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Vaccines: A Reappraisal

Vaccines: A Reappraisal PDF

Author: Richard Moskowitz M.D. and Mary Holland

Publisher: Skyhorse


Publish Date: September 19, 2017

ISBN-10: 1510722564

Pages: 312

File Type: EPub

Language: English

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Book Preface

All over the world, governments, medical institutions, and manufacturers are trying to persuade or compel people to vaccinate themselves and their children from cradle to grave. The modern world prizes vaccines as the signal triumph of medicine over disease, its quintessential achievement.

But does this paradigm make sense? Should we accept it? Should we permit governments to go beyond recommending vaccines for infants to mandating them for everyone? Is the science “settled” as firmly and beyond doubt as we have been led to believe? In his Vaccines: A Reappraisal, Richard Moskowitz, MD, asks these questions in a systematic way, and provides critical thinking and careful scholarship to help us try to answer them, as well as highlighting important scientific work that has been and still remains to be done.

Dr. Moskowitz is a practicing physician with fifty years of experience, and the book he offers is clearly written and easily accessible for readers with or without a medical background. In addition to lessons drawn from his own practice and that of like-minded colleagues, it provides an extensive review of

1.   official pronouncements from industry and various government agencies;

2.   epidemiological and basic-science research from the scientific literature;

3.   tragic stories of real people and damaged lives; and

4.   news stories bearing on all of the above.

There are many books critical of vaccines on the market today. What is unique about this one is its comprehensive analysis of the subject as a whole, from the much-loved but sadly vanishing perspective of an old-time family doctor.

Dr. Moskowitz sees our present vaccine policy as a vast, costly, and dangerous experiment that is out of control, obscenely profitable, and badly in need of independent regulation. He catalogues the risks of each individual vaccine, as well as those of the vaccination process per se. He explains how the industry’s in-house safety trials, and the government’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), systematically ignore and underreport important classes of injuries caused by vaccines, so that the true extent of their burden on the medical system remains hidden and to that extent unknowable.

As a kind of bottom line, he emphasizes the basic right of every patient to free and informed consent, which dovetails closely with my own work as a human rights lawyer, and undoubtedly explains why he sought me out to write this foreword. To put vaccines in their proper place, he advocates nothing more radical than simply holding them to the same standards that all other prescription drugs must abide by, namely,

1.   honoring every individual’s right to refuse them;

2.   requiring them to undergo the same degree of rigorous testing;

3.   providing complete information about their adverse effects;

4.   extending the definition of these beyond the incredibly narrow restrictions in use today; and

5.   restoring the legal liability of manufacturers for damages caused by vaccines that remains in force for every other drug.

Like my own, Dr. Moskowitz’s opposition to mandatory vaccination adheres closely to the letter and the spirit of the 2005 Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, which affirms that, apart from a public health emergency, the interests of science and society must not be allowed to override the right of all people to make medical decisions for themselves and their children.

Our current vaccine policy shockingly deviates from that fundamental principle, which a traumatized world adopted as a result of the atrocious crimes against humanity committed in World War II. Both the Nuremburg Code of 1945 and the 2005 Universal Declaration that supplemented it were signed by more than 190 countries, including the United States, and have established unequivocally that medical care must not be subject to governmental coercion, except in the rarest and most extreme circumstances.

In 2015, a small measles outbreak among visitors to Disneyland prompted the state of California to enact a law prohibiting infants and children from attending any school or preschool, whether public or private, unless they are fully compliant with the state’s vaccine mandates, a draconian measure that abandons sensible public health practice as well as basic human rights. Since then, many other states and even the federal government are considering similar laws, merely because a small but growing minority of parents are continuing to question and refuse some vaccines for their children.

Passionately committed to safeguarding these rights, Dr. Moskowitz points out that by transgressing this core principle of medical ethics and international law, coercive mandates also erode the mutual trust that the doctor-patient relationship and ultimately the art and science of medicine are built upon.

