The First International Public Conference on Vaccination
Issue 86, January/February 1998
The First International Public Conference on Vaccination was held in Alexandria, Virginia, September 13 to 15, 1997. The conference was sponsored by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), a child-advocacy organization that promotes vaccine safety and informed choice. NVIC also offers support and information to parents whose children have been injured by vaccines.
The presenters at the conference included distinguished immunologists, neurologists, gastroenterologists, geneticists, biochemists, and microbiologists, as well as legal experts, ethicists, and accomplished practitioners of alternative and complementary medicine who had experience modifying the severity of vaccine injuries. Highlights of some of the presentations follow.
Mark R. Geier, MD, PhD, is codirector, Genetic Consultants, and director, Institute of Immuno-Oncology; president, Genetic Counseling and Research, Inc.; and director, Molecular Medicine, Inc. Geier is an expert on the biological effects of vaccine-induced infant death. He cited numerous articles in the medical literature, including the National Child Encephalophy Study (NCES) reported in the November 1993 edition of the British Medical Journal, the 1994 Institute of Medicine follow-up study, "Whooping Cough, the Vaccine, and Reducing Vaccine Reactions," and the American Academy of Pediatrics News of November 4, 1994, which all report inherently dangerous neurological problems associated with the whole-cell pertussis vaccine.
According to Geier, 79 percent of all infant deaths under one year of age occur within 28 days of vaccination. Similarly, 71 percent of encephalopathy in infants under one occurs within 28 days of vaccination--as does 92 percent of reported febrile convulsions, 88 percent of nonfebrile convulsions, 66 percent of SIDS, and 99 percent of other neurological symptoms.
Why do some children react to vaccine while others do not? Geier and others suggested that there can be multiple causes of neurological and immunological reactions. Certain genotypes may be involved. Whole-cell vaccines can be more reactive than accellular vaccines. Moreover, the culture medium for the vaccines as well as numerous additives can cause allergic reactions. Some lots of vaccines may contain more toxins. Geier also noted that the rubella vaccination was never tested on adult women, and today we know that one in 50 women who receive rubella vaccine develop arthritis. Questions exist about the long-term effectiveness of both the MMR and the hepatitis B vaccine.
Andrew J. Wakefield, MD, is director of research and chairman, Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London. His published articles include "Is Measles Vaccination a Risk Factor for Inflammatory Bowel Disease?" (The Lancet, 1995). Wakefield is a specialist in Crohn's disease, a disease which was never reported in children before the early 1970s. The Inflammatory Bowel Disease Study Group, of which he is chairman, published more than 60 papers leading up to the testing of the hypothesis that the measles vaccine may be linked to Crohn's disease.
The measles virus causes a rash almost immediately after infection that discharges the disease from the body. In the absence of this discharging mechanism, the measles vaccine may cause persistent infection in the body and delayed chronic disease. Safety and efficacy trials of the measles vaccine were done in the US between 1958 and 1960, and in the United Kingdom in 1960 and 1964. While efficacy studies are being conducted for 31 years, safety studies lasted only three weeks.
Approximately four to seven years after the introduction of the measles vaccine, a rare disease, subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) was reported with more frequency. SSPE is characterized by persistent measles infection and cerebral infection. The average time between exposure to the measles virus and the outbreak of SSPE is about seven years; the duration between measles vaccination and disease can be much shorter. One interpretation is that measles vaccination might trigger disease in those who are persistently infected with measles virus and might precipitate immunopathology.
Byron M. Hyde, MD, is chairman of the Nightingale Research Foundation and a physician in general practice in Ottawa, Canada. He is an internationally recognized authority on the clinical and scientific basis of mylagic encephalomyelitis (ME) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), as well as an expert on central nervous system dysfunction following hepatitis B vaccination. Mylagic encephalomyelitis (ME) is better known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and occurs both in epidemics in hospitals and schools and sporadically in the community of pandemics. ME has an incubation period of four to five days and leaves the patient with a chronic encephalopathy and symptoms that include a persistent loss of cognitive and muscular stamina, rapid fatiguability, and slow recovery. ME is often associated with multiple pain syndromes and headaches and symptoms of cardiac irregularity. Although some patients recover, many persist in their illness either continually or in a relapsing manner.
