Mandating Vaccines: Where there is Risk, There Needs to be Choice

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Mandating Vaccines:

Where there is Risk, There Needs to be Choice

Michelle Sheehan

DeSales University

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Vaccination has been around for centuries, but vaccines are being pushed by medical

professionals and the media more now than ever before. There has always been an opposition to

vaccines by a small percentage of society, but with technology and social media expanding at

such a high rate, the movement has been receiving much more attention. Those who choose to

forego vaccines are classified as uneducated and are chastised for putting their children at risk.

Not only are they being criticized for their informed choice, but they are being blamed for

putting vaccinated children at risk, and have become the scapegoat for recent outbreaks of

diseases. Diseases that were claimed to have been eradicated. State governments are working

hard to put laws in place that force individuals to follow the vaccine schedule in order to protect

those who cannot be vaccinated due to their age or a specific medical condition. Though at first

glance it may seem like the proper action to take, vaccinations should not be mandated by the

government. Vaccines contain many toxic substances and they carry a variety of risks; where

there is risk there needs to be choice. Forced medical procedures infringe upon the rights of the

people by undermining informed consent and the first amendment right to freedom of religion.

Lastly, support for mandating vaccines is built off of the unproven theory of herd immunity and

the false premise that vaccinating the entire population is for the greater good.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admit that “any vaccine can

cause side effects” (2015a). Vaccinations are capable of causing a myriad of adverse events

which can be found on the vaccine inserts provided by the vaccine manufacturers. These inserts

can be downloaded directly from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website. Side

effects can be mild, moderate or severe. Some of the more severe side effects range from serious

allergic reactions, to long term seizures, to permanent brain damage and even death (Centers for

Disease Control and Prevention, 2015a). The majority of vaccines have not been studied for

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carcinogenic or mutagenic potential, nor have they been tested for impairment of fertility (U.S.

Food and Drug Administration [FDA], 2015a). The Tripedia vaccine contains the diphtheria

toxoid, tetanus toxoid, and acellular pertussis vaccine. Pregnant women are repeatedly pushed to

receive this vaccine based on the theory that it will protect their newborn from whooping cough

and are told by medical professionals that it is safe and effective. In contrast, the vaccine insert

states that “it is not known whether Tripedia vaccine can cause fetal harm when administered to

a pregnant woman or can affect reproductive capacity” (Sanofi Pasteur, 2005, p. 6). Fluzone, a

common vaccine for influenza that is also pushed on pregnant mothers states that there are “no

adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women” and that “Fluzone 14 Quadrivalent

should be given to a pregnant woman only if clearly needed” (Sanofi Pasteur, 2015, p. 15). This

is just one example of how vaccines are portrayed to be safer than they are proven to be.

People are questioning the safety of vaccines because there are many questionable

ingredients in them. Vaccines contain heavy metals including aluminum and thimerosal, a

mercury derivative; they can contain traces of foreign animal proteins and DNA from aborted

human fetuses that are used to grow the viruses, and they are comprised of many other

controversial chemicals including formaldehyde and polysorbate 80. Ingredients for each

individual vaccine can be found on the vaccine package inserts. Aluminum is classified as a

neurotoxin; according to the Toxicological Profile for Aluminum published by the U.S.

Department of Health and Human Services, “there are numerous studies that have examined

aluminum’s potential to induce toxic effects in humans” (2008, p. 32). Similarly, the

Toxicological Profile for Mercury classifies mercury as a hazardous substance. It also states that

mercury can be detrimental to the nervous system (U.S. Department of Health and Human

Services, 1999). On the contrary, both of these toxic chemicals are used as adjuvants in

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vaccines. The purpose of adjuvants in vaccines is to boost the body’s immune response (FDA,

2015b); however, giving an explanation to why toxic chemicals are in vaccines does not make it


Aluminum and thimerosal can both be damaging to the human body. Agmon et al.

explains that Autoimmune Syndrome induced by Adjuvants (ASIA) is a spectrum of

autoimmune diseases triggered by adjuvants such as aluminum and thimerosal (2012, p. 1).

Many studies have been conducted on the safety of these adjuvants in vaccines and have

determined that it could be a cause for serious concern. A study published in the journal Current

Medicinal Chemistry in 2011 concludes that the use of aluminum adjuvants in vaccines “carries a

risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications

and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences” (Tomljenovic &

Shaw, 2011, p. 6). Bobrowicz et al. found that thimerosal can contribute to neurological

complications in vulnerable children, even in small doses, such as those found in vaccinations

(2010). Many other peer-reviewed journals contain studies concluding that the use of adjuvants

in vaccines could be a major cause in the development of autoimmunity (Amital, Rosenblum, &

Shoenfeld, 2011; Miyazaki, Shiozawa, & Tsumiyama, 2010) and many publications are out there

related to other toxic vaccine ingredients. When vaccines contain such controversial ingredients,

parents need to be the ones deciding whether or not to inject them into their children.