As it happens, a sizable number of developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia that have relaxed such mandates have not only escaped any major health problems as a result, but have recorded consistently lower infant mortality rates and scored better on other standard health measures as well, without cruelly forcing parents to choose between educating their children and refusing to vaccinate them.

The acrimonious public dialogue about vaccines will probably continue, and could become even more polarizing in the months to come. But this book provides invaluable help for parents seeking another perspective before making up their minds: it is well thought out and filled with scientific insight, common sense, and practical wisdom.

—Mary Holland, JD, research scholar, NYU School of Law


The practice of vaccinating children to prevent infectious diseases, especially those that are nonthreatening or already in decline, has long been and still remains deeply troubling to me, because of perceived logical inconsistencies in the concept and deep misgivings about their safety as a result of them. Along with a great deal of reading and thinking about vaccines, fifty years of clinical experience treating children and adults have amply validated these concerns and added several new ones.

As more and more vaccines continue to be developed and mandated without regulation or restraint, often for no more compelling reason than that we possess the technical capacity to make them, the parents whose children are about to be injected deserve an explanation that will address their doubts and fears in a sympathetic, respectful, and thoughtfully reasoned manner.

Needless to say, I am well aware that even questioning these mandates has placed me beyond the pale of what most people sincerely and devoutly believe, backed up by the full weight of opinion from established authorities such as the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the vast preponderance of the medical community as a whole.

Indeed, these same intelligent and literate people who believe in science and value mandatory vaccinations are an important part of the audience for whom this book is intended. I’m thinking of all the parents who conscientiously vaccinate their kids with little hesitation or soul-searching, and of all the doctors and scientists who are deeply committed to the scientific worldview, as I am, and perhaps roll their eyes at my presuming to question the wisdom of a procedure that has won broad acclaim across the scientific world as one of the best that modern medicine has to offer.

The ever-increasing number of parents who honestly believe that their children were killed or maimed by vaccines and must live with that existential reality every day of their lives hardly need my arguments to convince them. It is that far greater multitude of scientists, doctors, and parents who gladly or reluctantly vaccinate their kids and perhaps resent those whose children are getting off scot-free, seemingly at their expense, whom I would also like to reason with; and I would be foolish indeed to imagine that my task will be an easy one.

Even if we could be sure that vaccines were harmless, the fact remains that our country requires all children to receive them, and indeed more of them than anywhere else in the world, without adequate safety studies, due regard for basic differences in individual susceptibility, or the values and wishes of the parents and the children themselves.

In a functioning democracy, most people can accept the reality that laws may be necessary for the public good that they dislike or even strongly disagree with. But what is at stake in this case is the routine injection of live viruses, foreign proteins, toxic chemical adjuvants, and a witches’ brew of antibiotics, detergents, acid and alkaline buffers, hydrocarbons, a variety of animal cells, and foreign DNA and proteins directly into the bloodstream of entire populations, and especially of our newly born children at the earliest and most vulnerable stage of their development.

For that reason alone, the public is surely entitled to convincing proof, beyond any reasonable doubt, utilizing science of the highest quality, and readily understandable to the lay reader, that vaccination is a safe and effective procedure, in no way injurious to health, and that the threat of the corresponding natural diseases remains sufficiently compelling to warrant the mass vaccination of everyone, even against their will if necessary.

Unfortunately, such proofs have never been given, or even thought necessary; and even if routine mass vaccination could be shown to be uniformly safe and effective, the decision would remain in the end a moral and political one, involving issues of public health and safety far too important to be settled by any purely scientific or technical criteria, or indeed by any criteria less authoritative than the clearly articulated sense of the community about to be subjected to it.

