Why are American infants and schoolchildren being
forced to submit to hepatitis B vaccinations even though
the French Health Ministry has suspended them in
schools because of evidence they can cause neurological
disorders or multiple sclerosis? (New York Times, Oct. 3, 1998)
Has America become a nation where the government can
force controversial medical procedures on children
without allowing their parents informed choice? If you
think such things only happen in Communist China,
think again. Compulsory health treatment is on the
march in the United States.
"Force" is not too strong a word. Across the country,
newborn babies are being injected with hepatitis B
vaccine only hours after birth (even when their mothers
test negative for hepatitis B), and children are told they
must present proof of having received three hepatitis B
shots before they can be admitted to daycare, kindergarten, fifth grade or high school.
I first became interested in the hepatitis B vaccine
when, in connection with the birth of two new grandchildren, I learned that hospitals are routinely injecting
newborns with the vaccine during their first 24 hours of
life. A series of inquiries produced no convincing
medical reason or scientific evidence for this procedure.
My new grandchildren were not at risk for hepatitis B,
which is primarily an adult disease transmitted through
bodily fluids. Those most at risk are the highly promiscuous (heterosexual or homosexual), needle-sharing drug
addicts, health care and custodial workers exposed to
blood, and babies born to already-infected mothers.
According to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
report, there were only 10,637 cases of hepatitis B in the
United States in 1996, including only 279 cases in
children under the age of 14. Hepatitis B is not fatal for
most who contract it, and it is not epidemic except
among high-risk groups.
For the problem of 279 children who have hepatitis
B, millions of U.S. children are being forced to submit to
vaccination consisting of three hepatitis B shots (at about
$40 each)! The government isn't just trying to vaccinate
the people who are at risk for Hepatitis B -- that might
"stigmatize" them. Instead, the CDC recommends that
all babies be vaccinated at birth to be ready for risky
activities a dozen years later. "Infants are considered the
easiest to immunize," says Dr. Walter Orenstein, Director
of CDC's Immunization Program. (New York Times, July 30,
To win parental support for hepatitis B vaccinations,
the vaccine police de-emphasize sex and drugs as risk
factors, instead citing alleged dangers from ear piercing
and contact sports. A hepatitis B coordinator said, "We
didn't want to have to battle people's moral philosophy
over children's vaccinations and having parents tell us,
'My sixth-grader doesn't have sex.'" ("Lining Up for
Hepatitis Shots," New York Times, July 30, 1997, p.B10)
More than 24,000 reports of hospitalizations and
injuries, including about 400 deaths, following hepatitis
B vaccinations have been reported since 1990 to the U.S.
government's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.
There have been no controlled studies to evaluate these
reports, there is no adequate proof of the vaccine's long-term safety, and little is known about the effect of
vaccines on a newborn baby's immune system. One
nationally respected vaccine developer has been repeatedly turned down by the National Institutes of Health for
a research grant to study hepatitis B vaccine-related
injuries. (Science magazine, "A Shadow Falls on Hepatitis B
Vaccination Effort," July 31, 1998, p.630)
Vaccines: the Key to Federal Control
It's been clear since 1993 that the Clinton Administration is steadily working toward federal control of the
entire health care industry, and a major feature of this
control is to compile the health records of all Americans
on a government database. The 1996 Kennedy-Kassebaum Act gave the Department of Health and
Human Services the authority to establish "unique health
care identifiers" so the government can identify and track
our medical records. Thanks to Eagle Forum and other
alert citizens, last year's Congress postponed this authority until Congress takes further action.
The Clinton Administration is using vaccines as the
reason to build a massive database of the health records
of individual Americans. The bureaucrats expect
vaccines to be non-controversial because of the remarkable success of the smallpox vaccine in completely
eradicating that disease. Here is how the Clinton
Administration's plan works.
The 1993 Comprehensive Childhood Immunization
Act, signed by President Clinton, gave the Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS) $400 million to assist
states to computerize state vaccine databases, or registries, to tag and track children's vaccinations.
The CDC uses carrot and stick to force the states to
obey federal "recommendations." The CDC has the
power to withhold money grants if state health officials
don't show proof of designated vaccination rates, and the
CDC has doled out hundreds of millions of taxpayer
dollars to reward state health departments for promoting
mass vaccinations. States receive either $50, $75 or
$100 per child who is fully vaccinated with all federally
recommended vaccines, including hepatitis B.
