Why do US parents have fewer rights on vaccination than in Canada, the UK, and China?

 

In the late 1970′s, Max-Vax advocates in the USA began to eliminate checks-and-balances on vaccine decisions by requiring children be fully vaccinated in order to attend preschool/daycare or to receive welfare benefits.  Checks-and-balances were further weakened by the 1986 National Vaccine Injury Compensation Act, which protects vaccine manufacturers against lawsuits.  USA Pro-Vax advocates are now pushing for forced vaccination without the right of exemption to remove the final checks on the power of the pro-vax advocates.  Yet in Canada, there is constitutional protection against forced vaccination.  In the UK, doctors consider forced-vaccination to be unethical (http://news.scotsman.com/health/Doctors-reject-calls-for-enforced.6396439.jp).  And in China, a communist country, the Deputy Director for Disease Control stated in September 2010 that “no child would be forced to take the vaccination and that admission to school should never be used to force children to vaccinate”.  (see China mass measles vaccination plan sparks outcry).

In Canada, vaccination for children is not compulsory.  In all Canadian provinces and territories, the right to fully informed consent and right to refuse vaccination is guaranteed by the Constitutional Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  In three provinces, Ontario, New Brunswick and Manitoba, parents who refuse any or all vaccinations simply fill in a form, have it stamped by a notary, and deliver it to their child’s school.  Schools cannot refuse admission to any child on the basis of vaccination status.

The Canadian Constitution Act was signed into law by Queen Elizabeth II in 1982 and came into effect in 1985.  The Charter echoes the post-WW II Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was inspired by national fervor after the 1967 Canadian Centennial.  The Charter is explicit (Section 2) with respect to the guarantee or civil and political rights and freedoms of belief and life.  These fundamental freedoms apply to government laws and actions at all levels:  federal, provincial, municipal governments, public school boards and publicly funded daycare centers.

But in the early 1980s, it was still up to concerned parents to challenge provincial legislation that was not based on the new Charter.  In 1982, the Committee Against Compulsory Vaccination protested against the new Ontario Immunization of School Pupils Act because it failed to provide exemptions from vaccination.  In their Brief to the government, the Committee pointed to both the Charter and the unshackled liberty guaranteed by the US Bill of Rights and ultimately won these exemptions.  An amendment to the Ontario Act was passed in Dec. 1984. Both the Immunization of School Pupils Act (section 3) and the Day Nurseries Act (section 33 of Regulation 262 issued under the Act) extend to parents the legal right to exempt their children from vaccinations. The Committee Against Compulsory Vaccination became the Vaccine Risk Awareness Network (VRAN) in 1984 http://vran.org/about/history-of-vran/

Vaccination exemptions guaranteed in Ontario law became a precedent for all other Canadian provinces and territories. Regulations allow for the exclusion of unvaccinated children from school during outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases. This has rarely been invoked.

It should be noted that the vaccine delivery system in Canada is institutionalized.  Pressures on parents to vaccinate their children may overwhelm their hesitation or stifle their unanswered questions. Knowledge of the right to exemption is often withheld and children threatened with expulsion from school. Under Canadian medical laws consent to any medical procedure must be fully informed and a choice made without coercion. Disclosure of risks, benefits and alternatives to any medical procedure must be made available in order for consent to be given.  Canadians are not required to sign a document to this effect for vaccination.  In the event of an adverse event, the only province to have a compensation plan is Quebec.

Why is the “vaccine-autism question” far from answered?

