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From the Townsend Letter
December 2007


An Updated Analysis of the Health Risks
Part 3

by Gary Null, PhD, and Martin Feldman, MD

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Part 1 appeared in October 2007
Part 2 in November 2007

Page 1, 2, Resources & Notes

Economic and Legal Issues
Cynthia Cournoyer has noted that vaccines are the only products in the US that are legally mandated to be used by every person born.44 Barbara Loe Fisher, cofounder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), Vienna, Va., has advocated the right of individuals to make informed, independent vaccination decisions for themselves and their children for two decades. She paints an ominous picture of things to come: "As consumers, we can bring very little economic pressure on the system to have that product improved or removed, because all of us are required by law to use it. It's a dream for the pharmaceutical industry involved in making vaccines, because there's no way anybody can say no. It's a stable, ready-made market, and the enactment of the compensation law in 1986 has removed almost all liability for drug companies...."

Fisher cautions that state health departments may develop electronic systems to monitor the vaccination status of each child. "…If we don't act now, the public health infrastructure is going to get more power to intrude in our lives, intrude in our health care choices. It all comes down to whether or not we, as individuals, are going to fight for the right to make informed health care choices, including vaccination choices, for ourselves and our children, and whether we are going to hold the drug companies and government health officials accountable for the injuries, deaths, and chronic illnesses caused by the vaccines they produce, sell, and promote for mass use."45

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 created a no-fault compensation program through which plaintiffs can seek compensation for injuries from vaccines recommended for routine administration. The law also provided, however, that evidence of gross negligence would be needed to seek punitive damages against vaccine manufacturers.46 The NVIC said in 2003 that it and other parent groups "have been critical of how adversarial the system is and how difficult it is to get an award."47 Through fiscal year 2001, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had paid $1.3 billion in total awards (petitioner's awards and attorney's fees) for approximately 1,660 compensable petitions.48

The compensation program is funded through an excise tax on vaccines. As a result, consumers foot the bill for any injuries or deaths that may result from medical procedures they are required by law to undergo.49-51 Alan Phillips, co-founder of Citizens for Healthcare Freedom, notes: "[Pharmaceutical companies] have been allowed to use gag orders as a leverage tool in vaccine damage legal settlements to prevent disclosure of information to the public about vaccination dangers. Such arrangements are clearly unethical; they force a non-consenting American public to pay for vaccine manufacturers' liabilities, while attempting to ensure that this same public will remain ignorant of the dangers of their products."52,53

Vaccine critic Randall Neustaedter adds: "When lawsuits leveled at drug companies began wiping out profits gleaned from the pertussis vaccine, the manufacturers simply stopped production of the vaccine. The United States government stepped in to pay these vaccine-damage claims. Only then did the drug companies agree to resume vaccine production...."54

Right to Refuse Vaccination
All states have laws mandating the vaccination of children before they enter school, but these laws also allow for various types of exemptions to compulsory vaccination. Parents may seek exemptions on behalf of their children. According to the NVIC, all 50 states allow exemptions based on medical reasons, 48 states allow exemptions for people who have a sincere religious belief opposing vaccination, and 18 states allow exemptions based on philosophical, personal, or conscientiously held beliefs.55

The ease of obtaining a vaccination exemption may depend on the type sought and the requirements of the individual's state. In the journal Pediatrics, researchers say that "in many states, it is easier to claim a religious or philosophical exemption than to adhere to mandated immunization requirements."56 On the other hand, Kurt Link, MD, states in The Vaccine Controversy that exemptions are often very difficult to obtain and that less than two percent of people who apply for a vaccination exemption obtain one. Link says that parents who are denied an exemption and try to defy the vaccination mandate may have their children excluded from school, may be charged with criminal child abuse or neglect, and may have their children taken into state custody.57

Potential Downside to Exemptions
Parents who refuse vaccinations for their children should be aware of other potential consequences as well. The literature shows that unvaccinated children may be at greater risk of contracting diseases covered by routine vaccines. In the Pediatrics article,58 the authors cite research showing that "exemptors" were 22 times more likely to contract measles than were vaccinated people and six times more likely to contract pertussis.59 In addition, unvaccinated people account for the majority of recent cases of tetanus.60 A study published in 2006 also found that states allowing personal-belief exemptions and states with easier exemption processes were associated with a higher incidence of pertussis.61

Another consideration is that pediatricians may dismiss patients who refuse to be vaccinated. In a survey of 1004 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics published in 2005, 39% said they would dismiss a family for refusing all vaccinations, and 28% would dismiss a family for refusing select vaccines.62

Varying State Laws
According to the NVIC, parents who want to exempt a child from mandated vaccination must know what types of exemptions the law in their state allows and the type of proof that may be required. In many states offering philosophical or personal-belief exemptions, for example, a parent must object to all vaccines, not particular ones. With medical exemptions, some states will accept without question a letter from a physician saying that one or more vaccines would be detrimental to the health of the patient, while the health departments in other states review such exemptions and may decide one is not justified. With religious exemptions, says the NVIC, state laws differ regarding the definition of the exemption and the proof needed of one's religious beliefs opposing vaccination. In fact, the NVIC does not provide or recommend a prewritten waiver for religious exemptions. If a prewritten waiver does not meet your state's requirements, you may draw attention to your child and, if challenged on the exemption, end up in litigation with your state or county health department in which you must prove your religious beliefs.63

Another website, Vaccination Liberation, provides links to exemption forms ,and information by state and to sample exemption letters ( Joseph Mercola, DO, provides an article on how to legally avoid vaccinations on his website ( Dr. Mercola's newsletter has covered other vaccination topics as well.