In 1995, HHS Secretary Donna Shalala gave the
states the power to get access to newborn babies' Social
Security numbers in order to put them on vaccine
tracking databases. Now, the CDC is trying to link the
state vaccine databases, or registries, into a de facto
centralized database containing every child's medical
records. Once in place, the national vaccine database
can serve two important goals:
First, the database will enable the government to
enforce mandatory vaccination of all children, thereby
conditioning Americans to accept compulsory control of
their individual health care. Although American children
entering kindergarten have a 97% to 98% immunization
rate for most prescribed vaccines (Statement of Dr. Alan R.
Hinman, Director of CDC's Center for Prevention Services, to the U.S.
House Subcommittee on Health and the Environment, Mar. 7, 1990),
government officials are determined to let no child
The federally monitored vaccine database, which will
have all children tagged from birth with an I.D. number,
will serve as a gatekeeper to deny the child admission to
daycare, kindergarten, school or college, or even access
to medical care, without showing proof of all required
Second, once the vaccine database is in place, it will
be easy to add all medical records. This will accomplish
one of the major goals of the Clinton Administration's
nationalized health care plan, and will be the key to
government's ability to dictate the giving and rationing
of health care.
Before any of this happens, it is vital to pass state
privacy protections to forbid state officials from sharing
personal health data with other states or the federal
government. It's also important to keep the feds from
preempting existing state privacy laws, which Congress
tried to do last year in the so-called Patient Protection bill
that fortunately did not pass.
How Are Vaccines Made Compulsory?
Medicine used to have a grand tradition of according
patients the right of informed choice before being given
drugs or submitting to medical treatment, including the
right to refuse unwanted medical procedures. The only
vaccination required when I entered public school was
for smallpox, and that's the only immunization I ever
A national campaign to enforce mandatory vaccination laws started with the Jimmy Carter Administration,
and then was aggressively accelerated during the 1990s.
Most states have now passed laws requiring children to
be injected with about 33 doses of 9 or 10 different viral
and bacterial vaccines, including three doses of hepatitis
B vaccine, in order to enter public school. A New Jersey
court recently upheld the right of a private school to deny
admission to a student who objected to taking a vaccine.
When it comes to vaccines, instead of "choice," some
states tolerate limited and hard-to-get "exemptions."
Most states permit a medical exemption, but that must be
signed by a doctor. All but two states permit a religious
exemption, but that can be interpreted narrowly or
broadly. Some 16 states permit a philosophical exemption, but that can be arbitrarily interpreted by state
bureaucrats. There's a big difference between exercising
free choice or having to plead with some government
functionary to tolerate your exemption.
Where do these intrusive and expensive vaccine
mandates originate, and how can they be enforced
nationally since immunizations are a state, not a federal,
matter? The vaccine police have figured out how to
override state authority (and even overrule pediatricians
who might otherwise act in the interest of their patients).
They have developed an intricate system of control
outside the spotlight of public scrutiny and without
U.S. vaccine policy is set by a quasi-governmental
group of mandatory-vaccination promoters called the
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP),
whose members are appointed by the Centers for Disease
Control (CDC). ACIP members can have financial ties
to the drug corporations, which is a gross conflict of
interest since the vaccine manufacturers' profits depend
on laws that force vaccines on all children instead of just
those at risk. One would think that ACIP's objective
would be to promote the health of Americans or to
provide information to aid informed choices by patients,
but it's not. ACIP's stated purpose is "to increase the
safe usage of vaccines."
After ACIP and CDC endorse a given vaccine, then
state health officials move to make it mandatory for all
children. Sometimes the state law designates a specific
vaccine, and sometimes the state law delegates to the
state bureaucracy the authority to add a new vaccine to
the mandatory list. The unaccountable bureaucrats make
regulations that follow CDC instructions and have the
impact of law. The drug corporations are involved every
step of the way in securing CDC endorsement of a
vaccine and in lobbying legislators and bureaucrats to
make its use compulsory.
The New York Times recently published a front-page
report on how the pharmaceutical corporations spent $5.3
billion last year sending their representatives into
doctors' offices and hospitals, with gifts and meals, to
sweet-talk physicians into using their brand-name
products. The Times headlined the news story: "Fever
Pitch: Getting Doctors to Prescribe is Big Business."
