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Skeptics warn against vaccine hype as whooping cough epidemic hits California

by Chris Hinyub, published

Last week, state health officials declared a whooping cough epidemic. The disease, also known as pertussis,  has infected a reported 910 people across the state as of June 15. Officials say outbreaks of the disease are cyclical, having last peaked in 2005 with 3,182 reported cases. "We're right about at the five-year peak, but we're on track to surpass our 50-year high," said Mike Sicilia of the California Department of Health

That may be, but Dr. James Cherry's recent recommendation that “everyone of all ages” receive a pertussis vaccination to “break the cycle” reeks of the same scare-tactics that heavily lobbied federal health agencies used during last year's over-hyped Swine flu fiasco. 

Critics of the FDA and CDC believe officials pushed an untested and conveniently timed vaccine on the public without their informed consent. This led to record profits (not to mention mandatory government funding) for pharmaceutical companies. 

What was the end result of that campaign? 

Some 40 million doses of H1N1 vaccine (worth an estimated $260 million) expired on June 30, and there ended up being far fewer casualties than the seasonal flu routinely inflicts. Many experts believe H1N1 cases were overreported or confounded with the regular flu considering the similarity of symptoms. It is now known that the majority of swine flu deaths were from victims with pre-existing medical conditions, and many had already been inoculated against the disease. 

In a November 2009 CBC interview, Dr. Richard Schabas summed up the matter:

     “H1N1 has about the same death rate as hernias. But we don’t see scary front-page headlines for months on end about hernias, pneumonia, or falling down. It’s really not causing—and is not going to cause and nowhere has caused — significant levels of illness or death. H1N1 has ultimately turned out to be, from a pandemic perspective, a dud.” 

A transcript from a Council on Foreign Relations symposium held last October helps shed light on why major media channels falsely reported on the supply of the H1N1 vaccine. Remarks from prominent attendees suggested a calculated attempt to create false demand for the newly approved FDA product.  This same transcript is also indicative of Big Pharma's angst over a growing movement of people educating themselves about the negative health impacts of vaccine ingredients. 

The increasing number of parents who are rejecting vaccinations for themselves and their children are no doubt spurred on by a consistently expanding body of research which condemns the use of adjuvants, preservatives, and other common vaccine ingredients because of their known toxicity. A certain heavy metal, mercury (in the form of thimerosal) has been linked to autism through its use as a preservative in vaccines scheduled alongside the standard Measles, Mumps and Rubella shot. 

The 1998 study which concluded that thimerosal is a causal factor in the autism epidemic has recently been rebuked by 'The Lancet,' the very same British medical journal which published the findings over a decade ago. In a statement made in February, the journal justified its deletion of the landmark study from the published record by claiming the lead researcher, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, did not get proper clearance with his local ethics committee for his methods. The doctor denies all allegations as unfounded and unjust.  Writing for the Vaccine Resistance Movement (a nonprofit anti-vaccine group), Joel Lord notes, “The timing of this reversal is crucial as more & more parents of vaccine damaged children in Britain & around the world are organizing lawsuits against Big Pharma.” 

To date, no empirical rebuttal of Dr. Wakefield's findings has been offered by the scientific community.  Evidence suggests that the CDC even knew about the thimerosal/autism link as far back as 2000 but failed to publicize its concerns. An independent study of the CDC's own data reaffirmed that thimerosal-containing vaccines are indeed a factor in the development of autism. 

Now, with whooping cough cases on the rise, pharmaceutical reps are capitalizing on the opportunity to marginalize vaccine questioners. Several high profile news pieces have attempted to place the blame for the rise in pertussis infection on a decrease in demand for vaccines of all categories.  The problem with this theory is that childhood immunization for whooping cough has not substantially decreased, something Dr. Cherry – professor of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California, Los Angeles – admits. 

Five pertussis-related deaths have been reported in California so far this year.  All of the victims were under the age of 3 months and had started (but not completed) their first series of recommended DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis) shots. 

The CDC-prescribed DTaP shot schedule begins at two months of age. The agency claims that a series of three shots, to be completed by six months, is necessary. Additional doses are recommended between 15 to 18 months and again between the ages of four and six. Health officials further claim that immunity from the shots “wears off” by the time the child is of high school age.  Stacey Martin, a CDC epidemiologist who works on pertussis, told CNN, “At most, a child may experience mild reactions to the vaccine, including swelling at the injection site, itching, low-grade fever or restlessness.” 

But how can she be so sure?

The most common pertussis vaccine, Acel-Immune DtaP lists several toxic chemicals and heavy metals on its product insert. These include formaldehyde, aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate, thimerosal, and polysorbate 80 (Tween-80). The effects of these agents on childhood development have not been studied in any significant way by the CDC. 

According to Dr. Boyd Hayley, chairman of the chemistry department at the University of Kentucky and champion of the anti-vaccine movement, "Autism was not a known, described illness until about 1941-3, 8 to 10 years after the introduction of thimerosal and similar organicthiol-mercury compounds in biological mixtures used in medicine and other areas.” This argues against autism being a genetic illness, he says.  “The study of non-vaccinated populations is a very obvious experiment that the CDC and its supporters refuse to consider," he suggests. 

Whooping cough symptoms are similar to those of the common cold such as coughing and runny nose, but they are more pronounced and longer-lived. Pertussis, like most respiratory ailments, can be fatal to infants because of their underdeveloped immune and respiratory systems.


* Editor's note:  California lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would institute mandatory whooping cough vaccine booster shots for middle-school children.  Read here.

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