Home Original News The Vaccine War: A Forgotten History
The Vaccine War: A Forgotten History PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 00:47

jennymccarthyAs I watched the recent Frontline presentation, The Vaccine War, it was apparent that certain facts were omitted as they frequently are in any public discussion on vaccines. The program mainly focused on the concerns of parents and activists and presented various vaccine proponents that indicated that while the parents and activists might be well meaning they were misguided in their beliefs.

The activists, such as Jim Carey and Jenny McCarthy, presented stories where children, sometimes almost immediately, suffered some type of serious neurologic reaction after vaccination. The vaccine advocates countered that there was no scientific evidence of harm and that vaccines have enjoyed a long history of safety and effectiveness.

The mercury based vaccine ingredient, Thimerosal, was discussed. Thimerosal was once used in many vaccines exceeding the EPA safety levels of mercury for a child receiving a standard immunization schedule. Although officially removed from many vaccines, Thimerosal still remains in a certain vaccines such as the flu vaccine as well as in vaccines used outside the United States. Again, the vaccine proponents made assurances that Thimerosal was safe however the numerous studies show it to be neurotoxic where not presented.

"Although thimerosal [thimerosal] is an ethyl mercury compound, it has similar toxicological properties to methyl mercury and in long-term neurological sequelae [a pathological condition resulting from a disease, injury, or other trauma] produced by the ingestion of either methyl or ethyl mercury-based fungicides and indistinguishable" (1977 - Archives of Disease in Childhood)

"In clinical cases of accidental or intentional usage in high concentrations, thimerosal was administered in doses from 3 mg/kg to several hundred mg/kg. Such doses resulted in local necrosis [The death of living cells or tissues] at the application site and severe central nervous system and kidney injury (2003 - Toxicological Sciences)

"Since thimerosal was repeatedly shown to be genotoxic [damaging to DNA] in vitro and in vivo [inside the living organism], there is reason for concern about its widespread use." (2003 - Archives of Toxicology)

"Increases the formation of reactive oxygen species that induce a further increase in [Ca2+]i. If so, such insults induced by thimerosal and methylmercury would lead to cell injury or death in brain neurons ... In can be concluded that the potency of thimerosal to induce cytotoxic [substances that are toxic to cells] action on brain neurons dissociated from 2-week-old rats under the in vitro conditions is similar to that of methylmercury" (2004 - Toxicology)

"A disruption of the GSH (glutathione) system by mercury leads to GSH depletion and cell destruction. An in vitro study of Jurkat T cells exposed to thimerosal demonstrated concentration-dependent apoptosis. It was found that the mercury moiety [part of the molecule], not the thiosalicylic acid moiety, of thimerosal was responsible for glutathione depletion. GSH depletion is linked to several neurodegenerative disorders." (2009 - Behavioral and Brain Functions)

"Since the acquisition of motor reflexes is controlled by the brainstem, it is possible that very early exposure to ethyl mercury may adversely affect the emerging brainstem function ... this study provides preliminary evidence of abnormal early neurodevelopmental responses in male infant rhesus macaques [type of monkey] receiving a single dose of Th-containing [Thimerosal containing] HB [Hepatitis B] vaccine at birth and indicates that further investigation is merited." (2009 - NeuroToxicology)


Even the manufacturer of Thimerosal, Elli Lilly's own Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS states the toxicity of Thimerosal.

"Section 3: Hazards Identification - ... Exposure to mercury in utero and in children may cause mild to severe mental retardation and mild to severe motor coordination impairment."

"Section 6: Accidental Release Measures - Wear protective equipment, including eye protection, to avoid exposure. This material is a mercury compound which are CERCL (Compensation, and Liability Act) Hazardous Substances and SARA 313 Toxic Chemicals."


Another vaccine ingredient, aluminum, was not mentioned. A recent study in Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry showed it to also be neurotoxic. "Overall, the results reported here mirror previous work that has clearly demonstrated that aluminum, in both oral and injected forms, can be neurotoxic." I followed up with Professor Shaw the lead author of the study asking him "knowing what you know about aluminum from your research would you personally use a vaccine that contains aluminum?" He responded "No, and I don't."

Other topics such as millions of people receiving vaccines that were contaminated with Simian Virus 40 (SV40), the actual science behind the manufacturing process of making vaccines using monkey kidneys or other medium for growing microbes, the other vaccines ingredients such as formaldehyde, the revolving door between the pharmaceutical industry and governmental organizations such as the CDC, and many other issues were only lightly touched upon or completely absent from the program.

