Vaccines and Halacha: An Alternative View
The following article is part of a very lengthy (33,000) word exploration of the deeper issues pertaining to vaccine and halacha, which we have decided to publish on Sasson in three parts, as we feel the subject is crucially important to Jewish parents, and that having more information about the subject can only be a go a good thing.
The writer of this ‘alternative view’ on vaccines and halacha has requested to remain anonymous, for the reasons outlined below in his introduction.
We are very pleased to explore this issue more widely and to print your comments, but please kindly remember to comment respectfully and in a manner that’s appropriate for an orthodox Jewish forum if you’d like your comment to be published.
I wrote the main part of this manuscript in 2007, when I had to submit an explanation and justification of my position to the Beis Din that was to rule on this issue for my children’s school at the time. It was not intended to be published. This is why the wording and style may not be perfect. The main goal and concern was that the arguments should be presented clearly.
This is the reason why I refer many times in this manuscript to documents that were provided to the Beis Din but are not included here.
Although I have made this manuscript available to people who asked for it, it is not my intention to publish or publicize it.
For various reasons, I chose to remain anonymous, and request from everyone to honor my wish. All I can say is that I have received semicha from Rav Pinchas Hirshprung zt”l and Rav Yechezkel Roth shlita some 30 years ago, and I have been serving as a Posek in my community for many years.
I have included at the end of the manuscript a compilation of testimonies that I have collected as I did my research. It is only a drop in the bucket of all the personal experiences that people have shared with me, because many people did not want their stories to appear anywhere, did not have the time etc. to provide me with a written deposition of their testimony, or other reasons.
שאלה: Non-vaccinated children are said to pose a risk to other children and teachers, especially pregnant teachers, in the school they attend. Do parents have the right to refuse vaccinating their school-age children? May the principal refuse to let unvaccinated children attend school, even when the parents of such children have produced a valid religious exemption?
תשובה: This שאלה is based on the assumption that vaccines are as effective and safe as promoted by the government, pharmaceutical companies and most pediatricians. Although there is no doubt that vaccines are able to produce immunogenicity responses, thus conferring some protection from disease, there is also no doubt that vaccines may at times cause serious adverse events, neurological or immunologic damage, and death. Therefore, we will have to investigate to what degree are vaccines effective and to what degree they are safe, in order to address this שאלה properly.
Nevertheless, I would like to preface this presentation with a topic that requires no medical, scientific or statistical knowledge, and yet, may well resolve our שאלה. I will then address the issues of vaccination safety and effectiveness.
Although vaccines may offer substantial benefits, they are not free of side-effects and risks. Even pharmaceutical companies and the medical community concede that serious adverse reactions and death may sometimes occur from vaccinations. This brings to mind the following: A heart patient is failing, ר”ל, and his doctor only gives him a few more weeks to live. The doctor offers the patient the option of undergoing heart surgery that could give him a new lease on life. The surgery is successful in 35% of cases, but in 65% of cases the patient does not survive the operation.
A doctor may recommend such an operation without hesitation, arguing that the patient is dying anyway and that this surgery gives him some good chances of survival. But the הלכה says otherwise, for there is here a חשש of איסור חמור דרציחה. Although הגאון הרב חיים עוזר זצ”ל held it is permitted to undergo the surgery even if the chances of survival are less than the risks of death, the משנת חכמים and אגרות משה held that unless the chances of survival and cure are over 50%, such an operation may not be permitted (the אגרות משה concludes that,
”כיון שהאחיעזר מתיר, מי יוכל למחות במי שרוצה לסמוך עליו”). Even according to the view of the אחיעזר, Hagaon Horav Elyashiv, Shlita, requires a minimum of 30% chances of success in order to allow a risky surgery.
Even if the rate of survival is 50% or more, although the patient may undergo the surgery, he is not always obligated to do so. According to the אג”מ (יו”ד ח”ג סי’ ל”ו), even though he is anyway in סכנת נפשות, he is only obligated to undergo the surgery where the chances of success are greater than the chances of failure.
But this is all in regards to someone who is seriously ill. What about an individual who is perfectly healthy but is offered to undergo a medical procedure for the benefit of someone else? For example, if a person has suffered kidney failure and dialysis is not really an option for him, can we obligate his brother to donate a kidney in order to save his life? Can we obligate someone to assume a small risk in order to save a dying person?
Although the ירושלמי holds that one must undertake a risk to his life in order to save someone else from certain death, the סמ”ע (חו”מ סי’ תכ”ו סק”ב) writes that the מחבר and רמ”אomitted this opinion because the בבלי disagrees, and that this is also the view of the רי”ף, רמב”ם and רא”ש. The פ”ת (שם סק”ב) brings from שו”ת הרדב”ז that if a גוי wants to cut someone’s finger or else he will kill another Jew, one is not obligated to let himself be mutilated in order to save someone else’s life, and this is the מסקנא of other פוסקים as well (the רדב”ז is also of the opinion that if the mutilation of one’s finger presents life-threatening risks, one who would give in to the terrorist’s request should be considered a חסיד שוטה, even though he would be saving someone from certain death.
Others disagree with the רדב”ז on this point). Consequently, although one may donate a kidney and save his brother’s life, one is surely not obligated to do so. Since there is a small risk involved in donating an organ, by refusing to save his brother’s life one would not transgress the איסור of לא תעמוד על דם ריעך. The יד אברהם is of the same opinion, and brings from the רמב”ם (פכ”א מאישות הל’ י”א) that even if only physical pain is involved, a person may place his own personal comfort before someone else’s life! Although the ראב”ד disagrees with the רמב”ם on this last point, everyone agrees that where some level of danger is involved, a person may place his personal safety before someone else’s life.
In theory, vaccination is similar to this last scenario: the child is healthy, but doctors want to inoculate him with a foreign substance that has the (small?) potential of harming or killing him, in the hope of protecting him and others from potential, future harm. May he refuse such a vaccination because of the חשש of serious adverse reaction (even if we will concede for the time-being that such a חשש is small)? Yes. Can a פוסק be מחייב him to get vaccinated? Absolutely not. על פי הלכה, no one can force an individual to take a risk, even if the benefits are great and outweigh those risks.
Vaccination is yet different, for in so doing, one does not take a risk to save someone from actual danger, but only to protect himself and others from theoretical risk. In such a case, הגאון מרן רב שלמה זלמן אויערבאך זצ”ל ruled that one is not even permitted to undergo a medical procedure unless no real risk is involved and only minimal discomfort is caused. As it is medically recognized, vaccination involves real and substantial risks, putting the היתר for vaccination in great question. Additionally, we will see that, contrary to common belief and many doctors’ claims, the risks from vaccines might be much greater than their benefits, casting further doubts and questions on the permissibility of vaccination practices.
In addition, some of the vaccines required by the AAP do not provide any substantial benefit whatsoever while at the same time carrying quite substantial risks. Consider the Hepatitis B vaccine, for example: By the time a child turns one and half years old, he is supposed to have received 4 doses of the vaccine, with the first dose administered at birth. Hepatitis B can only be contracted sexually, by sharing infected needles or through exposure to infected blood, so the need for our children in our community (let alone the infants) to receive these shots is practically nil.
On the other hand, the vaccine carries real risks. According to the vaccine manufacturer, a severe allergic reaction occurs in each 1 million doses (which means, in 1 per 250,000 vaccinees), making the risks of the vaccine much higher than the benefits. In addition to the other known risks associated with the vaccine, a frum Lakewood pediatrician testified that an infant he had inoculated with the Hepatitis B vaccine contracted Hepatitis B as a result of the shot (the medical establishment still maintains the vaccine does not cause the disease). As scores of doctors concede, vaccinating all infants and children against Hepatitis B makes absolutely no sense and cannot be justified halachically. A frum pediatrician reported in his letter (see document #1),
“the AAP admits that the only reason we immunize children against hepatitis B is because we have a captive audience. To vaccinate an infant on his first day of life with a foreign agent such as the hepatitis B vaccine borders on malpractice. There is no medical reason for it. We are putting individuals at risk to protect the population from a disease that is purely a function of lifestyle.”
Since the Hepatitis B vaccine provides no substantial benefits to the average child and carries definite risks, there can be no question that inoculating all children with it is a flagrant violation of the commandment of ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם, and goes against our religious beliefs. Consequently, supporting and enforcing policies that try to force all vaccinations (including the Hepatitis B vaccine) on our children is but the desecration of one of the מצוות of the תורה.
Recently, a group of frum medical doctors in Lakewood wrote a strong letter urging the local frum schools not to accept any child whose parents refuse to have them vaccinated, on the grounds that these children are posing a health hazard to the (pregnant) teachers and the student body, and they tried to garner the support and signatures of the local Rabbonim. When this letter was shown to HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky, Shlita, he dismissed it with the wave of his hand and said,
“How can we coerce someone to vaccinate his child, when vaccination carries a potential risk of causing death?”
