This section of the site is where reviews of books and DVDs on the subject of vaccination can be posted. (Reviews added most recently will be added to the top of this page.)
Current reviews posted are as follows:
Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health and Our Children
Edited by Louse Kuo Habakus, MA and Mary Holland, JD
Silenced Witnesses Vol. 2: The Parents’ Story: The Denial of Vaccine Damage by Government, Corporations and the Media
Written by the Parents, Edited by Martin J. Walker
Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines – The Truth Behind a Tragedy
by Andrew J. Wakefield
Vaccine Epidemic: How Corporate Greed, Biased Science, and Coercive Government Threaten Our Human Rights, Our Health and Our Children
Edited by Louse Kuo Habakus, MA and Mary Holland, JD
Copyright 2011 Center for Personal Rights
“I am here to tell you that I didn’t know the harm vaccines could do. I think many parents are like me – they don’t know either. I thought vaccines would keep in my children safe and healthy. That’s what the doctor told me. I never imagined that a vaccine could do this to my daughter. My doctor never told me the risks. No one else did either. I was never shown anything describing potential side effects of vaccines. If you do choose to vaccinated, you had better be very comfortable about the need for each vaccine because every time you vaccinate your child, there is a risk of severe injury and death. It is crucial that parents understand what is at stake and that the choice is theirs to make. I am telling you that people who pressure you to vaccinate don’t own the consequences. Only you, as parents, do.”
– Amy Pingel, whose 13-year old daughter Zeda, previously a healthy girl – “a straight A student and a cheerleader” – suffered seizures after Gardasil vaccination and lost her ability to walk, talk and control her bladder. Zeda now “lives her life in a hospital bed in our living room with daily round-the-clock care and nursing visits”. She is “mostly unresponsive” and “breathes through her trach and eats with a tube.”
Vaccination is a particularly hot topic in New Zealand at the moment because on March 24, 2011 the Health Select Committee under the leadership of National Party MP Dr Paul Hutchison produced a report that recommends that the government make children’s enrollment at school and early childhood centres dependent on parents producing proof of their children’s vaccination status and – even more ominously – suggests that government direct the Ministry of Health to consider linking “existing parental benefits” to vaccination.
If the government accepts the recommendations in the report, it appears that parents will be forced to choose whether their child has no vaccinations – or all vaccinations on the schedule – in order to be able to supply the documentation necessary to enroll their child in a school or early childhood education centre. According to page 33 of the report, eligibility for the 20 Hours Free Early Childhood Education may also be restricted to children who have had all recommended vaccinations (or whose parents have signed a “declination form” (stating that they have decided against vaccination). This proposal is part of Dr Nikki Turner’s “Six star plan” which the report recommends that the government adopt “where there is a clear evidence base for doing so within the resources available”. (Dr Nikki Turner is the Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC). Until 2010, IMAC acknowledged funding from the NZ Ministry of Health and five pharmaceutical companies supplying vaccines to the NZ market. The relevant page was removed from the site after it was publicised in Uncensored and also by Radio Waatea and Maori television. The site now has a Funding page that now acknowledges the Ministry of Health as IMAC’s major funder and that the organisation also receives financial support from “private industry”. See: http://www.immune.org.nz/?t=1021 )
The report can be downloaded from the following link:
The report represents a significant attack on parents’ rights to make decisions about their children’s healthcare and is being vigorously opposed by people who are interested in human rights and vaccination choice, including the Immunisation Awareness Society (www.ias.org.nz) and a new group No Forced Vaccines (www.noforcedvaccines.org).
Dr Hutchison has been a strong proponent of vaccination for many years, and in fact in 2005 at the beginning of the meningococcal B (MeNZB) vaccination campaign went on record as stating “And I repeat: all preschools and schools make it compulsory for children to present a certificate that either confirms the child has been immunised or confirms the parent has made a firm conscientious objection.”
Under Dr Hutchison’s leadership, the Health Select Committee ignored evidence presented by a number of knowlegable people including t researcher and author Hilary Butler (http://www.beyondconformity.co.nz/) and Sue Claridge about how the current vaccination programme was often failing to prevent targeted diseases, contributing to the large number of New Zealand children and adults suffering from serious chonic health problems such as asthma, autism and diabetes (both type 1 and type 2) consequently making the procedure a poor investment of taxpayers’ money – unless the purpose of that investment is to increase the profits to the companies that manufacture both vaccines and medications designed to manage the symptoms of chronic illness.
A number of people (mostly parents) whose children had been vaccine-injured also gave evidence to the Inquiry. Their contributions were generally ignored, although the report did state that “We were disturbed about the unsatisfactory information flow between agencies and families in this process [of investigating injuries and deaths following vaccination].” (The actual injuries and the deaths do not seem to worry the author(s) of the report.) The death of 18 year old Jasmine Renata, who developed symptoms consistent with neurological disease following her Gardasil injections and died in her sleep in 2009 had still not been investigated by the Coroner’s office as of early 2011. Her devastated parents made a number of submissions to the Inquiry.
As everyone in New Zealand knows, Gardasil is still being promoted by the NZ Ministry of Health despite Jasmine’s death and reports of serious chronic illness in other recipients.
The Report of the Health Select Committee on its Inquiry into how to improve [increase] immunisation [vaccination] completion rates states that uptake of the HPV vaccine Gardasil has been lower in schools situated in wealthier areas. (The Ministry of Health has managed to get high compliance in schools in low socio-economic areas which typically have a large proportion of Maori and Polynesian students by sending in Maori/Polynesian nurses who tell the girls that getting vaccinated with Gardasil is the right thing to do. Having been thus assured by a kindly authority figure from their own ethnic group about the desirability of the vaccine, most girls aged 16 and over – who can legally given consent without parental permission – consent to Gardasil vaccination.)
