blank.gif (51 bytes) Health Care

The State of Nevada
and Vaccine Roulette

hen seven-month-old Nathan was taken to the pediatrician for his third series of vaccinations, the doctor said the growing baby was doing great. Just five hours later, however, lying in his crib, Nathan shrieked in pain. And shortly after his terrified mother ran in and cradled him in her arms, Nathan collapsed. As his eyes rolled back in his head, he suffered a severe seizure.

"We called 911, and they worked on him for 45 minutes," his mother Miriam Silvermintz told Money magazine in 1996, "but I knew when I held him in my arms that he was dying."

Nathan was one of at least nine American children killed in 1991 by an especially hazardous lot of DPT vaccine. (The details of the case are well known because it was the subject of a legal action in which the federal government was found substantially negligent before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and required to pay damages.) The DPT vaccine--intended to immunize against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus--is one of many that Nevada state law requires be injected into children before they can attend either public or private school or daycare centers. Virtually every other state government across the nation does the same.

Unfortunately, growing scientific evidence suggests that pertussis (popularly known as whooping cough) and other vaccinations can have disastrous side effects. Even worse, that fact is rarely, if ever, adequately publicized by public agencies--both federal and state--which increasingly have powerful vested interests in the expansion of mass-immunization programs.

Here in Nevada, as in other states, the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)--a part of the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC)--are accepted as authoritative by both state and local health authorities. Lamentably, built into the ACIP process are critical biases that need to be more widely recognized and fundamentally reformed:

  • Under a federal law passed by Congress in 1986, vaccine manufacturers are sheltered from both civil and criminal liability for any injuries their products may cause.
  • Yet ACIP members are often employees of these same companies or have substantial financial ties to them--clear conflicts of interest.
  • The actual purpose of the ACIP is to promote the use of vaccines--not health per se.
  • The ACIP vigorously recommends these vaccines, even though neither it, the CDC nor vaccine manufacturers do long-term tests on the vaccines' side-effects.
  • The bases--whether scientific, medical, or political--underlying any vaccine recommendations made by ACIP are never revealed.
  • Important portions of ACIP meetings are kept secret from the public, with members forbidden to discuss those portions.

According to Bob Salcido, Nevada immunization program manager, the Silver State follows the immunization schedule recommended by the ACIP. Thus, because one of the current ACIP recommendations is that all newborn babies be given the hepatitis B vaccine within 24 hours of birth, the Nevada state board of health recommends the same.

Yet, this is not a conservative recommendation. Such a vaccination might be justified in cases where a mother tests positive for hepatitis B, but babies otherwise are at extremely low risk. What is actually going on is an effort to serve a collective agenda--whether or not an individual child is at risk from the disease, and with little acknowledgement of the risk the vaccine itself may pose in a particular instance. Salcido acknowledges the collective agenda:

"It's actually part of an overall strategy to eliminate the indigenous transfer of hepatitis B in the United States, Salcido told Nevada Journal. "The easiest time to administer these vaccines is during childhood."

Last year, because the ACIP recommended the new rotavirus vaccine, the state of Nevada immunization office also recommended it. While rotavirus causes diarrhea in babies, it is not particularly common, severe, or contagious. Yet the ACIP made the recommendation without even knowing the price of the vaccine (i.e., what the drug manufacturer was going to charge)--showing that no cost/benefit analysis of the vaccine was done, much less research on side effects. Subsequently, even the federal Food and Drug Administration's famously under-reporting Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) reported 15 cases of infant intussusception (a bowel obstruction occurring when part of the bowel folds into itself)--some of the cases fatal. Finally in July of this year, almost a year after first approving the rotavirus vaccine, the CDC issued a public health advisory calling for "a temporary suspension" of the vaccine's use. Following the CDC alert, according to the FDA's Dr. Kathryn Carbone, the number of post-vaccination intussusception cases reported to the VAERS immediately spiked, with 84 more reports coming in over the next two months.

Regarding the pertussis vaccine that killed little Nathan Silvermintz and that Nevada requires for school and day-care attendence, a 1993 British study followed children over a 10-year period and found that the full series of shots for pertussis were causing long-term brain damage at a rate of one case for every 62,000 fully immunized kids.

The Silver State needs to take an entirely new and in-depth look at the advisability of mandatory vaccination. NJ


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