The Max-Vax claim that “It’s been asked and answered – vaccines don’t cause autism” is contrary to the reality that 6 of the 7 vaccines in the first year of life have not been studied for rates of autism in children who received versus who didn’t receive the vaccine.  A recently published study indicates that the 7th vaccine administered in the first year of life, the HepB, was associated with a 3x increased risk of autism in boys during the study period.[1]  And a 2011 study found that the higher the proportion of children receiving recommend vaccinations, the higher the prevalence of autism or speech/language impairment.

vaccines-not-studied-for-autism

There have been about sixteen studies either on one vaccine (the MMR for measles-mumps-rubella) given after the first year of life or on one ingredient (a mercury preservative called thimerosal) that was in many infant vaccines through 2002 and is still included in many flu vaccines.  In a May 2011 special report by critiquing these studies, Vaccines and Autism – What Do the Epidemiological Studies Really Tell Us?, the Coalition for SafeMinds concluded that:

With respect to the body of analytical epidemiology on MMR and thimerosal, we draw the following conclusion: The evidence in the studies that are most often claimed to provide conclusive proof dismissing a connection between these exposures and autism do not stand up to close scrutiny. Many of them do not provide evidence one way or another with respect to the hypothesis; some of them provide evidence actually supporting an exposure effect; others are too poorly designed to extract any reasonable conclusions; and in some instance the data have been manipulated in ways that border on misconduct. In short, although the question of the connection between autism and vaccines has been asked, we have yet to see any reliable and informative answers.

In addition to thimerosal and MMR, there are several plausible hypotheses on vaccine-induced autism which have not been studied.  One hypothesis garnering increased interest is the potential link between aluminum adjuvants in vaccines and several adverse health conditions including autism (see ASIA ‘Auto-immune or auto-inflammatory Syndrome Induced by Adjuvants’ review and editorial).  Aluminum-salts can be ingested by humans and are sometimes used in antacids.  However vaccine developers understand that a tiny amount of aluminum-salt, when injected as part of a vaccine, has very different properties from when ingested.  Specifically, aluminum-salt in a vaccine is an ‘adjuvant’ that triggers an abnormally strong immune response to the ingredients in the vaccine.  In essence, the person builds the desired immune response to the antigen (bacteria or virus) in the vaccine because of the aluminum-salt.  The safety of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines have not been extensively tested in human populations, but a recent animal study found that aluminum-adjuvants in vaccines cause brain damage in mice (HERE).  A significant increase in administration of aluminum-adjuvants beginning about 1988, and continuing to increase in the last decade, corresponds closely with the increase in autism rates in those same years:

autism-prevalence-line-graph

Regarding mercury in vaccines and autism, a growing body of research including animal studies indicates that the ethylmercury-based vaccine preservative called thimerosal (a.k.a. thiomersal) is a dangerous neurotoxin (see Thimerosal Science Summary). The few epidemiological (population) studies that have not found a link between thimerosal and autism have been performed by entities such as the CDC with a vested interest in protecting the vaccine program.  Those studies were not designed to identify subgroups susceptible to vaccine-injury.  Click on this link to hear the video interview in which Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the NIH, discuss this problem:

CBS INTERVIEW OF DR. BERNADINE HEALY ON VACCINES

Regarding the possible link between the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine and autism, a 1998 case-series publication by Dr. Andrew Wakefield suggested a possible link between vaccine-induced measles infection in the gastrointestinal tract and autism.  That publication has recently been deemed to be discredited, and was removed from the scientific journal where it had originally been published.  The MMR theory of autism causation is independent of other theories of causation (the MMR vaccine has never contained mercury, and does not contain aluminum). The MMR vaccine is scientifically known to cause vaccine encephalopathy in some cases for unknown reasons; given that autism and vaccine encephalopathy share similar symptoms, there is potential for new plausible theories that could explain both vaccine encephalopathy and vaccine-induced autism.  There seems to have been an attempt recently on the part of some Max-Vax advocates to imply in the press that the retraction of this one publication has answered all the questions on vaccines and autism, whereas in reality the scientific questions are far from answered.  As stated earlier in this article, 6 of the 7 vaccines administered in the first year of life have not been studied for autism rates in children who received vs didn’t receive the vaccine.

Note: Wakefield and colleagues were the first to find that gastrointestinal abnormalities are common in autism, an important finding that has been replicated by research in five countries. There is much more to the Wakefield story than has been shared widely in the press; for details, see Who is Dr. Andrew Wakefield? by Mary Holland, JD (an online chapter of the book “Vaccine Epidemic”) or read the book Callous Disregard by Dr. Wakefield.

