Vaccination Controversy: Safety and Side Effects by Dr Yubraj Sharma

Introduction

Many medical doctors and public health officials promote vaccination as the single largest cause for the improved health over the last century, yet debate is raging over the truth of this statement.

Childhood vaccination before school admission is now mandatory in this and many western countries. However, there are increasing concerns that vaccines are actually causing severe and chronic disease in later life. There is a growing body of evidence, both research and case reports, showing that vaccines may be unsafe and indeed ineffective.

However, the current immunization protocol seems likely to expand, as new vaccines continue to be developed. The Diphtheria, Pertussis and Tetanus (DPT) vaccine was introduced in the 1940s. The BCG vaccine was produced in the early 1910s but has never been cloned (genetically copied), and stocks are maintained in several laboratories around the world. Widespread vaccination began from the 1950s. In 1955, the Salk injectable polio vaccine was developed, and the Sabin oral Polio vaccine in 1960. The measles vaccine was introduced in 1963 and then combined with the Mumps and Rubella vaccines into MMR in 1971. The Haemophilus influenza vaccine was brought out in 1985. The chickenpox vaccine was developed in 1974, but has only recently been licensed for widespread use. Recently, the Meningococcus type C has been incorporated into the childhood and teenage protocol.

The Controversy

That vaccines have in fact prevented disease can be disputed. Many epidemics of the actual wild type infection have occurred in vaccinated populations, even where the herd immunity (based on the coverage of the population with the vaccination programme, such that very few people are unprotected) is close to 100%. Evidence shows that the prevalence or the infections targeted were declining prior to the inception of vaccination. The factors cited for this were improved housing, sanitation and diet.[1] Inaccuracies of disease prevalence reporting, and even altering the clinical markers of infection, have been revealed in the data, to indicate that the statistics were manipulated to show a dramatic fall of the infection after vaccination.[2]

Many governments now have vaccine liability funds to compensate families with children who have become damaged by the vaccine.

This is partly to divert families from suing the pharmaceutical companies involved in the manufacture. Primarily because of parent lobbying groups (after the Pertussis vaccine injured their children) the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act was enacted in the USA in 1986. This created a mechanism for compensation, reporting of vaccine adverse reactions and investigation into vaccine safety.[3]

The Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA) VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System) receives approximately 11,000 reports of serious side effects of vaccination each year, of which about 1% are deaths. The majority of the deaths found related to the Pertussis vaccine. However, the FDA estimates that only 10% of all adverse events are reported by clinicians, a figure supported by two National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) investigations. The controversy over the Pertussis vaccine resulted in the development of a weaker acellular vaccine (not containing whole cells of the pathogen), which is being introduced into many western countries.

Recently, the Osaka District court ordered a compensation payout by the government and a research institute affiliated to Osaka University, to the families of two children who died or suffered side effects after receiving the MMR vaccine. The court found that the institute had produced the vaccine using a method different from that submitted to the Health Ministry and was the likely reason for the adverse reactions.[4] It is the first time that a court has ruled on a significant damages case related to a vaccine.

Mechanism of Vaccine Damage

Vaccination aims to prevent a child (or adult) from contracting the disease from a wild version of the pathogen. The population is thereby seemingly made resistant and healthier. However, the methodology and mechanism of vaccination inherently lowers immunity and brings on deeper disease processes, with five main categories of dysfunction:

1.Low immune resistance to other pathogens with chronic and recurrent infections;
2.Chronic mucus;
3.Auto-immune disease;
4.Chronic allergies;
5.Behavioural imbalance and developmental problems.

The Medical Model

Firstly, it is useful to understand the medical model for explaining vaccination. The idea is to inject into the subcutaneous or intramuscular space of the body a sample of the microbe for which protection is sought. This microbe is attenuated or partially deactivated, usually by removing much of the cytoplasmic contents and genetic material – leaving some of this alongside the cell wall.

