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Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting 28 doses of 10 vaccines for kids aged 0 to six. No US federal laws mandate vaccination, but all 50 states require certain vaccinations for children entering public schools. Most states offer medical and religious exemptions; and some states allow philosophical exemptions. [1]

Proponents say that vaccination is safe and one of the greatest health developments of the 20th century. They point out that illnesses, including rubella, diphtheria, smallpox, polio, and whooping cough, are now prevented by vaccination and millions of children’s lives are saved. They contend adverse reactions to vaccines are extremely rare.

Opponents say that children’s immune systems can deal with most infections naturally, and that injecting questionable vaccine ingredients into a child may cause side effects, including seizures, paralysis, and death. They contend that numerous studies prove that vaccines may trigger problems like autism, ADHD, and diabetes
.

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Vaccines is a nonpartisan, nonprofit website that presents research, studies, and pro and con statements on questions related to whether or not vaccines should be required for children.
Did You Know?
  1. All 50 states require vaccinations for children entering public schools even though no mandatory federal vaccination laws exist. All 50 states issue medical exemptions, 48 states (excluding Mississippi and West Virginia) permit religious exemptions,and 19 states allow an exemption for philosophical reasons. [1]

  2. Between 1989 and July 1, 2014, 3,645 compensation awards have been made by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) (amounting to over $2.7 billion in awards and $113.2 million to cover legal costs) and 9,786 claims have been dismissed (amounting to $62.8 million paid to 4,925 dismissed claimants to cover legal costs). [17]

  3. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 732,000 American children were saved from death and 322 million cases of childhood illnesses were prevented between 1994 and 2014 due to vaccination. [45]

  4. About 30,000 cases of adverse reactions to vaccines have been reported annually to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) since 1990, with 10-15% classified as serious, meaning associated with permanent disability, hospitalization, life-threatening illness, or death. [18] 

  5. In 1855 Massachusetts passed the first US state law mandating vaccinations for schoolchildren [5], followed by New York (1862), Connecticut (1872), Indiana (1881), and Arkansas (1882). [6]
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Pro & Con Arguments: "Should Any Vaccines Be Required for Children?"
PRO Mandatory Vaccines

  1. Vaccines can save children's lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that "most childhood vaccines are 90%-99% effective in preventing disease." [43] According to Shot@Life, a United Nations Foundation partner organization, vaccines save 2.5 million children from preventable diseases every year [44], which equates to roughly 285 children saved every hour. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated that 732,000 American children were saved from death and 322 million cases of childhood illnesses were prevented between 1994 and 2014 due to vaccination. [45] The measles vaccine has decreased childhood deaths from measles by 74%. [44]

  2. The ingredients in vaccines are safe in the amounts used. Ingredients, such as thimerosal, formaldehyde, and aluminum, can be harmful in large doses but they are not used in harmful quantities in vaccines. Children are exposed to more aluminum in breast milk and infant formula than they are exposed to in vaccines. [46] Paul Offit, MD, notes that children are exposed to more bacteria, viruses, toxins, and other harmful substances in one day of normal activity than are in vaccines. [46] With the exception of inactivated flu vaccines, thimerosal (a mercury compound) has been removed or reduced to trace amounts in vaccines for children under 6 years old. [47] The FDA requires up to 10 or more years of testing for all vaccines before they are licensed, and then they are monitored by the CDC and the FDA to make sure the vaccines and the ingredients used in the vaccines are safe. [48]

  3. Major medical organizations state that vaccines are safe. These organizations include: CDC, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Institute of Medicine (IOM), American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), UNICEF, US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), World Health Organization (WHO), Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Paediatric Society, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), and American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP). [49] [50] [43] [51] [52] [54] [55] [56] [57] [58] The WHO states, "Vaccines are very safe." [59] The US Department of Health and Human Services states, "Vaccines are some of the safest medical products available." [51]

