In The Wake Of Vaccines
By: Barbara Loe Fisher
National Vaccine Information Center
America and America’s children are in the midst
of an epidemic of chronic disease and disability.
Today, the Center for Disease Control admits that
one American child in 166 has been diagnosed with autism spectrum
In 1970, autism affected four in 10,000 children. By 1991, 5,000 autistic
children were in the public school system; by 2001, that number had grown
Today, the CDC reports that 9 million American children under 18 have been
diagnosed with asthma. In 1979, asthma affected approximately 2 million
children under age 14.
Today, nearly 3 million children in public schools are classified as learning
disabled. In 1976, there were 796,000 learning-disabled children in public
Today, the CDC reports that 4 million children between the ages of 3 and 17
years have been diagnosed with ADHD. The government has only recently
begun monitoring the numbers of children with ADHD.
In 1997, ADHD was reported to affect about 1.6 million elementary school
Today, 206,000 Americans under the age of 20 have type 1 diabetes, while
type 2 diabetes is mysteriously on the rise in children and adolescents.
The CDC estimates that 1 in 400 to 500 American children and adolescents
are now diabetic. Between 1945 and 1969, the incidence of diabetes in
children aged 6 to 18 was approximately 1 in 7,100 children.
Today, arthritis affects one in three Americans, and about 300,000 American
children have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis used to be so rare that statistics were not kept
until its recent rise in children.
These brain and immune-system disorders plaguing millions of the most
highly vaccinated children in the world are preventing too many of them from
thriving, learning, and achieving in the ways past generations of children
have thrived, learned, and achieved.
And our nation is only beginning to understand the enormous price tag that
comes with the burden of chronic disease.
In America, the cost of health care for chronic disease is estimated to be $425
billion a year, and it is rising.
Yet the current costs to our society of dealing with chronic illness pales in
comparison with what it will cost in the future, as these ill and disabled
children grow up and cannot produce for our society, but will instead require
lifelong financial support.
Some of the more compromised children, including severely autistic children,
will need full-time custodial care later in life as their parents age and cannot
cope with their adult children’s 24-hour-a-day needs.
In California, the minimum estimated cost for the state to provide educational
services to an autistic child is $5,000 per year.
However, the minimum annual cost to provide full-time custodial care for an
autistic adult is between $30,000 and $40,000, for a staggering total lifetime
cost of between $2 and $5 million, depending on the severity of the autism.
It wasn’t always like this. What is happening to the health of our nation?
Could it have anything to do with exposing our children to more and more
bacterial and live virus vaccines in the first five years of life, when the brain
and immune system develop most rapidly?
And could we be compromising the integrity of our immune systems by
eliminating all experience of natural infection?
For more than 100 years, doctors have been publishing articles in the medical
literature about the brain-damaging side effects of vaccines.
The mother of all vaccines—the smallpox vaccine, created by Britain’s
Edward Jenner in 1796—was found to cause inflammation of the brain in one
in 3,200 persons.
After Pasteur began to inject patients with rabies vaccine in the 1880s, it
became obvious that brain inflammation was a side effect that affected as
many as one in 400 vaccinated persons.
By the 1970s, the medical literature was full of reports that the pertussis
(whooping cough) vaccine was causing brain inflammation and death in
babies getting the DPT shot.
Doctors and public health officials were talking to each other in the pages of
medical journals about the fact that vaccines could injure children’s brains,
but those being vaccinated had no clue.
Mothers taking their children to pediatricians to be vaccinated placed a blind
trust in the complete safety and effectiveness of those vaccines.
From Healthy to Sick after Vaccination
I trusted without questioning when I took my newborn to my pediatrician for
baby shots in the late 1970s. At the time, I considered myself a woman very
well educated in science and medicine.
My mother and grandmother had been nurses, and I had become a medical
writer at a teaching hospital after graduating from college.
But I knew nothing about the risks of vaccines, which I assumed were 100
percent safe and effective. It never occurred to me that a medical intervention
designed to keep a healthy child healthy could ever harm that child.
The concept of risk associated with prevention is quite different from the
concept of risk associated with a cure.
Like many women who had babies in the late 1970s, I was part of the natural
childbirth movement. I attended Lamaze classes to prepare myself for birth
without medication, and I knew I would breastfeed my baby.
I took vitamins during pregnancy, but never drank alcohol. I ate all the right
foods, and endured the occasional headache without reaching for an aspirin.
I was determined to do nothing that would harm the baby in my womb, and
do everything once my baby was born to give him the best start he could get
Except for a milk allergy that gave him colic his first few months, my son,
Chris, was a lively, contented baby who always wanted to be around people
and always seemed to be doing things ahead of schedule.