Enough of the microbe exists for the immune system to recognize it and mount a reaction. The injection must bypass the skin and mucous membranes (which line the nose, airways, gastrointestinal tract and urinary system), otherwise the large macrophage white cells at these sites would destroy the strains before they had a chance to engage with the deeper immune cells. Of the lymphocyte class of white cells, the T lymphocytes are the overall key guidance for the rest of the system. The B lymphocytes are instructed to manufacture a large number of antibodies, predominantly of the IGM class (which are specific proteins recognizing the antigen or microbe), which, when released, act to mark the microbial material. This leads to direct deactivation or promotion of other phagocytic white cells to enter the scene and mop up residual material. Normally this process takes a few weeks to create enough specific antibodies for that pathogen and provides one part of the overall immune response. By administering booster doses of the vaccines a few weeks or months apart, the level of antibody production is much increased. After the event, the B lymphocytes recruited for the process do not return back to the general pool of B cells (which circulate within the blood, lymph nodes, spleen, liver and bone marrow). Instead, they are placed into ‘hibernation’ within these tissues; able to retain a memory of the antibody produced. Any future contact with the wild type of the pathogen leads to activation of this cohort of B cells, leading to a rapid response of antibody production, effectively mopping up the pathogens before they can significantly infest the body. Of course, the theory is very attractive, and leads many medical doctors and public health officials to believe we should vaccinate more often and to many more diseases. The safety is unquestioned and any attention to the risks often suppressed.

Frequent Infections

However, the immune system is now working overtime in manufacturing the very high levels of antibodies required. There is never, in reality, a situation of multiple infections by several pathogens all occurring at the same time. Instead, the body tends to experience one infection at a time, such as a streptococcal sore throat followed by a chest infection and then gastroenteritis. It is definitely impossible for any human to become infected by measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, tuberculosis, haemophilus influenza type B, poliomyelitis and meningococcus type C all at the same time. Even a few of these pathogens do not co-exist as a single infective episode. However, the immune system is forced to manufacture antibodies to all these pathogens, and all at the same time. Over a period of two to three years, with the frequent booster doses, the immune system is never given a rest from specific antibody manufacture. This leads to chronic immune deficiency with respect to any ability to respond to other pathogens.[5] Vaccination commits immune cells to the specific antigens involved in the vaccine, and thus renders them incapable of reacting to other infections. In effect, the immunity is lowered. Children contract other infections they would not normally have – which furthermore lead to unnecessary antibiotics and paracetamol. Indeed many children are entering states of chronic flu like illness and fatigue syndrome as a consequence to the frequent infections.

The Defence Chi

Of vital importance in Chinese medicine is the Wei Chi or Defence Chi of the body. This is a defensive layer of energy around and through the entire being, and is governed by the adrenal/kidney chi and lung chi.[6] It prevents exterior pathogenic factors (which equate to our modern understanding of microbes and environmental triggers such as pollens and damp weather) from invading the deeper body. It broadly equates also to the mucosal immunity referred to in western medicine, which is regulated by the large macrophage white cells within the skin and mucosal membranes. These are specialist sentry cells able to engulf invading matter before it penetrates the core of the body. There is also a production of a different class of antibody, the IGA type, by B lymphocytes in the mucosal linings. These are the first line of antibody defence and are not stimulated by vaccines. By injecting disease material past the surface layer of immune cells, the body experiences a rift in its Defence Chi. It can no longer trust its mucosal immunity. The result is the easier penetration of other microbes and environmental factors into the core of the body, aggravating the tendency to recurrent infection and allergy.

Mucus Production

The high level of white cell activation alongside the bacterial waste leads to mucus or pus (which is a matrix of fluid, dead and live white cells and bacteria). Unfortunately, most children receive excessive anti-pyretics, such as paracetamol, to lower fever, and this causes mucus to remain stuck within the body. Mucus is actually a gel, and, as such, it becomes watery and runny when warmed, and thicker when cooled. Fever is the body’s response to an infection or inflammation, and is triggered by special pyrogenic hormones from the hypothalamus. By suppressing the fever these children end up with chronic glue ear, sinusitis or chest catarrh. Mucus also tends to accumulate within the gut and urinary system. In doing so, this mucus becomes a culture medium for further bacterial growth, aggravating the state of recurrent infections. Stuck mucus is unpleasant and painful to the child, aggravating the developmental problems discussed later.

Autoimmune Disease

In fact, so many antibodies are produced by the immune system during the first few years after vaccination that many become abnormal. There is only so much a young immune system can do, and the vaccination regimen has pushed it way over the limit.

Therefore, many B lymphocytes are under immense strain and do not produce antibodies specific enough to the vaccine. In addition, protein metabolism becomes chaotic and disorderly, leading to mutant antibodies becoming auto-antibodies. These attack the body’s own cells and tissues, leading to a large number of increasing diseases, such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (Stills disease), diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and glomerulonephritis (with kidney failure). The fact that many of these problems surface several years after vaccination is irrelevant – it takes this long for the abnormal antibodies to eventually build up to pathogenic levels.