In the case of Gardasil, it appears that the high compliance rates that are achievable in economically marginalised groups such as Maori and Polynesian girls (who typically comes from families who have less education than the Pakeha majority) cannot be matched in wealthier communities where parents are generally better educated, have internet access and are able to research the vaccine for themselves.
This is consistent with trends worldwide which have shown that parents who are better educated are increasingly likely to make a choice not to vaccinate. (See: http://www.vaccineriskawareness.com/More-Educated-Mothers-Are-Less-Likely-To-Vaccinate )
Unfortunately, the natural desire of parents to protect their children from harm (by refusing vaccines that they believe pose unacceptable risks to health) has sparked an international backlash led by Big Pharma – which doesn’t want parents’ legitimate fears about vaccine safety to interfere with its multibillion dollar business.
Manipulation of the political process (such as we have just seen in NZ when a vociferous supporter of vaccination manipulates his way into the the chairmanship of the Health Select Committee and holds an Inquiry into vaccination rates that produces a report that recommends a new coercive vaccination policy) can potentially be used as a tool to maintain vaccine sales. In the USA, vaccines such as Gardasil can be mandated for school attendance. Drug companies contribute generously to both the Democratic and Republican parties, thus ensuring that whichever is in government, it will be business as usual for the vaccine industry.
A war is also being fought for the hearts and minds of the public. Vocal vaccination proponent and co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine, Dr Paul Offit wrote a book called Autism’s New False Prophets in an attempt to restore public confidence in vaccination following disclosures that the MMR vaccine and paediatric vaccines containing extremely high levels of mercury could be contributing to the autism epidemic.
In 2011 he published a new book Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All designed to scapegoat parents who decide against vaccination as a danger to the rest of the community – even though if vaccines worked as advertised, individuals who are vaccinated should be protected and therefore at no risk of developing an infectious disease.
Vaccine Epidemic may be seen as one of the initiatives in the struggle to maintain human rights in an age where corporate interests are increasingly dominating public policy.**
Have no doubt about it: human rights are under threat. In the USA, most paediatric vaccines have been mandated for school entry for years. This means that unless parents can obtain an exemption their children cannot attend school. In most (but not all) states of the USA, it is possible to obtain exemptions from vaccination on medical, religious or philosophical grounds. The discrimination against unvaccinated children in the USA has led to increased numbers of parents choosing to educate their children at home. Unfortunately, even after compulsory education ends, institutions of “higher learning” continue the ignoble practice of discriminating against unvaccinated students. In some cases, refusal to admit an otherwise qualified students unless s/he submits to vaccination can have tragic consequences, such as the case of a virtuoso violinist who had been home-educated – and not vaccinated. The college into which she had been accepted refused to waive its vaccination requirements, so she agreed to having an MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) shot. Despite being healthy before the vaccine, after the MMR jab she developed arthritis so severe that she could no longer play her instrument and her general health deteriorated so badly that she had to go on disability.
Incidentally, chronic arthritis following MMR vaccination is on the US National Vaccine Injury Act list of compensable events, and the datasheet for MSD’s MMR-II vaccine on Medsafe’s website lists chronic arthritis as a possible adverse effect following MMR vaccination. The NZ Ministry of Health does not mention the possibility of arthritis as a consequence of MMR vaccination in its booklet for parents “Childhood Immunisation”. Moreover, the Ministry of Health-produced Immunisation Handbook  misinforms health professionals by stating that the MMR vaccine “does not cause chronic arthritis”. The risk of arthritis following MMR vaccination is higher for adolescent girls and women than it is for younger children and men.
Vaccine Epidemic is an anthology and includes contributions from people with different perspectives. One message does come through consistently, however: the tragic results for individuals and their families when people are deceived, coerced, or downright forced into “accepting” vaccination as part of a policy purportedly designed to protect “public health” at the expense of the rights of the individual.
Captain Richard Rovet, USAF (Ret) contributes the story of how US services personnel were used as unwitting human guinea pigs for vaccines containing illegal squalene-based adjuvants – even though these adjuvants were known to induce autoimmune disease in animals. When many vaccine recipients predictably developed serious chronic illnesses as a result of their being used in these immoral experiments, they were accused of being “malingers, liars, whiners and malcontents”. Those who spoke out about these human rights abuses were threatened with dishonourable discharge. US military personnel are vulnerable to this sort of abuse because the US military can legally waive informed consent for its members and military personnel cannot sue the government.
“I have personally borne witness to the devastating effects of the anthrax vaccine. I will forever have etched upon my memory the vision of a young enlisted woman screaming and crying as she was forcibly held down while the needle delivering anthrax vaccine was pushed into her body. I will never forget the sad day when my dead friend, technical Sergeant Clarence Glover, died after anthrax vaccination. My memory holds the stories of those who skin literally burned off due to anthrax vaccine-induced Stevens-Johnston syndrome and of the infants under my care who were born with severe birth defects after their pregnant mothers were vaccinated with the anthrax vaccine.”
The news in Vaccine Epidemic is not all bleak, however. Chapter 14 “A Mother-Son Story” is written by Sonja Hintz, RN and Alexander Hintz
who respectively relate their different perspectives of Alexander’s decline into – and recovery from – vaccine-induced autism.
Vaccine Epidemic also discusses the fallacies of the theory of “herd immunity” (now being re-branded as “community protection” – at least in NZ) that provides the rationale for increasingly coercive vaccination policies. According to the chapter contributed to the book by Sheri Tenpenny (DO) in the USA, most children who contract so called “vaccine preventable” diseases are now fully vaccinated. Nevertheless, the vaccine companies promote rampant germophobia as a sales pitch in an effort to convince the public that they are vaccine deficient. Fewer people are falling for this nonsense. The internet has allowed many people to educate themselves about basic preventative health care choices (good nutrition, healthy lifestyles etc) that reduce the risk of developing infections – or suffering serious complications if they or their children do get sick. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the vaccine companies don’t like it when the public gets uppity and doesn’t want to take their medicine.