  4. Adverse reactions to vaccines are extremely rare. The most common side effect of vaccines, anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction), occurs in one per several hundred thousand to one per million vaccinations. [60] According to Sanjay Gupta, Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN and practicing neurosurgeon, "you are 100 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to have a serious allergic reaction to the vaccine that protects you against measles." [113] Ellen Clayton, MD, JD, Professor of Pediatrics and Law at Vanderbilt Law School and co-author of the 2011 IOM report "Committee to Review Adverse Effects of Vaccines," summarized the results of the report: "The MMR vaccine does not cause autism… The MMR and DTaP do not cause Type 1 diabetes. And the killed flu vaccine does not cause Bell’s palsy, and it does not trigger episodes of asthma." [50] Combination vaccines, like MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), have been used without adverse effects since the mid-1940s.[60]

  5. Vaccines protect the "herd." Herd immunity (or community immunity) means that when a "critical portion" (the percent of people who need to be vaccinated to provide herd immunity) of a population is vaccinated against a contagious disease it is unlikely that an outbreak of the disease will occur so most members of the community will be protected. [61] Children and adults who cannot be vaccinated due to age, poor health (who are immune-compromised or undergoing chemotherapy, for example), or other reasons rely on herd immunity to prevent contraction of vaccine-preventable diseases. [62] A Jan. 2008 outbreak of measles in San Diego, CA resulted in 48 children who had to be quarantined because they were too young to be vaccinated and could not rely on herd immunity to keep them safe. [63] In 2011, 49 US states did not meet the 92-94% herd immunity threshold for pertussis (whooping cough), resulting in a 2012 outbreak that sickened 42,000 people and was the biggest outbreak since 1955. [64] In 2005, an 18-month-old Amish girl contracted polio and spread the disease to four other unvaccinated children, but, because the community met the herd immunity threshold for the disease, there was no polio outbreak. [65] [66]

  6. Vaccines save children and their parents time and money. Vaccines cost less in time and money to obtain than infectious diseases cost in time off of work to care for a sick child, potential long-term disability care, and medical costs. [67] For example, children under five with the flu are contagious for about eight days, and, according to a 2012 CDC study, cost their parents an average of 11 to 73 hours of wages (about $222 to $1,456) and $300 to $4,000 in medical expenses. [68] [69] Children with rotavirus are contagious for up to 30 days. [70] A Jan. 2008 outbreak of measles in San Diego, CA resulted in 11 unvaccinated children catching measles and a resulting net public-sector cost of $10,376 per case (or, $123,512 total) due to emergency vaccination and outbreak response. [63] Furthermore, under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or Obamacare) many vaccines are available to children and adults without copay. [71]

  7. Vaccines protect future generations. Vaccinated mothers protect their unborn children from viruses that could potentially cause birth defects, and vaccinated communities can help eradicate diseases for future generations. Before the rubella vaccine was licensed in 1969, a global rubella (German measles) outbreak caused the deaths of 11,000 babies, and birth defects in 20,000 babies between 1963 and 1965 in the United States. [72] Women who were vaccinated as children against rubella have greatly decreased the chance of passing the virus to their unborn or newborn children, eliminating the birth defects, such as heart problems, hearing and vision loss, congenital cataracts, liver and spleen damage, and mental disabilities, associated with the disease. [51] [72] [73]

  8. Vaccines eradicated smallpox and have nearly eradicated other diseases such as polio. Children are no longer vaccinated against smallpox because the disease no longer exists due to vaccination. [74] The last case of smallpox in the United States was in 1948; the last case in the world was 1977 in Somalia. [74] In the twentieth century, there were 16,316 deaths from polio and 29,004 deaths from smallpox yearly in the United States; in 2012 there were no reported cases of polio or smallpox. [75] According to UNICEF, there were 500 cases of polio in 2014 worldwide (appearing only in three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan), down from 350,000 cases in 1988, thanks to vaccination programs. [52] Diphtheria killed 21,053 people yearly, measles killed 530,217 people yearly, mumps killed 162,344 people yearly, rubella killed 47,745 people yearly, and Hib killed 20,000 people yearly in the twentieth century United States; by 2012 each of these diseases were decreased by 99% because of vaccinations. [75]