For all of these reasons, I want to invite my readers to think very carefully about vaccines and our present policy regarding them, not least because the concerns of parents who decide not to vaccinate their children are so rarely acknowledged or taken seriously. For myself, as a family physician who has cared for many such children over the years, I cannot keep silent about the major epidemic of vaccine-related suffering and disability, sufficient to break any heart, that continues unabated, remains largely unacknowledged, and cries out at the very least for caution, restraint, and simple compassion for the viewpoint of those whose lived experience, whatever may have caused it, is so tragically different from that of everyone else privileged enough to be ignorant of or somehow unmoved by their loss.

In what follows, I make no claim to absolute truth or final answers. I am a family doctor, not a research scientist, and at bottom I am trying simply to make sense of my own clinical experience. What I offer is an ensemble of observed facts, clinical and basic scientific research, news reports from the media, actual cases from my practice, and such reflections and hypotheses as have occurred to me and other colleagues in the field to try to explain and integrate them. My aim is to provide an overview of the subject that will be accessible to a general literate audience, regardless of scientific training or background. I will feel well rewarded if my words, my reasoning, and the commingled sadness, fear, and outrage I have long felt about this subject will help to promote a healthy debate and to elicit more of the rigorous scientific work that still needs to be done.

I also write with a sense of urgency, because the time-honored rights of patients to refuse unwanted medical treatment and to make such decisions on behalf of their children are now being challenged as never before. I am not a teetotaler who rejects all vaccines under all circumstances. The essence of my position is simply that vaccines by their very nature have a major downside that has largely been ignored, so that it is reckless in the extreme to continue mandating them—and indeed more and more of them without limit or restraint—until these dangers are taken seriously, understood in a broader context, and assessed in a more careful and systematic fashion.

Under these circumstances, the risks of vaccination are compounded by the concerted efforts of the industry, the CDC, and the doctors who speak for them to keep them hidden, and the considerable shift in perspective that is needed to recognize them. In a sense, the risk of major complications that every vaccine carries with it is merely a special case of the risk that accompanies every other drug with sufficient chemical power to accomplish what we ask of it; but vaccines alone are required of every child, and their bad outcomes are not merely idiosyncratic aberrations, but are in fact built into their design, as I will presently show.

Likewise, although such misfortunes belong in the wastebasket category of “side effects” that eventually come to haunt every potent drug, the maker of other medicines that kill or harm can at least be held liable for damages in the worst cases; only the vaccine manufacturers are shielded by an Act of Congress and a 2011 Supreme Court ruling from having to assume even that minimal degree of responsibility for their most egregious faults and tragic miscalculations. By thus indulging an already rich and powerful industry on the grounds that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe,” and excluding any redress for all but a tiny minority of the helpless children who are nevertheless required to receive them, both we as citizens and the government that claims to represent us have abandoned the same basic principles of justice to which we nevertheless continue to profess our allegiance.

Given that the safety of these agents continues to be so polarizing, and the rationale for requiring them of everyone is based on a comprehensive, long-term strategy rather than a genuine public health emergency, the safest and wisest course would be simply to make them optional, offering them to those who want them, and allowing parents to exercise their moral and legal right to choose which treatments are appropriate for their children, and which diseases, if any, to vaccinate their children against.

Both the right to refuse medical treatment and the authority of parents to do so on behalf of their children have been recognized and enshrined in the laws of almost every state for more than a century; and even in the most liberal of them, the number of children actually claiming such a personal-belief exemption has never exceeded a tiny fraction of the population. Nevertheless, to a degree without precedent or parallel elsewhere, our uniquely American sanctification of vaccines as not only unquestionably safe and effective, but also a kind of magic wand against infectious diseases of every kind, has given a free ride and indeed a blank check to the giant multinationals who make them and the small coterie of physicians who advocate on their behalf.

What is new and different about the present moment is just that their long-cherished goal of vaccinating everyone without exception seems for the first time tantalizingly within reach, thanks to a small cluster of measles cases among travelers to Disneyland involving less than 150 in all, but including some dozens who became infected after the vacationers returned to their home states.

