Immunization Options: A Parent's Dilemma - Dr Isaac Golden - Part 1

Every Australian who has chosen to take personal responsibility for their health, and the health of their family, is faced with a dilemma. They are told that Australia has one of the best health systems in the world. The media constantly reports great advances in medicine, with promises of cures which are little short of miraculous. Yet the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that we have an epidemic of chronic disease in this country, including in our children where 40% of all young Australians under the age of 15 have at least one chronic disease, growing to over 90% for Australians aged over 45 years[1]. 

We know that most GPs and nurses are hard-working and caring people, who put the interests of their patients foremost. We see the marvellous work done in emergency departments at local hospitals, by trauma teams in natural disasters, in challenging surgical procedures which save lives, in burn units throughout Australia, and we know the lives saved by paramedics and ambulance officers every day of the year. Yet most of us know someone with diabetes, or a child with asthma, or a relative with arthritis, and so on. We also know that very few people over the age of 40 are not on some form of medication. We are told that the health budget is becoming increasingly unaffordable even though many poor Australians are going without timely care. These are symptoms of a health system under stress. This divergence between claims and results leads to a questioning of orthodox medical authorities.

This questioning is most apparent when it comes to issues regarding the prevention of infectious diseases using vaccination. Health officials state that vaccination is one of the cornerstones of modern medicine, that it has changed the lives of billions of people, that it has virtually eliminated many infectious diseases, and that whilst there are some risks they are much less than the risks of the diseases that the vaccines are intended to prevent, so that every responsible parent should ensure that their children are fully vaccinated.

Yet many parents of vaccinated children see their lives change following the vaccines. Their children may develop chronic skin problems, asthma and chronic respiratory issues, or they may become emotionally distant losing eye contact with their loved ones and losing speech and intellectual capacities which were evident prior to certain vaccines. So what are parents to believe – who can they trust? Why has something on which we all should agree become so contentious, leading to family disputes, legal action, with threats from politicians supported by the media, and a lack of preparedness by academics and medical researchers to openly share research information? We find that parents who do their own research and who come to different conclusions than those expressed in the media or in government publications, or by the majority of people working in the orthodox medical system, are hounded and criticised. Yet their conclusions can be very reasonable and very evidence based.

For example, every government publication on vaccination declares that the evidence denying a link between vaccination and autism is overwhelming and that anyone who suggests a link may exist is irresponsible and a danger to the community. Yet there are many parents of autistic children in our community, as well as overseas, who know that characteristics of their child changed following vaccines, in particular the MMR vaccine usually given at 12 months of age. They have reported their children being “lost” to them within a week or two of the vaccine. Doctors tell them that it is a coincidence, or that they are imagining things, or that autism just happens to start around 12 to 18 months of age and that vaccination has nothing to do with it. Yet many parents in this situation simply do not believe what they are told; they believe what they see and what they live with every day of their lives. Once again, trust is compromised.

Further, an examination of the raw data on which claims discrediting any link between vaccination and autism are based reveals a small group of research articles which support the claim. Yet not one of those articles satisfies the three things which are needed for any research to definitively prove the absence of a link between vaccination and any health condition, including autism. Those three conditions are; 1. A comparison between fully vaccinated and completely unvaccinated children; 2. An holistic examination of the intellectual, emotional and physical health of children in both groups; and 3. The study of age-appropriate children in both cohorts.

For example, the top 5 articles cited by the Institute of Medicine review in 2012 [2] claim they have compared vaccinated and unvaccinated children ([3] Madsen 2002, [4] Smeeth 2004, [5] Mrozek 2010, [6] Taylor 1999, [7]Farrington 2001). Yet all have compared one group of vaccinated children (including MMR vaccine) with a second group of differently vaccinated children (excluding MMR vaccine). Both groups are vaccinated, so their claims of an unvaccinated cohort are misleading. More importantly, the most obvious and necessary research question has not been tested; i.e., what is the difference in the holistic health of fully vaccinated compared to completely unvaccinated children? Until this question is asked, and the full unmodified results published, concerned parents have every right to question the advice they are given. 

Further, when one looks at the so-called Danish studies which are held up to be definitive proof that there is no link between vaccination and autism we find massive confounders (give examples) as well as research fraud and the withholding of relevant information [4], [8].

It should be remembered that most doctors simply do not have the time to examine the evidence base upon which claims are made, so that it is entirely possible for an intelligent and informed parent to know more than the GP lecturing them on the irresponsibility of their decision to question vaccination.

So why are orthodox health authorities withholding some of the information needed by parents to make a fully informed decision about vaccination? It is suggested that the central problem has already been identified in orthodox medical literature but health authorities and politicians have chosen to avoid dealing with it. The culprit is greed. The perpetrators are the senior managers of the large multinational pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharma). These companies dominate every aspect of Western medicine. This may seem like an overused cliché, but let us consider the evidence upon which this statement is based.