  9. Vaccine-preventable diseases have not disappeared so vaccination is still necessary. The CDC notes that many vaccine-preventable diseases are still in the United States or "only a plane ride away." [76] Although the paralytic form of polio has largely disappeared thanks to vaccination, the virus still exists in countries like Pakistan where there were 93 cases in 2013 and 71 in 2014 as of May 15. [65] [77] The polio virus can be incubated by a person without symptoms for years; that person can then accidentally infect an unvaccinated child (or adult) in whom the virus can mutate into its paralytic form and spread amongst unvaccinated people. [65] Unvaccinated Amish missionaries who traveled to the Philippines brought measles back to Ohio in May 2014, resulting in 155 infected people as of June 5, 2014. [78] There were 9,149 confirmed and 31,508 suspected cases of measles in the Philippines between Jan. 1 and May 20, 2013. [79] In 2004, there were 37 cases of measles in the United States; in 2014, by May 30, there were 16 measles outbreaks in the United States resulting in at least 334 cases in 18 states. [79] UNICEF reported that, globally, 453,000 children die from rotavirus, 476,000 die from pneumococcus (the virus that causes pneumonia, meningitis, and blood infections), 199,000 die from Hib (a virus that causes pneumonia and meningitis), 195,000 die from pertussis (whooping cough), 118,000 die from the measles, and 60,000 die from tetanus each year, all vaccine-preventable diseases. [52]

  10. Vaccines provide economic benefits for society. The CDC estimates that children vaccinated between 1994 and 2014 have yielded net savings of $1.38 trillion in "societal costs," including money saved by preventing lost productivity due to disability and early death. [45] The United States saves about $27 per $1 invested in DTaP vaccination, and $13 per $1 spent on MMR vaccination. [80] UNICEF estimates that $6.2 billion could be saved in treatment costs if vaccines were more prominent in the world’s poorest countries. [52] According to the International Vaccines Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, $62.9 billion could be saved by providing Hib, pneumococcal, and rotavirus vaccinations to the 73 poorest countries: $1.4 billion in treatment costs, $300 million in lost caretaker wages, $6.2 billion in lifetime productivity loss due to disability, and $55 billion in lifetime productivity loss because of death. [81]
CON Mandatory Vaccines

  1. Vaccines can cause serious and sometimes fatal side effects. According to the CDC, all vaccines carry a risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) in about one per million children. [49] The rotavirus vaccination can cause intussusception, a type of bowel blockage that may require hospitalization, in about one per 20,000 babies in the United States. [49] Long-term seizures, coma, lowered consciousness, and permanent brain damage may be associated with the DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis) and MMR vaccines, though the CDC notes the rarity of the reaction makes it difficult to determine causation. [49] The CDC reports that pneumonia can be caused by the chickenpox vaccine, and a "small possibility" exists that the flu vaccine could be associated with Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a disorder in which the person’s immune system attacks parts of the peripheral nervous system, in about one or two per million people vaccinated. [49]. The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) says that vaccines may be linked to learning disabilities, asthma, autism, diabetes, chronic inflammation, and other disabilities. [82] [83]

  2. Vaccines contain harmful ingredients. Some physicians believe thimerosal, an organic mercury compound found in trace amounts in one flu vaccine for children and other vaccines for adults, is linked to autism. [84] Aluminum is used in some vaccines and excess aluminum in human bodies can cause neurological harm. [85] Formaldehyde, also found in some vaccines, is a carcinogen, and, according to, exposure can cause side effects such as cardiac impairment, central nervous system depression, "changes in higher cognitive functions," coma, convulsions, and death. [86] Glutaraldehyde, a compound used to disinfect medical and dental equipment, is used in some DTaP vaccinations and exposure can cause asthma and other respiratory issues. [86] Some flu vaccines contain cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTMB), a compound used as an antiseptic, which can be a skin, eye, and respiratory irritant. Some polio, TD, and DTaP vaccines contain 2-phenoxyethanol, an antibacterial that is a skin and eye irritant that can cause headache, shock, convulsions, kidney damage, cardiac and kidney failure, and death. [86] Some vaccines for the flu contain chicken egg protein, which can be harmful to children who are allergic to eggs. [87] Some vaccines for PCV, HPV, DTaP, Hep A, Hep B, and Hib contain yeast proteins which, according to VaxTruth and Joseph Mercola, MD, an alternative medicine proponent, contain MSG that can cause migraines, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s disease, ADD, seizure, and stroke. [86] [88]

