Vaccines: Risks Vs. Benefits
 Part 2: The Vaccines & The Diseases

by David Crank

From Volume 2 Issue 6 of Unless the Lord ... Magazine


PART 1, introduced the issues of contention and presented some of the history of vaccines and how they work. This article (Part 2), provides details abut the illnesses and the specific vaccines to prevent them. Each disease poses different risks and each vaccine may differ in effectiveness and possible side effects. Part 3 will summarize, address risks of vaccines in general and offer suggestions for decision making.

In discussing these diseases and the vaccines, frequent reference is made to three primary sources: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the material published on their website; Neil Z. Miller's book, Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?, 1992; and the book by Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D., How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor, 1984. 

Diphtheria, Tetanus & Pertussis (Whooping Cough)
(DPT / DTaP Vaccine)


Diphtheria is caused by a bacteria spread through coughing and sneezing. It begins with a sore throat, a slight fever and chills. Some people can have diphtheria without seeming ill at all. The diphtheria bacteria produces a powerful toxin (poison) that can sometimes cause serious and even deadly complications. The CDC estimates that in the 1920s, before widespread vaccinations, there were about 150,000 cases annually and 10% of diphtheria patients died. Today there are only a few cases per year.

However, Neil Miller reports that there had already been a greater than 90% decline in reported diphtheria deaths from 1900 to 1930. He also reports that in Germany and France, cases skyrocketed immediately after vaccine use (1939 - G 150,000; 1943 - F 47,000), while in Norway, which had refused vaccinations, there were only 50 cases. He also quotes conclusions from a 1975 Meeting of the Panel of Review of Bacterial Vaccines and Toxoids, that the diphtheria toxoid "is not as effective an immunizing agent as might be anticipated", and that the "permanence of immunity induced by the toxoid ... is open to question."
Robert Mendelsohn, MD, concurs that there is evidence that diphtheria was "already diminishing before a vaccine was available." According to Dr. Mendelsohn, "Today your child has about as much chance of contracting diphtheria as being bitten by a cobra." Most children today receive 4 separate injections plus a booster before entering school. "This despite evidence … from rare outbreaks of the disease that children who have been immunized do no better than those who have not". Dr. Mendelsohn also mentions that effective antibiotic treatment for the disease is available today.

Comment/Opinion: The 10% death rate cited by the CDC may be overstated, particularly with the treatment available today. One of the vaccination proponents describes a huge 1994 outbreak in Russia where the death rate was 3.4%.


Tetanus is contracted through deep puncture wounds or cuts, like those made by nails or knives. The Tetanus bacteria is usually found in soil, dust and manure. Tetanus is not contagious. Symptoms may not appear for 3 days to 3 weeks. The first symptoms are usually a headache, crankiness, and spasms of the jaw muscles. The tetanus toxin can result in very strong muscle spasms. There are about 50 cases of tetanus per year in the U.S., of which about 30% die (per the CDC). Prior to the vaccine in the 1940s, about 400-500 cases were reported each year. 

Miller adds that tetanus is caused by spores trapped in improperly cleaned wounds. The death rate for untreated cases is estimated as more than 50%, but with proper treatment, up to 80% will recover. "Although tetanus germs are more likely to grow in deep puncture wounds (due to the anaerobic conditions required for the spores to germinate), careful attention to wound hygiene will eliminate the possibility of tetanus in most cases. Wounds should be thoroughly cleaned and not allowed to close until healing has occurred beneath the surface of the skin." According to Miller, rates of tetanus have continued to decline though until very recently, 40% of the child population was not protected. 

Several sources also note that a tetanus immune globulin is available and can be given immediately after injury and protects well against the disease in non-immune persons. 

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Pertussis is a contagious disease caused by a bacterium that affects the respiratory system. In the second stage of the disease, usually lasting 2-3 weeks, there are severe rapid and violent coughing attacks. These can cause difficulty for eating, drinking or breathing. During this stage death can occur, though the disease is rarely fatal. Full recovery may take 2-3 months. The CDC says that this disease is most severe in infants under 1 year of age, one half of which require hospitalization. The CDC reports that Pertussis can lead to other complications: 10% get pneumonia, 2% have convulsions, and .4% are affected by encephalopathy. About 10-15 deaths per year in the U.S. are reported from Pertussis. The CDC says that the number of cases reported has dropped by more than 98% since the vaccine was licensed (first widely used in the 1940s). There have been fewer than 5,000 cases reported most years since 1970. 

