The control and eradication of childhood disease has been heralded as one of medicine’s finest accomplishments. Yet there is a growing suspicion that intervening in infections may have an adverse effect on children, exemplified by the fact that as childhood infections have decreased, chronic afflictions have increased. This comes along with a swell of complaints from groups and individuals about the side effects of vaccines and the lack of long-term scientific studies and safety data. At a time when there are more than 200 vaccines in the pipeline, concern is mounting that high-profile vaccine advocates and the lobbies they represent are exerting inordinate influence on the setting of vaccine policy by the government.
It may seem incredulous to challenge the practice of vaccination, since it has claimed responsibility for the eradiation of many diseases in the past 100 years including polio, smallpox, whooping cough and diphtheria. But these claims are largely based on epidemic studies rather than on clinical evidence of effectiveness. Europe for example, experienced the same rise and decline of polio cases as were seen in the U.S. yet never had the polio vaccine. In addition, many diseases that were once thought to be eradicated simply take on different forms and are given different names. Spinal meningitis and polio have almost identical symptoms and cases of spinal meningitis have increased since the decrease in polio cases.
We have learned an incredible amount of information in recent years about the complex workings of the immune system, mostly due to advances in cancer, genetic and AIDS research. This has shed new light on the inner workings of the immune system. One thing we have learned is that simply altering the natural physiology of the body may temporarily give the appearance of resolution of disease, but may actually create more problems in the end. Virtually all studies of effectiveness of vaccines are based on statistical data and the presence or absence of disease. There have never been any medical studies that clearly demonstrated that vaccines increase the immune system competence of the human body, nor has there been a single medical study on the long-term effects of vaccines.
It must be understood that studies on vaccines are economically influenced by the pharmaceutical industry that has tremendous influence on the outcome of these studies. Vaccine sales represent a huge profit for these companies and a certain amount of bias will always be involved.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of individuals hand picked by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recommends which vaccines are to be administered to American children. Working mainly in secret, ACIP members frequently have financial links to vaccine manufacturers. Dependent on CDC funding, state vaccination programs follow CDC directives by influencing state legislatures to mandate new vaccines. Federal vaccine funds can be denied to states which do not vigorously enforce mandatory vaccination laws. Conversely, the CDC offers financial bounties to state health departments for each fully vaccinated child.
The past decade has seen a number of books and articles written which challenge the practice of vaccinations, mostly on the grounds of the potential side effects and long term latent effects of the vaccine. These topics are certainly a factor in the vaccination debate, but the real question is whether or not vaccines actually produce lasting immunity that is at least equal or superior to immunity that is obtained via natural exposure. This article provides scientific evidence to answer the question.
Fundamentals of the Immune System
The Immune System is the name of a collection of molecules, cells and organs whose complex interactions form an efficient system that is usually able to protect an individual from both outside invaders and his or her own altered internal cells that may be cancerous.
The immune system is comprised of the lymphatic tissues and organs of the body. Lymph tissues are widely distributed but are concentrated in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, thymus, and Peyer’s patch scattered in the linings of the gastro intestinal tract. The lymph system is encompassed by a system of mononuclear phagocytes. Lymphocytes are the predominant cells in this system, but macrophages and plasma cells are also present. Lymphocytes circulate, moving between the circulating blood stream and the lymphatic channels of the body.
The immune system is divided into two components, non-specific, referring to innate immunity, and specific, referring to acquired immunity. The non-specific defense system responds immediately to protect the body from all foreign substances, whatever they might be. In the 1980′s, a team of scientists at the Pasteur Institute in Paris showed that 98% of the immune response triggered at the early stage of infection is non-specific.
Lines of Defense
One of our first lines of defense is the physical barriers which include the skin, mucosal membrane, tears, ciliary elevator, and urine. The other is the chemical barriers which include sebum, sweat, stomach acid and lysozymes.
Our second lines of defense are the macrophage system, complement, fever, interferon and inflammation. The macrophage system attacks and consumes pathogens by engulfing them, a process known as phagcytosis.
Complement cooperates with macrophages by attaching to foreign cells and initiating the ingestion of the cells by phagocytosis. Interferons are a class of proteins activated by fever that prevent viral replication in surrounding cells and also inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Fever is a powerful part of the immune system, as it interferes with pathogen growth, inactivates many pathogen toxins, and facilitates a more intense immune system response. Many physicians now recommend allowing fevers to run their course.
When tissue injury occurs, whether caused by bacteria or viruses, substances such as bradykinins, complement, and histamines are released. This is the process of inflammation, and it strongly activates the macrophage system to remove damaged cell tissue. Inflammation is a vital part of the healing and repair process of the immune system, and when it is delayed or inhibited, healing and repair is incomplete.
Our third line of defense is the specific system known as acquired or adaptive immunity. This specific system consists of B cells and T cells. These cells have mechanisms for selecting a precisely defined target and for developing memory to an antigen, so that subsequent exposures will result in a more efficient and effective response.