Allergenic Disease

Furthermore, the immune system is guided to react to other foreign agents with the same hyperactive production of antibodies. Rather like an abused child, the immune system becomes extremely vulnerable. It becomes hypersensitive to environmental triggers, no longer able to discern friend from foe. This has contributed to the enormous increase in allergy within the population, starting within childhood, such as eczema, hayfever, asthma and food allergy.

Although the exact allergenic trigger is important to identify, the fact remains that the underlying immune terrain is abnormal. Many children acquire allergies within weeks of the vaccination, although a lag phase of several months is not unusual, as the immune hypersensitivity builds up.[7,8]

Direct Vaccine Disease

The vaccines are injectable strains of disease material and indeed go so far as to infect the recipient with a mild form of the disease.

However the pathology of these diseases invariably lingers for years after the dose, with symptoms that are atypical of the wild type disease and are, therefore, usually ignored by doctors. Measles, mumps and rubella vaccination can, therefore, actually lead to encephalitis (brain inflammation), meningitis and lymphoma – all mutations from the basic disease.[9]

Diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccination leads to problems from chronic neck and throat tension, such as thyroid disease, recurrent sore throats, persistent cough, croup, epiglotitis, delayed speech, stammering and problems swallowing. Since 1909, a significant number of epidemics of paralytic polio have been attributed to the DPT vaccine. This is particularly the case where children have also received an antibiotic injection within one month of the DPT vaccine, increasing the risk ten-fold. In Britain, a 1949 epidemic of paralytic polio was found to be directly associated with innoculation of DPT within one month preceding the recorded date of infection.[10] A study by Dr Arthur Gale of the Ministry of Health reported 65 cases of paralytic polio in the Midlands, all within two weeks of the DPT injection; significantly 49 of these had paralysis in the injected limb.[11] During 1947-49, 112 cases of paralytic polio were admitted to Park Hospital, London, where the majority were found to have had the DPT vaccination between 9 and 14 days previously.[12]

Subsequently, the Ministry of Health recommended the DPT vaccines should not be used in those areas where polio was naturally present, and this led to much reduced reporting rates. However, the later response was to instigate the polio vaccination programme, rather than further disrupt the DPT vaccine regimen.

Polio vaccination leads to frequent gastroenteritis, poor brainstem function (with respiratory distress states of apnoea and breath holding for example), weakened adrenal glands and general muscle fatigue. Since the oral polio vaccine contains live pathogen, there are concerns that this becomes shed through the faeces to infect the community at large, especially unprotected children and adults nearby. Re-infection and active disease transmission is not limited to unprotected children however, but may appear as disease in previously immunized children whose vaccine protection has worn off, often with distorted symptoms which again confuse clinicians into making another diagnosis.

The BCG or tubercular vaccine leads to adrenal and lung deficiency, often as chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma and attention deficit disorder. The haemophilus influenza vaccine causes recurrent chest and ear infections. The hepatitis B vaccine leads to chronic liver weakness, with symptoms from malabsorption, dyspepsia and nutritional deficit. Finally, the meningococcus vaccine causes chronic low grade meningeal irritation, such as epilepsy, migraine headaches, multiple sclerosis, persistent neck tension and learning difficulties.

All these reactions can be predicted from the pathological sequelae of actual infections were they to have occurred in the wild state.

Encephalitis is one of the most frequent reactions to all the vaccines. Since this inflammation is usually low-grade, it is not usually picked up by clinicians. Instead, the consequences of brain damage are found later, such as autism, Guillain-Barre syndrome (a temporary brain and spinal cord paralysis), learning difficulties, epilepsy, sleeping and eating disorders, cot death, sleep apnoea, attention deficit and impulse inhibition with perhaps violence and aggression.

The factors predicting those children who are most likely to react to vaccination include the following:

• Children with a previous vaccine reaction;
• Children with another sibling or close family member with an adverse vaccine reaction;
• Where there is a history of convulsions, neurological disorders, immune system disorders, eczema, asthma or food allergy;
• Children who become ill frequently, such as runny nose, ear aches, diarrhoea – also those who have only just recovered from an illness one month prior to the scheduled vaccination;
• Children born prematurely or with a low birth weight;
• Children with cerebral irritation during the neonatal period, such as head trauma at birth or meningitis.

