From The American Spectator
By Tom Bethell
"Lyla Rose Belkin was a lively, alert five-week-old baby
when I last held her in my arms," said her father, Michael
Belkin, a financial analyst in New York City. "Little did
I imagine as she gazed into my eyes that she would die that night.
At her final feeding she was agitated and feisty -- then fell
asleep and didn't wake up. The autopsy ruled out choking. A swollen
brain was the only abnormal finding. Most doctors I spoke to said
it must have been Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a catch-all diagnosis
for unexplained death." This happened last September.
For weeks, Belkin and his wife agonized over what they might
have done differently. What he couldn't get out of his mind was
that a few hours before Lyla's death, she had been inoculated
with the Hepatitis B vaccine. Most doctors he spoke to scoffed
at the idea. The vaccine is safe, they said. But he began his
own investigation, and he became disturbed by what he found.
He spoke to Bonnie Dunbar, a molecular biologist at Baylor College
of Medicine in Houston. Five years earlier, her brother had experienced
multiple sclerosis-like symptoms following vaccination. "His
problems have been attributed to the Hepatitis B vaccine by over
a dozen different specialists of unquestionable medical expertise,"
she testified before the Texas Public Health Board. "He has
now been rated permanently and totally impaired. His health care
has cost the state of Texas around half a million dollars to date."
Then disaster struck again. A student in her lab, who was required
to take the vaccine, "went partially blind following her
first booster injection, a medical condition that was exacerbated
by her second booster which resulted in long-term hospitalization."
Only a few years ago, Dr. Dunbar was honored by the National
Institutes of Health for her vaccine work. Nonetheless, she began
her testimony with this eye-opener: "I am not here today
as an official representative of Baylor College of Medicine but
as a concerned citizen of Texas and the United States. In fact,
I am sure that some of my colleagues would not approve of my appearance.
Especially those that are benefiting handsomely from pharmaceutical
company income as consultants and expert witnesses while carrying
out vaccine clinical trials."
Merck & Co. derives $900 million per annum from vaccine sales.
Its Hepatitis B vaccine is the first in the country to use recombinant
DNA technology. Since 1991, Hepatitis B inoculations have been
given routinely to infants in the US, and 36 states now require
that a series of three shots be given to infants as a condition
of attending school. Although many are now getting the vaccine,
hardly anyone in the general population is at risk for the disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta says
that in 1996 a total of 10,637 cases of the disease were reported
in the US, of whom 279 were below age 14. In 90 percent of cases,
antibodies are naturally produced and after a flu-like illness
the patient recovers and is immune for life.
To drum up a Hepatitis B scare, and justify the massive vaccination
program, the CDC has arbitrarily multiplied the number of reported
cases by 20, using the argument that most go undiagnosed. The
general population is not at risk for Hepatitis B. The profile
of those who are is similar to those at risk for AIDS. CDC identifies
the hepatitis risk groups as: drug addicts, homosexuals and heterosexuals
with multiple partners, children of immigrants from certain areas,
health-care workers, and infants born to infected mothers. So
how come everyone is urged to get the vaccination, including newborns,
and why are state health departments playing along, agreeing that
children can't go to school if they don't get their shots?
The CDC explains that it has "generally not been feasible"
to identify people "engaged in high-risk behaviors."
Instead, the agency recommended "making hepatitis B vaccine
a part of routine vaccination schedules for infants." In
other words, the risk of adverse events must be borne by innocent
infants, who can be singled out on the maternity wards, because
the sex and drug addicts can't be expected to identify themselves.
Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American
Physicians and Surgeons, and a practicing physician, commented:
"It's outrageous to be forcing this upon children, the great
majority of whom are not at risk. But all are at risk of adverse
reactions to the vaccine." She doesn't recommend the shots
for those not in risk groups.
"I am horrified by what I am seeing on this issue,"
said Baylor's Dr. Dunbar. "I can't believe this is happening
in this country." "Public health" is being used
as a rationale to undermine individual responsibility and to legitimize
intrusion on family autonomy. Several times I phoned Sidney Wolfe
of the Naderite Health Research Group, not normally one to sit
still for drug-company profiteering. But there was no call back
from him on this issue.
The Food and Drug Administration set up a system for reporting
adverse reactions to the vaccine, and by October 1998 almost 25,000
vaccine-related adverse-events had been reported, many of them
life-threatening. The FDA has also said that as many as 90 percent
of such reactions are never reported at all, so we should multiply
these totals by ten. Michael Belkin estimates that, in addition
to his own daughter, at least 1,400 people have died throughout
the country from an adverse reaction to Hepatitis B immunization.
Many such cases involve what is called auto-immunity. It is believed
that the genetically engineered vaccine sometimes confuses the
body's immune system into attacking itself. Many of the responses
resemble multiple sclerosis. The bad effects may unfold over weeks.