According to the National Vaccine Information Center, the use of modern medical techniques and antibiotics to control secondary infections, has greatly reduced Pertussis mortality. In 1977, Britain had more than 99,000 cases with only 23 deaths and no cases of encephalitis (mortality rate of 1 in 4,300 cases). A 1985 British report placed the risk of death from Pertussis for infants under 1 year at 1 in 69,000. In mini outbreaks in recent years (i.e. 162 cases in Washington state in 1984), no deaths or brain damage occurred. (Note: 49% of the cases aged 3 months to 6 years had been appropriately vaccinated). In 1993 in Cincinnati, 40% who caught Pertussis were appropriately vaccinated. 

Miller reports that the incidence and severity of pertussis had begun to decline long before the vaccine was introduced. In the U.S. and England, the death rate had declined by 79% and 82%, respectively, between 1900 and 1935.

The DTaP Vaccine

The DTaP vaccine combines vaccines for Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis in a single vaccine. It was developed in the 1990s as an updated version of the original DPT vaccine. Its purpose was to reduce the side effects associated with the Pertussis portion of the vaccine. Only part of the pertussis bacteria is used in the new vaccine (referred to as the acellular form).

Injections Required for Immunity

Five shots are recommended for maximum protection. The 4th is a booster between 15 and 18 months, the fifth is another booster given when the child is about to enter school at 4-6 years. These five injections are reported to protect most children. It is also claimed that if a child gets one of these diseases in spite of the vaccine, it will probably be milder than it would have been otherwise.

Immunity to diphtheria and tetanus starts to fade over time, and a booster shot for Tetanus & Diphtheria (Td) every 10 years is supposed to keep you protected. Td has no Pertussis and less diphtheria toxoid than DtaP.

Dr. Mendelsohn says, "There is no credible scientific evidence indicating how often boosters are required or whether required at all." He also says many doctors doubt the effectiveness of Pertussis vaccine, due to the number of outbreaks observed in vaccinated populations. Estimates of effectiveness range between 50%-80%. 

Comments/Opinion: This sounds like a remarkably large number of shots required to develop and maintain immunity. If the disease itself confers lifetime immunity after a single exposure, why are 5 separate shots over a 5 year period (4 within the first 1 1/2 years) required to provide immunity to most children? Just how protected are the younger children who have had only 1, 2 or 3 shots? Have doses been made nearly ineffective in order to reduce the risks of serious side effects? Are the vaccines being given at too young an age to work properly? Something doesn't seem right here. And what about the required boosters for two of the three illnesses every 10 years thereafter? How many adults faithfully get their booster shots every 10 years? - yet disease incidence remains very low. 

DtaP Side Effects

According to the CDC: Up to 1/3 have reactions where the shot was given (tenderness, pain, redness, swelling). These are more likely after the 4th or 5th shot and may be more pronounced, usually occurring within 2 days after the shot. Some experience swelling of the entire leg or arm after the 4th or 5th shot, and usually lasting about 4 days. Fever is also fairly common (about 1 out of 20 will get a fever over 101 degrees). Up to 1 out of 5 will be fussy or lose their appetite for a day or two, and nearly half may be drowsy afterward. “Occasionally a child will have a more serious side effect. About one child in 3,000 will get a fever of 104 or more. Rarely a child may cry continuously for 3 hours or more.” “About once in 14,000 injections, a child may have convulsions or become limp or pale for a short while.” “Over the years several cases of permanent brain damage were reported following DPT vaccination. But whether these were true vaccine reactions or merely coincidence is impossible to say, because they occurred so infrequently. … No deaths are known to have ever been caused by DTP or DTaP vaccine.”

Comments / Opinion: The CDC mentions a number of symptoms, such as much swelling, high fever, occasional very high fever with continuous crying, and even convulsions and becoming limp for a short while. What is this vaccine doing to the baby’s body to produce such outward symptoms? What would you think upon seeing such symptoms? Might you not suppose that your child's body was under some serious attack by an infectious agent? We also know there is a high propensity for underreporting vaccine reactions and without looking far in books and on the internet, we can find record of many cases where very high fever and convulsions are reported to occur. A number of these are reported to have ended in death, others in severe brain injury. 