They don’t like it when books like Vaccine Epidemic take a long hard look at the science of vaccine safety and reveal to the public that there has never been a proper long term study comparing the health of vaccinated people with those who are not vaccinated. (In NZ, applications to conduct such studies have been rejected by ethics committees on the grounds that they are unethical because the unvaccinated would be denied the purported benefits of vaccination.)
Vaccine Epidemic, while being firmly on the side of human rights is generally even handed on the subject of vaccination. Its final chapter “What Should Parents Do?” includes information about books from on all sides of the vaccination issue from the unabashedly pro-vaccine camp, to books by doctors who advocate limited vaccination to doctors who oppose all vaccinations. These references could be very useful for parents who are in the process of making decisions about vaccination for their children.
I’ll give the final word in this review to James Turner, JD:
“In a moral society, there can be no mandated vaccinations. In a moral society citizens must be allowed to choose which vaccines they and their children receive and when. Without vaccination choice, society places both public and individual health at risk. Vaccination choice is a fundamental human right.”
Silenced Witnesses Vol. 2: The Parents’ Story: The Denial of Vaccine Damage by Government, Corporations and the Media
Written by the Parents, Edited by Martin J. Walker
290 pages, paperback, with index
Copyright Slingshot Publications
First published November 2009
“On the 17th May 1993 we received a card to attend for the MMR vaccination and after much thought we proceeded to have this done. On arrival at the Health Centre we were ushered into the waiting room. Jodie’s name was called and Pat carried Jodie in for the jab. It seemed like less than a minute when I heard a high pitched scream, which made my blood run cold. I realised the scream was from Jodie and rushed to the room just as Pat came out. Pat said that the syringe was already made up and the nurse was very rough. I looked at Jodie, pale and shivering and looking as if she was in shock and all the time screaming, a scream like I had never heard before.”
For Pat and Bill Marchant the day that they brought their daughter Jodie to the clinic to be vaccinated changed her life – and theirs – forever. Unknown to them at the time, Jodie had not only been injected with the MMR (with their written consent) but with two other vaccines – the DPT and polio vaccine, all drawn up into the one syringe – even though Pat and Bill had specifically refused permission (in writing) for the DPT should to be given.
The effects on Jodie, a baby who was “so loveable yet full of mischief” and whose first year of life had been “full of joy” was dramatic. Her speech disappeared and “her appearance became that of a zombie. She seemed oblivious to as if we did not exist.” She also continued to “scream in in agony”.
The local GP was of no help suggesting that if Jodie’s behaviour was difficult, her parents should shut her in her bedroom and let her “cry it out”.
In desperation Pat and Bill demanded that a health visitor be sent to visit them. By this time “Jodie was not eating, had lost speech and eye contact and was clearly in extreme pain. She was not sleeping and appeared to be lost in her own little world.” The health visitor agreed that there was something was clearly wrong with Jodie and arranged for further assessments. Eventually in 2007 an MRI (Jodie’s second; the first had apparently been normal) revealed a chiari malformation. Surgery followed to lift her brain and tonsils back into their original positions. This had positive effects: Jodie’s vomiting declined in frequency and her previously life-threatening convulsions also decreased in frequency and severity. She sleeps better and is more affectionate towards family members and occasionally says words such as “Mum”, “Dad” and “Hello”.
Since her parents began writing their chapter of Silenced Witnesses, they discovered that “Jodie has a mitochondrial disorder and this has made us aware of the real need to test children before vaccination”.
To date Pat and Bill have not been able to get justice for their daughter despite the fact that she was injected with the DPT against their express written consent – and by subterfuge – as the DPT, MMR and polio vaccines were mixed into the same syringe. They brought an assault charge against their doctor Allison Hill but this was unsuccessful. (A child protection officer had agreed that Jodie’s vaccination with the DPT against her parents’ written consent did constitute an assault but warned her parents that “politics would stop him from finishing the case.”)
A complaint to the General Medical Council (GMC) also got no results as even though the GMC agreed that what had occurred in Jodie’s case was “unprofessional” the doctor could not be blamed if the nurse who administered the vaccines acted incorrectly.
Despite these set backs, Pat and Bill have not given up: They conclude their chapter with the following words:
“We have no doubt that Jodie was left disabled by a combination of vaccines that has never been tested for safety. This illegal concoction was deliberately mixed in one syringe and it destroyed our daughter. We will never give up our fight to obtain justice for Jodie.”
Unfortunately Bill and Pat are not alone in having a child’s future destroyed. Another case in Silenced Witnesses is that of Josh Edwards whose mother, Heather contributed the chapter “Suffering in Silence”, about how her son Josh’s life was devastated by the MMR vaccine.
Josh, born December 13, 1992, was a “perfect baby” who had such a lovely affectionate nature everyone wanted to take him home with them”. By the time he was 11 moths old he spoke single words such as “Mamma”, “Dada”, “Ta”, “Gone”, “Juice” and “Bye”.
Josh reacted to his 13 month MMR vaccination with a high fever, five days of diarrhoea and then chronic constipation. By the age of 18 months he had lost all his speech. A year later he was assessed at a child development centre as his “odd” behaviour had raised suspicions of autism. He was later diagnosed as autistic.
When Josh was four years old, he had his second MMR vaccination. Heather writes:
“I suppose like many parents I had more or less accepted the assurances of the doctors that the onset of Josh’s problems was not related to the MMR vaccine, that the timing was a coincidence. So when the time came for the MMR booster…I took him.”