Hyde said that he had examined or was aware of approximately 200 cases of what appeared to be abnormal hepatitis B vaccination reactions. Although the vast majority of hepatitis B vaccinations cause no untoward illness, Hyde has observed unexplained associations that include serious, persisting cognitive dysfunction, loss of IQ, and fatigue syndromes identical to ME or CFS. Less commonly, he has noted at least two deaths, one associated with liver failure and one with boils, coma, and a probable encephalopathy. He has observed one case of permanent left eye blindness and one case of total permanent blindness and complete deafness, as well as several cases of soldier's arm, a painful condition in which the muscular strength of the vaccinated arm is injured.
Many of Hyde's hepatitis B vaccination patients were from Quebec, and he suspects that this population, many of whom have American Indian ancestry, may have a sensitivity to hepatitis B in much the same way that Peruvian Indians have a sensitivity to measles vaccine. Hyde also noted that in Canada hepatitis B is almost always a disease of nonmedical intravenous drug users; prostitutes; homosexuals; Chinese and African immigrants; and hospital workers who have contact with blood products. He said that hepatitis B vaccination is essential for these groups and their immediate contacts.
Hyde believes that until we have a better understanding of why some hepatitis B-vaccinated patients fall ill with chronic and even permanent fatigue and cognitive and learning difficulties, non-risk children should not receive hepatitis B vaccine. Hyde sees no rational medical basis for giving prepubertal children the hepatitis B vaccine.
Howard B. Urnovitz, PhD, is founder and science director of the Chronic Illness Research Foundation, Berkeley, California. Urnovitz was the first to successfully immunize animals to a rare leukemia; discover hybrid monoclonal antibody polymers; develop an FDA-licensed ten-minute blood test, and a urine test for HIV-1. According to Urnovitz, 100 million US residents now have chronic illness at a cost per year of $425 billion. There is a high correlation between chronic disease and occupation. New research on the Gulf War syndrome indicates that chronic illness may be related to adaptation to a genotoxic agent. Research into the Gulf War syndrome indicates that some chromosome abnormality may be involved as the case in many other abnormalities such as Tourette's syndrome and some active cancers. When chromosomes get into the blood, the whole immune system is thrown off.
Urnovitz suggested that this research may provide a clue about how vaccine damage occurs, as viral integration following vaccination may target fragile "hot spots" in the DNA. Urnovitz, inventor of a urine test for HIV, reported that 18 or more contaminated viruses, including herpes, have been found in the polio vaccine. Some of these viruses may be harmless, but others may be giving rise to new diseases such as Burkitt's lymphoma. HIV may be a hybrid virus from vaccines.
Further, Urnovitz said that the mechanism by which vaccines work is still unknown and that we must take heed from public health experiments of the past such as the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, the whole cellular and live polio vaccines, the AIDS cocktail vaccine, and the Gulf War syndrome. Finally, he called for independent funding for vaccine research, including determining the role of microbes as genotoxic agents, and revisiting the live vaccines in this light.
James J. Tuite III is an international security consultant with special expertise in the proliferation of and human exposure to chemical, biological, and radiological materials. He is director, Interdisciplinary Sciences, Chronic Illness Research Foundation; a member of the Board of Directors, National Gulf War Resource Center; and director, Gulf War Research Foundation. Tuite was the first person to be asked to look at the Gulf War syndrome by the US Senate. These Gulf War-related illnesses have been varyingly attributed to hazardous toxicological and radiological exposures, the time compressed administration of multiple vaccinations, and the administration of chemoprophylactic drugs.
At first it was estimated that only a few hundred individuals were complaining of symptoms that have collectively come to be known as Gulf War syndrome. Currently, the count is nearly 100,000 or about one in six of the US soldiers who participated in the Gulf War. Prior to the Gulf War, the soldiers received as many as eight to 15 vaccines in a short period of time, including vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, anthrax, botulism, influenza, meningitis (meningococcal), yellow fever, and MMR.
According to Tuite, guidelines for safe vaccine administration should consider not only effects of the vaccine but also cofactors such as age, other immunoaffective exposures, environmental contaminants, and existing infection (which may be asymptomatic). Examples of possible vaccine coexposures include exposure to radioactive fallout from the nuclear testing of the 1950s and the 1960s, exposure to farm and household pesticides, genetic susceptibilities, and service in the Persian Gulf War, where soldiers were exposed to the time compressed administration of multiple vaccines, as well as to fallout from the destruction of chemical weapons and many other hazardous occupational and environmental risks.