From the death and severe injury accounts, it becomes apparent that some of the very symptoms the CDC tells us not to worry about, are those that have commonly preceded death or permanent damage (high fever, convulsions, becoming limp, loss of appetite and becoming very drowsy for an extended period). Clearly most children do not have a truly severe reaction, still there appear to be a very large number reported who do. There are also a great many deaths attributed to SIDS that occur shortly after DPT vaccination - coincidence or failing to correctly diagnosis the cause of death? 

The final quotes from the CDC on side effects sound like wishful thinking, or perhaps intentional deception, rationalized as necessary to prevent vaccine scares among the public. By “several cases” perhaps they mean “several thousand” cases. I don't see how the "no deaths are known" statement can possibly be defended except by an obstinate refusal to admit causation in spite of evidence more than sufficient for our legal courts. There are many reports of deaths from DPT vaccines - you can read the details of the stories yourself on a number of websites. Just because the exact mechanism by which the vaccine has killed may not be proven is no grounds for claiming no one has died from it. I fail to see how any reasonable person could conclude otherwise if the facts are as presented. 

Sources other than the CDC give a different story concerning side effects. Death was the first reaction to be associated with Pertussis vaccine. In 1933, Danish vaccine researcher Madsen described the deaths of two babies within a few hours after being vaccinated with it. According to Mendelsohn, "DPT … is one of the most controversial immunizations. Doubts persist about its effectiveness, and many doctors share my concern that the potentially damaging side effects of the vaccine may outweigh the alleged benefits." Circumstantial evidence links the DPT vaccine to many SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) deaths. The argument concerns causation or coincidence. Specifics of many cases strongly imply that the vaccine was the cause of death.
How much safer is the new version of this vaccine? Clinical trials of the new DtaP vaccine were reported with the following results with a group of 2,041 infants: 11 with persistent crying; 1 with possible seizure; 1 in a shock like state; and 1 with lethargy. 

Miller reports sometimes severe reactions to the tetanus toxoid. Complications such as high fever, inner ear nerve damage, anaphylactic shock and a degenerative condition of the nervous system continue to be reported. 

The National Vaccine Information Center web site reports that in 1991, the Institute of Medicine concluded that tetanus vaccine can cause Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), which begins one to four weeks after vaccination and takes up to four weeks to progress. The tetanus vaccine was also found to cause brachial neuritis, a neuropathy that usually appears within three weeks of vaccination involving painful nerve inflammation in the arm and shoulder which can progress over a period of many months.

Comment / Opinion: Pertussis (whopping cough) is undoubtedly a very serious illness. It is not usually fatal, but sometimes is, especially with babies or those with other complications. In any case, it is a very scary disease of extreme coughing spells making it hard to breathe. It also lasts for weeks and may require several months for a complete recovery. It is definitely a disease we would all like to avoid and spare our children from. Pertussis is also a disease that has not been effectively eliminated by vaccinations. There continue to be 3,000 to 5,000 cases each year in this country, so some risk remains, especially in the major cities. 

The dilemma is that the vaccine with the worst track record for serious injury and even death, is the DPT/ DTaP vaccine, with the 'P' portion for pertussis being suspected as the cause of most of the adverse reactions. So the vaccine you might most want to avoid also protects against one of the more dangerous and serious illnesses, which is still relatively common. To further complicate the issue, there are serious questions raised as to the true effectiveness of this vaccine - a significant percentage of children fully vaccinated may not truly be protected. So which is the greater risk? The true extent of adverse reactions to this vaccine is greatly in dispute. What are the chances of severe and even deadly reaction to the vaccine? What are the odds of your child receiving true immunity from the vaccine? 80%? 50%? Does such immunity really last beyond 10 years? If unvaccinated, what are the chances of catching the disease? If caught, how severe is it likely to be - will your child die from it? These are very hard questions! 


Polio is a contagious disease caused by a virus that lives in the throat and intestinal tract. It may attack nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. Polio is spread by contact with the bowel movements of an infected person (for instance by changing diapers). Some children who get polio don't feel ill at all or merely have cold type symptoms. Some victims experience stiffness of the neck or back, weak muscles, pain in the joints and paralysis of one or more limbs or respiratory muscles. In severe cases it may be fatal due to respiratory paralysis. 

