Vaccination and Homeopathy
May 2008, last revised Sep 2010
2. Ingredients and side-effects
3. The decline in infectious diseases
4. Vaccine overview
5. The MMR controversy
6. Weighing up the risks
7. The developing world
8. Orthodox and alternative medicine
9. Homeopathy in theory and practice
Vaccination does not guarantee immunity from disease. If is often accompanied by side effects, and in some cases it can cause disability and death. This article takes a closer look at the risks involved and shows that homeopathy offers a safe and effective alternative.
A chemical stewVaccination introduces into the body the pathogens (viruses or bacteria) that are believed to cause particular diseases, but in a form that is supposed to trigger the production of antibodies without causing the disease itself. In theory, these antibodies will then provide protection against catching the disease in the future.
The main ingredients of vaccines are cultured bacteria and viruses. The bacteria are grown in a culture medium, while the viruses are grown on animal or human cells, some of which end up in the final product. Animal material in vaccines includes monkey kidney cells, chicken or duck egg protein, chick embryos, pig pancreatic cells, blood from sheep or cows, and gelatine from cows and pigs. These proteins are foreign to the body, and are very toxic as they are injected directly and do not get filtered by the digestive system or pass through the liver.
Vaccines also contain stabilizers, neutralizers, carrying agents, and preservatives. These include toxic metals (e.g. mercury and aluminium) and chemicals such as formaldehyde (an embalming fluid used to kill viruses; a potential carcinogen), phenoxyethanol (a component of antifreeze), and monosodium glutamate (a mutagen and neurotoxin, added as a stabilizer). Antibiotics (e.g. neomycin, polymyxin) are added to prevent the growth of germs in vaccine cultures, but they also suppress the immune system and may trigger allergic reactions.
The ingredients (including byproducts of the manufacturing process) of four commonly used vaccines are listed below.*
DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, (acellular) pertussis/whooping cough): diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, pertussis toxoid, filamentous haemagglutinin, pertactin (a membrane protein), fimbriae types 2 and 3, phenoxyethanol, aluminium, formaldehyde.
IPV (inactivated polio vaccine): 3 types of polio virus, human diploid cells (originating from aborted human babies), human albumin, bovine serum, phenoxyethanol, formaldehyde, streptomycin, polymyxin, neomycin.
MMR: live measles virus, live mumps virus, live rubella virus, sorbitol, sodium phosphate, sucrose, gelatine, human albumin, chick embryos, fetal bovine serum (from aborted calf baby), human diploid cells (originating from aborted human babies), neomycin.
Flu: influenza viruses, haemagglutinin and neuraminidase antigens A and B strains, mercury, formaldehyde, sodium chloride, mashed chick embryos, gelatine, neomycin.
MercuryThe mercury compound used in vaccines is called thiomersal (or thimerosal in the US), which is an antiseptic and antifungal agent. It is added to vaccines as a preservative, as it prevents bacterial overgrowth. According to an Eli Lilly manufacturer’s data sheet (1999), thiomersal is toxic and causes fetal abnormality, higher infant mortality rates, and abnormal changes to lung tissue (Karpasea-Jones, 2006, p. 18). Mercury is one of the most toxic substances known to man. It damages the brain, nervous system and immune systems; mercury poisoning causes symptoms very similar to those of autism. Its use in vaccines has been linked to the rise in the number of people suffering from autism, hyperactivity, speech disorders and other developmental problems (www.safeminds.org).
Thiomersal contains ethylmercury, whereas the mercury contained in certain foods (e.g. fish) is methylmercury. The amount of ethylmercury in a single vaccine can exceed the recommended daily intake of methylmercury by up to 100 times (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 10). No studies have ever been carried out to determine human safety levels for ethylmercury, even though it has been injected into babies for over 60 years. Vaccine proponents argue that unlike methylmercury, ethylmercury is excreted quickly and does not accumulate. However this has no bearing on the maximum blood levels of mercury that are likely to cause harm. Most experts agree that the two types of mercury are similarly toxic. Moreover, unlike mercury in food, the mercury in vaccines is injected, thereby bypassing the stomach’s protective barrier.
In 1999 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised vaccine manufacturers to remove mercury from their vaccines, and by 2002 no mercury-containing vaccines were being routinely given to American children. Mercury was not removed from the majority of vaccines given to children in the UK until 2004, though the health department denied that this had anything to do with safety concerns. Mercury-containing flu vaccines for children are still widely used in the rich nations, even though mercury-free alternatives are available. Moreover, mercury is still used in the manufacturing process, so even ‘mercury-free’ vaccines can contain trace amounts of mercury. Mercury is still commonly used in vaccines administered in the third world.
Mercury is being replaced by other chemicals. One of them is 2-phenoxyethanol, which is the main ingredient of antifreeze. It can cause systematic poisoning, headache, shock, weakness, convulsions, kidney damage, kidney failure, cardiac failure, and death. The ethylene oxide component is a skin irritant also responsible for causing burns, blisters, dermatitis, and eczema (www.vaccineriskawareness.com).
AluminiumAluminium has been used in vaccines for 80 years because it promotes antibody response. It is the only adjuvant currently permitted for use in vaccines, and there is no readily available replacement. Yet it has never had to pass any safety trials, even though it is highly toxic, and is known to cause brain damage. In 2006 the World Health Organization (WHO) reduced its weekly safety limit from 7 mg to 1 mg per kilogram weight. In Britain the vaccines given to babies at 2, 3 and 4 months all contain aluminium, and Dr Richard Halvorsen (2007, p. 27) has calculated that an average-weight baby receives at least 500, and possibly over 1000, times the maximum amount recommended.
Aluminium in vaccines commonly causes itchy red painful bumps, or nodules, at the site of injection. Some researchers say that it causes macrophagic myofasciitis (MMF) – i.e. aching weak muscles, fragile joints and severe fatigue – in susceptible individuals. As a powerful stimulant of the immune system, it can trigger immune disorders such as multiple sclerosis. It can also act as a carcinogen, and has also been linked to learning disorders, brain damage, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, seizures, and comas. Aluminium can interact with mercury, resulting in increased toxicity. Halvorsen says that although babies are not being poisoned with aluminium every time they get a jab, susceptible babies may be harmed. Some vaccines are now aluminium-free, such as MMR and its associated single vaccines.
Animal hazardsVaccines are commonly prepared from viruses and bacteria grown in cultures and media of animal cells and animal meat extracts. There is a risk of such vaccines becoming contaminated with an infection from the animal concerned.
In the 1950s and 60s the live polio-virus vaccine became contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV40) from monkey kidney cells. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide, including an estimated 98 million Americans, received the contaminated vaccine. SV40 has been associated with cancer and is still being passed among the population (Neustaedter, 2002, pp. 58-60, 242-3; www.SV40cancer.com).
Since many vaccines are made using blood from cows (bovine serum), there is concern that mad cow disease (BSE or, in its human form, CJD), could be transmitted in childhood vaccines, especially since the risk of becoming infected is greater from contaminated injections than from contaminated food. Because the viruses enter the bloodstream, they could permanently alter our DNA. The UK’s BSE enquiry in 2000 criticized the department of health for not being sufficiently open with the public about the risks of BSE from vaccines and other medicinal sources (Halvorsen, 2007, pp. 132-3).
Gelatine is a protein produced from collagen extracted from the bones, connective tissues, organs, and intestines of animals such as domesticated cattle. Since children produce antibodies to all elements of a vaccine, there is a risk of children who are given gelatine-containing vaccines developing allergies to foodstuffs containing gelatine. In one study doctors found that 27% of those with serious allergic reactions to MMR (which contains gelatine) had antibodies to gelatine in their blood, while no antibodies were found in the group of people with no serious MMR reactions (Karpasea-Jones, 2006, p. 12).
Aborted fetal cell linesSeveral commonly used vaccines for chickenpox, hepatitis A, polio, rabies, and rubella contain viruses grown using cell cultures originally derived from aborted fetuses.*
The following cell lines are still in use:
• WI-38: WI stands for the Wistar Institute, a genetic research outfit. The culture was taken from a 3-month-old female fetus who was aborted in 1961 because her parents didn’t want any more children.
• MRC-5: MRC stands for the UK Medical Research Council. The MRC-5 cell line was developed from lung tissue of a 14-week-old male fetus aborted in 1966 for ‘psychiatric reasons’.
The following cell lines are being used to make new vaccines against ebola, flu and ‘HIV’:
• HEK-293: HEK stands for ‘human embryonic kidney’; the cells were obtained by Dutchman Alex van der Eb in his 293rd experiment, from a child who was aborted in the early 1970s.
• PER.C6: The Dutch pharmaceutical Crucell NV developed this new cell line in 1995 from embryonic retinal cultures obtained from an 18-week-old fetus aborted in 1985 because the mother did not want it.
It is easier and cheaper to culture vaccines on human cells. The chickenpox, hepatitis A and rubella vaccines can only be grown on human cells, while others can be grown on animal cells.
Development of the rubella vaccine involved a virus strain called RA 27/3. This strain is used in the MMR vaccine. ‘R’ stands for rubella, ‘A’ for abortus, ‘27’ for the number of aborted babies tested before a live virus was found, and ‘3’ for the 3rd tissue explant. The virus was isolated from a fetus aborted because of congenital rubella in the early 1970s. It was then cultivated on the WI-38 fetal cell line. By contrast, Japanese researchers obtained a live virus by simply swabbing the throat of an infected child.
Side-effectsEvery medical intervention carries risks, and vaccination is no exception. Significant adverse effects have been reported with every type of vaccine. Dr Elisabeth Carmack (1998) writes:
The reactions to vaccines vary greatly from child to child. Some children do not react at all. Some get redness and inflammation at the site of the shot. Some get headaches and fevers. Some get convulsions and brain damage. Some die painful deaths within hours of the shots being given.Dr Randall Neustaedter says:
Immediate reactions include fevers, allergic responses, deafness, convulsions, paralysis, central nervous system disease resulting in temporary or permanent disabilities, and death. Delayed reactions may be more insidious and less obvious. They can also result in persistent conditions that include epilepsy, mental retardation, learning disabilities, and behavior disorders. (2002, p. 37)It is known that in the period immediately after vaccination, when the body is struggling to fight the vaccine, the recipient may be more susceptible to the disease in question. For example, Hib vaccine manufacturers admit in their information sheets that Hib disease may occur after vaccination. Vaccination can also induce other forms of disease (known as ‘provocation disease’). The mechanisms involved are unclear, but many scientists believe that vaccinations may stimulate latent viruses within a person (Null & Feldman, 2007).
