A Look Inside The Immunization Dilemma By Jaclyn Gallucci on June 23rd, 2011 Read the full story by Jaclyn Galluci at Long Island Press.
The 1952 polio epidemic was one of the largest and most frightening public health crises in the United States, with outbreaks in all 50 states. Of the nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left paralyzed. Until 1955, when New York City’s Dr. Jonas Salk introduced his vaccine, polio was a constant terror. When asked in a televised interview who owned the patent for the vaccine, Salk replied, “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
Well, times have changed. Now pharmaceutical companies are highly protective of their assets, because vaccines are not just medical breakthroughs, they are also big business. In fact, Salk’s vaccine went on to raise manufacturer Eli Lilly’s profit by 90 percent in 1956, bringing in a total of $13.7 million in revenue for the company, in addition to the millions it made other manufacturers of the time. Today, companies like Merck bring in billions by manufacturing vaccines for everything from chicken pox to the flu.
Parents, faced with a barrage of polarizing opinions and a handful of conflicting studies, remain in a constant search for definitive answers. But right now, there aren’t any.
A recent University of Michigan study found that 76 percent of parents rely on their pediatricians to make the decision.
Vaccine proponents and the medical community at large argue that vaccination is safe and that illnesses including pertussis (whooping cough), rubella and diphtheria—epidemics that once killed thousands every year—are now prevented by vaccination and the enforcement of government mandates requiring children to have certain vaccinations before they are allowed to attend school.
“Thanks to immunizations, diseases like polio that were once common, are now only distant memories for most Americans,” says the New York State Department of Health. “Today there are few visible reminders of the suffering, injuries and deaths caused by diseases that are now prevented with vaccines.”
Vaccine opponents, namely parent activists and a very small minority of doctors and scientists, argue that infant immune systems are too weak to handle these shots, and that the possible side effects of vaccination, including seizures, paralysis and death, are overlooked by pharmaceutical companies and are not worth the risk. These critics say vaccines can trigger developmental problems like autism.
“Selling vaccines is extremely profitable and the process of mandating vaccines is fraught with conflicts of interest,” Michael Belkin, father of a child who died post-vaccination, told health officials. “The business model of having the government mandate [that] everyone must buy your product is a monopolist’s delight.”
The vaccine argument has reached a stalemate, leaving the general public wondering whom they should believe. Meanwhile, parents across Long Island and the nation are faced with their first vaccination decision within hours of their infants’ birth—and, one way or the other, they need to make a choice....
Anne Dachel has this comment in response to Ms. Galluci's article in the Long Island Press:
Jaclyn Gallucci is the exception among reporters. She's actually done more than just accept the denials and claims of health officials. We almost never see this from the media. Parents in the autism community are used to news stories dismissing us as "anti-vaccine fanatics." We couldn't possibly be right when we say vaccines injured our children; all the studies disprove any causal link.
No one ever talks about the overriding power and influence of the vaccine makers whose motivation is profit. No one talks about how protected the industry is, nor do we hear about the lack of testing on vaccine ingredients. Gallucci's work should be a wakeup call for members of the press.
This is objective journalism. We got to hear from both sides and we have a right to coverage like this: "A swollen brain is one of the documented reactions to any vaccination in medical literature, and a SIDS ruling for vaccination-related deaths is not uncommon, according to Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), who interviewed parents of babies who died suddenly after Diphtheria (DPT) vaccinations for her book DPT: A Shot in the Dark." 'The death certificates of many babies, who die shortly after vaccination, list Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS as the cause of death, which means that no specific symptoms or other reason for death could be found. . . .
Most doctors continue to deny that vaccination is a risk factor for SIDS.' David Kirby, author of Evidence of Harm was cited. 'It is unscientific and perilously misleading for anyone to assert that vaccines and autism have been studied and that no link has been found. . . . That's because the 16 or so studies constantly cited by critics of the hypothesis have examined just one vaccine and one vaccine ingredient.' Gallucci talked about Andrew Wakefield and she noted, "Wakefield contends that the investigation of his work is part of a conspiracy to 'discredit and silence his research' in order to 'shield the government from exposure on the vaccine scandal' and 'to crush any attempt to investigate valid vaccine safety concerns.' "It may sound far-fetched, but looking a little closer, some believe that theory isn't all that unbelievable." It's not unbelievable because in truth, the British government indemnified the MMR vaccine maker against any liability for damage. It's the government which would be held responsible if it were clearly recognized that the MMR has damaged a generation of children. Dr. Peter Fletcher, former Chief Scientific Officer in the UK, said as much in the Daily Mail Daily Mail in 2006: "[Fletcher] said he has seen a 'steady accumulation of evidence' from scientists worldwide that the measles, mumps and rubella jab is causing brain damage in certain children. "But he added: 'There are very powerful people in positions of great authority in Britain and elsewhere who have staked their reputations and careers on the safety of MMR and they are willing to do almost anything to protect themselves.'"
This isn't just about the science. It's also about who will be held responsible if it's clearly shown that an unchecked, unsafe vaccine schedule is behind the exponential increase in autism. For many people, it's the unthinkable question.
Anne Dachel, Media editor, Age of Autism