If you’re in your 50s or younger, then you have grown up in the “era of mass vaccines.” Since the 1950s, the number of recommended and required vaccine shots has gone up by close to 414 percent. Now there is dozens of shots per year on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vaccine schedule — not just for children but for adults as well.
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But how did the current CDC vaccine schedule come into existence in the first place? Here is a basic rundown of how U.S. vaccine policy has developed during the past 60 years.
Prior to the early 1960s, there was no formal nationwide vaccination program for Americans. Instead, vaccines were given mostly through private practice doctors. Vaccinations were usually paid for out of pocket, although some state and local governments provided block grants for local immunization programs.
All that began to change in 1962, when the Vaccination Assistance Act (VAA) went into effect. The VAA was significant in two ways. First, it gave the CDC the ability to initiate mass national vaccination campaigns. Secondly, it laid the foundation for on-going federal financial support to states and local governments as well as direct support, such as CDC Health Workers and actual vaccines.
“Booster shots” for vaccinations were not as common prior to the late 1960s as well. For example, as a child in the early to mid-1960s, you more than likely received a “whole-cell” vaccine dose of pertussis within the DTP (now called DTaP) multiple vaccines, or as a single shot. This extra-strength immunization contained the entire inactivated bacterium.
Beginning in the 1970s, the dosages for pertussis and other diseases were weakened (meaning they contained less bacterium). This was done for safety reasons according to the CDC. The practice of administering several booster shots throughout a child’s life became the common practice from about the mid-1970s onwards.
If you grew up in the 1960s, you may still recall your mom (or other guardians) trotting you over to the local health clinic to get your “doctor-recommended” round of shots. According to CDC records, in 1961, those recommendations looked like this:
- DTP — This was one of the first combination vaccines and included diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (aka whooping cough). Eventually, as immunization dosing amounts were tweaked, a series of 3-4 booster shot was recommended (see the 1970s).
- Poliomyelitis (polio) — The polio vaccine was developed in the 1950s and was on the vaccination schedule in the 1960s as a single shot (a different version of the polio vaccine is still offered today). It is estimated that approximately 100 million individuals received the polio vaccine between the late 1950s and early 1960s.
- Smallpox — Its outbreaks were dangerous in previous years, but smallpox wasn’t as much of a concern in the 1960s. Cases still appeared, however, especially outside of the United States, so a single-shot smallpox vaccine was recommended during this decade. According to the World Health Organization, the last known case of smallpox was reported in 1977.
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Vaccines in the 1970s
If you grew up in the 1970s, you may have had roughly 12-14 different kinds of shots throughout your early childhood. Not including the flu shot, your “recommended” childhood immunization schedule in 1974 might have looked like this:
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTP) — The initial shot was given at 2 months and 3-4 subsequent boosters were given during the course of the next 4 to 6 years;
- Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) — An upgraded vaccine for polio was given in approximately four shots between 6 months and 6 years of age.
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella — In 1974, these were given as single, individual shots which were staggered between 1 to 12 years of age (measles was usually administered at around 12 months, with the other two staggered afterward, between 1 to 12 years of age). The well-known and controversial MMR combo vaccine was actually developed in the early 1970s, but vaccines for these three diseases were still given in single doses through mid-decade.
In the 1970s, the CDC and other public agencies began to establish bureaucratic ways to address some of the adverse effects that had come down the pipeline in previous decades. Regarding polio, in particular, some individuals developed paralysis after being given the vaccine in the 1960s. There had also been some consumer concern regarding the newly-established flu vaccines as well as side effects from earlier versions of smallpox immunizations.
The CDC’s Monitoring System for Adverse Events Following Immunization (MSAEFI), which was established in 1976, was the forerunner of the current Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).
During this time, responsibility for liability caused by adverse side effects to vaccines also switched from vaccine manufacturers to the U.S. government. As a result, the government developed Vaccine Information Statements that are available today for parents and other vaccine users.
Finally, 1976 also saw the first mass roll-out of a flu vaccine, the H1N1 (i.e. swine flu) immunization.
Because of the switch of control regarding vaccine safety regulations as well as the creation of the CDC’s MSAEFI program, lawsuits against DTP vaccine manufacturers, in particular, rose dramatically in the early 1980s. Many parents alleged cases of brain damage and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) as a result of the DTP vaccine.
By the mid-1980s, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) created a “no-fault” compensation program for individuals who had been injured from universally recommended vaccines. The Act also formerly created several other programs and offices, including VAERS, the National Vaccine Program Office, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee, and the Advisory Commission on Childhood Vaccines.
