The Scotsman: Vaccination article: Helen Mcdade, 16 November

The Scotsman

Focus piece by Helen McDade published in The Scotsman

16 November 2007

Currently, media articles are full of the apparent need for introducing chickenpox (varicella) vaccination for all, in the UK. Many of these articles mention how good it would be if Hepatitis B vaccination was also given to babies, adding to a growing number of childhood vaccines. This push is no surprise – no self-respecting pharmaceutical company is going to develop a vaccine and not try to sell it as a universal panacea. Indeed, vaccines are the golden goose for pharmaceutical companies. Governments may buy them for everyone in the country and, once committed to a vaccination programme, they seem to find it almost impossible to re-assess the programme, regardless. For instance, it is only in recent years that the UK has stopped using a live polio vaccine – despite the fact that the vaccine was the only way susceptible people might acquire polio in this country. Similarly, there were more than a hundred cases of vaccine-induced paralytic polio in the US between 1975 and 19841.

Pharmaceutical companies will also note that governments never sue a vaccine company for causing harm, because the government was the instigator of the programme. On the contrary, the evidence suggests governments will go to extraordinary lengths to ignore evidence of harm and to convince parents that it is their duty to vaccinate their children. We are not yet at the US situation of not allowing children into school if they are unvaccinated but it may well only be time.

So, as a Scotsman editorial put it, let’s have a sober assessment. The medical establishment portrays vaccines as “magic bullets” which have no effect on other immune functions. However, even the manufacturers admit a long list of possible side-effects of vaccines in their data sheet. The US government body, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), did one of the most definitive and largest studies of vaccine safety. They listed thirty-four major side-effects of the MMR and DPT vaccines (both triple vaccines given to infants in Britain). One of the most serious of these is anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. Other side-effects included asthma, blood disorders, infectious diseases, diabetes and neurological disorders, including meningitis, polio and hearing loss[i]. Both the CDC and the UK’s Public Health Laboratory Service found that DPT and MMR increased the rate of seizure by up to three times. In another study, a researcher concluded that vaccines were the major cause of insulin-dependent diabetes in young children[ii].

Cot deaths are another area of concern. An Australian medical researcher, Dr. Vera Scheibner, was involved in developing a monitor for children thought to be at risk of cot death. The monitor identified periods when the baby was stressed, from breathing patterns. The periods of most stress occurred within a few days of vaccination. This led Dr Schiebner to further research vaccination and campaign to make the world aware of her own and others’ findings.[iii] There are books of peer-reviewed studies showing known side-effects of vaccination. They just aren’t reported. Although the media are often accused of wallowing in doomsday scenarios, there seems to be a huge reluctance to investigate vaccine damage. Is it just too frightening to take the lid of this Pandora’s box?

This is not to suggest that vaccination is the only factor in the increase in such illnesses. Indeed, the problem with medical establishment thinking is that it is based on an outdated model, which suggests that only one factor, such as an infectious agent, is involved in a particular illness developing. Other factors, such as genetic susceptibility, infections, nutrition and toxic exposure, are all likely to be very significant. Indeed, if a family has “auto-immune” tendencies, then it is worth taking particular care when considering vaccination. Many doctors working with chronic immunological illnesses, such as asthma, life-threatening allergies, diabetes, and M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and developmental disorders, such as autism, believe that there is a significant auto-immune component. Many families with one such condition will have others. Anecdotal evidence suggests this genetic tendency is a risk factor with vaccinations.

Many parents, like myself, are left bitterly investigating these issues. Thousands of chronically ill children are getting a very raw deal from the medical establishment. Some, such as those with diabetes or asthma, may be getting a lot of NHS attention but that doesn’t diminish the fact that they have a life-long and life-threatening condition. Others, such as those with autism or M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (the latter group including my seventeen year old daughter, who has had M.E. since she was five), are more or less ignored and shunned by the NHS and society alike. This leads to us taking up internet research – generally scorned by doctors. However, we are not all mad or ignorant. Quite the reverse – a disproportionate number of vaccination “refuseniks” are university educated. Many of the people queuing for single vaccines at private clinics are medically trained. Having trained and worked as a veterinary surgeon myself, I am particularly annoyed with myself for believing what I was taught unquestioningly, despite other evidence. I understand the reaction of doctors when a parent says, ” He has been really ill since the vaccine – could it be a reaction?” What the doctor thinks is, “Vaccines don’t cause serious reactions, therefore this is (another) coincidence”. I know that is what they think because I’ve thought it. The logic is, “If vaccines don’t cause side-effects, this isn’t one. Therefore, there is no need to record this as a side-effect.” QED. There are no records of side-effects. As one doctor said, “Since they stopped testing for whooping cough” (because there had been a “successful” vaccination programme) “there have been no recorded cases in our area”.

A key argument given for universal chickenpox vaccine is that six children died of chickenpox in 13 months. These were tragic events. But each of our cases is also a tragedy for a family. We deserve to be weighed in the balance. I pray that we will have that sober assessment. Will I have my youngest, healthy, totally unvaccinated child vaccinated for any of the new batch – chickenpox, hepatitis B, cervical cancer? Over my dead body.

(For the purposes of readability in the type of article this is, I have not quoted references. However, I have not quoted any anecdotal statistics – only ones from published medical journals. Where something is anecdotal, I’ve made that clear).


1   ASM News, 1988; 54 (10); 560-2  

 JAMA, 1995; 274 (1) 12-13   (both quoted in WDDTY book, p. 147)  

[i] CDC Seminar 9th Sept 1994, Washington DC (WDDTY book, p 135)

[ii] Dr Bart Classen  paper given at American College for Advancement in Medicine, Nashville, may 14 2001

 Association between DPT and cot death, 2nd Immunization Conference, Canberra, May 27th, 1991