Active and Passive Immunity

In actual fact, for the vast majority of cases, the childhood infectious diseases are benign and self-limiting. They also impart life-long natural immunity, known as active immunity. Vaccination, on the other hand, imparts passive immunity that is short lived. The length of protection conferred is variable, depending on the vaccine itself and on multiple host factors. No vaccine has been shown to protect for longer than ten years. Although natural immunity does also wane over time, exposure to pathogens in the environment re-stimulates the naturally acquired antibodies, providing life-long immunity in most cases. Therefore, booster doses of the vaccine are administered later to re-start protection. However, the findings show that further vaccine protection is even shorter lived than before. Many medical workers are now realizing that this is causing a more dangerous situation in the child’s future development. After the effectiveness of the vaccines wear off, the risk of actual infection returns. Furthermore, the death and complication rate from the wild disease is greater the older the patient. Vulnerability is not only delayed but worsened. For example, recent epidemics of measles within young adults and teenagers have resulted in recommendations for repeat booster doses in this group. However, these boosters have themselves been shown to have much shorter phases of protection, usually about six months, or create unpredictable distortion of the lymphocyte white cell populations.[13]

Another disquieting fact is that, from the beginning, the vaccines themselves have much less efficacy than was once thought. Studies do not reproduce the same rate of protection for the vaccine in different populations. It is thought that a protective response by the immune system to a vaccine can be almost negligible in some people, and, at best, about half in the general population. Combining vaccines has also been shown to reduce their individual response rates. Thus injecting the Hib Haemophilus influenza vaccine alongside the DPT and hepatitis B vaccines has resulted in a poorer response to the Haemophilus part of the combination than when given stand-alone.[14]

Recent recommendations to incorporate the chickenpox vaccination in children have raised concerns that the vaccine viral material may mutate into the shingles virus (herpes zoster) in later years – thereby bringing this disease into the adult population en masse.

When children and adults do acquire the wild disease in later years, there are usually atypical features, with confusion in the diagnosis and chronic degeneration of tissues.[15,16] Therefore, many modern diseases are possible candidates for relapsed infectious diseases, mutated into new pathologies.

Vaccine Adjuvants

Adjuvants are added during the manufacture of vaccines to induce a long-term irritation of the immune system upon innoculation, thereby amplifying the antibody production. They are especially indicated where dead microbes are used in the vaccine as opposed to live ones (which usually trigger a greater antibody response).[17] They are, however, in themselves lethal agents. The preservative agents used in many vaccines include thiomerosal, formaldehyde, 2-phenoxyethanol, aluminium phosphate, sorbitol and hydrolyzed gelatin. Thiomerosal is an organic form of mercury, as 50% ethylmercury. Aluminium phosphate, thiomerosal and formaldehyde are all known to be carcinogenic. There are no acceptable safe quantities of these substances that can be injected into the human body – even in trace amounts they cause disease.

The vaccines are also cultured in a variety of cell lines, including yeast (for example, Hib), monkey kidney (for example, poliomyelitis), chicken embryo (for example, measles and mumps) and human blood and stem cells (for example, rubella). Antibiotics and antifungals are added to the culture to limit the microbial profileration, including neomycin and streptomycin. This is all the more worrying considering the disastrous results when using animal and human tissue in previous drug development research. Thus an epidemic of Creutfeldt-Jakob disease was caused from using human pituitary derived growth hormone injections in growth deficient children in the 1960s and 1970s. Modern epidemics of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, Mad Cow’s disease) are attributed to the slow virus contamination of human brain tissue by using animal cultures in grafts and drug products. All this is sadly revealed after the event, and it is likely that many of the cell cultures used in vaccine development are following the same trend. Genes from the animal and human cells used can easily pass into the vaccine material, leading perhaps to new genetic diseases in future populations. The antifungals and antibiotics present within vaccines are also distorting the very immune response that is sought, as well as triggering mutations of normal microbial flora in the human body. Cases of ringworm and other fungal infections are, for example, very common at or near the site of the vaccine injection. Such infections are also usually very difficult to treat, due to the antifungal resistance within the pathogen.

Mercury Toxicity

Mercury exists in three forms; as an element, as an inorganic ion (with one or two positive charges) and organic as CH3Hg+.[18] The absorption and toxicity varies amongst these different forms. Organic Mercury compounds contain covalent bonds with carbon. The usual forms are alkylmercurials (methyl- and ethylmercury), arylmercurials (phenylmercury) and a family of alkoxyalkyl Mercury diuretics.