The “Vaccine Court” is a popular term for the Office of Special Masters of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, which administers the no-fault system for litigating vaccine injury claims without a sitting jury. Since the development of the NCVIA and its Vaccine Court, initial claims against manufacturers can no longer be filed within the normal state or federal courts.
For children of the 80s, the number of vaccines was about the same as in the 1970s. A major change, however, was that now the MMR vaccine, which combined measles, mumps, and rubella into one shot, was in full usage. If you were a baby in the 1980s, you more than likely received an MMR shot at 15 months and again at 18 months of age.
Vaccines in the 1990s
The 1990s saw a lot of changes in U.S. vaccine policy. If you have children that were raised in this decade or you grew up in the 1990s yourself, you were affected by the following:
- The creation of an “official childhood vaccination schedule” for the United States, now updated annually. This schedule is promoted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, as well as vaccine manufacturers and is approved by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on a yearly basis.
- The increased introduction of “smaller dose” vaccine strains, which are supposedly safer for the public, but also contain less bacterium so they require even more booster shots.
- The addition of Hepatitis B, Varicella Zoster (a form of herpes), and influenza shots to the childhood immunization schedule as well as an increasing emphasis on getting shots done at an earlier age (i.e. immediately after birth through 18 months).
- The introduction of the thimerosal preservative in many “inactivated” vaccine vials began in the 1990s as well. The justification of adding this ethyl mercury-containing substance to vaccines was so it would prevent bacterial overgrowth in stored vaccines.
The debate continues to this day regarding the link between thimerosal use and the exponential growth of childhood autism. The official word from the CDC regarding Thimerosal:
“Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of medicines and vaccines. There is no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.”
At this point, thimerosal still exists in many vaccines, including various strains of influenza. Even vaccines that are considered “thimerosal free” can actually contain “trace amounts” of thimerosal. For a quick glance of the toxic load in many of common vaccines as of January 2017, including aluminum and MSG, visit the CDC chart.
In 1996, your child’s (or your own) vaccination schedule may have looked something like this:
- Hepatitis B — Four shots total, three starting at birth and going through 18 months and an additional booster recommended at 12 years.
- DTP (or DTaP) — A series of four shots total, three between 2 months and 18 months of age and one booster at around 12 years of age;
- Influenza (Haemophilus Influenza Type B) — Four rounds total, three between 2 and 6 months and one between 12 and 18 months.
- Polio Virus — Four shots, two at 2 to 4 months, one at 6 to 18 months and one at 4 to 6 years.
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) — Two shots total, one recommended between 12 and 18 months and another around 5 years old or 12 years old.
- Varicella Zoster virus (a form of herpes) — Two shots total, one between 12 and 18 months and another around 12 years of age.
The typical number of total vaccinations for children in the mid-1990s was 20, more than double the number of shots given just 30 years prior.
If you follow the current CDC Childhood Immunization Schedule, your children will receive more than 36 vaccines by the time they are 6 years old. In fact, the schedule is so lengthy for children and adolescents that it would be impossible to copy it all into this article. (2017 CDC Childhood Immunization Schedule)
From the 2000s onwards, the United States not only saw a dramatic rise in mandated and recommended vaccinations, but also a change in age. Most states now require 100 percent compliance with CDC vaccines schedules for MMR, TDP (i.e. DTaP), Hep B, and others in order for a child to enter into public school as a kindergartener.
Other states require up-to-date vaccinations for entering into higher education or certain sectors of the workforce such as healthcare. The CDC now prints a yearly Adult Vaccination Schedule that includes MMR, DTaP, Hep A and B, HPV, and Influenza, among others. (2017 Adult Vaccine Schedule)
The new century also saw a change in policy regarding the power and breadth that private pharmaceutical companies have in creating vaccines with less accountability for any resulting vaccine injuries. On Feb. 22, 2011, in the final decision of Bruesewitz v. Wyeth, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with drug companies by shielding them from any liability and closed the loophole. According to the 6-2 report: “… the court affirmed laws that vaccine manufacturers are not liable for vaccine-induced injury or death if they are ‘accompanied by proper directions and warnings.’ ”
As Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), stated in a recent article, “From now on, drug companies selling vaccines in America will not be held accountable by a jury of our peers in a court of law if those vaccines brain damage us but could have been made less toxic.”
It goes without saying that the vaccine environment in which your children now live in is much different than the one in which you may have lived in during the 60s, 70s, 80s, or even 1990s. Americans are now “required by law to use more vaccines than any other nation in the world.”