  3. The government should not intervene in personal medical choices. Medical decisions for children should be left to the parents or caregivers. Barbara Low Fisher, Co-founder of National Vaccine Information Center, stated, "If the State can tag, track down and force citizens against their will to be injected with biological products of known and unknown toxicity today, there will be no limit on which individual freedoms the State can take away in the name of the greater good tomorrow." [89] Ron Paul, MD, former US Representative (R-TX), in an Oct. 19, 2011 article, "Government Vaccines – Bad Policy, Bad Medicine," stated, "intimately personal medical decisions should not be made by government… Freedom over one’s physical person is the most basic freedom of all, and people in a free society should be sovereign over their own bodies. When we give government the power to make medical decisions for us, we in essence accept that the state owns our bodies." [90]

  4. Mandatory vaccines infringe upon constitutionally protected religious freedoms. Several religions oppose vaccines and mandatory vaccinations. The First Amendment of the US Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." [91] In the ruling for Cantwell v. Connecticut (1939; 9-0), the US Supreme Court held that state and local governments’ infringement upon religious freedom is also unconstitutional. [92] Some Christian Scientists consider vaccinations against their religion because founder Mary Baker Eddy stated that the "calm, Christian state of mind is a better preventative of contagion than a drug, or than any other possible sanative method… the ‘perfect Love’ that ‘casteth out fear’ is a sure defense." [93] Amish communities do not view all vaccinations as "necessary" and some believe that vaccinations weaken the immune system. [78] [94] The Church of Illumination states that "the teachings of the Church unequivocally affirm that injections of vaccines and inoculations are a violation of these biblical teachings… Immunizations and vaccinations are a form of blood pollution because they have devastating effects on the regeneration of the soul that each Church member seeks to attain." [95] The Universal Family Church believes that parents should decide whether their children should be vaccinated and that "God intends the health decisions of individuals should… be honored by all authorities." [96]

  5. Vaccines can contain ingredients some people consider immoral or otherwise objectionable. Some DTaP/IPV/Hib combination, Hep A/Hep B combination, HepA, MMR, and chicken pox vaccines are cultivated in cells from two fetuses aborted in the 1960s (listed as MRC-5 and WI-38 on package inserts). The Catholic Church, in a June 9, 2005 report about using vaccines made using cells from aborted fetuses, indicated that "there is a grave responsibility to use alternative vaccines" to avoid the "evil" of actively or passively participating in anything that involves voluntary abortion. [97] Some vaccines for DTaP, Hep A, RV, Hib, HPV, IPV, flu, MMR, and chicken pox are made using animal products like chicken eggs, bovine casein, insect cells, Cocker Spaniel cells, pig gelatin, and cells from African Green monkeys, making those vaccines conflict with some vegetarian and vegan philosophies. Others consider it problematic that some vaccines are produced using human albumin, a blood plasma protein.

  6. Vaccines are unnatural, and natural immunity is more effective than vaccination. Even pro-vaccine organizations state that natural vaccination causes better immunity. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia notes that "It is true that natural infection almost always causes better immunity than vaccines. Whereas immunity from disease often follows a single natural infection, immunity from vaccines occurs only after several doses." [98] Mayo Clinic states that natural infection "often provides more complete immunity than a series of vaccinations." [99] Kurt Perkins, DC, a chiropractor and wellness expert, stated, "A vaccine violates all laws of natural immune defenses by taking a potential pathogen along with all the TOXIC ingredients (aluminum, formaldehyde, adjuvants, etc.) directly into your blood system. This process would never occur in building natural immunity. That last sentence is kind of an oxy-moron. Immunity is a natural thing. Vaccines are an artificial thing." [100]

