by Gene Franks
If you don’t want to be a bum, you better chew gum. –Bob Dylan.
There has never been a single vaccine in this country that has ever been submitted to a controlled scientific study. They never took a group of 100 people who were candidates for a vaccine, gave 50 of them a vaccine and left the other 50 alone, and measured the outcome. And since that has never been done, that means if you want to be kind, you will call vaccines an unproven remedy. If you want to be accurate, you’ll call the people who give vaccines quacks. –Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D.
The author of the quotation above, Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, was not an eccentric crank who opposed progress. He was head of the Illinois State Medical Licensing Board. He was national director of Project Head Start. He taught for 12 years at Northwestern University Medical School, and he served for 12 years as Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Preventative Medicine and Community Health at the Illinois State University. He was a much-respected practicing physician who received many awards for medical excellence. He was publisher of The People’s Doctor, a consumer’s newsletter on medical issues, and he wrote such brutally honest books asMale Practice–How Doctors Manipulate Women, How to Have a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, and the classicConfessions of a Medical Heretic, a book that should convince anyone who reads it that modern medicine has become more a religion than a science. Dr. Mendelsohn was neither poor, nor black, nor Hispanic, nor neglectful of children.
In December of 1992, our local newspaper printed one of its regular articles beating the drums for the vaccination clinics. The writer examined the reasons for the “failure” of parents to get their children vaccinated and quoted a local university nursing supervisor who blamed parental “failure” on “ethnicity,” financial hardship and inconvenience.
Here is a paragraph from a letter to the editor that I wrote in response:
I’ve had contact with several hundred parents of unvaccinated children in Denton and around the country. In my experience, non-vaccinating parents are of no specific ethnic or religious group. They are of middle-to-upper income, healthy, conscientious, well educated and extremely interested in doing the right thing for their children. They differ from most parents largely in that they take the time and make the effort to research health issues rather than simply delegate responsibility for their child’s health to a pediatrician. Most, I think, would be amused at your article’s insinuation that it is the ignorant, the underprivileged, and the non-white who do not vaccinate.
The Clinical Coordinator of Pediatric Services of the Community Clinics for North Texas wrote a response to my letter stating that vaccination is “a necessary part of every child’s life” and that my experience with non-vaccinating parents was “skewed” because they are “most often non-white and poor.” Her letter ended, “Love your children–immunize them,” implying that not vaccinating your children is synonymous with not loving them. I wrote back: “Simply because in the performance of her duties she sees more white rumps than black and more affluent kids than poor, this does not cancel the fact that there is a large and growing body of intelligent, thoughtful, and, yes, loving people, of all races and economic levels, who conscientiously decide not to vaccinate their children.”
Susan Garland, a young mother from Virginia, became so interested in why some mothers refused to allow their children to be vaccinated that she made inquiries that resulted in a graduate-level research paper, parts of which were published in the Aug./Sept. 1994 issue of Lis Roop’s Family Connections. Susan’s view of non-vaccinators, she admits, is also “skewed,” since, like me, she did not go into the murky ghettos of inner cities to ask crack-addicted moms their reasons for not vaccinating. She wrote about the small group of mothers she interviewed in the New River Valley of Virginia:
These women were unusual, in that as a group, they were very self-confident and highly educated. They all acknowledged a strong desire to do what was best for their children, and some voiced the opinion that mothers who vaccinated probably believed they were doing the best for their children as well. The mothers primarily believed that parents should be able to choose to vaccinate or not vaccinate their children free from governmental control. Probably the main trait the mothers interviewed in the study held in common was their commitment to thoughtful analysis rather than automatically obeying accepted standards. One of the mothers summed it up by saying, “If a person doesn’t doubt, then that person is not paying attention.”
Susan does not mention the skin color of her subjects, but says that “almost all were married and were fully vaccinated as children.” All had attended college, some had advanced degrees, and a few were “certified in a medical field.”
Susan Garland notes that it is ironic that society expects parents to examine food labels and worry about the brand of peanut butter their children eat, yet it also expects them to allow, without questioning, the routine injection into their children’s bodies of foreign substances for which no proof of safety or effectiveness can be demonstrated and for which long-term consequences are a total unknown. And, I would add, one is expected to do this simply at the bidding of a medical, pharmaceutical, insurance cartel that has shown itself to be, if we want to be kind, more often wrong than right, and if we want to be accurate, quite often greedy, self-serving, arrogant, and predatory.
For many years, vaccination, the overprotected darling of orthodox medicine, has been promoted as a basic ingredient of medical correctness. The unvaccinated are the modern equivalent of the Biblical uncircumcised. An 1899 article from a now-defunct magazine called Life that was recently sent to me begins:
Vaccination is so generally accepted in this part of the world (New York state) as one of the greatest boons we owe to medicine that a great many persons are wholly ignorant of its dangers and suppose that what little opposition there may be to it comes exclusively from cranks. A newspaper dispatch from Newburg on October 24 told of the death of a child from lockjaw succeeding vaccination. Another on October 27 told of four more children dangerously ill from poisoning resulting from vaccination. All these children were vaccinated to comply with the requirements of school trustees. Vaccination may be a good thing for those who want it, and are willing to take their own risks, but it is hazardous enough to make the compulsory vaccination of school children in ordinary times, with fatal results, a fit matter for consideration by coroners juries.