References:

[1] Gallagher, C. and Goodman M., “Hepatitis B vaccination of male neonates and autism diagnosis, NHIS 1997-2002″. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A, 73:1665–1677, 2010

Do flu vaccines work for toddlers?

 

Summary:

The flu vaccine was similar to the placebo in children under 2 years of age.

  • Typically, about 40 to 50 children usually die during an entire flu season.
  • The flu vaccine carries a risk of febrile convulsions among other side effects, and many brands still contain the mercury preservative thimerosal.
  • Given the low efficacy of the flu vaccine in children under 2, the low number of flu deaths for this age group, and the risks associated with the vaccine (especially the mercury-containing vaccines) it doesn’t make sense to give this age group the flu vaccine.
  • Even in children over 2 years old, both the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups had similar rates of influenza-like illnesses.  The apparent lack of effectiveness by influenza vaccines led The Atlantic magazine to question in November 2009 as to whether the influenza vaccine makes any difference (see “Does the Vaccine Matter?“)
  • Given all the information above, it appears that other flu treatment and prevention options need to be considered. Vitamin D3 supplementation may be one option as it was shown to reduce the risk of catching influenza A by 58%.

 

More Details:

1.  According to the Cochrane study involving 263,987 children, the flu vaccine was similar to placebo for children under 2:

  • “live vaccines showed an efficacy of 79% (95% confidence interval (CI) 48% to 92%) and an effectiveness of 33% (95% CI 28% to 38%) in children older than two years compared with placebo or no intervention. Inactivated vaccines had a lower efficacy of 59% (95% CI 41% to 71%) than live vaccines but similar effectiveness: 36% (95% CI 24% to 46%). In children under two, the efficacy of inactivated vaccine was similar to placebo.”

 

2. Typically, “about 40 or 50 children usually die during an entire flu season.” in the US. (HERE) However, H1N1 is more severe for this age group.  There were 276 laboratory confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths in the 2009-10 season (49 of these deaths were in children under 2).  225 of the pediatric flu deaths were due to H1N1 and the remaining 51 were due to other flu strains (HERE).  The 2010-2011 flu vaccine included H1N1, but based on previous studies, there is currently no reason to believe it will have a higher efficacy rate than the placebo in children under 2.

 

3. The flu vaccine, like most medical interventions, carries a risk of side effects:

  • Australia suspended the seasonal flu vaccine for all children under 5 because it was causing febrile seizures.
  • “Australia’s ABC News reported April 23, 2010 that seasonal flu vaccines for young children had been deemed too dangerous with reactions greatly under-reported, and Australian doctors have now been warned not to give the seasonal flu vaccine to children under the age of five, after a child fell critically ill and dozens more suffered serious adverse reactions after receiving the vaccine in Western Australia, with The Australian Medical Association backing this move to suspend vaccinations in children under five around the entire country.”
  • The FDA and CDC have also detected an increase in febrile seizures following the flu vaccine.
  • “FDA and CDC have recently detected an increase in the number of reports to VAERS of febrile seizures following vaccination with Fluzone (trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine or TIV, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.). Fluzone is the only influenza vaccine recommended for use for the 2010-2011 flu season in infants and children 6-23 months of age. These reported febrile seizures have primarily been seen in children younger than 2 years of age.”
  • There are reports of teenage children in Sweden and Finland developing narcolepsy following the Pandemrix H1N1 vaccine, and “somnolence” (a state of near-sleep) is listed as a potential side effect for Pandemrix.
  • And unfortunately, the only flu vaccines licensed for children under 2 years of age still contain thimerosal, a mercury preservative. Reduced thimerosal formulations can be requested, but there are numerous studies that show thimerosal is dangerous; especially for infants and children. (see SafeMinds Flu Facts).

 

4.  The influenza vaccine appears to have more risk vs benefit for children under 2. The vaccine doesn’t appear effective for children under 2 (as discussed above), and even if it is mildly effective the risk of death from influenza in children is very low (see Disease Risk – Influenza).