According to the CDC, the number of cases of paralytic polio in the U.S. has fallen from more than 20,000 in 1952 to only a few cases a year today (with all recent cases caused by the oral polio live virus vaccine - it is no longer recommended for this reason.) Per the CDC: There is no natural polio in the U.S. or the Western Hemisphere, however it is still common in some parts of the world. We continue to vaccinate because of the risk of polio from travelers to this country. (The CDC also says that we are very close to eliminating polio worldwide - implying that polio is not common in many places.)

Miller reports that only a small percentage of people develop paralytic polio. The natural polio virus produces no symptoms at all in over 90% of the people exposed to it, even under epidemic conditions. He also claims that there is no credible scientific evidence that the vaccine caused the disease to disappear. The polio death rate had already declined by nearly 50% from 1923 to 1953. Numbers of polio cases before and after the vaccine are distorted by a "redefining" of the disease. Prior to the vaccine, paralytic polio was indicated by 24 hours of paralytic symptoms. After the vaccine, only such symptoms lasting at least 60 days were counted. Aseptic meningitis, which is often difficult to distinguish from polio, was rarely diagnosed prior to the vaccine. Afterwards, anyone vaccinated with polio symptoms was typically diagnosed with aseptic meningitis, causing a huge increase in reported cases of this disease. 

Polio Vaccine

There are two types: Inactivated (killed) polio vaccine (IPV), which is a shot; and live oral polio vaccine (OPV), which is a liquid that is swallowed. The CDC now only recommends the IPV shots, 4 doses - at 2 months, 4 months, 6-18 months, and a booster at 4-6 years of age. According to the CDC, 4 doses of IPV will protect most people for life, but for people traveling to countries where polio is still common - a further booster dose is recommended.

Mendelsohn believes there is no credible scientific evidence that the vaccine caused polio to disappear. It was also disappearing in other parts of the world where the vaccine was not extensively used.

Comment/Opinion: The CDC is comfortable with the effectiveness of 4 doses as long as you remain in a country where natural polio no longer exists. If you plan to travel somewhere that polio does still exist, they suggest you take another booster before you go. Is this just excess caution or uncertainty about how long immunity from the vaccine lasts? 

Side Effects

According to the CDC, IPV is not known to produce any side effects other than a little soreness and redness where the shot is given. However, like any vaccine or medicine, IPV could theoretically trigger a serious reaction in someone who is allergic to one of its components.

Some researchers are very concerned about the contamination of the polio vaccine with African green monkey viruses. Some believe that this was the origin of the HIV virus. Other monkey viruses have been found in the polio vaccine. One of these, SV-40, has been found to cause leukemia and cancerous tumors in lab animals. Some researchers have found SV-40 genes and proteins in patients with virulent forms of bone, lung and brain cancer - raising a concern that the polio vaccine may be implicated. 

Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR Vaccine)


Mumps is usually a mild disease with symptoms disappearing within 10 days. The virus is spread by coughing, sneezing, or simply talking. It attacks the salivary glands and symptoms include swelling beneath the ear(s) along the jaw line, fever, headache, muscle aches and vomiting. According to the CDC, there are sometimes serious side effects: 1) About 1 out of 10 also get meningitis (an inflammation of the covering of the brain and spinal cord); 2) Occasionally mumps causes encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain itself - usually no permanent damage; 3) About 1 out of every 4 teenage or adult men who get mumps develops a painful swelling of the testicles; 4) Mumps can, rarely, cause deafness (about 1 in 20,000 - .005%) or death (about 1 in 10,000 cases - .01%).

According to Mendelsohn: The primary justification of the vaccine is risk that adult males may contract orchitis, a condition in which the disease affects the testicles. In RARE instances this can produce sterility. Even so, usually only one testicle is affected. There is no proof that the mumps vaccine lasts into adulthood, so it is safer to contract the true disease in childhood than to get the vaccine. 


Measles is a contagious viral disease that can be contracted from coughing and sneezing or by touching an object used by an infected person. Symptoms include a high fever, cough, runny nose, sore eyes, and small pink spots inside the mouth and also breaking out on the face and spreading over the body. No treatment is required for measles other than bed rest, fluids to combat possible dehydration from fever and lotion to counteract itching. Symptoms usually disappear after 1-2 weeks. The CDC says, "Not everyone recognizes measles as the serious disease it really is -possibly because it used to be a routine part of everyone's childhood, and also because we don't see it nearly as much as we used to. But measles can be deadly … Measles still kills about a million people a year around the world. Measles can also make a pregnant woman have a miscarriage or give birth prematurely."

