How Safe And Effective Are Today’s Vaccines?

A recent article on PolicyMic condemns the actress Jenny McCarthy for promoting an anti-vaccination agenda. The article insinuates that children will end up being harmed if McCarthy takes a position on The View, giving her a platform to espouse her anti-vaccination viewpoints. McCarthy, who has an autistic child herself, remains convinced that vaccines have some causal link to autism.

The author of the article, Kyle Zhu, cites the widespread discrediting of the infamous 1998 Lancet paper, that purported to show a link between vaccines and autism, as the reason for condemning McCarthy’s beliefs.  The author of the Lancet paper, Andrew Wakefield, ended up losing his medical license over the paper due to supposedly altering patient diagnoses.  Dr. Wakefield believed that there was a causal link between measles virus found in the gut and autism, which could be due to the MMR vaccine.

Of course, Zhu’s stance is completely rational, given the reporting on the issue that has come out of the mainstream press. However, there is a tremendous body of evidence that supports McCarthy’s position, which generally goes unreported.  I want to highlight some of those reports for you here, so can decide for yourself which position makes the most rational sense.

To start with, I want to discredit the notion that autism is some kind of genetically related disease.  Today, the autism rate among children is 1 in 50, in the 1990s the rate was 1 in 2500, and in the 1980s, the rate was 1 in 10,000.  The Autism Science Foundation notes that comparing rates between decades is problematic because the definition of the disease has changed over time; however, there’s no possible way that a disease which effects 1 in 50 kids today could have gone completely unnoticed during the 1980s, even with the definition changes that have taken place.

The rate has jumped up from 1 in 88 to 1 in 50 during the last 5 years alone.  This exponential rise in reported cases over the general population cannot possibly be from a genetically initiated cause, although genes may still play some role in the development of autism. Wiki notes that, “Genetic linkage analysis has been inconclusive.”

Now, back to the supposedly discredited Wakefield study.  A 2011 letter published in the British Medical Journal, authored by Dr. David Lewis, concludes that Wakefield did not commit fraud with his research study.  Lewis writes, “As a research microbiologist involved with the collection and examination of colonic biopsy samples, I do not believe that Dr. Wakefield intentionally misinterpreted the grading sheets as evidence of ‘non-specific colitis.'”

A medical study conducted in 2006 found further evidence to support Wakefield’s position on a causal link between measles and autism.  Dr. Steven Walker concluded that, “What [this study] means is that the study done earlier by Dr Wakefield and published in 1998 is correct. That study didn’t draw any conclusions about specifically what it means to find measles virus in the gut, but the implication is it may be coming from the MMR vaccine. If that’s the case, and this live virus is residing in the gastrointestinal tract of some children, and then they have GI inflammation and other problems, it may be related to the MMR.”

In fact, 28 separate studies have supported Dr. Wakefield’s findings. Dr. Campbell-McBride discovered that nearly all of the mothers of autistic children have abnormal gut flora, which is significant because newborns inherit their gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth.  Her findings, as well as Wakefield’s, are supported by yet another recent study that was published in mBio.  That study concluded, “Many children with autism have gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances that can complicate clinical management and contribute to behavioral problems…. Here we describe an association between high levels of intestinal, mucoepithelial-associated Sutterella species and GI disturbances in children with autism.”

A 2010 study, published in Acta Neurobiological Experimentals, also showed a link between the vaccine schedule given to children and abnormal brain development in macaque monkeys.  The study concluded that, “These results suggest that maturational changes in amygdala volume and the binding capacity of [11C]DPN in the amygdala was significantly altered in infant macaques receiving the vaccine schedule.”

By now I hope you can see that Wakefield may have been railroaded by scientists who were in bed with big-pharma. The vaccine industry is enormously powerful, generating tens of billions of dollars in revenue each year.  In fact, the vaccine industry lobby is so powerful, they have managed to completely remove themselves from the normal civil liability court system.  Vaccine cases are adjudicated in a special “vaccine court,” where the judges are actually paid out of the revenue collected from vaccine taxes.  The court’s purpose is to prevent the bankruptcy of vaccine makers through lawsuits in order to ensure a constant supply of vaccines.