 

  

5.  The influenza vaccine may not work in children older than 2:

  • FluMist is a thimerosal-free choice for persons 2 through 49 years of age, and since it is a live virus vaccine it has a higher average efficacy rate of 79% as compared to the inactivated vaccine which only has an average efficacy rate of 59%. However, more research is needed to know how effective flu vaccines are for children between the ages of 2 and 5 since the flu vaccine has a higher success rate in older groups:  ”The vaccine protects between 45% and 90% of healthy children from getting influenza. Studies indicate that the older and healthier children who have received the influenza vaccine are, the more likely they will be protected.” http://www.immunizationinfo.org/vaccines/influenza
  • The Cochrane study defines efficacy as “prevention of confirmed influenza” and effectiveness as “prevention of influenza-like illness”.    Their study found that in children older than 2 the flu vaccine carries a 59 to 79% rate of efficacy (preventing influenza attributable illness), but it only provides an 33 to 36% rate of effectiveness (at reducing flu-like symptoms). In other words, it can prevent specific flu strains, but people still get sick with flu-like symptoms even if they get the flu vaccine.
  • Their findings match a study cited in the Pediatrics journal, which also found the vaccine to be about 80% effective at preventing the flu (see table 3), but when they compared the incidence of flu like illnesses (sore throat, chills, runny nose, etc) in vaccinated vs unvaccinated groups, there wasn’t much difference and the unvaccinated group actually had slightly fewer incidents (see table 7).http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/118/6/2298
  • The apparent lack of effectiveness by influenza vaccines led The Atlantic magazine to question in November 2009 as to whether the influenza vaccine makes any difference (see “Does the Vaccine Matter?“)

 

 

6.  Given all the information above, other flu treatment and prevention methods need to be explored. A good place to start might be vitamin D3 supplementation:

Does aluminum cause vaccine-injury?

 

Aluminum adjuvants are used to stimulate an abnormally strong immune response at an injection site so that less antigen (bacteria or virus for the infectious disease) is needed in a vaccine. Aluminum adjuvant has been called “the immunologists’ dirty little secret” because immunologists know that it works to increase the immune response to a vaccine, but not why it works.  A 2011 study, Aluminum Vaccine Adjuvants: Are they Safe?, stated that “Aluminum is an experimentally demonstrated neurotoxin and the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant … aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk of autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences.”

After the 1986 law that provided vaccine manufacturers with immunity from lawsuits, the expansion of the vaccine schedule with new aluminum-containing vaccines such as Hib and Hep B caused children to be exposed to far more aluminum adjuvants in the first six months of life.  The amount of aluminum  adjuvants in vaccines was further increased in the same 2001-2005 timeframe that the mercury-based preservative called thimerosal was being reduced and phased out of many childhood vaccines.  (see Aluminum and Mercury in Vaccines charts).

Aluminum adjuvant has been shown to preferentially generate a Th2-type immune response.  In recent years, the use of aluminum adjuvants that induce a strong Th2 response by a mechanism n ot yet fully understood has increasingly come under criticism by vaccine safety advocates, including Dr. Robert Sears, author of “The Vaccine Book”. Given the rapid rise of childhood chronic illness, such as allergies and asthma, that are mediated by Th2 responses, this criticism seems warranted and worthy of investigation. The use of adjuvants that stimulate a Th2 response in a vaccine for a disease that requires a Th1 response leads to a less-effective vaccine that has a higher safety risk.  Back in the late 1980s, the need for a Th1 immune response for clearance of pertussis or the tendency of aluminum adjuvants to produce a Th2 immune response (while suppressing the Th1 response) was unknown and not yet on the scientific radar. But in the past 20 years, Th1 versus Th2 immunity has become well-understood and part of the mainstream published scientific literature. (see Pertussis Vaccine Failure Should be a Wake-up Call).