Remarkably, there have been no official studies of the long-term side-effects of vaccines; pharmaceutical companies are of course more interested in making a quick profit. Dr Gary Null & Dr Martin Feldman (2007) write:
One would think that before injecting children worldwide with hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines, enough clinical trials would be performed to determine exactly what the effects of this large-scale human genetic experiment would be.The US Congress awards over $1 billion every year to federal health agencies to develop, purchase, and promote the mass use of vaccines, but does not seem to be interested in funding independent research of vaccine-related health problems.
Clear evidence is emerging that vaccination causes long-term weakening of the immune system, and has contributed to the modern epidemic of chronic immunological and neurological disorders, such as autism, epilepsy, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorders, dyslexia, allergies, asthma, diabetes, arthritis (inflammation of the joints), and multiple sclerosis. Neustaedter writes: ‘the continual reports of autoimmune phenomena that occur as reactions to vaccines provide us with incontrovertible evidence that tampering with the immune system through vaccination practices has led to immune system dysfunction’ (2002, p. 53).
The immune system consists of two branches: the humoral immune system (or Th2 function), which recognizes foreign antigens and responds by producing antibodies; and the cellular immune system (or Th1 function), which destroys, digests and eliminates foreign antigens from the body – this is known as the ‘acute inflammatory response’ and is often accompanied by fever, pain, malaise, rashes, mucus discharges, etc. Dr Philip Incao (1999) writes:
the trick of a vaccination is to stimulate the immune system just enough so that it makes antibodies and ‘remembers’ the disease antigen but not so much that it provokes an acute inflammatory response by the cellular immune system and makes us sick with the disease we’re trying to prevent!In other words, vaccination strongly stimulates antibody production (Th2) while suppressing the digesting and discharging function of the cellular immune system (Th1). So what is prevented is not the disease but the ability of our cellular immune system to respond to and overcome the disease. Dr Incao says that instead of improving the overall strength of the immune system, vaccinations modify how it reacts, decreasing acute discharging inflammatory reactions and increasing the tendency to chronic allergic and autoimmune inflammatory reactions.
Studies of vaccine reactions tend to compare the adverse effects in a group of children who receive a specific vaccine with the symptoms in a control group. Neustaedter comments:
The problem is that the control group is also vaccinated. If the adverse event under consideration is epilepsy or developmental delays, then the control group must be unvaccinated, because any of the vaccines may be capable of inducing these problems. One cannot compare vaccinated children with a population of other vaccinated children and hope to arrive at a valid determination of the risks associated with the vaccine. (p. 81)Newly approved vaccines are always proclaimed ‘safe’ and ‘effective’, but once in use, their safety and effectiveness often prove to be less than originally thought. Figures of 90% or more for vaccine effectiveness are often quoted. These tend to be based on studies of how many people develop antibodies in response to the vaccine in the short term. But antibody levels often decline faster than expected. Moreover, vaccine-induced antibodies are no guarantee of immunity to the disease in question; many doctors believe that the body needs to experience a full inflammatory response to an invading pathogen to create immunity. Measles, mumps, smallpox, whooping cough, polio and Hib outbreaks have all occurred in vaccinated populations. Among school-aged children, measles outbreaks have occurred in schools with vaccination levels of over 98% (Phillips, 2001).
Embarrassing scandals sometimes force a vaccine’s withdrawal. For instance, in August 1998 the rotavirus vaccine was licensed for use in American children to combat viral diarrhoea. Within a year it was withdrawn because 99 infants developed a life-threatening bowel obstruction after receiving the vaccine, and two of them died. Later investigations revealed that government committees had ignored studies warning of its dangerous side-effects, and that three out of five FDA advisory committee members who approved the vaccine had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies developing the vaccine (Neustaedter, pp. 23-4). Another example concerns the Lyme disease vaccine: in the face of multiple lawsuits concerning serious side-effects, and plummeting sales, GlaxoSmithKline stopped production of the vaccine in 2002, less than three years after its approval. There are also many examples of vaccine failure being caused by batches of vaccines being incorrectly manufactured, stored or administered.
During 1991-2001, the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received 128,717 reports, or 11.4 reports per 100,000 vaccine doses distributed. 44.8% of all reports involved children aged 7 years or under. 14.2% concerned serious adverse events, including hospitalization, life-threatening illness, permanent disability, and death. The majority of deaths were classified as sudden infant deaths (CDC, 2003). Surveys have found that between 90% and 99% of adverse reactions reported to doctors are never reported by those doctors to the authorities.
When US vaccine companies began losing million-dollar lawsuits to parents whose children had been injured or killed by vaccines, the US government passed legislation in 1986 discharging vaccine manufacturers from all liability, and established an agency to compensate the parents of such children. About two thirds of the claims filed are dismissed. Nevertheless, from 1990 to 2004, a total of $902.5 million was awarded to 2542 claimants (www.hrsa.gov). Under the vaccine damage payment scheme introduced in the UK in 1979, between 1997 and 2005 £3.5 million was paid out to 35 patients left disabled by vaccinations (www.prisonplanet.com). In recent years only about 1 in 50 claims in the UK has been successful (www.theyworkforyou.com). The maximum parents can claim in damages is now £120,000, even if their child has died, and they have to show that vaccination has caused at least 80% disability.
Although the seriousness of a disease may sometimes decline as a result of a medical advance, it can also happen independently. For instance, the Bubonic plague killed 25 million Europeans (a third of Europe’s population) in the space of just five years during the 14th century, but then disappeared without a trace. There are many other examples of the natural waxing and waning of infectious diseases. Smallpox was a relatively mild illness in the 16th century but then became a serious threat. Diphtheria was a minor disease in the mid-19th century but later became a major killer. Scarlet fever was a mild illness when first recognized in the late 17th century, caused many deaths in the mid-18th century, then became mild again, before returning as a leading cause of death in children by the mid-19th century. At the start of the 20th century, measles, whooping cough, diphtheria and scarlet fever were four of the biggest child killers in the UK and other industrialized nations. Deaths from all four fell impressively during the first half of the century, before either vaccination or antibiotics became available. There has never been a vaccine against scarlet fever.
(courtesy of Dr Richard Halvorsen)
Mortality rate from measles, scarlet fever, typhoid, whooping cough, and diphtheria in the United States from 1900 to 1965. (www.healthsentinel.com)
Diphtheria antitoxin is an antidote taken from horse blood, and is said to inactivate the diphtheria poison and prevent serious disease if given early enough after infection. The above graph makes it look as if it played a major role in reducing mortality from diphtheria. The graph below undermines this impression by showing what had happened in the 15 years preceding its introduction. In England and Wales, the number of deaths from diphtheria rose 20% in the 15 years following the introduction of the diphtheria antitoxin in 1894, and the fatality rate among those treated with antitoxin was 14%, compared with 6% among those who were not (Null & Feldman, 2007).
Deaths from diphtheria and croup in New York City from 1880 to 1911. (www.healthsentinel.com)
The following four graphs are reproduced courtesy of Dr Isaac Golden (2005, pp. 54-61).
Dr Golden says that although some vaccination programmes coincided with a reduction in notified cases of a particular disease, others did not, and most had only a marginal impact on the death rate. He concludes:
[I]t cannot be generally claimed that vaccination has been responsible for the elimination of infectious diseases, the credit for which must be largely attributed to improved sanitation and waste disposal, personal hygiene and nursing care, and the reduction of severe nutritional deficiencies in the countries considered. These improvements are what are still needed in third world countries, rather than vaccines which can and do produce terrible side effects in malnourished children. (p. 62)
SmallpoxThe smallpox vaccine was the first to be developed. Although deaths from smallpox fell after its introduction, deaths from scourges such as measles and scarlet fever, for which no vaccine was available, were also falling. Smallpox epidemics increased dramatically after 1854, the year the compulsory vaccination law took effect in England. The National Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League was formed, with support from prominent members of parliament and doctors, and riots broke out in several towns. From 1871 to 1873 Europe was swept by the worst smallpox epidemic in history. In England and Wales alone, 45,000 people died even though 97% of the population had been vaccinated. Dr Randall Neustaedter comments: ‘Current smallpox vaccination differs very little from the vaccine used in the nineteenth century, and no one knows whether the vaccine will be similarly ineffective if a modern epidemic were to occur’ (2002, p. 249).
An article in the 1926 British Medical Journal reported that about 80% of the cases admitted into smallpox hospitals had been vaccinated and that vaccinated people were five times more likely to die of the disease than the unvaccinated (Null & Feldman, 2007). From 1948 to 1957, there were 26 deaths from smallpox in England and Wales, and 34 deaths caused by vaccination. During the late 1950s and 1960s, one person died from smallpox, while 21 died as a result of smallpox vaccination (Halvorsen, 2007, pp. 35-6). The UK government abandoned smallpox vaccination in 1971, as it was clearly a greater threat than the disease. The world has been free of smallpox since the late 1970s, including countries where there had been little or no vaccination.
PolioThe UK introduced the killed or inactivated polio virus vaccine (IPV; Salk vaccine) in 1956, but replaced it in 1962 with the cheaper but more dangerous oral polio virus vaccine (OPV; Sabin vaccine), which contains the live virus. OPV was also favoured because IPV had been linked to childhood leukaemia (Karpasea-Jones, 2006, p. 16). From 1970, the OPV used in the UK was causing more cases of paralysis than the disease itself (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 66). Polio virus is also one of the many causes of sudden floppy weakness (acute flaccid paralysis, or AFP) in babies. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 87% of polio cases in the US between 1973 and 1983 were caused by the vaccine, as were all but a few imported cases since then, most of them in fully vaccinated individuals (Phillips, 2001).
Following the introduction of vaccination, the criteria for diagnosing someone as having polio became much stricter. People who don’t make the grade are more likely to be diagnosed as suffering from a rare paralysing disorder of the nerves called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), which causes very similar symptoms. Dr Richard Halvorsen writes:
Though GBS is not thought to be an infectious disease, ‘outbreaks’ of GBS have occurred in countries following mass polio immunisation campaigns. In Central and South America the number of cases of polio fell impressively from 930 to 6 a year between 1986 and 1991. But the number of AFP cases (including a large number of GBS cases), equally impressively, more than doubled from 1000 to over 2000 a year during the same period. A similar trend has been seen more recently in India. ... The live-virus vaccine was introduced to China in 1971, following which the numbers of polio cases started to slowly fall. But the numbers of people diagnosed with GBS increased ten-fold. (p. 69)These outbreaks of GBS may have been side-effects of the polio vaccine, or polio proper, or live-virus vaccine infections.