As if to forestall the logical conclusion that the measles vaccine isn’t all that effective, the industry has cleverly repackaged this rapid and easy transmission of the virus across state lines from a minor and wholly typical outbreak into the looming and dreaded semblance of a major public health emergency. By fear-mongering in the media, lobbying state legislatures, and mounting lavish advertising campaigns in support of universal compliance with existing vaccine mandates, the powerful vaccine lobby has already succeeded in proposing new laws in more than half the states that would eliminate all personal-belief exemptions entirely.

The most comprehensive and draconian of these was recently signed into law in California, one of the bluest of the “blue” states, with a long and proud history of civil rights, democratic values, and a thriving alternative-medicine community, ominously trumped by what Governor Brown naïvely proclaimed as “clear scientific evidence” in the act of signing it. If it succeeds in withstanding the legal challenges that are already in progress, the only allowed exceptions remaining will be for established medical contraindications, which have always been notoriously few, defined ever more narrowly, applicable to only one vaccine at a time, and subject to review on a yearly basis.

I will leave aside for the moment the almost embarrassingly obvious illogic of this strategy, namely,

•   that a hundred and fifty cases of the measles are so insignificant in the scheme of things;

•   that it makes no sense to blame these outbreaks on the unvaccinated kids, since the majority of cases were actually vaccinated, as has been uniformly true of similar outbreaks in the past;

•   that vaccination rates are already well over 90% in the United States for most vaccines, and over 95% in many locations where the measles have actually broken out, statistics that are and have always been among the highest in the world; and

•   that it defies both epidemiological experience and ordinary common sense to imagine that even vaccinating everyone without exception, as the new laws require, would do much if anything to stop these small outbreaks that have continued to occur ever since the vaccines were introduced.

While I can certainly imagine that the right to refuse treatment and the authority of parents to decide for their children might need to be waived for a brief period in the event of a genuine public health emergency, that is most assuredly what such small clusters of ordinary childhood illnesses are not. This brings me to another obvious point: if vaccines were equal to the extravagant claims made for them, if they were truly effective in conferring a genuine immunity similar to that acquired by coming down with and recovering from the natural disease, then the unvaccinated kids would pose a danger only to themselves, based on a free choice of their own making.

It feels even more embarrassing to have to repeat what at bottom we all know, and what even the most zealous pro-vaccine advocates would have to admit, that vaccine-mediated immunity falls far short of that standard, being neither genuine, nor long-lasting, nor nearly as effective as we are being told, and that measles, mumps, chicken pox, and influenza, for example, are diseases that I, like virtually everyone of my generation, came down with as a child and recovered from without complications or sequelae.

In short, we all know or should know that vaccination is essentially an artifice, designed to trick the immune mechanism into providing a semblance or counterfeit of immunity that is partial, defective, and temporary at best, and that carries substantial additional risks of its own that are inherent in the process.

While the debate continues, as I very much hope that it will, the immediate issue before the public is to preserve the frail remnant of personal liberty embodied in these few remaining exemptions that most citizens in our democracy have long been rightly proud of, which the influential and well-funded pro-vaccine lobby has always been eager to take away. My fervent hope and heartfelt plea is that good common sense will prevail and the American people will be sufficiently aroused to not let that happen.




PART I   The Vaccination Process

Chapter 1

Immunity, True and False

Chapter 2

Vaccine Effectiveness

Chapter 3

Vaccine Safety

PART II   Evidence of Harm

Chapter 4

The Clinical Perspective

Chapter 5

Autoimmune Disease

Chapter 6

Brain Damage

Chapter 7


Chapter 8

The Vaccine Court

PART III   The Research Perspective

Chapter 9

Epidemiology and Clinical Research

Chapter 10

The Laboratory Sciences

PART IV   The Individual Vaccines

Chapter 11

The Big Three

Chapter 12

The Next Generation

Chapter 13

Present and Future

PART V   Conclusion

Chapter 14

Where to Go from Here


Suggestions for Further Reading


About the Author


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