Even if we assume that Wakefield is incorrect in his conclusions, there is still the very real possibility of a causal link between vaccines and autism. Dr. Bernadine Healy, former head of the National Institutes of Health, has pointed out some problems with the large population studies that have supposedly discredited the link between vaccines and autism.

Dr. Healy comments in a  Huffington Post article, “I think public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis as ‘irrational,’ without sufficient studies of causation… without studying the population that got sick… I have not seen major studies that focus on 300 kids who got autistic symptoms within a period of a few weeks of the vaccines… Populations do not test causality, they test associations.”

I personally think when all of these issues are taken in totality, they present a very strong argument for a possible vaccine-autism link.  However, the possibility of developing autism is just one of the many reasons why people should be concerned about vaccines.

Here’s just a few examples of other problems associated with vaccines.

  • Polio vaccines are now the #1 cause of polio paralysis.
  • Over 220 Swedes, most of them children, developed narcolepsy as a side effect from the Swine flu vaccine Pandemrix.
  • The swine flu vaccine has been linked to Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
  • Two of Merck’s former employees have accused the pharmaceutical giant of marketing multivalent MMR vaccines under false pretenses.
  • Mumps cases have been reported in populations with high vaccination coverage, calling their efficacy into question.
  • Cases of aseptic meningitis have been associated with the MMR vaccine.
  • Despite widespread childhood vaccination against Bordetella pertussis [whooping cough], the disease remains prevalent.

And now for the biggest scandal of them all. One of the most prominent vaccine scientists in the history of the vaccine industry made a recording where he openly admits that vaccines given to Americans were contaminated with leukemia and cancer causing viruses. The world’s leading vaccine expert, Dr. Maurice Hilleman, explains why Merck’s vaccines have spread AIDS, leukemia, and other horrific plagues worldwide.

If that video isn’t enough to scare you, I don’t know what is.  And remember, should any harm befall you or your children from a vaccine, you’ll have to sue in a vaccine court where the judges make a living off of keeping the vaccine industry alive. Isn’t that reason enough to doubt the safety and efficacy of vaccines?  If they really were totally safe and effective, why do they need a special court to protect them!?

  • brothersun

    Here are 58 studies showing a link between vaccination and autism:

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  • vaccineswork

    The errors and misrepresentations in this ignorant article are too many for me to bother picking off one by one, so just a few ‘inconvenient facts’ for you.

    a) many of the most prominent pro-vaccine campaigners are also outspoken Big Pharma critics, for instance the British doctor Ben Goldacre, whose most recent book is a devastating critique of Big Pharma’s reluctance to release trial data.

    b) the study you report as supporting evidence (an article from the Daily Mail) never published its results, beyond a press release.

    c) the same month the Daily Mail published that article – to quote Ben Goldacre’s blog entry on the subject: ‘in the May issue of the Journal of Medical Virology, there was a very similar study, only this one has actually been published. It looked for measles RNA in children with regressive autism after MMR vaccination, much like the Krigsman story. It used tools so powerful they could detect measles RNA down to single figure copy numbers. But they found no evidence of the magic vaccine-strain measles RNA to implicate MMR.’

    d) In Wales, a massive outbreak of measles earlier this year among children who had not been given MMR as a result of the 1990s scare resulted in the deaths of several children.

    e) however you choose to cherry-pick the evidence, NOT A SINGLE STUDY has succeeded in replicating Andrew Wakefield’s results.

    f) Wakefield was not simply guilty of bad science – he has also been found guilty of dishonesty and the abuse of patients.

    g) Children who get measles have a 1 in 20 chance of developing a serious complication; serious complications from the vaccine number 1 or 2 per million [source: Johns Hopkins University Institute for Vaccine Safety]

    Just a thought – I’m a libertarian, I believe in personal freedom and minimal government. But why do so many ultra-libertarians buy into these strange alternative worldviews like plasma cosmology and anti-vaccine beliefs? It’s almost as if they’ve become part of the ideological baggage. It’s a shame because to anybody who knows a bit about science they’re completely risible, and do your (often excellent) website no credit.

    • What does point A have to do with anything I wrote?

      As for point B, I cite 28 other articles, and the comment below cites 58 other articles. So if you don’t like B, look at the other ones.

