Are Vaccines Safe?

Are Vaccines Safe?

Julian Whitaker, MD

If you were born before World War II, the vaccinations you received as a child could easily be counted on one hand—a far cry from the 22 to 36 today’s children are required by law to receive before starting school. Nineteen of these government-mandated vaccinations are administered within the first six months of life, at a time when the immune and nervous systems are still developing.

Are these vaccines safe? No one really knows. Adverse effects are only monitored for a few days after the vaccine is administered, enough time to track acute reactions but nowhere near adequate to determine whether vaccines contribute to diseases that take months or years to develop.

The fact is that while mass vaccination programs have virtually eradicated some childhood infectious diseases in the US, there has been a simultaneous increase in recent years in the numbers of children diagnosed with serious autoimmune disorders and autism (which many experts believe to be an autoimmune disease). Though these conditions probably have a genetic component, they are not likely to occur without some type of environmental insult. And what could be more insulting than having viral particles, along with mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, and other toxic elements, injected into the bloodstream of an infant?

Coincidence or Cause and Effect?

History has shown that our understanding of the complex interactions between vaccines and the immune system is far from perfect. The rotavirus vaccine, which was recommended for universal use in infants by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to protect against diarrhea, was withdrawn from the market after several infants died and over a hundred others developed life-threatening bowel obstructions. The risk of this potentially fatal adverse reaction had not been revealed by the “rigorous” testing required for approval.

The whole-cell pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine, which was in use until 1996, is responsible for over 70 percent of all compensation claims to the national Vaccine Injury and Compensation Program (VICP). This vaccine, which contained whole, killed bacteria, was capable of producing the same serious neurological problems that pertussis can cause, including encephalitis and permanent brain damage. In Australia, one large study showed that a child’s risk of developing encephalitis from the pertussis vaccine was five times higher than the risk of developing this condition from pertussis!

Even vaccines that have indisputably saved millions of lives are not without incident. The oral polio vaccine, which contains a live but weakened form of the polio virus, was used for years despite the fact that the safer and equally effective inactivated injected polio vaccine was readily available. As a result, even after polio was officially eradicated from the US, a small number of children contracted the disease each year as a direct consequence of receiving the oral polio vaccine.

Vaccines Provide “Artificial Immunity”

When a child is exposed to a virus through natural means, the virus travels slowly from the respiratory tract via the bloodstream to the spleen, liver, thymus, bone marrow, and other organs of the immune system. By the time the first symptoms of infection appear, the entire immune system has been mobilized to rid the body of the foreign invader. This complex immune system response not only confers lifelong immunity to the offending virus but also prepares the child to respond even more promptly and effectively to a similar infection acquired in the future.

Vaccination, in contrast, results in the persistence of live viruses or other foreign antigens within the cells of the body. This may provoke autoimmune reactions as the body attempts to destroy its own infected cells. It’s hardly surprising that the incidence of autism and autoimmune diseases has risen sharply in this era of universal vaccination.

Vaccines May Cause Diabetes…

According to John Classen, MD, who has published over 20 articles on vaccine-induced diabetes, at least eight out of 10 children with type 1 diabetes have this disease as a result of vaccination. Yes, these children may have avoided contracting measles, mumps, whooping cough or another infectious disease, but the truth is that, at least in the western hemisphere, the majority of these diseases are rarely fatal today. The same cannot be said of type 1 diabetes. For most children who develop type 1 diabetes, the disease itself or the damage it inflicts on the blood vessels and kidneys will likely result in a lifetime of complications and premature death.

If the lives saved by vaccination exceeded the risk of developing diabetes, it might be ethical to force our children to be vaccinated. But this is not the case. Dr. Classen has shown that in Finland, the introduction of the Haemophilus influenzaetype b (Hib) vaccine caused three times as many cases of type 1 diabetes as the number of deaths or cases of severe brain damage that it prevented. In other words, three children would eventually die from vaccine-induced diabetes for every one child that was spared from Hib.

In New Zealand, the incidence of type 1 diabetes rose 61 percent after an aggressive hepatitis B vaccination campaign began. (The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend the hepatitis B vaccination for newborns in this country.) England, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, and other European countries have also seen a significant rise in previously stable levels of type 1 diabetes after the introduction of new childhood vaccines.

…And Autism

In recent years, the number of children with autism has skyrocketed and now affects 1 in 150 kids. This may be due, at least in part, to the growing numbers of vaccines children are exposed to. According to Bernard Rimland, founding director of the Autism Research Institute, sharp rises in autism in the US took place immediately following the introduction of the MMR vaccine in 1975, and in Great Britain following its introduction in 1988.

Congressman Dan Burton is the grandfather of an autistic child, Christian. Like a growing number of children diagnosed with autism, Christian was born healthy and seemed to be developing normally—until he received his vaccines. Christian was vaccinated for nine different diseases in one day. That night, he developed a fever and began screaming uncontrollably. Over the next 10 days, he began banging his head repeatedly, staring into space, and hitting himself. He lost his language skills. Christian had become autistic.

The neurological damage inflicted on Christian may have been caused by unpredictable reactions among the nine different vaccines he received. It is known that the combination of measles, mumps, and rubella in one vaccine can result in the “interference” of the viruses with one another. It is also possible that Christian’s brain damage was caused by exposure to a massive dose of mercury. Until recently, mercury—a known neurotoxin—was used as a preservative in many of the vaccines given to infants and young children, including vaccines for hepatitis B, influenza, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and Hib. In Burton’s estimation, his grandson may have received, in the space of a few hours, 41 times the safe upper limit of mercury.

Make an Informed Decision

Keep in mind that you do have some say in your child’s vaccinations. All states allow for medical exemptions, and most allow for religious exemptions. Some enlightened states even allow for philosophical exemptions. I am not suggesting that you forego all vaccinations, only that you educate yourself about their relative benefits and risks.

For more information, visit the National Vaccine Information Center at 909shot.com or call (800) 909-SHOT. Founded in 1982 as a centralized reporting system by parents of vaccine-injured children so that more children would not be harmed, the NVIC is a valuable resource for accurate information about vaccine safety.


  • If you choose to vaccinate your child, do so only when he or she is in good health.
  • Insist on mercury-free vaccines, which are now available for most vaccines given to infants and small children.
  • Minimize the risk of multiple vaccine interactions by requesting monovalent (single-disease) vaccines instead of the standard trivalent (triple-threat) vaccines such as the MMR vaccine. Most physicians’ offices don’t keep these on hand, so you’ll need to request them in advance.


  • Classen JB et al. Association between type 1 diabetes and Hib vaccine. BMJ. 1999;319:1133.
  • Menkes JH et al. Workshop on neurologic complications of pertussis and pertussis vaccination. Neuropediatrics. 1990; 21(4):171-6.
  • Murphy TV et al. Intussusception among infants given an oral rotavirus vaccine. N Engl J Med. 2001;344(8):564-72.
  • Wakefield AJ et al. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet. 1998;351(9103): 637-641.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here.

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