In 2007, an important study investigating links beween Gulf War Syndrome and vaccine ingredients found that aluminum adjuvant caused death of motor neurons in the brain in mice (HERE).  Aluminum adjuvant and thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative still used in some vaccines such as the flu vaccine) have synergistic toxicity, meaning that the toxic effective is exponential rather than additive when the two are combined.[1]  There has been no formal human study on the safety of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines.  However regarding a CDC study that initially showed a 2.5 relative risk of autism for infants receiving higher thimerosal versus lower thimerosal, the lead researcher indicated that the data could have as readily indicated that aluminum adjuvant in the vaccines was the cause of the increased relative risk rather than (or in addition to) the thimerosal.[2]

Are aluminum adjuvants in vaccines a key causal factor in the epidemics of asthma, ADHD, autism, and allergies?   Modern scientific research, not bound to the old Pro-vax paradigm and emboldened by the recently-developed understanding of Th1 vs Th2 immunity, is needed to determine the answer.

 

More Information:

References:

[1] B.E. Haley. Mercury toxicity: Genetic susceptibility and synergistic effects. Medical Veritas 2 (2005), 535–542.

[2] Transcript from “Scientific Review of Vaccine Safety Datalink Information”, June 7-8, 2000, Simpsonwood Retreat Center, Norcross, GA

Why vaccinate a baby for HepB?

Childhood infection with Hepatitis B (“Hep B”) is rare in the USA and yet within moments of birth, American babies are routinely vaccinated for the disease.  Hepatitis B is primarily transmitted through unsafe sex or by sharing needles during intravenous drug use, but can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to the fetus. The HepB vaccine was added in 1991 to protect the infant from the possibility of developing Hepatitis B disease in the case of HepB-positive mother.
However, in 2007 there was only a 1 in 480 risk of a live birth to a HepB-positive mother according to reported cases (the CDC estimated that due to potential unreported cases, the risk could be as high as 1 in 216). [1] [2]  Because of the low risk of the pregnant mother being HepB-positive, many developed countries (such as the UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, and Japan [3] [4]) routinely test pregnant women for HepB and administer the vaccine to the newborn only if the mother is HepB-positive (see Vaccine schedules in different countries).
 
The long term effectiveness of the vaccine is unknown.  Immunity from the vaccine is thought to be often lost prior to the teen years during which there is potential for unsafe sex and sharing needles during intravenous drug use, the primary risk factors for disease transmission.  As example, as estimated 42.3% of infants vaccinated with HepB at birth will lose immunity according to one study [5]. Thus, there may be no benefit from this vaccine when administered to a child whose mother is not HepB-positive.
 
Research suggests that the Hepatitis B vaccine generates statistically significant risk of vaccine-injury. A 2008 scientific study indicated that boys who received Hep B vaccines had a 9x greater risk of needing special education services.[6]  In 2009, an abstract of a study in the journal Annals of Epidemiology indicated that boys who received Hep B vaccines had a 3x greater risk of developing autism (see article by journalist David Kirby on this study HERE). According to a CDC study, the Hep B vaccine is also associated with a 20% increased risk of asthma (HERE) as described by the researchers: “In our main analysis we found that Hib and hepatitis B vaccines were associated with 18 and 20% increases in asthma risk, respectively.” A 2011 study found that the HepB vaccine changes gene expression, including the expression of seven genes that are biomarkers for liver injury (HERE).  The HepB vaccine contains aluminum adjuvant, which has been shown to cause neurological damage in mice (see Does aluminum in vaccines cause injury?).

So why are USA mothers not screened first to see if their children actually need the vaccine?  The reason is a combination of: a) the desire to prevent development of chronic Hepatitis B disease when transmitted from the mother and b) to vaccinate individuals while they are children, since there are currently no mechanisms to require adults to vaccinate with HepB (whereas with children, vaccines are generally a requirement for schools unless the child has an exemption).  However since the advent of HepB vaccination in 1991, the prevalence of Hepatitis B in adults has not changed. [7] Given the vaccine-injury risks and the indication that there may no benefit to a child whose mother is not HepB-positive, it appears that other countries with HepB-screening programs have a more common-sense approach versus the universal HepB vaccination policy in the USA.

