On mandatory vaccinations

by Wm. Robert Johnston
23 August 2000

Dear Editor:

A recent editorial praised the Texas legislature and Department of Health for supporting childhood vaccinations, but they deserve criticism as well. Some of the mandatory childhood vaccinations may pose a greater health threat than the diseases.

Many professionals, including the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, are critical of some vaccinations that have been mandated in the last 20 years. The concern is that vaccinating everyone with new vaccines may be causing more injuries and deaths than the diseases themselves. Some CDC recommendations implemented in Texas were apparently influenced by drug company special interests.

Safety questions have been raised for several mandatory vaccinations, including hepatitis B, chicken pox, and polio. For some individual children, these vaccinations are certainly medically advisable. But this should be the decision of the child's doctor and parent--not the decision of a bureaucrat in Austin, Atlanta, or Washington.

The hepatitis B vaccination is required for local children before they start school. Hepatitis B is transmitted by bodily fluids--primarily sexual activity and IV drug use. In the U.S. a child is more likely to die from the vaccine than from the disease itself. As of 1998, 400 deaths were reportedly connected to the vaccine. France has stopped using it on children due to safety concerns.

Many vaccines are safe and essential to receive: thousands of lives have been saved by some vaccines. However, many recently implemented vaccines are of questionable value. The hepatitis B vaccine is important for recent immigrants, but may not be best for all local children. Why does the legislature require the hepatitis B vaccine only for children in border counties? Is it not safe enough for all Texas children?

Lawmakers have barred doctors and parents from making the best health choice for each individual child. The Texas legislature is effectively practicing medicine without a license--on your children.

(printed in The Brownsville Herald 12 September 2000)

© 2000, 2003 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 8 March 2003.
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