We’ve seen a growing movement pushing mandatory vaccinations in the United States driven by the FDA, CDC and pharmaceutical companies. There’s been a recent onslaught of attention focused on vaccines. Recent measles infections are the purported reason for this. Although the CDC has reported that there have been 764 measles cases in the U.S. in 2019 as of May, this figure simply doesn’t explain the heightened attention to vaccines.[1]

Historically, measles outbreaks have been cyclical, Since the U.S. began vaccinating against measles in the 1960s, there have been multiple years in which the number of U.S. measles cases has reached several hundred and even into the thousands. [2] Even in the year the federal government declared measles “eliminated” (2000), there were 86 reported cases of measles in the U.S. [3] Therefore, the current number of measles cases is far from extraordinary. Further, as of this writing, none of the 2019 U.S. measles cases have resulted in death. This is not unusual, as death from measles is exceptionally rare in the U.S. In the last 15 years, only one U.S. death has occurred in a person confirmed to have measles. [4]

In fact, although the media and government have recently stepped up their messaging regarding vaccines, this is part of a much larger story that has been playing itself out for years, and it appears that it may now be coming to a head. The story centers on whether Americans will have the right to informed consent, to decline vaccines, and whether the government will mandate them. An important new book by J.B. Handley, How to End the Autism Epidemic, published in 2018, is a must-read by anyone concerned with how this story ends. [5]

However, before discussing Handley’s book, it is worthwhile to review the current status of U.S. vaccine schedules and mandates.

Expanding U.S. Vaccine Schedules

The FDA has classified vaccines as “biologics” rather than “drugs,” thereby allowing vaccine manufacturers to forego the multi-year, double-blind inert placebo-controlled studies required for drug approval. [6] [7] In addition to not undergoing inert, placebo-controlled studies, vaccines are subject to very short periods of monitoring for adverse reactions, often of 14 days or less. [8] [9] Furthermore, the vaccine industry enjoys legal protections from liability not afforded to other industries.

In 1986, the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) effectively removed liability from the manufacturers of most vaccines. The law also created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP), a special system outside of the normal litigation process for claims of harm caused by vaccines. Any compensation granted by the NVICP is paid by the public, through a surcharge on vaccines, and not by vaccine manufacturers. To date, over $4 billion has been paid under this system to compensate for the harm caused by vaccines. [10] Additionally, although discovery is a right afforded to litigants in most other legal forums, discovery is not permitted in the NVICP process, thereby thwarting claimants’ ability to uncover evidence, such as damaging research, damaging e-mails and other relevant information.

Since the removal of liability from the vaccine industry, the number of vaccines recommended by it and the CDC has grown. The CDC currently recommends 70 doses of 16 vaccines by age 18, many for diseases which are rarely fatal in the U.S., and the U.S. now recommends more childhood vaccines than any other country. [11] This is a significant increase from the 23 doses of seven childhood vaccines recommended by the CDC in 1983. [12]

Since 2002, the CDC has also recommended an adult vaccine schedule and the number of vaccines on that schedule is growing as well. [13] According to the current schedules, a person receiving all of the recommended doses on the childhood schedule, and then all of the recommended doses on the adult schedule would receive a total of approximately 149 vaccine doses. [14] Furthermore, hundreds of new vaccines are in the developmental process and it is expected that many will be added to the CDC’s recommended schedules.

A Battle Taking Place Over Vaccine Mandates

Currently, adult vaccine mandates don’t exist at the state level. However, some states have mandated childhood vaccines based on the CDC’s recommended schedule. There are three types of exemptions from these childhood mandates — religious, personal belief/philosophical and medical. States laws vary as to the number and types of exemptions allowed.