[1] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/111/Supplement_1/1192

[2] http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr57/nvsr57_12.pdf

[3] WHO (2009). Progress towards global immunization goals. Geneva: WHO. 

[4] Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Global progress toward universal childhood hepatitis B vaccination, 2003. MMWR 2003;52:868-70.

[5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2910296/

[6] Gallagher, C. and Goodman M., “Hepatitis B triple series vaccine and developmental disability in US children aged 1-9 years”, Toxicological Environmental Chemistry, Vol. 90, NO. 5 (Sept. –Oct., 2008): 997-1008.

[7] Wasley, A. et al., “The Prevalence of Hepatitis B Virus Infection in the United States in the Era of Vaccination,” The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 202 (July, 2010): 192-201.

 

Has the DTaP vaccine caused the increase in whooping cough?

Max-Vax adherents have been blaming the recent pertussis (“whooping cough”) outbreak in California on unvaccinated children, rather than addressing with the public the known reality: the outbreak occurred because the DTaP (Diptheria, Tetanus, and acellular Pertussis) vaccine is not effective. It is true that some parents are not vaccinating their children with the DTaP vaccine because of the high risk of vaccine-injury estimated as a 1 in 13 risk of asthma (see Vaccine-Induced Asthma), which is far higher than the risk from the disease (see Disease Risk – Pertussis).

But this is not the cause of the outbreak, as public health officials know:

  • The CDC reports that in the United States, cases of whooping cough have increased approximately 10-fold in the last twenty years [1], despite an increase in infant vaccination rates from 61% getting at least three doses of the pertussis vaccine in 1991 to 96.2% getting at least three doses in 2008 [2].
  • In a report on a small 2009 whooping cough cluster in Atlanta, the CDC admitted that a better pertussis vaccine is needed (HERE)
  • A 2010 Penn State study found that DTaP vaccination actually enhances the growth of parapertussis bacteria, which can cause a typically milder strain of whooping cough.  The DTaP vaccine only vaccinates against pertussis, not parapertussis. Counts of whooping cough include the total of cases caused from pertussis bacteria and parapertussis bacteria.  This study indicates that the DTaP vaccine has caused a rise in overall whooping cough cases (due to the rise in parapertussis) since its introduction in the USA in 1996 (see Acellular pertussis vaccination enhances B. parapertussis colonization).
  • Pertussis vaccines don’t protect against pertussis infection, but do appear to reduce risk of death and severity of the disease if infected.  This Pertussis Vaccine Effectiveness study found that “In this study, 60% of pertussis cases were among children who had received >= 3 pertussis vaccine doses. Although protective against death and severe morbidity, pertussis vaccines are imperfect; after receipt of  >= 3 doses, vaccinees can still become infected and symptomatic after significant exposure to B pertussis.”
  • An Israeli study indicates that asymptomatic vaccinated children can be carriers of whooping cough bacteria (HERE).  Interpreting this data and considering the extremely low percentage of unvaccinated children, this means the 2010 outbreak in California must mathematically be attributable to the vaccinated children spreading the bacteria.
  • · Per the NY Times, “The rise in pertussis doesn’t seem to be related to parents’ refusing to have their children vaccinated for fear of potential side effects. In California, pertussis rates are about the same in counties with high childhood vaccination rates and low ones.” (HERE)

For thoughtful discussion on what’s really occurring with the California pertussis outbreak and the need for a more effective and safer pertussis vaccine, see:

 

References:

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pertussis- United States; 2001-2003. Found at www.cdc.gov.

[2] Guris D, Strebel P, Bardenheier B, Brennan M, Tachdjian R, Finch E, Wharton M, Livengood J. Changing Epidemeology of Pertussis in the United States: Increasing Reported Incidence Among Adolescents and Adults, 1990-1996. Clin Infect Diseases. 1998. 28: 1230-7.