The WHO declared Europe polio free in 2002, but this refers only to the wild virus. People can still become paralyzed from the live virus of the polio vaccine in a ‘polio-free’ area. The live-virus vaccine is still being used in the developing world as it is cheaper and easier to administer. The WHO originally set a target date of 2000 for the global eradication of polio, but has since postponed the date many times. Cases of wild polio were reported in some 16 third world countries in 2005. The WHO put the total number of confirmed polio cases in that year at 1979, and attributed 250 to 500 of them to the live-virus vaccine – but both figures are probably underestimates, not least because many cases of polio are not being diagnosed as such.
90% of Indian children under five have received at least four doses of live polio vaccine.
Virtually all cases now diagnosed in India are in children who have received four or more doses of vaccine, with nearly half having been given ten doses. ...
The fight to eradicate polio is becoming increasingly frantic, with ever more children being given increasing doses of vaccine to the extent that parents are beginning to mistrust the authorities, and question the vaccine’s effectiveness. (Halvorsen, p. 71)
DiphtheriaIn the UK, the death rate from diphtheria fell by two thirds between 1901 and 1938. Mass vaccination was launched in 1941, and may have played a role in hastening the decline. As it was the most widely used injection at that time, diphtheria vaccination also contributed to the unprecedented polio epidemic of 1947. This is because any injection given to someone developing polio can trigger an attack causing paralysis. By the early 1950s vaccinations were causing 30% of all cases of paralysis from polio in young children. The health department advised that diphtheria vaccination should be suspended whenever there was an outbreak of polio (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 41).
The vaccine has questionable effectiveness, and its long-term effects are unknown. During a diphtheria epidemic in Chicago in 1969, 25% of the cases had been fully vaccinated, and an additional 12% had antibody levels that ought to have provided full immunity though they had not received the full series of shots (Neustaedter, 2002, p. 158). Although diphtheria is a potentially serious disease, it is now extremely rare. By the late 1970s it had disappeared from the UK. Every UK child receives five doses of the vaccine, and adults are thought to need one or more boosters, though the majority have not had them. During the 1990s an unexpected resurgence of diphtheria occurred in the former USSR, causing 5000 deaths despite widespread vaccination.
TetanusTetanus infection occurs through wounds and is rarely fatal. As in other countries, deaths from tetanus in the UK were steadily falling throughout the 20th century long before the introduction in 1961 of the DTP vaccine against tetanus, whooping cough and diphtheria. Afterwards, deaths continued to fall as before. Tetanus has been almost entirely eliminated in the developed nations, primarily because of good hygiene and proper wound management.
The UK health department says that five doses of the vaccine will provide good long-term protection, while other experts say more are required. But there are numerous reports of tetanus occurring in, and occasionally killing, fully vaccinated adults and children. Some of them are known to have had high antibody levels against tetanus toxin – which are supposed to provide protection.
The tetanus vaccine only acts against the poison produced by the tetanus bacterium and does not affect the bacterium itself, so, like diphtheria vaccine, it will never eradicate the disease. The vaccine often causes pain, redness and swelling at the injection site. Overvaccination affects the liver and kidneys. Severe reactions include nerve inflammation, arthritis, and temporary coma, causing permanent disability in some cases and a few fatalities. Long-term adverse effects are unknown.
Whooping cough (pertussis)The British government has paid out large sums to brain-damaged children under the vaccine compensation programme, which was introduced because of concern about the side-effects of the whooping cough vaccine. Dr Richard Halvorsen writes:
The vaccine often causes a high fever, and can cause persistent uncontrollable screaming, abnormal drowsiness and restlessness as well as redness, swelling and pain at the site of vaccination. These symptoms occur more commonly after whooping cough vaccination than most other vaccines. More worryingly, the baby sometimes ‘collapses’ and becomes unresponsive and impossible to arouse. ... Convulsions, sometimes prolonged, can occur, as can severe neurological reactions, including brain damage. In addition, the vaccine can cause babies to stop breathing (apnoea), at least temporarily, and this is believed to be a cause of cot deaths. (2007, p. 102)A 1976-79 study in the UK concluded that the vaccine caused brain damage in 1 in 110,000 vaccinees and that the damage was permanent in 1 in 310,000. This was confirmed by a follow-up study 13 years later. An American study found that serious reactions were occurring in as many as 1 in 30,000 vaccinees (ibid., pp. 100-1). Dr Randall Neustaedter calls the whooping cough vaccine ‘the classic toxic vaccine’: ‘no other vaccine has approached the cumulative damage inflicted by the pertussis vaccine. The vaccine industry’s denial of pertussis vaccine reactions is unforgivable’ (2002, p. 234).
Adverse publicity about the whooping cough vaccine in the UK caused vaccine uptake to fall from around 78% in the early 1970s to a low of 31% in 1978. The government launched what a senior doctor called a ‘campaign of terror’ to convince the public that whooping cough was a killer disease. Yet at that time there was an annual total of 1500 cot deaths, 2000 child deaths from accidents, and 2500 avoidable perinatal deaths, compared with 13 deaths from whooping cough (as against 65,772 survivors). During the 10 years of low vaccination uptake in the UK (1978-1987), a total of 62 children died of whooping cough, but this was less than the 101 children who had died during the previous 10 years when vaccine uptake was high. Moreover, nearly as many fully vaccinated children were catching whooping cough as unvaccinated children (Halvorsen, p. 99).
The whole-cell whooping cough vaccine is made from the entire (killed) pertussis bacterium. Over half the babies vaccinated suffered a side-effect of some sort. During the 1960s and 70s, acellular vaccines were developed, which contain only certain parts of the bacterium. The acellular vaccine is generally considered to be safer and more effective. It gives rise to fewer mild-type reactions but, like the whole-cell vaccine, it is associated with severe reactions, including encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), seizures, brain damage, and deaths. Japan switched to the new vaccine in 1981, the USA in 1996, and by 2000 most Western European countries had done so. The UK belatedly followed suit in 2004.
The effectiveness of the vaccine is said to be anywhere between 37% and 92%. Halvorsen states:
In reality, it’s probably near the bottom end of that estimate. To take an example, an epidemic of whooping cough hit the Shetland Isles in 1974. The same proportion of immunised children caught the infection as unimmunised children, suggesting the vaccine offered no protection at all.Whooping cough is still with us, despite widespread vaccination. A booster dose of the vaccine is given to UK children at 4 years of age, but its effectiveness only lasts about 5 or 6 years. Whooping cough is now a typical disease of adults who did not develop permanent immunity from the disease in childhood. The US advises ten-yearly boosters up to the age of 65. The disease has become more common in various countries in recent years, and outbreaks have occurred among fully vaccinated children.
In another example, in the 1970s, the immunisation rates in three similar countries, France, Britain and West Germany varied between 95 per cent and 10 per cent. However, the death rate from whooping cough remained the same in all three countries, suggesting the vaccine made no difference. (p. 104)
The risk of a child dying from whooping cough in the UK is around 1 in 30,000 cases. The question is whether the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks. Richard Halvorsen, a family doctor, had his own son vaccinated against whooping cough before he began his five-year research into vaccination. He was shocked by what he discovered, and his conclusion today is: ‘On balance, I would not have had my son vaccinated’ (p. 106).
DTPDTP is a 3-in-1 vaccine for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis. Based on exhaustive research, Dr Harris Coulter and Barbara Fisher listed the following short-term side-effects: skin reactions; fever; vomiting and diarrhoea; cough, runny nose, ear infection; high-pitched screaming, persistent crying; collapse or shock-like episodes; excessive sleepiness; seizure disorders (convulsions, epilepsy); infantile spasms; loss of muscle control; inflammation of the brain; blood disorders; diabetes and hypoglycaemia; death and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The accuracy of this list is confirmed by medical research and by the warnings to health personnel printed on vaccine instruction leaflets (which parents are not shown). Possible long-term side-effects of the DTP vaccine include: severe neurological damage; brain damage, learning disabilities and hyperactivity; allergy and hypersensitivity (Golden, 2005, pp. 67-8). Even the manufacturers of DTP say it can cause a serious neurological reaction in one in every 1750 doses (Karpasea-Jones, 2006, p. 3).
Many children start screaming terribly after a DTP shot (Carmack, 1998). A young boy’s mother reported:
It was a blood-curdling scream, like someone was stabbing him. Then he became unresponsive. His arms dropped to the side, and he became flaccid. About an hour later, he stiffened up, then his arms again became flaccid and he let out this terrible scream.Another mother said that within 15 hours of her young daughter receiving her first DTP shot, ‘she started screaming like she was in terrible pain’, and this continued off and on for two weeks. After her third shot she started having convulsions, resulting in her having to take medication to control a seizure disorder.
Of 253 infant death cases awarded more than $61 million by the US Court of Federal Claims in the 1990s under the vaccine damage compensation programme, 224 (86%) were attributed to vaccination with DTP. In 90 (40%) of the latter cases, mortality was originally attributed to SIDS (Karpasea-Jones, 2006, p. 24).
Tuberculosis (TB)TB cases and deaths have only fallen in the wealthy countries. One third of the world’s population are believed to be infected with TB, and nearly 2 million die from it every year. Since the 1970s, BCG has become the most widely used vaccine against any disease. It is a live version of the TB virus, but ‘attenuated’ to make it safer. The UK introduced BCG for those at special risk in 1949, and also offered it to all 13-year-old schoolchildren from 1953. The vaccine is said to have protected four out of five children who received it. But countries that had never used the vaccine experienced similar falls in TB cases. The Netherlands has the lowest death rates for respiratory tuberculosis of any European country, but has never routinely used BCG. A UK study concluded that 90% of the fall between 1953 and 1990 was a result of drug prevention (such as treating close contacts of people with TB) and drug treatment, whereas BCG only accounted for 10% of the fall (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 52).
Around 6000 people a year get TB in the UK today, and about 1 in 15 of them die as a result. The largest outbreak of TB in the UK in recent years occurred at a school in Leicester in 2001, when 62 students, teachers and relatives caught TB. 80% of children at the school, including most of those with the disease, had been vaccinated. Since 2005 the focus has been on vaccinating newborn babies in areas with a high rate of TB, but this still means that low-risk babies born in high-risk areas will be given a vaccine of unproven benefit but with known risks. Up to 1 in 50 vaccinees get swollen and painful lymph nodes (glands) in the neck or armpit. Around 1 in 200,000 suffer a widespread TB-like infection, which is occasionally fatal. Halvorsen argues that action against factors that fuel TB – poverty, malnutrition and overcrowding – might be money better spent.
