Wednesday August 13, 2003
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? That is the question that countless parents now tussle with. Ever since Andrew Wakefield's report first suggested a link between MMR and autism in 1998, there has been a growing lack of confidence in government-recommended vaccinations. MMR was introduced in 1988 and by 1996, 92% of children received the vaccine. Now that number has fallen to 79% - as low as 65% in some parts of the country. Instead of allaying parents' fears by announcing proper research into the effects of MMR, the government has gone on the offensive. Countless spokespeople declare the new vaccine "safe" and parents are blamed for negligence. The Health Protection Agency announced on Friday that we are threatened with a measles epidemic. Just a week earlier, MMR was in the news again when two mothers who had refused to vaccinate their children lost an action brought by the children's absent fathers in the court of appeal.
According to Mary Alexander, author of a timely book, Calling the Shots: Childhood Vaccinations, it is not just MMR but all vaccinations that parents should be wary of. She didn't think twice about taking her two children for the new meningitis C injection in 2000. Her four-year-old son was fine, but two-year-old Florence reacted with three major febrile convulsions 36 hours later. All the doctors they saw denied any link between the fits and the injection. Mary then saw a marked deterioration in her previously healthy child. Florence's hair thinned and began to fall out. She became listless, tired and vulnerable to infections. She had eight fits over the next eight months, each longer and stronger than the last. "Both of my children had had fits before, but these were different, deeper and longer - the longest lasted 20 minutes. She went blue and needed resuscitating. I thought she was going to die." Tests for epilepsy proved negative. Florence contracted pneumonia and traces of meningitis were found in her blood, but still the medics denied that the vaccination could have been the cause.
Mary suddenly had a very sick child on her hands. "I watched her all the time for signs of a temperature, trying to ward off another convulsion. There were bottles of Calpol everywhere, in the car, the pram, my handbag. It was my only line of defence and a pathetic one at that." Her anxieties were compounded by guilt. Sickness is part of life, but there is a huge difference between accepting the risk of infection and consciously doing something to damage the health of one's child. "I felt so angry with myself because I hadn't researched this new vaccine properly - I just accepted it naively."
Above all, she had no way of knowing whether the vaccine had caused permanent damage to her child's health or whether she would recover. A man on the Jabs helpline told her that it could go one of two ways; either Florence would get better, or she would go the way of his son, who had started convulsing after the MMR. At first the convulsions were far apart, but over time he had more and more and now his son is severely brain-damaged, having several convulsions a day.
The Hib vaccine designed to fight meningitis C, however, was new, and there was no way of knowing how Florence would cope with it. At this point Alexander began to consider alternative medicine. She went to see a homeopath, who prescribed Thuja to neutralise the effects of immunisation; but Florence had another fit and Mary began to despair. The gap between the fits was closing. She had Florence's liver tested to see whether she would be strong enough to take anticonvulsant drugs, which have strong side effects. She took Florence to see an iridologist homeopath, who diagnoses by looking into the patient's eyes. He concluded that Florence had had a bad reaction to a vaccine (she had not told him about the Hib) and that her liver was loaded with toxins that needed clearing. He sent them home with a bag of homeopathic pills and reassured her that Florence would not have any more convulsions. To this day, she hasn't.
Vaccines may be in the news, but there is nothing new in the story. Twenty-seven years ago, my cousin was seriously brain-damaged after receiving the whooping cough jab. He was not alone. Other children were affected, and their parents organised a campaign. But then hospital records mysteriously disappeared. Nothing was proved conclusively, but the parents know that the vaccine was to blame. Neither of my children has been vaccinated against whooping cough as a
result. My eldest daughter did, however, have a febrile convulsion when she was 10 months old, late in the evening of the day she received her last triple injection for diphtheria, tetanus and polio. When, naive and convinced that our child was dying, we took her into hospital, every doctor and nurse I talked to in the subsequent 24 hours denied that there could possibly be a link with the injection she had received the previous morning.
The vaccine pressure group Jabs has registered 2,000 vaccine-damaged children since January 1994. Of these, 1,800 are the result of MMR, 170 from the DTP triple and Hib and a handful from Hib alone or the flu jab. Some of the side effects - such as encephalitis, convulsions that can lead to epilepsy, and arthritis, primarily from the rubella vaccine - are even listed by the manufacturers of the drugs in their product sheets. Jabs also believes that vaccines can contribute to longer-term health problems such as eczema, asthma and allergies.
While there is a remote possibility that one's precious child could suffer lasting health consequences from vaccination, it is understandable that parents are wary of accepting blanket government health guidelines. Alexander now realises that she has to take complete responsibility for her children's health as individuals. "A vaccine doesn't come with a guarantee. It's not a case of one size fits all. Instead I have to determine how best to keep Joseph and Florence well through preventative measures such as good nutrition and alternative medicines." She has also taken both her children to a private paediatrician who offers single jabs and immunity testing.