  7. The pharmaceutical companies, FDA, and CDC should not be trusted to make and regulate safe vaccines. The primary goal of pharmaceutical companies is to sell drugs and make a profit. William Posey, Congressman (R-FL), stated in an Apr. 8, 2014 interview, "The incestuous relationship between the public health community and the vaccine makers and government officials should not be allowed to continue. I mean, you know, too many top CDC personnel go to work for the vaccine makers when they leave. That's a revolving door that creates a serious conflict of interest and perverts incentives that compromise integrity." [101] Julie Gerberding, President of Merck Vaccines, was the CDC director from 2002-2009. [102] A vaccine for Lyme disease, LYMErix, was licensed by the FDA and marketed for almost four years before being pulled from the market after several class action lawsuits were filed due to a potential causal relationship to autoimmune arthritis. [103] Rotashield, a vaccine for rotavirus (RV), was pulled from the market by the manufacturer nine months after it was introduced after it was discovered that the vaccine might have contributed to higher instances of intussusception (bowel obstruction). [104]

  8. Diseases that vaccines target have essentially disappeared. There is no reason to vaccinate against diseases that no longer occur in the United States. The CDC reported no cases or deaths from diphtheria between 2003 and 2011 in the United States. [13] Fewer than 51 cases and 10 deaths per year from tetanus were reported between 1994 and 2011. [13] Polio has been declared eradicated in the United States since 1979. [105] There have been fewer than 21 deaths yearly from rubella since 1971 and fewer than 25 deaths yearly from mumps since 1968. [13]

  9. Most diseases that vaccines target are relatively harmless in many cases, thus making vaccines unnecessary. The chickenpox is often just a rash with blisters and can be treated with acetaminophen, cool compresses, and calamine lotion. [106] The measles is normally a rash accompanied by a fever and runny nose and can be treated with rest and fluids. [107] [108] Rubella is often just a virus with a rash and low fever and can be treated with acetaminophen. [72] [109] Rotavirus can normally be treated with hydration and probiotics. [110] [111]
Background: "Should any vaccines be required for children?"
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1802 painting of smallpox vaccine inventor Dr. Edward Jenner vaccinating a room full of people who then sprout cows from their bodies. The painting illustrates popular 17th century fears about vaccination. The caption reads "The Cow Pock - or - the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation."
Source: National Library of Medicine History of Medicine Collection, "The Cow Pock - or - the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation," (accessed Jan. 7, 2010)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends getting 28 doses of 10 vaccines for kids aged 0 to six. No US federal laws mandate vaccination, but all 50 states require certain vaccinations for children entering public schools. Most states offer medical and religious exemptions; and some states allow philosophical exemptions. [1]

Proponents say that vaccination is safe and one of the greatest health developments of the 20th century. They point out that illnesses, including rubella, diphtheria, smallpox, polio, and whooping cough, are now prevented by vaccination and millions of children’s lives are saved. They contend adverse reactions to vaccines are extremely rare.

Opponents say that children’s immune systems can deal with most infections naturally, and that injecting questionable vaccine ingredients into a child may cause side effects, including seizures, paralysis, and death. They contend that numerous studies prove that vaccines may trigger problems like autism, ADHD, and diabetes.


The Chinese used inoculation techniques against smallpox as early as 1000 AD and similar techniques were also used in ancient Africa and Turkey. [2] The first instance of vaccine promotion in the United States was in 1721 when Cotton Mather, a Puritan minister, encouraged smallpox vaccination in response to an outbreak. [3] Vaccination as practiced today came into being when Edward Jenner, English physician and scientist, created the first smallpox vaccine using cowpox (a disease similar to smallpox that infects cows) and vaccinating an eight-year-old boy in 1796. [2] [3] Jenner’s innovation was used for 200 years, with updates, and eradicated smallpox. [2]

In 1801 Benjamin Waterhouse, physician and co-founder and President of Harvard Medical School, began using the "Cowpox Vaccine," leading to Massachusetts becoming the first US state to promote the use of vaccination. [3] In 1809 the town of Milton, Massachusetts became the first US town to offer free smallpox vaccinations, which was followed by a state law that same year requiring the smallpox vaccination. [3] [4]

Later, on Feb. 27, 1813, US President James Madison signed into law An Act to Encourage Vaccination, which created the National Vaccine Agency (now part of the US Department of Health & Human Services). [5]
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"Death the Vaccinator" published in the late 1800s by the London Society for the Abolition of Compulsory Vaccination,
Source: College of Physicians of Philadelphia, "Death the Vaccinator," (accessed Sep. 5, 2014)