In 2004, 118 pupils were given the BCG vaccine at a Welsh school. One pupil suffered anaphylaxis (inability to breathe) and was admitted to intensive care, where he eventually recovered. 12 other pupils were sent to the local casualty department suffering from symptoms such as sweating, dizziness, nausea, breathing difficulties, shivering and blurred vision. 10 pupils were admitted to the hospital from casualty, though 7 were discharged later that day. A local health chief tried to reassure the public by saying that the students’ reactions were just ‘normal side-effects’ of BCG vaccination!
MeaslesMeasles has historically been a common childhood disease with rare complications; complications have always been more prevalent in children from poorer families. The death rate from measles was plummeting in many countries well before the introduction of vaccination. In the UK, 99% of the decline occurred before the vaccine was introduced.
The effectiveness of the single measles vaccine is said to be 90% at most – and nearer to 70%, or even 50%, in developing countries (Halvorsen, 2007, pp. 87-8). There have been several outbreaks of measles in schools and colleges where over 99% of the pupils had been vaccinated, many twice or even three times. Atypical measles is a much more serious form of measles that occurs only in people who have been vaccinated, with most cases developing pneumonia.
The measles vaccine contains the live measles virus. Although attenuated, it can still produce most of the same complications as the wild measles virus. In fact, the most common ‘side-effects’ of measles vaccination are identical to the symptoms of ‘wild’ measles infection. Studies have shown that the vaccine causes a serious neurological disorder, such as encephalitis or prolonged convulsions, in 1 in every 87,000 children. Since doctors report less than 10% of drug and vaccine side-effects, more than one child in every 10,000 could be suffering encephalitis as a result of the measles vaccine (ibid., pp. 85-6). Dr Randall Neustaedter calls measles vaccination a ‘failed and tragic experiment’:
The problems caused by the measles vaccine read like a neurologic textbook. Encephalitis, meningitis, autism, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, seizure disorder, sensorineural deafness, optic neuritis, transverse myelitis, Guillain-Barré syndrome. The human tragedy described in the thousands of reports is staggering. This vaccine is dangerous. (2002, pp. 204-5)Before mass vaccination, babies were protected during the first months of life by maternal antibodies, and nearly all children caught measles before 10 years of age. The protection given by natural infection is usually lifelong whereas that from vaccination is far shorter. As a result, measles is now more likely to be caught by teenagers and adults, in whom it can cause more serious complications. It is also more serious in under one-year-olds, a group who no longer receive the same protection because their mothers are now more likely to be vaccinated and not to have had measles. There is evidence that as a result of the worldwide vaccination campaign, mutant strains of measles are developing that are resistant to the vaccine.
MumpsMumps is a mild childhood disease, with occasional complications. It can cause viral meningitis, but this is nearly always harmless – unlike the serious (bacterial) meningitis that can kill within 24 hours. Mumps can also cause swelling of the testicles, but this is rarely a problem before puberty.
The mumps vaccine has failed to live up to expectations. Outbreaks of mumps have occurred in populations where 98% of children have been vaccinated, and in one outbreak more vaccinated children caught mumps than unvaccinated children (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 118). Mass vaccination replaces the lifelong immunity gained from natural infection with much shorter medically-induced immunity. As a result, mumps has increasingly become a disease of adolescents and adults, in whom mumps is more serious, especially for men and adolescent boys. Some doctors believe that selective vaccination of teenage boys who have not had mumps would have made more sense, in order to prevent an attack in adulthood.
The mumps vaccine consists of an attenuated live virus. It has caused significant adverse reactions, including meningitis, in as many as 1 in 1000 doses (Neustaedter, 2002, p. 215). It has also been linked to diabetes, fevers, seizures, encephalitis and severe, atypical mumps disease.
The mumps and measles vaccines are now given as part of the MMR jab (see section 5). The Urabe strain of the mumps vaccine used in MMR appeared to be causing a greater incidence of viral meningitis in children and was eventually withdrawn in several countries. The UK health department initially kept this information to itself, before hastily announcing the withdrawal of two Urabe-containing brands of MMR in 1992.
MMR has turned out to be less effective and more risky than the individual vaccines it replaced, but British health officials have stubbornly refused to offer the single vaccines as an alternative. From the end of 2000, cases of mumps started rising again. Of 200 people getting mumps in Walsall in 2000, over two thirds had received the MMR vaccine, and nearly a fifth had been given two doses. The effectiveness of the mumps vaccine in the real world is said to range from 46 to 97% with an average of around 75%. Recent research shows that the mumps component of the MMR vaccine is only 65% effective after one dose, rising to 88% after two doses, suggesting that even two doses will never eradicate mumps. Halvorsen says that giving the mumps vaccine as part of the MMR has been ‘an unmitigated failure’, and that the vaccine ‘appears to be doing more harm than good’ (p. 122).
Rubella (German measles)Rubella is a mild infection that is normally of little consequence. However, a woman who contracts rubella during the first three months of pregnancy risks abortion, miscarriage, or birth defects in her child. Before the introduction of vaccination, most people caught rubella as children, which gave them lifelong immunity. Babies whose mothers had caught the illness were therefore protected against infection during pregnancy.
In 1970 the UK introduced selective vaccination for girls aged between 11 and 14, because some women were becoming pregnant without having had rubella. In the mid-1990s this policy was abandoned in favour of vaccinating all 4-year-old boys and girls. It was assumed that the vaccine would be 95% effective and that its effect would last for at least 40 years and therefore protect women until their mid-40s. This was a big miscalculation. Only 9% of girls receiving a second rubella vaccine at 12 years were found to be protected at 15 (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 141), and rubella is now shifting to older age groups.
Rubella remains widespread in Europe, and the target of eliminating congenital rubella syndrome (CRS) has been abandoned. The single rubella vaccine contains a modified form of the live rubella virus and so can potentially cause any of the symptoms of rubella. In fact, if a recently vaccinated woman breast-feeds her baby, she runs the risk of passing rubella on to it. Adverse effects include encephalitis-type symptoms, meningitis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. At least 12 to 20% of women develop arthritis symptoms after receiving the vaccine (Neustaedter, 2002, p. 218).
FluThe strains of flu virus constantly mutate, and flu vaccine manufacturers are notoriously bad at predicting which viruses to use in an individual year’s vaccine. Those most at risk of complications from flu are the elderly, but studies have shown that the vaccine’s efficacy in this age group ranges from 70% to 0%. A study of the death rate from flu among Americans over 65 between 1965 and 2001 found no change whatsoever in mortality, even though flu vaccine coverage had increased from 15-20% before 1980 to 65% in 2001 (www.cure-guide.com). Moreover, those most at risk of flu complications are also more at risk from adverse reactions to the vaccine. The most common side-effects are fever, fatigue, aching muscles and headache – i.e. the symptoms of flu! Some flu vaccines still contain mercury as a preservative. The vaccines often result in nervous system damage (e.g. Guillain-Barré syndrome) that can take years for the body to repair. Dr Randall Neustaedter advises: ‘Avoid the flu vaccine. Risks are not worth the slim chance of vaccine effectiveness’ (2002, p. 162).
HepatitisHepatitis A is spread by the fecal-oral route in person-to-person contract or through contaminated food or water. Randall Neustaedter writes:
Routine vaccination of children will result in untold numbers of dangerous adverse immune system reactions in individuals who have little likelihood of exposure to a disease caused by poor living conditions. ...Hepatitis B is transmitted sexually, and also by exposure to infected blood, injected-drug use, and occupational or household contacts. Only those children exposed to infected mothers are at risk. It makes no sense to vaccinate children because any protection will probably disappear before children reach the age when they are sexually active or exposed to other risk factors. Moreover, hepatitis B vaccine has been associated with severe adverse reactions, including Guillain-Barré syndrome, arthritis, demyelinating nervous system disease, myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), anaphylaxis, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. A 1994 Institute of Medicine report admitted that the vaccine can cause death. In 1996 48 American children were reported to have died after being injected with hepatitis B vaccine, and 13 of them had received no other vaccine before their deaths (Carmack, 1998).
A more prudent and far less risky public health strategy for disease prevention would be to identify specific communities with a high incidence of hepatitis A, and target specific improvements in their living conditions. (2002, pp. 165-6)
While doctors are usually very eager to vaccinate other people’s children, they are far less inclined to vaccinate themselves and their own children. For instance, in 1990 the British Medical Journal reported that of 598 doctors questioned, 86% believed that all general practitioners should be vaccinated against hepatitis B, yet 309 of them had not been vaccinated themselves. Dr Philip Incao stated: ‘the conclusion is obvious that the risks of hepatitis B vaccination far outweigh its benefits’ (Null & Feldman, 2007).
In 1998 France became the first country to stop requiring hepatitis B vaccination for schoolchildren after numerous reports of chronic arthritis, symptoms resembling multiple sclerosis, and other serious health problems following vaccination. The government compensated three recipients of hepatitis B vaccine for the development of MS (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 176).
ChickenpoxChickenpox is a mild childhood disease with rare complications. The risk of healthy children dying from it is 0.0014%. Catching the illness naturally usually confers lifelong immunity. Mass vaccination is likely to shift the age distribution of chickenpox from children to adults, in whom complications are more frequent. The vaccine provides protection for several years, though unusually severe cases of chickenpox do occur in those previously vaccinated. Adverse reactions are common. The vaccine introduces a live virus into the body that can cause encephalitis and has the ability to remain latent for an entire lifetime. The long-term effects are unknown. It is reasonable to conclude that the risks from the chickenpox vaccine are greater than the risks of the disease.
The most frequently stated purpose of the chickenpox vaccine is not to protect children from this illness, but to prevent parents having to take a few days off work to care for their sick child. Neustaedter comments:
Tampering with the immune system to save parents’ and the corporate world’s time and money is patently ridiculous. This is a clear instance of the vaccine industry’s desire to sell a product that we do not need. (2002, p. 155)
Hib (Haemophilis influenzae type B)Invasive Hib diseases include meningitis, blood poisoning, pneumonia, and inflammation of part of the throat (epiglottitis). In the early 1990s, several countries introduced a new type of high-tech vaccine to immunize the population against Hib. It is called a ‘conjugated’ vaccine, meaning that the outer coating of the vaccine bacterium is attached to a protein to improve effectiveness. Trials of various Hib vaccines in the UK had suggested they were between 75 and 95% effective. But these trials followed up the children for only a year or two, and no trials were carried out to look at long-term effectiveness.
Within two years of the vaccine’s introduction, serious Hib infections in children had fallen by over 90% in England and Wales. But in 1998 the number started rising again, even though uptake of the Hib vaccine had remained consistently high at 93-95%. In 2003 the government conceded that the vaccine was only 57% effective. Moreover the protection it provided was short-lived. Babies receiving the vaccine at 2, 3 and 4 months were only 60% protected for two years, after which protection fell to just 27% (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 195). This should have been discovered through proper trials before the vaccine was introduced. In 2006, the UK introduced a combined Hib/Meningitis C booster at 12 months.