Josh’s reaction to his second MMR shot was to have diarrhoea for three days followed by a worsening of his constipation: soon he was only opening his bowels twice a month. His behaviour also deteriorated
Heather writes of her son’s post MMR symptoms:
“…surely this could not be a coincidence. For Josh to develop diarrhoea and regression once may be, but twice surely not. There was NO WAY Jodie [her new baby] was going to have the MMR.”
Josh began to lose the toilet training skills that Heather had helped him to learn and he became more obsessive. Over time, his constipation became so bad that his bowels filled with impacted faeces causing frequent vomiting and necessitating surgery to remove the impacted material. However despite these procedures (and laxatives, and so many enemas that he developed regular rectal bleeding requiring his mother to syringe local anaesthetic “into his bottom to relieve the pain that he was in”) by 2004 Josh had to have his sigmoid colon removed. This means that Josh – who still had no speech – now had to cope with a stoma and a bag for faeces. Fortunately he accepted these quite well, although you can imagine that this was not easy for his mother, who was responsible for his daily care.
In September 2004 however, it was obvious that this operation had not been successful in resolving Josh’s symptoms and it was decided to remove his entire colon. Heather gave staff written instructions to save the colon tissue and store it in the freezer for later testing. By this time, Josh’s case was one of the children whose cases were being prepared for court action against the manufacturers of the MMR vaccines used in Great Britain; the case was later abandoned when Legal Aid was withdrawn from all the claims. His colon tissue needed to be tested for the presence of measles viruses. If it could be shown that his colon tissue contained the vaccine strain of the measles virus, his case for compensation would be strengthened considerably.
When Josh was about to be discharged from hospital two weeks after his operation, Heather “began arranging for a courier to collect the [colon tissue] sample from the hospital. I told the hospital that a courier would be able to collect the sample the next day bring dry ice and a suitable container. To save the courier waiting around could they make sure the colon was within easy access of [in] the freezer? As I worked this out with the hospital I felt confident and reassured. You can imagine my shock when a few hours later I received a phone call to inform me that though the box had been found in the freezer it was empty. The box was also clearly labeled, ready for the courier with Dr Wakefield’s name, although who wrote this was a mystery.
“The immunologist was distraught and could not explain what had happened. The colon sample was later found at the other end of the lab on a workbench; it had by then deteriorated so badly that it was useless for research. The colon had not been logged in on the system and therefore did not need to be logged out. Whoever did this knew how important it was. We had lost an irreplaceable piece of evidence.”
To add insult to injury, the hospital then tried to cover up the fact that someone in their organisation – or who had access to their premises – had destroyed the tissue sample needed to help a desperately ill child to be compensated for his iatrogenic injuries.
Josh and his family struggle on. Unfortunately while removal of his entire colon stopped Josh’s constipation he still has other sever GI tract issues including inflammation, polyps, food intolerances and vomiting so severe that for the last three years he has been unable to eat food and his reliant on pharmaceutical nutrient solutions to stay alive. His behaviour has deteriorated. He used to be a “calm, placid and affectionate” child. Now he is very aggressive and doesn’t even like to be spoken to. He still cannot speak himself.
His mother writes:
“The only explanation I can imagine for Josh’s changed behaviour is hormones. Having said that perhaps his new behaviour is understandable in light of all the pain for GI issues, chronic refluxing, his inability to eat and being disturbed every night [when his mother changes his bag, which she has to do twice a night]. Whatever the cause, how do I communicate to Josh that hitting out and and slapping my face is unacceptable behaviour?
“When I read about parents who have killed themselves and their disabled child, I have no trouble at all imagining how someone got into that state of mind. I could not do that, however. Perhaps because I feel that the rest of my family needs me. But there is so little help and support offered to families like ours that I understand how people arrive at the point where they can no longer carry on.
“I no longer grieve for the ‘perfect’ child I should have because without his disability Josh would not be Josh. We all love him for who he is now and we know he loves us. I would not give Josh up for anything, but I wish I could spare him all the pain and suffering that he has to go through every day of his life. At those times when he is not frustrated or in pain, I hope he is happy but I don’t really know what it is like in his world because he cannot tell me. I know he is often scared, frightened and confused, and that makes my heart heavy.”
Josh’s case is an extreme example of the GI tract damage that some children develop following MMR vaccination – together with regressive autism. Other parents in the book contribute stories of their children’s serious physical illnesses, such as Deborah Heather, who son Andrew’s bowels regularly became so impacted that he could not hold down food or even fluids and vomited up bile.
The medication that Andrew has had to take for his bowel dysfunction also caused awful side effects:
“…we had to watch him quite closely because he had no controls of his motions, the diarrhoea would come through so quickly, if you turned away for a second there would be a trail behind him. He would be sitting watching his videos and it would just fall away from him, his smearing would cover the walls, his bedclothes, carpets and his bedroom door.”
Andrew (who is also autistic) cannot talk but has some understanding of speech and can communicate his needs by giving his parents pictures of what he wants. (His family use the Picture Exchange Communication System.)
Like other children whose stories are featured in this book, he has not received any compensation despite being part of a group in which the children’s cases were taken to the Royal Court of Justice and eventually the European Court of Human Rights.
All of the families who have contributed stories to this book have had their lives changed irrevocably by their children’s vaccine-induced injury. All have taken the time the contribute to this book in the hope that their child’s suffering will not be in vain and that other parents will be able prevent their children from similar fates.
In the case of Polly and Jon Tommey, their son Billy’s decline into autism following his MMR vaccine meant that they both changed their careers. Together in September 1999 they launched a magazine called The Autism File, a magazine that is now distributed worldwide with American and Spanish editions.
The magazine’s first issue included three letters about autism and vaccination; one about the DPT, MMR and autism and the other two about the MMR-autism connection.