Vaccines are considered by many to be one of the major wonders of modern medicine. Paul Offit, MD stated "vaccines have increased our lifespan by 30 years." Vaccines have been credited with the eradication of infectious diseases that plagued mankind for centuries. Similar statements have been made by various officials what is the actual proof that this is true?

If someone wanted to prove an intervention works on a population a reasonable method would be to gather statistics over time, then introduce the item to be tested, and then to gather further statistical information. The statistical information gathered would then prove or disprove your theory. In the case of vaccines, one of the key desired effects is to prevent death. Therefore, examining the very well documented mortality statistics before and after the introduction of a vaccine would be the way to validate vaccines were instrumental in preventing death from disease.

Curiously, when I went to find this type of information it is all but absent from the CDC website and scientific studies. There are statements that there were more death and disease before a given vaccine and less after, but this only represents a limited set of data points and is effectively worthless in understanding disease trends and proving vaccines were key in mortality decline from infectious diseases.

I did find a chapter in Infectious Diseases: A Modern Treatise of Infection Processes that actually did provide a graph of measles disease and death rates starting in 1912 up to 1975. The authors use this graph to state "the attenuated live virus vaccines are highly effective, as shown by the decline in frequency of the disease." The graph shows a steady decline in deaths from the measles to the time the measles vaccine became available where there was a further decline. The decline after the measles vaccine was introduced was relatively small and the authors had to graph the data on a logarithmic plot to make the change noticeable.




Amazingly, the authors overlooked something that is very important from their own graph. What their data shows is a large 98.6% decrease in death from measles from 1912-1963 when the measles vaccine was introduced. Further research confirmed the information as seen in the following graph.




This amazing drop in measles death rate has astoundingly gone virtually unnoticed.

England and Wales began keeping mortality statistics ever earlier than the United States starting in 1838. Again there was the same pattern in the immense decline in death from measles which began in the late 1800s. From a peak of 70.49 deaths per 100,000 in 1839 to 0.11 deaths per 100,000 in 1968 when measles vaccination started in England there is an impressive 99.8% decline in the death rate from measles.

A similar picture emerges upon further examination of the statistics from England and Wales for Pertussis commonly referred to as Whooping Cough. From a peak of 61.90 deaths per 100,000 in 1861 to 0.20 in 1955 when the whooping cough vaccine came into use. Again there is a massive 99.6% decrease in mortality from whooping cough before the vaccine was introduced. In fact, the same pattern emerges for all infectious diseases - measles, whooping cough, scarlet fever, and diphtheria - all showed a decline in mortality starting in the late 1800s.



Even smallpox, that interestingly was in some apparent synchronicity with the biggest killer of all scarlet fever, did not begin its decline until the late 1880s over 70 years after Edward Jenner, the father of modern vaccination, made his observations in 1798. Despite strict vaccination laws in England smallpox raged on in epidemics culminating in the large 1872 pandemic. All infectious diseases began their decline in the late 1800s well before vaccines were developed with the exception of the smallpox vaccine that showed no effect on these 1800s smallpox epidemics. In the case of scarlet fever there was no vaccine used at all with this deadly disease fading away over time.

So the big and obvious question is what did cause the eradication of infectious diseases if vaccines had little to do with it?

Through the 1800s into the 1900s the western world underwent a series of amazing transformations. Improvements in nutrition, better public and personal hygiene, better housing and working conditions, and improvements in education all had a part to play in the societal transformation.

Scurvy is probably the nutritional disease that has caused the most suffering in human history. It is often associated with longer ocean voyages that began in the 15th century. One account by George Anson's 1740-1744 circumnavigation around the world returned from its voyages with only 145 of its original members. Only 4 men had died of enemy action and 1300 had died of disease, primarily of scurvy. But, in fact, most cases of scurvy during the centuries have occurred on land. Scurvy was widespread in northern Europe during the Middles Ages and later in history most cases occurred when food became scarce, such as during the Great Potato Famine of 1845-1848, the American Civil War, the Crimean War, and World War I. An estimated 10,000 people died of scurvy during the California Gold Rush where adequate fruits and vegetables were not in abundance. As improvements in nutrition occurred scurvy deaths declined in conjunction with infectious diseases such as measles.