The reading of that letter upset HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Miller, Shlita, as well; he immediately took his pen and wrote at the bottom: ”מה שכתוב למעלה אינו כפי דעת תורה”. HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky, Shlita, stated that,
“Since it is universally recognized that vaccines can cause severe adverse reactions and deaths, halachically no one can be forced to vaccinate his children, and every parent retains the right to choose whether to vaccinate or not vaccinate his children. Schools should accept non-vaccinated children without discrimination.”
HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Miller, Shlita, ruled that,
“Forcing someone to vaccinate his children against his will when the school is not compelled to do so by law, is against Daas Torah.”
It has been reported that Maran Hagaon Rav Elyashiv, Shilta, told a doctor that one must vaccinate his children. Let’s assume that this report is true, does it mean that Rav Elyashiv, Shlita, is חולק on Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky, Shlita, Hagaon Harav Shlomo Miller, Shlita and Hagaon Harav Shmuel Furst, Shlita? Not necessarily. As we all know, the correctness of a תשובה depends directly on the correctness of the information provided with the שאלה, and this is all the more true with פסקים coming from Maran HaGaon HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita. If a frum doctor convinced of the crucial importance of mandatory universal vaccination came to Moran Harav Elyashiv, Shlita, and told him,
“Vaccines are very safe and very crucial to the population’s health, yet some parents refuse to vaccinate their children because of unfounded fears”,
in most likelihood he will receive the reply that such parents are obligated to vaccinate. Does this mean Rav Elyashiv, Shlita, paskened that vaccines are safe and effective? Absolutely not. Does it mean he would uphold his psak if aware there may be very substantial and documented risks to vaccination, or even if only aware the medical establishment itself recognizes there are some adverse-effects to vaccines? Most probably not. There is no reason to believe that Maran HaGaon HaRav Elyashiv, Shlita, would pasken differently from all the Halachic sources we brought. Consequently, this alleged psak is of very limited value for those objectively interested in the אמת לאמיתה של תורה, as the מפרשים explain:
Do today’s doctors really research things for themselves, empirically?
אמת עפ”י מציאות, לאמיתה עפ”י תורה.
Some have brought proof to the permissibility and benefit of vaccines from the words of the תפארת ישראל praising the impact of small pox vaccination in saving thousands of lives. However, this argument is completely inappropriate. No one has argued against the smallpox vaccination at a time and place where smallpox was decimating entire towns. However, today the risks from all the diseases we are vaccinating for are far, far smaller, and the evidence for short-term and long-terms adverse reactions is real, so the analysis of risks versus benefit is very different from the time of the תפארת ישראל.
Some have expressed the opinion that the הלכה must follow the opinion of the majority of doctors, who support vaccination practices. However, this is only true when the doctors’ opinion is the result of personal research and unbiased experience. Most doctors who support vaccination have never personally researched the subject of vaccination properly.
They simply accept and repeat whatever they have been taught in medical school and, therefore, cannot be counted as multiple voices.
This is similar to what the ש”ך (יו”ד סי’ מ”ו סק”יד) writes, that the הכרעה of the טור and רבינו ירוחם like the רא”ש does not constitute a true הכרעה, because the טור and רבינו ירוחם were תלמידים of the רא”ש and naturally rule in favor of his opinion. If this is true of the טור and רבינו ירוחם who were גדולי תורה of their own right and who did sometimes rule against the רא”ש when it appeared right in their eyes, it is all the more true in regards to medical doctors who have not done any personal research on vaccinations and just repeat the argument they have been taught.
Unlike physicians of yesteryear who gleaned most of their knowledge from experience and developed their own educated opinions on medical matters, modern medical doctors rarely have the opportunity to develop their own research on the benefits and side-effects of new medications and procedures and rely blindly on the guidelines set forth by the AMA and AAP. Therefore, their opinion cannot serve as an הכרעה, even if they are the majority (the opinion of a hundred sheep doesn’t override the opinion of one shepherd). Additionally, as a result of most doctors’ blind trust in the AAP’s claims, any adverse effect from the vaccine is systematically dismissed as coincidental, as we will see. Therefore, most doctors’ opinion is the result of neither personal research nor unbiased experience, and cannot be taken into account when trying to determinate the majority of opinions.
Someone suggested that, although halachically one cannot force parents to immunize their children, schools may have the right not to accept non-immunized children for, by doing so, they are not forcing the parents to vaccinate, rather they are just telling them their children cannot come to school without vaccination.
However this, too, is against דעת תורה: The גמרא says
in בבא מציעא (קא:): ”האי לנקטיה בכובסיה דלשבקיה לגלימא?”.רש”י explains
”כיון שמעלה על דמיו אין לך מוציא גדול מזה”.
Halachically, creating a situation in which the parents have no other alternative than giving in to vaccination policies is also a form of coercion.
Some doctors have claimed that,
“children who are not immunized are potential reservoirs of the very organisms they were not immunized against and, therefore, are potential רודפים because they may expose others to grave risk”.
Halachically, this claim is fundamentally incorrect: If ראובן refuses to give a kidney to save his brother’s life, can we call him a רודף? Absolutely not. Halachically, children who are not vaccinated for religious reasons – because their parents are concerned about the recognized (and not so recognized) risks of vaccines – fall into the exact same category. Furthermore, according to the above claim, the under-immunized children (due to allergies or other health condition) should also be labeled as רודפים and be kept out of school, for one is considered רודף even if he is רודף בעל כרחו (עובר במעי אמו יוכיח). Additionally, there are still hundreds of diseases for which there is no vaccine.
Consequently, according to the above claim, every single individual should be considered a רודף, being a potential carrier of the CMV virus, Epstein-Barr virus, various strains of meningitis not covered by the meningitis vaccine, and many, many more deadly germs. Accordingly, no one should go to shul, teach in school or walk in the street, lest he be considered a רודף for exposing others to the dozens of dangerous germs he might be carrying. Obviously, although everyone is effectively the potential carrier of hundreds of deadly germs at any given time, one cannot have the status of a רודף for mingling with others unless it has been clearly established that he actually carries such a germ.
Even when a person lives together with a family member afflicted with strep, meningitis, CMV, or any other injurious pathogen, we do not require him to stop going to shul, to stores or to any other public area, even though it would be quite reasonable to suspect him of being a carrier of that germ; all the more so in our case, when the probabilities of an unvaccinated child carrying the germs for one of the diseases for which there is a vaccine are much, much more remote. Unless an individual actually carries the pathogen of a highly contagious and dangerous disease (and even in such a case, whether this person would have the halachic status of רודף should be left to גדולי הפוסקים), he does not have the status of רודף by mingling with other people. It is therefore not surprising that, when he recently heard of the above attempt to label unvaccinated children as רודפים, Hagaon Horav Shlomo Miller, Shlita, affirmed that this claim is against דעת תורה.
What becomes manifest from all the above is that refusing to vaccinate one’s own children is certainly permitted according to הלכה (if not mandated), and no one has the right, halachically, to force someone else to vaccinate himself or his children. These children may go to school like everyone else and do not have the status of רודף in any way.
Rav Kanievsky’s ruling on unvaccinated children in schools
In the spring of 2012, Rabbi Kanarek from Beis Rivka Rochel in Lakewood asked Dr Shanick to write down his reasons why schools should refuse unvaccinated children; they also asked one of the non-vaccinating parents to write down his justifications, and they sent both documents to Rav Eliezer Dunner of Bnei Brak who presented them to Maran Hagaon Rav Chaim Kanyevsky Shlita, asking him to rule whether schools should accept or refuse children who are not vaccinated. Rav Dunner Shlita wrote back the following:
To whom it may concern
Concering children whose parents don’t allow them to be vaccinated, I asked מרן הג”ר חיים קניבסקי שליט”א if one has the right to stop them coming to school or חדר because they might cause other children to become ill ח”ו:
He answered that one cannot stop them from coming to school or חדר.
I understood from him that the חשש that these not-vaccinated children could cause other children who were vaccinated to become ill is so remote that this חשש cannot be taken into consideration as a reason to stop the not-vaccinated children from coming to school or חדר.
He added that if there are parents of vaccinated children who are scared that their children might become ill because of those children who are not vaccinated, then they should keep their vaccinated children at home, but I understood from him that since the חשש is so remote, that they don’t have to be scared.
בברכת “והסירותי מחלה מקרבך ואת מספר ימיך אמלא”
אליעזר הלוי דינר.
On the 29th of Tishrei 5774 (Oct. 30th 2014), many Poskim and gedolim signed the following letter:
The Torah commands, ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם (דברים ד, טו). This Biblical commandment requires one to be very vigilant in caring for one’s life, and to refrain from any action that may put his life or health in danger. The benefits and risks of vaccination is a much-debated topic in medical and scientific circles. Although one may follow the opinion of most doctors and choose to vaccinate his children, the individual who has done his research has the obligation to act according to his knowledge. If his research has led him to understand that the risks of vaccination are greater than its benefits, and particularly when his view is supported by many medical doctors and researchers, the commandment of ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם obligates him to shield his children from vaccines. This is even more so when a parent has reasons to believe that his children are sensitive to vaccines. To act otherwise would be a transgression of the above Biblical commandment.