As Polly writes:
“This was my first experience, as an editor, of what happens to you when you publicly speak out against the MMR vaccination. We received a couple of letters from anonymous writers warning us that we would not stay in print if we carried on publishing such dangerous claims.”
However, it did not put them off reporting the truth about their son’s condition. Issue 3 of The Autism File included the following:
“The biggest breakthrough we have found since my report in the last issue is that Billy has a high reading of antibodies to measles. Dr Singh found Billy to have a high antibody to measles reading of 6.3 in comparison to a read of 3.15 for the normal control reading….Why did this not show up in his earlier vital antibody test conducted here in London two months earlier where the result showed negative?” This could indicate an active measles infection. Dr Wakefield at the Royal Free [Hospital] found a number of children with autism with gut related disorders have a measles virus present in the dendritic cells of the colon…and so it goes on.”
This issue was met with some positive phone calls, a “few odd calls” including a GP “who told us that we were a danger to other families with autism and that he would be taking this further.”
Polly and Jon persisted, however:
“The issues went on; the stories about vaccine damage grew. I tried to keep a balanced view in the magazine , but too many were writing in with the same stories. We quickly recognised that ‘shouting too loud’ about Billy’s decline was going to get us nowhere; and fast too. None of the big autism organisations wanted to be associated with parents who were perceived as ‘hysterical’”.
The couple’s commitment to the truth of their son’s vaccine-induced autism has had its social costs:
‘”Every dinner party we get invited to, I check to see if any GPs are there. Jon and I have lost friends over these parties. It’s always the same old thing; the doctors say it’s a load of rubbish and we tell them the way it is. Jon is particularly good at this as he often blinds them with stuff they quite obviously know nothing about. They always finish with the same old patronising line about how Jon and I should ‘Get out more and try and accept that the MMR is safe’. We have also lost a few close friends through our refusal to back down on this.
“We’ve fallen out with family members, mainly on Jon’s side, as they are GPs who refuse to listen or even try to understand. This particularly hurts Jon who cannot understand why anyone who knew Billy before and saw what happened to him could believe ‘the media’ over what really happened.
Polly and Jon recognise that they are fortunate compared to many other parents of autistic children. Feeling failed by the majority of the medical profession Jon decided to train in clinical nutrition so that he could help Billy and other children similarly affected. For Billy, the biological treatments that he has had (beginning with secretin infusions) have been beneficial. He can now speak (although not as well as a normal 12 year old) and is a “very happy boy with high functioning autism”.
“I hear of so many families with children like Billy that haven’t had such good results, many can’t afford treatment, many haven’t the energy or the time, few have support and so many are tired, tired of fighting the doctors, the legal system, the educational system, their families; everything is a constance battle to fight for your child’s rights. Parents feel guilty but they shouldn’t have to.
“Help should be free and readily available, but it’s not, and the real battle to get the Government and medical profession to act on behalf of vaccine damaged children rather than against them, has, I fear, only just begun.”
Silenced Witnesses (Volume 2) is not an easy book to read, drawing you in, as it does, into the world of grief, guilt, anger and exhausted struggle of parents whose children’s lives were forever changed for the worse by vaccines that their parents believed would protect their health. However the parents’ love for their children and their courage and perseverance in the face of their difficulties shine through.
The Silent Witnesses books can be ordered from the Slingshot publications site, http://www.slingshotpublications.com.Information about bulk orders and review copies can be obtained by writing to email@example.com or using the message form on the Slingshot Publications site.
About the Editor
Martin J. Walker is the author of ten books. His first four books grew out of his work as an activist in the 1980s and are mainly about, policing, wrongful arrest and imprisonment. His fifth book, Dirty Medicine: Science, Big Business and the Assault on Natural Healthcare was a landmark book on the suppression of natural remedies and alternative health practitioners by agents of the regulatory agencies and corporations. He followed this with other books about the politics of medicine, including a book on the hidden illness ME/CFS and HRT: Licensed to Kill and Maim. He has also returned to the story of individuals and lobby groups, tracing their history since Dirty Medicine in two later books, Brave New World of Zero Risk and Cultural Dwarfs.
In 2005, Martin Walker began supporting parents whose children had been injured by the MMR vaccine. He attended almost every day of the three year General Medical Council (GMC) hearing that tried three doctors on a large number of trumped up charges – authors who initially reported in the Lancet on the relationship between MMR vaccination, bowel disease and regressive autism — and eventually struck Dr Wakefield and Professor Walker-Smith off the medical register. (For more information on this issue, read the review of Dr Wakefield’s book, below.)
The GMC hearings grew out of a Sunday Times article by freelance reporter Brian Deer. None of the parents of the children who had been treated by Professor Walker-Smith’s team had complained about their children’s treatment. All but one of the parents of the autistic children whose cases were reviewed in the Lancet paper were barred from giving testimony in the GMC hearings; they were in effect Silenced Witnesses. This travesty of justice motivated Martin Walker to propose that parents of vaccine-damaged children contribute the stories of their children’s decline into regressive autism following MMR vaccination to two books entitled Silenced Witnesses (Volumes 1 and 2). He edited the stories, wrote introductory chapters and published both books. Volume 2 is accompanied by a free DVD Selective Hearing: Brian Deer and the GMC, produced by Alan Golding and praised by Dan Olmsted an editor of the website www.ageofautism.com/ as “the single best video ever made about the autism epidemic.” Martin Walker’s writing on other aspects of the “Wakefield affair”, consisting of eight essays are also available on his site.
