CMI, vaccines, and vaccination
Published: 3 Sep 2018, last updated 18 Sep 2020
- Vaccines contain deadly poisons
- “I got influenza from the flu shot”
- “Vaccines cause autism”
- “More vaccinated kids become sick than unvaccinated kids”
- “Babies get too many vaccines at once”
- “Look at all the dangerous things listed in the package insert!”
- Vaccine injuries
- “God made a perfect immune system and doesn’t need our help”
- “Vaccination supporters are Big Pharma shills”
- “Vaccines contain parts of aborted babies”
- “Bill Gates supports vaccination to reduce population growth”
- “The HPV vaccine encourages sexual immorality”
- “The government should not force people to be vaccinated”
As a biblical, scientific organization, we often get asked by inquirers about our position on a range of related issues. One such issue is vaccinations. We realize that for some this is a highly charged issue that can engender strong emotions. Unfortunately, there is much confusion and even emotion, even in Christian circles, as a result of misinformation that is proliferated on the Internet. Often, with Christians, much of the thinking is driven by well-meaning, but misapplied biblical statements and, in some cases, even conspiratorial (anti-government or anti-establishment) constructs—an area outside of CMI’s purview.
CMI takes a generally pro-vaccination position, as the best trade-off in this fallen world, because the benefits overall greatly outweigh the harms. This is consistent with a Christian ministry, because disease and suffering are the results of the Curse at the Fall, and Jesus himself alleviated the effects of the Curse.
It is a scientific and historical fact that vaccines have saved millions of lives. Thus, as a part of our duty of care for our staff and supporters, we should support medical treatments with a proven record of high safety and effectiveness.
And at my suggestion, the CMI-US office, following the biblical principle of proper care for workers (Colossians 4:1, Ephesians 6:9), pays for influenza (‘flu’) shots for all employees and their dependent family members, if they choose to obtain them. The CMI-AU office has followed suit.
We think we have a duty-of-care to protect our families and also not to bring the ’flu back to the office to the rest of the staff, etc. Actually, even apart from the principle of care, it has a sound economic basis: just one or two employees off work for a week would cost the ministry (and thus its supporters) many times more than the cost of flu shots for all. Indeed, our speakers when on ministry are at greater risk than otherwise through shaking dozens of hands of well-wishers at ministry events.
Note that the influenza virus kills tens of thousands of people in the US alone every year, and statistics show that most of these victims are unvaccinated. It is not just a bad cold, even this bad cold is misnamed ‘the flu’.
Theological and philosophical preamble
Because of Adam’s sin, God cursed the entire creation. This is why humans and animals are now afflicted with death and disease. This curse is still in effect, as shown by the obvious fact that Christians still die. While we also believe that God can heal the sick, this curse that has affected the whole of creation won’t be completely undone until the final resurrection bodies, as per the closing chapters of Revelation with their Edenic allusions.
It is also clear that God doesn’t always heal the sick supernaturally. Millions of devout people have died of infectious diseases throughout history. So, using modern medicine is no more a lack of faith than putting a seatbelt on you and your children, and hoping God will heal them after an accident. Indeed, the Bible also teaches, especially by the example of Christ, that ameliorating the effects of the Curse is a blessing—He healed many diseases and disabilities and we would endorse praying for healing at all times. Any medical advance, backed by rigorous scientific testing, that can prevent or cure infectious diseases though, is thus following the example of Christ.
As explained later, God’s sovereignty means that even natural (which God made anyway) or man-made medicines (within the boundaries of the Genesis 1:28 Dominion Mandate) are also His means of healing. As CMI has often explained, what we call ‘natural laws’ are really our descriptions of God’s normal, regular, repeatable way of upholding His creation; miracles are God’s extraordinary non-repeatable way of upholding His creation, or an addition to the ordinary ‘natural law’ way He normally acts.1
CMI is also not anti-establishment, anti-government or anti-majority for its own sake, but pro-Bible. We would oppose the establishment or the majority view of scientists only when it conflicts with the Bible (as we do with evolution theory), and reject conspiratorial theorizing.2 To do otherwise would, for one thing, involve needlessly trying to fight a battle on multiple fronts. Thus, for example, CMI does not oppose the majority view of physicists in favour of relativity and quantum mechanics, since neither of these views conflicts with Scripture. Most creationist physicists support these well-established theories, too.3 The same goes with vaccination, supported by the vast majority of medical doctors and scientists—including creationists in those fields.