In 1986 Congress passed the National Child Vaccine Injury Act (CDC, 2015b). Vaccine

manufacturers were afraid that the amount of money they would have to pay out to people

injured by their products would force them out of business. This act gave pharmaceutical

companies immunity from vaccine injury lawsuits; they are no longer held liable for the damage

their products cause. With this act, the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS)

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was created. VAERS is an online database for vaccine reactions to be reported. Additionally,

the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) was created to compensate anyone

who is injured by a vaccine (CDC, 2015b). There are many cases of vaccine injury and they are

not as rare as we are led to believe. Just last year Sarah Behie, a local woman from the Lehigh

Valley, was awarded 11.6 million dollars for an injury caused by an annual flu shot she received

at work, “the 20-year-old was admitted to the hospital and later diagnosed with Guillain-Barre

syndrome, a rare neurological condition that would leave her partially paralyzed and living in

hospitals and nursing homes for nearly four years” (Hall, 2014, p. 1). With risks this

detrimental, mandating vaccines is completely unethical.

Vaccine risks are undermined for a number of reasons. One unfortunately common

reason is that a lot of health professionals are simply not aware of the various risks that vaccines

carry. Medical professionals are not properly educated in vaccinology and are rarely taught

about vaccine side effects (Cáceres, 2015). Two board-certified pediatricians, Larry Palevsky,

MD and Bob Sears, MD, both attest that medical schools provide biased vaccine education.

Palevsky states that he learned very little about vaccines in medical school and that the gist of

what was taught was that vaccines were safe and effective. He was never introduced to the risks

and he had no reason to question what he was being taught (Cáceres, 2015). Not only did Sears’

remarks mirror those of Palevsky, but he also mentioned that the science behind vaccines is

merely trusted. As medical students, they do not learn about vaccine ingredients, they are not

taught about vaccine reactions, and they do not look into safety or efficacy studies. “We trust

and take it for granted that the proper researchers are doing their job” (Cáceres, 2015, p. 1).

Suzanne Humphries, MD supports these claims as well, “We are indoctrinated with the mantra

that ‘vaccines are safe and effective’—neither of which is true” (Cáceres, 2015, p. 1). She

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blatantly states that they are simply educated on the current vaccination schedule, not the risks of

vaccination. Not only are the majority of parents never educated on the risks vaccines carry, but

many medical professionals refuse to acknowledge vaccine side effects; two outcomes related to

biased medical education. This is a serious infringement on the public’s right to informed


The Nuremburg Code, written in 1947 in Nuremberg, Germany, is an important

document related to medical ethics. It was prepared at the end of the Second World War in

response to the corrupt medical research conducted by the Nazis (Ghooi, 2011). According to

the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the first precept of the code states that “the

voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential” (2005, p. 1). It declares that the

individual should give consent without being forced (U.S. Department of Health and Human

Services, 2005). According to the UCSF School of Medicine, patients have the right to refuse

any type of treatment, “even ones that are lifesaving with minimal side-effects” (Pantilat, 2008).

Widespread mandate of vaccination would be completely unethical because it undermines the

individual’s right to informed consent.

Forced vaccination is completely against the first amendment, “Congress shall make no

law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (U.S. Const.

amend. I). The Bible states that it is the job of the parents to care for their children (1 Timothy

5:8); therefore, the parents are responsible to make health care decisions for their children, not

the government. The Bible teaches parents to be the protectors of their children; hence, it is the

responsibility of the parent to shield their children if they feel that the benefits of vaccinating are

not worth the risks. The Bible tells us that the body is “the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in

you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: therefore

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glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Here the

apostle Paul calls the people of Corinth to honor their bodies as holy temples. Parents have to

decide what this means to them. If injecting known toxins and traces of DNA from aborted fetal

cells into their children would violate these religious teachings, they have every right to forgo

vaccinating. The Bible teaches that man must obey God’s law above all else (Acts 5:29); when

man’s law contradicts God’s law, man must obey God (Biblical Support for Not Vaccinating our

Children, n.d.). For the above reasons and many more, religious exemptions to vaccination are

available in all 48 states (National Vaccine Information Center, 2015); mandating vaccines

would remove these exemptions and violate the people’s first amendment right to freedom of


The case for mandating vaccines is supported by the theory of herd immunity; a theory

that claims society will be immune to the spread of communicable diseases if the majority of the

population is immune to said diseases (CDC, 2015c). The problem with this claim is that herd

immunity is a theory based on natural immunity, not vaccine-induced immunity. The term, ‘herd

immunity’, was created by researcher, A. W. Hedrich in a study published in 1933 in the

American Journal of Epidemiology. The study concluded that 68% of a society needed to be

naturally immune to a disease in order to prevent outbreaks (as cited in Obukhanych, n.d.).

