Books on Vaccination Reviewed by Diane Rozario
The following reviews are excerpted from the 4th
edition of Diane Rozario's very comprehensive "The Immunization Resource
Guide." 245 pp. $13.95 + $2.00 p&h.
Available from Patter Publications at 888-513-7770 (toll free) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The books reviewed in this section are books written specifically for parents who are beginning their research into vaccinations. The authors want to help parents make an informed decision. Most of the authors systematically address each of the childhood diseases and vaccines along with the risks and benefits of the vaccines. Some authors add information on the history of vaccination. Some discuss the immune system and how vaccines work. Most of the authors provide information about mandatory vaccination laws and obtaining legal exemptions.
Many of these authors are personally opposed to vaccinations, however, they try to present balanced information and encourage readers to make their own decision.
The Consumer's Guide to Childhood Vaccines
Barbara Loe Fisher. Vienna, VA: National Vaccine Information Center. 1997. 89 pp. ISBN 1-889204-01-3. Glossary. Bibliography.
This guide for parents is written by Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC). This book is a summary for parents of basic information on childhood vaccines with an emphasis on how to prevent vaccine injury.
Ms. Fisher describes in detail all of the "vaccine-preventable" childhood diseases. There are chapters on each vaccine, including adverse reactions and how to report them. Contraindications are listed. She also notes the narrowing of absolute contraindications and possible contraindications. She gives explicit information on what to do before your child is vaccinated to help lower the possibility that your child will suffer a vaccine injury. For example, make sure your child isn't sick that day, request the vaccine package insert (preferably beforehand so you can read it), explain any possible contraindications or health conditions you are concerned about, and make sure the vaccine lot number is recorded in your child's records. Legal exemptions are also covered. Ms. Fisher lists several alternative health organizations for readers to contact if they are interested in other health care treatments for childhood diseases or treating the effects of vaccine damage.
Ms. Fisher is careful to use material mainly from government medical reports (e.g., CDC, IOM), medical journals, and vaccine product inserts for her sources. This is especially true when she presents evidence showing causality for various adverse effects and diseases from vaccines, and when she lists accepted contraindications. A very helpful glossary explains medical terms used to describe various adverse reactions. The book is not footnoted, although the sources Ms. Fisher used are listed in the bibliography. While this may make it more difficult for readers to check her sources, much of it can easily be verified by logging onto the CDC website (www.cdc.gov/nip).
Ms. Fisher succinctly states the basic facts that parents need who are first confronting this issue. She clearly presents accurate, reliable information.
Available From: National Vaccine Information Center
Parents Guide to Childhood Immunizations
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. 1993. 39 pp.
This booklet describes all the universally recommended childhood vaccines. It is updated periodically. As expected, the seriousness of each disease is stressed. There is a one-page overview of what antibodies are and how vaccines create them. The authors admit that adverse reactions sometimes occur and that some people should not receive certain vaccines because of health condition.
They minimize the seriousness of adverse reactions that have been associated with the DPT vaccine. For example, for a child who had convulsions after a DPT shot, it states that the fever after the shot caused the convulsions, not the vaccine. And fever-related convulsions as "one expert" they state believes, do not cause permanent damage.
In the introduction, it states that parents should make an informed decision, but it adds that vaccinations are mandatory and your child should be "protected". Gone is the oft quoted line from the 1979 edition: "The decision to have your child vaccinated is yours, alone, to make."
At the end of each chapter is a paragraph summarizing state laws for that particular vaccine. No mention of legal exemptions is made, and no mention is made of how to report adverse reactions to VAERS, nor is information presented about the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. Parents are merely told to notify their doctor if any "serious problems" arise. This book contains no references or bibliography.
National Immunization Program. Free.
Vaccine Choices, Homeopathic Alternatives and Parental Rights: A Sourcepack of Information for Healthcare Consumers and Concerned Parents
Patty Brennan. Michigan: The Holistic Midwifery Institute. 1997. 42 pp. Report. Appendices. Catalogs.
This sourcepack was written and compiled by Patty Brennan, a midwife in Michigan. She conducts workshops on vaccinations, childcare, and homeopathy. She initially wrote it for use by her students, but it is of use for anyone first approaching this subject and especially so, Michigan residents.
She presents an overview of each of the universally recommended childhood vaccines and includes information on the history of each vaccine. She lists ways to support and strengthen the immune system such as breastfeeding, avoiding the overuse of antibiotics, and better nutrition, among other things. She includes books she recommends for further reading.