Tuite asserted that even minor coexposures are serious when the body is immunosuppressed, as was the case for those who served in the Gulf War. We do not know what the chronic effects of these coexposures will be. However, there is considerable scientific evidence to indicate that exposures similar to those sustained by these soldiers can result in genetic damage and in chronic diseases such as neuro-immune disorders, motor neuron disease, and immune-related cancers.
Finally, Tuite suggested that vaccines may confer tolerance rather than immunity, especially in very young infants, and that vaccine administration policies should be based on the principle of improving human health rather than solely on the goal of eradicating diseases. He called for retrospective research on vaccines and coexposures to determine if current public health policies regarding vaccine administration and vaccine safety are adequate.
Walter Kyle, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Boston, Massachusetts, and an expert on vaccine product litigation. He has been involved in nearly 100 claims by vaccine-injured children and adults, and is an expert on the manufacturing of polio vaccines. His now-famous hypothesis that HIV developed in man after lots of live polio vaccine contaminated with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) were released in the 1970s was published in The Lancet in 1992. Kyle said that oral polio continues to be cultured on green monkey tissues.
Kyle defends individuals seeking compensation or redress from the federal government and/or vaccine manufacturers for failure to warn that the polio vaccine is associated with contracting paralytic polio. In a suit Kyle filed against the federal government, the government was found negligent. All polio today in the US is related to the polio vaccine. According to Kyle, France switched from the oral polio vaccine to the injected polio in 1983 and thereby eliminated all polio from France. In the US, injected polio was approved for use in 1996 but is still being used in conjunction with oral polio.
In the mid-1970s, multiple live polio vaccines were given to gay men in Berkeley to treat herpes. Kyle suggested that this may be related to the origins of AIDS or at least for the presence of HIV and cited as evidence the 900 or more children, including Whitney Williams, who have tested positive for HIV without any known risk factors and who have all received oral polio vaccine.
The second day of the conference featured speakers who had expertise with health modalities that can help vaccine-injured children, as well as researchers and those who have expertise in legal and ethical issues.
Patricia Kane, PhD, is director of medical research, Carbon Based Corporation and director of the Bio Body Centre, Five Osprey Drive, Millville, New Jersey 08332 (609-825-8333). Kane, a clinician specializing in autistic spectrum disorder, traumatic brain injury, intractable seizure disorders, and preterm neonatal care, is an expert in nutritional pharmacology. She specializes in examining disturbances in fatty acid metabolism and the biochemistry of individuals with a myriad of physical disorders, including those adversely affected by immune insult by vaccination.
Kane has fifteen years of experience with brain-injured and autistic children. She examines a child's neurochemistry through metabolic mapping to see what happens in the biochemical pathways when illness is present. Kane uses a metabolic pharmacological approach to healing, in which medical tests such as blood chemistry and red cell membrane fatty acid results are entered into a database of some 20,000 medical papers. The computerized medical database then indicates the individual nutrients, drug interactions, disease patterns, and disturbances within the systems of the body that are matched to the individual patient. This also gives physicians a treatment plan that includes specific minerals, vitamins, fatty acids, amino acids, and electrolytes that are appropriate for the individual child.
Kane noted the research of Dr. Margaret Bauman of Harvard indicates that prepubertal children with autism have neurons (brain cells) that are too large. This parallels Kane's work in which she has found a buildup of very long chain fats in the red blood cells of prepubertal children with autism. According to Kane, this buildup involves peroxisomal dysfunction, whereby the peroxisomes (an organelle within cells) become too large as they are engorged with fatty acids that cannot be burned. Kane also suggested a correlation between high intake of carbohydrates and inflammatory processes associated with high seizure activity. Eating a highly specialized fat diet (coconut butter, sesame oil, avocado oil, evening primrose oil), avoiding hydrogenated fat (margarine, canola oil, peanut oil, peanut butter), and increasing the protein (chicken, turkey, veal, eggs) and nutrient content of the diet (seeds, nuts, legumes, whole natural foods) can be very helpful in seizure conditions, developmental delay, and autism. Kane has also observed that the majority of children with autism have type A positive blood, which may serve as a marker for children susceptible to vaccination or immune insult.