Organic forms tend to react easily with inorganic and other organic forms, cross biological membranes easily and are usually lipid soluble. The most important toxicological difference between the various organic forms is their degree of degradation within the body – some breakdown more readily. Generally, they are easily fat-soluble and cross the blood brain barrier and placenta. Some types, therefore, distribute throughout the body.

In chronic organic Mercury poisoning, the symptoms include mouth tremor (gingivitis or gum inflammation, increased salivation and mouth ulcers) and psychological changes (insomnia, loss of appetite, shyness, mood swings and memory loss). Nerve damage can cause motor or sensory weakness with numbness, tingling and incoordination. Other common features include spastic contractions of muscles, hyperactive reflexes, tremor, visual defects, hearing damage, poor concentration and emotional lability.

Autism

A particularly topical disease attributed partly to vaccine damage is autism. This is a disease of early childhood with the following features:

• Abnormal social interaction when relating to others, showing extreme aloneness, lack of attachment, failure to cuddle or touch and avoidance of eye contact;
• Language impairment with a lack of understanding;
• Ritualistic and obsessive/compulsive behaviour with insisting on the same, resisting change, rituals and habits, excessive attachment to certain objects and repetitive acts;
• Delayed or uneven intellectual development.

The diagnosis is only made after the age of thirty-six months. Many of the features of autism match those of Mercury poisoning, and have been attributed to the thimerosal within many vaccinations. It was introduced into vaccines from the 1930s and coincided with the first significant reports of autistic children. A link between the two seems plausible, considering the massive increase in vaccination alongside the increasing incidence of autism.

Common features of Mercury poisoning and autism thus include the following:

• Extreme under-confidence with shyness, social withdrawal and introverted states. A lack of direct eye contact and avoidance of conversation;
• Mood lability with low mood switching to gaiety without any external context. Also a dull apathetic facial expression, with staring absently;
• Mental retardation and poor memory.
• Self-harm, including banging one’s head;
• Anxiety, restlessness, nervousness and panic attacks;
• Speech deficit, poor comprehension of other’s conversation, or abnormal sensitivity to sound and noise;
• Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep.
• Aversion to touch;
• Poor co-ordination, clumsiness and walking on their toes;
• Abnormal tremors, jerking movements and twitches of muscles;
• Photophobia;
• Excessive sweating;
• Anorexia or loss of appetite;
• A tendency to masturbate.

An even worse effect has been caused by certain influenza vaccines that contain both mercury and aluminium, and after several annual inoculations of these, the toxic accumulation of both metals can cause severe states of dementia.

Case Reports

Case HL Autism

HL was a four year old boy on initial presentation, brought to my clinic by his parents and referred by their General Practitioner. He had a diagnosis of autism, and exhibited extreme sensitivity to others with shyness and withdrawal, lack of eye contact, bouts of hyperactivity with irritability and learning disability. He had other classic features of autism, such as repetitive behaviour, vulnerability, excessive attachment to his parents and lack of concentration. All his symptoms began one week after the initial MMR vaccination at the age of 10 months. Until then, he had shown apparently normal developmental milestones, good eye contact and social skills. There was no doubt at all in the parents’ minds that the vaccine had caused the symptoms. My initial assessment revealed no other significant causation, except to note that there was some maternal history of endogenous depression. Both parents were very loving and supportive towards their child, and had tried to do as much as possible to understand the disease. They had investigated diet, minerals and vitamin supplements and searched the internet for as much information as they could. They had already started over-the-counter homoeopathic treatment.

I first set about winning the confidence and trust of the child. This is part of the art of being a practitioner and can greatly influence the ability to heal the patient. Homoeopathic remedies prescribed during the initial few consultations focused on healing the damage to the child’s immune system, especially the thymus gland, and to treat the extreme emotional vulnerability. For example, the vaccine nosode remedies are based on the vaccines themselves, converted into potencies beyond the molecular level. MMR 30c assisted the clearance of the vaccine adverse effect, alongside Thuja 30c, a plant based remedy well known for its efficacy on immunization side effects.

Some new remedies, Thymus gland followed by Berlin wall 30c, were prescribed to treat the emotional damage and the distortion of normal immunity. Later still, Mercurius solubilis was used to assist the clearance of mercury toxicity.

