We are not told . . .
The case against vaccination.
By Timothy Perenich, DC
When discussing vaccination context is important because certain facts are often overlooked. For instance, smallpox vaccination, early on, was a vector for diseases like syphilis, scabies, herpes, trismus (lockjaw), and tuberculosis.1,2,3
It was also responsible for massive deaths during the Civil War and one of the largest outbreaks of syphilis in Naples, Italy.4,5,6 Indeed, one of the earliest cases of Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) was described in 1853 as a reaction to the smallpox vaccine.7
In 1898, when Britain passed laws allowing exemptions from compulsory vaccination, there were no large outbreaks of smallpox or death.8 Instead, smallpox declined at similar rates between countries with stringent compulsory vaccine laws (Germany and Prussia) and Great Britain during the same time period.9 This suggests the decline in smallpox had little to do with high vaccination rates.
Problems with the polio vaccine
Concerning polio, many are unaware of how the U.S. banned a Salk vaccine manufacturer because its product caused polio and death.10 Wyeth was not banned, though it too produced a polio vaccine implicated in “paralysis and death.”11
Unsurprisingly, some states reported massive spikes in polio after vaccination.12 Insiders admit the Salk vaccine was ineffective in protecting from the wild virus and could contribute to its spread.13 For these reasons the oral polio vaccine (OPV) was chosen in its place. However, this vaccine has problems too.
The OPV has been implicated in the spread of new types of polio around the world.14,15
In 1988, there were 1,300 cases of polio world- wide.16 In 2006, India suffered a large polio outbreak of 1,600 people from OPV vaccination. For this reason, physicians question the large expenditure of medical resources to promote vaccination in developing nations rather than improving sanitation, which is a proven method of disease reduction.17
Even now, the vaccine community is attempting to replace the current stocks of OPV worldwide to reduce the spread of polio from the vaccine.18
But, there is more to the saga. Procedures like diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (DTP) vaccination and tonsillectomies were associated with increased polio infections.19 Even the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis in 1946 warned the public to avoid tonsillectomies during a polio outbreak.20
In contrast, the public was not warned about a cancer- causing virus—SV40—detected in the polio vaccine since the 1960s.21,22 Although the SV40 virus is seen as a harmless footnote in vaccine history by pro-vaccine advocates, the virus has been found in tumors and is a risk factor for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.23,24
An ongoing problem
Nevertheless, smallpox and polio are not the only problematic vaccines. The DTP vaccine is historically known to cause mental retardation, death, blindness, seizures, paralysis, and encephalitis.25-27
Although evidence of serious harm from the DTP vaccines has been accumulating since the 1940s, it took several decades and lawsuits for public health officials and governments to act.
Some nations switched from the DTP (whole cellular pertussis) to the DTaP (acellular pertussis) vaccine for safety reasons, but it too has documented failures and is possibly a vector for pertussis transmission.28-30
On the one hand, we are told thimerosal (ethyl mercury) in vaccines is safe and not linked to autism. On the other hand, researchers have known since 1967 that thimerosal increased the neurotoxicity and fatalities of lab animals given vaccines containing it.31 They also knew that topical applications of thimerosal increased developmental defects in children.32
Meanwhile, modern studies demonstrating that higher levels of mercury in the blood positively correspond with autism are seemingly ignored.33 Also ignored are studies showing aluminum-based adjuvants in various vaccines causing auto- immune reactions and neurological disease.34,35
A matter of perspective
Today, when hearing about measles, we are pointed to the Disney outbreak of 2015 and the need for mandatory vaccination because 650 people in the entire U.S. contracted it.
Yet we do not hear of the measles outbreak of 2011 in Quebec, Canada, wherein more than 700 persons in a highly vaccinated population contracted measles due to vaccine failures, with some patients having received the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine twice.36
The public is seldom informed about the documented failures of the MMR vaccine to prevent measles or mumps in highly vaccinated populations.37-40 Bear in mind, measles was once considered a routine “disease of childhood” that guaranteed lifetime immunity, and for this reason the public had to be convinced measles was a problem so the vaccine could be the solution.41
Space permitting, issues could be raised about the human papilloma- virus (HPV) vaccine causing ovarian failure and death, or flu vaccine failures to reduce hospitalizations or severity of the illness.42-45 Nor does space permit a discussion of the legendary corruption of the drug industry and its cozy relationship with regulators.46-48 Nevertheless, it should be clear you aren’t being told the whole story when it comes to vaccination.
Timothy Perenich, DC, MA, is a graduate of National University of Health Sciences. He currently practices in Palm Harbor, Fla., and can be contacted with questions and comments at tp161@ hotmail.com or through drtimperenich.com.
References available at bottom of the page
War without end
The case for vaccination.
By Stephen M. Perle, DC
In writing this article, I assumed that the majority of people who read this will not change their views. People tend to get their news and information in echo chambers of people who share their basic views.
For one who believes that an honest, committed, and principled chiropractic viewpoint on vaccinations leads to only one conclusion—they are more harmful than helpful—no amount of contradictory evidence may be persuasive. That person views any such evidence as propaganda.
Some who have accepted this position are truly anti-vaccination and others would say they aren’t anti-vaccination per se, but just want parents to have all the information available and make an informed decision (which they hope would be to avoid vaccinations).
If the evidence from a well-conducted study in Canada is generalizable across the border to the U.S. and beyond, those who think that vaccines are fundamentally harmful represent about 20 percent of the profession.1
If one does not think mandatory vaccines are safe or appropriate, there are a few basic arguments.
Some oppose them on political (e.g., libertarian) grounds—government shouldn’t force medical treatments on anyone. In the chiropractic profession, some oppose vaccinations because they see all things medical as inherently bad—as not-natural approaches to healthcare. Finally, some oppose vaccinations because they see evidence that the harms outweigh the benefits.
