Every time the government announces a new health campaign, I play a little game with myself and try to work out what exactly it is that they are trying to hide.
I was at it again in mid-October, when the British government announced that all children approaching school age are to be given a booster jab against whooping cough.
The plan is that children will be offered this jab at the age of five, at the same time they are given their measles-mumps-rubella and polio boosters.
With the announcement came the claim that this new preschool whooping cough injection is the new improved version - an ‘acellular’ vaccine which magically avoids the feverish reaction in children over six months old, which was largely the problem, the government says, with the old one.
In other words, while you might have had to reach for the Calpol with the old jab, this one has been formulated to save you that little annoyance and your child that minor discomfort.
Just to set the record straight, the problem with the old jab wasn’t simply a bit of fever. This was the jab with the worst track record of side-effects of all. According to the American Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System, set up in the US to identify the side-effects of vaccines, the overwhelming majority were due to the DPT vaccine.
According to a study of 100,000 children conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, children receiving the old jab trebled their chances of suffering a convulsion. After carefully sifting through the medical evidence on all vaccines, the US Institute of Medicine concluded that the DPT vaccine causes 17 health problems, including anaphylactic shock, inconsolable crying or screaming, encephalopathy (inflammation of the brain), acute neurological illness, lasting brain damage and even death. Certain evidence has linked this jab to sudden infant death syndrome, and other studies show that a child getting the DPT jab is six times more likely to develop asthma.
But why are they offering a booster jab if the first one, which has been around since 1912 (in the same crude formula as then), works so well?
The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t. A study of an outbreak of whooping cough in Cincinnati showed that the vaccine failed to protect children of all ages (N Engl J Med, 1994; 331: 16-21). Indeed, research from Sweden and Italy showed that the old vaccine was effective in less than a third to less than a half of the time (J Am Med Assoc, 1995; 274: 446-7).
As for the acellular vaccine, it is no safer and no more effective than the old one. Research demonstrates that one dose of it works less than three-quarters of the time (N Engl J Med, 1995; 333: 1045-50), and two doses, a little more than half the time.
At least one major study found that the rate of serious adverse reactions - seizures, developmental delay, life-threatening reactions and even death - hardly differed between old and new vaccines (Lancet, 1996; 347: 209-10).
On an anecdotal level, we are hearing of many more cases of ‘atypical asthma’ - the new appelation given to whooping cough by doctors who have been brainwashed into thinking that whooping cough has been more or less eradicated through vaccination.
So what we’re being asked to do is to bring forward our five year olds to receive a new vaccine, even though the old vaccine was perfectly safe, to combat a disease that no longer exists.
My guess is, like the measles booster of 1994, the ‘new, improved’ vaccine has been introduced in booster form because the old one isn’t very protective and the Public Health Laboratory Service is being inundated with loads of cases that look, to anyone other than a doctor, like good old common or garden whooping cough. The new vaccine is here to distract us from the fact that your child risked all those side-effects for a vaccine that couldn’t, in the end, protect him.
If I’m right, once again, the PHLS is throwing worse vaccines after bad.