A concerted effort is underway to eliminate the state childhood exemptions and to increase the types and doses of vaccines administered to both children and adults. The pharmaceutical industry is highly involved in this effort and its actions have included, among other things, serving as “information resources” for legislators, lobbying legislators and even drafting the pro-mandate legislation. [15] The pharmaceutical industry has significant resources available to fund lobbying efforts aimed at mandating vaccines and a strong financial incentive to do so. In 2018, the U.S. vaccine market was valued at $36.45 billion and it is expected to reach $50.42 billion by 2023. [16]

The efforts by the pharmaceutical lobby have been fruitful in helping to eliminate vaccine exemptions and to expand mandates. As an example, in 2015, after extensive pharmaceutical industry lobbying, California passed Senate Bill 277, eliminating the personal belief and religious exemptions, leaving only a medical exemption in that state. [17]

In 2015, lobbyists pushing for passage of SB 277 used the fact that a medical exemption would remain intact in California as a talking point. That exemption can still be obtained under existing law by the submission of a statement from a child’s physician stating that immunization is not safe for the child. However, in the incremental, “chipping away” approach being taken by the pharmaceutical lobby, during California’s 2019 legislative session, the lobby is aggressively pushing for passage of SB 276, which would limit California’s sole remaining exemption in two ways:

    1. The exemption would no longer be granted based upon submission of the physician’s statement discussed above and would only be granted based upon a decision made by the California State Department of Public Health (CDPH); and
    2. The criteria for granting a medical exemption would be significantly narrowed to only CDC Contraindications and Precautions specific to the vaccine at issue. [18] This would result in the denial of most medical exemptions. Under current California law, much broader medical criteria is considered in granting medical exemptions, such as a child’s history of reaction to other vaccines, a sibling’s or family history of vaccine reactions, a genetic predisposition toward medical conditions, and many other medical factors.

Whether SB 276 passes into law in 2019 or not, it is expected that bills supported by the pharmaceutical industry designed to chip away at or eliminate any remaining state exemption rights will continue to be introduced throughout the country.

There are many examples in recent years of state bills introduced and/or passed which have had this effect and several are currently pending throughout the country. For those interested in monitoring the status of state exemptions, the website of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is an excellent resource for doing so. [19]

In addition to state childhood exemptions being scaled back and eliminated, action is occurring at the federal level to increase the number of vaccines administered to the U.S. population as a whole. In 2010, a National Vaccine Plan (NVP) was established by the U.S. Department of Human Services with explicit goals to be achieved by 2020 which include, among others, the development of new vaccines and increasing the vaccinations administered to the U.S. population. [20]

Further, based in part upon recent comments made by former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in February of 2019 shortly before his resignation, some believe that federal vaccine mandates may be imminent. According to CNN, Gottlieb stated during its interview of him that, “[I]f states don’t require more schoolchildren to get vaccinated, the federal government might have to step in.” Gottlieb also reportedly said, “You could mandate certain rules about what is and isn’t permissible when it comes to allowing people to have exemptions.” [21]

With federal mandates a very real possibility in the future, Americans opposed to mandatory vaccines may need to rely upon strong state laws to protect their right to choose with respect to vaccines. Federal regulation becomes ineffective when states enact contradictory policies. If multiple states ban mandatory vaccinations or pass laws which conflict with the CDC’s recommended schedules, it will become extremely difficult for the federal government to enforce future federal mandates.

J.B. Handley’s book “How to End the Autism Epidemic” discusses emergent scientific research which demonstrates a link between vaccines and autism.

With the pharmaceutical industry and government both actively seeking to increase vaccinations in the U.S., public opinion about vaccines will play a key role in whether these efforts are successful, and the media is a strong influencer of public opinion.

The mainstream media, which receives a substantial amount of advertising revenue from the pharmaceutical industry, frequently repeats in its reporting the expression that “vaccines are safe and effective.” With a multitude of vaccines licensed in the U.S., each having a unique set of ingredients, a unique dosing schedule, and a unique body of scientific research concerning it, and each vaccine being administered into a unique human being, the “safe and effective” mantra is an attempt to dismiss a highly complex scientific issue with a simplistic slogan.

Further, on the rare occasions that the media does discuss vaccine safety concerns, it tends to focus almost exclusively on the issue of whether vaccines cause autism, ignoring safety concerns raised about vaccines related to many other medical conditions. The media reports have repeatedly reassured us that the science is solidly settled on this issue, having cleared vaccines of any role in causing autism. However, J.B. Handley’s book “How to End the Autism Epidemic,” published in 2018, thoroughly smashes this assertion.