      As for point C, did that study find GI issues beyond measles in the gut? There are over two dozen vaccines given in the US schedule, and any one of them could cause the same issues. I noticed you didn’t cite the source, so I have to take your word for it.

      As for point D, I can find outbreaks of measles in vaccinated populations too:

      As for point E, this study says it did replicate his results:

      As for point F, irrelevant to the autism discussion.

      As for point G, your statement is misleading because you ignore the vaccinated and unvaccinated chances of contracting measles in the first place.

      • courageandhope

        As for onset of childhood disintegration disorder (much like autism) after immunization, it was described thus: “In a report of 12 cases in India seem between 1989 and 1998, Malhotra and Gupta note onset in 4 cases following infectious/vaccine exposures, including fever with seizures, acute gastroenteritis and vaccination. The type of vaccine is not stated. See: Malhotra S and Gupta N. Childhood disintegrative disorder. Re-examination of the current concept. Eur J child and Adolescent Psych. 2002;11:108-114.” Cited in Andrew J. Wakefield, “Callous Disregard…” Ch. 2, “The Children,” pp. 39 and 47 (fn. 18).

        • vaccineswork

          Have you read this paper? It is nothing to do with vaccines. It’s a study of a particular subset of autism disorders known as CDD and their diagnosis. If you’re citing this completely irrelevant study in support of your argument you don’t know what you’re talking about. And it speaks volumes about Wakefield that he thought it supported his case.

  • courageandhope

    First, don’t miss this: Here is the late Dr. Bernadine Healy, former director of the National Institutes of Health in the US, in an interview with Sharyll Atkinson in 2008: She says, we have the tools now, we have an obligation to search out that small subset of children who are most at risk to being damaged by vaccines, and work to make vaccines safer. These kids will be missed by epidemiological studies.

    Second, here are two studies that support autism having environmental causes: Reuters, April 23, 2013, republished in HuffPost, “Environment Interacts with Genes in Autism, Twins Study Shows,” Earlier, there was the UC Davis’ MIND Institute study to same effect, as reported by David Kirby, author of “Evidence of Harm,” in a Jan. 8, 2009 blog, “UC Davis Study Authors: Autism is Environmental (Can We Move On Now?) (a study of twins).

    And on the genetic component, Dr. Stephen Walker in April 2013 published: Walker SJ, Fortunato J, Gonzalez LG, Krigsman A (2013) Identification of Unique Gene Expression Profile in Children with Regressive Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Ileocolitis. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58058. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058058

    Third, but most important: there has been a lot of media misinformation about Dr. Wakefield, including the idea that his work was fraudulent, or that it was ever found to be so by the GMC. In his book, “Callous Disregard, Autism and Vaccines – the Truth Behind a Tragedy,” (Skyhorse Pub.: NY 2010), Dr. Wakefield writes that the General Medical Council never even charged him or any of the paper’s 13 authors with fraud. They looked for 5 years trying to find something to charge the 3 doctor defendants with, based on the complaint of a journalist, Brian Deer, who was hired to “find something big on MMR” (beginning with his stories published in the Sunday Times in 2004). It was a journalist who brought the complaint against Dr. Wakefield, never a patient. Do you smell a rat yet?

    The GMC said the study conducted research without ethics approval, ignoring evidence to the contrary. The other charges, for what they’re worth, are also thoroughly explained in Dr. Wakefield’s book. Also, apparently, the BBC even admits the GMC got it wrong. April 14, 2013,

    Another doctor who wrote comments to the BMJ in support of Dr. Wakefield was Dr. Edward Yazbek; google him for more.

    There was an agenda to go after Dr. Wakefield because he was an advocate for vaccine safety with the MMR. He had reviewed all the safety studies and thought more research needed to be done on MMR safety (The esteemed independent Cochrane Review, 2012, still says the same thing, 15 years later!).

    It has been too easy for the media to continue to republish untrue statements about Dr. Wakefield instead of having the guts to independently research and report both sides of the story. It’s really a shame this brilliant doctor cannot be continuing his research to help autistic children heal and to prevent more kids from being damaged. Instead he has to defend himself against relentless media attacks, because a man’s good name is in the end all he has, and the law does give recourse for slander and defamation.