Schools must honor the request for religious exemption from such parents, for it is entirely justified. Coercing parents to vaccinate against their will under the claim of protecting the public is a display of lack of בטחון, for the risk that the unvaccinated children are posing to the public is statistically so small that it is not the duty of a מאמין בה’ to worry about it (see the letter of Rav Chaim Kanievsky Shlita. The medical establishment, too, is of the opinion that this risk is insignificant. This is the reason why schools are obligated by law to accept religious exemptions as long as there is no outbreak of preventable disease). Additionally, anyone coercing someone to vaccinate against his better judgment becomes responsible before Hashem for any adverse reaction – big or small – that could result from it, ח”ו.
This letter was signed by (in chronological order):
- HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky (R”Y of Philadelphia Yeshiva),
- HaRav Shmuel Meir Katz (Possek in Lakewood),
- HaRav Eliezer Halevi Dunner (Rav and Dayan in Bnei Brak),
- HaRav Arieh Malkiel Kotler (R”Y of BMG, Lakewood),
- HaRav Binyamin Zev Halpern (Rav in Lakewood),
- HaRav Elyah Ber Wachtfogel (R”Y of South Fallsburg Yeshiva),
- HaRav Asher Hashwal (Rav and Dayan in Flatbush),
- HaRav Mattisyohu Salomon (Mishgiach of BMG, Lakewood) and
- HaRav Aharon Schechter (R”Y of Chaim Berlin Yeshiva, Flatbush).
New Jersey State Law reads as follows:
8:57-4.1 This subchapter shall apply to all children attending any public or private (emphasis added) school, child-care center, nursery school, preschool or kindergarten in New Jersey.
8:57-4.4 a) A child shall be exempted from mandatory immunization if the parent or guardian objects thereto in written statement submitted to the school, preschool, or child care center, signed by the parent or guardian, explaining how the administration of immunizing agents conflicts with the pupil’s exercise of bona fide religious tenets or practices. General philosophical or moral objection to immunization shall not be sufficient for an exemption on religious grounds.
- b) Religious affiliated schools or childcare centers shall have the authority to withhold or grant a religious exemption from the required immunizations for pupils entering or attending their institutions without challenge from any secular health authority (emphasis added). (New Jersey Administrative Code Citation, Amended on September 20, 2003).
This law states explicitly that children shall be exempted from mandatory vaccines if the parents provide a signed religious exemption statement.
The first paragraph explicitly states that this law is binding for any public or private school: Even a private school is required by law to accept religious exemptions. To guarantee separation between church and state, the last paragraph gives religious affiliated schools the authority to grant or withhold a religious exemption without challenge from secular health authorities (the wording of this clause and the fact that it is not granted to other private schools makes it very clear that its purpose is only to uphold the principle of separation of church and state).
In other words, only if a religious school adheres to religious beliefs that require immunization can it withhold a religious exemption. Furthermore, the law states explicitly that the school may establish its policy regarding vaccination “without challenge from any secular health authority.” In other words, a religious school is free to bind itself to the Daas Torah of the Gedolim mentioned previously (namely HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Kamenetzky, Shlita, HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Eliyohu Miller, Shlita, and HaGaon HaRav Shmuel Furst, Shlita), and no school doctor, school nurse, or health department official has the right to challenge that decision.
Additionally, we have already demonstrated that, עפ”י הלכה, one cannot force someone else to vaccinate his children and that non-immunized children may go to school with other children, as they do not have the status of רודף. Consequently, no religious Jewish school may claim that its religious beliefs require immunization and, by State Law, all religious Jewish schools must accept religious exemptions provided by parents.
In conclusion, it is quite clear that one has every right -halachic and legal- to refuse vaccinating his children (even if the benefits of vaccination would be much greater than its risks, as doctors and pharmaceutical companies would like us to believe), and that no one has the right nor the authority to force him otherwise.
Consequently, I believe that our שאלה can be brought to a clear conclusion without going any further.
Schools are concerned about their moral responsibility towards the other people in schools, and particularly towards pregnant teachers, who are said to be at risk from exposure to non-vaccinated children who may carry disease-causing agents. However, I have already explained that, halachically, neither are the parents obligated to vaccinate their children, nor does a school have the authority to force them to do so.
What this means is that a school should solely concern itself with its obligation to teach תורה to all children, and leave to Hashem a responsibility belonging to Him alone (childhood diseases are sent by Hashem and, as long as parents and schools act according to הלכה, childhood sickness remains the responsibility and concern of Hashem only). Additionally, one should realize that a school forcing vaccination upon its pupils -when הלכה and State Law does not mandate it- automatically becomes morally and Halachically responsible for all adverse effects of vaccination.
However, in order for Rabbonim and laymen (including teachers and principals) to better understand the decision of parents refusing vaccination, and in order to explain why and how vaccination may violate the commandment of ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם, we will need to look into the alleged safety and effectiveness of vaccines. What will follow is a very short overview of the evidence available on the subject. Dozen and dozen of serious books and articles written by medical doctors and scientists have been written on the subject (I have included a partial bibliography at the end of this document), but I will keep my presentation short and bring only a very small fraction of the material available.
Vaccines: are they safe?
As we have mentioned, vaccination carries certain risk; but how great is this risk exactly? We must consider two different risks: short-term adverse events occurring within hours or days of the inoculation of the vaccines, and long-term adverse effects, which may not be felt until years later.
Before I start, I must mention that entire volumes have been written on these issues (for a partial listing, see the Bibliography at the end of this document), but due to the need of keeping this presentation short, the evidence and arguments I will bring are only כטיפה מן הים of the information available to the unbiased inquirer.
Pro-vaccination doctors and pediatric associations are sometimes quick at dismissing such information as one-sided, coincidental, anecdotal, etc., and quickly brandish statements from the CDC, IOM (institute of medicine) and VSC (Vaccine Safety Committee) that all such reports have been evaluated by scientists and proven to be unfounded. If so, it remains quite strange that so many M.D.s, scientists and independent researchers have concluded that the safety of vaccines is doubtful, at best (see documents #1-2 for statement from frum M.D. sharing this opinion), and many M.D. and members of the American Association of Pediatrics do not vaccinate their children (see document #1, as well as the dozens of books against vaccination policies written by M.D.s and pediatricians).
One must understand the huge political and financial interests at stake in the issue of vaccination. One should bear in mind that many of the studies mentioned by doctors in support of vaccination effectiveness and safety were carried out by the manufacturers, or for them. Their interests and investments in vaccines are enormous, and generate a huge interest in making sure that the results will turn out in their favor. Indeed, pharmaceutical companies have been caught numerous times with the crime of covering up the adverse-effects or poor effectiveness of the drugs they were producing, and vaccines are not any different (see documents # 3-5).
“We doctors need to stop deceiving our patients into thinking that immunizations are “free”. Every medical intervention costs the body something, and we have a legal and moral obligation to tell parents.
When I discuss vaccines with parents, I talk to them about the benefits and the risks. The official position of the American Academy of Pediatrics may be the same as my personal position, but they are far too involved with the pharmaceutical industry to actually do anything but pay lip service to an open discussion. The CDC and the AAP are filled with doctors whose research, speaking engagements and travel are often funded by the manufacturers of vaccines. Many of these same doctors are paid consultants, and some later go to work full-time for the pharmaceutical industry. They have called Jenny McCarthy and me “dangerous” for alerting parents to the possible risks of vaccination…
In truth, vaccines are different than drugs for, unlike other pharmaceutical drugs for which the pharmaceutical companies are liable in case of severe adverse reactions, in regards to vaccines the government has removed such liability from the producing companies. This has effectively eliminated the only reason for pharmaceutical companies to ensure the safety of their products:
While the vaccine compensation act was a milestone for many parents and a public acknowledgment of risks and damages associated with vaccines, in many ways the act safeguarded vaccine manufacturers from liability. “The law was enacted to help prevent vaccine manufacturers from being driven out of business by rising liability costs…. But in practice the reform effectively removed one of the drug industry’s most compelling incentives to ensure that its products are as safe as possible.”
(Immunizations: a Thoughtful Parent’s Guide, p.93)
Hepatitis B Vaccine
A perfect example of this נגיעות on the part of the establishment in regards to vaccines is the Hepatitis B vaccine, which became mandatory for all children. As we have mentioned earlier, a frum pediatrician reported in his letter (see document #1) that,
“the AAP admits that the only reason we immunize children against hepatitis B is because we have a captive audience. To vaccinate an infant on his first day of life with a foreign agent such as the hepatitis B vaccine borders on malpractice. There is no medical reason for it. We are putting individuals at risk to protect the population from a disease that is purely a function of lifestyle.”