What is vaccination?
God has given us an immune system. This would have had a pre-Fall role in differentiating self and non-self, but in this fallen world, it also fights against invading microbes. However, because we are fallen creatures, this system doesn’t work perfectly, as shown by the millions of deaths from infectious diseases throughout history (the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic is thought to have killed up to 100 million people or 3% of the world’s population at the time—including great numbers of Christians).
The immune system comprises two parts: the innate immune system and the adaptive immune system (also called specific or acquired immune system). The innate immune system includes anatomical barriers, the inflammation reaction, and many of the white blood cells. The adaptive immune system responds to specific pathogens.
The adaptive immune system has long known to be ‘trainable’ (a great example of intelligent design)—in many cases, survivors of a disease become immune to further attacks of this disease. For example, although smallpox had a mortality rate of about a third, survivors never got it again. From this, many researched ways of acquiring this immunity without the dreadful ‘side-effect’ of the full-blown disease. First, this was via crude inoculations of powdered smallpox scabs, with much weakened but still live smallpox germs. This had a much lower mortality rate than full-blown smallpox, but still the famous American theologian and preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758), a supporter of inoculation, died from this.
Smallpox prevention was much improved when doctors observed that maids who suffered from the mild disease cowpox were likewise immune to smallpox. So, Edward Jenner (1749–1823) in 1798 used material from cowpox blisters to inoculate patients successfully against smallpox.
With the development of the germ theory of disease, and the rejection of spontaneous generation, by creationist Louis Pasteur (1822–1895), the methods could be further improved by using dead microbes, which cause no disease at all. He demonstrated this by showing that rabies vaccine would prevent the development of this almost always fatal disease—he gave it to Joseph Meister, a 9-year-old boy bitten severely by a rabid dog (1876–1940). No amount of nutritional measures or hygiene had ever prevented the development of rabies in people who had been mauled by rabid dogs.
Thus, the main principle of vaccination is to train the adaptive immune system with dead or highly weakened germs, to give it ‘target practice’. As a result, if it encounters the live pathogen, it is ready for it. Because the germ has little chance to multiply to dangerous levels, a vaccinated person usually doesn’t develop an illness at all or gets it much less severely.
So, vaccination has saved millions of lives, and prevented severe injuries in millions more. One of our own senior staff was a practising medical doctor for many years and has seen firsthand the baneful effects and damage caused by people contracting such preventable diseases, including brain damage, in unvaccinated children. The same principle applies to vaccines based on toxoids, i.e. deactivated toxins, such as in the tetanus and diphtheria vaccines, which train the immune system to attack the toxins quickly.
Recombinant and conjugate vaccines
A newer type, recombinant vaccines, uses genetic engineering to make a protein on the outside of the germ that the immune system targets. This combines the gene for this protein into another virus, lets that multiply, say in insect cells, then the protein is harvested, and used to make the vaccine that contains no virus genetic material, live or dead. One type of influenza vaccine is recombinant, and can be used for people allergic to eggs, and the Hepatitis B and HVP vaccines are also recombinant, as is the newer and much more effective shingles vaccine Shingrix.
The new and effective Ebola vaccine with the brand name Ervebo is a recombinant vaccine. Its technical name is Recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus–Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV).
Conjugate vaccines are made in a similar way, but use recombinant technology to combine two or more pieces from the coat of a disease-causing bacterium, such as Pneumococcus, which train the immune system without needing whole bacterial cells.
Adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector vaccines
Adeno-associated viruses (AAV) infect some primates, but are not known to cause any disease. However, they can be used to insert genes and specific parts of specific chromosomes. They have already been used, and approved by the FDA, to cure hereditary types of blindness called Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA) and Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). The AAVs are used to replace the mutant LCA or RP gene with a healthy gene, so that the cell can detect light again. This is morally acceptable, in line with the biblical principle of alleviating the effects of the curse. This treatment restores the eye to its original created function from its fallen condition of blindness. There is no difference in principle between this and with replacing a defective heart valve with one from a pig.