Before vaccination, 1 in 20 healthy children cohabited with the Hib bacterium in their noses and throats yet only 0.2% succumbed to the disease. Research suggests that the vaccine may reduce death from Hib but not necessarily the overall death rate in children, as they are dying from other diseases instead (e.g. pneumococcal infection). Because the Hib bug is now less widespread in the community, natural immunity has declined, resulting in a rise in the number of adult cases, which tend to be more serious. There has been a fall in adult Hib disease in the UK following the booster campaign, but this may be short-lived as a rise in adult cases has been reported in the Netherlands where a regular booster is given at 2 years of age. Moreover, the vaccine has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, asthma, allergies and Guillain-Barré syndrome.
Meningitis CAnother new conjugated vaccine is the meningitis C vaccine, which several European countries have introduced since 1999. The UK was the first to introduce it, but without any evidence that it worked, as a decision was made that it would not have to undergo three to five years of trials; the government apparently preferred to conduct a clinical trial using every child in the country. Yet the public was reassured that the vaccine had undergone extensive testing, was extremely safe, and would be 98% effective.
Meningitis C infection in children initially fell sharply, but within a few years alarm bells started ringing. It was found that, although the vaccine appears to give good protection to babies for the first year after vaccination (93% effective), this falls to zero protection after a year. Of 19 cases of meningitis C in children more than one year after routine vaccination at 2, 3 and 4 months, 18 occurred in children who had been fully vaccinated against the disease (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 206). In 2006, a booster was added at 12 months of age, and it is thought that a further booster at 12 years may be necessary.
Reported adverse reactions include headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, dizziness, faints, malaise, enlarged glands, and allergic reactions including anaphylaxis and seizures. Since its introduction in the UK until September 2005, a total of 30 deaths have been suspected by doctors to have been caused by the vaccine, of which 14 were classified as sudden unexplained deaths (SIDS). This is a higher number of suspected deaths per dose than with any other widely used vaccine. The booster at 12 months produces side-effects such as irritability, drowsiness, loss of appetite, pain, redness, swelling, and fever in 1 in 10 children.
Meningitis C is rare but serious (with a 1 in 10 death rate). However, it causes fewer cases of meningitis than meningitis B, for which there is no immediate prospect of a vaccine. There is concern that reducing the C type of meningococcus infections may only lead to increased meningitis B and other infections, leaving us no better off.
DTaP/IPV/Hib (Pediacel)In 2004 the UK introduced the 5-in-1 conjugate vaccine Pediacel for babies aged 2, 3 and 4 months. It combines vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, and Hib. The chairman of the committee that advises the UK government on vaccines turned out to be receiving research funds for his university department from Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), which, in partnership with Aventis, manufactures Pediacel and two other newly introduced vaccines.
Pediacel has several points in its favour: it replaced the whole-cell whooping cough vaccine with the acellular one; it replaced the live polio vaccine with the killed polio vaccine; and it does not contain any mercury. However, like the new vaccines against pneumococcus and HPV, it contains a relatively large amount of aluminium. Its safety and effectiveness have not been adequately tested, and its side-effects may be more than the sum of its individual components if given separately.
Frequent side-effects occurring within a week of the vaccine are shown in the graph below. In addition, 1 in 1000 children are reported to have suffered convulsions, being floppy and less responsive than usual, and high-pitched screaming (due to an extremely painful headache caused by swelling of the brain). Manufacturers warn that the vaccine has not been evaluated to see whether it can cause cancer, induce genetic mutation, or affect fertility (Karpasea-Jones, 2006, pp. 18, 20).
(courtesy of Dr Richard Halvorsen)
PneumococcusPrevenar is a new conjugate vaccine for immunizing against the pneumococcus bug, which lives in the noses of many children, and can cause pneumonia and meningitis or even death. It is very expensive and has become the most profitable vaccine ever. The US introduced it in 2000, and by early 2007 it was recommended for all children in 11 European countries. Invasive pneumococcus disease (IPD) is so much rarer in Western European countries than in the USA that an expert review questioned the value of vaccinating all children. Several European countries only offer the vaccine to high-risk children.
Almost inevitably, the vaccine is turning out to be far less effective than originally hoped. The number of children with IPD is on the rise again, as the bug is mutating into forms untroubled by the vaccine. In Finland the vaccine caused a 57% fall in the number of pneumococcal ear infections caused by types of bacteria covered by the vaccine, but the number of ear infections caused by pneumococcal bacteria not covered by the vaccine rose by 33%.
As is now standard practice, Prevenar was introduced without adequate safety trials. Information is only available on common reactions shortly after vaccination. The vaccine causes more local reactions, such as pain, redness and swelling, than most other vaccines. Compared to Pediacel, it causes more episodes of floppy baby reactions, more inconsolable crying, more convulsions, and more hospital admissions. One study showed that asthma is more common in children who have received the vaccine. Reactions recurring in the same child after a further pneumococcal vaccination include fever, irritability, prolonged crying, stomach disturbances and seizures. During the first two years of its use in the UK, 117 deaths were linked to the vaccine; researchers denied any link, but most of the deaths remain unexplained (Halvorsen, 2007, pp. 231-2).
HPVOne of the latest vaccines is for human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus believed to cause warts; its importance lies in the fact that genital warts are believed to cause 80 to 100% of cases of cervical cancer. One manufacturer announced that, after three doses, the vaccine was 100% effective (later reduced to 98%) in a carefully selected group of 16- to 23-year-olds, but only for a period of two years. These UK trials did not include girls under 16, even though they are the ones most likely to be given the vaccine routinely. Moreover, the vaccine is only effective against four types of HPV, responsible for 70% of cervical cancers. And the effectiveness figure refers to precancerous changes and not to cancer itself. Halvorsen writes: ‘if we look at all pre-cancerous lesions, caused by any type of HPV, in all women, the effectiveness drops to 17 per cent, with no demonstrable effect at all in preventing CIN 3, the most serious pre-cancerous lesion’ (2007, p. 236).
Reported short-term side-effects include: pain (83.9%), swelling (25.4%), redness of the skin (24.6%), fever (10.3%) and intense itching (3.1%). The vaccine may increase the risk of autoimmune disorders by two and a half times. There have been no long-term studies to check whether vaccinating young girls with HPV would affect their future ability to have children. Another concern, voiced by the FDA, is that the vaccine may predispose women to cancer if they already have traces of HPV in their body, as most people do (www.vaccineriskawareness.com).
When the MMR first came out, health officials assured the public that a single jab would provide lifelong protection. This proved untrue, and in 1996 the UK introduced a second MMR jab, even though no studies had looked at the safety of a two-dose schedule. At that time, government doctors reduced the estimated effectiveness of the vaccine from the original 95% to around 70%.
After the introduction of MMR, hundreds of parents started reporting that their children had been seriously damaged by the vaccine. The children started regressing: they stopped talking, lost their potty training skills, and no longer played and socialized as before. Many suffered from bowel problems, and some were diagnosed with autism. By 1997 a UK solicitor had 1200 cases on his books, including children with autism, epilepsy, bowel problems and behavioural disorders. A few children had died.
In 1998 Dr Andrew Wakefield and 12 other doctors published a paper in the Lancet reporting on 12 children who, after receiving the MMR, had lost language and other skills, suffered diarrhoea and abdominal pain, and had unusual changes in their guts. Most of them had been diagnosed with autism. It mentioned that in eight cases parents, or the child’s doctor, had made a link to the MMR. The 13 authors were sceptical of this claim, but called for more research to be carried out. At a press conference Wakefield suggested that it might be safer to use single vaccines than the MMR vaccine. This challenge to the establishment marked the beginning of his downfall.
Wakefield soon parted company with his employer, the Royal Free Hospital in London, whose vaccine research unit is funded by SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline), one of the manufacturers of MMR. The hospital stopped treating the children in question. Government officials and senior doctors made every effort to discredit and dismiss Wakefield’s work, and he was forced to move to the US to continue his research. Spurred on by the then Health Secretary, the General Medical Council announced it was investigating Wakefield’s conduct. This led to a show trial which resulted in Wakefield and another doctor losing their licence to practise medicine in the UK, even though researchers around the world have replicated their findings (see www.cryshame.com).
By 2003 over 1600 UK families had been granted legal aid to seek compensation from the manufacturers of MMR – GSK, Merck, and Aventis Pasteur. Evidence was accumulating to implicate the vaccine in the children’s disabilities. But in September 2003, the Legal Services Commission suddenly withdrew legal aid from the parents, just months before the trial was due to begin. The High Court rejected an appeal. The case was heard by the younger brother of one of GSK’s directors. Funding was later reinstated for certain families, but the parents’ legal action is unlikely to continue as the forces ranged against them are too powerful.
In response to the storm of adverse media publicity generated by the Wakefield article, the health department launched a national campaign to persuade parents that MMR was safe. Its propaganda leaflet assured people that there was no evidence of any link between MMR and autism or bowel disease. Dr Halvorsen calls this ‘a factually incorrect statement, little short of deceit’ (p. 161); there is a great deal of evidence, but it is not yet conclusive.
Many medical articles have been published on this subject, and have reached conflicting conclusions. Several major epidemiological studies have failed to substantiate any link between MMR and autism. Critics have identified several defects in these studies (ibid., pp. 161-6). In particular, epidemiological studies look at entire populations.
The most that one can conclude from all these studies is that MMR is not the only or even, at least on its own, the major cause of autism. But then nobody ever suggested that it was. (ibid., p. 166)If MMR were responsible for a 10% increase in autism cases it would affect 300 UK children a year, but this would simply not show up in epidemiological studies. What Wakefield and other scientists are saying is that MMR triggers autism in a small subgroup of susceptible children, not in a small random selection of the whole childhood population.
Peer-reviewed research by several groups of scientists around the world has uncovered strong evidence supporting a link between MMR and autism (Halvorsen, pp. 166-9; Neustaedter, 2002, pp. 206-7). The measles virus has been found in the gut, blood and even brain of the children in question. A group of scientists in Dublin found that 75 out of 91 children suffering from bowel inflammation and developmental problems such as autism had measles virus in their gut, whereas this was true of only 5 of the 70 comparison children. The odds of this being due to chance are 1 in 10,000. The team later analysed 12 samples and found that all the measles viruses were the vaccine strain rather than the wild virus. American doctors, too, have found measles virus in the guts of a large proportion of children with autism and bowel disease.
