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The Politics of Vaccination

Do vaccines cause autism?

Bryce Rudow knows. He writes for the Daily Banter. According to him, vaccines absolutely don’t – and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot.

In tone, this is a fairly typical story on the debate.

If you try to research the subject, you will find a lot of noise on both sides of the issue. The parents who are convinced there is a link tend to be vociferous, since they (understandably) don’t have a sense of humor about damaging their children. On the other side, mainstream science and the CDC are arguing that not immunizing is dangerous for the public at large, and they (understandably) have no patience either.

I myself don’t know whether vaccines are linked to autism or not, and I'm not really going to address that issue head-on. I do know, however, that like most things in life, it probably isn’t best explained in terms of the Stupid versus the Not-Stupid. People like to think of debates like this in binary terms, and almost nothing is.

So let’s ask some questions. The only way to do research is to ask questions.

Leaving the specific case of autism aside for a moment, the real issue at hand seems to be distrust. So why would people distrust the mainstream scientific view of vaccination? Is there a good reason why one might be skeptical of something that everyone knows to be obviously true?

Maybe, yeah.

For example, has the American scientific establishment ever conducted mass experiments on human beings without their consent?

Sure. Lots of times.

The most glaring example is probably the Tuskegee Experiment, in which 399 black men were monitored and denied treatment for syphilis for 40 years, 1932 to 1972. A cure for syphilis became available in the intervening years, and this was denied to the men, which meant they were free to spread the disease to their wives and children (it is heritable). They were instead told they had “bad blood.”

You might not have heard of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi. He was a bacteriologist who has a prize named after him, set up by the Africa-London-Nagasaki Fund (ALN).

The ALN failed to mention that in 1911, under the auspices of the Rockefeller Center for Medical Research, Dr. Noguchi injected orphans with syphilis.

But it isn’t all venereal disease. Take Dr. Ewen Cameron, for example. He conducted MK-ULTRA torture experiments at the behest of the CIA and with some additional funding by the Canadian government.

When Dr. Cameron did these experiments, he was President of the American Psychiatric Association, the Canadian Psychiatric Association, and the World Psychiatric Association.

That’s pretty mainstream.

Ok, but that’s purposeful experimentation. We would never do anything like that anymore, right? So what about accidents? Mistakes. Have there ever been instances where vaccinations unwittingly led to other severe health consequences?

Yes, and it happened with what most people think of as the great triumph of the polio vaccine. History says Dr. Salk and his magic bullet saved the world (well, the first world anyway) from polio. It’s not clear now whether Dr. Salk actually cured anyone (the drop in polio might be better explained through reclassification and better sanitation) but what we do know for sure was that it exposed 100 million people to an increased risk for cancer.

SV40 was isolated from normal monkey kidney cells, stocks of the Sabin poliovirus vaccine, and an adenovirus vaccine. The last two reagents were prepared in primary kidney cell cultures derived from rhesus monkeys. Subsequent analyses found that the Salk poliovirus vaccine administered from 1955 to 1963 in the United States was also contaminated with SV40, potentially exposing an estimated 100 million people (106). Although poliovirus in the Salk vaccine was inactivated by formalin treatment, the conditions were insufficient to completely inactivate SV40. Soon thereafter, it was demonstrated that SV40 could infect humans and also induce tumors in experimental animals (26, 28, 29, 42, 43). These observations raised concerns that vaccinated people worldwide may have been inadvertently exposed to an oncogenic virus.

You can read the details here.

Even in an inadvertent situation, vaccines are the easiest way to spread disease on a mass scale. It’s more efficient than any plague. It doesn’t have to be on purpose to make it lethal.

Yeah, well that happened then, but surely it doesn’t happen anymore.

Except it does. In 2010, for example, the FDA halted use of the Rotarix vaccine when it was found to have pig virus in it.

No one knows how a pig virus got its way into the vaccine, but federal officials expressed concern about increased cancer risks in the 2- and 4-month-old babies who were injected with it. They also, rather worryingly, suggested that vaccine makers “test for vaccine purity.” Um, don’t they already do that?

Even when they work like they’re supposed to, vaccines have side effects. Sometimes these side effects are brutal and become apparent right away. In 2011 alone, for example, the FDA noted 42 seizures arising from Fluzone, most of them in infants. That same year, an article in the Journal of Virology suggested that flu shots actually increase your chances of becoming sick.

An Australian journalist, Natalia Bita, found that CSL Afluria, a common flu vaccine given to infants, was defective and caused 1 out of every 100 to go into convulsions. Even after she had received the Australian equivalent of a Pulitzer for her long-running expose, the vaccine remained active in the United States. Naturally.

There’s one other factor that might be worth asking about in looking at this issue: the money.

It should be understood that vaccines aren’t made by idealists trying to save the planet. They are made by corporations seeking profit. This doesn’t make them de facto evil - but we shouldn’t kid ourselves about the situation.

We know that doctors frequently get paid to promote drugs by pharmaceutical companies on a kickback system. Johnson and Johnson just paid over $2 billion in 2013 in such a case.

Novartis has gotten into trouble more than once for similar activity.

Frankly, as this writer points out, our current system positively rewards companies giving kickbacks to doctors.

A ProPublica analysis shows that some 1,300 practitioners nationwide received both research money and speaking or consulting fees from the same drug maker in 2012. All told, they received about $90 million in research grants, plus nearly $13 million for speaking engagements and another $4 million for consulting.

You can read the rest of this story here.

This doesn’t, of course, prove that every doctor is corrupt or that the only thing that rules our health system is money. But you’d have to be a little naïve to ignore it.

Back in 2007, Texas Governor Rick Perry caused a stir when he mandated that girls 12 and under had to receive an HPV vaccine. His chief of staff, Mike Toomey, had been the chief lobbyist for Merck, which made the vaccine.

Merck donated $377,000 to the Republican Govenors Association. By coincidence, Governor Perry chaired that organization.

Where all this is leading us to, ultimately, is to authority. Authority is necessary for a functioning society, but as citizens we have a responsibility to make sure authority is justly and honorably exercised. When it comes to medicine, as with everything else in which power and money play a decisive role, examples of the unjust and dishonorable come easy.

The reality is that even when we ignore everything I've just demonstrated, red flags remain. In an average year, doctors are the third leading cause of death. Just saying.

Speaking of statistics: They get massaged in an extreme way.

In 2005, Peter Doshi published an article in the prestigious British Medical Journal proving that the CDC was playing games with statistics. This was in regard to the flu vaccine, which continues to be pushed each year although the evidence for its efficacy is dubious at best.

Here is a quote from Doshi’s report:

[According to CDC statistics], ‘influenza and pneumonia’ took 62,034 lives in 2001—61,777 of which were attributable to pneumonia and 257 to flu, and in only 18 cases was the flu virus positively identified.

The full article can be found here.

So pneumonia – 61,777; flu – maybe 18 to 257. Makes perfect sense to combine those categories. That reminds me – you remember the night Kobe Bryant and Kwame Brown put up 84 on the Raptors? They were unbelievable that night, weren’t they?

Just to reiterate, I am not sure about a link between vaccines and autism. We do know that autism rates continue to leap up, although this may well be attributable to diagnosis.

My problem, as always, is with authority and who gets to dictate the terms of the debate. People distrust the mainstream establishment for good reasons that are easily elucidated. Being distrustful of authority isn’t stupid. It’s our responsibility.