For most children measles means a rash and a cold and missing a few days of school. But according to the CDC, about 10% of the children also get an ear infection, 5% get pneumonia and about .1% will get encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain that can lead to convulsions, deafness or mental retardation). Out of every 1,000 children who get measles, 1 or 2 die from it (.1% -.2%). 

According to Miller, the death rate from measles in 1900 was 13.3 per 100,000 (.013%), by 1955 - eight years before the first measles shot - the death rate had declined to .03 per 100,000 (.00003%). This same death rate prevailed in the mid-1970s after introduction of the vaccine. 

Dr. Mendelsohn says, "Doctors maintain that the inoculation is necessary to prevent measles encephalitis, which they say occurs about one in 1,000 cases. After decades of experience with measles, I question this statistic, and so do many other pediatricians. … in middle and upper-income brackets, ... incidence of true encephalitis is probably more like 1/10,000 or 1/100,000." 

Comment/Opinion: If the other sources are right, the CDC is significantly exaggerating the risks of measles. One or two children out of 1,000 dying of measles? I never heard of anyone dying of measles when I was growing up, did you? Personally I think the risks of measles are being overstated to convince parents to vaccinate against what is usually a harmless childhood disease. If vaccines were 100% effective and totally without risk, then why not vaccinate against every minor disease - but such is not the case!

Rubella (German / 3 Day Measles)

Rubella is caused by a virus and is usually so mild that it often escapes detection. Symptoms are a slight fever (rarely above 100 degrees) lasting about 24 hours and a rash on the face and neck that lasts two or three days. Adults who get Rubella may also get swollen glands in the back of the neck and pain, swelling or stiffness in their joints. The greatest danger is actually to unborn children when a woman gets rubella in the early months of her pregnancy. Then there is an 80% chance her baby will be born with birth defects. Possible birth defects include: blindness, deafness, damaged hearts or small brains, and mental retardation. Miscarriages are also common. The CDC says: In the last major Rubella epidemic in the U.S. in 1964-1965, an estimated 12.5 million got the disease, including 20,000 babies born with defects. 

MMR Vaccine 

The 1st shot is given between 12 and 15 mos of age. The second, usually at 4-6 years of age. 
Mumps Vaccine: The mumps vaccine is a live attenuated (weakened) vaccine. Reported number of cases has dropped from 150,000 in 1968 to only 66 in 1998.

Measles Vaccine: The measles vaccine used today is a live, attenuated vaccine (the virus is weakened, not killed). Dr. Mendelsohn says: In a 1978 survey of 30 States, more than half the children who contracted measles had been adequately vaccinated.

Rubella Vaccine: It was first licensed in 1969 and the one we use today in 1979. It is a live, attenuated (weakened) vaccine. There are now only several hundred cases reported per year, with the record low (128 cases) reported in 1995.

Mendelsohn questions whether this vaccine may be increasing the risk of birth defects. Tests have shown a high vaccine failure rate and a large proportion of children show no evidence of immunity after even 5 years. Thus the risks of women catching the disease during pregnancy may be higher than before the vaccine. If most women had caught the real disease in childhood, as formerly was the case for most, they would have permanent immunity. 

Side Effects 

The MMR vaccine as a whole has been repeatedly tied by some researchers to a huge increase in autism. This link has been strongly denied by vaccine supporters, but a confidential CDC study that has become public links one of the vaccine preservatives (a mercury compound - thimerosal - also used in some other vaccines) with an increased risk of autism and neurological disorders when administered in the first 3 months of life. The FDA has been requested by a Congressional Committee to recall over 50 vaccines containing thimerosal.

Measles Vaccine: About 1 in 5 will get a mild rash or fever a week or two after vaccinations that last for a few days. - Per the CDC. Mendelsohn writes that the measles vaccine is associated with encephalopathy and other complications such as SSPE, a disease that causes hardening of the brain and is invariably fatal. Other neurologic and sometimes fatal conditions associated with the vaccine include ataxia (inability to coordinate muscle movements), mental retardation, aseptic meningitis, seizure disorders and hemiparesis (paralysis affecting one side of the body). Secondary complications reported include: encephalitis, multiple sclerosis, anaphylactic shock, Reye's syndrome, Guillain-Barre syndrome, blood clotting disorders, juvenile-onset diabetes, etc.

