This article is taken from Dr Vernon Coleman’s Health Letter. It gives general material and opinions for information only and is not to be considered an alternative to professional medical advice. Readers should consult their family doctors or other qualified medical advisers on any matter relating to their health and wellbeing.

Do Vaccines Work And Are They Safe?

Most doctors and nurses genuinely believe that vaccines have helped wipe out some of the deadliest infectious diseases. Many members of the medical profession would put vaccination high on any list of great medical discoveries.

The perceived value of vaccination is so great that even though I have, for many years, been a vociferous critic of some specific vaccines (see section headed Whooping Cough) I have up until now always been reluctant to damn all vaccination programmes as worthless and dangerous.

The mythical power of vaccination programmes has for years constantly been sustained by governments, and bodies, such as the World Health Organisation announcing, apparently with complete conviction, that such and such a disease will be eradicated when the relevant vaccination programme has been completed.

The principle behind vaccination is a convincing one.

The theory is that when an individual is given a vaccine – which consists of a weakened or dead version of the disease against which protection is required – his or her body will be tricked into developing antibodies to the disease in exactly the same way that a body develops antibodies when it is exposed to the disease itself.

But in reality things aren’t quite so simple. How long do the antibodies last? Do they always work? What about those individuals who don’t produce antibodies at all? Vaccination, like so much of medicine, is a far more inexact science than doctors (and drug companies) would like us to think.

Vaccination is widely respected by doctors and others in the health care industry because of the assumption that it is through vaccination that many of the world’s most lethal infectious diseases have been eradicated. But this simply isn’t true. As I have shown in many of my books infectious diseases were conquered by the provision of cleaner drinking water and better sewage facilities. The introduction of vaccination programmes came along either just at the same time or later when the death rates from the major infectious diseases had already fallen. There really isn’t any evidence to show that vaccination programmes have ever been of any real value – either to individuals or to communities.


One of the medical profession’s greatest boasts is that it eradicated smallpox through the use of the smallpox vaccine. I myself believed this claim for many years. But it simply isn’t true.

One of the worst smallpox epidemics of all time took place in England between 1870 and 1872 – nearly two decades after compulsory vaccination was introduced. After this evidence that smallpox vaccination didn’t work the people of Leicester in the English midlands refused to have the vaccine any more. When the next smallpox epidemic struck in the early 1890s the people of Leicester relied upon good sanitation and a system of quarantine. There was only one death from smallpox in Leicester during that epidemic. In contrast the citizens of other towns (who had been vaccinated) died in vast numbers.

Obligatory vaccination against smallpox was introduced in Germany in around 1816, largely as a result of state by-laws, but these vaccination programmes had no influence on the incidence of the disease. On the contrary, the smallpox epidemic continued to grow and in 1870 the war with France led to the gravest smallpox epidemic in Germany history. At that point the new German Reich introduced a new national law making vaccination against smallpox an even stricter legal requirement. The police were given the power to enforce the new law.

German doctors (and medical students) are taught that it was the Reich Vaccination Law which led to a dramatic reduction in the incidence of smallpox in Germany. But a close look at the figures shows that the incidence of smallpox had already started to fall before the law came into action. And the legally enforced national smallpox vaccination programme did not eradicate the disease.

Doctors and drug companies may not like it but the truth is that surveillance, quarantine and better living conditions got rid of smallpox – not the smallpox vaccine.

When the World Health Organization campaign to rid the world of smallpox was at its height the number of cases of smallpox went up each time there was a large scale (and expensive) mass vaccination of populations in susceptible countries. As a result of this the WHO changed its strategy. Mass vaccination programmes were abandoned and replaced with surveillance, isolation and quarantine.

For example, in the 1960s Sierra Leone had the highest rate of smallpox in the world. The country got rid of smallpox in just over a year – largely by the simple process of identifying and isolating patients with the disease.

The myth that smallpox was eradicated through a mass vaccination programme is just that – a myth.

It is worth pointing out that Edward Jenner, widely feted as the inventor of the smallpox vaccine, tried out the first smallpox vaccination on his own 10 month old son. His son remained mentally retarded until his death at the age of 21. Jenner refused to have his second child vaccinated.


Vaccination against tuberculosis is often given as the reason why this disease stopped being quite the threat to life that it had been in the 18th century.

But again, this isn’t true.