To find out more about Martin J. Walker’s work or to buy his books please visit http://www.slingshotpublications.com/
Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines – The Truth Behind a Tragedy
Andrew J. Wakefield
271 pages, hardback
Reviewed by Katherine Smith
Tonight as I begin writing this review (May 26, 2010) the television news (propaganda) broadcast on NZ’s TV3 carried a story about how Dr Andrew Wakefield has lost his license to practise medicine in the UK. The reporter trotted out a series of damning allegations about Dr Wakefield’s research, stating that his hypothesis that the MMR vaccine could cause autism in some children had been proven to be false in numerous studies involving “hundreds of thousands of children” and blaming Dr Wakefield for creating a lack of confidence in the MMR vaccine that has resulted in the resurgence of measles. She concluded by stating that Dr Wakefield has asserted that he is innocent of any wrong doing and intends to appeal the decision. Her tone of voice communicated her scorn – and gall – that someone as reprehensible as Dr Wakefield dared to refuse to accept the facts of the case and was stubbornly appealing instead.
If mainstream media were your only source of information about Andrew Wakefield, you’d think him a villain. It’s the way he’s generally been portrayed in the media; as an unethical charatan who has abused the trust of both his patients (and their parents) and deceived the general public by casting aspersion on one of modern medicine’s sacred cows – the MMR vaccine.
Given the mainstream media’s coverage of Dr Wakefield’s story and that fact that he was pronounced as having treated his autistic patients with “callous disregard” you might expect that last people to support Dr Wakefield would be the parents of the “Lancet 12″ – the children whose case histories were published in the first article in the Lancet. However, the parents of these children are among Dr Wakefield’s strongest supporters, eight of them writing an open letter to the General Medical Council (GMC) in support of Dr Wakefield and his colleagues Dr Murch and Professor Walker-Smith.
“Many of us had been to several other doctors in our quest to get help for our children but not until we saw Professor Walker-Smith and his colleagues were full investigations [of their long-standing distressing gastrointestinal symptoms] undertaken. We were all treated with the utmost professionalism and respect by all three of these doctors [Prof. Walker-Smith, Professor Simon Murch and Dr Andrew Wakefield]. Throughout our children’s care at the Royal Free Hospital we were kept fully informed about the investigations recommended and the treatment plans which evolved. All of the investigations were carried out without distress to our children, many of whom made great improvements on treatment so that for the first time in years they were finally pain free.”
“We have been following the GMC [General Medical Council] hearings with distress as we, the parents, have had no opportunity to refute the allegations. For the most part we have been excluded from giving evidence to support these doctors whom we all hold in very high regard. It is for this reason we are writing to the GMC and to all concerned to be absolutely clear that the complaint that is being brought against these three caring and compassionate physicians does not in any way reflect our perception of the treatment offered to our sick children at the Royal Free [Hospital]. We are appalled that these doctors have been the subject of this protracted enquiry in the absence of any complaint from any parents about [the treatment of] any of the children who were reported in the Lancet paper.”
It’s a sad day for medicine and the mainstream media when a dedicated doctor like Andrew Wakefield has to write an entire book to set the record straight because so many lies about him have been promulgated by the media.
It’s a sad day for parents of both autistic and normal children when conscientious doctors like Andrew Wakefield and his colleagues are persecuted because they cared enough about their child patients (and their beleagered parents) to comprehensively investigate the children’s condition, in the hope that at least some of their distressing symptoms might be able to be ameliorated.
Of course the persecution of Dr Wakefield and his colleagues wouldn’t have happened except for the fact that they listened to the parents of their patients’ when they took the case histories of the children’s decline into autism – combined with severe bowel symptoms – and found that there was a common factor in the case histories of most of the children: their behaviour had been normal prior to their receiving the MMR vaccine.
Professor Walker-Smith’s team decided the subject was important enough to share with the medical community as well as the general public, and so prepared an article for publication in the Lancet on their initial findings. Even though the original Lancet paper did not state that the MMR vaccine caused the children’s autism and debilitating bowel symptoms, the fact that a team of doctors from the prestigious Royal Free hospital had published research demonstrating a link between the MMR vaccine and autism ignited a storm of controversy that continues until this day.
What’s more, Dr Wakefield was sufficiently concerned by the relationship between MMR vaccination, autism and bowel symptoms that before the publication of the Lancet article he wrote to his colleagues stating that based on their findings and his review of “all safety studies performed on measles, MR and MMR vaccines and revaccination policies…I cannot support the continued use of the polyvalent MMR vaccine. I have no doubt about the value of the monovalent vaccine and will continue to support its use until the case has been proven one way or another of the measles link to chronic inflammatory bowel disease…I will strongly recommend the use of monovalent vaccines as opposed to the polyvalent vaccines. This will not compromise children by increasing their risk of wild infection, and may reduce the risk of apparent synergy between the component viruses that have been identified by Dr Scott Montgomery as a risk for inflammatory bowel disease, and may well be a risk for autism in our children, currently under investigation.”
At the press conference that followed the publication of the Lancet paper, Wakefield accordingly recommended that parents wanting to vaccinate their children against the measles choose the single measles-only vaccine (which was on the UK market at the time) rather than the MMR.
Callous Disregard reveals that the case brought against Dr Wakefield by the GMC was instigated by a complaint from freelance journalist Brian Deer. Brian Deer is a author of a number of factually incorrect articles about Dr Wakefield and his work, one of which was the subject of a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). The PCC required that Deer’s articles be removed from the website of the Sunday Times – and the articles were temporarily removed, but then reinstated in defiance of the PCC ruling.
