By Richard Moskowitz, M. D.
For the past ten years or so, I have felt a deep and growing compunction against giving routine vaccinations to children. It began with the fundamental belief that people have the right to make that choice for themselves. But eventually the day came when I could no longer bring myself to give the shots, even when the parents wished me to. I have always believed that the attempt to eradicate entire microbial species from the biosphere must inevitably upset the balance of Nature in fundamental ways that we can as yet scarcely imagine. Such concerns loom ever larger as new vaccines continue to be developed, seemingly for no better reason than that we have the technical capacity to make them, and thereby to demonstrate our right and power as a civilization to manipulate the evolutionary process itself.
Purely from the viewpoint of our own species, even if we could be sure that the vaccines were harmless, the fact remains that they are compulsory, that all children are required to undergo them, without sensitivity or proper regard for basic differences in individual susceptibility, to say nothing of the values and wishes of the parents and the children themselves. Most people can readily accept the fact that, from time to time, certain laws may be necessary for the public good that some of us strongly disagree with. But the issue in this case involves nothing less than the introduction of foreign proteins or even live viruses into the bloodstream of entire populations. For that reason alone, the public is surely entitled to convincing proof, beyond any reasonable doubt, that artificial immunization is in fact a safe and effective procedure, in no way injurious to health, and that the threat of the corresponding natural diseases remains sufficiently clear and urgent to warrant the mass inoculation of everyone, even against their will if necessary.
Unfortunately, such proof has never been given; and even if it could be, continuing to employ vaccines against diseases that are no longer prevalent or dangerous hardly qualifies as an emergency. Finally, even if there were such an emergency, and artificial immunization could be shown to be an appropriate response to it, the decision would remain at bottom a political one, involving issues of public health and safety that are far too important to be settled by any purely scientific or technical criteria, or indeed by any criteria less authoritative than the clearly articulated sense of the community about to be subjected to it.
For all of these reasons, I want to present the case against routine immunization as clearly and forcefully as I can. What I have to say is not quite a formal theory capable of rigorous proof or disproof. It is simply an attempt to explain my own experience, a nexus of interrelated facts, observations, reflections, and hypotheses, which taken together are more or less coherent and plausible and make intuitive sense to me. I offer them to the public in large part because the growing refusal of some parents to vaccinate their children is so seldom articulated or taken seriously. The fact is that we have been taught to accept vaccination as a kind of involuntary Communion, a sacrament of our participation in the unrestricted growth of scientific and industrial technology, utterly heedless of the long-term consequences to the health of our own species, let alone to the balance of Nature as a whole. For that reason alone, the other side of the case urgently needs to be heard.
1. Are the Vaccines Effective?
There is widespread agreement that the time period since the common vaccines were introduced has seen a remarkable decline in the corresponding natural infections; but the usual assumption that the decline is attributable to the vaccines remains unproven, and continues to be seriously questioned by eminent authorities in the field. The incidence and severity of whooping cough, for example, had already begun to decline precipitously long before the pertussis vaccine was introduced (1), a fact which led the epidemiologist C. C. Dauer to remark, as far back as 1943,
If the mortality [from pertussis] continues to decline at the same rate during the next 15 years, it will be extremely difficult to show statistically that [pertussis immunization] had any effect in reducing mortality from whooping cough.(2)
Much the same is true not only of diphtheria and tetanus, but also of TB, cholera, typhus, typhoid, and other common scourges of a bygone era, which began to disappear toward the end of the Nineteenth Century, largely in response to improvements in public health and sanitation, but in any case long before antibiotics, vaccines, or any specific medical measures designed to eradicate them.(3)
Reflections such as these led the great microbiologist René Dubos to observe that microbial diseases have their own natural history, independent of drugs and vaccines, in which asymptomatic infection and symbiosis are much more common than overt disease:
It is barely recognized, but nevertheless true, that animals and plants, as well as men, can live peacefully with their most notorious microbial enemies. The world is obsessed by the fact that poliomyelitis can kill and maim several thousand unfortunate victims every year. But more extraordinary is the fact that millions upon millions of young people become infected by polio viruses, yet suffer no harm from the infection. The dramatic episodes of conflict between men and microbes are what strike the mind. What is less readily apprehended is the more common fact that infection can occur without producing disease.(4)
The principal evidence that the vaccines are effective actually dates from the more recent period, during which time the dreaded polio epidemics of the 1940’s and 1950’s have never reappeared, at least in the developed world, while measles, mumps, and rubella, which even a generation ago were among the commonest diseases of childhood, have become much less prevalent, at least in their classic acute forms, since the triple MMR vaccine was introduced into common use. Yet how the vaccines actually accomplish these changes is not nearly as well understood as most people like to think it is. The disturbing possibility that they act in some other way than by producing a genuine immunity is suggested by the fact that the corresponding natural diseases have continued to break out, even in highly immunized populations, and that in such cases the observed differences in incidence and severity between immunized and non-immunized populations have often been much less dramatic than expected, and in some cases not measurably significant at all.