So why did the vaccine advisory committee and the AAP make it mandatory for all children, if not to inject millions of dollars in the coffers of the pharmaceutical companies, with whom the have strong ties?
Additionally, it is not easy for a doctor to say, “Well, I practiced medicine for 20 years in the hope of helping people, but I must realize and acknowledge now that the vaccines I inoculated into my patients did more harm than good.” This situation creates a subtle -but very powerful- נגיעות on the part of doctors to always justify vaccination practices.
Likewise, it is very hard for doctor to acknowledge that the AAP -on whom they rely totally for guidance- may not be as reliable, due to its strong political and economic interests in vaccines. This creates in doctors’ mind a bias against any study or evidence challenging the AAP recommendations on vaccination. Dr Robert Mendelsohn,M.D., a shomer shabbos physician in Chicago and one of the first doctors to recognized the hidden dangers of vaccines, once said,
“modern medicine cannot survive without faith, because modern medicine is neither an art nor a science. It is a religion. For a pediatrician to attack what has become the ‘bread and butter’ (vaccines) of pediatric practice is equivalent to a priest denying the infallibility of the pope.”
However, I will try to stay away from these sensitive and political issues. Additionally, I will try to mainly quote the studies and numbers originating from the CDC and other official sources, in order to avoid further complicating the discussion.
Clinical trials on the (short-term) adverse effects of vaccines have recorded the rare incidence of various serious events immediately following vaccination, including seizures, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), anaphylactic shock, etc. Additionally, information inserts from vaccine-producing pharmaceutical companies warn us that, “As with any vaccine, there is the possibility that broad use of the vaccine could reveal adverse reactions not observed in clinical trials”. The licenses given by the FDA to the producing companies stipulate that post-marketing monitoring of the vaccines must be done to provide further information on the possible adverse-events from vaccines. To that end, the U.S. government created VAERS (Vaccination Adverse-Event Reporting System), a government-bureau in charge of collecting all the reportable adverse events observed from all vaccines.
VAERS receives over 1,000 adverse-event reports per month; these are not reports about running noses or slight rashes, but about unexplained death, MS, insulin dependent diabetes, encephalopathy, Bell’s palsy, syncope, and on, and on, and on.
VAERS has received about 11,000 reports of adverse reactions to vaccinations annually, including as many as 200 deaths and several times that number of permanent disabilities (VAERS reports, VA 22161). VAERS officials report that 15% of adverse events are serious (emergency-room treatment, hospitalization, life-threatening episode, permanent disability, death).
A 1994 U.S. poll found that, of 159 doctors surveyed, only 28 (18%) said they make a report to the government when a child suffers a serious health problem following vaccination. Additionally, not all occurrences are recognized as adverse reactions to a vaccine, and therefore, are not reported.
As a “responsible parent”, I made certain that my daughter had received her vaccines on schedule. I wanted to be sure she would be protected from disease. Her first two immunizations were relatively uneventful. She displayed the usual mild reactions most parents are warned about at the doctor’s office. She was cranky, had a low-grade fever and slept fitfully. After the third vaccination, however, something different happened. She began crying and could not be consoled. The crying continued for hours and then she stopped. In fact my normally bright and responsive baby stopped responding altogether. For an entire week, she remained unconscious. Occasionally, a wail would escape her lips but she never actually woke up or responded to outside stimuli. I called our doctor and told him what was happening. He told me that her reaction could not possibly be associated with the vaccine. When I insisted that she was perfectly normal, healthy and happy before the vaccine, he became quite defensive and dismissed me as being a “hysterical mother.” He also informed me that it is impossible to tell whether a six-month old baby is unconscious or merely sleepy and insisted that I continue bringing my daughter in for further immunizations. There was no mention of an adverse event report.
I decided to find a new doctor and to learn as much about vaccines as I possibly could. My research soon took the form of a Master’s Thesis, at the University of Windsor, entitled Biomedical Ethics: The Ethical Implications of Mass Immunization (1998). During that time, I was afforded a world of resources, expert guidance, and received many bursaries and scholarships that made this research possible. With what I have learned I solemnly believe that, if I had followed this first doctor’s advise, my daughter would now be neurologically damaged or dead. We were very lucky, my daughter is now a healthy 14 year old. Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky.
(Preface to Immunization: History, Ethics, Law and Health)
In 1990, Dr. Byron Hyde (of the Nightingale Research foundation) provided the LCDC with 61 adverse event reports to the Hepatitis B vaccine stemming from Quebec and provided the assistant Deputy Minister of Health with an additional 5 reports of adverse reactions. Among the reports were 2 deaths, blindness, deafness, numerous cases of memory loss, chronic and debilitating arm pain and persistent fatigue syndrome. Many of the adverse events were severe enough to prevent the individuals involved from attending work or school.
Both Dr. Phillipe Duclos who was in charge of human adverse event reporting for Health and Welfare Canada, and Merck Frosst in Montreal, manufacturer of the Hepatitis B vaccine, state that there had been no previous reports of serious adverse events associated with it. Similarly, when 2 nurses and one other physician submitted adverse event reports to Merck Frosst, they were each told that he or she was the only person to ever report a serious adverse reaction to the hepatitis B immunization and that he or she must be mistaken. In September of 1991, one of Merck’s research scientists contacted the Nightingale Research Foundation and reported that there were staff members who were disabled following mandatory hepatitis B vaccination, including the nurse responsible for administering the vaccine, who became partially paralyzed and lost the use of one arm.
Lyla Rose Belkin was a previously healthy baby, who died at five weeks of age, within 15-16 hours of receiving her second hepatitis B vaccination. During the autopsy, Lyla was found to have a swollen brain and the cause of death was initially reported as SIDS. However, the coroner eventually conceded that the vaccine was involved. When the coroner attempted to report Lyla’s vaccine-related death to VAERS, her call was never returned. One can hardly be assured that adverse events are rare when it is quite evident that serious adverse events are excluded from official reports.
Michael Belkin, Lyla’s father, attended the National Academy of Sciences Workshop on the hepatitis B vaccine, on 26 October 1998. During an FDA presentation, it was stated that there have been only 19 hepatitis B vaccine-related neonatal deaths since 1991. Belkin, a financial and economic analyst who has been trained in statistics and econometrics, reviewed raw VAERS data and found that there were 54 “SIDS” cases following hepatitis B vaccination in 1997 alone, and 17,000 hepatitis B-related adverse events reported.
More recently, a frum mother reported the following:
What would you say to the mother of a 3 month old who gazed, focused, lifted her head and smiled – in short, who met or exceeded every milestone – and immediately after the DPT shot fell over in convulsions, high fever, and complete listlessness? And then never snapped out of it? Who years later still cannot smile, focus, gaze or lift her head, when she could ONE MINUTE before the vaccine? Her doctor said, “coincidence.”
After that devastating event, we researched this and found many, many, many children whose reactions to the vaccine were IMMEDIATE, SUDDEN and DRAMATIC after the vaccine – and PERMANENT. And the doctors all say, “coincidence.” I probably wouldn’t be so anti-vaccine if at least one doctor – someone, somewhere – would ADMIT that my child was permanently neurologically injured from a vaccine. But guess what – I’m still waiting. I read an interview this pediatrician who administered this vaccine to my child gave to a frum newspaper; he asserts, “I have never had a patient who had an adverse reaction to a vaccine.” Sure – easy to say that vaccines win in the risks vs. benefit war – just deny that a reaction exists, and the rest is easy!!!
(Yeshiva World News, September 4, 2008)
There are 10,000 short-term adverse effects to vaccines each month
The CDC evaluates the number of reports received by VAERS as 10% of the actual, real-world adverse reactions taking place. The FDA evaluates it as 1% of the reality… Therefore, even if we were to stick to the more conservative estimates of the CDC, there are about 10,000 short-term adverse effects to vaccines each month! Talk about vaccine safety!
The increasing incidence of allergic disorders in Western nations is now universally recognized, with every third child in industrialized societies having an allergic disorder. In some areas, the incidence of asthma has increased by 200% in the past 20 years. Another study showed a 46% increase in the nationwide death rate from asthma between 1977 and 1991. Many studies have established a link between the rising incidence of allergies and the ever increasing number of mandatory vaccines.
Dr. Michel Odent and his Primal Health Research Center, London, conducted a study of long-term breastfeeding. The study started out examining whether long-term breastfeeding protects against eczema and asthma. But in the course of the investigation, the researchers came up with an utterly unexpected finding: children immunized against pertussis were six times more likely to have asthma than those who hadn’t been given the shot. In virtually every category –number of sick days, cases of earaches, admittance to hospital- the unvaccinated children were healthier.