The same proven, approved, and safe technology is being recruited to make a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In this case, instead of delivering a healthy copy of a human gene, it inserts the genetic instructions for ‘spike’ protein on the SARS-CoV-2. Then the immune system will respond to that spike protein that comes without a dangerous viruses. The cell containing the spike will be destroyed, so the person’s genome and reproductive cells will not be modified. But after destroying this cell, the immune system will be trained to recognize that spike as an enemy. So when the spike is attached to SARS-CoV-2, the immune system will be ready to destroy the invading virus.
The newest type is probably RNA vaccines, also called mRNA vaccines because messenger RNA is used. None has yet been approved for human use, but in the fight against SARS-CoV-2 ,some RNA vaccines are being developed.
The principle is that RNA is injected into a person’s cells, usually skin cells. The RNA is then translated to make the spike protein on the cell surface which is identical to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The immune system then attacks the cells with the spike protein, and learns to recognize it. Just like other vaccines, the immune system is now trained to respond to the pathogen that has this antigen. In this way, the result is similar to the AAV vector vaccine (above).
This process has many advantages—lower costs and delays that hold up many other new vaccines, and no need for long needles. Instead, a microneedle patch is used. The concerns about “genetically modified humans’ are simply nonsense. The RNA doesn’t even get into the cell nucleus, because translation occurs outside it. Also, the cell that has been injected is destroyed by the immune system. Finally, we are not Lamarckians: acquired characteristics are NOT passed on. The RNA vaccine is no where near the reproductive cells.
When it comes to AAV vector and RNA vaccines, a person has far more foreign human DNA and RNA in his system if he has received an organ transplant, or even exchanges a sloppy kiss. So please reject conspiratorial nonsense about generating transhumans, especially alarmist claims that they would no longer be Adam’s descendants (so presumably could not be saved by the Last Adam and Kinsman-Redeemer, Jesus Christ).
Vaccines are very effective
There is no doubt that we have far lower rates of many nasty diseases today. Smallpox has been completely eradicated, iron lung wards of hospitals that kept polio victims alive have largely disappeared, and rabies and tetanus are completely preventable. Also, debilitating diseases of childhood like measles, mumps, rubella, and whooping cough are no longer unpleasant rites of passage for most children. It’s notable that most anti-vaxers and even lots of doctors today are not old enough to remember when these diseases were widespread. Because they are not common, many often see no need to be vaccinated.
Did nutrition and hygiene eliminate these diseases?
Many anti-vaxers claim that these diseases were eradicated not by vaccination but by improvements in hygiene and nutrition. No one doubts their important roles. But the argument fails to differentiate the two types of immune system. Nutrition and sanitation can help the innate immune system, but not the adaptive immune system. Furthermore, if they were the main causes of infectious disease reduction, then we would have seen these diseases disappear almost simultaneously. But the contrary is true: the diseases disappeared at different times, which correlated strongly with the introduction of specific vaccines for these diseases in both the USA4,5 and Australia6—many in modern times where there was negligible further improvement in hygiene and nutrition.
Some anti-vax websites show graphs of deaths from the diseases, claiming to show that vaccines had no effect. I first note the inconsistency of some anti-vaxers claiming both that deaths from childhood diseases diminished and that the diseases are just harmless childhood illnesses. Also, the important measure is disease incidence, i.e. number of cases. Vaccines are not a cure for the disease, but a preventive against getting the disease in the first place.
This is further supported by modern outbreaks of infectious diseases in the western world which correlate with areas of widespread vaccination refusal. This has often been linked with wealthier communities where there would obviously be no drop in sanitation or nutrition, in the USA and Japan.7
Furthermore, the hygiene explanation fails particularly badly in the case of polio. There were still outbreaks in the hygienic 1950s, because sanitation actually made the disease more prevalent, because it reduced contact with the disease germ in the environment that sometimes conferred natural immunity—so the dirty environment was acting like a crude vaccine! So, polio mainly hit the prosperous and clean places.8
In general, the hygiene explanation doesn’t affect diseases spread through the air, such as measles, influenza, and COVID-19. Conversely, the diseases spread through bad hygiene, e.g. cholera, they really have been eliminated in hygienic areas. So we no longer need vaccines for them. The exception is if we wish to travel to unsanitary areas. E.g., as a teenager, I received polio and cholera vaccines before travelling to Bangladesh for the Asian Junior Chess Championship.