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What is ‘herd immunity’
The topic of vaccines and the current vaccination schedule is a complicated one, to say the least. Even the basic concepts that public agencies such as the CDC use to determine a vaccine’s “effectiveness” are now under scrutiny and the subject of public debate. The main principle that public health organizations use to justify mass vaccination campaigns is called “herd immunity.”
So exactly what is “herd immunity” and how does it affect you and your family? Let’s take a look at what this concept is at the most basic level. Then we can dive deeper into how it has been used as a scientific basis for decades of mass vaccination mandates as well as why some claim that vaccine-related “herd immunity” is really a myth.
The decision to vaccinate yourself or your children should always be a personal one made with informed consent. Knowing the facts as much as possible on both sides of the vaccination debate is a vital part of that decision-making process.
Herd Immunity: The Basics
If you are wanting a clear-cut definition of the term “herd immunity,” you are probably going to be disappointed. The definition appears to change depending on who uses it and how it is used. According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America:
“Some authors use it to describe the proportion immune among individuals in a population. Others use it with reference to a particular threshold proportion of immune individuals that should lead to a decline in incidence of infection. Still others use it to refer to a pattern of immunity that should protect a population from invasion of a new infection.” [Italics added.]
Huh? Let’s go back to the origin of the term and see if that helps to clear up things.
The term “herd immunity,” (otherwise known as “the herd effect,” “community immunity,” “population immunity,” or “social immunity”) came about in the early 1920s and originally referred to the phenomenon of naturally-occurring immunity against a disease within a given population. Researchers at the time observed that once a large proportion of children had developed a natural immunity to the measles virus, the number of new cases decreased, even amongst children who were the most susceptible.
Another good, albeit drastic, example of naturally-occurring herd immunity was what occurred when measles infected Confederate barracks and hospitals during the American Civil War. The first stage of mass infection for any disease is called “high-dose exposure.” During the war, measles-afflicted soldiers were in very close quarters and their immune system defenses were low (caused by injury, exposure, low caloric intake, lack of hygiene, and low amounts of essential vitamins such as A and C). As a result, the virus spread easily and rapidly from soldier to soldier. In this initial stage, the “herd immunity” amongst the soldiers was zero. The consequence was that many soldiers became ill and an estimated 1 in 20 who contracted it succumbed to the disease.
Following a typical pattern, herd immunity eventually occurred amongst the soldiers as rapidly as high dose exposure had initially occurred. According to gastroenterologist and vaccine expert Dr. Andrew Wakefield, in natural disease cycles within normal populations without vaccine interference, natural herd immunity occurs as a particular disease goes through 2-yearly epidemics; with each outburst of a disease, herd immunity rates dramatically increase.
In natural disease cycles, the initial epidemic may lead to massive morbidity. However, the upside is that natural immunity also leads to long-term immunity within a population overall. According to Dr. Wakefield, lifetime immunity limits opportunities for the replication and transmutation of a particular virus within individuals and within populations. He and others also cite increased hygiene levels as a major factor which can contribute to natural herd immunity.
“As a consequence of natural herd immunity, in the developed world measles mortality had fallen by 99.6 percent before measles vaccines were introduced,” Wakefield said in a recent article for the movie Vaxxed.
To recap: the main thing to consider about the original definition of the term is that in the pre-vaccine era, “herd immunity” was thought to have occurred when overall population protection happened naturally. Naturally-occurring mass immunity is significant because this kind of immunity lasts a lifetime for the majority of people in a given population.
“As a consequence of natural herd immunity, in the developed world measles mortality had fallen by 99.6 percent before measles vaccines were introduced.”
Dr. Andrew Wakefield
Herd Immunity in the Age of Vaccines
Even though vaccinations against viral agents such as smallpox became routine at the end of the 1800s, it really wasn’t until the mid-20th century that immunization advocates took the concept of naturally-occurring “herd immunity” and decided to run with it. They deduced that creating “herd immunity” through mass vaccination programs could have an even better effect at saving lives than naturally-occurring immunity could.
Thus, during the past several decades, “herd immunity” has been mostly equated with “mass disease eradication” through vaccination.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID): “When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak.”
NIAID goes on to explain that vaccine-derived “community immunity” to a particular disease such as measles, mumps, or a flu strain can extend to those in the population who are not eligible to get the vaccine (pregnant women, newborns, and the immunocompromised, for example) as well as to those for whom the vaccine is not effective. This is because once a certain percentage of individuals get inoculated, the disease is considered “contained” within that population.
But exactly how many individuals within a population would have to be inoculated for “community immunity” to occur?