Mumps Vaccine: Per the CDC, side effects include an occasional mild fever one or two weeks after vaccination, or swollen glands in the cheeks or under the jaw. Per Mendelsohn, side effects can be severe though rare. For example: febrile seizures, unilateral nerve deafness, encephalitis.

Rubella Vaccine: Per the CDC, about 1 in 7 will get a rash or swelling of the lymph glands, usually a week or two after the shot and lasting 1- 2 days. 1 in 100 will have pain or stiffness in the joints lasting a few days to a few weeks. Less than 1% will have painful swelling of joints, usually lasting only a few days. These joint problems occur more often in adults, especially women. Febrile seizures (seizures caused by fever) have occasionally been reported, without permanent harm. There have been reports of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), but happens very rarely - less than one in a million. 

Mendelsohn says side effects include arthritis, painful joints, numbness and tingling of peripheral nerves - all usually temporary. 

Haemophilus Influenzae Type B - "Hib" Vaccine


Hib is a bacterial disease spread through by coughing, sneezing or just breathing. If the bacteria stays in the child's nose and throat, the child will probably not become sick. Sometimes the bacteria spread into the lungs or bloodstream (invasive Hib) and can cause serious complications, such as meningitis, pneumonia, epiglottitis (inflammation and swelling of the throat that can cause the child to choke), and arthritis. Most invasive Hib occurs in children under 5 years old and up to 60% in children younger than 1 year. The disease is not common in older children or adults.

In mid-1980s, Hib struck one child out of 200 under 5 years old in the U.S. About 12,000 got meningitis as a result, about 1 in 4 of these suffered permanent brain damage and about 1 in 20 died. Abut 8,000 per year had other serious complications (like pneumonia). [All of the above 2 paragraphs is from the CDC’s documents.]

Miller and Mendelsohn note a statement by Dr. Stephen l. Coeni, an official at the CDC, that nearly 70% of all Hib cases in children 18 months and older are contracted at day care centers.
Reports are that the disease does not really spread easily, that it occurs most often in Eskimo, Native American, and African American children. - Miller

HiB Vaccine

This vaccine came into use in 1985 and the first age for the shot is now lowered to 2 months. In the mid-1980s there were an estimated 20,000 cases of HiB per year. Now only a few hundred per year are reported. Several companies make the vaccine - either 3 or 4 doses (2 mos, 4 mos, some also at 6 mos. & booster at 12 - 15 mos.). Children over 5 years do not need the vaccine. - per the CDC

Side Effects

2 in 100 get some redness, swelling or warm where the shot was given or a fever over 101. -per the CDC.


Pneumococcal Disease

Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, usually thought of as a disease of old people, also takes a toll among children. It is the leading cause of bacterial meningitis. Pneumococcal bacteria causes invasive disease (mostly blood infection or “bacteremia”) in about 16,500 children under 5 years old each year, including more than 700 cases of meningitis. About 200 children a year die from invasive pneumococcal disease. It also causes 25% to 40% of ear infections. It is treatable with antibiotics but is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatment. - all per the CDC.

Some groups of children have higher rates of the disease: African Americans, Native Americans, Alaska natives and children with certain medical conditions.

Pneumococcal Vaccine

The vaccine uses a killed bacteria. It gives immunity against the 7 strains that cause most of the serious infections in children (there are 90 known strains). Four doses recommended at 2,4,6 and 12-15 mos. Children who begin the series later may not need as many doses. The vaccine is generally not given to children over 5 years old.

Side Effects

The vaccine is very new so the only data is from clinical trials. No more than 40% report redness, tenderness, or mild fever. Rarely prolonged crying and febrile seizures were seen. - per the CDC.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B effects the liver and is caused by a virus. Some people never feel sick with the virus, others have symptoms that last several weeks. Acute hepatitis causes symptoms of loss of appetite or tiredness, pain in muscles, joints or stomach, diarrhea or vomiting, yellow skin or eyes. Some people never recover but have chronic hepatitis. They may not look sick, but can infect others and may develop cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer. 4,000 to 5,000 people a year die from the illness. More than 1 million in the U.S. are infected, and there are an estimated 200,000 new infections per year.

The virus is spread through contact with blood or other body fluids. Those exposed to blood occupationally, like medical personnel, police and firefighters, are more at risk. It is also spread sexually, by sharing drug needles or possibly by sharing items like razors or toothbrushes. A baby can become infected at birth if the mother is infected. If not immunized immediately, these babies will likely become chronically infected. - per the CDC. 