She discusses homeopathy and vaccination in great detail which is why I almost chose to list this sourcepack in the Homeopathy Section. She gives dosage information for using homeopathic remedies for vaccine adverse reactions. This is something I have not seen before. She also lists homeopathic remedies for prevention and treatment of childhood diseases. In fact, she uses Susan Curtis' book, A Handbook of Homeopathic Alternatives to Immunisation, and Leslie Speight's book, Homeopathy and Immunization, as references (both are reviewed in Section
I of "The Immunization Resource
Guide"). Ms. Brennan also refers to Dr. Isaac Golden and his development of homeopathic vaccines. She lists a sample chart showing the remedy and age of administration for people who may be interested in this method. She refers readers to Dr. Golden's book, Vaccination? A Review of Risks and Alternatives, for more details. (See review in Section
I of "The Immunization Resource
Ms. Brennan's sourcepack includes an appendix that contains among other things: (1) current copies of the CDC's Vaccine Information Statements (reviewed in this Section); (2) a VAERS report form; (3) a list of foods which boost the immune system; (4) Michigan immunization laws and waiver form; (5) information on several vaccine organizations; and (6) vaccine book catalogs.
Ms. Brennans's sourcepack is a concise introduction for parents who are new to this issue. She collects together a lot of valuable vaccine-related materials for easy of use by all.
Available From: The Holistic Midwifery Institute
Vaccination: Examining the Record
Judith A. DeCava, BS, CNC. Columbus, GA: Brentwood Academic Press. 1994. 119 pp. No ISBN. Biblio.
This book examines whether vaccines work, are effective, or safe. Judith DeCava is a certified Nutritional Consultant having served with various physicians over the past 16 years. She is also a writer for the National Academy of Research Biochemists and executive vice president of the Biomedical Health Foundation.
This book is similar in structure to the other books reviewed in this Section. Ms. DeCava devotes half the book to examining vaccinations in general and the other half to each vaccine separately.
She includes a chapter describing how the immune system works and another on "immune theory", i.e., the germ theory of disease. From the tone of her writing, she is quite skeptical of the germ theory.
She has an interesting chapter describing bacteria and viruses in which she presents information from various medical textbooks, which show the problems surrounding what viruses, actually are. We know viruses are a strand of DNA or RNA wrapped in a protein coat, but, she states, it is not known whether they are alive or not, or how they actually function in our cells. She describes how cells are prepared to be seen by an electron microscope. This preparation consists of cutting cells into thin slices and staining them with chemical compounds. The cells are not alive or whole when they are viewed, which obviously affects what can be seen and understood about cellular activity using these microscopes.
In another chapter, she explains what vaccines contain and whether they are safe and effective. She includes lots of quotes from other general vaccination books to support her view that vaccines are not safe (e.g., from What About Immunizations by C. Cournoyer, see review in this Section, and Immunizations: The Reality Behind the Myth by W. James, reviewed in Section
C of "The Immunization Resource
Guide"). Her description of what vaccines contain lumps ingredients of all vaccines together, which makes it unclear which vaccines contain which substances.
A chapter on possible long-term neurological damage is derived heavily from Harris Coulter's book, Vaccination, Social Violence and Criminality (reviewed in Section
B.2 of "The Immunization Resource
The individual chapters on vaccines include ones on DPT, MMR, polio, Hib, hepatitis B, influenza, smallpox, and pneumonia vaccines. She briefly describes each disease and vaccine, mentions statistics which state that disease incidence was falling long before vaccination was introduced, describes adverse reactions, and gives examples of vaccine failure (i.e., percentages of children catching the disease they were vaccinated against).
I note one important error: She incorrectly quotes from Neil Miller's book, Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective? (reviewed in this Section) that the conjugated Hib vaccine is derived from human blood products. This is not true. Another vaccine is being investigated, according to Mr. Miller, possibly using human blood products, but the current conjugated Hib vaccines do not contain any human blood products.
Overall, this is a useful introductory book, especially for the information Ms. DeCava provides questioning vaccine safety and effectiveness. It is footnoted with articles from medical journals, medical textbooks, and consumer vaccination books.
Available From: Judith DeCava, PO Box 877, West Barnstable, MA
The Vaccine Guide: Making an Informed Choice
Randall Neustaedter, OMD. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic Books and Homeopathic Educational Services. 1996. 260 pp. ISBN 1-55643-215-1. Index. Biblio. Resources.