(What doctors don’t tell you, pp.159-160)
Vaccines may also be linked to SIDS
I, myself, have witnessed this phenomenon many times over: children who received immunization shots developed ear infections within 7-10 days, see document # 6. (too bad that it takes more than the standard 5 days of monitoring by pharmaceutical companies…). True, ear infections are usually not life-threatening (although I have heard of many רבנים who allow the use of oral חמצדיקע antibiotics on פסח for ear or throat infection, on the basis that any infection is considered סכנת נפשות), but these incidents (which are a lot more frequent than doctors are willing to concede; no one wants to admit to have caused harm) show us that the immune system (allergy is an abnormal response of the immune system) is substantially affected by vaccines and should make us wonder about how many other immune diseases like cancer, leukemia, lupus, MS, etc. are related to vaccination…
Likewise, there is plenty of evidence and scientific studies linking SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) to vaccination. Initial studies suggesting a causal relationship between SIDS and vaccines were quickly followed by vaccine manufacturer-sponsored studies, concluding that there is no relationship between SIDS and vaccines.
In the 1970s, Japan raised its vaccination age from two months to two years and incidence of SIDS in Japan dropped dramatically.
In the study of 103 children who died of SIDS, Dr. William Torch, of the University of Nevada School of Medicine at Reno, found that more than two thirds had been vaccinated with DPT prior to death. Of these, 6.4% died within 12 hours of vaccination; 13% within 24 hours; 26% within 3 days, 37%, 61% and 70% within one, two and three weeks respectively. He also found that SIDS frequencies have a bimodal peak occurrence at two and four months – the same age when initial doses of DPT are administered to infants. The following excerpt is part of the testimony of Mrs. D. Mary of Massachusetts before the Committee on Labor and Human Resources, regarding vaccine injury compensation:
Our granddaughter Lee Ann was just 8 weeks old when her mother took her to the doctor for her routine checkup. That included, of course, her first DPT inoculation and oral polio vaccine. In all her entire 8 weeks of life, this lovable, extremely alert baby had never produced such a blood-curdling scream as she did at the moment the shot was given. Neither had her mother ever before seen her back arch as it did while she screamed. She was inconsolable. Four hours later she was dead. “Crib death,” the doctor said; ‘SIDS’. “Could it be connected to the shot?” her parents implored. “No.” “But she just had her first DPT shot this afternoon. Could there possibly be any connection to it?” “No, no connection at all,” the emergency room doctor said definitely. My husband and I hurried to the hospital the following morning after her death to talk with the pathologist before the autopsy. We wanted to make sure he was alerted to her DPT inoculation such a short time before her death – just in case there was something else he could look for to make the connection. He was unavailable to talk with us. We waited two and a half hours. Finally, we got to talk to another doctor after the autopsy had been completed. He said it was “SIDS”.
In the months before Lee Ann was born, I regularly checked with a friend as to the state of her grandchild’s condition. He is nearly a year and half older than Lee Ann. On his first DPT shot, he passed out cold for 15 minutes, right in the pediatrician’s office. “Normal reaction for some children,” the pediatrician reassured. The parents were scared, but they knew what a fine doctor they had. They trusted his judgment. When it was time for the second shot they asked, “Are you sure it’s all right? Is it really necessary?” their pediatrician again reassured them. He told them what awful it was to experience, as he had, one of his infant patient bout with whooping cough. That baby had died. They gave him his second DPT shot that day. He became brain damaged.
“How accurate are our statistics on adverse reactions to vaccines when parents have been told, and are still being told, “No connection to the shot, no connection at all?” “What about the mother I have recently talked with, who has a 4 year-old brain-damaged son? On all three of his DPT shots, he had a convulsion in the presence of the pediatrician. “No connection,” the pediatrician assured. I talked with a father in a town adjoining ours whose son died at the age of 9 weeks, several months before our own granddaughter’s death. It was the day after his DPT inoculation. ‘SIDS’ is the statement on the death certificate. “Are the statistics that the medical world loves to quote to say, “There is no connection,” really accurate, or are they based on poor diagnoses and poor record-keeping?
(Vaccine Injury Compensation, Hearing Before the Committee on Labor and Human Resources [98th Congress, 2nd session, May 3rd, 1984], pp.63-67)
Surely it’s best to err on the side of caution, with SIDS?
At best, there is conflicting evidence on the connection between vaccines and SIDS. Shouldn’t we then err on the side of caution and institute a meticulous widespread monitoring of the vaccination status of all SIDS cases? Instead, health authorities have chosen to err on the side of denial rather than caution.
On Friday morning of June 6, 2008, NJ radio held a talk show on the subject of vaccination. One caller told the audience how his healthy child received the polio, DPT and MMR vaccine on one day, and started developing neurological damage and incontrollable movements within 24 hours. He consulted three different physicians, who could not figure out what was wrong with him and who assured him that this could not be related to the vaccines. There was no mention of reporting it to VAERS. It was a pediatric neurologist who finally told him that, in fact, the thimerosal, pertussis vaccine and rubella vaccine could, each one independently, cause such an adverse effect, and all the more when they are given on the same day.
Vaccines and autism
In regards to autism, a report released by the California Department of Developmental Services in 1999 revealed that autism has increased by 273% between 1987 and 1998. In Maryland, the number of autistic children increased by 513% between 1993 and 1998 (Maryland Special Education Census Data; general Maryland population increased just 7% during that time). Closer to home, the incidence of autism in Brick Township, NJ, in 1998 was 1 per 150 children. (April 2000 report from CDC).
Dr. Andrew Wakefield, gastro-enterologist at the Royal Free Hospital, London, studied over 150 children with autism and intestinal disease. A significant number of these children had elevated levels of IgG measles antibodies compared to controls, and measles-specific antigens in cells of the colon. The onset of autism in these cases occurred after administration of the MMR vaccine. Wakefield’s findings were later verified and replicated by other researchers. Unfortunately, great political pressure prompted some of Wakefield co-authors to withdraw their support (this shows how difficult it may be to truly clarify the facts). In another study, 91 children with developmental disorder and bowel disease were compared to 70 developmentally normal controls, some of whom also had inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, or ulcerative colitis. Among the children with developmental disorder, 75 out of 91 (82%) had persistent measles virus (presumably from the MMR vaccine) compared to 5 out of 70 (7%) developmentally normal children.
Four leading British authorities reviewed the Wakefield/Montgomery paper, and were strongly supportive of its conclusions. Professor Duncan Vere, former member of the Committee on the Safety of Medicines, agreed that the periods for the clinical tests were too short. He wrote that, “in almost every case, observations periods were too short to include the time of onset of delayed neurological or other adverse events.” Peter Fletcher, former senior professional medical officer for the Department of Health wrote, “being extremely generous, evidence on safety of the MMR is very thin”.
Recently (אייר תשס”ח) Mrs Z. Landau תחי’, head of the Yad Vo’ezer Institute of London, England, communicated to me that, of the 800 children with some form of autism that have passed through the מוסד, the parents of 1/3 of them claim it was due to vaccination. In other words, in 33% of the children, the behavioral problems started very shortly after their rounds of vaccination. (If there was no causal relationship between the vaccines and autism, the onset of autistic behavior should have been spread evenly over the entire year, with 15% chances of being within 2 weeks of quarterly vaccines, less than 8% chances of being within 2 weeks of bi-yearly vaccines, and less than 4% chances of being within 2 weeks of the yearly vaccines).
On the weekend of October 2nd and 3rd, 1999, an autism conference was held in Cherry Hill, NJ. Over 1,000 people were in attendance, the great majority of whom were parents of autistic children. At one point in the meeting, when the chairman asked those in the audience who believed that their child’s autism was caused by vaccines to stand, a large majority of the audience rose to their feet.
In an independent study, in 50% of cases of autism, the onset of autistic features on a previously normal child took place in a time-related fashion following the MMR vaccine (Harold F. Buttram, M.D.; February 6, 2001).
Dr. Bernadine Healy is the former head of the National Institute of Health, and the most well-known medical voice yet to break with her colleagues on the vaccine-autism question. In an exclusive interview with CBS News, Healy said the question is still open.
“I think that the public health officials have been too quick to dismiss the hypothesis as irrational”, Healy said.
“But public health officials have been saying they know, they’ve been implying to the public there’s enough evidence and they know it’s not causal,” Attkisson said.
“I think you can’t say that,” Healy said. “You can’t say that.” Healy goes on to say public health officials have intentionally avoided researching whether subsets of children are “susceptible” to vaccine side-effects, afraid the answer will scare the public. (CBS News, May 12, 2008).
Using infant macaque monkeys, University of Pittsburgh’s Dr. Laura Hewitson, Ph.D., described how vaccinated animals, when compared to unvaccinated animals, showed significant neurodevelopment deficits and “significant associations between specific aberrant social and non-social behaviors, isotope binding, and vaccine exposure.” Researchers also reported, “vaccinated animals exhibited progressively severe chronic active inflammation whereas unexposed animals did not,” and found “many significant differences in the GI tissue gene expression profiles between vaccinated and unvaccinated animals.” Gastrointestinal issues are a common symptom of children with regressive autism. National Autism Association calls for the NIH to conduct large scale, non-epidemiological studies into the biomedical symptoms surrounding young children and all vaccines.