(Jan. 11, 1999) The Times explained that "business is a big
part of medicine now." Indeed it is. But, of course,
doctors have complete freedom to accept or reject the
drug corporations' sales pitches.
It's time to hear the rest of the story about how
politics is an even bigger part of medicine. With a $5.3
billion marketing budget, the drug corporations can
easily afford to lobby thousands of state legislators and
federal and state bureaucrats to pass laws that force us to
buy their products, particularly vaccines. It is the
mandatory feature of vaccines that makes them so
profitable for the industry. (How the Hepatitis B mandate was
lobbied through the Ohio legislature, bypassing the proper committee,
with no notice, study or debate, is described in "Hepatitis B vaccine for
Ohio's kindergartners unnecessary," Cincinnati Enquirer, Jan. 15,
Vaccines are designed to give us immunity from
certain diseases, but the most interesting immunity is the
drug corporations' immunity from any liability related to
vaccine side effects, which Congress gave them by law
in 1986. That, combined with coercive state laws, has
made vaccines extremely profitable for the drug corporations.
Physicians who respect the traditional Hippocratic
Oath have a duty to work for the well-being of their
patients (rather than the good of society or any other
social goal). This presents a conflict with CDC vaccine
policy, which is to promote public health.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issues
vaccination guidelines for pediatricians. In 1995,
however, the AAP and other physician organizations
agreed to endorse schedules determined by federal
authorities. Some HMOs are requiring pediatricians to
achieve a near-perfect vaccination rate of their patients as
a condition of their HMO contract, and even be subject
to on-site inspection of records to verify compliance.
It's time to have a free and open debate on the pros
and cons of the policy considerations that go into laws
that make the use of drugs compulsory. Better yet, it's
time to give all parents the right of informed choice
about medical treatment for their healthy children.
Vaccines a Miracle of Modern Medicine?
Smallpox has been virtually eliminated from the face
of the earth, and polio is well on its way to the same fate.
We don't hear much about diphtheria, whooping cough,
or scarlet fever any more, and the cases of once-common
childhood diseases such as measles and mumps have
dramatically decreased. Conventional wisdom credits
vaccines for these remarkable changes. But there are
many variables and unknowns in matters of disease and
health. No vaccine was responsible for the dramatic
decline of scarlet fever.
Vaccines are supposed to fool the body's immune
system into producing antibodies to overcome viral and
bacterial diseases in the same way that actually having
the disease usually produces future immunity. Natural
recovery from infectious diseases usually stimulates the
immune system to produce a type of immunity that lasts
a lifetime. Once a child has had chickenpox, for example, he will never get it again. However, vaccines
provide only an artificial, temporary immunity. That's
why booster doses of vaccines are often needed.
Vaccines contain either inactivated (killed) bacteria
or viruses or they contain live viruses that have been
attenuated (weakened). Sometimes, live-virus vaccines
can cause the disease they are designed to prevent. The
live-virus polio, measles and chickenpox vaccines can
cause vaccine-strain infections of these diseases. Drug
corporations grow the viruses and bacteria used to make
vaccines in either chicken or pig embryonic cell cultures,
monkey kidney cells, human embryonic lung cells, yeast
cells, or other mediums. Chemicals such as formaldehyde are used to inactivate the viruses or bacteria.
Vaccines also contain such additives as aluminum,
thimerosal (mercury), gelatin and antibiotics.
It is not clear that the increased use of vaccines
always promotes the health of individuals. No vaccine is
100% safe or effective. We hear persistent reports that
some children, following vaccination, develop chronic
health problems such as seizure disorders, asthma,
persistent ear infections, learning disabilities, hyperactivity, autism, diabetes, arthritis, or other autoimmune or
neurological disorders. Virginia's Lieutenant Governor
John Hager is in a wheelchair because he acquired polio
from the vaccine given to his infant son.
Between 12,000 and 14,000 reports of hospitalizations, injuries and even deaths following vaccination are
reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System
every year. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation
Program has already paid out $925 million in claims for
vaccine-caused injuries and deaths. Nobody knows the
real total of adverse reactions following vaccinations
because very few doctors report vaccine-associated
When we ask questions of the scientists who created
the vaccines, the drug corporations that make and sell
them, the public health officials who issue regulations,
and the legislators who pass laws forcing every child to
be vaccinated, the answers are unsatisfactory and disturbing. The more we ask questions, the more we find that
the subject of vaccines is not all based on science --
some of it is politics.