He had begun saying words at seven months and speaking in full sentences
at age two. At two and a half years, he could identify the upper- and lower-
case alphabets and numbers up to 20.
He could name every card in the deck, and had created a card-identification
game to entertain himself and our family. He was beginning to recognize
words in the books we read together each day. One doctor told me he was
I remember that, for several weeks following Chris’s third DPT shot, when he
was seven months old, there was a hard, red, hot lump at the site of the
I called my pediatrician’s office and was told by the nurse that it was “a bad
lot of DPT vaccine” and not to worry about it.
I asked if I should bring Chris in for another shot, because I thought she
meant the “bad vaccine” might not have been strong enough. I wanted my
The day of his fourth DPT and OPV shots, when he was two and a half, Chris
was healthy except for slight diarrhea left over from a 48-hour bout with the
stomach flu he had had at the beach three weeks earlier.
He had just come off of a round of antibiotics because, back then, antibiotics
were given for everything from flu to pneumonia.
The pediatrician, as well as the nurse preparing to give Chris his shots, said
he didn’t have a fever, and that a little diarrhea didn’t matter.
Several hours after we got home, I realized how quiet it was in the house, and
went upstairs to look for Chris. I walked into his bedroom to find him sitting
in a rocking chair staring straight ahead, as if he couldn’t see me standing in
His face was white and his lips were slightly blue. When I called out his name,
his eyelids fluttered, his eyes rolled back in his head, and his head fell to his
shoulder. It was as if he had suddenly fallen asleep sitting up.
This was unusual—I had never before seen him fall asleep while sitting up.
When I picked him up and carried him to his bed, he was like a dead weight in
I remember thinking that maybe he was so tired because of what had
happened at the doctor’s office, or maybe he was having a relapse of the flu.
Chris slept in his bed without moving for more than six hours, through
dinnertime, until I called my mom, who told me to try to wake him.
I climbed into Chris’s bed, lifted his limp body, and cradled his back against
my chest as I rocked us both from side to side, calling out his name.
I could feel him struggling to awake. He began mumbling the word bathroom,
but he couldn’t sit up on his own or walk.
I picked him up and carried him to the bathroom, where he had severe
diarrhea and then, again, fell asleep sitting up. He slept for 12 more hours.
This was 1980. I had been given no information by my doctor about how to
recognize a vaccine reaction.
In the following days and weeks, Chris deteriorated. He no longer knew his
alphabet or numbers, and couldn’t identify the cards he once knew so well.
He would not look at the books we had once read together every day. He
couldn’t concentrate for more than a few seconds at a time. My little boy,
once so happy-go-lucky, no longer smiled. He was now listless and
emotionally fragile, crying or becoming angry at the slightest frustration.
Chris’s physical deterioration was just as profound. He had constant
diarrhea, stopped eating, stopped growing, and was plagued with respiratory
and ear infections for the first time in his life.
The pediatrician told me it was just a stage he was going through and not to
worry about it. After eight months of such deterioration, I took Chris to
He was tested for cystic fibrosis and celiac disease, but the tests came back
negative. None of the doctors knew what was wrong with my son, who had
become an entirely different child physically, mentally, and emotionally.
It would be another year before I stood in my kitchen and watched the Emmy
Award–winning NBC-TV documentary DPT: Vaccine Roulette, produced by
consumer reporter Lea Thompson in spring 1982.
I called the television station and asked to see the medical research that had
been used to document the show.
There, in the pages of Pediatrics, The New England Journal of Medicine, The
Lancet, and The British Medical Journal, I found clinical descriptions of
reactions to the pertussis vaccine that exactly matched the symptoms I had
witnessed my son have within four hours of his fourth DPT shot.
I learned that, in 1981, the British National Childhood Encephalopathy Study
had reported a statistically significant correlation between DPT vaccine and
brain inflammation leading to chronic neurological damage, and that the
UCLA-FDA study published in Pediatrics in 1981 had found that one in 875
DPT shots is followed within 48 hours by a convulsion or collapse/shock
reaction just like the one my son had suffered.
As I leafed through more than 50 years of medical literature documenting the
fact that the complications of pertussis disease, or whooping cough, were
identical to the complications of whole-cell pertussis vaccine, I was stunned.
I felt betrayed by a medical profession I had revered all my life.
The day Chris had his vaccine reaction; he should have been in an
emergency room, not unconscious in his bed.
As his mother, I should have had the information I needed to recognize what
was happening to him and take steps to deal with it, including calling my
doctor and, later, making sure the reaction was recorded in his medical
record and reported to the vaccine manufacturer and health officials.