According to an interactive animated map provided by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, as little as 40 percent of a population could potentially be vaccinated in order for “herd immunity” to start to show. For most contagious diseases, however, the conventional thinking is that a “herd immunity threshold” will not be established until the vaccinated population reaches between 80-95 percent.
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Is Herd Immunity Relevant Today?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, routine vaccines given to children over the last two decades will wind up preventing “hundreds of millions” of illnesses and more than 700,000 deaths in the U.S. alone. This sweeping statement is largely dependent on the CDC’s vaccine-dependent herd immunity or “social immunity” calculations.
Many experts say, however, that the whole concept of vaccine-induced “herd immunity” is a myth. They state that it is simply a false justification for decades of questionable mass vaccination programs and campaigns.
One of the main points these experts make is that, on an individual level, vaccine-derived immunity is a whole different animal than naturally-derived immunity. While naturally developed immunity can last a lifetime, vaccine-induced immunity typically only lasts between two to ten years.
What’s more, this timeframe normally applies to “humoral immunity” only. Humoral immunity concerns immune system responses that take place within the extracellular spaces within the body. This is where most pathogens are able to spread, but it is not the only place they can do so.
This information may come as a surprise. After all, aren’t most vaccinations, such as MMR and tetanus, supposed to be for life?
Indeed, this was the prevalent line of thinking for the first several decades in which the mass vaccination agenda was in effect. Then it was discovered that, in fact, common immunization shots had a much shorter lifespan.
Remember when “booster shots” came into the scene? They were a direct result of these findings. The known 2-to-10-year lifespan of most vaccinations is also one of the reasons why individuals of all ages are now encouraged (and in some states, required) to take multiple rounds of shots.
But how does the discovery of shorter vaccine lifespans call into question the conclusion that vaccines can result in “herd immunity?” Dr. Russell Blaylock, a U.S. neurosurgeon and author of several books and the well-known Blaylock Wellness Report, explains: “What this means is that at least half the population, that is the baby boomers, have had no vaccine-induced immunity against any of these diseases for which they had been vaccinated very early in life. In essence, at least 50 percent or more of the population was unprotected for decades.”
Public health organizations such as the CDC proclaim that the entire U.S. population would be at risk of a massive disease epidemic if the vaccine rate were to ever fall below 95 percent. Yet, according to Dr. Blaylock and others, the reality is that vaccine-induced “herd immunity” hasn’t existed in this country for decades. In fact, half of the U.S. population has lived the past 30 to 40 years of their lives without vaccine protection against many diseases. Yet no major epidemics have occurred.
“When we examine the scientific literature, we find that for many of the vaccines, protective immunity was 30 to 40 percent, meaning that 70 percent to 60 percent of the public has been without vaccine protection,” says Blaylock, referring to the baby boomer generation. “Again, this would mean that with a 30 percent to 40 percent vaccine effectiveness rate combined with the fact that most people lost their immune protection within 2 to 10 years of being vaccinated, most of us were without the magical 95 percent number needed for herd immunity.”
On the other hand, compliance with vaccination standards in an area does not necessarily prevent an outbreak. In 2011, one of the largest “post-elimination” measles outbreaks occurred in Quebec, Canada. In this area, the double-administered vaccine compliance was close to 97 percent — even higher than the recommended quota that would lead to “herd immunity,” according to conventional figures.
And in the United States, several measles outbreaks which occurred between 1971 and 2009 happened amongst inoculated children. This included an outbreak in Cincinnati in 1994, where 80 percent of the children affected had received a triple-dose of the MMR vaccine, and a 1986 outbreak in Corpus Christi, Texas, where 99 percent of the youngsters afflicted had been vaccinated.
Outbreaks amongst the vaccinated population are not relegated to measles alone. A Canadian study published in The Journal of Pediatrics in 1989 found a 55 percent failure rate for the pertussis vaccine. Amongst the 526 individuals who had contracted the disease within the 28 months of the study, 91 percent had received at least three rounds of pertussis immunizations.
And according to the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), 50 percent of the reported whooping cough cases in that state in the late 1980s and early 1990s were amongst vaccinated individuals. In 2013, the ODH issued a press release urging all its citizens to get whooping cough booster shots after they discovered that pertussis (i.e. whooping cough) cases were up 20 percent that year. Yet, the rate for Tdap vaccinations in Ohio between 2011 and 2013 was roughly 82 percent, well within the standard “herd immunity” percentages.
The decision to vaccinate yourself or your children should always be a personal one made with informed consent. Knowing the facts as much as possible on both sides of the vaccination debate is a vital part of that decision-making process, however. This includes knowing at least a little about the history and development of the key concepts that are currently used in determining vaccine policies that affect us all. Hopefully, this information can help you make better choices about vaccines.