Vaccinologists later adopted the term, changed the rate to 95% without scientific evidence, and

now use the term to refer to vaccinated populations. First and foremost, vaccinations do not

guarantee immunity like naturally acquiring a disease. Likewise, vaccine induced immunity can

wane in a short amount of time; therefore, we cannot apply the same theory to vaccinated

populations that we can apply to a population that has become naturally immune. Forcing

preventative medicine on individuals based on an unproven theory is terribly unscientific.

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Many recent studies show that vaccines have low efficacy rates which means that many

adults are no longer immune to vaccine preventable diseases. Flu vaccines typically have

extremely low effectiveness and according to the CDC, the vaccine for the 2014-2015 was only

18% effective (2015e). Bartlett et al. conducted a case-control study to determine the efficacy

rate of the Tdap vaccine and found that it has an estimated effectiveness of only 53% against

pertussis, otherwise known as whooping cough (2013). With efficacy rates this low, simple

math demonstrates that herd immunity would be impossible even if 100% of the population was

immunized. A study published in Pediatrics determined that efficacy rates for pertussis wane

within 2-4 years (Acosta, et al., 2015). Not only has vaccination against pertussis been

ineffective, but those vaccinated against pertussis are more likely to be infected by a closely

related pathogen, b.parapertussis (Harvill, Hudson, Karanikas, Long, & Read, 2010). Acosta et

al. hypothesizes that the lack in efficacy of this vaccine is the main contributing factor to the

recent rise of whopping cough (2015). Low vaccine efficacy rates are another weakness in the

herd immunity theory, and until the science is more concrete, no one should be forced to

immunize themselves or their children.

Another flaw in the herd immunity claim is that some vaccines are for noninfectious

diseases. Tetanus, for example, is not a disease that can be passed from one person to another

(CDC, 2013) . Furthermore, diseases like Hepatitis A and B are transferred through infected

bodily fluids; one cannot catch the disease from simply interacting with an infected individual

(CDC, 2015d). Additionally, some vaccines for infectious diseases are not designed to prevent

transmission of the disease; they only prevent symptoms in the vaccinated individual. One

example is IPV, the polio vaccine. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative writes that “when a

person immunized with IPV is infected with wild poliovirus, the virus can still multiply inside

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the intestines and be shed in the faeces, risking continued circulation” (2010, p. 1). Only

symptoms are prevented; a vaccinated individual can still become infected and transmit the

disease. A second vaccine that does not prevent transmission is the acellular pertussis

component in the DTaP and Tdap vaccinations (FDA, 2013). This means that despite being

vaccinated, individuals can become infected with pertussis, show no symptoms of the disease,

and spread it to vulnerable members of the population. In relation to polio and pertussis, the

vaccinated are just as much of a threat as the unvaccinated; though the media and medical

professionals use scare tactics to blame the unvaccinated for outbreaks, many times it is vaccine

failure at fault, not low vaccination rates.

Lastly, some vaccines that contain live viruses can actually cause the vaccinated person

to catch the disease they were vaccinated against. Additionally, viral shedding can actually

cause vaccinated individuals to infect others. This phenomena is rare, but it is why

immunocompromised individuals are warned to stay away from recently vaccinated individuals.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital recommends that cancer patients avoid those who have

recently received a nasal flu vaccine and to be cautious with other live vaccines such as varicella

(chickenpox) MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and rotavirus (2015). Esona et al. found that

fecal shedding of the rotavirus vaccine can occur up to nine days post vaccination (2011). The

package insert for Varivax, a varicella vaccine, warns the recently vaccinated to avoid

susceptible individuals because they could potentially transmit the virus to them (Merck Sharp &

Dohme Corp., 2013). Another study published in the journal Vaccine concluded that after

injection with MMR, the measles virus can live in the throat and be excreted through the

respiratory system (Beguin, Lina, Morfin, & Thouvenot, 2012). All of these contradictions to

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the herd immunity theory disprove that vaccination protects the vulnerable and that mandating

vaccines is for the greater good.

Mandated vaccines are becoming a possible reality. This would be a frightening reality

because vaccines contain many toxic chemicals and can cause serious side-effects. It is unethical

to force preventative medicine on a healthy individual when it has the possibility to seriously

harm them. Vaccination mandates completely undermine informed consent and the people’s

right to freedom of religion, and the sole basis for mass vaccination campaigns is based on an

unproven theory with plenty of scientific evidence to discredit it. This is not a simple debate of

opposing opinions; this is an ethical issue about the violation of parental rights. Every parent

should be able to make an informed choice related to vaccination; the decision should not be left

up to the government. Whether you are pro-vaccine, anti-vaccine, or fall somewhere in the

middle, it does not truly matter. What needs to be determined is if you are at ease living in a

world where medical procedures can be forced upon the people against their will; that is

mandatory vaccination.

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Acosta, A. M., DeBolt, C., Tasslimi, A., Lewis, M., Stewart, L. K., Misegades, L. K., . . . Patel,

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