Next spring a major multi-party legal action will be brought against all the producers of the MMR vaccine and the Department of Health using eight test cases. If it is successful, the government will have to moderate its claim that MMR is safe and compensation will be owed to the plaintiffs. "The government has already acknowledged that vaccines can have serious side effects by paying compensation to roughly 1,000 vaccine-damaged children," says Jackie Fletcher of Jabs,
"but the criteria are very strict and they keep very quiet about it. We need a proper no-fault compensation system so that parents don't have to go through hoops to get the support they need looking after a handicapped child."
Instead of this standoff between parents and government, in which no one seems to win, we need a more constructive approach. In her book, Alexander calls for a new attitude; greater open-mindedness, and proper research into the effects of vaccines. The "yellow card" system, where doctors log any bad reaction a child has to a drug for the committee for the safety of medicines, needs to be properly used, she says.
"At the moment it's a catch-22 situation," says Fletcher. "Doctors are told that vaccines don't cause problems, so they don't link it and fill out the card." Alexander and Jabs would like to see screening systems so that more vulnerable children can be identified, and the withdrawal of performance-related targets for GPs administering vaccines. Widespread anecdotal evidence suggests that children are being struck off lists if their parents refuse MMR so that doctors can reach their targets.
Do we need so many vaccines? Could they be causing more health problems than they solve by overloading immature immune systems? Could they even be contributing to long-term problems such as MS or cancer in ways we don't yet understand?
Loving parents know one thing for certain: that nothing is more important than the health of their children. If this means vaccinating to prevent life-threatening diseases, then we vaccinate. But our children should not be used as guinea pigs for an expanding vaccination programme which lines the pockets of drug companies. We need more than patronising government reassurances that all vaccines are safe for every child. We need facts, trust and transparency in order to make decisions that could have lasting, even devastating consequences.
·Calling the Shots: Childhood Vaccinations - One Family's Journey by Mary Alexander is published on August 20 by Jessica Kingsley, price £12.95. Jabs website: www.jabs.org.uk
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
Woman ‘Incurably’ Crippled by Vaccine Cured by Alternative Healer
By Pat Shannan
In late August, Desiree Jennings was a beautiful and athletic 26-year-old Washington Redskins cheerleader anxious for the upcoming Sunday excitement, but by the time the new season began in September, she was a crippled and hopeless spastic who could speak only with great difficulty and one syllable at a time. She had taken a seasonal flu shot and experienced what doctors called a “one-in-a-million” adverse neurological reaction and was left with an “incurable” affliction known as dystonia.
Dystonia can affect just one muscle, a group of muscles or all of the muscles. Symptoms can include tremors and voice problems or a dragging foot. Researchers think that a problem in the part of the brain that handles messages about muscle contractions might cause dystonia. There is no cure, they say.
Video reports were not only heart-rending but so weird as to cause many people to believe the young woman was faking because of the ambulatory antics caused by the disease. Medical reports had already confirmed that this was no fake.
These films showed the pathetically crippled Jennings able to run forward normally and even walk backwards unimpaired, but whenever she slowed to a walking pace or attempted to walk forward, the bizarre symptoms immediately returned. She could also talk normally while running or walking backwards but could utter only single syllables while still.
All the reports from the AMA doctors said that while Desiree’s neurological reaction to the vaccine was “extremely rare” and that “flu shots are safe,” she was doomed for life. Both Johns Hopkins and Fairfax hospitals confirmed that the dystonia was induced by the vaccination injection and that it was “irreversible.”
They are wrong. Enter Dr. Rashid Buttar, who does not use the conventional cures of the medical world but rather natural remedies and nutrition. He noticed immediately that Desiree’s whole system was about to shut down. He couldn’t even examine her because by the time her husband brought her in, she was lapsing into seizure every minute or two and would actually stop breathing for 15 to 30 seconds. Buttar realized she was near death and, because she had not been eating, he first put her on an IV drip of nutrition to start rebuilding her immune system. He then noticed that the continual seizures subsided in a couple of hours.
Next this doctor knew that the mercury and other offending foreign matter now in her bloodstream had to be removed, and he began this process by inserting another IV to remove the toxicity. Chelation is an unconventional therapy utilized over the past half century to remove plaque from the arteries to improve blood circulation. While thousands shout its praises, the American Medical Association has done its best to ban its use.
Supporters of its use claim that the AMA refuses to view the positive results of chelation because to do so would force its eventual endorsement of something so inexpensive that it would interfere with its lucrative association with Big Pharma. This may also explain why the first Jennings story was suppressed by the mainstream media and why AFP may be the only one in print media to report this heart-warming sequel.
After a few more hours, Dr. Buttar was interrupted in his office by an excited nurse who yelled, “Doctor, come quickly!”
The good doctor ran to his patient, fearing she had suffered another seizure but instead was elated to find that she was awake, coherent and carrying on a normal conversation with the nurses and her family. By the next day she was walking the corridors with limited affliction. (See the video at: www.desireejennings.com.) The AMA has remained silent.