Robert Koch discovered the pathogen that causes TB back in 1883. After that BCG vaccination was introduced and then, subsequently, mass treatment programmes were devised with chemotherapy.

None of these discoveries or introductions had any effect on the incidence of tuberculosis.

Contracting TB doesn’t provide any immunity against a second infection. And if a natural infection doesn’t provide protection then a vaccination certainly won’t provide protection. How on earth can it?

It was noticed decades ago that in the lung sanatoriums that specialised in the treatment of TB patients there was no difference in the survival rates of patients who had been ‘protected’ against TB with BCG vaccination when compared to the survival rates of patients who had received no such ‘protection’.

The tuberculosis vaccination (the Bacillus Calmette-Guerin – known as BCG) consists of a weakened, living bovine mycobacterium. The vaccine was used for many years but a WHO trial in India showed that the vaccine offers no protection against the disease. Indeed, when new cases of tuberculosis increased annually in the areas where people had been vaccinated against the disease the trial seemed to suggest that there might be a link between the vaccine and outbreaks of the disease.

Many countries have now abandoned the TB vaccine – and have no plans to reintroduce it even though the disease is once again a major health problem.


Vaccination against diphtheria was introduced to Germany in 1925. After the introduction of the vaccine the number of cases of diphtheria steadily increased until, shortly after the Second World War, production of the vaccine was halted. There was a decline in the incidence of the disease which coincided with the fact that the vaccination was no longer being used. When the vaccine was subsequently reintroduced the decline in the incidence of the disease slowed down.

As with whooping cough, tetanus and other diseases the incidence, and number of deaths from diphtheria, were in decline long before the vaccine was introduced.


Paralysis caused by poliomyelitis is now unheard of in Germany. But every year there are some cases of paralysis caused by the oral polio vaccine.

In America the incidence of polio increased dramatically (by around 50%) after the introduction of mass immunisation. In some States the incidence of polio roughly doubled after the polio vaccine was introduced. The number of deaths from polio had fallen dramatically before the first polio vaccine was introduced. As with other infectious diseases the significance of polio dropped as better sanitation, better housing, cleaner water and more food were all made available in the second half of the nineteenth century. It was social developments rather than medical ones which increased human resistance to infectious diseases.

Proof that the introduction of the polio vaccine wasn’t the success it is often made out to be isn’t difficult to find. In Tennessee, US, the number of polio victims the year before vaccination became compulsory was 119. The year after vaccination was introduced the figure rose to 386. In North Carolina, the number of cases before vaccination was introduced was 78, while the number after the vaccine became compulsory rose to 313. There are similar figures for other American states.

The fact is that polio (like many other infectious diseases) comes in cycles. When a disease is at a high point in its cycle the authorities (egged on by doctors and drug companies) will use this to frighten citizens into agreeing to be vaccinated. And when a disease is at a low point in its natural cycle it is often vaccination programmes which get the credit. This is exactly what happened with polio.

However, whether or not the polio vaccine actually works is, for many people, a relatively unimportant health issue.

Of far more significance is the fact (revealed in my book Why Animal Experiments Must Stop in 1991) that millions of people who were given the polio vaccine as children in the 1950s and 1960s may now be at a greatly increased risk of developing cancer.

Although an early breakthrough in the development of a polio vaccine was made in 1949 with the aid of a human tissue culture, monkey kidney tissue was used when the first practical vaccine was prepared in the 1950s. The monkey tissue was used simply because that was standard laboratory practice, but no one realised that one of the viruses commonly found in monkey kidney cells can cause cancer in human beings.

(As a side issue this is yet another example of the stupidity of using animal tissue in the treatment of human patients. The popularity of using transplants derived from animals suggests that doctors and scientists have learned nothing from this error. I sometimes despair of those who claim to be in the healing profession.)

Bone, brain, liver and lung cancers have all been linked to the monkey kidney virus SV40 and something like seventeen million people who were given the polio vaccine in the 1950s and 1960s are probably now at risk. Moreover, there now seems to be evidence that the virus may be passed on to the children of those who were given the contaminated vaccine. The SV40 virus from the polio vaccine has already been found in cancers which have developed both in individuals who were given the vaccine as protection against polio and in the children of individuals who were given the vaccine. It seems inconceivable that the virus could have got into the tumours other than through the polio vaccine.