At age six, when Chris could not learn to read or write, he was given an
extensive battery of tests that confirmed minimal brain damage that took the
form of multiple learning disabilities, including: fine motor and short-term
memory delays; dyslexia; auditory processing deficits; attention deficit
disorder; and other developmental delays.
He was removed from the Montessori school he attended and placed in a self-
contained classroom for the learning-disabled in public school, where he
stayed throughout elementary, junior, and high school, despite repeated
unsuccessful efforts by the schools to “mainstream” him.
As a teenager, Chris struggled to deal with the big gaps between certain
aspects of his intelligence—such as his creativity and his unusual ability to
think on an abstract level, mixed with his inability to concentrate for long
periods of time or to organize and process certain kinds of information he
saw or heard.
He was angry and frustrated because he couldn’t do what his peers could
do, and was troubled both in and out of school.
After working in a warehouse and mailroom following high school, he
eventually earned an associate degree in video and film production at a
school where a third of the students are learning disabled and receive in-
depth tutorial support.
Chris is now making his way in the world using his creative gifts. He
continually adjusts for the learning disabilities that will always be a part of
who he is, but that he is determined will not define who he is.
The Vaccine Reaction Pattern Repeats Itself
My son’s vaccine reaction nearly a quarter century ago is identical to those
that Harris Coulter and I reported in 1985 in: DPT: A Shot in the Dark, and
those that thousands of other mothers have reported to the National Vaccine
Information Center (NVIC) for the past 22 years.
These mothers tell us how they took healthy, bright children to doctors to be
vaccinated and, within hours, days, or weeks, their children got sick,
regressed, and became different children.
Whether a child recovers, is left with minimal brain damage as my son was, or
is more severely injured—as was the case with the children who were
awarded nearly $2 billion in compensation under the National Childhood
Vaccine Injury Act of 198620—a pattern of common experience emerges.
This pattern, repeated over and over in homes across America, has
contributed in no small way to why the issue of vaccine safety will not go
Mothers call the NVIC and describe how, within days of vaccination, their
babies run fevers; scream for hours, fall into a deep sleep, and wake up
screaming again; start twitching, jerking, or staring into space as if they can’t
hear or see; are covered with body rashes; become restless and irritable; or
have a dramatic change in eating or sleeping habits.
Others describe a gradual deterioration in overall health, a picture that
includes constant ear and respiratory infections and onset of allergies,
including asthma; unexplained rashes; new sensitivity to foods such as milk;
persistent diarrhea; sleep disturbances that turn night into day and day into
night; loss of developmental milestones such as the ability to roll over or sit
up; loss of speech, eye-contact, and communication skills; development of
strange or violent behaviors that include hyperactivity, biting, hitting, social
withdrawal, and repetitive movements such as flapping, rocking, and head
Older children and adults complain of muscle weakness, joint pain, crippling
headaches, disabling fatigue, loss of memory, or being unable to concentrate
and think clearly.
Depending on the child and the specific therapy interventions, there is either
gradual full recovery or the child is eventually diagnosed with various kinds
of chronic health problems.
My son regressed after his DPT shot but stopped just short of autism. Why?
I don’t know.
Vaccine-induced brain injuries appear to be on a continuum ranging from
milder forms such as ADD or ADHD and learning disabilities to autism-
spectrum and seizure disorders to severe mental retardation, all the way to
On this continuum, and often coinciding with brain dysfunction, is immune-
system dysfunction ranging from development of severe allergies and
asthma to intestinal bowel disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes.
Genetic And Biological Vulnerability
Many of the parents who contact the NVIC report that their child suffered
previous vaccine-reaction symptoms that were written off by their doctors as
unrelated or unimportant.
Others say their child was sick at the time of vaccination, often on antibiotics.
Still others describe strong family histories of autoimmune disorders such as
thyroid disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes, and severe
allergies to milk, pollen, medications, and vaccines.
Still other babies, especially those who die after vaccination, were born
premature, had difficult births, were underweight, or had histories of health
problems before receiving multiple vaccines.
How Many Vaccine-Injured Children Are There?
But how many children have vaccine reactions every year? Is it really only
one in 110,000 or one in a million who are left permanently disabled after
Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler observed in 1993 that less than 1
percent of doctors report adverse events following prescription drug use.
There have been estimates that perhaps less than 5 or 10 percent of doctors
report hospitalizations, injuries, deaths, or other serious health problems
The 1986 Vaccine Injury Act contained no legal sanctions for not reporting;
doctors can refuse to report and suffer no consequences.