In a further study, Wakefield and his colleagues studied two groups of 23 children each, who all suffered bowel problems and development regression (mainly autism) after receiving a measles-containing vaccine. The children in the group that had been given a second such vaccine developed a recurrence, or aggravation, of symptoms including diarrhoea, blood in the stool, and fecal incontinence, whereas this did not happen to the children who had received only one vaccine. The odds of this difference occurring by chance are 1 in 10,000. Acute inflammation was four to five times more likely in the children who had received two vaccines.
Researchers have also found that people who had caught measles and mumps within a year of MMR were six times more likely to develop inflammatory bowel disease, and that exposure to measles, mumps and rubella in the womb or in early infancy may on rare occasions trigger autism (Halvorsen, p. 158). The number of children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) has risen dramatically in recent decades, especially since the late 1980s.
In several children with regressive autism, the measles virus has been found in the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain. Dr Vijendra Singh has identified specific antibodies that produce an autoimmune attack on brain tissue in response to measles vaccine. That MMR can cause fatal encephalitis in an apparently healthy child is shown by the case of a British boy named Daniel. He was given the MMR vaccine shortly after his first birthday. All remained well until he was 20 months when he became irritable with a high temperature and started to vomit. He was diagnosed with encephalitis and died a few weeks later. In a desperate attempt to find out what was causing Daniel’s illness, doctors had performed a brain biopsy. Much to their surprise, they found that measles virus had invaded his brain; it was vaccine-strain virus, and could only have come from the MMR jab (ibid., pp. 181-2).
As a result of the MMR scare in the UK, uptake of the vaccine steadily fell to a low of 80% in 2003. Yet instead of increasing, the number of reported cases of measles has fallen – despite the government’s repeated hysterical warnings of imminent measles outbreaks and lots of ‘dead babies’! Government figures show that 44% of people are not protected against at least one of the three diseases in question after the first dose of MMR. A second dose of MMR is offered at four years of age but uptake has never exceeded 75%. Similar figures are found in several other European countries. The British government refuses to accept that its scare tactics and economy with the truth are to blame for the public’s scepticism.
In the UK there are financial pressures on doctors to administer MMR. Part of their pay comes from achieving childhood vaccination targets. There are reports of doctors ‘striking off’ families for refusing to have their children vaccinated. To persuade wavering parents, some doctors have told them their children would die if they didn’t have the jab, and have even accused them of being child abusers. In the US, children who have not been vaccinated have actually been barred from attending school, while their parents faced a fine or a short jail sentence.
Some doctors decline to give vaccinations to their own children, or at least delay them. A Swiss survey found that almost 5% of physicians did not use the MMR vaccine in their own children, partly due to safety concerns. 15% of nonpediatricians chose not to give the first dose of measles or MMR before 2 years of age (www.cure-guide.com). Some doctors and other parents opt for single vaccines rather than combination jabs. In the UK the single MMR vaccines are no longer available on the national health service, but are available privately. The government claimed that they were very safe and effective before MMR came along, but in a desperate effort to promote MMR, some senior health officials and doctors have since described parents who opt for single vaccines as ‘reckless’, ‘selfish’ and even ‘child abusers’. Such are the depths to which the level of debate has sunk!
As for long-term risks, the necessary research has simply not been done. A 20-year study is needed of two groups of children from infancy, with one group receiving routine vaccinations and another remaining unvaccinated. However, there are already strong indications that the long-term side-effects of vaccination include: severe neurological damage; brain damage; allergy and hypersensitivity; general damage to the immune system; slow viruses; genetic abnormalities; viral transference; and immune system diseases (Golden, 2005, p. 72).
Governments, health authorities and family doctors can usually not be relied upon to provide parents with all the information they need. If anything, governments and medical authorities have become less honest in recent decades; they are concerned that any public admission of serious health risks from vaccines would undermine the vaccination strategy. Moreover, the pharmaceutical industry is now thoroughly entangled with the medical establishment, giving rise to conflicts of interest. For instance, several doctors on the committee that advises the UK government on vaccinations have commercial links with vaccine manufacturers. In 2002, the US drug industry spent about $100 million lobbying politicians and health officials. Alan Phillips (2001) writes:
Members and Chairs of the FDA and CDC vaccine advisory committees own stock in drug companies that make vaccines; individuals on both advisory committees own patents for vaccines under consideration or are affected by the decisions these committees make.Vaccine proponents tend to believe that most parents will choose to vaccinate their children once they have been given ‘the facts’. However, surveys in various countries have shown that parents who have the most concerns about vaccination are often better educated and better informed, and many are health professionals. Joanna Karpasea-Jones (2006, pp. 84-5) advises parents to read manufacturers’ information sheets for the vaccines in question, which contain details of side-effects and contraindications (i.e. reasons why a child should not be vaccinated). She says it is worth asking to see the doctor’s version of this information, which usually contains more details, especially on serious side-effects.
Parents who stand firm against vaccination often face hostility from doctors, family members and friends. After becoming a mother, Joanna Karpasea-Jones investigated the vaccination issue and was shocked to read about the risks of disability and death. She and her husband were removed from three doctors’ lists for refusing to vaccinate their baby, and were accused of being irresponsible and selfish. She was so outraged that the information she had uncovered was not readily available to the public that she decided to set up a support group and information centre for parents (www.vaccineriskawareness.com).
The tendency in recent decades has been to inject children with ever more vaccines at an ever younger age. The number of vaccine shots given to children under 5 in the UK has risen from 16 in the 1980s to 32 in 2006, with 24 being given before the 15th month. This reflects an increase in both the number of different vaccines and the number of doses needed to provide ‘protection’. A survey in 2003 revealed that a third of UK doctors felt that babies were receiving too many vaccinations – and they’re now receiving even more. More new vaccines are under development: e.g. for rotavirus diarrhoea, sexually transmitted disease, cancer, malaria, birth control, cocaine addiction, and tooth decay. The increase in the total number of jabs increases the risk of side-effects, especially since vaccines are increasingly being administered in combinations or simultaneously, despite growing evidence that they may interact in ways that increase the risk of side-effects. Also noteworthy is that whereas most drugs are given in a dose proportional to a child’s weight, the same strength of vaccine is given to all children.
The number of vaccine shots given to children under 5 in the UK could reach 43 by 2020.
(Dr Richard Halvorsen)
The youngest children are often at the greatest risk from disease, but they are also more vulnerable to the damaging side-effects of vaccines. In 1975, following 37 sudden infant deaths linked to vaccination, the Japanese government raised the minimum vaccination age from 3 to 24 months. This resulted in sudden infant deaths disappearing from the statistics on compensation awarded for vaccine damage – a clear indication that vaccination is one cause of SIDS (Golden, 2005, p. 207).
If an illness is very rare or rarely causes significant damage, the more likely it is that the risks of mass vaccination will outweigh any benefits. For instance 35,000 children have to be vaccinated with MMR in order to prevent one case of congenital rubella syndrome. This is hard to justify, as the risks posed by MMR may be greater than the risks of CRS (Halvorsen, 2007, p. 304).
In the 1960s officials suggested that 55% vaccine coverage would be sufficient to prevent epidemics. Since then, the figure has been increased to between 85% and 95%. Yet outbreaks of measles, mumps and rubella have occurred in communities with well over 95% uptake of MMR. Diseases such as whooping cough cannot be eliminated by vaccination because the effectiveness of the vaccine (probably 50-70%) is well below the 95% ‘herd immunity’ level required to prevent the illness from spreading.
Most people in the developed world are better off catching usually mild diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox as children, thereby receiving lifelong protection. The health risks of these diseases may be less than the risks associated with adverse reactions to the vaccines. In 1980 the British Medical Journal published an article saying that only the most vulnerable children or those who did not catch measles at a young age should be vaccinated. Dr Halvorsen comments:
The BMJ is unlikely to print such wise and cautious words today for fear of being accused of putting children’s lives at risk, so fevered and irrational has the debate on children’s vaccinations become. (p. 303)Doctors used to be far more cautious about vaccinating. During the 1960s, whooping cough vaccine was generally not given to a child if that child (or a close relative) had a history of fits, asthma, eczema, hay fever or other allergies. Nowadays, that would exclude a large proportion of children. Modern US guidelines advise that a mild acute illness, with or without fever, should not prevent a child from being vaccinated.
As the story of Dr Andrew Wakefield illustrates, those within the government or medical profession who dare to express concerns in public are often pressurized not to speak out. Dr Halvorsen says that, while researching his book, he spoke to several people who ‘have been told that their jobs or pensions would be at risk, or even that they would be in contravention of the official secrets act, should they whistle-blow on controversial issues surrounding childhood vaccination’ (2007, p. 253).
In 2000, research was published showing that children in Guinea-Bissau who were given routine vaccinations were more likely to die over the next six months than unvaccinated children. Receiving either the DTP jab or polio drops increased the likelihood of death by 38 to 84%. Further research in Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Gambia and Congo confirmed this picture (Halvorsen, 2007, pp. 239-40). Babies in Guinea-Bissau receiving the hepatitis B vaccine were twice as likely to die before their first birthday as unvaccinated children. In other words, DTP and Hep B, two of the most widely used vaccines, appear to be causing more deaths than they are preventing.
Bangladeshi babies given the TB vaccine were found to be twice as likely to die as those not given it, though in some countries the opposite has been found. Researchers who studied 83,000 people in Malawi vaccinated against TB reported in the Lancet in 1992 that they could find no statistically significant evidence that the vaccine provided protection (www.whale.to). The measles vaccine is claimed to have contributed to an 80% fall in deaths from measles between 1980 and 2003. Figures on vaccine damage are not available. The vaccine’s effectiveness in Uganda was recently found to be only 74%. In Sudan, an estimated 70% of the child population has been vaccinated, but 59% of measles cases affect vaccinated children. At least one wild African measles virus appears to be becoming resistant to the vaccine.
As a rule, vaccines are introduced in developing countries without any controlled trials to see whether they are safe and effective. A decrease in the incidence and mortality of a disease after a vaccine is introduced is automatically attributed to the vaccine. That this is not necessarily correct is shown by the fact that in Nigeria measles and whooping cough cases fell after vaccination was introduced, but so did cases of chickenpox and dysentery, for which no vaccines were given.
Vaccines known to be less safe are still widely used in the developing world. The live oral polio vaccine (given as drops) is still being used even though it can cause polio paralysis. Mercury has been removed from most routine vaccines in wealthy countries, but is still used in vaccines administered in the developing world. The DTP vaccine used in most of the developing world contains mercury, aluminium and the less safe whole-cell whooping-cough vaccine. The killed polio and acellular whooping cough vaccines are prohibitively expensive for many countries. An epidemic of encephalitis occurred in Salvador after the Urabe mumps vaccine was shipped to Brazil following its withdrawal in developed countries.