The American government was warned of this danger back in 1956 but the doctor who made the discovery was ignored and her laboratory was closed down. Surprise, surprise. It was five years after this discovery before drug companies started screening out the virus. And even then Britain had millions of doses of the infected polio vaccine in stock. There is no evidence that the government withdrew the vaccine. In Britain official records which would identify those who received the contaminated vaccine were all destroyed by the Department of Health in 1987. Oddly enough this means that no one can take legal action against the government. Gosh. Another surprise. How do these bastards sleep at night?


Throughout the 1970s and the 1980s I was a critic of a number of vaccines – most notably the whooping cough vaccine. The following essay on the whooping cough vaccine appeared in 1988 in my book The Health Scandal.

The story of the whooping cough vaccine provides us with a remarkable example of dishonesty and deceit in medicine.

There has been controversy about the whooping cough vaccine for many years but in the UK the Department of Health and Social Security has, through the years, consistently managed to convince the majority of medical and nursing staff to support the official line that the vaccine is both safe and effective. The official DHSS line has for years paid little attention to the facts. Put bluntly the DHSS (on behalf of successive governments) has consistently lied about the risks and problems associated with the whooping cough vaccine.

I will explain exactly why I think that governments have lied to their employers (the public) a little later. For the time being I would like to concentrate on the facts.

The first point that should be made is that although official spokesmen claim otherwise, the whooping cough vaccine has never had much of an influence on the number of children dying from whooping cough. The dramatic fall in the number of deaths caused by the disease came well before the vaccine was widely available and was, historians agree, the result of improved public health measures and, indirectly, the use of antibiotics.

It was in 1957 that the whooping cough vaccine was first introduced nationally in Britain – although the vaccine was tried out in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. But the incidence of whooping cough, and the number of children dying from the disease, had both fallen very considerably well before 1957. So, for example, while doctors reported 170,000 cases of whooping cough in 1950 they reported only about 80,000 cases in 1955. The introduction of the vaccine really didn’t make very much, if any, difference to the fall in the incidence of the disease. Even today (1988) thirty years after the introduction of the vaccine, whooping cough cases are still running at about 1,000 a week in Britain.

Similarly, the figures show that the introduction of the vaccine had no effect on the number of children dying from whooping cough. The mortality rate associated with the disease had been falling appreciably since the early part of the twentieth century and rapidly since the 1930s and 1940s – showing a particularly steep decline after the introduction of the sulphonamide drugs. Whooping cough is undoubtedly an extremely unpleasant disease but it has not been a major killer for many years. Successive governments have frequently forecast fresh whooping cough epidemics but none of the forecast epidemics has produced the devastation predicted.

My second point is that the whooping cough vaccine is neither very efficient nor is it safe. The efficiency of the vaccine is of subsidiary interest – although thousands of children who have been vaccinated do still get the disease – the greatest controversy surrounds the safety of the vaccine. The DHSS has always claimed that serious adverse reactions to the whooping cough vaccine are extremely rare and the official suggestion is that the risk of a child being brain damaged by the vaccine is no higher than one in 100,000. Now, leaving aside the fact that I find a risk of one in 100,000 unacceptable, it is interesting to examine this figure a little more closely, for after a little research work it becomes clear that the figure of one in 100,000 is a guess.

Over the last decade or two, numerous researchers have studied the risks of brain damage following whooping cough vaccination and their results make fascinating reading. Between 1960 and 1981, for example, nine reports were published showing that the risk of brain damage varied between one in 6,000 and one in 100,000. The average was a risk of one in 50,000. It is clear from these figures that the DHSS has simply chosen the figure which showed the whooping cough vaccine to be least risky. Moreover, the one in 100,000 figure did not come from any rock solid research. It was itself an estimate – a guess.

These are just a couple of the important facts about the whooping cough vaccine that have been ignored or overlooked or disguised by the DHSS. But they are not the only facts that have been distorted.

Although the DHSS consistently claims that whooping cough is a dangerous disease, the figures show that it is not the indiscriminate killer it is made out to be. Whooping cough causes around four deaths a year in Britain. Compare that to approximately 300 deaths caused by tuberculosis and 100 deaths caused by meningitis. Most of the victims of whooping cough are babies under three months old. That fact is particularly important because the vaccine is never given to babies under three months old.