One scandalous feature of this vaccine is that the drug companies
used safety studies that monitored children only for four or five
days after vaccination. Now, a long-term study of the effects
on nurses (who must get the shots) is underway.
Shouldn't legislatures at least wait for the results before they
make shots compulsory? The problem is that most legislators, like
most journalists, are cowed by assertions of medical expertise,
and by threats that any delay will jeopardize the nation's health.
The New York Times in particular has acted as an uncritical conveyer-belt
from the CDC to the general public. One politician who has stood
firm is New Jersey's Christie Todd Whitman. She refused to sign
into law a mandate rushed to her desk by gullible legislators.
In France, a similar mandate was rescinded last October because
doctors saw what was happening and sued.
Having studied FDA's reports of adverse reactions in infants,
CDC concluded that there were "no unexpected events."
A leaked internal CDC memo suggests otherwise. A meeting at the
agency in 1997 discussed "possible association" between
the vaccine and MS and recommended a "case control study"
with 60 days as a "reasonable time limit to use for the onset
of MS post-vaccination." (Five days were enough to get the
Another CDC claim, that "studies show that these side effects
are reported no more frequently among those vaccinated than among
persons not receiving vaccine," cited only references dated
ten years before the vaccine was available. Thus is science put
at the disposal of politics. An Institute of Medicine report refutes
CDC's claim. At least 100 published reports by physicians have
attributed serious adverse effects to the vaccine. The truth is
that CDC is a political agency which has become accustomed to
disseminating public-health scares as a way of protecting and
expanding its budget. Not for nothing was "Prevention"
added to its title.
State health departments have a budgetary interest in mandating
shots. According to Barbara Fisher of the National Vaccine Information
Center in Vienna, Virginia, amendments to the Childhood Immunization
Act of 1993 gave states financial incentives to set up tracking
registries, and a "performance-based grant program,"
offered up to $100 a head depending on the number of shots delivered.
"A bounty is put on children's heads," Fisher said.
"Our children now get 33 doses of ten different vaccines
by kindergarten; our grandparents got only one -- smallpox. The
CDC hasn't yet done the studies showing whether all these shots
are safe." Marian Wright Edelman, where are you now that
we need you?
Recently, John F. Modlin, professor of pediatrics and medicine
at Dartmouth and chairman of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization
Practices, debated the issue at the University of New Hampshire
with Burton A. Waisbren, an immunologist from Milwaukee. Michael
Belkin took along a chart showing that, in New Hampshire alone,
the 48 reported adverse reactions to the vaccine in children aged
0 to 10 in recent years were 16 times greater than the number
of cases of disease (3). There were four times as many child deaths
(11) as there were cases of disease. Those shocking figures show
how out of control the vaccination program has become.
Modlin said the critics were "uninformed," and flippantly
suggested that attributing deaths to the vaccine was like blaming
automobile accidents on the Cheerios antecedently consumed. "Whatever
you do," he said, "don't let somebody try to tell you
that Hepatitis B is uncommon because only 11,000 cases were reported
in this country." In fact, he added, "I don't care"
how many reported cases there are. "What's probably more
accurate is extrapolated data." By which he means "hypothetical."
It's as unscientific to deny causation, without investigation,
as it is to assert it. Meanwhile, Modlin should disclose the financial
relationship between the drug companies benefiting from his indulgence
and the ongoing research at Dartmouth Medical School. In response
to a question, he allowed that there was such a connection. "Scientists
are increasingly supported by for-profit companies," the
Wall Street Journal recently reported, "but a new study shows
that critical fact is seldom revealed in published research."
This is especially true in the medical field.
In his response, Burton A. Waisbren said that "the first
thing that should be done is we should stop universal Hepatitis
B vaccination." He added that "doctors, hospitals and
scientists who [support this vaccination program] should be held
responsible legally.- If all else fails, I think there is going
to be a congressional investigation." Without quite reaching
his question, he asked: "How could an executive in a pharmaceutical
company that made a billion dollars out of this experiment, and
the director of a government agency impose an experiment -- they
talk about a strategy -- this is an experiment. Because,"
he added, "they don't know if this is going to help the situation."
The forum organizer, Gerhard Bedding, is circulating a petition
to rescind the mandate in New Hampshire. He describes the modern
medical attitude as: "Here comes this poor unprotected baby.
We need to get at it immediately to give it the benefit of our
protection." It reminds him of the "Kill all the bugs!"
outcry of the 1950's. When he sees today's CDC officers in their
military uniforms, he is reminded of nothing so much as his childhood
in occupied Holland, during World War II. ABC's "20/20"
aired a good program in January. Articles have appeared in Science
(July 31, 1998) Insight, Washington Post, Toledo Blade, Indianapolis
Star, and elsewhere. In Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, efforts are
underway to rescind the mandate or expand exemptions. Grassroots
opposition is growing.
This article also appears in the May 1999 issue of The American
Shots in the Dark The American Spectator May 1999
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