Phillip Incao, MD, is founder and director of Gilpin Street Holistic Center in Denver, Colorado. For 23 years, he was a physician in private practice, specializing in anthroposophic medicine in rural New York. Incao, who has been an anthroposophic physician for 26 years, practices family medicine with an emphasis on pediatrics. Anthroposophy is currently uncommon in the LIS, where only 50 anthroposophical physicians practice; however, thousands of anthroposophic physicians practice in Europe.
Incao's medical practice has been comprised of about 50 percent who vaccinate and 50 percent who do not. He has observed that the nonvaccinated are healthier. In 20 years of practice, Incao has seen approximately 100 cases of whooping cough with no complications and no hospitalization. Incao noted that disease serves a purpose and that there is a difference between health--in which individuals strengthen their immune systems through overcoming illness--and simply the eradication of disease.
According to Incao, inflammatory diseases such as scarlet fever, measles, and pertussis become much milder as a country modernizes, an immune system change that occurs long before vaccination is available. In postmodern Western nations, these childhood inflammatory diseases actually strengthen the child's immune system against the cooling, hardening effects of modern life.
Incao suggested that the number of cases of acute inflammatory diseases (warming, expanding, discharging) is out of balance with the number of chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer, which are cooling, contracting, and storing. Incao cited statistics showing that while the death rate in children under 15 has declined since 1900, the rate of chronic disease is 3.7 times higher than it was in 1960. From 1960 to 1980, the number of chronically disabled children doubled, and it has nearly doubled again since 1982. In 1960, the incidence of asthma, allergies, and autism in children was 1.8 percent; in the most recent study in 1994, it was 6.7 percent.
An article in the January 1985 edition of The Lancet indicated that measles infection without rash in childhood is related to a 20 percent greater incidence of autoimmune disease, tumors, and skin diseases. The normal measles rash acts to discharge the virus through the skin. Without the appearance of rash, the infection can persist inside the body. Incao stated that the incidence of asthma is five times greater and earaches two times greater for those who have received the whole-cell pertussis vaccine than for those who have not.
J. Barthelow Classen, MD, MBA, is founder and CEO, Classen Immunotherapies, Inc. As a staff fellow in the Laboratory of Immunology at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), he conducted research into the causes of autoimmune disease. He is currently conducting research into the effects of vaccine on autoimmune disease and has published data on his research into the link between vaccine and insulin-dependent diabetes.
Classen's research into insulin-dependent diabetes indicates that vaccinations can cause autoimmune diseases. Chronic toxicity studies have not previously been done on vaccinations, and the average length of follow-up on safety studies is 15 to 21 days. In addition, Classen cited research from New Zealand indicating that the incidence of diabetes there has increased by 50 percent since 1988 when hepatitis B was given to New Zealand children under 16. He also cited a rapid rise in the incidence of childhood diabetes since the introduction of the HiB vaccine--50 cases of diabetes per 100,000 vaccinated children. Classen believes that vaccine changes may cause a 400-fold increase in morbidity. According to Classen, asthma almost doubled from 1982 to 1993. Rabies vaccine can induce autoimmunity within four to 20 years. Vaccines in general can cause interferon release, which can in turn induce human diabetes.
The Code of Federal Regulations says that devices must reasonably assure safety, but that biologics must demonstrate safety. Classen cited the failure of vaccine development due to small study populations, poor safety follow-up alongside lengthy efficacy studies, and animal studies done on strains of animals resistant to autoimmune disease. Instead, he called for honest labeling, follow-up studies of five to seven years, sample studies of more than 100,000 people, and autoimmune susceptible animal toxicity assays. We cannot just assume safety, Classen says.
Peter H. Meyers, JD, is professor of clinical law and director of the Vaccine Injury Project, George Washington University Law School, 200 G. Street NW, Washington, DC 20052 (202-994-7463). He was legal counsel to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), representing the rights of individuals adversely affected by cigarette smoke, and was chief counsel, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, where he coordinated national drug-reform litigation to allow persons to obtain marijuana for medical purposes. He supervises law students who represent individuals seeking financial compensation before the US Court of Federal Claims under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986.
