- As state legislatures move to eliminate personal and religious exemptions to vaccination, vaccine safety has become an increasingly critical issue.
- The number of vaccines in the CDC’s childhood vaccine schedule has almost quadrupled in the last 60 years.
- The federally recommended childhood vaccine schedule has not been adequately tested for safety and takes a one-size fits all approach.
On the issue of vaccines, there is an abundance of dialogue on ingredients and herd immunity, etc., but what really is the fundamental problem at the heart of this debate? It is because state legislatures mandate vaccines, consequently denying individuals the right to informed consent—the right to make personal choices about vaccination for themselves and their children.
While some parents choose to comply with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommended childhood immunization schedule,1 there are many parents who prefer not to go down this road with their children for various reasons. As a result of state mandates compelling use of federally recommended childhood vaccines, the question of vaccine safety has understandably become a central issue in the debate.
The Childhood Vaccine Schedule: Past and Present
A vaccination schedule recommended by public health officials or physician trade associations, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), is basically a series of vaccinations that includes the timing/age at which the doses are to be be given. Depending on state laws, the federal vaccine schedule is either recommended or compulsory for school and daycare attendance.
With respect to the U.S. childhood vaccination schedule, the number of vaccines government health officials direct pediatricians to give children has almost quadrupled in the last 60 or so years.2 In 1953, the CDC directed physicians to give a child no more than 16 doses of four vaccines (one dose of smallpox and five doses of DPT) between the ages of two months and six years.2 Thirty years later, in 1983, the CDC recommended schedule included 23 doses of seven vaccines (DPT, MMR and polio) between the ages of two months and six years.2
Fast-forward to from 1983 to 2016, the CDC now recommends double the number of vaccinations by age six—49 doses of 14 vaccines starting on the day of birth—and a total of 69 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18.2 In 1983, the CDC directed physicians to give a child no more than four vaccines simultaneously. However, by 2013, a could receive eight or more vaccines during one visit.2
The Problem with The Vaccine Schedule’s “One-Size Fits All” Assumption
Mass vaccination such as that recommended by the CDC’s current vaccine schedule uses a “one size fits all” approach, which holds very little regard for a child’s state of health, medical history, nutritional status and genetic background prior to receiving vaccines. Lucija Tomljenovic, PhD, a biochemist with the Neural Dynamics Research Group at the University of British Columbia, Canada, put it this way:
Imagine the next time you went to Walmart, Target or Sears that due to scientific research and government regulation your retailer only stocked one size of clothing – regardless of whether you are male or female, child or adult, and with no sensitivity to your cultural or ethnic background. Would you be happy? Would you accept it? Would you wear the clothes? The answer is clearly NO! What if the clothing manufacturer used a highly toxic dye in the clothing fabric and knew this dye could cause serious skin reactions in some people but they failed to declare this? Would that be acceptable to you? Yet that is exactly what the current approach to vaccines worldwide is – one size fits all and some “collateral damage” is acceptable for the sake of the alleged “greater good”.3
Arguments have been made that decisions regarding an individual child’s immunizations are not one-size fits all since exceptions to the schedule are sometimes made by pediatricians who believe there is a reason to delay or omit a vaccine. However, the truth s that the CDC and AAP consider very few medical conditions as a reason to delay or omit a vaccination and 99.99% of children do not qualify for a medical vaccine exemption under narrow federal vaccine contraindication guidelines.4
The government recommended vaccine schedule does not factor in an individual’s genetic susceptibility to vaccine adverse reactions, which the Institute of Medicine has pointed out doctors cannot predict ahead of time in part due to gaps in vaccine safety science.5 This is one of the reasons why relatively healthy children have succumbed to adverse vaccine reactions.
Some vaccine developers and proponents of mandatory vaccination are also questioning the legitimacy of the one-size fits all approach. Dr. Gregory Poland, Editor in Chief of the journal Vaccine and other scientists state in a paper published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal that,
We believe that adversomics (the immunogenetics and immunogenomics of vaccine adverse events at the individual and population level, respectively) is critical to understanding and preventing serious adverse vaccine-related events, developing the next generation of vaccines, and to improving public confidence in vaccine safety.” He reiterates that “… the field of adversomics is growing due to scientific interest in understanding the basis for vaccine reactions, “push” from the growing field of individualized medicine, and consumer demand for safer vaccines.6
2013 Institute of Medicine Report: CDC’s Vaccine Schedule Untested
Given that the CDC’s recommended childhood vaccine schedule is mandated in many states, it would be fair to assume that the schedule has been thoroughly studied and tested for safety, right? Well, a 2013 report released by the Institute of Medicine reveals otherwise. The report clearly states that,
First, the concept of the immunization “schedule” is not well developed in the scientific literature. Most vaccine research focuses on the health outcomes associated with single immunizations or combinations of vaccines administered at a single visit. Even though each new vaccine is evaluated in the context of the overall immunization schedule that existed at the time of review, individual elements of the schedule are not evaluated once it is adjusted to accommodate a new vaccine. Key elements of the immunization schedule—for example, the number, frequency, timing, order, and age at the time of administration of vaccines—have not been systematically examined in research studies.7
Burden of Proof for the Safety of Vaccines
In our medical and legal system, the burden of proof that a vaccine caused the injury or death of a child currently lies with parents. This is unacceptable when there are so many gaps in knowledge about vaccine risks and there is no liability in the civil court system for companies that market vaccines and those who administer vaccines to children.8
The burden of proof for the safety of vaccines should rest with the pharmaceutical corporations marketing and profiting from vaccines, the federal health agencies regulating and recommending vaccines, and the state health departments and legislatures mandating vaccines. So far, there has been little solid evidence provided to the public that these liability-free pharmaceutical products are safe to give to every child.
1 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Immunization Schedules for Infants and Children. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Jan. 26, 2015.
2 National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). 49 Doses of 14 Vaccines Before the Age of 6? 69 Doses of 16 Vaccines by Age 18? Before You Take the Risk, Find Out What It Is. NVIC.org 2013.
3 Tomljenovic L. Vaccination: Why The “One-Size Fits All Vaccination Argument Does Not Fit All. Sanevax.
4 CDC. Conditions Commonly Misperceived as Contraindications to Vaccination: Recommendations and Guidelines. CDC.gov October 2013.
5 Institute of Medicine Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines. Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality: Evaluating Biological Mechanisms of Adverse Events: Increased Susceptibility. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press 2012.
6 Poland G, Ovsyannikova I, Jacobson R. Adversomics: The Emerging Field of Vaccine Adverse Event Immunogenetics. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 2009; 28(5): 431-32.
7 Institute of Medicine. The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies. The National Academies Press 2013.
8 Supreme Court of the United States. Bruesewitz v. Wyeth No. 09-152. Justice Sotomayor with whom Justice Ginsberg joins, dissenting. Feb. 22, 2011.