(National Autism Association, May 19th, 2008)
The link between autism and de-toxifying vaccines
My interest in autism was sparked by my experiences with the detoxification of children that were damaged by the administration of vaccines. Many behavioral problems soon disappeared when vaccines were detoxified, even when children came to me for completely different reasons. In my practice, it turned out that mood swings, aggression, restlessness, attention disorder and ADHD often correlated to the many and early vaccinations in children. When some of my autistic patients greatly improved after the detoxification of their vaccines, my interest had been aroused and I became increasingly convinced that autism must tie in with the administration of vaccines… At a Chicago conference on autism in May of 2003, I presented 30 cases of behavioral disorders that had significantly improved by the detoxification of the vaccines (among these were 3 autistic children)… I no longer consider it appropriate to label autism an incurable disorder. The facts simply disprove this assumption.
Today, Dr. Tinus Smits, M.D., has cured over 300 children previously diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder, by using homeopathic remedies to detoxify their bodies from vaccines. He has created the organization CEASE autism (CEASE stands for “Complete Elimination of Autistic Spectrum Expression”), and gives seminars to train homeopathic doctors and teach them how to effectively enable autistic children to resume normal behavior and functioning. (see www.CEASE-autism.com).
Today, other organizations, such as DAN! (Defeat Autism Now!), have reported similar results as obtained by Dr. Smits. Evidence of a correlation between the MMR vaccine and autism has been accumulating from many angles and many countries, and some parents have even been able to win court-cases making such claims. As much as the U.S. government tries to minimize the risks of vaccines and dismiss related lawsuits, many litigants have managed to prove their points beyond reasonable doubt and obtain compensation from the federal government. The latest case was just resolved weeks ago, when the federal court in Washington D.C. sided with the parents of Hannah Poling who became autistic after her MMR shot. They were lucky: her father being a neurologist and her mother a lawyer and a nurse, they had the knowledge and resources to fight effectively. Still, the government claims that, “the fact that the court has ruled in favor of the Polings should not be held as a proof of a causal relation between the MMR and the onset of autism.” What else can we expect from them? They know all too well how much trouble they are likely to face if this connection becomes an accepted fact.
Autism’s False Prophets
There is a lot more to be said on the autism issue but, for the sake of brevity, I will move on. However, I cannot move on without a word on the newest book of Dr. Paul Offit Autism’s False Prophets (Columbia University Press, 2008). This book has been branded by doctors as the final proof that the MMR vaccine is safe. But what is the credibility of its author?
Dr. Offit, chief of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia holds a 1.5 million dollar research chair at Children’s Hsopital, funded by Merck (the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine). He also holds the patent on an anti-diarrhea vaccine (Rotateq) that he developed with Merck. He has steadfastly refused to say how much he made from the vaccine. However, according to CHOP documents, Offit’s share of a royalty sale for that vaccine to Merck is somewhere between 29 and 50 million dollars… בקיצור, he has at least 29 million reasons to defend the safety of vaccines, in order to protect the commercial value of his patents, and in order to protect the research money he gets from Merck.
If to prove the safety of the MMR, one has to come to a book written by an employee of Merck, so to speak, it speaks loads on the safety of the MMR. As a researcher wrote,
“Offit has zero credibility in matters of vaccine safety. Not only does he advance the absurd suggestion that children could safely get 100,000 vaccines at a time, he also opposes any studies of the comparative health of unvaccinated children that could shed light on the extent and nature of vaccine-caused injuries, leading to their prevention.”
Here is another quote from Dr Offit:
“If they were willing to look at all the studies that were done with vaccines, they would find that they are, I think without question, the safest, best-tested thing we put into our bodies. I think they have a better safety record than vitamins.”
The vaccines’ manufacturers and the medical establishment have been unable to produce any long-term safety study on vaccines (no one has ever found any saety study over 2 weeks for the MMR, and that one was done bu the manufacturer himself), but Dr. Offit, without giving ANY reference, is convinced that all these studies could be found… And as far as his farce that vaccines are safer that vitamins, the federal government has, so far, granted more than 1 billion dollars in compensation to vaccine victims; I would love to see a list of vitamin victims under professional supervision, like the vaccine victims, who were eligible for compensation.
The possible adverse consequences of vaccines
In 1986, U.S. legislation mandated that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) conduct a scientific review of the possible adverse consequences of vaccines. The Vaccine Safety Committee was established, whose charge was “the evaluation of the weight of scientific and medical evidence bearing on the question of whether a causal relation exists between certain vaccines and specific serious adverse events.” They were to classify every type of reaction into one of five categories:
- No evidence bearing on a causal relation.
- The evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relation.
- The evidence favors rejection of a causal relation.
- The evidence favors acceptance of a causal relation.
- The evidence establishes a causal relation.
The VSC applied most stringent criteria to these reports and studies, and determined that most conditions fit into category two (inadequate evidence to accept or reject a causal relation; this means that the matter remains a ספק). The only conditions that earned a category-five rating (establishment of a causal relation) were: anaphylaxis (sudden, potentially life-threatening systemic allergic response) caused by several vaccines; polio and death caused by the polio vaccine; thrombocytopenia (a decrease in the clotting-ability of the blood) caused by the measles vaccine; death caused by the measles vaccine; acute arthritis caused by the rubella vaccine. The only conditions that earned a category-four rating (evidence favors a causal relation) were: acute encephalopathy after DTP; shock and unusual shock-like states after DTP; chronic arthritis after rubella vaccine; Guillain-Barre syndrome after DT and polio vaccines.
All the other thousands of reports from countries around the world, from distraught parents whose otherwise healthy children died within hours of vaccination to physicians convinced that vaccination resulted in meningitis or deafness or sudden onset of central nervous system disorders (see documents # 7-11), proved inadequate to convince the committee that any causal relation exists between these events and the recently administered vaccines.
The list of conditions that fit category two (where evidence exists, but is judged inadequate to accept or reject a causal relation) is embarrassingly long. That list includes conditions with literally thousands of reported cases, conditions such as meningitis and diabetes following mumps vaccine, and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (a condition which causes hardening of the brain and is invariably fatal) after measles vaccine. Other types of reactions, such as deaths from the pertussis vaccines, were also denied. These conclusions are now used as guidelines in the awarding compensation to families of vaccine-injured children.
In the fall of 2000, the NIH established a committee to investigate the relation between the MMR vaccine and autism. Despite the findings of clinical studies showing the association, the committee’s report concluded that, “the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship at the population level between MMR vaccine and autism (Institute of Medicine, 2001). Immediately upon release of the report in April 2001, Chairman Dan Burton of the House Committee on Government Reform blasted the analysis as a disservice to the American people. Burton accused two of the report’s reviewers of having ties to the pharmaceutical industry, and raised concerns that some of the information clearing the vaccine came from Merck, the vaccine’s manufacturer.
Yet, because the IOM is seen as an official authority, a sign in my pediatrician’s office professes the following:
“Do vaccines cause autism? The best scientific evidence says no. Experts are instead focusing on genetic and environmental factors.”
The strict rules governing the analysis of causation resulted in the rejection of most clinical case reports. If your healthy child developed sudden seizures and extreme sleepiness within hours of receiving a measles vaccine and then experienced persistent problems with speech and walking, ח”ו, you would attribute the disease to the vaccine. You would have no doubt about it. All the more if the same thing had happened to scores of other children. The Vaccines Safety Committee, however, would view such a report with skepticism because your child was not entered in a controlled study of adverse reactions. They have received dozens of such reports. Their conclusion reads:
“Although there are a number of reports of encephalitis or encephalopathy following vaccination with measles vaccines of various strains, the rates quoted are impossible to distinguish from background rates. Good case-control or controlled cohort studies of these conditions in similar unvaccinated populations …are lacking… The evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relation between measles or mumps vaccine and encephalitis or encephalopathy”.
(“Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality,” p.129).
They compared the rate of reported vaccine-related injuries with the rate of those injuries in the background population. But since the general population is highly vaccinated, the frequency of the condition is obviously going to be similar in both groups, resulting in the conclusion that the reported conditions are not to be connected with the vaccine.  Smart ploy!
The other essential criterion by the Vaccine Safety Committee for acceptance of a reaction was as follows:
“The vaccine adverse event association should be plausible and coherent with current knowledge about the biology of the vaccine and the adverse event”.
(“Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines: Evidence Bearing on Causality,” p.22).
If science can’t explain it, they don’t admit it
Simply put, what this means is that if current science can’t explain it, then we won’t admit it. This approach is consistent with the Greek philosophy (which is the foundation of today’s medical world), which denied anything the human mind does not presently comprehend (חכמת יונית). Based on this כפירה and because our understanding of Hashem’s complex world is so limited, VSC was able to dismiss many reports as inconclusive, even when a perfectly healthy child succumbed hours after vaccination to sudden convulsions or “unexplained death.”
Lack of a biological explanation, however, may only show our limited knowledge of biological mechanisms; not understanding an adverse reaction does not mean it is not real.