In the first section of the book, Handley takes on popular falsehoods about vaccines and autism. For example, in chapter one, he refutes the claim that there is no current autism epidemic in the U.S. He does so by methodically addressing the three most common arguments made by those he refers to as “autism deniers”:  1.) that diagnosis has improved; 2.) that autism is simply a reclassification of mental retardation; and 3.) that the definition of autism has expanded. [22] He closely examines the facts and evidence surrounding each argument and refutes each.

For example, in addressing the “improved diagnosis” argument, Handley informs the reader that the rate of autism in the U.S. in 2018, at the time of the publishing of his book, was 277 per 10,000 and contrasts this with the rate of autism of 3.3 per 10,000 found in a study conducted in 1987 of the entire childhood population in North Dakota. Handley analyzes the 1987 study from several angles and persuasively argues that it is reliable and didn’t “miss” children with autism. [23]

Additionally, he discusses a study published in 1975 based upon data from 14 U.S. hospitals associated with major universities which found an autism rate of 4.7 children per 10,000. He also provides a detailed discussion of this study and demonstrates the reliable manner in which it was conducted. [24]

In addressing the “reclassification” argument, Handley discusses three studies from well recognized, reputable sources, two in 2003 and one in 2005, that analyzed autism data and found that diagnostic substitution was not responsible for the rise in autism rate. [25]

In addressing the “definition has expanded argument,” he acknowledges that Asperger’s syndrome was added to the definition of autism in 1994, but explains why, at most, this expanded the number of autism cases to just under 10 percent. [26]

His thorough analysis leaves little doubt that autism is, in fact, increasing at an alarming rate in the U.S.

In the third chapter, Handley exhibits his extensive knowledge of the published studies related to the issue of vaccines and autism and provides information that many readers may find shocking:  that only one vaccine, the MMR, and one vaccine ingredient, thimerosal, have ever been studied for their relationship to autism. [27] He also discusses at length the flaws in these studies. This chapter, which shows the stark lack of research analyzing the full childhood vaccine schedule for any possible relationship to autism, may alarm parents who have been lulled into a false sense of confidence in vaccines by the “safe and effective” mantra heard in media reports.

In the second part of his book, Handley discusses, in part, emerging science which indicates that vaccines have had a role in inducing autism in children. Handley walks the reader through eleven groundbreaking scientific studies published since 2004 in peer-reviewed journals which support this conclusion. [28] Handley discusses the significant increase in the amount of aluminum being injected into U.S. children which began in the early 1990s as the result of an increase in the vaccinations they receive. He explains that, as a result of the expansion of the childhood vaccine schedule since that time, the amount of aluminum administered to children has nearly quadrupled. [29] He also notes the alarming fact that aluminum was included as an ingredient in childhood vaccines without having been safety tested in children. [30] He further explains that aluminum is used in vaccines in order to intentionally hyper-stimulate the immune system as part of the vaccination process and that research findings show that the aluminum is accumulating in children’s brains and triggering immune activation events which are implicated in autism. [31]

Additionally, although Handley’s book focuses on autism, he also points out research which implicates vaccines in autoimmune disorders such as asthma, diabetes, food allergies and eczema, which are also growing at alarming rates in the U.S. [32]

Throughout “How to End the Autism Epidemic,” Handley’s contentions and statements are meticulously supported by scientific evidence, with twenty pages of endnotes filled with citations to his sources. He appropriately handles the question of whether vaccines cause autism with the complex scientific review and analysis it requires. The book is a must-read for anyone concerned about the safety of vaccines and whether they should be mandated upon the U.S. public.

CITATIONS

[1] United States, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Measles Cases and Outbreaks.” 6 May 2019.  https://www.cdc.gov/measles/cases-outbreaks.html. Accessed 9 May 2019.

[2] Statista. “Number of new cases of measles (rubeola) in the U.S. from 1950 to 2019.” 2019. https://www.statista.com/statistics/186678/new-cases-of-measles-in-the-us-since-1950/.  Accessed 25 April 2019.

[3] Statista. “Number of new cases of measles (rubeola) in the U.S. from 1950 to 2019.” 2019. https://www.statista.com/statistics/186678/new-cases-of-measles-in-the-us-since-1950/.  Accessed 25 April 2019.