In a recent British outbreak of whooping cough, for example, even fully-immunized children contracted the disease in large numbers, and their rates of serious complications and death were not reduced significantly.(5) In another recent outbreak, 46 of the 85 fully-immunized children studied eventually contracted the disease.(6) In 1977, 34 new cases of measles were reported on the UCLA campus, among a population that was supposedly 91% immune, according to careful serological testing.(7) In 1981, another 20 cases were reported in the area of Pecos, New Mexico within a few-month period, and 75% of them had been fully immunized, some quite recently.(8) A survey of sixth-graders in a well-immunized urban area similarly revealed that about 15% of this age group are still susceptible to rubella, a figure essentially identical with that of the pre-vaccine era.(9) Finally, while the incidence of measles has dropped sharply, from about 400,000 cases annually in the early 1960’s to about 30,000 by 1974-76, the death rate has remained exactly the same (10), while among adolescents and young adults, the group with the highest incidence at present, the risk of pneumonia and liver abnormalities has increased quite substantially, to well over 3% and 20%, respectively.(11)
The simplest explanation for these discrepancies would be to stipulate that vaccines confer at most partial and temporary immunity, which sounds reasonable enough, inasmuch as they consist of either live viruses, rendered less virulent by serial passage in tissue culture, or bacteria and bacterial products that have been killed by heat and/or chemical adjuvants, such that they can still elicit an antibody response without initiating a full-blown disease. In other words, the vaccine is a “trick,” in the sense that it simulates the true or natural immunity developed in the course of recovering from the natural disease, and it is therefore reasonable to expect that such artificial immunity will in fact “wear off” in time, and even require additional “booster” doses at regular intervals throughout life to maintain peak effectiveness.
Such an explanation would be disturbing enough to most people. Indeed, the basic fallacy in it is already evident in the fact that there is no way to know how long this partial, temporary immunity will last in any given individual, or how often it will need to be restimulated, since the answers to these questions presumably depend on the same individual variables that would have determined whether and how severely the same person, if unvaccinated, would have contracted the disease in the first place. In any case, a number of other observations suggest equally strongly that this simple explanation cannot be the correct one. In the first place, one careful study has shown that when a person vaccinated against the measles again becomes susceptible to it, even repeated booster doses will have little or no long-lasting effect.(12) In the second place, the vaccines do not act merely by producing pale or mild copies of the original disease; they also commonly produce a variety of symptoms of their own, which in some cases may be more serious than the disease, involving deeper structures, more vital organs, and less of a tendency to resolve themselves spontaneously, as well as being typically more difficult to recognize.
Thus in a recent outbreak of mumps in supposedly immune schoolchildren, several developed atypical symptoms, such as anorexia, vomiting, and erythematous rashes, but no parotid involvement, and hence could not be diagnosed without extensive serological testing to rule out other concurrent diseases.(13) The syndrome of “atypical measles” can be equally difficult to diagnose, even when it is thought of (14), which suggests that it may not seldom be overlooked entirely. In some cases, atypical measles can be much more severe than the regular kind, with pneumonia, petechiæ, edema, and severe pain (15), and likewise often goes unsuspected.
In any case, it seems virtually certain that other vaccine-related syndromes will be described and identified, if only we take the trouble to look for them, and that the ones we are aware of so far represent only a very small part of the problem. But even these few make it less and less plausible to assume that vaccines produce a normal, healthy immunity that lasts for some time but then wears off, leaving the patient miraculously unharmed and unaffected by the experience.