The truth about the whooping cough vaccine is that it has always been a disaster. The vaccine has already been withdrawn in other countries because of the amount of brain damage associated with its use. In Japan, Sweden and West Germany the vaccine has been omitted from regular vaccination schedules. In America two out of three whooping cough vaccine manufacturers have stopped making the vaccine because of the cost of lawsuits. On 6th December 1985 the Journal of the American Medical Association published a major report showing that the whooping cough vaccine is, without doubt, linked to the development of serious brain damage. And even here in Britain the DHSS has been so worried about the vaccine that for ten years it has been paying research workers at Porton Down to search for ways to make a new, safer, more effective whooping cough vaccine. At long last, after a £5 million research programme, a new vaccine is indeed being tested on children.

The final nail in the coffin lid is the fact that the British Government has already paid out compensation to the parents of some 800 children who have been brain damaged by the whooping cough vaccine. Some parents who accepted damages a few years ago were given £10,000. More recently parents have been getting £20,000.

It is a startling fact that for many years now the whooping cough vaccine has been killing or severely injuring more children than the disease itself. Since 1979 around 800 children (or their parents) have received money from the Government for vaccine produced brain damage. In the same period less than 100 children have been killed by whooping cough. I think that makes the vaccine more dangerous than the disease. And that, surely is quite unacceptable. So, why has the DHSS continued to encourage doctors to use the vaccine?

There are two possible explanations. The first explanation is the more generous of the two and concerns the Government’s responsibility for the health of the community as a whole. The theory here is that by encouraging millions of parents to have their children vaccinated the Government can reduce the incidence of the disease in the community. In the long run this (theoretically) reduces the risk of there being any future epidemics of whooping cough. In other words the government risks the lives of individual children for the good of the next generation.

The second, less charitable explanation is that the DHSS is looking after its own interests by continuing to claim that the whooping cough vaccine is safe enough to use. In 1987 there were 258 sets of parents preparing to sue the DHSS for damages. They claim that the whooping cough vaccine damaged their children. They are claiming something in the region of £250,000 each. If the DHSS withdrew the whooping cough vaccine, it would be admitting that the vaccine was dangerous. And it would obviously lose its court cases. Such an admission would, therefore, cost it 258 times £250,000.

And that would be just the beginning for there are, you will remember, 800 sets of parents who have already received payments from the Government of either £10,000 or £20,000. If the DHSS admitted liability (and those payments did not include an admission of liability) then it is fair to assume that the DHSS would find itself with several hundred more lawsuits and a damages bill running into billions of pounds.

Whatever explanation you consider most accurate the unavoidable fact is that the government (in the form of the DHSS) has consistently lied about the whooping cough vaccine, has distorted the truth and has deceived both the medical profession (for the majority of doctors and nurses who give these injections accept the recommendations made by the DHSS without question) and millions of parents.

The DHSS may have saved itself a tidy sum in damages. But the cost to the nation’s health has been enormous. And this, remember, is merely one more example of the way in which the truth has been distorted by those whom we trust to provide us with honest, accurate advice about medicine and health care.

(The above account of the whooping cough vaccine is taken from The Health Scandal by Vernon Coleman, published by Sidgwick and Jackson in 1988.)


As the years have gone by the number of vaccines available has increased steadily. Modern American children receive around thirty vaccinations by the time they go to school.

A decade or two ago the only vaccines available were against a relatively small number of diseases including smallpox, tuberculosis, polio, cholera, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. Today, the number of available vaccines seems to grow almost daily. In the past vaccines were produced against major killer diseases. Today vaccines are produced against diseases such as measles, mumps and chickenpox which have been traditionally regarded as relatively benign inconveniences of childhood.

In the UK the death rate from measles had dropped dramatically decades before the vaccine was introduced. Today the incidence of measles is rising again.

In attempts to persuade parents to have their children vaccinated against measles governments and doctors around the world have thought up an apparently unending – and hysterical – series of scare campaigns. Now that there is a vaccine against it measles has, by a strange coincidence, stopped being an annoying childhood disease and has, instead, become a deadly killer.

Scares often consist of claiming that a major epidemic is just around the corner and that only vaccination can offer protection. I have lost count of the number of whooping cough epidemics which governments have wrongly forecast. Governments and their advisers are either unbelievably stupid or else they are deliberately lying to help boost drug company profits.

Of course, countless scientists around the world have spent vast fortunes trying to create a vaccine against AIDS (in view of the fact that AIDS may not exist – see later in this edition of VCHL – they may find this trickier than expected).