Many vaccines are required without publication of
the risks and benefits. The vaccine establishment's
attitude is that such information unduly alarms parents
and, anyway, the government knows what's best for
New Vaccines Are Coming Fast
A new live virus varicella zoster (chickenpox)
vaccine has recently come on the market. Chickenpox is
highly contagious but is a mild disease for most children.
More than 95% of all American children get chicken pox
between the ages of 1 and 9, recover without complications, and have lifelong immunity. The movement to
make the chickenpox vaccine compulsory for all children
is moving rapidly. Maryland, Oregon, Washington,
D.C., and Massachusetts have already used rulemaking
authority to mandate use of the chicken pox vaccine, and
legislation is pending in several other states. Radio and
newspaper advertising for the chicken pox vaccine is
designed to frighten parents about the disease.
In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration licensed
a live rotavirus vaccine to block one cause of infant
diarrhea, even though the vaccine has been shown to be
only 50% effective.
The principal selling point used by public health
officials in mandating the new chickenpox and diarrhea
vaccines is not the health of the child, but that it will save
working mothers money from wages lost if they have to
stay home with a sick child. ("Cost-effectiveness Analysis of a
Rotavirus Immunization Program," JAMA, May 6, 1998 p.1371,
concludes that this factor accounts for 3/4ths of the alleged savings from
More than 200 vaccines for a variety of diseases are
now under development by drug corporations and
government scientists, and there is much talk among
government officials about more mandates. A prominent
vaccine policymaker has said that all 12-year-olds will be
targeted for injection with an AIDS vaccine when it is
put on the market.
Can Vaccines Be Worse than the Disease?
The Economist, in an article entitled "Plagued by
Cures" (Nov. 22, 1997, p.95), stated: "There is growing
evidence that preventing diseases in infancy may be a
mixed blessing. Can intervening in an illness sometimes
be worse than doing nothing at all? . . . The first
possible effect is the replacement of one disease by
another. As the incidence of childhood infections has
fallen, a number of chronic ailments, such as diabetes
and asthma, have become more frequent. In parts of the
world where childhood diseases are still common, these
chronic ailments are rare. . . . Childhood infections do
indeed seem to reduce the probability of chronic disease
-- an idea known as the 'hygiene hypothesis.' . . . The
second possible effect of intervening in a disease is that
the intervention makes the disease worse in the long
term, not better. A number of viral infections are more
dangerous to an adult than an infant."
Science News, in an article entitled "The Dark Side of
Immunizations" (Nov. 22, 1997), reviewed several studies
by New Zealand and by British researchers showing that
vaccinated children have a higher incidence of asthma
and diabetes than do unvaccinated children. The article
notes that animal studies indicate that an absence of
contact with naturally occurring viruses increases the risk
of diabetes, and that research in humans suggests that
some childhood infections may be advantageous in
priming the child's immune system to fight off asthma.
A 1994 study suggested that the pertussis vaccination
of infants may increase the risk of asthma five-fold
during childhood. (Odent MR, Culpin EE, Kimel T., "Pertussis
vaccination and asthma: is there a link?" JAMA, 1994; 272:591-592.)
None of this provides conclusive proof, so we need
basic science research and large clinical studies, conducted by independent, non-government, non-industry-financed scientists, on the side effects and long-term
effects of vaccines and of multiple vaccinations. But
neither the government nor the drug corporations appears
willing even to talk about this.
Who Should Decide a Child's Care?
When it comes to balancing risks versus benefits, it's
not always obvious how to weigh the risks. Parents, not
government politicians or bureaucrats, should be balancing the risks and benefits of vaccines for their own
children based on complete information.
State legislators and state and federal bureaucrats are
seldom physicians or scientists. They get their information from other unaccountable bureaucracies such as the
CDC and from the lobbyists for the drug corporations.
Scientists and physicians aren't infallible. When I was
growing up, tonsillectomies were routinely performed on
children. I now am glad my family couldn't afford that
Freedom in America should include allowing parents
to make their own informed choice about injecting their
babies with potentially dangerous vaccines. Parents
should do their own research. Helpful information about
vaccines is available from a non-government educational
organization: National Vaccine Information Center
(NVIC), 512 W. Maple Ave., Suite 206, Vienna VA
22180; 1-800-909-SHOT; fax: 703-938-5768;