Some are not convinced of vaccine safety |

Some are not convinced of vaccine safety

Stewart Bittman

This is in reference to the article that appeared in the Tribune proclaiming “the truth” about vaccinations (column by El Dorado County Health Officer Jason Eberhart-Phillips, Aug. 4). I must admit I am one of those “small but vocal number of people” who opposes mandatory inoculations, and I’ve been small but vocal for well over 10 years. I have to say that the Tribune has done its best at keeping me small and less vocal, having chosen to not print the last two letters I’ve submitted on the subject. I disagree that any doubts that have appeared in parents’ minds have been the result of “misleading statements and outright falsehoods” made by troublemakers like me. Perhaps the doubts are there because many very intelligent people have come to question the safety and efficacy of mandatory inoculations. Perhaps they are there because many well-documented and researched books and articles have been published. Perhaps they are there because more and more people, like U.S. Senator Dan Burton, have seen or heard firsthand of a child who was damaged or became autistic or died after being inoculated. And despite the fact that the writer undoubtedly feels he has “countered the myths” once and for all, many remain, including the ones he addressed.

It is not my purpose in this letter to pose counter-statistics to every line in the article, though I could. Statistics, like people, can obviously be manipulated. I feel compelled to question a few things, however. For instance, the writer makes the statement that “It’s often been said that universal vaccination against major childhood illnesses is one of the crowning public health achievements of our time.” By whom? The vaccine industry? Also, when sole credit is given to vaccination for having eliminated “many killer diseases that were once common fixtures,” we are ignoring the contributions of sanitation, clean drinking water, and more access to better housing and nutrition, which many researchers speculate have been more important factors than vaccination. The writer’s explanation of why vaccines don’t always work makes some broad assumptions. For instance, he seems to believe that every single person who was not vaccinated for a disease will get it when it comes around. Why then did only a small percentage of people come down with polio during the height of the epidemic? Why did polio virtually disappear in the U.K. right around the same time it did here, before they started mass vaccination there? And how do we really know that a vaccine is 99 percent effective? Since we don’t really know, and some suggest we should all be vaccinated more than once for things like the mumps, how about getting vaccinated three times? Or 10? Are they safe enough for that?

The writer states that the vaccines in use today are all very safe. He cites the incidence of serious side effects as being “extremely rare, on the order of one case in several thousand or even a million doses.” That’s quite a range. Could that mean we really don’t know for sure, especially when many, including the Center for Disease Control and Connaught Laboratories (a major vaccine manufacturer), have stated that vaccine reactions are significantly underreported? Let’s assume the incidence really is one in several thousand. That’s extremely rare? What if one in several thousand people flying in an airplane died? Would that be considered safe? And multiple injections on a single visit – who exactly was this tested on before it became part of the mandatory schedule? How do we know anything about the possible long range effects of multiple vaccinations? Wasn’t DES tested, too? Wasn’t tobacco once proclaimed as safe, and even good for you, by the medical profession? What about mercury, which is still present in some vaccines? Am I the only one, or is it sort of nuts to not let our children eat tuna fish but give them over 40 inoculations by age 16? It’s interesting that the writer believes that “the added stimulus from multiple vaccines is well within the capacity of a healthy child’s immune system to respond safely,” and yet seems to have no faith that this incredible immune system can’t handle the disease itself. Ultimately and predictably he resorts to the old mantra of “the benefits far outweigh the risks.” Well, since we really don’t exactly know the benefits or the risks, could that be considered a “misleading statement?”

I have no doubt that Dr. Eberhart-Phillips has the public’s and, especially, our children’s best interests at heart. Like the rest of us, he is looking for the best choices for our children. Unlike the rest of us, however, he is in a position of dictating and enforcing policy. I don’t believe it serves anyone to tell them he has “the truth” on such a complex, emotional and controversial issue, and that people who don’t agree with him are wrong and are lying. I am not telling anyone not to vaccinate. I just have this crazy idea that people should look into this issue for themselves and are capable of making their own decisions. I’m quite encouraged that this type of article was written, actually discussing the “other side,” which would have been absolutely unheard of 10 years ago. And I immensely appreciate the closing statement, “When all the facts are known, I believe parents will make the right choice.” I agree. I don’t agree, however, that all the facts are known. Until then, I will continue to be vocal, no matter how small.

– Dr. Stew Bittman is a South Shore chiropractor.

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