And scientists have apparently developed a banana vaccine by creating genetically engineered banana plants. There are plans to develop bananas which ‘protect’ against hepatitis B, measles, yellow fever and poliomyelitis.

Other scientists have developed a genetically engineered potato which it may be possible to use as a vaccine against cholera. The active part of the potato remains active during the process of cooking and so a portion of genetically engineered chips could soon be a vaccine against cholera. (I am not making this up.)

Naturally, the pharmaceutical industry is constantly searching for more and more new vaccines. I have lost count of the number of times I have read of researchers working on a vaccine to prevent cancer. Every year new flu jabs appear on the market. There are, so I am told, vaccines in the pipeline for just about everything ranging from asthma to earache. There is a planned genetically engineered vaccine which will provide protection against forty different diseases. The vaccine, which will contain the raw DNA of all those different diseases, will be given to newborn babies to provide them with protection for life. Oh, goody.

I don’t know about you but I can no longer keep up with what is going on. I have long since given up trying to work out which vaccines are very dangerous and which are just a bit dangerous – and to whom.

Nor can I keep up with which vaccines might work a bit and which don’t seem to do much good at all. Does anyone know what the hell happens inside the body when all these different vaccinations are given together? Do different vaccines work with or against one another? What about the risk of interactions? Exactly how does the immune system cope when it is suddenly bombarded with so much foreign material?

I am an enthusiastic supporter of the principle of preventive medicine. It is usually much easier to avoid an illness than it is to treat one.

Vaccination programmes are usually sold to the public as though they are an integral part of a general preventive medicine programme.

But over the years I have steadily come around to the view that vaccination programmes cannot truly be described as preventive medicine but are, rather, a part of the interventionist approach to medical care.


One of the big problems with vaccination is that it has, for many years, been nigh on impossible to discuss the issue of vaccination without arousing great antagonism from doctors and politicians. Many parents who have tried to discuss vaccination programmes offered to their children have been startled by the response. Doctors who will discuss other issues in a rational and understanding way suddenly become hysterical when it is suggested that the value of a vaccination programme be discussed. Doctors, nurses and health visitors often put a great deal of pressure on parents to force them to have their children vaccinated. It is common for doctors to refuse to discuss the issue and it is common for doctors to use a great deal of emotional blackmail to force parents to have their children vaccinated. All this is made even more worrying by the fact that these days doctors often have a personal financial interest in making sure that their patients are vaccinated. (For example, doctors in general practice often get a financial bonus if they can show that a high percentage of their patients have been vaccinated.)

Instead of providing members of the public with the facts politicians and civil servants have frequently introduced blatantly misleading and downright dishonest advertising campaigns in an attempt to bully patients and parents into accepting vaccination. Diseases which are often short lived and relatively harmless may be described as deadly and lethal while the side effects associated with particular vaccines are often ignored, minimised, trivialised or even hidden completely.

In my experience it is often extremely difficult to find the truth about a particular vaccine. GPs who rely upon official information (from the government) probably find it difficult to discover the whole truth and I suspect that most of the doctors and nurses who are such enthusiastic supporters and promoters of vaccination programmes do so because they innocently and naively believe what they have been told and have no idea of the real facts.

One of the arguments often put forward in favour of vaccination is that if a large enough number of people are vaccinated then the community will benefit because fewer people will catch the disease in question. The individual who does not get vaccinated (or who refuses to allow his or her child to be vaccinated) will be accused of being irresponsibly selfish. In some parts of the world it is now illegal for parents not to have their children vaccinated. Children in the US have been arrested for not having valid vaccination certificates.

Apart from the fact that it is odd to see doctors and drug companies (most of whom are hardly left wing in their day to day approach to life) embracing this curiously communistic approach to health care (with the rights of the individual being regarded as less important than the future prospects of the community) the big flaw is that all the evidence shows that vaccination just doesn’t work this way.

Survey after survey has shown that the incidence of a disease in a community simply isn’t related to the number of people who have been vaccinated.


The whole business of vaccination is riddled with flaws and myths.

Here are just a couple of the most obvious ones.

First, vaccines simply aren’t very effective. Much to the annoyance of doctors and drug companies, viruses and other organisms don’t just sit still and remain the same for year after year. They are constantly changing. And new organisms are being formed all the time. Attempts to prevent influenza by giving flu jabs are, in my view, utterly futile. Every year scientists, drug companies and doctors enthuse about the latest anti-flu vaccine. But each year’s new vaccine is based on last year’s brand of flu. And it will not necessarily provide any protection against the latest flu bug.