During the treatment HL experienced reactive detoxification symptoms, with diarrhoea, mild fevers and nasal mucus discharge. By the end of the first year of treatment, he had improved so much that the diagnosis of autism was actually revised by the paediatricians. His eye contact, levels of attention, speech and social interaction had all improved enough so that he could start attending normal school, instead of entering a special needs centre. Of interest, the hospital team attributed the improvement to be from dietary changes, and considered the homoeopathy to have had no positive effect. The view of the parents was, of course, very different. Present homoeopathic management with further remedies continues to improve the child’s development. Since this case, three other children have presented to my clinics with autism appearing within weeks of the MMR vaccine; in all cases the child having had normal development prior to then.

Case RI Eczema

A second case of note is typical for the onset of allergic disease after vaccination. RI, a baby of 5 months age presented in my clinic with eczema, triggered after the initial DPT vaccination. Prior to the immunization, there was no skin disease or evidence of atopy. Neither parent had a personal history of allergic disease. The baby had been breast-fed and had not yet begun weaning. There was thus no other obvious trigger for eczema. Straight after the first dose of DPT, the baby suffered night-terrors and fevers. He then exhibited a widely radiating itchy dry and red rash mostly on the torso, but also present on all limbs and the face. The parents tried to avoid topical steroids, and used barrier creams for their soothing effect, as well as almond oil to ease the dry skin. The eczema did not remain at each site, but fluctuated and radiated over a period of a few weeks up to the clinic attendance. The baby was also quite irritable and prone to colic, poor sleep and frequent fevers with snuffles.

It was clear the immune system was in a state of relative chaos. In terms of Chinese medicine, there was evidence of exterior wind invasion with chi constraint and trapped interior wind as a pathogenic factor. Pathogenic factors in this medical system are broadly similar to the western notion of external microbial pathogens, allergens, as well as environmental exposure (such as damp, moulds and spores). Wind as a pathogenic factor essentially moves around the body with apparent randomness, causing cramping states and neuralgic pain. It is interesting to observe that the DPT vaccine contains pathogenic wind producing bacteria according to Chinese medicine. Thus pertussis and tetanus both cause cramping states within the airways and throat region, and diptheria can paralyze the brainstem and lead to a pus covered inflammatory blockage of the upper respiratory airway, blocking normal air flow within the lungs.

The baby received the appropriate homoeopathic remedies to clear the skin of the immune damage, including Psorinum 30c, the DPT nosode 30c and Thuja 30c, over the initial few sessions. Immune enhancing herbs were also provided to support the homoeopathics, these included herbal tinctures of Echinacea, Reishi mushroom and Wild Indigo root. Typically, any suppressed disease tends to begin a detoxification out of the system prior to improvement, and the baby had mucus discharge from some patches of the eczema. There was no evidence of there being secondary infection, and thus antibiotics were not indicated. The child continues to improve in the skin as well as in general mood and sleep. The parents are obviously wary of further vaccinations, and are considering all their options before making further decisions as to continued immunization. This typifies the dilemma many parents are facing, whether their child has had an adverse reaction or not from previous vaccine doses. Generally, a serious adverse reaction such as asthma, epilepsy or autism convinces the parents to avoid all other vaccines in the future. It is more problematic where lesser allergies or minor symptoms surface after vaccination. Proper studies, audit and research should enable parents, their doctors and the public health officials to make a proper informed decision.

Conclusion

It is important for parents to research the safety of vaccinating their children. Rather than relying on a single article, including this one, there is a wealth of information available using resources such as the internet. Search on the keyword vaccination to find the many educational sites developed by parent groups, concerned alternative and medical doctors and health watchdogs. Most medical doctors are over-worked and not informed by their own regulatory bodies to the extent they could be on this issue, but it is their duty and that of public health officials not to ignore the debate or make a blanket statement of safety without a proper analysis. Ideally, more research on vaccine safety is required before new vaccines are brought out.

The exemption criteria available for parents who are concerned and wish to remove their child from a vaccination programme are largely medical contraindications to the vaccine. However, increasingly parents are exempting their children from vaccination on religious and personal belief grounds. Recent court decisions have upheld the rights of individuals seeking such exemptions from immunizations based on personal religious beliefs.[[19] This is an increasing problem for public health organizations to squarely face, for it lowers the overall herd or population immunity and adds fuel to the debate. There is also a place for herbal and homoeopathic practitioners to support children and adults, both after vaccinations (to prevent or treat adverse reactions) as well as to provide an alternative to vaccination.

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