Even so, each year about 12,000 reports are made to the Vaccine Adverse
Event Reporting System; parents as well as doctors can make those reports.
However, if that number represents only 10 percent of what is actually
occurring, then the actual number may be 120,000 vaccine-adverse events.
If doctors report vaccine reactions as infrequently as Dr. Kessler said they
report prescription-drug reactions, and the number 12,000 is only 1 percent of
the actual total, then the real number may be 1.2 million vaccine-adverse
The larger unanswered question that haunts every new vaccine mandate is:
Has the repeated manipulation of the immune system with multiple vaccines
in the first three years of life, when the interrelated brain and immune systems
develop most rapidly outside the womb, been an unrecognized cofactor in
the epidemics of chronic disease and disability plaguing so many children
A Vacuum Of Scientific Knowledge
When you look at the possible biological mechanisms for vaccine-induced
neuroimmune dysfunction, including chronic inflammation, the scientific
picture is complicated by the presence of potentially toxic components added
to vaccines as stabilizers, preservatives, and adjuvants.
These include many substances—heavy metals such as mercury and
aluminum, yeast, monosodium glutamate (MSG), formalin, and antibiotics—
that, together with residual DNA and possible adventitious agent
contamination from animal and human cell substrates, have unknown
For example, the monkey virus SV40, which contaminated oral polio vaccine
given to American children until 1999, has been found in children and adults
suffering from bone, brain, and lung cancers, as well as from non-Hodgkin’s
There is an astonishing lack of basic scientific knowledge about how viral
and bacterial vaccines, given in combination, act to disrupt brain and immune
system function in the human body at the cellular and molecular levels.
Pre-licensure studies conducted by industry to demonstrate the safety of
new vaccines rarely study large numbers of children given the experimental
vaccine in combination with other vaccines, and follow-up for serious health
problems following vaccination is limited to a few days or weeks.
For example, the flu vaccine that the CDC recommends all healthy babies get
has never been studied for safety when given in combination with other
In addition, there have never been any large, prospective, long-term studies
comparing the long-term health of highly vaccinated individuals versus those
who have never been vaccinated at all.
Therefore, the background rates for ADHD, learning disabilities, autism,
seizure disorders, asthma, diabetes, intestinal bowel disorders, rheumatoid
arthritis, and other brain and immune system dysfunction in a genetically
diverse unvaccinated population remains unknown.
This vacuum of basic scientific knowledge fatally compromises the statistical
conclusions of every recent epidemiological study conducted by government
and industry to try to prove that vaccines do not cause chronic health
problems such as autism.
The recently released Institute of Medicine report that denied a causal
relationship between autism and vaccines and called for an end to all
research into vaccine-associated autism relied almost exclusively on
Researchers conducting epidemiological studies to estimate the incidence of
disease in vaccinated individuals often look at old medical records to do their
But the scientific truth about a vaccine’s ability to cause chronic health
problems has not been determined with any degree of certainty because so
little research has ever been conducted into the biological mechanisms
involved in vaccine-induced brain and immune-system dysfunction, and all of
the participants in epidemiological studies are vaccinated.
It is possible that when all children were exposed to only DPT and polio
vaccines in the 1960s, a tiny fraction of those genetically susceptible to
responding adversely to vaccination were affected.
But with the addition of the combination measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
vaccine to the routine vaccination schedule in 1979, and then the Hib,
hepatitis B, chickenpox, and pneumococcal vaccines in the late 1980s and
1990s, far more of the genetically vulnerable are now being brought into the
group of vaccine-adverse responders.
Government and industry refuse to investigate the genetic and other
biological high-risk factors for vaccine-induced chronic health problems.
But independent research is being conducted at the M.I.N.D. Institute at UC
Davis, and by other nongovernment, nonindustry researchers around the
Their research may well eventually confirm that there is a critical interaction
between a child’s genetic susceptibility to respond adversely to vaccination
and one or more cofactors, such as a coinciding illness or concurrent
exposure to medications or other environmental toxins while in the womb or
A Primitive Inflammatory Response Gone Wrong
However, the damaging effects of vaccines in the genetically vulnerable is
potentially only one part of the explanation of why there has been an
explosion of chronic disease in ours, the most highly vaccinated population
in the world.
Mass vaccination with multiple vaccines in early childhood has removed
most natural infection from the human experience. This human intervention
is only about 50 years old.
When you consider the evolution of human beings and our place in the
natural order, an order that was created long before Edward Jenner first came
up with the idea of vaccination, 50 years is a very short period of time.