2. Some Personal Experiences.
I will now present a few of my own vaccine cases, to give a sense of their variety, to show how difficult it can be to trace them, and also to begin to address the underlying question that is seldom asked, namely, how the vaccines actually work, i. e., how they do whatever it is that they do inside the body, and how they produce the results that we see clinically in the patient.
My first case was that of an 8-month-old girl with recurrent fevers of unknown origin. I first saw her in January 1977, a few weeks after her third such episode. These were brief, lasting 48 hours at most, but very intense, with the fever often reaching 105˚F. During the second episode she was hospitalized for diagnostic evaluation, but her pediatrician found nothing out of the ordinary. Apart from these episodes, the child appeared to be quite well, and growing and developing normally.
I could get no further information from the mother, except for the fact that the episodes had occurred almost exactly one month apart, and from consulting her calendar we learned that the first one had come exactly one month after the third of her DPT shots, which had also been given at monthly intervals. At this point the mother remembered that the girl had had similar fever episodes immediately after each injection, but that the pediatrician had dismissed them as common reactions to the vaccine, as indeed they are. Purely on the strength of that history, I gave her a single oral dose of the ultradilute homeopathic DPT vaccine, and I am happy to report that she had no more such episodes, and has remained entirely well since.
This case illustrates how homeopathic “nosodes,” or medicines prepared from vaccines or their corresponding diseases, can be used for diagnosis as well as treatment of vaccine-related illness, which, no matter how strongly they are suspected, might otherwise be almost impossible to substantiate. Secondly, because fever is among the commonest reactions to the pertussis vaccine, and the child seemed perfectly well between the attacks, her response to it has to be regarded as a relatively strong and healthy one, disturbing because of its recurrence and periodicity, but also quite simple to cure, as indeed it proved. But I keep wondering what happens to the vaccine inside those tens and hundreds of millions of children who show no obvious response to it at all.
Since that time, I have seen at least half a dozen cases of babies and small children with recurrent fevers of unknown origin, some associated with a variety of other chronic complaints, like irritability, temper tantrums, and increased susceptibility to tonsillitis, pharyngitis, colds, and ear infections, which were similarly traceable to the pertussis vaccine, and which likewise responded beautifully to treatment with the homeopathic DPT nosode. Indeed on that basis I submit that the pertussis vaccine is an important cause of recurrent fevers of unknown origin in this age group.
My second case was that of a 9-month-old girl who presented acutely with a fever of 105˚F., and very few other symptoms. She too had had two similar episodes previously, but at irregular intervals, and her parents, who were ambivalent about vaccinations to begin with, had so far given her only one dose of the DPT vaccine, but her first episode occurred a few weeks afterward.
I first saw her in June of 1978. The fever remained high and unremitting for 48 hours, despite the usual acute remedies and supportive measures. A CBC showed a white-cell count of 32,000 per cu. mm., with 43% lymphocytes, 11% monocytes, 25% neutrophils (many with toxic granulations), 20% band forms (also with toxic granulations), and 1% metamyelocytes and other immature forms. Without giving any history, I showed the smear to a pediatrician friend, and “pertussis” was his immediate reply. After a single dose of the homeopathic DPT vaccine, the fever came down abruptly, and the girl has remained well since.
This case was disturbing mainly because of the hematological abnormalities, which fell within the leukemoid range, together with the absence of any cough or illness with distinctive respiratory symptoms, all suggesting that introducing the vaccine directly into the blood may actually promote deeper or more systemic pathology than allowing the pertussis organism to set up typical symptoms of local inflammation at the normal portal of entry.
The third case was a 5-year-old boy with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, whom I happened to see in August of 1978, while visiting an old friend and mentor, a family physician with over 40 years’ experience. Well out of earshot of the boy and his parents, he told me that the leukemia had first appeared following a DPT vaccination, that he had treated the child successfully with natural remedies on two previous occasions, when the blood picture improved dramatically, and the liver and spleen shrank down to almost normal size, but that full relapse had occurred soon after each DPT booster.