While your doctor is busy jabbing you and your family with the latest vaccine a new flu bug is probably on its way from China, Australia or South America. The result is that vaccines are, at best, unpredictable and at worst utterly ineffective.

During outbreaks of whooping cough around half the victims are people who have been vaccinated. (At least one important study has shown that whooping cough epidemics mainly occur among children who have had the full vaccination course.) Research from Sweden and Italy has shown that the whooping cough vaccine is effective in 48% and 36% of those to whom it is given. Hardly reassuring when one considers the risks involved.

Measles vaccines are similarly often ineffective. In an attempt to cope with this doctors usually simply suggest giving booster shots. Naturally, this has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that abandoning the vaccine would damage drug company (and doctor) profits whereas giving booster profits would increase drug company (and doctor) profits.

Measles used to be a relatively mild disease that usually affected children. Today it seems to be a more serious disease which often affects young adults. Measles is now a significant disease among college students who have been vaccinated against it. (Incidentally, there is now some evidence to suggest that trying to stop children getting the typical childhood infections isn’t a good idea for another reason. It seems possible that children who don’t get many infectious diseases in childhood may be more likely to develop cancer later in life. The explanation for this is that those childhood infections help the immune system to develop.)

Failure rates with other vaccines are also high. There is much evidence to show that the polio vaccine may fail (some outbreaks of polio seem more likely to affect the vaccinated than the unvaccinated) and one study showed that a vaccination given to protect against meningitis increased a child’s risk of contracting the disease by five times.Other studies have shown that the vaccine increases susceptibility to complications.

The vaccine against tuberculosis has been estimated to be effective between 0% and 80% of the time. (The Heaf test which is used to measure tuberculin sensitivity can be something of a mystery. False negatives and false positives are possible. A positive test could mean that the patient is allergic to the test, has had a TB infection or is immune to TB. Take your pick.)

Second, the side effects which may be associated with vaccines are invariably worse than those who give and enthuse about the vaccines are prepared to admit. There is no such thing as an entirely safe vaccine. There are today more people in Germany suffering from vaccination damage than there are people suffering from AIDS. (This is probably true for most other so called ‘developed’ countries.) The amount of money being wasted on AIDS research runs into billions of any currency you like to name. (I am not saying that research into this disease is inevitably useless but that the research which is being done is probably useless.) The amount of money being spent on studying vaccine damage is approximately nothing.

Some side effects are relatively mild but nevertheless inconvenient. For example, the flu jab regularly causes symptoms which are virtually indistinguishable from flu itself. Other side effects may be crippling. For example, the side effects which may be associated with the whooping cough vaccine can cause serious, life long damage.

For over two centuries doctors have persisted with vaccination programmes despite the fact that there has never been any convincing evidence to show that they work or, indeed, are safe. Moreover, to their eternal shame, doctors have consistently refused to debate the issue of vivisection and have done everything they could to prevent the public discovering the truth about an activity which has been extremely profitable both for the medical profession and for the drugs industry.

In the 1970s, when I wrote extensively about the hazards of specific vaccination programmes (particularly the whooping cough vaccine), I was widely blamed by doctors and politicians for the fact that many parents were refusing to have their children vaccinated. My only weapon against the propaganda techniques employed by the government was the truth. At the time I was writing a syndicated newspaper column which appeared in a number of local newspapers. Time and time again doctors put pressure on local newspaper editors to encourage them to drop my column on the grounds that by printing the facts about the whooping cough vaccine (as far as I know, no one ever disputed the accuracy of the facts I printed) I was threatening the safety of the nation!


Evidence that vaccines may do more harm than good is supported by experiences with animals. Between 1968 and 1988 there were considerably more outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in countries where vaccination against foot and mouth disease was compulsory than in countries where there were no such regulations. Epidemics always started in countries where vaccination was compulsory. This experience clearly shows that the alleged advantage to the community of vaccinating individuals simply does not exist.

Similar observations were made about the hyena dog, which was in 1989 threatened with extinction. Scientists vaccinated individual animals to protect them against rabies but more than a dozen packs then died within a year – of rabies. This happened even in areas where rabies had never been seen before. When researchers tried using a non-infectious form of the pathogen (to prevent the deaths of the remaining animals) all members of seven packs of dogs disappeared. And yet the rabies vaccine is now compulsory in many parts of the world. Is it not possible that it is the vaccine which is keeping this disease alive?