Every standard definition of immunity involves the overall competence of both the non-specific and specific components of the immune system to recognize, isolate and eliminate foreign pathogens. This competence also involves the ability of the immune system to be able to distinguish between self and non-self. Immunity is the body’s ability to establish and maintain molecular identity. There is a huge difference between true immunity and the absence of symptoms of disease.
Theory and Practice of Vaccines
Vaccines are suspensions of infectious agents used to artificially induce immunity against specific diseases. The aim of vaccination is to mimic the process of naturally occurring infections through artificial means. Theoretically, vaccines produce a mild to moderate episode of infection in the body with only minor side effects. They are said to work by causing the formation of antibodies, which are proteins that defend the body from an invasion by harmful germs. Vaccines are grouped into three different types:
Attenuated microbes - In these the antigen is diluted or weakened. Attenuated vaccines include those to prevent measles, mumps, rubella, polio and chicken pox.
Killed organisms, fragmented organisms, or antigens produced by recombinant DNA technology – Examples of these include pertussis, Hib, Hepatitis-B, and many of the experimental HIV vaccines.
Toxoids – These are comprised of the toxins of particular infections such as tetanus or diphtheria and have been partially detoxified by heat or chemical treatments.
Vaccines contain chemical preservatives such as mercury, formaldehyde, and aluminum for the purpose of preventing contamination. Mercury has been linked to numerous central nervous system and developmental disorders. The Centers for Disease Control recognizes a small but statistically significant association between cumulative mercury from vaccines and neurological disorders, such as autism, tics, attention deficit disorder, language and speech disorders, and other neurological developmental delays.
The human body is designed to be able to defend itself against foreign invaders, much like a castle or a fortress defends itself with outer and inner walls, and interior barriers. The majority of pathogens that enter the body do so via the mouth and nose. The upper respiratory area is packed with powerful defense mechanisms designed to combat and filter these foreign invaders. Every possible portal of entry in the human body is lined with mucous membrane, a defense mechanism loaded with the powerful immunoglobulin IgA,
Natural immunity happens only after the body has experienced the pathogen. When naturally exposed to pathogens, the organism has to pass through the body’s natural defense systems before it ever reaches the blood stream. A tremendous amount of biological events are triggered in this process which are essential in developing true immunity, long before the pathogen ever comes into contact with the bloodstream.
Vaccination by direct injection into the bloodstream bypasses much of the normal defenses of the immune system, producing only partial immunity.
There is a greater quantity of biological communication in the human body than in all of the man made communication systems in the world combined. This signaling is essential to the development of immunity.
Cytokines are low-molecular weight proteins that control, coordinate and regulate various immune or inflammatory responses. The importance of cytokines in the host response to infection cannot be overstated. Full protection against disease requires the involvement of many different systems of the body and it is the cytokines that coordinate them. Vaccines inhibit the normal function of cytokines, and in fact new vaccines specifically target cytokine activity. To that end, gene therapy and DNA vaccination have been used to produce memory against a number of cytokines that promote inflammation. Antibodies to the product of each inserted gene were produced. These antibodies were found to prevent the effects of the cytokines.
The clinical evidence for vaccines is their ability to stimulate antibody production in the recipient, a fact that is not disputed. What is not clear, however, is whether such antibody production produces immunity.
The most predominant forms of life are viruses, bacteria and fungi, each with countless numbers of varieties and strains. When the weight and number of these organisms are multiplied together, they are the greatest biomass in existence on earth.
Infection with viruses does not always result in disease. In fact, a greater majority of virus infections remain asymptomatic. Even before the introduction of poliovirus vaccination, about 89% of infected humans developed only minor flu-like illness or no illness at all. Of 45,000 U.S. military personnel inoculated in 1942 with a yellow fever vaccine inadvertently contaminated with Hep-B virus, only about 900 developed clinical hepatitis and only 22 had severe disease.
Scientific evidence questioning the role of antibodies in disease protection can be found in research performed by Dr. Alec Burton, and published in a study by the British Medical Council. The study investigated the relationship between the incidence of diphtheria and the presence of antibodies. The purpose of the research was to determine the existence or nonexistence of antibodies in people who developed diphtheria and in those who did not. The conclusion was that there is no relation whatsoever between antibody count and incidence of disease. The researchers found people who were highly resistant with extremely low antibody counts, and people who developed the disease who had high antibody counts.
Dr. Burton also discovered that children born with a-gamma globulinemia (inability to produce antibodies) develop and recover from measles and other infectious or contagious disease almost as quickly as other children. Clearly natural immunity is a complex phenomenon involving many organs and systems. It cannot be duplicated by the artificial stimulation of antibody production.
There exist a finite number of immune system cells that are able to respond to foreign antigens. Once a specific immune cell responds to a particular antigen, it becomes committed to that specific antigen and is unable to respond to any other pathogen. Vaccination results in a greater commitment of specific immune cells that would be utilized in natural immune building, which may actually weaken the repertoire of immune cells.