Dr Wakefield also identifies Professor Tom MacDonald as a malign force behind the scenes, working hand-in-glove with Brian Deer in the journalist’s ruthless campaign to discredit Dr Wakefield and his work – regardless of the facts of the case. MacDonald is a scientist who previously worked with Dr Walker-Smith’s team but declined the opportunity to transfer to the Royal Free Hospital. Wakefield states that MacDonald “reportedly vowed to his boss to destroy my career.” Wakefield cites notes from a meeting between MacDonald and GMC lawyers who were vetting MacDonald as a witness, that state that MacDonald “believes Wakefield is a charlatan” intent on winning a Nobel prize and that “Wakefield’s alleged link between measles vaccine and Crohn’s was entirely fabricated in order to obtain publicity for this reason.” MacDonald also acted as a witness for the defendants in the MMR litigation in both the USA and UK.
Dr Wakefield also became involved in the legal aspects of the MMR issue, explaining his decision in a letter to his colleagues:
“The future for the children with whom we are dealing is very bleak indeed. Not only are the provisions for these children within the community inadequate at present, but looking ahead to the future, there will come a time when the parents of these children die, and the patients, as chronically disabled adults, left to fend for themselves in an extremely hostile world. Were there any long-term institutions left for such children then that is where they would end up. Since these hospitals are being closed on an almost weekly basis, these hopeless individuals will be left to ‘care in the community’. One does not like to imagine how it will all end, maybe their only hope is in people taking the possible organic basis of their disease seriously enough to investigate it and institute the appropriate therapies where possible.
“Vaccination is designed to protect the majority, and it does so at the expense of a minority of individuals who suffer adverse consequences. Although the case against MMR is far from proven, it is one that we are obliged to investigate in view of the consistent history given by these patients’ parents and by the observations made in the United States. If this disease is caused by the MMR vaccination, then these children are the few unfortunates that have been sacrificed to protect the majority of children in this country. If this is the case, our society has an absolute obligation to compensate and care for those who have been damaged by the vaccine for the greater good. This is an inescapable moral imperative and is the principle reasons that I have decided to become involved in helping these children pursue their claims…I feel I am obliged to…support these children. Without our help, I genuinely believe that the medical profession would otherwise have put them to one side, as it appears to have done in many cases already. My present fears for these children are much less than the horrible imaginings if they do not receive the appropriate help that is due them at this stage. However, I am an optimist, and I believe that this project will turn out to be both enlightening and rewarding for all those who have been involved, and I am most grateful for your help and encouragement.”
Dr Wakefield devotes a considerable number of pages in his book to refuting various allegations made by Brian Deer. In his Afterword, “Ethics, Evidence and the Death of Medicine” (co-written with James Moody Esq.) he states:
“The [GMC] prosecution proceeded on the basis of a preconceived assumption of guilt rather than conducting a fair and thorough investigation. Perhaps this whole GMC case has not been an honest effort to protect patients but politically motivated scapegoating after all?…Perhaps this is just one part of an ongoing campaign to stop research into the safety of the MMR and vaccines on the one hand, and on the other to conceal the appalling refusal of the NHS [National Health Service] to provide proper care for autistic children with severe GI problems, which is itself an egregious violation of basic medical ethics.”
According to the editor of the Lancet, Richard Horton, the UK Health Secretary (who holds a position equivalent to that of the Minister of Health in New Zealand and Australia) had urged the GMC to do what it could to “investigate Wakefield as a matter of urgency”. It speaks volumes about the commitment of the British Health Secretary to the health of the British people that he would push to have Dr Wakefield investigated, rather than the MMR vaccine.
Given the powerful vested interests of the vaccine manufacturers, for whom the MMR vaccine was extremeIy profitable, it was probably inevitable that pressure would be brought to bear on Dr Wakefield and his colleagues.
One of the manufacturers of MMR vaccine is Merck (MSD). Merck is infamous for its antiinflammatory drug Vioxx (rocoxefib), which caused heart attacks and strokes. It was eventually pulled from the market, but not until it had caused an estimated 27,000 deaths in the USA alone. Signficantly, Merck reportedly spent several spent years covering up the adverse effects of Vioxx so that it could continue to reap the profits of the extremely popular drug. According to Callous Disregard, during this time, the publishing house Elsevier (owner of the Lancet and five hundred other publications) set up five fake medical journals. These journals appeared to be reputable scientific journals, however, they were funded by Merck and designed to favour Merck’s products. Moreover “Merck itself circulated an internal memo that suggested corporate policy on Vioxx included seeking out dissenting doctors and destroying them where they live.”
(A good overview of Merck’s activities may be read at the following link:
New Zealand readers may already be aware that it is Merck’s MMR vaccine that is usually injected into New Zealand children – at the taxpayer’s expense. (In New Zealanders, there are no accurate statistics for the frequency of autism spectrum disorders but it is estimated that 1/100 New Zealanders now suffer from an autistic spectrum disorder.)
Several weeks ago I had the privilege of interviewing Dr Wakefield (over the phone) from his home in Texas, where he now lives. Until recently he was working as a consultant for Thoughtful House, an autism treatment centre in Houston. However, after the GMC hearing stripped him of his licence to practise medicine in the UK, he left this position.
Dr Wakefield is one of the third generation of his family to graduate from medical school. He speaks precisely, in measured tones and his voice has a very British gravitas. He sounds like the sort of person who has never jumped to a hasty conclusion in his life.
We spoke for an hour about his work and its ramifications.
“I have lost my job, my home and my country”, he said early on in the interview, when I told him that mainstream media in New Zealand was portraying him as an irresponsible charlatan, while other reports I had read suggested that his motivation was pecuniary self interest. Despite the personal price that he has had to pay, he didn’t sound bitter. (In his book he declares that it has “always been a privilege working on behalf of children with autism and their families” and that “The damage done to my reputation and to that of my colleagues as well as the personal price for pursuing a valid scientific question while putting the patients’ interests above all others is trivial compared with the impact of these falsehoods on the children’s access to appropriate and necessary care.”)
I asked Dr Wakefield about the allegations that he had profited handsomely from his work on the MMR-autism relationship, as had been alleged by freelance journalist Brian Deer.
