The Unstudied Hazards of Vaccines

[Note: This is the second in a two-part series on vaccinations published in the Washington Free Press. Dr. Buttram's first article is available here. --Ed.]

A small but growing minority of physicians and scientists are becoming aware that safety testing for the various vaccines has been woefully inadequate. As one of many examples, a l994 special committee of the National Academy of Sciences (Institute of Medicine) published a comprehensive review of the safety of the hepatitis B vaccine. When the committee, which carries the responsibility for determining the safety of vaccines by Congressional mandate, investigated five possible and plausible adverse effects, they were unable to come to conclusion for four of them because they found that relevant safety research had not been done.

The clear implication of this report, which in our experience is fairly representative of a haphazard pattern towards issues of safety throughout the vaccine field, is that adverse reactions to the vaccines may be occurring on a large scale without being recognized as to their true nature. In support of this statement, this article reviews two pioneering studies, one from l955 and the other from l984, both sounding alarms on potential side effects from vaccines.

One of the most intriguing studies from older medical literature dealing with the pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine was that of A.L. Low (Chicago, l955) who performed electroencephalograms (EEGs) on 83 children before and after pertussis immunization. In two of these children he found that the EEGs turned abnormal following the immunizations without other signs or symptoms of abnormal reactions. In his report he commented: "This study shows that mild but possibly significant cerebral reactions may occur in addition to the reported very severe neurological changes."

Another intriguing study, this one from Germany, was reported in a little-noted letter-to-the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine, in l984. In the study, a significant though temporary drop of T-helper lymphocytes was found in 11 healthy adults following routine tetanus booster vaccinations. Special concern rests in the fact that in four of the subjects, the T-helper lymphocytes fell to levels seen in active AIDS patients.

The implications of these two studies are enormous. In regards to the German study, if this was the result of a single vaccine in healthy adults, it is sobering to think of the possible consequences of multiple vaccines (18 vaccines within the first six months of life at latest count) given to infants with their immature and vulnerable immune systems. Unfortunately, other than clinical observations, we can only speculate as to these consequences, as this test has never been repeated.

As for the Low study with EEGs before-and-after pertussis immunization: at a time when myriad children are suffering from various degrees and phases of brain dysfunction, it is possible that vaccine reactions may be occurring on a large scale, unrecognized as to their true nature, and contributing to this pool of unfortunate children.

It is both sad and shameful that neither of these studies have had follow-ups in American laboratories and medical centers, as should have been the case. Had follow-ups been done, they would perhaps have led to safer forms and combinations of childhood vaccines than available at present.

From a careful gleaning of medical literature over many years, we have been able to find only three other reports in the literature of studies done before-and-after immunizations, all from foreign medical centers:

  • In a study from Japan, immunizations (DPT, DT, or BCG) were given to 61 children with a history of febrile seizures or epilepsy, who had not had a seizure for one year. Following immunizations there was a significant increase in "epileptic spikes" in post-vaccine electroencephalograms as compared with those done preceding vaccines.

  • In January, l993, a Czechoslovakian medical journal published the results of a study of 89 children with adverse clinical reactions following administrations of various combinations of vaccines. Detailed case histories were taken and blood tests were done to examine various parameters of cellular and humoral immunity. It was found that children with adverse reactions had marked increases in abnormal blood parameters as compared with children who had had no clinical reactions.

  • In l997 a study from the University of Alberta, Canada, reported on findings from before-and-after MMR vaccine in which the effects on both the measles specific antibodies and cell mediated immunity, as indicated by cytokine generation, were tested. The significance of this report may not rest so much on the specific findings, as on the fact that it opens up an entirely new avenue of research, designed to reveal the specific mechanisms of actions of the vaccines, and also possibly revealing their side effects.

With these three reports from reputable medical centers, published in peer-review journals, the flood-gates of medical research have been opened. The truth about vaccine mechanisms, effects, as well as adverse reactions cannot be long in following. Although late, we would hope that our own medical and research centers would join in this search.

Harold Buttram is an author and physician at the Woodlands Healing Research Center in Quakertown, Penn.

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