About 600 million vaccination injections are given worldwide every year. Between 30 and 90% of child vaccinations given in developing countries are not sterile, and could transmit diseases. 8 to 16 million cases of hepatitis B annually are thought to be due to unsafe injections. As happened earlier in developed countries, injections can trigger paralysis in children incubating polio. Around 2 million children may have developed paralytic polio in India during the 1980s as a direct result of a DTP vaccination campaign (Halvorsen, pp. 244-5).
Lack of clean drinking water, unsafe sanitation and inadequate nutrition are the main threats to children’s health in the developing nations. Over one billion people – one sixth of the world’s inhabitants – lack access to safe drinking water. Over 40% of the world’s population don’t have access to basic sanitation. As a result, over 1.7 million children die from diarrhoea every year – more than die from all the WHO’s vaccine-preventable diseases combined.
Dr Richard Halvorsen reminds us of some stark truths:
[C]hildren around the world are more likely to receive vaccinations than have access to clean water and safe sanitation. More children are vaccinated against TB than have access to clean drinking water. In addition, DTP, polio and measles vaccines reach many more families than does safe sanitation.Malnourished children have weakened immune systems and are therefore most at risk when exposed to an acute health challenge – whether it be infectious diseases or vaccination. Malnutrition contributes to the deaths of 5.6 million children under the age of five every year.
Providing children with safe water and sanitation would save over 1.5 million children’s lives, more than by increasing the coverage of the WHO’s currently recommended vaccines to 100% throughout the world – and without the side-effects. ...
[I]mmunisation drives inevitably disrupt routine health services, from which they divert precious funds and manpower. ...
Even where vaccination works, it’s all very well protecting children from one disease, but unless the root cause of disease – malnutrition and poor sanitation – are addressed, they will surely die from something else instead. (pp. 247-9)
It has been found that giving children with measles two doses of vitamin A can reduce the death rate by 82%. The cost of vitamin A supplementation for each life saved from measles in developing countries is $95 compared with $850 for vaccination. Giving vitamin A supplements twice a year can reduce the death rate of children under 5 by 23% (Halvorsen, pp. 246-7).
It is noteworthy that in Central Africa the incidence of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is highest in those countries subject to the most intensive WHO smallpox vaccination programmes. Brazil is the only South American country covered by the smallpox eradication campaign and has the highest incidence of AIDS in the region. The WHO tried to suppress these findings (Golden, 2005, p. 117). In other words, vaccination – like malnutrition, poor sanitation, widespread tropical disease, and drug use – undermines the immune system.
The WHO and Bill Gates’ Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) have been accused of using bullying tactics and applying financial pressure to ‘persuade’ third world countries to introduce new, expensive vaccines. It is unethical to create dependency on vaccines that will become unaffordable once funding from GAVI is withdrawn. The WHO continues to use scare tactics to promote expanded use of vaccines in the developing world. It provides no proof for its claim to be saving millions of lives, and seems to be undeterred by evidence that some vaccines are doing more harm than good.
According to modern science, infectious diseases are caused by tiny organisms known as antigens (i.e. viruses or bacteria). When invaded by antigens, the body sends antibodies to neutralize them. Scientists discovered that if an antigen was partially deactivated to make it less virulent and then either injected into the body or ingested orally, this triggered the production of disease-specific antibodies, but not the disease itself. In the event of a subsequent invasion by a virulent strain of the antigen, it was thought that these antibodies would quickly stimulate further antibody-based immunity to the antigen.
Vaccination has developed into one of the most common medical interventions. It is not only big business but is also legally required in some countries, unless a waiver is obtained on religious, philosophical or medical grounds. Dr Isaac Golden identifies three basic weaknesses in vaccination theory and practice:
• The primary cause of disease is not simply antigenic, since not all unvaccinated or previously unexposed people become infected when similarly exposed to an identical antigen. The disease initially results from sensitivity on a very subtle level of the organism, which causes an inability to cope with invading antigens. ... Many other factors are involved in immunity, including genetic characteristics, placental transfer, breastfeeding, as well as individual health, nutritional status, and emotional response to stress. Homeopaths also believe that inherited chronic predisposing weaknesses called miasms are a significant factor ...Antibody production is not synonymous with immunity. For instance, agamma globulin-anaemic children are incapable of producing antibodies, but recover from infectious diseases almost as quickly as other children. A study during a diphtheria epidemic concluded that there was no relationship between antibody count and disease incidence; researchers found resistant people with extremely low antibody counts and sick people with high counts. Alan Phillips (2001) concludes that natural immunization is a complex interactive process involving many bodily organs and systems, and cannot be replicated by the artificial stimulation of antibodies.
• Injection or ingestion of antigens does not necessarily produce the same results in all individuals. At best, these vaccines increase toxins in the body which may cause some of the many side effects associated with vaccination. These side effects are aggravated by the relatively massive doses of antigen administered compared to natural exposure, plus chemicals such as Aluminium Phosphate and Thimerosal used in the vaccines. Further, if injected, the antigenic and chemical material enters the bloodstream almost directly, bypassing the outer or primary immunological defences in the respiratory and gastro-intestinal tracts. In addition, the protection given by injected antigens is usually temporary, whereas natural exposure to infectious disease viruses generally produces permanent immunity ...
• Repeated injections of antigens tend to both sensitise the recipient to the disease and destroy the vitality of the immune system on a number of levels. ... Natural Therapists believe that damage also occurs on the inner, dynamic level from which an individual derives their entire physical and emotional health. (2005, p. 44)
Dr Richard Moskowitz states:
Vaccines trick the body so that it will no longer initiate a generalized inflammatory response. They thereby accomplish what the entire immune system seems to have evolved to prevent. They place the virus directly into the blood and give it access to the major immune organs and tissues without any obvious way of getting rid of it. These attenuated viruses and virus elements persist in the blood for a long time, perhaps permanently. This, in turn, implies a systematic weakening of the ability to mount an effective response, not only to childhood diseases but to other acute infections as well. (Null & Feldman, 2007)Studies have shown that vaccines can overactivate the immune system for as long as two years. Neurosurgeon Dr Russell Blaylock explains that once the brain’s immune cells (microglia) are activated they can move around the brain, secreting destructive chemicals (cytokines and excitotoxins), which put the brain in a chronically inflamed state and can cause neurological damage. Post-vaccination effects such as headaches, high-pitched crying, irritability, vomiting, seizures and loss of consciousness can all be explained by an inflamed brain. The greater the number of vaccine shots, the greater the potential long-term damage, including language delays, behavioural problems and mental retardation (Blaylock, 2008; Miller, 2008, pp. 10-14).
Natural healing systems such as homeopathy, oriental medicine, and naturopathy offer regimens for both preventing and treating diseases. Other natural forms of therapy that can help to maintain health include Bach wildflower remedies, Ayurvedic practices, yoga, chiropractic or osteopathic treatment, Reiki, and various forms of massage. Dr Randall Neustaedter highlights the fact that homeopathy and Chinese medicine have a long history of successfully treating infectious disease. Their success, he says, ‘exists in sharp contrast to the helplessness of allopathic medicine when confronted with viral illnesses, and the ineffectiveness of antibiotics in commonly encountered childhood bacterial conditions such as whooping cough and ear infections’ (2002, p. 86).
A nutritious diet, proper exercise and a generally healthy lifestyle all help to build our resistance to disease. For babies, breast-feeding offers many advantages over bottle feeding. Many homeopaths believe that giving children or adults appropriate constitutional remedies will improve all aspects of their health, and enable them to cope more effectively with invading viruses or bacteria. Some homeopaths, such as Dr Isaac Golden, believe that specific protection against the more serious infectious diseases is desirable, especially since even extremely healthy people sometimes fall ill.
Golden argues that there are really only two forms of disease-specific prevention (immunization) against infectious diseases – vaccination and homeoprophylaxis (i.e. the use of homeopathic medicines to prevent specific diseases). His own research has shown that the latter is at least as effective as vaccination is claimed to be, and far safer. Yet health officials refuse to investigate homeopathy, even though it has no toxic side-effects and has a long clinical record of effectiveness. As Golden says: ‘Only a hopelessly biased person can suggest that a method that has been used for 200 years in every continent on our planet, mainly by people with orthodox medical qualifications, can be a total sham’ (p. 192). He recommends a dual system of immunization which would allow parents to choose between vaccination and homeoprophylaxis.
He says that a strong case can be made for allowing healthy children to acquire mild infectious diseases such as mumps and measles, as this will provide the longest lasting immunity. Furthermore, there is some agreement in both orthodox and traditional medicine that acquiring certain infectious diseases can help a child’s immune system to mature. There are even some supporters in orthodox medicine for the ‘hygiene hypothesis’, which states that a lower level of exposure to bacteria and viruses, and fewer infectious diseases in childhood result in an increase in asthma, eczema and allergic diseases in later years. However, this certainly does not mean that every child needs to acquire every disease in order to be healthy.
Golden believes that certain potentially devastating diseases should be prevented if at all possible. Prevention of whooping cough, for example, makes sense for infants, but many parents choose to avoid this vaccine due to its long history of causing severe damage. Polio is normally a mild disease, but since it occasionally causes great suffering, many parents opt for prevention. Tuberculosis is another potentially serious chronic disease where prevention is far preferable to treatment. Meningococcal disease can be particularly devastating, and Golden argues that if there is any chance of exposure, prevention is far superior to treatment. For all these four diseases, homeoprophylaxis offers a nontoxic means of protection.
Golden does not rule out conventional medicine altogether:
Pharmaceutical medicine does have a place. At times it offers the best treatment (especially emergency medicine and surgery in some conditions). However, it is often generally ineffective in curing long-term health conditions, as it relies on the chemical suppression of symptoms which may move the results of the illness to a deeper and more serious level. (p. 199)He sees the deeply destructive nature of most pharmaceutical products, including vaccinations, as a threat to our physical well-being. He says that the best of technology should be used where appropriate, but we should not become ‘servants of technology, or those who financially control it’. Expressing his own belief in a ‘creative force’ (or ‘God’) in nature, he concludes: ‘To someone whose god is science, vaccination makes sense. But to someone whose god is God, it is appalling’ (p. 242).
Similar sentiments about orthodox medicine and vaccination are to be found in the writings of major theosophical writers such as Helena Blavatsky and Gottfried de Purucker. Blavatsky strongly opposed the injection of animal material into the human bloodstream for health purposes, and praised the benefits of homeopathy. De Purucker warned that vaccinating people with viruses drawn from the diseased bodies of humans or animals could do far more harm than the diseases being inoculated against (see ‘Health and disease’).
