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GIFFORD-JONES: Know the risks and the rewards

Flu shot.
Flu shot. - 123RF Stock Photo

Every year readers ask me if I get flu shots.

I reply, I don’t. I rely on high daily doses of vitamin C to build up my immune system. But, I may be wrong. So, I’ve sought the opinion of experts in the field. Their primary message is that informed consent is vital.

Most people believe vaccines would not be advised unless researchers and doctors deemed them safe. But, I’ve often stressed there’s no such thing as 100 per cent safe surgery. The same is true of vaccines. That’s why $3.6 billion has been awarded to families due to the complications of vaccines.

Here is a typical parent’s story. “My child was healthy, was given a vaccine and then something happened.” The occurrence is usually a neurological reaction due to inflammation in the brain that triggers problems such as autism, which has skyrocketed over the years. Or there’s a lack of co-ordination, sleep problems, seizures, severe allergic reactions and, at times, death.

History shows that vaccines are vital in preventing a number of infectious diseases, and they do save lives. But, history also shows that on rare occasions they have a potential hidden risk.

Unfortunately, it’s become a medical sin for doctors to speak out about the negative effect of vaccines. In fact, the few who have the intestinal fortitude to do so are often labelled medical outcasts and sometimes punished by losing their job. So much for scientific fact!

So, how do vaccines cause unintended consequences? It’s primarily due to what’s added to vaccines. For instance, some vaccines contain mercury, which is one of the most toxic ingredients known. Another additive, aluminum, is a known neurotoxin that can cause a toxic inflammatory reaction affecting the nervous system. Moreover, many people, including doctors, are unaware that there may be foreign DNA particles in vaccines.

Another frequent complaint is that vaccines are given too soon when young children are more susceptible to toxicity. For instance, in Norway, vaccines are not prescribed in the first two years of life. Contrast that to North America where newborns are routinely given vaccines such as hepatitis B.

Surely doctors would not advocate the benefits of vaccines without the knowledge they’re safe. But, experts say this is part of the problem, namely they don’t know. During their years in medical school they receive very little training in immunology. Or, vitally important, never learn what’s actually in a vaccine.

Moreover, years ago there were just three vaccines. Now, by five years of age children can receive 46 or more vaccines. In fact, the message physicians receive from health authorities is, “Here is the vaccine schedule. Do it.” And some physicians have bluntly told parents, either have your children vaccinated or find another doctor. Namely, it’s my way or the highway.

What worried me as I listened to authorities talk about vaccines was this recurring phrase, “We don’t know whether the vaccine triggered the complication.” As a surgeon, I know post-operative complications happen and why they happen. With vaccines, they remain in the never-never land of “maybe”.

For instance, I learned of babies dying of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). This has occurred 24 hours after a vaccine was given. Some authorities claimed the death was a coincidence. Maybe it was. But, as one critic remarked, “If I hit my toe with a hammer, the cause of the soreness is usually the hammer.”

As I researched vaccines, I discovered the heavy responsibility of providing the truth. No journalist, or any doctor, wants to advise against vaccination and have a child die needlessly from an infectious disease. Neither do they want to see a child vaccinated and develop a life-long complication.

I expect criticism from readers of this column. I’m also not your doctor, but I believe you should be aware of these facts. So, I urge all people, particularly parents, to discuss vaccines with their doctor. Try to read both sides of the vaccine debate. Then, if a complication occurs, there are no surprises. And in medicine, the best surprise is no surprise.


Dr. W. Gifford-Jones is a syndicated columnist whose medical column appears in The Guardian every Tuesday. Check out his website, www.docgiff.com, which provides easy access to past columns and medical tips. For comments, readers are invited to email him at info@docgiff.com. He can also be found on Twitter.com/GiffordJonesMD.

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