A Pharmacist Questions Vaccines
Kristine M. Severyn, R.Ph., PhD

During my pharmacy education I believed what I was taught- that vaccines work all the time with extremely rare adverse effects. Since then, my extensive research in this area indicates that neither is true.

In the government's goal to vaccinate all U.S.Children (and many adults), the medical and public health communities selectively publicize only what they want us to know about vaccines. The past three and a half years of my researching state and federal public health information, reading the medical literature, and attending federal vaccine policy-making meetings have caused me to reverse my original trust in vaccines.

Ohio Department of Health (ODH) officials often bemoan the 2,720 reports of measles it received in 1989. What the agency fails to mention is that close to three fourths of the cases occurred in previously vaccinated persons. The U.S. Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) even reported measles outbreaks in a documented 100 percent vaccinated population (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). 33(24),6/22/84).

Five years later the CDC reported: "Among school-aged children, (measles)outbreaks have occurred in schools with vaccination levels of greater than 98 percent. These outbreaks have occurred in all parts of the country, including areas that had not reported measles for years." (MMWR,38 (8-9),12/29/89).

To combat the resurgence of measles, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended a second dose of the MMR(measles, mumps, rubella)vaccine just before kindergarten, seventh grade, or when entering college. This approach has failed to solve the problem, as reported in a recent Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal (13(1),34-38,1994): " Thus even after the recommended two dose schedule of the current measles vaccine, some adolescents and young adults lack protective titers of measles-specific antibody..In addition women lacking protective titers will provide little or no measles-specific antibody transplacentaly to their infants. These children will be susceptible to measles infection virtually from birth, and are at much higher risk for complications when infected at younger ages."

Significant measles morbidity and mortality in infants during the 1980's U.S. measles resurgence could be blamed on government mass vaccination programs. Since vaccinated mothers possess only short-term measles immunity, and do no pass this immunity to their babies, their infants are left defenseless against measles, which can be quite serious in infancy.

In past years when women caught measles as children and acquired strong lifelong immunity, they passed measles antibodies to their babies during pregnancy, giving the newborn baby measles immunity for about a year.

In late 1993, several U.S. cities experienced highly publicized pertussis (whooping cough) epidemics, including Cincinnati, St.Louis, Chicago, and Philadelphia. The July 7, 1994, New England Journal of Medicine reported that of the 352 pertusses cases in Cincinnati in 1993 pertussis epidemic in Cincinnati occurred primarily among children who had been appropriately immunized, it is clear that the whole-cell pertussisvaccine failed to give full protection against the disease."

Similarly, of 186 confirmed pertussis cases in Chicago last fall, the Chicago Department of Health noted, "72 percent were as up to date as possible on their immunizations for their age."

Based on past experience with pertussis vaccine, the above vaccine failures were not unexpected. Half of the reported pertussis cases in Ohio from 1987 to 1991 occurred in vaccination status was known (source: ODH). One study reported a 55 percent failure rate for pertussis vaccine (Journal of Pediatrics 115(5): 686-693, 1989).

However, despite hundreds of pertussis cases in Ohio and Chicago last year, no one dies. An infectious disease expert from Cincinnati Children's Hospital was even quoted in The Cincinnati Enquire,"The disease was very mild, no one died, and no one went to the intensive care unit."

Mumps vaccine can also be highly ineffective, with outbreaks often occurring in vaccinated preschooler and school-age children (Journal of Pediatrics 119: 187-193, 1991).

Combining poor efficacy of certain vaccines with the risk of vaccine adverse reactions calls into question the ethics of state mandatory vaccination laws,and could explain why some parents delay or do not vaccinate their children.

For example, within a 39-month period ending November 1993, the Food and Drug Administraton's (FDA) Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System collected nearly 32,000 reports of adverse reactions following vaccination, with more than 700 deaths. DP{t (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus) vaccine was associated with more than 12,000 of these reports, including 471 deaths. The FDA acknowledges that this voluntary reporting underestimated the actual number of reactions.

Instead of taking these reports of death and injury seriously, the FDA dismisses them as "coincidental," so nearly all reports languish in a governrnent computer data base. FDA's ambivalence, toward vaccine adverse reaction reports has caused parents to lose faith in our country's vaccination program.

To "compensate" those killed or injured by vaccines, congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986 (Public Law 99-660), which established the Vaccine Injury compensation Program (VICP). As of July 5, 1994, the program has paid $452.5 million for vaccines injury or death, and is backlogged with more than 2,600 cases, all of which will not be adjudicated for several years.

Vaccine manufacturers enjoy the enviable position of having their products mandated and their liability costs shouldered by the U.S. Taxpayer victims of vaccine injury or death are prohibited form suing the drug companies until they are denied assistance from the VICP.

If victims lose in the compensation program (only one out of three petitioners received compensation), or find this limited compensation inadequate, state and federal courts tell them that vaccines are "unavoidably unsafe," absolving the drug companies of all responsibility (White v. Wyeth(1988),No.8701657, Ohio Supreme Courts ackley v.Wyeth, (1990),No.89-3821,U.S. court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Ohio: Mazur v. Merck,Third U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals, No91-1613, 1992). Financial care for vaccine victims is then assumed by the affected families, or other state and federal programs that assist the handicapped.

Congress's stated purpose in passing the NCVIA in 1986 was to give children safer vaccines. The only real change since 1986 is that children receive even more vaccines today, often in questionably safe combinations.

Although the FDA is charged by Congress to oversee vaccine safety, the agency has caved in to political pressures by not questioning the safety of already licensed vaccines. With the President, Congress, the CDC, and medical profession all promoting vaccines, it would be unpopular for the FDA to question vaccine safety issues.

The public is repeatedly told that the benefits of vaccines outweighs the risks. Yet, we do no know what the risks are because our government is not interested, or perhaps afraid, to find out. It's time for the FDA to do its job of properly monitoring safety and efficacy of licensed vaccines. Until then children will continue to suffer needlessly.

About the Author:

Dr. Kristine M. Severyn is a registered pharmacist in Ohio and Kentucky, with a Ph.D. in Biopharmaceutics (B.S. Pharmacy, 1975 and Ph.D. 1983,University of Cincinnati). She lives in Dayton, Ohio with her husband and three children where she heads Ohio Parents for Vaccine Safety (OPVS). Dr Severyn has testified before the Ohio legislature and before federal vaccine policy-making meeting and commissions in Washington, D.C. Writing extensively on vaccine issues, her work has appeared in the Dayton Daily News, Columbus(Ohio) dispatch, The Plain Dealer ( Cleveland),the Cincinnati Enquire, Cincinnati Post, The (Akron) Beacon Journal, and the Washington Post. OPVS publisheds a quarterly newsletter covering vaccine safety, efficacy, and legislation in Washington, D.C., Ohio, and other states. To Obtain the newsletter write to: Ohio Parents for Vaccine Safety, 251 W. Ridgeway Drive, Dayton, Ohio 45459. Please include a taxdeductible donation to OPVS for newsletter requests.

Source: The American Chiropractor Nov/Dec 1994