Living conditions for many people was dreadful before the 1900s. There was no running water or sanitation and people including children worked excessively long hours in hostile conditions.

1843 - According the Children's Employment Commission only ‘a constant accession of fresh hands from the country' enables the business in dressmaking workshops to continue. For several months of the year it is customary to work for eighteen to twenty hours per day and often through the night to provide seasonal clothing for the wealthy. Most workers could not last more than three to four years in this area of work.

1844 - Friedrich Engels publishes the Condition of the Working Classes in England and notes that he met ‘pale, lank, narrow-chested, hallow-eyed ghosts', cooped up in houses that were mere ‘kennels to sleep and die in.' He also wrote "In the manufacture of glass ... many of the children are pale, have red eyes, often blind for weeks at a time, suffer from violent nausea, vomiting, coughs, colds, and rheumatism ... The glass-blowers usually die young of debility or chest infections."

1850 - New York City - 8,141 cellars shelter 18,456 people. As in Boston, about a twentieth of the population lives in damp, dark, ill-ventilated, vermin-infested, underground rooms.

1860 - New York City - Great blocks of slums are owned by men who resisted all sanitary improvements by securing from the Tammany-ridden city health department appointments as "health officers".

1861-1865 - American Civil War - The Union Army loses 186,216 men to disease, twice the number killed in action; nearly half were claimed by typhoid and dysentery.

1883 - Andrew Mearn's Bitter Cry of Outcast London asks the readers if they had ‘any conception of what these pestilential human rookeries are, where tens of thousands are crowded together amidst horrors which call to mind what we have heard of the middle passage of the slave ship'

Slowly over the 1800s heroes such as John Snow and scores of others helped improve living conditions for the common man.

1858 - John Snow presents a report to the House of Commons Select Committee where he states that the cholera was water-borne. He advocates massive improvements in drainage and sewage.

1863 - New York City - Most casual investigation showed that a great part of the deaths from epidemics were preventable by better housing and a few elementary measures of sanitation. The reeking slums of the Fourth Ward it was found that one resident in twenty-five perished, while in the open, well-built Fifteenth Ward, only one resident in sixty.

1868 - New York City - The municipal health board forces the removal of all downtown slaughterhouses, of which there had been twenty-three in a single half-ward, to points above Fortieth Street. At the same time the first collecting sewer to free the pier slips from the accumulation of waste was built, and others rapidly followed.

1875 - England - Main drainage of London completed. The sanitary infrastructure is a triumph of civil engineering. Public Health Act requires the appointment of a medical officer of health to every sanitary district in England and Wales.

1890 - 1915 - Personal hygiene revolution - personal hygiene becomes an essential feature of "civilized" behavior in the United States and Europe.

1900 - Holt, perhaps the best-known and influential pediatrician in the United States at the time and author of the widely read The Care and Feeding of Children considers nutrition to be the most important branch of pediatrics. He declares that, "The largest part of the immense mortality of the first year [of life] is traceable directly to disorders of nutrition."

1924 - In the Lancet, William Cramer expresses the belief that subclinical vitamin A deficiency might actually be common, a condition he called, "the borderline between health and disease." He notes that, "These effects [from lack of vitamins] are so little obvious that they have up to now been overlooked." Cramer surmises that children in this borderline state would appear well but under stress of infection would do poorly because of an underlying inadequate intake of vitamins.

As sanitation and hygiene became common place, nutrition improved, working hours reduced and working standards put into place, and as scores of other changes from screens in windows to refrigeration became available the diseases that once devastated populations began their steady and significant decline. These public health measures were simply one of the greatest revolutions that brought about the relatively infectious disease free world that is enjoyed by many in the western world today.


Fagan DG, Pritchard JS, Clarkson TW, Greenwood MR., Organ mercury levels in infants with omphaloceles treated with organic mercurial antiseptic. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 1977 Dec;52(12):962-4.

David S. Bakin, Hop Ngo, and Vladimir V. Didenko, Thimerosal Induced DNA Breaks, Caspase-3 Activation, Membrane Damage, and Cell Death in Cultured Human Neurons and Fibroblasts, Toxicological Sciences, Aug 2003, pp. 361-8.