(An earlier edition was published under the title The Immunization Decision, and prior to that edition it was published as
Immunizations: Are They Necessary?)
This is the new edition of Dr. Neustaedter's previous book, The Immunization Decision. It is over twice the length of this earlier book. As the subtitle states, Dr. Neustaedter helps parents make an informed choice regarding vaccinations for their children. Dr. Neustaedter is a homeopathic practitioner specializing in child health care with a doctorate in Oriental Medicine. His philosophy of health is in direct opposition to the theory upon which vaccination is based, but he does not let this overly influence his desire to let parents decide for themselves, and he maintains an even-handed and balanced approach throughout the book.
Dr. Neustaedter expanded the section on deciding if, when, and which vaccines to give your child, incorporating more medical references and a lengthier look at alternative health systems, especially homeopathy. He stresses that parents can become informed enough about vaccines to make a decision regarding their use that they will feel comfortable with. He helps parents by addressing the questions most parents have about vaccines: short and long-term adverse reactions and the timing and choosing of vaccines.
This latter point -- determining when to give your child a particular vaccine and deciding whether to refuse certain ones -- is not discussed much by other authors. Other authors, who oppose vaccinations on philosophical grounds, or on the grounds of short and long-term adverse reactions, tend to dismiss the use of all vaccines. By telling parents that they can delay shots until the child is older, or refuse only certain ones, Dr. Neustaedter is going beyond the "yes" or "no" decision which parents may feel they must make, and instead he helps them realize that their decision can be a combination of both "yes" and "no" and "we'll wait awhile".
He also examines the ingredients in vaccines and adverse reactions associated with these ingredients. He includes a chapter critiquing conventional vaccine studies. He shows how case studies can be flawed in design and distort results. He asserts that and those running a study are in many cases affiliated with vaccine manufacturers.
He includes a whole chapter on homeopathic vaccines and quotes the work of Isaac Golden, DC (see review of his work in Section
I of "The Immunization Resource
Guide") in this regard. He presents the history of homeopathic vaccines and studies that indicate their safety and effectiveness, but he is quick to add that no long-term studies have been conducted to evaluate the lasting effectiveness of homeopathic vaccines used for prevention (rather than for treatment of the disease) though some practitioners (e.g., Golden) feel that they are effective.
He briefly presents factors that affect our immune system that we have direct control over regarding our children's health. These are: (1) breastfeeding; (2) good nutrition; (3) adequate sanitation and hygienic living conditions; and (4) environment that supports the mental and emotional health of our children.
He explains legal exemptions and quotes from various court cases, especially concerning religious exemptions, which support a parents' right to seek a legal exemption.
In the second half of the book he describes the following vaccines in individual chapters: tetanus, polio, pertussis, acellular pertussis, diphtheria, measles, mumps, rubella, Hib, hepatitis B, chicken pox, and pneumococcal vaccine. For each of these he gives a summary of the disease and development of the vaccine, looks at vaccine effectiveness, and describes short and long-term adverse reactions. He quotes from medical studies throughout and includes relevant statistics whenever possible. At the end of each chapter he presents his own recommendations about that particular vaccine, while making it clear that it is up to the parents to make any final decisions.
Dr. Neustaedter has written a thorough, balanced introductory book on immunizations which covers many areas of controversy regarding the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and accomplishes his stated goal of helping parents make an informed choice. It is well-footnoted and researched with medical journal articles.
Available From: American Vegan Society (856-694-2887), Homeopathic Educational Services,
New Atlantean Press, Koren Publications,
The Minimum Price Homeopathic Books, North Atlantic Books,
Vaccines: Are They Really Safe and Effective?
Neil Z. Miller. Santa Fe, NM: New Atlantean Press. 1999. Revised. 78 pp. ISBN 1-881217-10-8. Endnotes.
For those of you without a lot of time, this book presents many of the concerns that other authors address, but in an abbreviated form. Neil Miller is a research journalist and natural health advocate. The revised 1999 edition contains minor changes and updates from the 1996 edition (but not enough changes to affect the number of pages or the ISBN number).
Mr. Miller briefly describes each childhood disease and corresponding vaccine. He includes Hib and hepatitis B, but not chicken pox. His conclusions are that vaccines do not work and they cause many adverse reactions. There is a chapter on possible long-term adverse effects of vaccines such as immune system malfunctions (e.g., autoimmune diseases or cancers), developmental delays, autism, and other learning disorders. He also discusses vaccine contraindications at length. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which set up a compensation system for vaccine-damaged children, is explained in detail. He also briefly disputes the germ theory.