Humans and infectious microbes have coexisted for as long as we have
walked the earth, and the human immune system has developed an efficient
way of meeting the challenge from viruses and bacteria.
When infected with viruses, parasites, and cancer cells, the body’s first line of
defense is for the cellular, or “innate” part of the immune system to mount an
inflammatory response, which then signals the humoral, or “learned” part of
the immune system to produce anti-inflammatory chemicals and antibodies
that resolve inflammation so that healing can take place.
“Babies are born with a very immature cellular immune system” says
Lawrence Palevsky, MD, a New York pediatrician and cofounder of the
Holistic Pediatric Association:
“Childhood viral infectious diseases like measles, mumps, and chickenpox
initially stimulate the cellular part of the immune system, which leads to the
production of the signs of inflammation—fever, redness, swelling, and mucus.
This cellular immune response stimulates the humoral part of the immune
system to produce anti-inflammatory chemicals and antibodies that assist in
recovery from these illnesses.
This natural process helps the cellular and humoral immune systems mature.
A healthy, mature immune system for children requires an equal balance of
cellular and humoral immune-system responses.”
Palevsky points out that vaccination largely bypasses the cellular immune
system in favor of stimulating the humoral part of the immune system.
“Vaccination does not mimic the natural infection process. Although vaccines
stimulate production of antibodies in an attempt to artificially induce immunity
to disease, chronic inflammation can be a by-product of vaccination by
disrupting the balance of cellular and humoral immune-system responses,
especially in those children genetically predisposed to inflammatory conditions
such as autoimmune disorders.”
Philip Incao, MD, a holistic family-care physician in Colorado, agrees:
“Physically, health is about balancing acute inflammatory responses to
infection, which stimulate one arm of the immune system, and chronic
inflammatory responses to infection, which stimulate the other arm of the
Overuse of vaccines to suppress all acute, externalizing inflammations early in
life can set up the immune system to respond to future stresses and infections
by developing chronic, internalizing disease later in life.”
Back to Nature: The Paradigm Shift
The questions being raised about the wisdom of using large numbers of
vaccines to suppress or eradicate all infectious disease are understandable
in light of the fact that so many highly vaccinated children and adults are
However, the challenge to our system of mass vaccination is also part of the
move by educated healthcare consumers away from a technology and a
medical model that many believe has failed.
Intuitively, people in many technologically advanced countries are becoming
increasingly skeptical about not only the safety of vaccines, but also the toxic
properties and overuse of prescription drugs and the risks of medical tests
and invasive surgeries.
Among the top ten causes of death in the US are toxic reactions to correctly
prescribed drugs, which make more than 2 million Americans seriously ill
every year and kill 106,000 more.
The realization that dentists have filled our mouths with silver-mercury
amalgams and doctors have injected mercury-laced vaccines into our
children’s bodies are just two examples of why people are beginning to
distrust what doctors and public health officials tell them to do.
Healthcare professions including chiropractic, naturopathy, homeopathy,
acupuncture, and other modalities offering a drug-free way to maintain health
are becoming more popular as people realize they are healthier when they
take fewer drugs and vaccines.
Educated parents, who suspect that their children are genetically at risk for
vaccine complications, are challenging the utilitarian rationale adopted by
public health officials to justify forced vaccination.
The ideas that everyone has to get vaccinated for the “greater good” and that
it is acceptable for some children to be sacrificed for the welfare of the rest,
does not feel quite right when one-size-fits-all vaccine policies end up
targeting the genetically vulnerable as expendable.
When it comes to the complex job of raising a child day to day, we mothers
are on the front line. But when we enter the often paternalistic world of
science and medicine, we are made to feel as if we are not smart enough,
educated enough, or rational enough to make our own good decisions about
what is best for the health and well-being of our children.
It is in pediatricians’ offices, public health clinics, and hospital corridors
where we have been most conditioned to feel incapable and helpless to do
anything other than what we are told to do.
In reality, we are more than capable of using our intelligence, our hearts, and
our mothers’ intuition to demand to know the truth and make informed
choices about any medical intervention that carries a risk of injury or death
for our children.
No one has more of a right to do this than we, the life-givers, life defenders,
and primary caretakers of our children’s well being.
Once you have gathered all the information you can find about infectious
diseases and vaccines and have spoken to one or more healthcare
professionals, you will know what to do.
Once you have made a vaccination decision for your child, don’t second-
guess yourself. You have made an educated, conscious choice, and no
matter what happens, you have been the best mother you can be. As
mothers, it is all we can do.
By: Barbara Loe Fisher www.nvic.org
President of: National Vaccine Information Center
Article: In the Wake of Vaccines