Anti-vaxers might point out ‘correlation does not causation’ (although they don’t apply this to claims such “I got flu after the flu shot”, as below), but this correlation is combined with a known mechanism for vaccines to work, and controls of the other plausible variables.
Bottom line: if vaccination is not effective, then our immune system is not trainable!
Vaccines are very safe
It is true that vaccination is not 100% safe, even with dead bacteria or inactivated viruses (viruses are not really living, so can’t be killed, just inactivated). But then, nothing is 100% safe! That includes activities we regularly choose to undertake, judging their benefits to be worth the risks, such as driving a car. In a fallen world, there are no perfect solutions, only trade-offs. So, it is folly to compare vaccination safety with a perfect standard that doesn’t exist; rather, it should be compared with the safety of non-vaccination (a.k.a. ‘relative risk assessment’). The latter (non-vaccination) is manifestly unsafe. Even on the face of it, the logic seems obvious:
If you think your child’s immune system is strong enough to fight off vaccine-preventable diseases, then it’s strong enough to fight off the tiny amounts of dead or weakened pathogens present in any of the vaccines.9
COVID-19 update: will a vaccine be too rushed?
This current pandemic has understandably caused much concern about a C19 vaccine being offered without proper safety tests over many years. Will such a vaccine lack the proven safety record?
However, it’s important to note that the main purpose of trials is to determine the most effective dosage levels required to train the immune system effectively. But trials also track safety. Another point is that many of the proposed C19 vaccines won’t be totally new technology, but will be made by the extensively tested technology used to make other safe and effective vaccines. For instance, we already know the safe doses of the ingredients of other vaccines (see below, addressing the claim of poisons in vaccines). The exception would be the RNA vaccines, but these should be even safer than other types.
The C19 vaccine trials are an ethical form of the “double blind, placebo controlled” method, which is the most rigorous, also called double-blind randomized clinical trials (RCTs). Some people get the full vaccine. Some get the vaccine with the adjuvant (something that stimulates the immune system) but without the antigen (a protein that antibodies target). Some get the vaccine without either. This latter is not a ‘saline’ injection, but the idea is similar. Randomized, placebo-controlled experiments were also used with the recombinant vaccine, Shingrix, very effective at preventing shingles. Such trials are becoming standard in the industry.
Some vaccine skeptics are concerned that childhood vaccines haven’t undergone the same sorts of “double blind, placebo controlled” trials. But think of the immoral and cold ethics if a doctor had to say: “Sorry that your child died of measles / is paralyzed from polio. Fortunately this was no fault of the vaccine, because your child received one of the placebos.” Not only would RCTs necessarily leave some children vulnerable to infection, but they would also be skewed by anti-vaccination parents not wanting their children to be part of the random sample that was vaccinated, and by parents who refuse to see doctors at all. Anyway, the proof of overall great safety of vaccination is the millions of healthy children who have received all the vaccines in the schedule.
Non-vaccination is very unsafe
The blatant un safety of non-vaccination should be obvious with well-known killers like smallpox and tetanus, but even ‘childhood illnesses’ are badly underestimated. For example:
Influenza. Too many people refer to a bad cold as ‘the flu’, but actual influenza is much worse. Thousands die in the USA every year from influenza complications:
- Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate an average of 23,607 deaths per year from 1976 to 2007.10
- The figures are more certain about the number of children who die from flu, because it has been a nationally notifiable condition since 2004: from the 2003–4 to the 2013–14 seasons, the average is about 113 pediatric flu deaths per season.11
- The CDC estimated that 90% of the children who died from influenza last season were not vaccinated. Further, about 40% of the deaths were in previously healthy children.
- Pregnant women who receive the influenza vaccination are much less likely to deliver premature, underweight,12 or stillborn13 babies. This means that influenza is dangerous to unborn babies, so vaccination is a very pro-life policy.14
Chickenpox. At best, it’s still a nasty disease with itchy blisters that often leave scars, plus a high fever and headache, resulting in a week missed from school. Further:
- A person who has had chickenpox can get a painful and scarring rash called shingles years later, because the virus lies dormant in nerve cell bodies for years, but for some reason is re-activated and travels down the nerves to infect the skin near the nerve endings. In some people, it can lead to lifelong chronic pain.15 It’s even worse when it affects nerves of the ear or eye.