It was shocking enough to think that vaccinations might be implicated in some cases of childhood leukemia, but the idea also completed the line of reasoning opened up by the previous case. For leukemia is a cancerous transformation of the blood and blood-forming organs, the liver, the spleen, the lymph nodes, and the bone marrow, which are also the basic anatomical units of the immune system. Insofar as vaccines are capable of producing serious complications of any kind, the blood and immune organs would be the logical place to begin looking for them.
But perhaps even more shocking to me was the fact that my teacher’s remarkable success in treating this boy did not dissuade his parents from revaccinating him at least two more times, and that the connection between the vaccine and the disease was not generally known to the public or seriously considered by the medical community. It was this case that convinced me of the need for frank and open discussion among doctors and patients alike, about our collective experience with vaccine-related illness. While careful scientific investigation of these matters will hopefully ensue, the level of public commitment required even to frame the question properly seems far away.
I will now present two cases from my limited experience with the MMR vaccine.
In December of 1980 I saw a 3-year-old boy with loss of appetite, stomach ache, indigestion, and swollen glands for the past 4 weeks or so. The stomach pains were quite severe, and often accompanied by belching, flatulence, and explosive diarrhea. The nose was also congested, and the lower eyelids were quite red. The mother also reported some unusual behavior changes, extreme untidiness, “wild” and noisy playing, and waking at 2 a.m. to get in bed with her.
The physical examination was unremarkable except for some large, tender posterior auricular and suboccipital lymph nodes, and marked enlargement of the tonsils. That piqued my curiosity, and I learned that the boy had received his MMR vaccination in October, about 2 weeks before the onset of symptoms, with no apparent reaction to it at the time. I gave him a single doe of the highly- dilute homeopathic rubella vaccine, and the symptoms disappeared within 48 hours.
The following spring, the parents brought him back for a slight fever, and a 3-week history of intermittent pain in and behind the right ear, as well as a stuffy nose and other cold symptoms. On examination, the whole right side of the face appeared to be swollen, especially the cheek and angle of the jaw. He responded well to acute homeopathic remedies, without requiring the mumps nosode, and has remained well since.
This boy exhibited some interesting features that I have learned to recognize in other MMR cases. At an interval of a few weeks after the vaccine, which is roughly the same as the incubation period for the corresponding diseases, a nondescript illness developed, which then became subacute and rather more severe than rubella in the same age group, with abdominal and/or joint pains and marked adenopathy, but no rash. Usually the diagnosis is suspected because of enlargement of the posterior auricular and suboccipital nodes, for which rubella and a few other diseases show a marked affinity, and confirmed by a favorable response to the homeopathic rubella nosode. Furthermore, his second illness, and especially the parotid enlargement, may well have represented continuing activity of the mumps component of the vaccine, although it cleared up so promptly that I never needed to test that hypothesis by using the homeopathic mumps nosode. Either way, it strongly suggests the possibility that a variety of “mixed” or composite syndromes may occur, representing the patient’s responses to two or perhaps all three of the vaccine components, either more or less simultaneously, or one by one over time, as the next case illustrates:
In April of 1981 I first saw a 4-year-old boy for chronic bilateral enlargement of the posterior auricular nodes, which were also somewhat tender at times. The mother had noticed the swelling for about a year, during which time he had also become more susceptible to various upper respiratory infections, none of them very severe. Over the same period of time, she had also observed recurrent parotid swelling at irregular intervals, which began shortly after the MMR vaccine was given at the age of 3.
At his first visit, the boy was not ill, and the mother was about 2 months pregnant; so I decided to observe him but if possible do nothing further until the pregnancy was over. He did develop a mild laryngitis in her third trimester, but it responded well to bed rest and simple acute remedies. The following spring he came down with acute bronchitis, and I noticed that the posterior auricular glands were once again swollen and tender, so I decided to give him a dose of the homeopathic rubella nosode at that point. The cough promptly subsided, and the nodes regressed in size and were no longer tender. But two weeks later, he was back, this time with a hard, tender swelling on the outside of the cheek, near the angle of the jaw, and some pain on chewing or opening the mouth. One dose of the homeopathic mumps nosode was given, and the child has been well since.
What was particularly noteworthy about this case was its strong pattern of chronicity, with an increased susceptibility to weaker, low-grade responses, in contrast to the vigorous, acute responses typically associated with diseases like the measles and the mumps when acquired naturally.