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Do vaccines cause autism?
Do vaccines cause autism? That’s one of the biggest, most controversial questions out there in the vaccine safety debate these days, isn’t it? Views on whether vaccines do cause autism or don’t have any link whatsoever are polarizing, to say the least. Even families can be split on the issue, with each side seeing it as a very black and white answer.
To help you understand the arguments on both sides of the issue, here’s an overview of what both camps are saying.
I am pro vaccine. I had all of my six children vaccinated. I believe that vaccines save millions of lives. So let me explain why I edited the book Thimerosal: Let The Science Speak, which exposes the dangerous — and wholly unnecessary — use of the mercury-based preservative thimerosal in vaccines being given to millions of children and pregnant women here and around the world.
• Mercury and Vaccines
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The ‘Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism’ Side
Proponents of the vaccines don’t cause autism viewpoint will cite research. It’s all about the science, they say, with the CDC itself stating “studies have shown that there is no link between receiving vaccines and developing ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).” This assertion is based on several sources, including an emphasis on a 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) which states that of the eight adult and child vaccines they reviewed, all were safe, bar rare cases of adverse reactions.
The CDC conducted its own study, published in 2013. In this research, they examined the antigens (the substances and microbes in vaccines that prompt the immune system in a body to react with antibodies that fight disease). They looked at the antigens in 2-year-olds and determined that “the total amount of antigen from vaccines received was the same between children with ASD and those that did not have ASD.”
Of the “mercury question” — the mercury-based preservative thimerosal — that many people are concerned with, the CDC cites a 2004 review, also by the IOM, quoting “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.” It should be noted that several conflicts of interest existed with the authors of this study, but were not disclosed.
In addition, between 2003 and 2012, the CDC funded or conducted nine studies that found “no link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and ASD, as well as no link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and ASD in children.” Before this, between 1999 and 2001, as a precaution and in light of public concerns, thimerosal was reduced “to trace amounts” or removed from all childhood vaccines, except a few for the flu. Interestingly, the “trace amounts” of thimerosal contained in vaccines that can be labeled “thimerosal-free” can still exceed the limit for the amount of mercury that would render a substance to be considered “hazardous waste” by other government agencies.
Another way the “vaccination does not cause ASD” camp use science as proof is by discrediting research that demonstrates there is a link between autism and vaccination. The most infamous of these cases is that of the 1998 publication of a peer-reviewed study by British gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield, demonstrating a link between the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine and increased rates of autism. This study in The Lancet ultimately was retracted, sparking a huge backlash by many members of the medical community who claimed data was falsified, despite no substantiated proof for this assertion.
So, if there is so much science proving vaccines do not cause autism, then why are so many people convinced otherwise?
One of the first things many people who question vaccine safety (often referred to as “anti-vaxxers” in the media) point out is the recent report that the CDC holds the patent to multiple vaccines. This claim includes accusations that there has been a cover-up of true data for at least a decade, and that the CDC may have a vested interest in promoting their vaccine schedule. The credibility of this particular point has received media attention, not only because of its inflammatory nature but also because it comes from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who President Trump recently invited to head a commission investigating the issue of vaccine safety.
Mr. Kennedy, who has referred to himself as “pro-vaccine,” has also written several articles questioning vaccine safety, including that vaccines are connected to autism. His published statement about the CDC holds in excess of 20 patents has also been recently challenged. In a January 2017 article published on PubMed.com, a patent lawyer (and anti-vaccine proponent) investigated Kennedy’s claim and found that the CDC actually holds 56 patents.
It makes sense why those proponents of the “vaccines cause autism” side question the validity of the CDC research, citing conflict of interest if nothing else.
Anti-vaccination advocates often discuss scientists who have worked for pharmaceutical companies or researchers who have become whistleblowers. One such scientist is Dr. Brian Hooker, a long-time CDC scientist whose report published in 2014 in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Translational Neurodegeneration, uncovered “data manipulation by the CDC,” concerning the incidence of autism in African-American boys who were given the MMR vaccine before 36 months.
Besides actual whistleblowers willing to come forward and report first-hand knowledge of fraud and coverup, there are leaked documents like the one from GlaxoSmithKline. The report, leaked Dec. 16, 2011, “details adverse effects associated with autism, including encephalitis, developmental delays, altered states of consciousness, speech delays and other adverse reactions.”
The details above are just the tip of the iceberg. Whether autism is connected to vaccination or not is an issue that clearly requires closer scrutiny as well as an in-depth analysis of “cui bono” (who benefits).