- Before the vaccine, about 11,000 people were hospitalized for chickenpox each year in the United States.
- Before the vaccine, about 100 people died each year as a result of chickenpox in the United States.16 They were usually healthy before contracting the disease.17
Pox parties? Before the vaccine was developed, some people organized ‘pox’ parties when one child in a family or neighbourhood caught chickenpox. There are very big ethical question marks about deliberately giving a child an infectious disease. The idea was that it was better to get the disease as a child than as an adult. Indeed, adults can be affected very badly, so, the thinking went, better to get the disease as a child and become immune.
However, there are risks to children as well, as shown above. Another problem is the infectious dose of virus (inoculum). It was well known that the first child in a family to pick up chickenpox would often get a relatively mild case, while the siblings became much sicker. This is because the first child picked up a smaller dose by casual contact with an infected classmate. But once this first child gets sick, he passes on a much higher dose to his siblings because of the closer and repeated contacts. The first child’s immune system has a chance to train to battle the virus before it multiplies to very serious levels. But the sibling’s immune system must fight against a higher load, so the viruses have a chance for much more multiplication, therefore more severe illness, before the immune system can fight it off.
In general, there is no case to be made for any type of pox (or measles, or flu) party. Vaccines produce the same benefits without the nasty side effects of the diseases.
(This is also relevant to the debate over wearing masks to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Even if they are not 100% effective, they reduce the inoculum, and likely the seriousness of the disease.)
- Whooping cough or pertussis. This is not just a bad cough, but can have severe complications of pneumonia, brain damage, and the coughing fits are often so severe as to cause cracked ribs and turn children blue from oxygen deprivation. It was known as the 100-day cough.7 It used to kill 8,000 babies per year.8
Measles. At best, it’s a nasty, itchy pox accompanied by high fever, cough, runny nose, and inflamed red eyes. Worse:
- Ear infections occur in about one out of every 10 children with measles and can result in permanent hearing loss.
- As many as one out of every 20 children with measles gets pneumonia, the most common cause of death from measles in young children.
- About one child out of every 1,000 who get measles will develop encephalitis (swelling of the brain) that can lead to convulsions and can leave the child deaf or mentally retarded. 1 in 10,000 children will get Subacute Sclerosing Pan-Encephalitis (SSPE), a progressive brain-eroding condition that inevitably leads to a slow, distressing death.
- For every 1,000 children who get measles, one or two will die from it.18
- In Samoa, there was a measles outbreak last year. Lancet reported:
As of Jan 22, 2020, 5707 measles cases and 83 measles-related deaths (estimated attack rate of approximately 285 cases per 10 000 population) have been reported.2 87% of deaths have been reported as children younger than 5 years, a mortality rate of approximately 25 deaths per 10 000 people in this age group.19For comparison, NY, the state worst hit by far in the COVID-19 outbreak, has 196 cases per 10 000 pop, and 15.46 deaths per 10 000 pop (as at 3 Jun 2020). The eruption of measles has been attributed to low vaccination rate—it can’t be anything to do with nutrition or sanitation. And speaking of COVID-19, one paper suggests that the Rubella part of the MMR and MRCV vaccines may protect against the coronavirus, which could explain the much lower number of serious cases and deaths in people under 40.20
- Measles causes long-term damage to the immune system in two ways.
But the MMR vaccine didn’t attack the immune system, so people get the benefits of protection against those diseases without the symptoms of the diseases, including immune suppression.21
- The immune system first circulates a wide diversity of ‘naïve cells’ that have many different receptors that can latch on to different pathogens. But measles sharply reduces this diversity of naïve immune cells, meaning the immune system is less able to deal with future infectious diseases.
- Then after responding to diseases or vaccination, the immune system is ‘trained’ by producing long-lived ‘memory cells’. These circulate in the blood and are ready to quickly combat the disease organisms concerned before they can multiply much. But measles attacks these memory cells, so the patient is no longer immune to those diseases. They may even need to be re-vaccinated.