    In fact, Dr. Wakefield is presently suing a journalist, Brian Deer, the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and its editor Dr. Fiona Godlee for slander and defamation in the BMJ on and around Jan. 6, 2011. The case alleges the BMJ published Deer’s articles saying his 1998 Lancet paper was fraudulent. There was a hearing May 22 in the Texas Third Court of Appeals re jurisdiction in this matter. A decision is expected within the next 6 months.

    Read “Callous Disregard,” go to and, watch Dr. Wakefield’s recent 4 videos at or on youtube. Watch “Selective Hearing” and pay attention to attorney James Moody’s comments at the end of the GMC hearing; he wrote a Postscript to “Callous Disregard” worth reading. Read “Silenced Witnesses vols. I and II (, London 2008, 2009), the parents’ stories of their sick, autistic children that Dr. Wakefield and his team at the Royal Free Hospital tried to help. The parents of 8 (and later a 9th) of those 12 initial children (The study later grew to 40) reported, as in the 1998 Lancet case study, that their children’s symptoms began after they had the MMR vaccination. Still, the paper expressly disclaimed making a finding that autism and MMR were linked, but urged further research.

    Dr. Wakefield is presently suing a journalist, Brian Deer, the British Medical Journal (BMJ), and its editor Dr. Fiona Godlee for slander and defamation. The case alleges the BMJ published Deer’s (and Godlee’s) articles saying his 1998 Lancet paper was fraudulent, around Jan. 6, 2011. Deer admittedly had an agenda to destroy Dr. Wakefield, who he called a “crummy little gut surgeon”–this brilliant doctor with over 130 scientific papers published! Was Deer jealous? There was a hearing May 22 in the Texas Third Court of Appeals re jurisdiction in this matter. A decision is expected within the next 6 months.

  • Dark Hawk 98

    You see the whole world Mr. Suede, through the prism of libertarianism and try to apply that view to everything in this world. You are like the person who only has a hammer in his tool box, everything looks like a nail.

    Mixing libertarian political thought with science is like mixing oil and
    water, it doesn’t work too well unless you agitate the heck out of it, and this article is that mechanism of agitation, nothing more.

  • Michele

    “Dr. Campbell-McBride discovered that nearly all of the mothers of autistic children have abnormal gut flora, which is significant because newborns inherit their gut flora from their mothers at the time of birth. Her findings, as well as Wakefield’s, are supported by yet another recent study that was published in mBio. That study concluded, “Many children with autism have gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances that can complicate clinical management and contribute to behavioral problems…. Here we describe an association between high levels of intestinal, mucoepithelial-associated Sutterella species and GI disturbances in children with autism.” ”
    How does that prove vaccines are linked to autism? We’re finding that gut flora is implicated in many things including obesity possibly related to how the baby was born either, cesarean vs. vaginal birth. Vaccines don’t disturb the organisms that contribute to gut flora. None of the infectious diseases or their causative agents are part of our GI tracts. They are pathogenic.
    Furthermore, how do you know that simple changes in the diagnostic criteria for autism couldn’t change the rates so drastically? Do you have any evidence? Are you an epidemiologist?
    Your article has holes and a severe lack of actual citations. Please stop spreading this stupid misconceptions and thinking that you are revealing the “truth”. You will only be responsible for perpetuating a very dangerous and costly idea that could (and is) greatly damaging our public health.

    • From my point of view, you’re the one perpetuating a very dangerous and costly idea that could (and is) greatly damaging our public health.

      Google “vaccine gut flora” and take a look at all the links that come up. I’m not your research assistant.

      • vaccineswork

        I’m afraid ‘From my point of view’ does not cut it. You’re the editor of a libertarian website, not an epidemiologist or public health official. You have next to zero expertise in this subject and in perpetuating such dangerously uninformed views you are doing great harm.

        You return in this article yet again to the discredited Wakefield study which based its entirely false conclusion on anecdotal evidence relating to twelve patients. Meanwhile, a Danish cohort study looked *half a million* children before, during and after the introduction of MMR and found no evidence of correlation between MMR use and autism.