He determined that most disease initially occurred on a deeper, inner level, with physical symptoms arising as a result of the subsequent disturbance to the person’s vital force, or their inherited, inner, self-healing capacity or energy. He concluded that since disease arose on this level, prevention or cure would need to take place on the same level. (Golden, 2005, p. 136)Homeopathy is based on the law of similars (‘like cures like’) – a law known to Hippocrates and Paracelsus. It states that a substance which is capable of producing a group of symptoms in a healthy person is capable of removing a group of similar symptoms in an unwell person. Hahnemann noted another aspect of the law of similars, which may be stated in one of two ways:
• a substance capable of producing symptoms in a healthy person similar to the characteristic symptoms of an infectious disease, is capable of preventing these characteristic symptoms in a previously unprotected person; or
• a substance capable of removing the characteristic symptoms of an infectious disease in an infected person is capable of preventing the characteristic symptoms of the disease in a previously unprotected person (ibid., p. 142).
Whereas conventional medications suppress the body’s reactions or kill bacteria, homeopathic remedies stimulate a healing reaction within the body. They fall into two classes: substances obtained from the natural world of plants, minerals, and animal products; and nosodes, i.e. substances derived from disease products, tissue samples, mucus, pus from discharges, or pure cultures of microorganisms.
Both of these classes have been used to prevent disease. Examples of this include Lathyrus sativa (plant) for polio and Pertussin (a preparation of the bacteria Bordetella pertussis ) for whooping cough. ... As a rule, homeopaths utilize the nosode of the infectious organism to prevent disease. (Neustaedter, 2002, pp. 96-7)Homeopathic remedies are prepared through potentization: the original material is subjected to a series of dilutions and succussions (violent shaking of the diluting medium), or triturations (grinding of insoluble substances) until no physical molecules of the original material are left and all that remains is the dynamic (healing) energy. It is for this reason that even homeopathic medications prepared from toxic materials have no side-effects – they are too dilute. But it is also for this reason that materialistic science dismisses homeopathy as quackery – if there is nothing physical left of the original substance, there is nothing there that can heal.
If homeopathy works it must be using ‘medicines of energy, not crude substances like those used in vaccines’ (Golden, p. 155). There is no possibility of a crude toxic reaction, except in patients who are very sensitive to the diluting medium of the remedy (e.g. milk sugar, alcohol and water). Unlike vaccines, homeopathic remedies do not rely on the production of antibodies (there is conflicting evidence on whether they trigger antibody production).
Some homeopathists believe that the law of similars cannot be applied to something that has not yet happened, and that specific infectious diseases therefore cannot be prevented but only treated if they arise. Golden says that ‘these views limit unnecessarily the wonderful potential of homeopathic medicine’, and points out that Hahnemann himself used Belladonna to both treat and prevent scarlet fever.
EffectivenessHomeopathy rapidly gained popular acceptance in the 19th century because its remedies proved successful in treating the infectious diseases sweeping through Europe at that time. For example, in 1813 Hahnemann achieved a 100% success rate in treating 183 typhus patients; at that time typhus was considered incurable. During the European cholera epidemics in the mid-1800s, the death rate was between 54 and 90%, while the rate among people receiving homeopathic treatment was between 5 and 16%. Support for homeopathy declined in the early 20th century due to the advances of modern medicine, but it continued to be used successfully around the world.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of homeopathic treatment. In the mid-1980s, J. Beneviste and his colleagues demonstrated the ability of highly diluted, potentized material to produce biological responses. This caused uproar in the orthodox scientific community and led to him being hounded out of his academic position. Over the past 20 years a number of positive meta-analyses of the many scientific trials of homeopathic treatment have been published in scientific journals. In 2001, Mroninski, Adriano & Mattos reported the results of a study of 65,826 children who were given the homeopathic remedy Meningococcinum and 23,539 children who were unprotected. In a rigorous statistical analysis, they showed that homeoprophylaxis was 95% effective after six months and 91% effective after 12 months (Golden, 2007, p. 90).
In 2004 Isaac Golden completed a PhD research programme at Melbourne University, studying homeoprophylaxis (HP). His research began in 1986 and is the largest study of long-term HP ever undertaken, involving 2342 survey responses to date. Homoeoprophylaxis – a 15 year clinical study (2004) reports the following levels of efficacy for three diseases: whooping cough – 88.3%; measles – 91.0%; mumps – 94.1%. The overall efficacy of 90.4% supports the historical experience with the homeopathic method over the last 200 years. It is also similar to the level of protection offered by vaccination, which is officially put at between 80% and 98%, though the real figure is often found to be far lower in practice.
Golden’s basic homeoprophylaxis programme covers whooping cough, tetanus, polio, meningococcal disease, pneumococcal disease, and Haemophilis meningitis (Hib). His programme proved to be safe in both the short and long term. In fact, the group using long-term HP were generally healthier (as measured by their lower incidence of asthma, eczema, ear/hearing problems, allergies, and behavioural problems) than groups using either general or constitutional protection, or no protection at all, and even more so compared with the vaccinated group. Vaccinated children were found to be 15 times more likely to become asthmatic than children using HP – the probability of this being due to chance is less than 1 in 100. He also found that using HP alone gives better results than combining it with other forms of disease prevention.
Golden has been a homeopathic practitioner in Australia since 1984. During that time, he has been the subject of five major official investigations by the health authorities, instigated by pharmaceutical-backed forces wanting to stop him researching, publishing information, and using homeoprophylaxis. He has been accused of being ‘irresponsible’, ‘mischievous’, ‘dangerous’, and ‘a quack’, yet no evidence has ever been presented that homeopathy is either unsafe or ineffective.
Subtle bodies and healingDr Isaac Golden (2007) seeks to explain how homeopathic remedies work ‘in terms of the energy bodies described in esoteric literature, and especially in the theosophical literature’, as this allows the interaction of energies to be discussed ‘in a more tangible manner, within an existing body of esoteric science’.
He says that our energy bodies – the etheric, emotional, and lower mental bodies (or: the astral model-body, animal soul, and lower human soul) – consist of different grades of subtle matter on three different planes. Through them works the real we, ‘our Soul/Spirit self, which is in essence a spark from the Eternal Fire (God)’. He regards the ‘vital force’ (VF) spoken of in homeopathy as energy from our soul/spirit level, which is ‘continually attempting to fill/balance our lower energetic vehicles and leave us at ease, or at peace within and without’.
Golden argues that some of the matter forming our lower vehicles is the ‘essential us’, and some is ‘not-us’ and forms what homeopathy calls ‘miasms’. Each subtle body consists of seven different grades of matter, and the miasms in each one are composed of material belonging to the lower subplanes of the plane concerned. The accumulated miasmic material frequently ‘prevents the free flow of higher (healing) energies through our lower vehicles, and the resistance or friction caused by this produces the symptoms which are often termed “disease” ’.
True healing can be facilitated with homeopathic remedies that resonate with (are similar to) the not-US material, but are made energetically stronger by potentisation. The remedy can remove part or all of the not-US material, thus allowing more of the VF energy to enter our lower vehicles, thus allowing healing to occur. (2007, p. 89)From a theosophical perspective, we might add that coarser, ‘miasmic’ material enters or develops in our subtle bodies because we have allowed it to do so through own negative thoughts, emotions and deeds – in this or other lives. The flows of life-energy (prana or chi) through our various bodies are thereby disrupted, resulting in ill health. These life-streams originate in the different consciousness centres (monads) of our constitution, and ultimately in our parent monad – our spiritual-divine self (see ‘Health and disease’).
Golden says that miasms can be passed on to others.
[L]ike some parasites, chronic miasms attach to the energetic bodies of the host and remain until they are removed by appropriate action/treatment, or until the bodies energetically dissipate (which happens some time after the physical body or physical host ‘dies’ ...). Acute miasms (such as measles, whooping cough etc.) comprise energetic material which usually does not last for long within the energetic bodies of the host. ...Golden stresses that the remedies themselves do not heal. They are energetic substances that stimulate the recipient’s own self-healing mechanism, or vital force, to remove disturbances in our various bodies. In other words, the subtle matter of a medicine acts on the subtle matter of our energy bodies. Some of the negative material may be moved aside, thus allowing true healing energy to enter. But some material may remain or return so that the patient does not heal.
Miasmic material can be transferred to another energy vehicle when the two vehicles are in a sufficiently close energetic relationship. (p. 87)
Golden describes what he thinks is happening during homeoprophylactic treatment:
When we give an HP remedy, we are introducing specific energetic material into the energy bodies of the recipient. The substance of the remedy will mix with the substance of the person’s bodies, causing a slight but definite change. When the person is exposed to the energetic matter of the targeted disease (e.g. the measles virus), the person will be rendered immune because the more highly vibrating (stronger) similar energetic material (highly potentised HP remedy) will repel the less highly vibrating (weaker) similar energetic material (disease). ...
The high potency HP remedy removes similar but energetically weaker material in the person’s bodies, leaving the person free of (most or all) similarnot-US matter. The direct influence of the high potency may then pass, but that specific part of the person’s system which was cleared by the remedy remains unblocked, i.e. allowing that part of the VF which resonated with the remedy/disease profile to flow easily.
So the person becomes ‘immune’ to any subsequent influence from a ‘similar’ disease, because when the person is exposed to the energetic matter of the disease (a fairly low sub-plane energy), the influence is met immediately by the VF which is free-flowing at that similar spectrum of energy (i.e. is similar and stronger). (pp. 90-1)
Vaccines may sometimes provide protection against certain diseases, but their effectiveness has been exaggerated. Artificial stimulation of antibody production is no guarantee of immunity; outbreaks of diseases can occur in those fully vaccinated against them. Vaccination played at best a minor role in the decline in killer infectious diseases.
Contracting relatively harmless diseases as a child usually provides lifelong immunity and can help the immune system to mature. Since vaccine-induced immunity decreases over time, mass vaccination results in more people catching the diseases in question at a later age, when complications may be more serious.
Vaccines are toxic and far less safe than commonly claimed. Serious short-term effects have been played down, and long-term health consequences have not been properly researched. The growing dependency on vaccines appears to have contributed to the rise in autoimmune diseases.
Vaccines have caused widespread harm, suffering and death in developing countries, as malnourished children are most vulnerable to adverse reactions. More dangerous vaccines no longer used in developed countries are still used on a mass scale in the third world. The biggest killers in the third world are malnutrition, lack of clean drinking water, and poor sanitation.
Homeoprophylaxis offers a safe and effective alternative to vaccination. The effectiveness of homeopathic remedies cannot be explained in terms of the materialistic paradigm of modern medicine; we are far more than just our physical bodies.
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