Overall, if vaccination were so unsafe, then it’s hard to explain why sharp increases in vaccination correlate so strongly with increases in general health as well as sharp drops in child mortality.22
For another example of such trade-offs, 350 people die annually in the USA taking baths,23 but this would not justify refusing to wash, because that would increase the risk of acquiring diseases. Similarly, most wouldn’t refuse to wear seatbelts just because in rare freak situations, being thrown out of a vehicle could enhance the chance of survival.24 This is because they realize that overall, the chances of being killed or injured by not being restrained are far greater.
The impossible demand for 100% safety is similar to the claim that vaccination violates the faux-Hippocratic maxim Primum non nocere (“First do no harm”).25 But it should be clear that withholding such a life-saving measure is inflicting considerable harm by omission.
Bottom line: anti-vaxers often make the two contradictory claims about our immune system: apparently our immune system is so strong that it can fight off legions of rapidly multiplying live germs, but it is simultaneously so fragile that a few fragments of dead germs will overwhelm it.26
Of course, if someone has been harmed by vaccination, however rare (see Vaccine Injuries, below), great compassion is in order; one can scarcely expect a parent to be consoled by the statistical fact that the child’s chance of being harmed by the disease was greater. (From the parent’s perspective, the child, if unvaccinated, may have survived the illness with no lasting harm.) This is part of what makes it such an emotive issue.
For example, say that a parent chose to vaccinate for a particular illness where the chance of serious complications from the vaccine was 1 in 100,000, and the chance of serious complications from being unvaccinated was 1 in 10,000. And the child suffered complications from the vaccine. Without the benefit of foresight, as only God has, one can still say that at the time the decision was made, the parent’s decision to vaccinate was the wisest and most responsible one in discharging their duties as a parent—even though in hindsight the picture looks different.
Vaccines contain deadly poisons
This is a meaningless claim, because the first rule of toxicology is: ‘the dose makes the toxin’. For example, there are chemicals in perfectly safe food and even in our bodies, as well as vaccines, that would be toxic in a thousand times the amounts. Conversely, even ‘good’ things like oxygen and water can act as poisons in large amounts.27
Many poisons have benefits in small amounts, e.g. the potent digitalis toxin in foxglove plants in tiny amounts can benefit heart arrhythmias and congestive cardiac failure. The ‘deadliest toxins’ known, the botulinum toxins, have an LD₅₀ (median lethal dose), 28of around a nanogram per kilogram (ng/kg) of body weight.29 Yet it is used to control squinting and wrinkles in minuscule doses (commonly given as ‘botox’ injections). The class of anti-hypertension medicine called ACE inhibitors were developed after analysing a component of a pit viper venom.
Another important issue is that poison molecules cannot reproduce; disease germs are so dangerous precisely because they can make many more of themselves. And these germs usually produce far more toxins than vaccines contain.
For many decades, many vaccines have included a strong preservative, a compound of mercury with an ethyl and thiosalicylate30 group called thiomersal (from ethylmercury thiosalicylate) or merthiolate or thimerosal.31
Back in 1931, it was shown that thiomersal is 40–50 times more effective against Staphylococcus aureus (golden staph) than phenol (carbolic acid), the classic antiseptic used by the pioneer Joseph Lister (1827–1912). Indeed, a concentration of only 1 part in 10,000 (0.01%) would stop bacterial growth in vaccines,32 but not destroy the vaccine itself as phenol does.33 Since this concentration was used as a vaccine preservative, this amounts to 50 µg (µg = microgram = one millionth of a gram) of thiomersal in a 0.5 mL dose, or 25 µg of mercury.34 To put this into perspective, a typical serving of tuna would have an average of 30 µg of mercury.35 Vaccinations are a single dose—people frequently eat tuna.
However, quite large amounts didn’t harm test animals: “up to 20 mg per kg body weight in rabbits and still higher in rats—without apparent injury.”36,37 For humans, it seems to require 3 to a few hundred mg/kg of thiomersal to produce acute mercury toxicity. So if we take the most cautious figure of 3 mg/kg, a 50-kg person would need to receive over a thousand thiomersal-containing vaccinations to receive a toxic dose. So not surprisingly, one review revealed no evidence of harm caused by doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for local hypersensitivity reactions,38 although it was used for many decades.