[Note: For brevity’s sake, this article refers to the two sides as pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination, although those terms do not fully describe the range of positions.]
The libertarian position
If one’s opposition to vaccination stems from a libertarian outlook, it is unlikely that the arguments about herd immunity and acting for the common good will change such thinking.
Distrust of the medical profession
If ones’ opposition to vaccination is based on distrust of the medical profession, it’s understandable.
Without a doubt, our profession has been mistreated by the medical establishment. Their attempts to destroy our profession that came out in the Wilk vs. AMA trials are without precedent and have effects that still impact our profession today.
Doctors of chiropractic amount to approximately 3 percent of all health- care providers in the U.S. We are “others” and as long as we remain so, we will be suspect, and we will also suspect the majority.
Our minority status also creates distrust and antipathy among the broader healthcare community. These factors combine to create in some DCs a distrust of all things medical, including vaccinations.
We need to forgive and not forget what the medical profession did to try to eliminate chiropractic. We need to forgive enough to lose our prejudice against all things medical.
Kneejerk distrust of the medical profession is misplaced in the era of evidence-based practice. Everyone in healthcare needs to use the same tools of critical appraisal to determine the validity of the evidence regarding the safety and clinical effectiveness of all interventions.
As the recent guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the American College of Physicians have acknowledged, spinal manipulation is effective for low-back pain. And we need to be open to the possibility that medical treatments might not be all bad.2,3
It’s been said that medical doctors who buck the system and criticize established medical dogma destroy their careers. They point to the ostracism and revocation of Andrew Wakefield’s license to practice medicine.
But if the medical establishment wanted to silence Wakefield’s contrarian research, they would have never published it in one of their most respected journals. His co-authors withdrew their names from the paper, which was later retracted when they found out he had falsified his data.
On the other hand, for a real hero who has challenged his medical colleagues, look no further than John Ioannidis, MD. He is a widely cited scientist who has published an impressive body of rigorous scientific research questioning many well-established medical interventions.
And rather than being vilified, ostracized, and de-licensed, he has been lauded for his work. While organized medicine has its bad actors, they are not the norm.
The medical profession, just like chiropractic, seeks to do the best for patients although financial incentives can subconsciously alter behavior. And the vaccination producers are not an economic juggernaut, unlike the rest of the pharmaceutical industry.
Everyone would agree that medical doctors love their children and wouldn’t willingly expose them to anything that is more harmful than beneficial. And they vaccinate their children at high rates.
Mistrust of science
Some who oppose vaccinations say that the occasional retraction of papers, or newer papers refuting previous findings, are evidence that science isn’t a good measure of the effectiveness and safety of vaccinations.
However, this shows the validity of the scientific process, which depends on correction and new consensus, which progressively leads to better answers over time.
No one in the sciences thinks that what we know today on any subject is immutable. Although unlikely in well-established domains, it is always possible evidence will refute firmly believed “facts.” Indeed, scientific knowledge often advances by showing that past theories were wrong.
Thus it may come to pass that compelling evidence will be found that validates the concerns some have about vaccinations, but we really can do no better than use the best avail- able evidence today.
Anecdotes aren’t proof
Even though chiropractic began with an anecdote (the case of Harvey Lillard), the value of case reports is undeservedly aggrandized when they fit one’s worldview. The belief that one event preceding another is the cause of the second event is called post hoc ergo propter hoc, which is a logical fallacy.
Some case reports purportedly show the benefits of what we do with patients and the harms of what the medical profession does. Likewise, the medical profession tries to show harms of what our profession does. Published case reports rarely support either side of the chiropractic-versus- medicine dispute or the vaccine wars.
Note that chiropractors have largely rejected the case report as evidence of risk of vertebral artery dissection from cervical manipulation, given the more robust and compelling evidence against it.4 Yet some seem to rely on the case report as evidence of harm from vaccinations.
Psychology of loss
When one has a close personal relationship to a case, it can have a profound affect. Meeting the parent of an autistic child pulls at the heart strings with terrible force.
It’s as if the autistic child’s lack of interaction feels to some parents as if their loving child is gone. For these parents, having a scapegoat to blame this loss on is comforting, and motivates some to become activists.
An analogous situation occurs when the family members of someone who has suffered a stroke come to believe it was caused by chiropractic care. The loss can be real or metaphorical, as the person they love may have lost their normal affect or abilities. But as above, causation can’t be ascertained.
That the risk-versus-benefit ratio for common vaccinations is strongly weighed toward benefits is incontrovertible. Further, the belief that additives (e.g., thimerosal) are harmful is likewise unsupported. The belief that there are too many vaccinations for a young person’s immune system to handle misses the point that older people received vaccinations with far more antigens than are used today.
Finally, scientists who work on vaccines, just like the MDs who prescribe them routinely, have their own families vaccinated. If they knew of any significant risks, why would they expose their families to them?
Effect on our profession
The anti-vaccination stance harms our profession and prevents many medical physicians from appropriately refer- ring patients to our care. Thus, not only does an anti-vaccination stance harm individual doctors of chiropractic, but it also harms the patients who avoid us because of it.
Personally, I care to follow the evidence.5 If vaccinations are shown to be more harmful than helpful, I’ll be more than happy to change my views as the evidence changes. Will you?
Stephen M. Perle, DC, MS, is a professor of clinical sciences at the University of Bridgeport’s College of Chiropractic (UBCC). He is an associate editor of the open access journal Chiropractic & Manual Therapies. The opinions expressed are his own. He can be reached at perle@ bridgeport.edu.
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