Note that, as the מהר”י ווייל said, ”דעת בעלי בתים היפך דעת תורה”: Even according to the Vaccine Safety Committee, who classified all these conditions in category two (inadequate evidence to accept or reject a causal relation), there remains a ספק if these serious adverse events were related to the vaccines or not. As we all know, ספק דאורייתא לחומרא. As we also know, חמירא סכנתא מאיסורא. Add to this the fact that inoculation with vaccines is done to healthy children for the sole purpose of avoiding future theoretical problems, it becomes evident that being cautious in this matter and choosing to opt out on vaccination is validated by הלכה; whoever claims that vaccinations are perfectly safe and logical and do not violate the לאו of ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם,
עליו להביא ראיה.
To conclude, I wish to quote the words of a physician on the subject:
Nothing written here is intended to imply that immunizations, when used in judicious moderation, do not at times serve a necessary purpose. However, simple observation throws strong suspicion on childhood vaccines, in their present numbers and forms, as posing one of the major causes of the increasing pattern of sickness, allergies, autism, and other neurobehavioral problems now being seen in our youngsters…if we continue to enforce the vaccine programs as at present, one shudders to think what future generations will think and write about us. Mistakes might be forgiven, but not the enforcement of those mistakes. (Harold E. Buttram, M.D.)
Without accurate knowledge of the true adverse effects of the vaccines, it is impossible to assert that their benefits outweigh their risks and that they are to be classified as reasonable השתדלות and not as מעשה מזיק. As for my part, based on what I know and have seen, I don’t believe that there is a היתר to vaccinate an healthy individual with a substance known to cause severe adverse-effects. But even if the issue would remain a ספק, I prefer the choice of דוד המלך:
”נפלה נא ביד ה’ כי רבים רחמיו, וביד אדם אל אפולה”
Additionally, I wish to quote the words of a Lakewood mother whose child suffered extensive neurological damage from vaccines many years ago and who, until today, needs to provide him with full physical care (see document # 11):
I feel that the people whose responsibility it is to dress, feed, change, bathe and care for a child, should be the ones to decide whether to take the chance on immunizing, or not. As long as the government, doctors, schools, etc, cannot 100% guarantee that the vaccines have absolutely no side-effects, it is those responsible for picking up the pieces who should have the right to choose.
 ע’ שו”ת אחיעזר (יו”ד סי’ י”ז אות ו’), אג”מ (יו”ד ח”ב סי’ נ”ח, ח”ג סי’ ל”ו, וחו”מ ח”ב סי’ ע”ד אות ה’). וזה דלא כמו שכתב ביו”ד ח”ב סי’ נ”ח, וכנראה שחזר בו ממה שכתב בתשובה זו; והלכה כמשנה אחרונה.
 אג”מ יו”ד ח”ג סי’ ל”ו, סד”ה אבל.
 מפי הרב יצחק זילברשטיין שליט”א, וכן כתב בספרו שיעורי תורה לרופאים (ח”ג סי’ קס”ט, עמ’ 152).
 Even according to the ירושלמי, the risk he will be undertaking must be smaller than the chances of success.
 ע’ באור שמח (פ”ז מרוצח ה”ח) ואגרות משה (יו”ד ח”ב סי’ קע”ד אות ב’).
 ע’ שו”ת הרדב”ז (ח”ג סי’ תרכ”ז [אלף נ”ב]).
 יו”ד סי’ קנ”ז סעיף א’.
 ויש להביא ראיה מפורשת להרמב”ם מגמ’ נדרים (פ:) בשם התוספתא: ”מעיין של בני העיר חייהן וחיי אחרים חייהן קודמין לחיי אחרים, בהמתם ובהמת אחרים בהמתם קודמת לבהמת אחרים, כביסתן וכביסת אחרים כביסתן קודמת לכביסת אחרים, חיי אחרים וכביסתן חיי אחרים קודמין לכביסתן, רבי יוסי אומר כביסתן קודמת לחיי אחרים”, ובגמ’ מבואר דטעם רבי יוסי הוא שחסרון כביסת הבגדים גורם צער לאדם לכן כביסתם קודמת לחיי אחרים [ואף ת”ק מודה לזה אלא שהוא סובר שחסרון כביסה אינו גורם צער, ע’ ברש”י, תוס’, ור”ן], וזהו ממש כדברי הרמב”ם. ובדעת הראב”ד צ”ל שפוסק כת”ק, וסובר שדעת ת”ק היא שגם במקום צער חיי אחרים קודמים (וצ”ע איך פסק כת”ק והא כללא הוא דהלכה כרבי יוסי מחבירו, ע’ עירובין מו:).
 ע’ אה”ע סי’ פ’ סעיף י”ב, ובח”מ וב”ש שם, וע’ קובץ תשובות למרן הגאון רב אלישיב שליט”א (ח”א סי’ קכ”ד ד”ה ולעצם).
 ע’ ספר נשמת אברהם יו”ד סי’ קנ”ז סק”ד בשם הגרש”ז אויערבאך זצ”ל.
 ומטעם זה שאין המציאות כפי מה שאומרים הרבה רופאים, כל פסק בענין זה צריך בדיקה אם הרב שמע וידע טענת ב’ הצדדים קודם שהורה בדבר, או אולי שאל את פי רופא אחד ופסק על פיו, בלי לדעת שיש מחלוקת מציאות בדבר.
 When he reported this to the federal agency, they were quick to say -without any basis- that the child must have caught it elsewhere, although he assured them there had been no interaction of infected blood products or infected needles with this baby whatsoever. As a result of this occurrence, he now refuses to vaccinate people against Hepatitis B unless they are really at risk or unless they specifically request it.
 Indeed, a frum pediatrician testified the following (see document #1):
It is important to realize that routine vaccination is not universally recommended by all conventionally trained, mainstream physicians. To say so is misleading. In my experience, the majority of physicians who accept the current recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have never personally researched the subject in-depth. They are just repeating an argument they have heard without really expressing a well-researched, thought-out opinion. I myself, for many years, also accepted the basic recommendations and philosophy of childhood vaccination. Once I began to entertain the possibility that there may be serious concerns with their safety and efficacy, I researched this topic myself. I have come to the conclusion that there are indeed serious concerns with the way vaccines are delivered, to whom and when they are delivered, and what is delivered.”
 וז”ל הש”ך שם ”יש אוסרים. בספר לחם חמודות פסק להקל וכ’ דאע”ג דבשו”ע לא הכריע היינו מפני דאשתמיט ליה להב”י דברי רבינו ירוחם שכתב דהעיקר כהמכשירים ויש לנו לילך אחר המכריעים האחרונים שהם הטור ורבינו ירוחם עכ”ל, ולפעד”נ דגם הב”י ראה דברי ר’ ירוחם ואפ”ה לא הכריע להקל משום דהטור ורבינו ירוחם הם תלמידי הרא”ש הנמשכים תמיד לשיטת הרא”ש ואין ראיה מהכרעתם.”
 As an example, in a case of פיקוח נפש, if one graduate from Princeton University and one graduate from Harvard University share one opinion, and a hundred graduates from Columbia University have a conflicting opinion (based only on what they were taught), it is פשוט that the hundred graduates from Columbia University only count as one and that we should follow the opinion of the other two graduates.
 When accepting to vaccinate his child, a parent must sign a release form, stating that he or she understands and accepts the responsibility and risks involved. In regards to parents concerned about the vaccines safety but forced by the school to vaccinate their children, who would sign the form and take responsibility? Surely not the parents, for they are quite concerned about the vaccine possible harmful consequences: if not for the school demands, they would not even think of vaccinating. Are the schools ready to sign the form and accept responsibility for these children, should an adverse reaction occur, ח”ו? Are the schools ready to pay for medical and caring expenses or to physically care for these children, should neurological damage or physical disability occur from the vaccines forced upon them?
 As an example, the AAPS (American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, a 4,000 member-strong organization) has requested an immediate freeze on Hepatitis B vaccination to children until the safety of the vaccine can be further evaluated.
 Vaccines represent a multi-billion dollar-a-year venture for pharmaceutical companies, and they use all the pressure, clout and bribing available to protect their profits, by sponsoring many activities, research projects and/or publications of the AAP and other organizations. Additionally, when a pharmaceutical company finally applies for licensure of a vaccine after many years of research, the money invested in that research and development is tremendous, often amounting to well over 50 million dollars. It is not an easy נסיון to say at that point, “Well, we thought it would be worth it, but in fact the benefits do not justify the adverse effects, so let’s just forget about it”. This kind of נגיעות is found in שו”ע (יו”ד ססי’ ס”ה)
הטבחים נאמנים על גיד הנשה, מיהו אין לוקחין בשר מכל טבח ששוחט לעצמו ומוכר לעצמו אא”כ היה מוחזק בכשרות.
If this is true for a שומר תורה ומצוות with a חזקת כשרות, it is all the more so for secular companies with millions of dollars at stake.