However, from the 1960s to the 1990s, mercury-containing effluent poured into the sea was shown to have highly toxic effects. And it accumulated in the food chain, so it became concentrated in fish. Several thousand people in the fishing community of Minamata Bay, Japan, had serious mercury poisoning with often fatal results. In particular, bacteria converted the inorganic mercury into methylmercury CH₃Hg⁺.33
However, there is an important difference between this and thiomersal—the latter is metabolized into ethylmercury CH₃CH₂Hg⁺. Even though there is only a CH₂ group difference, this makes all the difference—compare ethanol or ethyl alcohol (CH₃CH₂OH) that makes you “merry” (Ecclesiastes 10:19) with methanol/methyl alcohol (CH₃OH) that makes you blind or dead. Ethyl mercury does not accumulate. Rather, it is removed quite quickly from the blood and excreted via feces. Indeed, even giving thiomersal-containing vaccines to infants did not raise their blood mercury level above safe levels, and the half-life of mercury in the blood was about a week.39
Unfortunately, in a typical panic-reaction by bureaucracies,40,41 on 9 July 1999, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) asked the vaccine makers to remove thiomersal from their vaccines. The absurd double-speak of the AAP press release just confused matters:
Parents should not worry about the safety of vaccines. The current levels of thimerosal will not hurt children, but reducing those levels will make safe vaccines even safer. While our current immunization strategies are safe, we have an opportunity to increase the margin of safety.
Of course, if the amounts are safe already, then how could the safety be improved by removing it? And it sent the mixed message to parents: “if they are removing thiomersal, it must really have been harmful after all—and they must have been hiding this in the past.”
This caused immediate harm: after about 10% of hospitals suspended their hepatitis B vaccines that contained thiomersal, a 3-month–old baby born to a mother infected with the disease died of this. And the ban enabled concerned parents and associated ambulance-chasers to blame thiomersal for their children’s autism (see below).42 It has also increased the costs of vaccination, because they must be in single-dose vials without a preservative.
However, now, this issue is a red herring, because so few vaccines still contain thiomersal. In the USA, only some influenza, tetanus, and meningococcal vaccines have as much as 25 µg of mercury; the vast majority have none.43
Formaldehyde or methanal (HCHO) is the simplest aldehyde (RCHO), and has the ability to cross-link proteins. This makes it toxic to microbes, so it is used as a preservative. For vaccines, it is important to have dead microbes, so formaldehyde is used to inactivate viruses. It also denatures the deadly toxin proteins of the tetanus and diphtheria bacteria, so they can no longer do their damage (so are now toxoids), but can still provoke the desired immune response.44
So how much formaldehyde is in vaccines? Some vaccines have about 100 µg per dose, as per this table.45 Note that the table lists different versions of the same vaccine, whereas a patient would receive only one of these. This means that the typical vaccination schedule for infants would result in about 120 µg.46 So let’s put that into proper perspective.
Actually, our bodies produce formaldehyde in small amounts. Metabolism of some amino acids produces formaldehyde as a by-product. And it is even essential as a metabolic intermediate in manufacturing purines (essential components of DNA and RNA) and some amino acids. So the naturally occurring concentration of formaldehyde in our blood is 2–3 µg/g47 or about 2–3 mg/L. So even a 2-month–old infant with half a litre of blood would have 1–1.5 mg in the whole bloodstream. It means that the total recommended vaccination schedule would add about a tenth to the infant’s natural level, which is below the natural variability.
We can’t escape formaldehyde from outside, because it is contained in many foods, especially pears, which have about 60 µg/g (mg/kg), and cod, apples, and pork have about 20 µg/g.48 Thus a 200-g pear would have 12,000 µg, 100 times as much as the total infant vaccination schedule.
Aluminium is an adjuvant, that is, it enhances the immune response, so that less of the deactivated infectious agent is needed. Aluminium is in any case abundant in nature, e.g. clay minerals are aluminosilicate sheets (called phyllosilicates). Once again, the amount in vaccines is incredibly tiny by comparison.
To be specific, vaccines have no more than 0.85 mg/dose of aluminium. We eat about 10 times that amount every day in our food. Any aluminium that reaches the blood stream is excreted quickly, with a half life of about a day.