Not so, Dr Wakefield said. The 60,000 pound grant had been paid to London University Medical school and handled properly.
“And the 435,000 pounds you were allegedly paid by the Legal Aid Board for your work as a medical expert in the MMR lawsuits?”
The 435,000 pound figure was exaggerated, Dr Wakefield told me, adding “I never saw a penny of the money”, and going on to relate how his dream had been to set up a gastroenterology research centre at the University of London. All the money that he was paid by the Legal Aid Board (LAB), he therefore donated to an initiative to fund the creation of this centre through commercialisation of intellectual property owned by the medical school but funded by Dr Wakefield. Then the MMR-autism controversy meant that he was forced to leave his academic position at the university. The research centre was not established.
“What happened with the lawsuits?” I asked Dr Wakefield. “The results of these cases weren’t reported in NZ.” Dr Wakefield sighed and explained that he had been working on the case for about a year when he had received an unexpected phone call from a representative of the Legal Aid Board.
“If you were to go to court tomorrow, would you win?” asked the LAB representative.
Dr Wakefield was flummoxed. He didn’t see the relevance of the question.
“We’re not going to court now. We’re going to court in a year,” he replied.
“But if you were to go to court now, would you win?”
“We’d probably win on bowel disease.”
“Probably not. There’s more research we need to do yet.”
Funding for the court case, Dr Wakefield told me was stopped the following day. Lacking the research data to prove that the MMR could cause autism the plaintiffs lost their case.
“So the autistic children didn’t receive any compensation?” I asked.
“Nothing.” Dr Wakefield confirmed.
(In case you are wondering why the Legal Aid Board, a government funded body, stopped funding litigation that could result in vaccine-damaged children receiving compensation, one possible reason was that it was not the MMR-manufacturers who were the defendants in this case, but the British government. In 1988 a deal had been made between the Department of Health to indemnify UK vaccine manufacturer Smith Kline Beecham after their MMR vaccine “Trivirix” had been withdrawn from the Canadian market due to unacceptably high rates of adverse effects. It was then renamed “Pluserix” and licensed in the UK where unsuspecting British parents were encouraged to have it injected into their children.)
I told Dr Wakefield about how (in the early 1960s) the New Zealand Department of Health had purchased a polio vaccine that was contaminated with the monkey Simian Virus 40 (SV40). The vaccine had been manufactured in Canada, but was not licensed for use there. The NZ Health Department had ignored the advice of its own virologist, who had warned against the vaccine’s use, as even at that time, SV40 was known to cause tumours. New Zealand now has a cancer epidemic. Practically no research is being conducted in this country to determine how much of a role SV40 may be playing in this ongoing national tragedy.
Dr Wakefield contributed to the recent case of how vaccines against rota virus – a virus that can cause gastroenteritis, especially in young children, had recently been found to be contaminated with porcine [pig] retroviruses. When the first rotavirus vaccine had been found to be contaminated, it was withdrawn from the market. Then porcine retroviruses were discovered in a second manufacturer’s rota virus vaccine. The FDA reacted promptly. However, it did not withdraw the second rota virus vaccine from the market. It allowed its manufacturer to continue marketing this contaminated vaccine – and also gave the manufacturer of the first contaminated rota virus vaccine permission to put its product back on the market. The FDA justified these decisions with the excuse that there was no evidence that porcine retroviruses could cause any ill effects in vaccine recipients.
“Porcine retroviruses have the potential to integrate into vaccine recipients’ DNA,” Dr Wakefield said. “It’s disgraceful to allow vaccines that are contaminated with porcine retroviruses to be injected into children.”
“Disgraceful” is a word that you don’t hear that much in conversation anymore – or even in public discourse – despite, or perhaps because, of the growing corruption of many facets of modern life.
“Disgraceful” is a word that I remember Dr Wakefield using several times during the interview. It is clear that unlike a large proportion of the modern inhabitants of the Western world who have accommodated to the general decline in ethical standards, or indeed decided to exploit the growing moral vacuum for personal gain, Dr Wakefield has not abandoned the central precept of the Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm.”
It is not an easy time to be a physician of conscience. Dr Wakefield is realistic about the agenda driving modern medicine. Drug discovery, he says, is in decline; there are no new “wonder drugs” in the pipeline and the patents for many commonly used medications are expiring, threatening substantial reductions income streams. Big Pharma has accordingly pinned its hopes on vaccines. The industry cannot afford adverse publicity about vaccines that could affect public confidence in their products. If vaccine uptake remains high, the manufacturers’ profits will be high, and will remain so since any immunity from vaccination is temporary at best, necessitating regular “booster” shots to augment declining immunity.
“My experience,” [in bringing the MMR-autism link to the attention of the medical profession and public, and his subsequent persecution] writes Dr Wakefield, in the first chapter of his book “serves as a cynical example to discourage others. As a consequence, many physicians in the United Kingdom and the United Sates will not risk providing the care that is due to these children. There is pervasive and openly stated bias against funding and publication of this work, and I have been excluded from presenting at meetings on the instructions of the sponsoring pharmaceutical company. This episode in medical history has been an effective exercise in public relations and selling newspapers. But it will fail – it will fail because nature cannot be deceived.”
Dr Wakefield’s book may be purchased from his website www.callous-disregard.com
The website also has updates on the MMR-autism issue and links to interviews with Dr Wakefield.
Its research page http://www.callous-disregard.com/research.htm includes downloadable PDFs of some of the key studies demonstrating a link between MMR and autism.
Postscript: The Daily Mail has recently published an article reporting that Dr Wakefield’s hypothesis is now supported by new research being conducted at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina, USA. See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-388051/Scientists-fear-MMR-link-autism.html for details.