Professor John Ioannidis and colleagues reviewed pharmaceutical industry influences and concluded that “To serve its interests, the industry masterfully influences evidence base production, evidence synthesis, understanding of harms issues, cost-effectiveness evaluations, clinical practice guidelines and healthcare professional education and also exerts direct influences on professional decisions and health consumers. There is an urgent need for regulation and other action towards redefining the mission of medicine towards a more objective and patient-, population- and society-benefit direction that is free from conflict of interests”[9]. 

Lab Fellows at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University prepared a series of 16 papers under the heading Institutional Corruption and Pharmaceutical Policy,  which are available on the internet [10] as well as being published in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 41, No. 3 (2013). They offer probably the most comprehensive multi-disciplinary analysis available of the extent to which Big Pharma has corrupted the practice of western pharmaceutical medicine.

They observe that “The pharmaceutical industry has recently gone from being one of the most admired industries to being described by the majority of Americans as “dishonest, unethical, and more concerned with profits than with individual and public health” [11], and they examine the reasons why. It is instructive to note that while members of the public apparently can see obvious corruption, most politicians appear unable to. The authors’ suggested that at times this selective blindness is due to favours owed to Big Pharma.

Their analysis confirms Ioannidis’ findings noted above, and shows why the information upon which GPs’ and health officials rely is often unreliable. Basic research is compromised, as is the presentation of research findings. Politicians and the media are compromised due to monetary influences exercised by Big Pharma. One of the researchers noted that evidence-based medicine has been replaced by marketing-based medicine. These findings apply just as much to the questions of vaccination effectiveness and safety as they do to every other aspect of pharmaceutical medicine.

So concerned parents ask whether there are options. Must they leave their child unprotected against potentially serious infectious diseases or must they take the risk of vaccine damage to give such protection? Once again, the advice given by orthodox health authorities and in the mainstream media is compromised. Homoeopathic immunisation, also known as homœoprophylaxis (HP) has been used for over 200 years. It has a significant evidence base showing not only safety but a level of effectiveness which appears to be comparable to that of vaccination. Yet orthodox health authorities and the media repeatedly claim that there is no evidence supporting the use of HP [12].

In Part 2 of this essay we will examine the evidence base of homeopathic immunisation, and show that parents have options.  We shall also examine some of the implications that these options have for our national health system, and for our society in general. And we shall ask why our public health officials are not prepared to speak openly and honestly with parents and have instead created an environment where any person asking genuine but direct questions about immunisation options is portrayed as being a threat to society, an irresponsible troublemaker, rather than as what they are – a caring parent who wants only the best for their children.

 

Dr Isaac Golden has been a homeopathic practitioner since 1984. He is currently Honorary Research Fellow in the Faculty of Science, Federation University, Ballarat. He was the first person in Australia to be awarded a PhD from a mainstream Australian University for research in a homeopathic topic.


Click here to read Part 2.


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[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics. Australian Health Surveys 1977/78; 1989/90; 2004/05 Canberra, 1980, 1992, 2006.

[2] IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2012. Adverse effects of vaccines: Evidence and causality. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

[3] Madsen, K. M., A. Hviid, M. Vestergaard, D. Schendel, J. Wohlfahrt, P. Thorsen, J. Olsen, and M. Melbye. 2002. A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism. New England Journal of Medicine 347(19):1477-1482.

[4] Smeeth L et al. 2004 MMR vaccination and pervasive developmental disorders: a

case-control study. Lancet 2004; 364: 963–69.

[5] Mrozek-Budzyn, D., A. Kieltyka, and R. Majewska. 2010. Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: A case-control study. Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 29(5):397-400.

[6] Taylor, B., E. Miller, C. P. Farrington, M. C. Petropoulos, I. Favot-Mayaud, J. Li, and P. A. Waight. 1999. Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: No epidemiological evidence for a causal association. Lancet 353(9169):2026-2029.

[7] Farrington, C. P., E. Miller, and B. Taylor. 2001. MMR and autism: Further evidence against a causal association. Vaccine 19(27):3632-3635.

[8] Madsen KM, Lauritsen MB, Pedersen CB, Thorsen P, Plesner AM, Andersen PH, Mortensen PB.2003. Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data. Pediatrics 112(3 Pt 1):604-6.

[9] Stamatakis E, Weiler R, Ioannidis JPA. Undue industry influences that distort healthcare research, strategy, expenditure and practice: a review.  Eur J Clin Invest. 2013; 43 (5): 469–475.

[10] Harvard University.  Institutional Corruption and Pharmaceutical Policy. http://www.ethics.harvard.edu/lab/featured/325-jlme-symposium (accessed 30/3/2014).

[11] J. Miller, On Restoring Trust and Ethics in Pharma, at http://www.ethics.harvard.edu/lab/blog/274-on-restoring-trust-and-ethics-in-pharma#_edn1 (accessed 30/3/2014).

[12] NH&MRC The Australian Immunisation Handbook. 10th Edition. 2013.