Every year readers ask me if I get flu shots. I reply, I don’t. I rely on high daily doses of vitamin C to build up my immune system. But I may be wrong. So, I’ve sought the opinion of experts in the field. Their primary message is that informed consent is vital.
Most people believe vaccines would not be advised unless researchers and doctors deemed them safe. But I’ve often stressed, there’s no such thing as 100 percent safe surgery. The same is true of vaccines. That’s why 3.6 billion dollars has been awarded to families due to the complications of vaccines.
Here is a typical parent’s story. “My child was healthy, was given a vaccine and then something happened.” The occurrence is usually a neurological reaction due to inflammation in the brain that triggers problems such as autism, which has skyrocketed over the years. Or there’s a lack of coordination, sleep problems, seizures, severe allergic reactions and at times, death.
History shows that vaccines are vital in preventing a number of infectious diseases and they do save lives. But history also shows that on rare occasions they have a potential hidden risk.
Unfortunately, it’s become a medical sin for doctors to speak out about the negative effect of vaccines. In fact, the few who have the intestinal fortitude to do so are often labelled medical outcasts and sometimes punished by losing their job. So much for scientific fact!
So how do vaccines cause unintended consequences? It’s primarily due to what’s added to vaccines. For instance, some vaccines contain mercury, which is one of the most toxic ingredients known. Another additive, aluminum, is a known neurotoxin that can cause a toxic inflammatory reaction affecting the nervous system. Moreover, many people, including doctors, are unaware that there may be foreign DNA particles in vaccines!
Another frequent complaint is that vaccines are given too soon when young children are more susceptible to toxicity. For instance, in Norway, vaccines are not prescribed in the first two years of life. Contrast that to North America where newborns are routinely given vaccines such a hepatitis B.
Surely doctors would not advocate the benefits of vaccines without the knowledge they’re safe. But experts say this is part of the problem, namely they don’t know. During their years in medical school they receive very little training in immunology. Or, vitally important, never learn what’s actually in a vaccine.
Moreover, years ago there were just 3 vaccines. Now, by five years of age children can receive 46 or more vaccines. In fact, the message physicians receive from health authorities is, “Here is the vaccine schedule. Do it.” And some physicians have bluntly told parents, either have your children vaccinated or find another doctor. Namely, it’s my way or the highway!
What worried me as I listened to authorities talk about vaccines was this recurring phrase, “We don’t know whether the vaccine triggered the complication.” As a surgeon I know post-operative complications happen and why they happen. With vaccines, they remain in the never-never land of “maybe”.
For instance, I learned of babies dying of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). This has occurred 24 hours after a vaccine was given. Some authorities claimed the death was a coincidence. Maybe it was. But as one critic remarked, “If I hit my toe with a hammer, the cause of the soreness is usually the hammer.”
As I researched vaccines, I discovered the heavy responsibility of providing the truth. No journalist, nor any doctor, wants to advise against vaccination and have a child die needlessly from an infectious disease. Nor do they want to see a child vaccinated and develop a life-long complication.
I expect criticism from readers of this column. I’m also not your doctor, but believe you should be aware of these facts. So I urge all people, particularly parents, to discuss vaccines with their doctor. Try to read both sides of the vaccine debate. Then if a complication occurs, there are no surprises. And in medicine, the best surprise is no surprise.
Here some comments:
Some readers thought I'd been fired.
A professor of medicine in Calgary writes, "I was horrified that you would publish these remarks for unsophisticated readers." This implies newspaper readers are stupid! Another reader wrote, "Your recent piece is a threat to public health. You should be ashamed for spreading lies and fear." These are damning comments that must be challenged.
I also received an overwhelming positive response from readers. The general reaction was "Thank God a doctor has finally had the courage to speak out about this matter." A few predicted I'd be fired. Another wondered why I wasn't stoned at my front door!
WD from Toronto replied, "I cannot believe your column on vaccines was removed. What is happening in this world? Big pharma has its teeth in everything and people blindly follow. Your column simply advised people to look at both sides of the coin. We are living in a sad time."
From the Prairie Provinces: "You are one of the brave. All mothers out in the trenches are celebrating your article." Another reader in Massachusetts claimed that "Dropping the column was an attack on free speech."
MG writes, "With my first and only flu shot I developed Guillain-Barre disease and became paralyzed. I've regained the ability to walk, but have permanent nerve damage. It's so frustrating to hear that flu shots are safe as one nearly killed me. Thanks for speaking up."
From Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario: "I'm a registered nurse who worked in Toronto and never took a flu shot. Like you, I take a lot of vitamin C, and also bee pollen to increase immunity."
A doctor from Mexico says, "I wasn't taught about immunology and I was impressed and shocked to read about the dangers of vaccines in your column."
What have critics missed in denouncing this column? Investigators always counsel, "Follow the money to find the answer." This means following 3.6 billion dollars, awarded to families due to the complications of vaccines. It's a huge pay out if nothing wrong ever happened.
Critics also make the error in ignoring the fact that no therapy in this world is 100 percent safe. I could never guarantee that my surgical patients would have an uncomplicated recovery. Every day people die of blood clots after surgery and prescription medication. Vaccines are no exception.
Some things like apple pie, motherhood and vaccines have become sacrosanct. And if doctors analyze them they're immediately damned.
Some critics claim that substantial amounts of mercury are no longer used in vaccines. But mercury even in small quantities is dangerous. Common sense tells us that something in the vaccine triggers occasional complications. To date, we regrettably do not have a utopian 100 percent safe vaccine.
I am a moderate, actually. I've previously written that vaccines have thankfully saved countless lives from infectious disease. I have never counseled anyone to refuse vaccines. Rather, the decision should always be made by the patient and his/her doctor. Informed consent should include the possibility of an unexpected, minor or serious complication.
One thing I do know. I'm not related to the Almighty. I therefore can't be infallible. I also know that readers often request that my column be discontinued when I write about controversial social and medical issues.
In view of what happened should I have bypassed a column on vaccines? I hate hypocrisy, so I'd be the world's worst hypocrite if I followed the non-controversial path. Medicine is made up of many controversies.
An editor 45 years ago counseled me, "It's the job of a journalist to make people think." This has left me with scars. But if I get fired for writing what I believe should be said, it's time to stop. After all, the motto of the Harvard Medical School is one word, Truth. I will live or die by it.
(And he means it. Dr. Ken Walker, 94, is a Harvard-trained surgeon and outspoken advocate of nutritional medicine. Last we checked, he's still writing his column, still read by millions. The doctor's website is www.docgiff.com and his email for comments is email@example.com .)