The Escalating Efforts to Silence Vaccine Safety Debate
It’s one thing to recommend something you believe in. It’s quite another to demand that everyone else believe in it as well. Add hostility, politics, lobbyists, and an industry with a long history of dishonesty, and the result is the antithesis of the founding principles of this country.
Last month, Cosmopolitan posted a very disturbing opinion piece by a lobbyist for vaccine mandates, attorney Jinny Suh. Ms. Suh is the creator and leader of the activist group “Immunize Texas” which she terms a “grass-roots community group.” It’s actually a branch of “Immunize USA,” which is funded by vaccine companies GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Pfizer, and vaccine inventor and industry spokesman Paul Offit, among others.
The article is liberally sprinkled with pejoratives and thinly-veiled accusations directed towards those who don’t agree with the author. The end result leaves a strong impression encouraging fear, repression, and hatred against anyone wanting to maintain the right to determine which invasive medical procedures they are willing to have performed on their children, and when.
Empathy or hostility?
Ms. Suh begins the article with several paragraphs telling us how she is an incredibly supportive and sympathetic person. And maybe she is.
One would expect that a sympathetic parent whose children were lucky enough NOT to suffer adverse vaccine reactions, would lobby for research on causes, prevention, and treatment of such harm. After all, over 10,000 claims are filed every year with the adversarial, problematic “Vaccine Court.”
Nobler efforts to help children might include fundraising for families of children who suffered truly catastrophic reactions, requiring lifelong 24/7 care not covered by insurance, especially for those who were unaware that the government compensation system even exists until well after the short three-year statute of limitations. After all, there are many such families in Ms. Suh’s home state.
Instead, the remainder of the article reads as an attack on those who criticize or even question vaccine safety, starting with her incongruous announcement that “it’s time to stop acting like not vaccinating is a parenting decision.”
Let’s remember the facts here:
- Vaccination is an invasive medical procedure.
- Medical procedures may be declined by the patient.
- Medical procedures on infants and children ARE PARENTING DECISIONS.
Dismissing all who would disagree with her, Ms. Suh ignores 73,454 reports of serious reactions associated with vaccines from 1989 through April of this year, and 6,469 reported deaths in the same time period. She insists that vaccines—all vaccines— are safe and effective, and basically demands that everyone who has not already had an “approved” medical reaction agree to fully vaccinate their children. Links to three articles, none of which prove safety or efficacy, are provided in an effort to justify such a drastic demand.
As responsible parents, we cannot ignore legitimate reports of vaccine-associated systemic harm and submit unquestioningly to such demands because of three erroneous articles. One can easily find three articles claiming safety and efficacy of various medications in pill form, but that wouldn’t support a claim that “pills are safe and effective,” and it wouldn’t necessarily prove safety and efficacy of those particular pills.Vioxx and thalidomide are only two of many examples of FDA-approved medications that turned out to be deadly. Vaccines, classified as “biologicals” rather than “drugs” aren’t held to the strict standards of science and tightly-controlled clinical trials that Vioxx was before it received—and maintained—approval from both the government and our medical system.
The author links to a CNN news report with video, which wrongly claims that “thimerosal does not cause any difficulty.” This is blatantly false: thimerosal is strongly associated withphonic and motor tics, which are neurological disorders, as well as problems with attention and executive functioning. In other words, thimerosal causes difficulties.
CNN here also claims in error that only “trace amounts” of thimerosal are in influenza vaccines. Again, this is untrue: approximately 30% of flu vaccines today still contain 25 micrograms of thimerosal in each dose; the CDC’s chart shows that only FDA-licensed influenza vaccine recommended for children under the age of three is FluZone Quadrivalent, which contains a 12.5 mcg/dose of thimerosal. Not only is that NOT a trace amount, but it’s being given to the population most susceptible to harm from thimerosal. CNN got both of these important facts completely wrong.
In contrast, back before the vaccine manufacturers were permitted to advertise on, and, for all practical purposes, own and control commercial TV, there was this special news report in 1979 on the government cover-up of harm from swine flu shots, as well as this one, in 1982, “DPT: Russian Roulette.”
There is a well-documented history of cover-up of harm from vaccines in this country; this is in no way refuted by CNN’s misinformed (at best) claims of safety.
Ms. Suh also links an article from the WHO, which recklessly recommends vaccinating everyone who comes into contact with an infant for pertussis, ignoring the fact that those vaccinated for pertussis are still able to colonize and transmit pertussis to infants, even if they have no symptoms. The article also credits vaccines for reductions in death and disease in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America without acknowledging that adequate nutrition, clean water, improved sanitation, and modern medical care would have had the same effect.
The third effort to convince us of the supposed safety of vaccines is a disturbingly vitriolic article by the controversial Brian Deer, who, amidst accusations of his own questionable ethics, falsely claimed that Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s study misrepresented the medical status of the children involved—falsely, because those children’s parents have gone on record rebutting and criticizing Deer, and supporting Wakefield.