In 1855 Massachusetts passed the first US state law mandating vaccinations for schoolchildren [5], followed by New York (1862), Connecticut (1872), Indiana (1881), Arkansas (1882), Illinois (1882), Virginia (1882), Wisconsin (1882), California (1888), Iowa (1889), and Pennsylvania (1895). [6] By 1963, 20 states would require immunization to attend public schools; and 29 states by 1970. [4]

In response to immunization laws, in 1878, the National Anti-Compulsory Vaccination Reporter stated that "the dangerous illnesses following the vaccine process are… on the whole… a greater evil to humanity than small-pox itself!" [7] The Anti-Vaccination Society of America was founded in 1879 in response to the states enacting vaccination mandates and with the belief that it "is undignified" to mandate vaccinations and that the "efficacy of vaccination as a disease preventative is a matter of individual opinion." [8] In 1882 the New England Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League was founded and in 1885 the Anti-Vaccination League of New York City was created. [7] With their influence, the anti-vaccination groups began getting vaccine mandates repealed in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. [7]

The first laboratory-created vaccine was for avian cholera (which most commonly infects chickens), developed by Louis Pasteur, French chemist and microbiologist, in 1879. [2] In 1885, Pasteur created the rabies vaccine, beginning an active period of vaccine development for human illnesses through the 1930s that saw vaccines developed for typhoid (1899), cholera (1911), diphtheria (1914), tuberculosis (1921), and tetanus (1924), among others. [2] Vaccines for polio (1955), measles (1963), mumps (1967), and rubella (1969) followed in the mid-twentieth century. [2]

During the active period of vaccine development, in 1901 the first Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Emil von Behring, a German physiologist, for his work developing serum therapy in connection to a diphtheria vaccination. [10]

On July 1, 1902, Congress passed An Act to Regulate the Sale of Viruses, Serums, Toxins, and Analogous Products (also referred to as the Biologics Control Act), which was the first legislation to control the quality of drugs, specifically the quality of vaccines. [2]

Later, on Feb. 20, 1905, mandatory vaccination was upheld by the US Supreme Court in Jacobson v. Massachusetts (7-2). [9] In the aftermath of the ruling more states across the country began to implement mandatory child vaccination as a condition of public school attendance.

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1975 World Health Organization poster promoting vaccination.
Source: National Library of Medicine History of Medicine Collection, "Immunize and Protect Your Child," (accessed Jan. 7, 2010)
On Nov. 13, 1922, the constitutionality of mandatory vaccination of school children was once again challenged and upheld in the Zucht v. King; the US Supreme Court declined to hear the case, stating that it was "within the police power of a state to provide for compulsory vaccination." [11] [5]

In 1951, Jonas Salk, MD, and his team developed a method to cultivate the polio virus in money kidney tissue in order to be able to produce large amounts of the vaccine. [12] On Apr. 12, 1955 the results of the Salk vaccine trials showed the vaccine was 80-90% effective and the US government licensed the IPV polio vaccine the same day. [12] The vaccination program was suspended on May 8, 1955 to investigate paralysis resulting from the vaccine injection; changes to the production method were made and vaccination resumed on May 27, 1955. [12] The use of the Salk vaccine reduced the number of paralytic polio cases from 28,985 in 1955 to 72 in 1965. [13] The last case of the disease in the United States was reported in 1993, and polio was declared eradicated in the Americas on Sep. 29, 1994 by the Pan American Health Organization. [27] [12]


In 1986 the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act [14] was passed in response to a large number of lawsuits filed claiming vaccines were causing adverse reactions including brain damage and death. [15] The Act shielded medical professionals and vaccine manufacturers from liability if an individual suffered injury from receiving vaccines. The Act mandated that vaccine injury claims be filed with the US Court of Federal Claims rather than filed directly against physicians or vaccine manufacturers in civil court. Unlike civil court, people filing injury claims are not required to prove negligence or failure to warn; they only need to prove that a vaccine caused injury. [16]

On Oct. 1, 1988, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) was created under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act. [17] The VICP was "established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines." [17] Between 1989 and July 1, 2014, 3,645 compensation awards have been made (amounting to over $2.7 billion in awards and $113.2 million to cover legal costs) and 9,786 claims have been dismissed (amounting to $62.8 million paid to 4,925 dismissed claimants to cover legal costs). [17]