It is a good "first book", because it is well footnoted enabling you to easily research any topic that interests you. His references are from medical journals, medical textbooks, government reports, consumer health magazines, and consumer books on vaccination.
Available From: American Vegan Society (856-694-2887), Global Vaccine Awareness League,
Koren Publications, Natural Hygiene, Inc.,
Nelson's Books, New Atlantean Press,
Vaccination Alternatives. Also available at bookstores nationwide.
What About Immunizations? Exposing the Vaccine Philosophy
Cynthia Cournoyer. Santa Cruz, CA: Nelson's Books. 6th Edition. 1995. 207 pp. ISBN 0-9612188-5-1. Endnotes. Resources.
Cynthia Cournoyer defines what she coined the "vaccine philosophy" as the belief that vaccines are safe and effective and any risks are far outweighed by the benefits. This is certainly the sentiment of the medical community and it is what we have been told to believe all our lives. In this book, Ms. Cournoyer presents evidence to cast doubt on this theory. Ms. Cournoyer is a mother and has researched vaccinations for 13 years. She approaches the topic from the perspective of a concerned parent.
In the first part of this book, she casts doubt upon the germ theory of disease and supports the views that the condition of the body is the principal factor in disease, not the presence of "germs" (see Section C of
"The Immunization Resource Guide" for more information about this view). She includes a chapter on how vaccines appear to work and one on what vaccines do to our bodies. She concludes that they do not effectively confer immunity and they may even cause unknown, long-term ill effects.
In the second part of the book she explains in separate chapters each of the usual childhood vaccines (including acellular pertussis, chicken pox, and hepatitis B) and the adverse reactions associated with the vaccines.
New to the sixth edition is a chapter on how vaccine practices are continued, which looks at the medical machinery behind our vaccine policies and beliefs. She also discusses legal exemptions.
What makes this book unique is her many quotes from parents sharing their feelings about their experiences with vaccination, especially regarding the decision they have made and pressures they encountered to vaccinate.
Ms. Cournoyer's book is well footnoted and documented. Her sources are other consumer vaccination books (many reviewed here) and medical journals. Her book is easy to read, summarizes the prevailing arguments against vaccination, and provides counsel and encouragement to parents trying to make an informed decision.
Available From: American Vegan Society (856-694-2887), Koren Publications,
Natural Hygiene, Inc., Nelson's Books,
New Atlantean Press, Vaccination Alternatives.
What Every Parent Should Know About Childhood Immunization
Jamie Murphy. Boston: Earth Healing Products. 1993. 192 pp. ISBN 0-9630373-0-7. Index. Endnotes.
If you are looking for a good, well written introductory book on vaccination this is an excellent choice. Mr. Murphy is a writer with a long-term interest in natural health and vaccination.
This book begins with a chapter describing the immune system and another comparing artificially acquired immunity to naturally acquired immunity. Mr. Murphy is concerned with the possibility of the viruses from vaccines "hiding" in cells and later in life being "triggered" to become cancer or other autoimmune diseases. He does not reject immunization by rejecting the germ theory, but instead critiques the mechanism of how immunization works against accepted medical theories and uses medical source material.
Mr. Murphy includes detailed chapters on how vaccines are made and the toxic chemicals of which they are composed. For those of you concerned about animal rights, there is a chapter on animal experimentation in vaccine development. I applaud Mr. Murphy for including a chapter on breast milk, explaining its vital importance in building an infant's immune system. (I have written several editions of my book, including this one, with a nursing baby on my lap.) He has separate chapters on whooping cough (pertussis) and the 1980's outbreak of measles; otherwise, he does not examine individual vaccines. (You will need to read other books for information on each childhood disease and vaccine.) There is a chapter presenting the history of mandatory vaccination laws and a lengthy chapter describing how to obtain legal exemptions from these laws. He even explains several state laws in detail. The information contained in this chapter is very extensive.
One major mistake must be noted, however; on page 26 he indicates that MMR is a killed virus vaccine. This is wrong. It is a live virus vaccine.
This book is well documented and footnoted throughout with medical journal and medical textbook sources. His book is a welcome addition to the continuing debate over vaccination.
Available From: American Vegan Society (856-694-2887), Earth Healing Products,
International Childbirth Education Assn.,
Koren Publications, National Vaccine Information Center,
Natural Hygiene, Inc., Nelson's Books,
New Atlantean Press
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