I will give here one example: A consortium of ten law firms led by the firm of Waters & Kraus has filed lawsuits alleging that the mercury preservative in vaccines caused neurological damage resulting in autism in children. These lawsuits are based on a confidential study conducted by CDC scientists who studied autism as a potential neurological injury caused by mercury in vaccines. The attorneys contend that a different version of the study was made public and cited by the Institute of Medicine’s report as inconclusive on the role of mercury in initiating autism symptoms. The confidential version of the study demonstrates that an exposure of 62.5 micrograms of mercury in the first three months of life significantly increased a child’s risk of autism. Until recently, the recommended course of vaccines would expose an infant to over 75 micrograms of mercury in the first three months of life children exposed to this level of mercury were more than twice as likely to develop autism as children not exposed. (Waters & Kraus, Press release, October 17, 2001).
 Dr. Jay N. Gordon (M.D., F.A.A.P., I.B.C.L.C., F.A.B.M.), in his Foreword to Mothers Warriors, by Jenny McCarthy.
 Money Magazine, December 1996, p.25.
 Likewise, because the pertussis vaccine is notorious for its high incidence of severe adverse events, I have purposely avoided talking about this particular vaccine in the following presentation, lest people claim that my arguments against this particular vaccine cannot be generalized to others.
 Reportable is a key word over here. Doctors are mandated to report only those events included in the restricted list of reportable events, and only when they are recognized as such. Consequently, many reactions to vaccines still remain unreported, because they do not appear on the list of reportable events, or because the doctor refused to see it as such.
 Press release (January 27th, 1999) from the National Vaccine Information Center; The Vaccine Guide, p.37. The NVIC also reports that in the state of New York, only one out of 40 doctor’s offices confirmed reporting a death or injury following vaccination (2.5%). The NVIC was co-founded by Barbara L. Fisher, author of A Shot in the Dark, who served on the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.
 The Nightingdale Research Foundation, The 396 Million Dollar Experiment, 1994.
 Former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, 1993.
 “The International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood” The Lancet (1998; 351) pp.1225-1232.
 Philadelphia Inquirer (Dec. 8, 1994).
 Journal of the American Medical Association, 1994; 272 (8), pp.592-593.
 “DPT Immunization: A potential cause of the SID Syndrome” Neurology 32(4), pt.2 (American Academy of Neurology, 34th Annual Meeting, April 25-May 1st, 1982).
 Thimerosal is a mercury-based component of many vaccines and a known neurotoxic compound; unlike common belief, many vaccines still contain mercury, including the flu shot becoming mandatory for pre-school children as of September 10th, 2008.
 The Lancet (1998; 351) pp.637-641; Gastroenterology (1995; 108) pp.911-916. Testimony of Dr. A.J. Wakefield before Congressional Oversight Committee on Autism and Immunization, April 6, 2000.
 Testimony of Dr. J. O’Leary before Congressional Oversight Committee on Autism and Immunization, April 6, 2000; Digestive Disease Science (2000; 45-4) pp.723-729.
 A lot more needs to be said about the “Wakefield case”. However, it is much beyond the scope of this document. An article on the whole affair entitled “On Second Looking Into the Case of Dr. Andrew J. Wakefield”, will give an excellent understanding of the facts and fiction surrounding this issue (The autism file, issue 31, 2009. see also www.autismfile.com). Recently, the General Medical Council (GMC) discredited Dr. Wakefield and barred him from further practicing medicine in England. Although this verdict has been widely published, many details have been kept hidden from the public: the GMC panel made its decision based on Dr. Wakefield supposed failure (see article mentioned above) to disclose financial links that could potentially conflict with the alleged treatment of the subjects. The panel specifically stated that their decision had nothing to do with his claim of a possible vaccine-MMR-autism link. Secondly Dr. Kumar, who served as chairman of the GMC panel and read the verdict, is a shareholder in a well-known pharmaceutical company. The suit against Dr. Wakefield was triggered by Brian Deer who brought complaint against him and misrepresented many facts. Sure enough, he had received assistance from Medico-Legal Investigations (MLI), a private inquiry company funded solely by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical industry. Interestingly enough, during the course of the suit, parents of the children included in the Wakefield study attempted to bring their case to court, to force the GMC panel to allow them to testify, but the judge refused. That judge, Sir Nigel Davis, has a brother who was on the board of the same big pharma company…
 Journal of Clinical Pathology: Molecular Pathology (2002; 55) pp.1-6.
 Recently (Sept. 2008), a study “dispelling the link between autism and the measles vaccine” has been publicized in the news, with the conclusion that “we are certain that there is no link between autism and the MMR.” While one may wonder how one study can entirely abolish the conclusion of another study (הוי חד להדי חד, מאי אולמיה האי מהאי), it is also interesting to note, among other things, the size of this study: which analyzed the bowel tissue of 25 children with autism and compared it to a control group of 13 individuals. If Dr Wakefield had worked with such a small sample, his evidence would have been entirely disregarded as coincidental and not meaningful statistically. But since this study produced results supporting vaccination practices, it is branded as the ultimate scientific proof…
In my opinion, with so much conflicting evidence and studies, we should use our שכל and consider the real life evidence: with such a great percentage of parents convinced that their healthy child became autistic right after and because of the inoculation of vaccines (see below), there are definite reasons to be cautious and suspicious, as in every ספק דאורייתא.
 Harold F. Buttram, M.D.; Feb. 6th, 2001.
 Harold E. Buttram, M.D., Feb. 6th, 2001.
 Although Thimerosal (a mercury-based compound used in vaccines and connected with the increase of autism) has been progressively removed from vaccines since 1999, scientific evidence shows that this might not be the only way the MMR vaccine may cause autism, see Journal of Neuroimmunology (1996; 66, pp. 143-145), Clinical Immunology and Immunopatholoy (1998; 89, pp.101-108), Journal of American Medical Association (1972; 222, pp. 805-807).
 Autism, beyond Despair, by Tinus Smits, M.D. (see www.timussmits.com).
 See for example, Singh V. and V. Yang, “Serological Association of Measles Virus and Human Herpes Virus-6 with Brain Autoantibodies in Autism”, Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology, 1988; 88(1), pp. 105-108.
 Hannah seems to have been suffering a rare congenital ailment (1 per 1,000; not so, so rare…) affecting her mitochondria, and the vaccine triggered a worsening in her condition, causing her neurological damage. But no one knows how many other conditions may worsen from exposure to the vaccines.
 Unlike most other patented products, the market for mandated childhood vaccines is created not by consumer demand, but by the recommendation of an appointed body called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). In a single vote, ACIP can create a commercial market for a new vaccine that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars in a matter of months. For example, after ACIP approved tha addition of Merck’s (and Offit’s) Rotateq vaccine to the childhood vaccination schedule, Merck’s Rotateq revenue rose from zero in the beginning of 2006 to $655 million in fiscal year 2008. When one multiplies a price of close to $200 per three dose series of Rotateq by a mandated market of four million children per year, it is not hard to see the commercial value to Merck of favorable ACIP votes. From 1998 to 2003, Offit served as a member of ACIP.
 Wendy Fournier, President of the NAA (401-825-5828).
 CBS “60 minutes” program, October 20, 2004.
 See Adverse Events Associated with Childhood Vaccines, Evidence Bearing on Causality, Institute of Medicine, 1994.
 This sign was most probably written and provided to the doctor by the AAP.
 We find the same clash between common sense and medical criteria in regards to the definition of רפואה בדוקה: For חז”ל, any medication or therapy that has produced clear results three times in a row may be classified as רפואה בדוקה, whereas for the medical world such results are worthless unless they have been produced in a controlled double-blind study.
 See The Vaccine Guide, pp.38-44.
 Following these restricting guidelines, the IOM established an arbitrary time period during which the reaction must occur: “Exposure can be defined within a rather narrow time window; that is, the rate of occurrence of an adverse event within 2 weeks of vaccine administration can be compared with the rate of occurrence of an adverse event several weeks or months thereafter.” Consequently, the vaccine injury table contained within Public Law 99-660, upon which compensation awards are based, allows only a 3-day window for development of encephalopathy (impairment of brain function) or residual seizure disorder following the DPT vaccine. Who says that delayed reactions do not occur? The committee, based on an arbitrary decision. This is despite the fact that numerous studies have consistently shown that nervous system reactions to the DPT vaccine occur after a latent period of up to two weeks following vaccination (see The Vaccine Guide, pp.41-42).
וזה לך לשון הרמב”ן בפרשת אחרי מות (ויקרא ט”ז, ח’): ”ולא אוכל לפרש, כי היינו צריכים לחסום פי המתחכמים בטבע, הנמשכים אחרי היוני אשר הכחיש כל דבר זולתי המורגש לו והגיס דעתו לחשוב הוא ותלמידיו הרשעים כי כל ענין שלא השיג אליו הוא בסברתו איננו אמת”).
 ע’ סמ”ע (חו”מ סי’ ג’ סק”יג) בשם מהר”י ווייל.