To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? In April 2015, chapter leader and nutritional consultant Victoria Bloch spoke about what is currently known about vaccines, how they work, and what to look for if you are in a position to vaccinate a child. At the time, SB 277, a California law that would remove all non-medical exemptions to vaccinations, was still pending. [Update: Unfortunately, SB 277 was passed and signed into law in July 2015. The information Victoria presented is still relevant, and we hope it will help you make informed decisions on behalf of your and your family’s health.]
Victoria graduated from Hawthorn University as a nutritional consultant. She is both passionate and knowledgeable about food, farming, and nutrition, and speaks and writes with an in-depth, engaging flair on nutrition, the politics of food and farming, and cooking. She blogs occasionally on whatever rivets her attention at forloveofood.com.
Vaccines and immunity
Immunity is the state of being resistant to a disease or infection caused by a given pathogen, whether viruses or other toxins. The immune system is a complex array of components (such as lymphocytes, macrophages, and antibodies), made by glands and organs throughout the body.
Typically a vaccine is based on a weakened (or killed) strain of a specific pathogen (e.g., polio, measles), mixed with substances called adjuvants, which irritate the body at the site of the injection to provoke the immune system into a response. That response is thus associated with the pathogen, setting up a memory of it in the immune system for the future. Adjuvants used by vaccine makers include aluminum, mercury (thimerosal, still used in many multi-dose vials), MSG, peanut oil, and a number of other substances.
The idea is that through vaccination, antibodies are created to the specific pathogen/s in the vaccine, and those antibodies will ward off the same pathogen in the future. Antibodies created by vaccination are produced primarily by B cells in the bone marrow, and circulate in extracellular fluids – blood and lymph. This kind of immunity is referred to as humoral immunity. It is not typically lifelong, and will require additional vaccinations to maintain effectiveness.
In contrast, natural immunity, also known as cell-mediated immunity, is based on antibodies produced primarily by T cells in the thymus. Cell-mediated immunity is lifelong, and can occur whether or not a person has actually been infected, which is why some people seem to be immune to a disease even though they were not vaccinated for it.
Problems with vaccines
The idea that the residual memory provided by vaccination provides immunity is good in theory, but not always effective in practice.
One problem is that viruses in the wild evolve quickly, and so that what one is exposed to may not be the same as the strain in the vaccine; this means a weaker response to the new variant of the pathogen.
Another is that vaccine effectiveness wears off over time. It used to be thought that you could get a vaccine once and it would last forever, or at least a few decades. Maybe you might need a booster along the way, maybe not. But now, multiple doses are required to ensure effectiveness.
About effectiveness: many studies show that vaccines are not always effective. Here are just two examples of the many available. A 1978 study showed that fully half of a group of children who got measles had already been fully vaccinated. Another study showed that 84% of more than 5000 children who had whooping cough had received three doses of the vaccine; as a result Sweden dropped the pertussis vaccine from its program.
Increasing vaccine schedules
The vaccine schedule in the 1950s had only four: diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and polio. (The first three are now invariably included in one vaccine, the DPT.)
In 2000, the number of recommended vaccines had gone up to 10, given in 20 doses before age 18. In 2005 there were 12 vaccines given in 26 doses. Inclusion of the flu shot also started that year. In 2008, there were 14 vaccines given in 27 doses, plus flu shots and boosters. Last year (2014), there were 17 vaccines in 33 doses, plus annual flu shots and boosters, all before the age of 18. And of course, there are more vaccines in the pipeline, so those numbers are guaranteed to increase.
A significant problem with this intensive schedule is related to vaccinating very young children. The hepatitis B vaccine is given within 12 hours of birth. But the child’s immune system is not developed until the child is a toddler. The start of a child’s own immune system comes from the birth canal, when vaginal flora get on the infant’s skin and into mouth and nose – implanting the baby’s gut with its very first bacteria. If the mother has healthy gut flora, the baby got a good start.
But if the mother’s own gut was compromised (or the baby was delivered by cesarian section), the baby will not get a great first immune system. And childhood offers numerous challenges to a developing immune system, allowing it to meet, overcome, and remember invading pathogens and allergens.
Breastfeeding, too, provides critical components for a baby’s immunity. From beneficial bacteria on the breast to components in the milk designed to nurture a growing infant, breastfeeding is an important aspect of ensuring a healthy child.
We are currently seeing that 40% of children with food allergies have severe reactions to vaccines. Autism spectrum disorder is on the rise. In 1970, 1 in 25,000 children were diagnosed with full-blown autism. Thirty years later, it was 1 in 150. Now, we are heading toward 1 in 50.
All of these conditions are linked and are manifestations of the chemical soup that we and our children have been assaulted by for the last 20+ years. Currently, 80,000 chemicals are registered for use in the United States, with more coming online every week. These chemicals have never been tested individually or in combination with other chemicals.
