Feature Article

Can Vaccines Actually Cause More Harm Than Good?

Franklin E. Payne, MD

For a half-century, "officials"* have promoted the mass vaccination of the world's population, primarily children. In the United States, recommendations by non-legislative bodies, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), have been mandated into state laws by willing legislators who are always ready to promote any action that is for the "good of the children." (Wouldn't you like some laws for the "good of the parents?")

As with any medication, vaccines have side effects, allergies, and unintended effects. These range from slight redness at the site of injection to low-grade fevers, paralysis, and death. The milder reactions are more common, and the more severe reactions are rare. Indeed, the latter are so rare statistically they cannot be distinguished from rare diseases in children that cause the same effects. And, complicating the situation is the fact there is usually no definitive test to determine the cause.

For the most part, the American people have gladly accepted these vaccinations. After all, as parents, they remembered the epidemics of smallpox, diphtheria, polio, and other diseases that crippled and killed by the thousands. They worried a little that their little Johnny or Susie might have one of the rare and severe complications, but that risk was far better than the risk of some epidemic disease.

A few Americans were more concerned. First, all the hoopla about the success of vaccines had to do more with timing than anything else. "Whooping cough, measles, and diphtheria were mostly under control by the end of World War II, when vaccines began to appear."(1) Thus, most of the success attributed to vaccines was their implementation at the time those diseases had already declined dramatically. This decline, however, has been conveniently forgotten (or covered up) to bolster the notion that vaccines dramatically reduce and prevent disease.

Second, evidence began to accumulate that some vaccines might have greater risks than those of the disease against which the vaccine was supposed to protect. Indeed, for one vaccine the evidence was clear in this regard. For the last two decades, the live polio vaccine has been the only cause of polio in children in the United States!

Supporting this belief was that the duration of immunity for vaccines was unknown. Would the person be protected for a few years only to contract a more severe form of the disease later? Because vaccines were introduced shortly after they were researched, all vaccines were mandated without long term evidence of their efficacy or continued immunity.

Third, statistics are based upon populations of people (children). What about an individual? If he is paralyzed or dies from an immunization, that is 100 percent for that individual. The individual must be considered, as well as populations.

In spite of these concerns, the drive toward vaccination programs in American society became a juggernaut. Any critical voice just did not have a chance of being heard in this maelstrom of support. But, cracks began to appear.

In the late 1970s, the swine flu immunization debacle occurred. The swine flu was predicted to sweep around the world, killing and maiming like the black plagues of the Middle Ages. An unprecedented massive and immediate inoculation of Americans was carried out. The swine flu never appeared, but hundreds had crippling diseases from the immunization itself. The question arose, perhaps for the first time, "Is it possible that the good of immunization could be outweighed by its unintended effects?"

But, while some thought immunizations ought to be examined more closely, "officials' " stance on immunizations was unfazed. They had even more immunizations for "the good of the children": mumps, Haemophilus, and hepatitis B. And, so the little darlings did not have to be punctured too often, more and more combinations of vaccines at once were devised. One count has some 33 vaccinations by the time children enter the first grade.

Parents and a few researchers were becoming more concerned. Some childhood diseases (allergies and asthma, for example) were becoming more common in children. Was there a link between these immunizations and the increase of these diseases? A principle of medicine learned early by medical students is that a lot of a good thing (some treatment or drug) often causes more harm than good. Perhaps, immunizations were becoming too much of a good thing.

Not to worry said the "official" establishment. The effects of every disease were more to be feared than the unintended effects of the vaccines. We are promoting what is best for the health of your child.


A Change in Culture and Motivations


But society was evolving, and these changes could not help but find their way into medical practice and preventive medicine. Abortion, the elimination of unwanted, unborn children, became national law and common practice. Every state in the union allowed by law the treatment of minor children for abortion, contraception, and sexually transmitted diseases without parental notification or permission. AIDS became the first politically protected disease because time proven principles of epidemic control for sexually transmitted diseases were not employed.

Relative to immunizations, at least two recommendations came from this cultural milieu. Hepatitis B was epidemic. Something had to be done. Prevention by vaccine was considered the best answer. So, several plans were implemented to vaccinate adults and teenagers. But, the result was that only a small percentage was immunized. Most did not care to be vaccinated and were getting around the nets designed to catch them.

So, where are people, specifically children, almost always predictably present? In the hospital when they are delivered! And, there was a precedent: dousing the eyes with silver nitrate, and later, erythromycin ointment to prevent gonococcal conjunctivitis. Thus, laws were enacted to inoculate newborn babies in the delivery room itself! The few babies who are delivered at home can easily be tracked and immunized also.

(I know an instance in which a lawyer, whose expertise was constitutional law, was unable to prevent his own child from being vaccinated in the delivery room!)

But, there is a powerful cultural agenda in the hepatitis vaccine that has not been present in any previous vaccine: not random exposure to epidemic disease, but the assumption that every child will become sexually promiscuous, an IV-drug user, or a health care worker!

The second recommendation was Hib, vaccination against Haemophilus influenzae B. Hib is a common bacteria of upper respiratory infections in children. Sometimes, it spreads and becomes a more serious life-threatening infection, as epiglotitis, mastoiditis, or meningitis. Usually, a simple course of antibiotics will cure the infections. However, in these more severe infections, hospitalization and intensive care is needed. Thus, the reason for the vaccine.

However, these severe infections are rare, except in those children who attend day care centers. So, vaccination is mostly an attempt to prevent a complication of children being placed where they ought not to be. Admittedly, making a cultural case against Hib is more tentative than with hepatitis B, but it has plausibility.


Even "Officials" Finally Break the Wall of Unity


Complications with three vaccines have caused them to be suspended. 1) Hepatitis B has been found to have a mercury content that is considered unsafe for infants.(2) 2) Live polio vaccine has been stopped because it has become the sole cause of polio, rather than the natural disease itself. 3) Rotavirus vaccine has been linked to intestinal obstruction in infants. This effect is likely from an incomplete testing of the vaccine. This vaccine provides protection against only one cause of diarrhea in children.

Also, in 1998, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) received 11,000 reports of severe complications. This system was implemented some years ago, as evidence mounted that vaccines did have major complications, including death, and to relieve manufacturers of liability from these effects.

So, immunizations are under scrutiny as they have never been before. This close examination is good and past due. Many questions need to be answered and better research on vaccines needs to be carried out.

Christians should remember that the state does have a Biblical role in public health (Leviticus 13-15). However, that authority can be corrupted, as can the state's other forms of authority. The best that can be hoped for is more freedom for parents to decide what immunizations their children receive. While I doubt that "officials" will ever go that far (they "know" better what your child needs than you do), the opportunity to break down the juggernaut of automatic acceptance and implementation of vaccines is present like it has never been before. When the establishment admits its own errors, their citadel is ripe for storming. Let us hope and work towards greater freedom for parents to choose.



* I often place "officials" in quotes because they are either grossly ignorant or they have hidden agendas --- power, money, self-aggrandizement, etc. All these cancel any moral authority they have. Unfortunately, many have legal authority to enforce their tainted opinions.


1. Sagan LA. Health of Nations: True Causes of Sickness and Well-being. New York, Basic Books, 1987, p. 68.
2. Terrell HP. Mercurial Logic. Medical Sentinel 2000;5(2):66.

Dr. Payne is editor of Biblical Reflections, P.O. Box 14488, Augusta, GA 30919-0488. E-mail: [email protected]

Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 2000;5(2):53-54. Copyright ©2000 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.