        Still more importantly, the Cochrane Collaboration conducted a meta-analysis involving data on FIFTEEN MILLION individuals. This was its conclusion:

        “Exposure to the MMR vaccine was unlikely to be associated with autism, asthma, leukaemia, hay fever, type 1 diabetes, gait disturbance, Crohn’s disease, demyelinating diseases, bacterial or viral infections.”

        The evidence is overwhelming, and picking out conflicting views using Google is not how epidemiologists decide whether something is safe or not.

        Michele is right to call you out on this. You may be sincere in your beliefs, but those beliefs are woefully ill informed and risk doing people untold harm.

        • Dr. Bernadine Healy’s comments in my article address that. But feel free to ignore her comments if it makes you feel superior to me.

      • vaccineswork

        Oh yeah, and the video? You utterly traduce the memory of one of the greatest scientists of the twentieth century.

        The ‘smoking gun’ here appears to be his joke about AIDS. The interview was recorded at a time when many researchers believed that imported monkeys was one possible source of the HIV epidemic. We now know that the virus crossed the species barrier much earlier in Africa, and possibly as long as a hundred years ago, so these monkeys had nothing to do with it. Dr Hilleman’s work saved literally millions of lives. What have you done?

        • LOL – so now me posting a video of Merck’s top vaccine scientist openly admitting to introducing cancer causing viruses and simian immune deficiency viruses into the population through their vaccines is me “traducing” his memory.

          You’re a fucking joke.

          • vaccineswork

            That’s a total misrepresentation of what he says. And since ‘you’re a fucking joke’ is about the limit of your ability to engage with facts, I’ll bid you goodbye.

          • Yeah, I’m totally misrepresenting what he says in the video. To quote him directly, just so there is no confusion:

            “I brought African greens (monkeys) in. I didn’t know we were importing AIDS virus (SV40) at the time…

            …That damn vaculating agent we have, I’m just going to pick that damn one. That virus has got to be in the vaccines. And it’s got to be in Sabins vaccines. So I quickly tested them. Sure enough, it was in there.”

            New Scientist;7/10/2004, Vol. 183 Issue 2455, p7:

            “Several early studies suggest that SV40 did infect some of the people given contaminated vaccines. For instance, a 1964 study found the virus in the faeces of 10 out of 35 children about a week after they were given contaminated oral polio vaccine, though the children showed no obvious symptoms. There is also no doubt that SV40, which has been extensively studied in many labs worldwide, can cause tumours in animals. The virus also turns human cells grown in culture cancerous. One of the viral proteins has been shown to block key anti-cancer genes. In recent years, numerous studies in many different labs worldwide have found SV40 DNA in certain types of rare lung, brain and bone tumours, and even in non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a more common cancer.”


          • vaccineswork

            Just stop. You’re making a total fool of yourself.

            “”I brought African greens (monkeys) in. I didn’t know we were importing AIDS virus (SV40) at the time…”

            As I pointed out in my earlier comment, he was making a joke, based on the contemporary, and ERRONEOUS, belief that African greens had some role inthe interspecies transmission of the simian immunodeficiency virus. They didn’t. There is no connection whatever between African greens and AIDS.
            Point 2. The SV40 scare relates to *some* batches of polio vaccine produced *between 1954 and 1961*. The vaccine has been 100% free of this contaminant for teh entire lifetimes of most of your readers. You are trying to whip up a scare based on a public health screw-up that was made over half a century ago.

            This stuff really matters. Polio vaccine prevents people dying. Your ignorant rants will be read by people who think you know what you’re talking about. Emphatically, you don’t. Just stop.

          • vaccinesaresafe

            I’m gonna make this one point again and see if it gets deleted. I’m not trolling, I’m not being abusive, I’m just stating two facts:

            a) the African green monkeys had nothing to do with HIV transmission. At the time this interview was given it was suspected that they had played some role. That link was later disproved, and it was shown that the SIV had jumped the species barrier much earlier, and in Africa. So Merck are off the hook on this one.

            b) SV40 contamination was a genuine problem. But it occurred beween the mid-50s and the early 60s. More than half a century ago, when vaccines of this type were in their infancy.

            So neither of these arguments offers the slightest grounds for concern about today’s vaccines, unless you’re trying to whip up unwarranted hysteria.

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