Subsequently, in 1990 the CDC and FDA created the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). VAERS collects information about adverse events via reports filed by anyone, including medical professionals and family members. [18] VAERS receives about 30,000 reports each year. [18] 85-90% of VAERS reports are for "mild adverse events such as fever, local reactions [such as redness at the injection site], and episodes or crying or mild irritability." [18] The other 10-15% of VAERS reports is for "serious adverse events involving life-threatening conditions, hospitalization, permanent disability, or death, which may or may not have been caused by a vaccine." [18]
1920s diphtheria vaccination
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1920s school children getting diphtheria vaccination.
Source: College of Physicians of Philadelphia, "1920s Vaccination," (accessed Sep. 5, 2014)

In 1993 the US Congress passed the Comprehensive Childhood Immunization Act of 1993 [19] that created the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program to provide vaccinations free of charge to children in need in order to increase the number of vaccinated children.


In Feb. 1998 Lancet published an article by Andrew Wakefield, MD, titled "Ileal-Lymphoid-Nodular Hyperplasia, Non-Specific Colitis, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Children." [20] The article claimed "Rubella virus is associated with autism and the combined measles, mumps, and rubella [MMR] vaccine… has also been implicated." [20] Anti-vaccination groups and parents began using Wakefield’s article as rationale to opt-out of vaccinating their children.

Between 2003 and 2012, Brian Deer, an investigative reporter, examined the story and published 36 articles which accused Wakefield of "falsifying medical histories of children and essentially concocting a picture, which was the picture he was contracted to find by lawyers hoping to sue vaccine manufacturers and to create a vaccine scare." [21] On Mar. 3, 2004 ten of the twelve co-authors of Wakefield’s article released a "Retraction of an Interpretation" in Lancet, stating "We wish to make it clear that in this paper no causal link was established between MMR vaccine and autism as the data were insufficient." [22] Lancet retracted Wakefield’s article on Feb. 2, 2010, stating "it has become clear that several elements of the 1998 paper by Wakefield et al are incorrect." [23] On Jan. 5, 2011, the British Journal of Medicine published an article stating that Wakefield received over $674,000 from lawyers and that, of 12 children examined, five had developmental problems before being vaccinated and three never had autism. [21] [24]

As a result, on May 24, 2011, Britain stripped Wakefield of his medical license, stating Wakefield had "abused his position of trust" and "brought the medical profession into disrepute." [21] Wakefield contends that the investigation of his work is part of a conspiracy to "discredit and silence his research" in order to "shield the government from exposure on the vaccine scandal." [25]


On July 9, 1999, in response to growing concern over a link between vaccination and autism, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the US Public Health Service (PHS) recommended that thimerosal be removed from vaccines "as soon as possible." However, they also stated, "there are no data or evidence of any harm caused by the level of exposure that some children may have encountered in following the existing immunization schedule" and that "the large risks of not vaccinating children far outweigh the unknown and probably much smaller risk, if any, of cumulative exposure to thimerosal-containing vaccines over the first 6 months of life." [26]

In May 2003, Representative Dan Burton (R-IN) released a report titled "Mercury in Medicine – Taking Unnecessary Risks" in which he requested that the FDA remove thimerosal from the flu vaccine and recommended independent research on the link between thimerosal in vaccines and autism. [27]

Star Wars vaccination poster
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1977 Star Wars vaccination promotion poster
Source: US National Library of Medicine, "Parents of Earth," 1977

In 2005, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote an article co-published by (June 16) and Rolling Stone (July 14) titled "Deadly Immunity," arguing that the 2000 Simpsonwood CDC Conference was spent "discussing how to cover up the damaging data" that there were a "staggering number of earlier studies that indicate a link between thimerosal and speech delays, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity, and autism." [28] The article was corrected multiple times within days of publication, and was retracted and deleted by and Rolling Stone on Jan. 16, 2011. [28] [112] The controversy resulted in an 18-month investigation by the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which concluded that Kennedy's allegation was unsubstantiated and "thimerosal was [being] voluntarily removed from childhood vaccines distributed in the United States as a precaution," prompted by a joint request by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the US Public Health Service. [29] As of 2007, vaccines for children 6 years old and younger contain no thimerosal or only trace amounts, except for inactivated flu vaccines, which are available in both thimerosal-containing and preservative-free versions. By Nov. 30, 2009, the mercury-based preservative thimerosal had been phased out of all vaccines in the United States with the exception of certain influenza, meningococcal, and tetanus vaccines. [30]