Myth #1: Vaccines reduce disease
Vaccines are said to be responsible for the elimination or drastic reduction of major diseases. It is true that polio was the scourge of its time. But the polio vaccine was not actually introduced until the disease had already worked its way through the population and the numbers of those infected had drastically declined. The vaccine actually caused a second spike in infection. This is true for other epidemics throughout history, as shown in the accompanying chart.
Click here to read the full Weston A. Price Foundation article explaining this chart.
Myth #2: Vaccines confer lifelong immunity
Vaccines do not confer lifelong immunity. In fact, as immunity has weakened over time, the number of doses has increased. The test for vaccine efficacy is by blood test for antigens. Some studies show that even in fully vaccinated populations, only 60-70% of population have any antigens. The B cells did not retain the memory they were supposed to. The takeaway point is that immunity from vaccines is temporary at best. When you get a vaccine, you may still have viruses present that you are shedding for a few days after you get the vaccine. (This may have contributed to the infamous measles outbreak at Disneyland in 2014, and numerous other measles outbreaks in presumably vaccinated populations.)
Myth #3: Vaccines are safe and proven
Proponents say that vaccines cause few side effects, and that adverse effects are rare. However, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) shows otherwise. When VAERS was set up by the CDC and FDA in 1990, it was set up with the proviso that pharmaceutical companies could never be sued for an adverse event. However, since reporting is voluntary, it is no surprise that fewer than 1 in 40 doctors report to VAERS. And seemingly minor side effects, like fevers, are frequently unreported.
There has been no long-term testing of vaccine safety in humans. In fact, some of the few tests which have been done have shown a number of issues. Vaccines can be tested in vitro (in a laboratory) or in vivo (typically on populations in poor countries and urban areas).
For instance, recent in vivo testing of a new rotavirus vaccine given to impoverished children in India showed severe intestinal damage for many of those vaccinated. And even though side effect rates went up 11 times over those with the older version of the vaccine, the pharmaceutical company plans to keep testing. (Of course, every medicine has side effects, but the term side effect is a misnomer. Side effects are the effects — they are just called side effects because they are not the primary (i.e., most desirable) effects sought when developing the drug.)
About 15 years ago, the American Journal of Epidemiology found that children die at a rate eight times higher than normal within three days of receiving the DPT vaccine. Cause of death is described as SIDS. Correlation is not causation, but eight times higher is statistically significant. There are many links between vaccines and various illnesses.
Myth #4: Vaccines confer herd immunity
Herd immunity is the idea that as long as a certain number of people are vaccinated, the community as a whole will not get sick. The idea came out of cell-mediated immunity found in animal herds where a small number of animals that got sick and recovered protects the rest of the population. But now it is said that at least 92% of population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity for humans. That is a crazy reversal of what is observed in nature. And remember, even with vaccination, immunity is only active in fluids of the body. Infection can still be spread from contact with the skin, nose, eyes, and gut. And when you add in the fact that vaccinations wear off over time (and at different rates for different individuals), there is simply no guarantee that mass vaccination will prevent outbreaks.
There is so much pressure for parents to vaccinate. If you do choose to vaccinate, you can protect your child with these WAPF guidelines:
- Wait until the child is at least two years old.
- Do not administer more than one kind of vaccine at a time (when possible)*.
- Never vaccinate when the child is sick.
- Be sure that the vaccines are thimerosal-free (all are supposed to be, but multi-use vials allowing the physician to vaccinate more than one person often use it as a preservative – ask).
- Supplement the child with extra cod liver oil, vitamin C and B12 before and after each shot.
- Obtain a medical exemption if the child has had a bad reaction to a vaccination before or if there is a personal or family history of vaccine reactions, convulsions or neurological disorders, severe allergies and/or immune system disorders.
When dealing with a doctor who wants to vaccinate, it might be more effective to sidestep and evade rather than confront. Say, “We’re going to wait till he’s older” or “After she gets over her cold — I’d just feel more comfortable.”
You may want to include homeopathy in the mix, preferably prior to vaccination (though it can also be useful afterwards). A link to one of many interesting articles on this topic is: http://www.post-vaccination-syndrome.com/3895/prevention.aspx
Look for “homeopathic vaccine remedies” to find online sources. Or call Santa Monica Homeopathic, which ships remedies nationwide (and has consulting homeopaths on staff).
Always do your own research, including alternative sources. Beware of wording like “new study shows” because a lot of times they only show there is need for further study, but trumpet the early results and try to make them look final. Be skeptical of sweeping conclusions or statements. Understand the difference between risk factors and causes (correlation is not causation).
*Many vaccines are now manufactured only in combination form; the MMR is one such vaccine.
- Healing the New Childhood Epidemics
- Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Child Care, Sally Fallon-Morell
- The Unhealthy Truth, Robyn O’Brien
- The Crazy Makers, Carol Simontacci
- Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Natasha Campbell-McBride, MD
- Nourishing Hope for Autism, Julie Matthews
- Weston A. Price archive of vaccination articles