Not only must doctors guess at the optimal amounts of vaccine components to use but the answers they come up with are thereafter the same for everyone. The standardization that characterizes vaccination practice is a problem brought up by Healthcare director Phillips, writing in the October/November 1997 issue of the alternative magazine Nexus. Immunization practice, he points out, assumes that all children, regardless of age and size, are virtually the same. “An eight-pound two-month-old receives the same dosage as a 40-pound five-year-old,” Phillips says. “Infants with immature, undeveloped immune systems may receive five or more times the dosage (relative to body weight) as older children.”
Another problem, vaccine critics point out, is that introducing antigens directly into the bloodstream can prove dangerous. Jamie Murphy elaborates: “When a child gets a naturally occurring infection, like measles, which is not a serious disease, the body reacts to that in a very set way. The germs go in a certain part of the body through the throat and into the different immune organs, and the body combats the disease in its own natural way.
“When you inject a vaccine into the body,” she continues, “you’re actually performing an unnatural act because you are injecting directly into the blood system. That is not the natural port of entry for that virus. In fact, the whole immune system in our body is geared to prevent that from happening. What we’re doing is giving the virus or the bacteria carte blanche entry into our bloodstream, which is the last place you want it to be. This increases the chance for disease, because viral material from the vaccine stays in the cells and is not completely defeated by the body’s own defenses. You overload the body.”
The generally accepted view is that vaccines are the magic bullets responsible for eradicating or drastically curtailing a variety of infectious diseases. But there’s an alternative view — that these diseases were diminishing on their own, without vaccines. Harris Coulter, Ph.D., coauthor of A Shot in the Dark (Avery), tells us, “The incidence of all of these infectious diseases was dropping very rapidly, starting in the 1930s. After World War 11, the incidence continued to drop as living conditions improved. Clean water, central heating, the ability to bring oranges from Florida to the north in February so the children could get vitamin C — these are the factors that really affected people’s tendencies to come down with infectious diseases, much more than vaccines. The vaccines might have added a little bit to that downward curve, but the curve was going down all the time anyway.”
What if we stopped compulsory vaccination? Dean Black, Ph.D., an author, lecturer, and consultant on natural health, provides this perspective: “In 1975, Germany stopped requiring pertussis [whooping cough] vaccinations, and the number of children vaccinated promptly began to drop. Today, it has fallen to well below ten percent. What has happened in Germany from pertussis over that period of time? The mortality rate has continued to decrease.”
The pertussis vaccine is, in fact, a good example to use in illustrating common vaccine problems. Barbara Loe Fisher, who wrote A Shot in the Dark with Harris Coulter, says that after studying the pertussis vaccine in depth, she had no choice but to question its effectiveness. “In 1985,” she says, “our organization made a presentation at the Centers for Disease Control. We questioned the health departments of eight states as to the vaccination status of children who had come down with the whooping cough in 1984 and discovered that more than 60 percent had been fully vaccinated.”
In the course of research for the book, Fisher “interviewed literally hundreds of parents across this country. I listened to them tell the same story again and again of how they took their healthy, beautiful babies into the doctor’s office for a routine DPT vaccination, and then watched their baby scream and twitch and lapse into shock and die. Often those deaths were written off as sudden infant death syndrome. They still are. Other babies are being left with learning disabilities or hyperactivity. Some children withdraw into autism or become mentally retarded and racked with uncontrollable convulsions.”
Indeed, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that every year approximately half a million DPT shots are followed by reactions severe enough to contraindicate the administration of more pertussis vaccine. One in seven children should be turned away from further pertussis vaccine. In practice, though, according to the NVIC, this does not happen. “With pertussis,” says Alan Phillips, “the number of vaccine-related deaths dwarfs the number of disease deaths …. Simply put, the vaccine is 100 times more deadly than the disease.”
But the most troubling aspect of the DPT shot, and the one that has made it the vaccine most fraught with controversy, is its connection to SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. The first published report of SIDS after DTP vaccination appeared in 1977. A German study presented the cases of 16 children who developed neurological complications or died shortly after receiving a pertussis shot. The complications included convulsions, some resulting in permanent brain damage, and polymyositis, a disorder marked by inflammation of many muscles. Five infants died within 12 hours to four days after vaccination, two after acute encephalopathy (brain-tissue abnormalities). Three simply died suddenly and unexpectedly.
Many studies supporting a link between DPT immunization and sudden infant death have been published. One, in the August 1987 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, showed that children were 7.3 times more likely to die of SIDS in the three-day period after DPT vaccination than in the period beginning 30 days after immunization.