Meyers cited a well-known 1905 Supreme Court case, Jacobsen v. Massachusetts, in which the Court said that the state had the right to deny personal exemptions to vaccination in time of epidemic. However, the Court went on to say it was really deferring to the state in the decision and upholding the right of the state to make its own regulations. According to the National Vaccine Injury Center (NWC), all states have medical exemptions to vaccination. Two states, Mississippi and West Virginia, grant only medical exemptions. Twenty-five states grant medical and religious exemptions. Twenty-three states as well as all of the Canadian provinces grant medical, religious, and philosophical exemptions. The CDC does not disclose personal information on exemptions.
A family with a vaccine injury must first seek a claim with the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) and then once the proceeding is over; if the family is not satisfied, it can sue in state court. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) was designed to be relatively quick, just, and flexible. However, the Justice Department employs about 18 full-time attorneys to defend vaccine claims. It can take years to receive a decision that a petitioner is entitled to financial compensation, and once this is done, it takes an average of 18 months to resolve what the amount of that compensation will be.
David J. Walsh, PhD, is professor of politics at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and served as chair of the Department of Politics for eight years. He has written extensively on philosophy, politics, and the role of government in society. His editorials on the value of human life and other ethical issues have been published regularly in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and many other syndicated newspapers.
Walsh said that all things ultimately must stand the test of the court of public opinion and that we may have reached the point of diminished return regarding vaccinations. No amount of information can relieve us of the burden of deciding. Our whole way of life depends on moral awareness, and we must look to our deeper moral intuition. There are always risks in any act of compulsory power. Walsh believes that without the element of compulsion there would hardly be any controversy over vaccinations and that compulsion is not on strong philosophical grounds.
In the case of vaccines, Walsh said, utilitarian arguments dilute the invincible rights of the human person. The existence of the NVICP is a tacit admission of illicit compulsion. Walsh suggested that change in vaccine policy will come about through persuasion and moral pressure. "The health of the majority," he said, "will not be bought at the risk to a few individuals."
Eugene D. Robin, MD, active professor emeritus, Stanford University School of Medicine, could not attend the conference but sent a written statement. According to Robin, some societal factors are critical to the success or failure or even highly effective vaccines. Successful vaccine programs for specific diseases require mass education and participation by a substantial portion of the population for optimal results. He brought up the cross-over point, the shifting of the ratio of the number of cases of a given disease to the complications caused by a vaccine. A point will be reached, called the cross-over point, where the complication rate of the vaccine for individual patients will be higher than the adverse effects of the disease. At this point, for individuals the wise thing might be to refuse the vaccine. However, for society it might be useful to continue vaccination to prevent recrudescence of the disease in the general population.
Robin finds the term "informed consent" fundamentally patronizing, suggesting that the healthcare provider is in a superior scientific position. He prefers the term "informed choice," which implies equality. Accurate assessment of the risk/benefit ratio of the vaccine by means of a prospective, randomized, controlled clinical trial should be obligatory. An educational process involving the public should be mandatory, in which the risks and the uncertainties are described, as well as the potential benefits. We must be honest and admit that we do not know the impact of administering multiple, different vaccines on very young children or, indeed, on anyone. Finally, continued, rigorous clinical evaluation of a given vaccine should be mandatory.
The conference was attended by healthcare professionals and parents. Some of the questions and possible courses of action that emerged from the conference were:
- What are the causes of chronic illness in children? Fund research into the causes of chronic illness in children.
- Encourage the use of mediums other than monkey kidneys for vaccine production.
- Fund independent research into the safety of vaccinations.
- Raise tax on vaccinations to fund long-term safety and epidemiological studies.
- Fund research comparing vaccine compliance rates in states with philosophical exemptions to rates in states without exemptions.
- Establish oversight committees for vaccination policy-making, administration and compensation legislation.
- Encourage tolerance of philosophical exemptions for vaccines and include religious and philosophical exemptions in all state statutes.
- Delay vaccination until age two when the nervous system is mature.
- Let parents know about the existence of the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) and the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC).
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References are not provided with this report but will be published by the National Vaccine Information Center (NIVC) with the forthcoming publication of the proceedings of the conference. Please contact NVIC for more information.