The dilemma that parents face has not changed in the 100 years since the article. Except for those who, as the Virginia mother said, are simply not paying attention, the choice to vaccinate or not to vaccinate often pits common sense and instinct against a lifetime of mind-softening propaganda designed to instill a sense of medical correctness. No one wants to be the crank, raving that the Earth is flat. Media articles routinely imply that it is only the poor and ignorant who still question immunization. TV drama, in its heavy-handed way, drives home the idea with endless variations on what I call the “Conversion of Old Ely” theme. It usually goes something like this:
Dodge City is threatened by a killer epidemic. Fortunately, kindly old Doc, though he spends most of his time drinking at the saloon, keeps up with medical developments and knows of a new vaccine that will save the town. While Festus the deputy rides his mule through sleet and snow to bring back the life-saving potion, Marshall Dillon deals with another problem. Old Ely, a misguided religious fanatic, is telling folks that these newfangled drugs are tools of the devil. His family, he vows, will not be vaccinated. The Marshall solves the problem the American way by knocking some sense into his head. Our hearts thump approval as Festus rides into Dodge with the cherished vial just in time to save Little Amy, Ely’s daughter, who was knock, knock, knockin’ at Heaven’s door because of Eli’s refusal to seek proper medical attention. After an aspirin commercial, Old Ely and Little Amy thank the Marshall for bringing Ely to his senses, while Doc, Miz Kitty, and other sensible people drink yet another toast to progress.
This bit of dramatic fluff stamps people’s brains with such wholesome lessons as the acceptability of drinking (if one knows when to say when), problem solving through violence, the perils of thinking for yourself, and the ridicule that justly visits those who unwisely question Scientific Progress.
Parental decisions on vaccination are usually made from a position of ignorance. Information is routinely withheld and manipulated regarding the effectiveness of vaccines, their safety in terms of immediately verifiable damage to those who receive them, and the long-term effects of vaccination on the individual and the species.
The role played by vaccines, the role of medicine in general, in the decline in the epidemic diseases of the past has been greatly distorted. We are regularly served a storybook fantasy of medical “conquest” of killer diseases like polio, though anyone who examines the history of these diseases can easily see that they died of natural causes. Orthodox medicine, though not very successful at preventing diseases, has been extremely skillful at taking credit for their demise. This isn’t secret information; it just doesn’t make Good Housekeeping or the Ten O’clock News. Medically incorrect writers have for years printed charts and tables showing clearly that diseases like polio, diphtheria, pertussis, and measles were in sharp decline before Medical Science “conquered” them. (See Neil Z. Miller’s concise presentation in Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?)
Editor Roger Windsor writes in the Nov./Dec., 1995 Spectrum:
Many people believe that modern medicine is responsible for the eradication of infectious diseases, and the dramatic rise in life expectancy enjoyed in the 20th century, but that is not the case. U. S. health has improved not because of what has been done after people became ill, but because they became ill less often. Better nutrition and a healthier environment made people resistant to infectious disease, while vaccinations, drugs and other medical interventions have played only a minor role.
Two decades ago the respected historian, philosopher, and theologian Ivan Illich, our leading authority on iatrogenesis (doctor-created illness), concluded that in spite of much-heralded advances in medicine, “there is in fact no direct relationship” between the apparent decline in many forms of illness “and the so-called progress in medicine.” Illich demonstrated in Medical Nemesis and other writings that declines in old diseases cannot be credited to doctors though the rise of new epidemics (“coronary heart disease, emphysema, bronchitis, obesity hypertension, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and so-called mental disorders”) can often be blamed on them. Illich concluded:
The study of the evolution of disease patterns provides evidence that during the last century doctors have affected epidemics no more profoundly than did priests during earlier times. Epidemics came and went, imprecated by both but touched by neither. They are not modified any more decisively by the rituals performed in medical clinics than by those customary at religious shrines.
Are statistics on vaccine damage accurate? Would foxes keep accurate records on chicken coop mortality? Even the FDA estimates that only 10% of doctors report immunization damage.
Freedom of Choice advocate Karin Schumacher attended the 3rd annual Shots Across Texas conference in Austin last fall. She heard keynote speaker Dr. Red Duke whip the crowd of health care pros and insurance and pharmaceuticals reps at this Vaccination Revival into a religious frenzy with statements like: You gotta do what it takes, cajole, intimidate, coerce the parents and children to make it happen. Do anything you can get away with. Be creative in ways to screw ‘em. If you are RIGHT you can always pull it off. Go stick it to ‘em.
Clearly there is more to the War on Disease than meets the eye. Vast amounts of dollars are being spent to sell you on the correctness of vaccination. If you want your child to have a pertussis shot, I support your right to get it. But please don’t do it just so the doctor or the school nurse won’t think you’re a clod. This is clearly an area where you owe it to yourself and to your children to think for yourself. Get some information.