Moreover, Deer’s article purports to address only one vaccine, MMR, out of the 54 vaccines recommended for US children from the day of birth to age 18. So it completely fails to address safety concerns regarding the other 53 vaccines, the poor quality of design and reporting of safety outcomes, the absence of any testing for carcinogenicity, mutagenicity, or impairment of fertility (stated on every package insert!), and the possibility of unanticipated synergistic reactions.
An argument that rests on mistaken assumptions, on false claims, and that ignores or denies valid concerns, is not only unconvincing; it calls the entire pro-vaccine-mandate position into question.
Not one of these examples proves safety or efficacy of vaccines, nor do they rule out a vaccine-autism link, nor do they rule out a link between vaccines and the myriad serious health issues that have been suggested by literally hundreds of studies.
“This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved, as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision.”
-From The Nuremberg Code, 1947
Attacking parental rights
It’s extremely disturbing that, with strong evidence of serious health risks from vaccines, anyone would insist with such authority that parents unquestioningly accept the conclusions presented here.
Ms. Suh makes entirely unsupported accusations against those who question vaccine safety, ascribing thoughts, values, and motives to thousands of people she’s never met. She uses these mistaken assumptions as reason to urge readers to support vaccine mandates—but this is tantamount to mandating the same medication for the entire population. Ms. Suh is not a medical doctor, and should not be advising others on what medical procedures are appropriate for themselves or for their children. Usurping the right of the individual to make medical decisions is in direct defiance of the Nuremburg Code.
Many parents questioning vaccine safety have already vaccinated their children and observed serious adverse reactions, often documented by their doctors. Some even filed claims with the US Department of Health and Human Services, and—against all odds—won compensation for their losses.
Parents whose own children didn’t have such reactions know others who did. A quickly increasing number of parents recognize genetic susceptibilities in their families, and choose to delay or even decline one or more vaccines, as is their right.
It’s chilling when those who have never seen a child’s terrible vaccine reaction mock and threaten parents who have. The insistence that we ignore these serious issues is troubling. Demanding that others adhere to the CDC’s poorly tested vaccination schedule—regardless of the serious and unresolved safety issues—is misguided and short-sighted considering the tremendous impact to individuals, to families, and to society.
Any parent who would demand that all children submit to a medical intervention that carries with it the known reality that some will sustain catastrophic brain damage or death in order to protect her child does not grasp the monstrous enormity of the request.
A parent that understood would never ask.
—Louise Kuo Habakus
Ms. Suh claims to support evidence-based science, so here is evidence-based sciencethat directly addresses her misunderstandings of the facts:
- Many of today’s vaccines don’t actually prevent the vaccinated individual from colonizing and transmitting the disease in question. This is true of pertussis, as already noted, polio and diphtheria.
- Tetanus isn’t even a contagious disease.
- Hepatitis B and HPV are both primarily transmitted by sexual contact, and Hepatitis B is also transmitted via tainted needles. These are not “community immunity” issues; these are lifestyle choices. For different reasons, neither can be ethically mandated.
- Rotavirus is transmissible primarily via the fecal/oral route, where virus from tainted feces would have to make their way into someone’s mouth in order for them to be infected. If good hygiene cannot be mandated, neither can one make an ethical case for mandating invasive medical procedures for the same result.
- The use of the HIB vaccine has actually resulted in non-vaccine strains of HIB becoming both more virulent and more prevalent; vaccinated individuals, for some reason, are more susceptible to these non-vaccine strains.
- Before the measles vaccine, US infants in the 20th century did not die in droves from measles. In fact, measles was considered a relatively mild disease, almost exclusively seen in three to fifteen-year-olds, with the under-three crowd protected by passive immunity conferred by their mothers.
- The death rate from measles as far back as 1922 was extremely low—4.3 in 100,000. Consider that this was nearly 100 years ago—before electric refrigerators, before washing machines, before antibiotics, and IV hydration, and the advances of modern medicine enjoyed today.
- Before the measles vaccine was introduced, children went to school, and even to Disneyland, which opened its doors in 1955, and mothers didn’t live in fear of routine illnesses like measles.
- Immunocompromised individuals can receive every vaccine except the few live-virus vaccines, as “killed or inactivated vaccines do not represent a danger to immunocompromised persons.” They can also receive immune globulin if exposed to measles. In fact, contrary to common belief, it could actually be dangerous to expose the immunocompromised to individuals recently vaccinated with live-virus vaccines, due to vaccine shedding.
- According to The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, 50 million Americans, or 20% of the population, suffer from autoimmune disease. That means that one in five has an immune system that doesn’t react normally, and may be at increased risk for unexpected and/or adverse reactions to their vaccines.
It’s troubling that Ms. Suh, even with two degrees in biology, does not know that vaccinating for these illnesses will not protect others. Even more disturbing is the possibility that she does know.
There is a balance between benefit and harm. This is a value judgement, and no authority can make that judgement better than those who are offered the intervention. This is a general guiding principle in medical ethics, not specific to this debate.
– Karsten Juhl Jørgensen, M.D., Deputy Director Nordic Branch of the gold standard of mainstream medical review, Cochrane
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