the vaccine ineffective.  A vaccine could protect you if the strains match that year, but the cellular immunity is shut down after that vaccine. This renders the recipient more likely than a non-vaccinated person to get flu the next year. There is also plenty of evidence that those who take the vaccine are four times more likely to develop a non-influenza infection that the non-vaccinated control group. I am saddened that pharmacists, or their managers, allow not only the administration of the vaccine but encourage pushing their customers into getting the vaccine. This is all done without the recipient's personal doctor having any knowledge of it or any opportunity to discuss the pros and cons with his/her patient.
Alternatives to vaccinations
Parents who are aware of the risks of vaccination have several alternatives. Children can be raised healthfully without the use of vaccinations, by providing them with an excellent diet, and appropriate doses of vitamins C and D, to keep an infection from gaining a foothold [11-19] Adequate intake of vitamin C and D can strengthen the immune system against bacterial and viral infections. Further, optimal dosing of vitamin C can prevent the widely acknowledged side effects of vaccinations. [4, 11-18] Vitamin C taken at a high enough dose is an effective treatment that inactivates many types of virus. For example, an effective alternative to the shingles vaccine is vitamin C, taken at appropriate doses at first sign of the rash can accelerate healing and relieve the pain. It's also important to note that vitamin C and a healthy diet will improve the efficacy of a vaccination by strengthening the antibody response.
With vaccination, don't just "buy" what the authorities say. Use some discernment. We have to start thinking again. (Pediatrician Dr. Ralph Campbell is Contributing Editor for the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. He is the author of The Vitamin Cure for Children's Health Problems, and also The Vitamin Cure for Infant and Toddler Health Problems.)