WESTPHAL Götz A.; ASGARI Soha; SCHULZ Thomas G.; BÜNGER Jürgen; MÜLLER Michael; HALLIER Ernst; Thimerosal induces micronuclei in the cytochalasin B block micronucleus test with human lymphocytes, Archives of Toxicology, 2003, vol. 77, no1, pp. 50-55

Toshiko Ueha-Ishibashi, Yasuo Oyama, Hiromi Nakao, Chisato Umebayashi, Yasutaka Nishizaki, Tomoko Tatsuishi, Kyoko Iwase, Koji Murao and Hakaru Seo, Effect of thimerosal, a preservative in vaccines, on intracellular Ca2+ concentration of rat cerebellar neurons, Toxicology, Volume 195, Issue 1, 15 January 2004, Pages 77-84

Renee Dufault, Roseanne Schnoll, Walter J Lukiw, Blaise LeBlanc, Charles Cornett, Lyn Patrick, David Wallinga, Steven G Gilbert and Raquel Crider, Mercury exposure, nutritional deficiencies and metabolic disruptions may affect learning in children, Behavioral and Brain Functions, 2009, 5:44

Laura Hewitson, Lisa A. Housera, Carol Stottc, Gene Sackett, Jaime L. Tomko, David Atwood, Lisa Blue, E. Railey Whited and Andrew J. Wakefield, Delayed acquisition of neonatal reflexes in newborn primates receiving a thimerosal-containing Hepatitis B vaccine: Influence of gestational age and birth weight, NeuroToxicology, October 2009

Thimerosal Material Safety Data Sheet - Elli Lilly and Company, 22-Dec-1999

Aluminum hydroxide injections lead to motor deficits and motor neuron degeneration, Christopher A. Shaw, et al, Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, 2009 Aug 20. [Epub ahead of print]

Infectious Diseases: A Modern Treatise of Infection Processes, Chapter 82: Measles, 1977, pp. 691-700
Perkin, Joan, "Sewing Machines: Liberation or Drudgery for Women?" History Today, December 2002, Vol. 52, pp. 35-41

Porter, Roy, The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, Harper Collins Publishers, 1997, pp. 397-427

Arthur Charles Cole, A History of American Life Volume VII - The Irrepressible Conflict 1850-1865, The Macmillan Company, 1934, pp. 179-204

Allan Nevins, A History of American Life Volume VIII - The Emergence of Modern America 1865-1878, The Macmillan Company, 1927, pp.318-331

Greene, Velvl W., "Personal hygiene and life expectancy improvements since 1850: Historic and epidemiologic associations", American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), August 2001, pp. 203-206

Richard D. Semba, "Vitamin A as ‘Anti-Infective' Therapy, 1920-1940", Journal of Nutrition, 1999, Vol. 129, pp. 783-791


avatar Engify
I would like to point out that 0.11 in 100,000 calculates 0.00011% or 22,077 deaths associated with measles in 1968 in the US (Population 200,706,052) compared to 66 in 2005. I'm not saying that vaccines caused that further decrease, I just wanted to point out that the graphs are misleading since they are per 100,000. The deaths seem to drop to zero but in reality they are still numerous, granted 0.00011% is a very small percent.
avatar John

I think you mis-interpreted the data. You can search for number of deaths from measles each year online.
I found a report that said 51 deaths in 1968, although reports do vary, but not by more than 50 or so deaths.

I think the mistake you made was converting 0.11 into some sort of percentage incorrectly. I believe they meant
it as an actual number, like 0.11 people per 100,000 or 1 person per 909,090 deaths. Although that number
may be off, based on what I've looked up (51 deaths in 1968) It might be 2.68 per 100,000 deaths.

The other thing is that the final number is based on number of deaths so you can't use the whole population of the USA for the final tally as the whole population didn't die.

Here would be a more accurate way to calculate it:
A / 100000 * 2.68 = B
1,900,000 / 100,000 * 2.68 = 50.92 deaths from measles in 1968.

A - Total number of deaths in the USA in 1968 (~1,900,000).
B - Total number of deaths from measles in USA in 1968

I'm not trying to cut you down or anything, I just read what you said and thought wow... That is a lot of deaths, then I began thinking about it more.

Of course please correct me if I'm wrong (but in a nice way!).
avatar John
Oh, it looks like the 0.11 per 100,000 is for the UK, not the USA. The USA rate was prob. around 2.6 (what I calculated).
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Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 April 2010 02:58