[4] David Brownstein, M.D. “A National Emergency of Measles Infections? Where Are the Main Stream Media Articles About Mumps?” Dr. Brownstein’s Holistic Medicine. Web. 19 April 2019, https://www.drbrownstein.com/a-national-emergency-of-measles-infections-where-are-the-main-stream-media-articles-about-mumps/#_edn1 Accessed 25 April 2019.

[5] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. Print.

[6] Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. “Vaccines and the Liberal Mind.” Children’s Health Defense. www.ChildrensHealthDefense.org. Web. 14 June 2018, https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/vaccines-and-the-liberal-mind/. Accessed 25 April 2019.

[7] Moskowitz, Richard, Vaccines – A Reappraisal. New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017. 29-31. Print.

[8] Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. “Vaccines and the Liberal Mind.” Children’s Health Defense. www.ChildrensHealthDefense.org. Web. 14 June 2018, https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/vaccines-and-the-liberal-mind/. Accessed 25 April 2019.

[9] Moskowitz, Richard, Vaccines – A Reappraisal. New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017. 31-42. Print.

[10] Children’s Health Defense. “$4 Billion and Growing:  U.S. Payouts for Vaccine Injury and Deaths Keep Climbing.” www.ChildrensHealthDefense.org. Web. 19 Nov. 2018, https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/4-billion-and-growing-u-s-payouts-for-vaccine-injuries-and-deaths-keep-climbing/. Accessed 25 April 2019.

[11] Children’s Health Defense. “Vaccine Mandates Results Don’t Safeguard Children’s Rights or Health: How Did We Get Here?” www.ChildrensHealthDefense.org. Web 15 Jan. 2019, https://childrenshealthdefense.org/news/vaccine-mandates-results-dont-safeguard-childrens-rights-or-health-how-did-we-get-here/. Accessed 25 April 2019.

[12] National Vaccine Information Center. “A Guide to Reforming Vaccine Policy and Law.” www.nvic.org. Web. 26 Sept. 2018, https://www.nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/state-vaccine-requirements/Reforming-Vaccine-Policy—Law-Guide.aspx. Accessed 25 April 2019.

[13] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Immunization Schedules. “Table 1. Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule for ages 19 years or older, United States, 2019.” Web. 5 Feb. 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/adult.html. Accessed 25 April 2019.

[14] Moskowitz, Richard, Vaccines – A Reappraisal. New York, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017. 241-242. Print.

[15] Mello MM, Abiola S, Colgrove J. Pharmaceutical companies’ role in state vaccination policymaking: the case of human papillomavirus vaccination. Am J Public Health. 2012;102:893–898.

[16] Markets and Markets. “Vaccines Market worth $50.42 billion by 2023.”  Press Release, 2018. https://www.marketsandmarkets.com/PressReleases/vaccine-technologies.asp?fbclid=IwAR2Q6Gd3YYChXXbj4fpHtrxSGS-2ZvXRB_tsTnrG9r-_j9MjQUIyJTYsm5I.

[17] National Vaccine Information Center.  “California State Vaccine Requirements.” 26 April 2019. Web. https://www.nvic.org/Vaccine-Laws/state-vaccine-requirements/california.aspx. Accessed 26 April 2019.

[18] https://legiscan.com/CA/text/SB276/2019

[19] National Vaccine Information Center. https://www.nvic.org/

[20] Sherri J Tenpenny, DO, AOBNMM, ABIHM, “Healthy People 2020 and the Decade of Vaccines.” Vaxxter. Web. 28 March 2017, https://vaxxter.com/healthy-people-2020-and-the-decade-of-vaccines/.  Accessed 25 April 2019.

[21] Cohen, Elizabeth and Bonifeld, John, “FDA chief: Federal government might step in if states don’t change lax vaccine laws.”  CNN.com. Cable News Network. Web. 20 Feb 2019, https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/20/health/vaccine-exemptions-fda-gottlieb/index.html.  Accessed 25 April 2019.

[22] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 25-27. Print.

[23] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 27-29. Print.

[24] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 29-34. Print.

[25] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 34-36. Print.

[26] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 36-37. Print.

[27] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 85-88. Print.

[28] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 141 – 169. Print.

[29] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 150. Print.

[30] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 151. Print.

[31] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 141-169. Print.

[32] Handley, J.B., How to End the Autism Epidemic. White River Junction, Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018. 70-71. Print.

 


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