Fisher of the NVIC offers advice for two particular vaccination situations in her book The Consumer's Guide to Childhood Vaccines64:

  • Newborns Hospitals generally require parents who are delivering a baby to sign a form agreeing to have the newborn treated by medical personnel. Fisher warns that by signing this document, you may also give consent to have your baby vaccinated with hepatitis B. Fisher states, "Read any consent form you sign carefully. If you do not want your newborn vaccinated shortly after birth, you have the right to sign it after writing in an exception, such as, 'I do not consent to have my child given any vaccinations prior to discharge from the hospital.' Bring this to the attention of the person admitting you and the nursery supervisor and ask to have it printed on the outside of your chart. Some parents take the extra precaution of not leaving the newborn alone with hospital personnel without being able to observe the baby."65
  • Sick children Staff in hospitals, clinics or emergency rooms often ask about the vaccination status of children. Fisher states, "You don't have to provide them with written proof. A verbal answer is satisfactory. However, if you are being questioned closely and feel that you are being pressured into vaccinating your sick child without your consent, you should understand that you have the right to refuse to give permission to have your sick child vaccinated if you believe vaccination at the time will endanger your child's health or life. You may choose to reassure medical personnel that you will consult a private pediatrician for further guidance about vaccination."66

The point is that individuals need the freedom to choose. They should not be forced in one direction or another. Fisher stresses this: "Our organization does not tell a parent what to do.67 I want to make that clear. We are an information clearinghouse, and we believe in education. We believe that parents should take the responsibility for making their own decision. In this society, we ought to have the right to make the right decisions without being bullied and harassed and threatened into vaccinating if we do not believe that it is in the best interest of our child."

Alan Phillips adds, "I don't advocate that people do or do not vaccinate. I say that there's a lot of information that people should investigate before they make a decision one way or the other. We're so steeped in what I would now call the myth of vaccination that it seems nonsensical and counterintuitive to even raise the question. In fact, the first time that I raised the question with a pediatrician I got yelled at. While I think that was unprofessional of the pediatrician, it does demonstrate the degree to which assumptions about vaccinations are held."68

Dr. Dean Black, author of Immunizations: Compulsion or Choice, states, "As a parent, there might be times I choose to immunize my child. Maybe I would find scientific evidence to back its validity in a case where a disease is so fraught with risk that I dare not expose my child. Maybe then I would choose [to vaccinate]. But I would do so having thoroughly thought about it....What I believe we cannot tolerate as a free nation is to have government bureaucrats come in and say—based upon false statistics—if you don't immunize your child, you will suffer penalty of law. That, to me, is a gross injustice that simply has to be changed."69

Holistic Health
Fisher believes that if we are concerned about our health and our freedoms, we should be worrying about the future. "I truly believe that unless the public wakes up to what is happening, and starts standing up for their right to be fully informed about vaccines and their right to make informed independent vaccine decisions, the day will come when we won't have that right. We will be forcibly vaccinated by law without exception."70

Fisher urges everyone to stop being complacent, to start becoming informed about vaccines and diseases, and to act. Specifically, she states, "You are going to have to work to amend your state's laws. If you would like to be better informed and to help get the truth out, please join our grassroots vaccine safety movement."

Fisher believes that alternative healthcare modalities in the US will play an important role in the vaccine safety movement.71 "Those who are looking into…osteopathic medicine, naturopathic, homeopathic, vitamin therapy, etc., are looking for ways to boost the immune system through more natural means in order to be able to naturally deal with viruses and bacteria that they come in contact with. This is a very important movement."

Dr. Black agrees. He sees vaccinations as a shortcut for people in our society who have not taken full responsibility for their health. "It's a way of saying, don't look at the more natural holistic way of helping the body. Medicine believes disease is the enemy... Medicine fights disease. Natural health care works with it... Medicine believes symptoms are evil. Natural health care believes symptoms are the body's efforts to rid itself of disease."72

Curtis Cost, author of Vaccines Are Dangerous: A Warning to the Black Community, adds, "…parents do not need to be terrified into believing that the only way to protect themselves and their children from disease is through vaccines. We know that if parents breast-feed their babies, the risk of death and disease is dramatically reduced because the breast milk contains all the natural nutrients that the mother will naturally give to her child as she breast-feeds. We know that diet has a tremendous effect on disease. If you are not eating a proper diet, your risk of getting various diseases is much greater. So we need to focus on taking control of our focus on eating more organically grown fresh fruits and vegetables, on drinking pure water, and on exercising. These actions build up the immune system."73

It stands to reason that our approach might be better directed at bolstering natural immunity, by strengthening the body's own disease-fighting capability, than trying to manipulate a carefully balanced system which may or may not tip to the detriment of the future individual. The old adage, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger" describes the credo of the vaccine industry. The problem is that we do not yet know a single silver-bullet remedy for all childhood illnesses that are known to cause no harm to the future adult.

Page 1, 2, Resources & Notes


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December 3, 2007

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