On Aug. 27, 2010 the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled (3-0) that there is no link between vaccination and autism in the case of Cedillo v. Secretary of Health and Human Services. [31] The decision upheld two earlier rulings: a 2007 ruling by the United States Court of Federal Claims Office of Special Masters and an affirmation of that ruling by the Court of Federal Claims. On Feb. 22, 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled (6-2) in the case of Bruesewitz v. Wyeth [32] that vaccine injury claims must continue to be filed with the US Court of Federal Claims set up under the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, and cannot be filed directly against physicians or vaccine manufacturers in civil court.

On Aug. 25, 2011 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued a report, "Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality." [33] The report brief stated that "evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship" between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. However, it also found "evidence convincingly supports a causal relationship" between the chickenpox vaccine and chickenpox infection with subsequent pneumonia, meningitis, and hepatitis in individuals with demonstrated immune deficiencies, as well as "vaccine strain viral reactivation" (when the virus reactivates later in life) causing rare instances of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). [34] The Cochrane Collaboration, in a Feb. 15, 2012 independent investigation of studies on vaccines and autism concluded, "We could assess no significant association between MMR immunisation and the following conditions: autism, asthma, leukaemia, hay fever, type 1 diabetes, gait disturbance, Chrohn's disease, demyelinating diseases, or bacterial or viral infections." [35]


State laws in North Carolina, Ohio, and New York allow the public school system to suspend children who are not vaccinated. [36] [37] [38] Approximately 2,000 seventh- to twelfth-grade children not vaccinated against pertussis (whooping cough) were barred from attending classes in San Francisco in 2011. [39] On June 22, 2014, federal Judge William Kuntz upheld New York state law barring unvaccinated children from public school when other children have the chickenpox. [38] [40] Many pediatricians will not treat children who have not been vaccinated. [41] Some legal experts believe that parents who do not vaccinate their children should be subject to criminal prosecution (including criminally negligent homicide and monetary damages) if their unvaccinated children infect and harm other children who are too young or immunocompromised to receive vaccines. [42]

Video Gallery

proDaily Show correspondent Samantha Bee discusses vaccination in a satirical video.
Source: The Daily Show, "An Outbreak of Liberal Idiocy,", June 2, 2014
not clearly pro or conCongressman Dan Burton (R-IN) speaking at the US House of Representatives Government Reform Committee hearing "Mercury in Medicine: Are We Taking Unnecessary Risks?," Dec. 2002.
Source: NVICstandup, "Congressman Dan Burton 2002,", Jan. 28, 2009
proDr. Paul Offit speaks about vaccine safety and explains that the benefits are well worth the risks.
Source: PAMediaInc, "Dr. Paul Offit Says that Vaccines are Very Safe and Well Worth the Minimal Risk of Side Effects,", May 14, 2009
conDr. Meryl Nass and other MDs speak out about the dangers associated with vaccination.
Source: 91177info, "Doctors Speak out about H1N1 Vaccine Dangers,", Oct. 22, 2009

Notices for Vaccines and Other Information (archived after 30 days)

3/4/2015 - US Department of Labor Cites for Its 'Up-to-Date Information' on Same-Sex Marriage - Another example of the utility and credibility of at the highest levels of government. To date, 24 international governments, 30 US state governments, and 10 federal agencies have referenced research.

3/3/2015 - 20 Lesson Plan Ideas with Common Core Correlations – Free curricula to help teach counterargument, distinguish fact from opinion, analyze primary sources, build research speed, and other thoughtful lessons related to critical thinking. Lessons are listed by grade level and include adaptations and Common Core standards met.

Archived Notices (archived after 30 days)

Last updated on 2/6/2015 2:53:17 PM PST

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