Horses are regularly and repeatedly vaccinated with a whole range of vaccines. Some vets now believe that these vaccinations damage the immune systems of the animals concerned (though most vets, like most doctors, are frightened to speak out and attack vaccines).

Similarly, what evidence is there to show that the many vaccines given to family pets are of value – other than to the companies making the vaccines and the vets giving the jabs?

Those who eat meat should be aware that cattle (and other animals reared for slaughter) are regularly vaccinated. The meat that is taken from those animals may, therefore, contain vaccine residues in addition to hormones, antibiotics and other drugs.


I have for decades argued that some vaccines may be unnecessary and/or even potentially dangerous in some circumstances, and may sometimes be promoted too enthusiastically by both politicians and doctors. Tragically, many doctors seem to know very little about the vaccines they advocate. In my view, if a doctor wants to vaccinate you or a member of your family you should insist that he confirm in writing that the vaccine is both entirely safe and absolutely essential. You may notice his enthusiasm for the vaccine suddenly diminish.

The first vaccine which really attracted my attention was the whooping cough vaccine. For years now whooping cough has not been a major killer disease – not, at least, in most westernised, developed countries and for many years I have believed – and publicly argued – that the number of children allegedly brain damaged by the vaccine has, during the last decade or two, probably exceeded the number allegedly killed by the disease itself.

Many readers who have tried to discuss vaccines with their doctors have complained that their physicians simply insist that the whooping cough vaccine is perfectly safe and won’t even discuss it with them. I firmly believe that all parents should be told the facts so that they can make up their own minds about the value of any vaccine. Deciding whether or not to have a child vaccinated is a big decision. It isn’t something to be done lightly. The wrong decision can easily lead to a lifetime of regrets. Sadly, however, one big problem is undoubtedly the fact that many doctors simply don’t know very much about the safety or effectiveness of vaccines. They know what the government tells them and they may know what the company which makes the vaccine tells them. But I don’t trust governments and I don’t think that drug companies are always the best source of unbiased information about effectiveness and safety.

In my view all parents should have the right to decide whether or not their child has any vaccine. They should not just be told by their doctor that they must accept his assurance that the vaccine is perfectly safe and completely essential.

‘My doctor implied that I was just being stupid when I said I wasn’t sure that I wanted my child vaccinated,’ complained one reader. ‘His attitude was that it had nothing to do with me and that I should just allow him to do whatever he thought best.’

‘My wife came home crying,’ complained another reader. ‘She had had the temerity to question her doctor about vaccination. He told her that if she refused to have our child vaccinated he would call in the social workers since in his view our refusal to allow vaccination made us unfit to be parents. What really upset me is that my wife hadn’t refused to have our child vaccinated. She just wanted to talk about it.’

This paternalistic attitude seems strong among doctors and other health workers, most of whom seem to prefer to answer any questions with abuse rather than facts.

I believe that all parents should make up their own minds about whether or not to have their children vaccinated. Before you allow your doctor to vaccine your child (or you) ask your doctor some questions. Essential questions to ask include:

And, finally, as I said earlier, I advise patients to ask doctors to give them written confirmation that they have personally investigated the risk-benefit ratio of the vaccine and that, having looked at all the evidence, they believe that the vaccine is safe and essential for that particular patient. How could any doctor object to signing such a confirmation?

I cannot give you specific advice about whether or not you should have your child vaccinated against whooping cough, measles or any other disease. It would be dangerous and irresponsible for me to try to offer you specific advice because we are all different and circumstances change from day to day.

My own personal view is that vaccines are unsafe and worthless. I will not allow myself to be vaccinated again. Readers of VCHL must, however, make their own judgements based on all the available evidence. I strongly recommend that anyone contemplating vaccination discuss the issue with their own medical adviser.

The bottom line is that infectious diseases are least likely to affect (and to kill) those who have healthy immune systems. I no longer believe that vaccines have any role to play in the protection of the community or the individual. Vaccines may be profitable but, in my view, they are neither safe nor effective.

I prefer to put my trust in building up my immune system. (See VCHL Vol 1 No 8 and VCHL Vol 2 No 10.)