Other sources stress that very few children are at risk from this disease - only those whose mothers are infected. The primary risk for this disease comes after puberty with sexual relations. This vaccine is now required for children because of the difficulty in getting teens and adults to vaccinate. The vaccine is often given right after birth without ever testing the mother to see if she has the disease. 

The Hepatitis B Vaccine

The vaccine was licensed in the U.S. in 1995. Babies are to receive their 1st shot within 12 hours of birth if the mother is infected or has not been tested. The second shot should be at 1-2 months and the third at 6 mos. For babies not receiving the first shot at birth, the schedule is for the first by 2 months, second between 1 and 4 months and the third at 6-18 mos.

Side Effects

The CDC reports 3-9 out of 100 have some soreness, up to 6 in 100 have a mild fever. Up to 2 out of 10 become tired and irritable. Most serious reactions are extremely rare.

Other sources report much more severe side effects. There are reports that among health care workers, who were the first to receive this new vaccine, there were reports of debilitating fatigue, muscle weakness, joint pain and even paralysis and death. Many were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other autoimmune disorders, although most did not suffer from classic forms of these diseases. In a WorldNetDaily interview on December 3, 2000, Geoff Metcalf interviewed Michael Belkin, whose infant daughter died after receiving the Hepatitis B vaccine. Among the information Mr. Belkin shared was: 1) His daughter died about 15 hours after getting the second Hepatitis B shot at the age of five weeks. The autopsy found a swollen brain. 2) "As of two years ago, there were 25,000 adverse reactions reported to the FDA, including 440 deaths. The median onset was one day." 

Comment / Opinion: Given the widely acknowledged underreporting of vaccine reactions and the tendency of most doctors to deny any possible vaccine causality for death or serious injury, the numbers of serious side effects cited is very concerning. For most children, the possible benefits may not outweigh the risks. A relatively small percentage of the population are at serious risk from the disease and only a tiny proportion of children are.

Varicella (Chickenpox)

Chicken Pox is a viral infection very common among children. Until the late 1990's, there were about 4 million cases per year, now the number has begun to drop. It causes an itchy rash and may also bring drowsiness and fever. It is spread through the air and by contact with the fluid from the blisters. Symptoms last 4-5 days. It is usually a very mild illness, but blisters can become infected and some children get encephalitis. About 4 of every 100,000 infants with chicken pox, die (.004%). About 1 of every 100,000 children ages 1 -14, die (.001%). 

The CDC further explains: The disease creates problems for families because parents may have to miss work to care for a sick child. (Comment: Probably the real justification for the vaccine - reduce the incidence of parents missing work to care for sick children).

Comment/Opinion: Comparing similar CDC statistics on other diseases with other sources, the CDC estimates often appear greatly overstated. I would be skeptical of the incidence of death from chicken pox stated here. The one specific case I have read about involved a child with a very serious health condition whose immune system was unable to function.

Varicella Vaccine

The vaccine is a live virus vaccine. A single dose is recommended between 12 and 18 months. The vaccine appears to work for 70% to 90% of the people and prevents severe chicken pox in 95%. It has been used for over 20 years in Japan. Very rarely, the vaccinated child can give chicken pox to other family members. 

Side effects

Per the CDC: 1 in 5 get red or sore at the shot location, some get a mild rash (about 5 spots) 1 to 3 weeks later. Febrile seizures have occurred in less than 1 in 1,000. Other serious problems (encephalitis or loss of muscle coordination) have been reported very rarely.

Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center on 9/13/2000 indicated: "We have been getting reports from parents that their children are suffering high fevers, chicken pox lesions, shingles (herpes zoster), brain damage and dying after chicken pox vaccination, especially when the vaccine is given at the same time with MMR and other vaccines. This FDA report confirms our concern that the chicken pox vaccine may be more reactive than anticipated in individuals with both known and unknown biological high risk factors."… "In the VAERS data made public today, it was reported that VAERS had received 67.5 adverse event reports per 100,000 doses of chicken pox vaccine sold between March 1995 and July 1998 for a total of 6,574 reports. 82 percent of the adverse event cases occurred in individuals who received chicken pox vaccine only. Admitting that underreporting made the figures "highly variable fractions of actual event numbers," the authors revealed that approximately 4 percent of cases (about 1 in 33,000 doses) were serious, including shock, convulsions, encephalitis, thrombocytopenia and 14 deaths."