Albumin, the protein from eggs, is used as a vaccine stabilizer. This is what’s responsible for many of the reported allergic reactions to vaccines. This is a non-issue for those who can eat eggs or egg products.
The adjuvant MF59 is an emulsion of squalene oil in water. It has safely been used in influenza vaccines for over 20 years. Squalene is a triterpene found in all plants and animals, including humans. Our bodies use this as an biochemical intermediate to produce cholesterol and steroid hormones. It is also a product of our sebaceous glands, helping to lubricate and protect our skin. Squalene was historically extracted from shark liver oil, hence the name, derived from Squalus, the spurdog genus of dogfish sharks.
Bloodstream vs. ingestion?
Some antivaxers try to get around the information above by claiming that there is a difference between ingesting as food or drink and injecting into the bloodstream. A few problems with that:
- Vaccines are not injected into the bloodstream! Rather, most are intramuscular. This is necessary to bypass the anatomical barriers of the innate immune system so that the adaptive immune system can be trained by the vaccine.
- Formaldehyde is already circulating in the bloodstream in much higher amounts than in vaccines.
- These so-called poisons are readily absorbed by ingestion. How do they think fish high up on the food chain accumulate mercury?
- Some have argued that the synergistic effects of the ‘toxins’ in vaccine are far worse than the effect of each on its own. But then, the same argument would apply to our diets. We would hardly be able to eat anything, because perfectly safe food has some of the so-called toxins that worry vaccine opponents, and they would likewise have a synergistic effect. E.g. eat a serving of tuna and you have as much mercury as in a flu shot, then drink tomato juice with methanol which is oxidized to formaldehyde, eat a pear with far more formaldehyde than any vaccine, and cook something in an aluminium saucepan, and you have some of the chemicals that concern vaccine-opponents, with synergistic effects. The solution is to realize that the amounts in vaccines (and foods) are way too small, as shown above.
“I got influenza from the flu shot”
No, you didn’t. Dead viruses simply can’t cause infection. The impression is a good example of the fallacy, unfortunately widely used by anti-vaxers, of post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after this therefore because of this”). That is, some people became ill after a flu shot, so think that the flu shot caused the disease. In reality, it takes about two weeks for the body’s immune system to respond fully, and these unfortunates caught the live flu virus (if in fact the illness was influenza) before the immune system was fully protective. Also, again, too many people call a bad cold ‘the flu’, and an influenza shot won’t protect against non-influenza illnesses.49
Also, no system is totally effective, and sometimes the vaccine doesn’t contain the right match for the live virus in the current ‘flu season’. The lower effectiveness of the flu shot is due to the same reason that you can catch the flu and get it again: the virus mutates quickly. So the manufacturers of the flu vaccine make the best guess on the currently circulating strain.
However, there is good news here. Even if they don’t guess quite right, they guess near enough in most cases that even if a person catches influenza, it is not usually severe enough to need hospitalization.50 And even if it is, the death rate is sharply reduced in vaccinated patients—a CDC study showed, “an unvaccinated hospitalized flu patient was 2 to 5 times more likely to die than someone who had been vaccinated.”51 That is, even in the worst case, the flu shot is good at preventing an influenza attack, very good at preventing one severe enough to need hospitalization, and excellent at preventing a fatal attack.
“Vaccines cause autism”
This is a very common claim, infamously promulgated by former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy, who claimed that her son became autistic after being vaccinated. It also gained some credibility with a study published in Lancet by British doctor Andrew Wakefield. Later, he was “held guilty of ethical violations (they had conducted invasive investigations on the children without obtaining the necessary ethical clearances) and scientific misrepresentation (they reported that their sampling was consecutive when, in fact, it was selective).”52 Lancet retracted the study in February 2010.
In contrast to Wa, study after study has shown no link between vaccination and autism. The U.S. National Academy of Science’s (NAS) Institute of Medicine published a study in 2004 which summarized:
Thus, based on this body of evidence, the committee concludes that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.53
And in 2014, a huge meta-study was published, involving over a million children, concluding:
Five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children, and five case-control studies involving 9,920 children were included in this analysis. The cohort data revealed no relationship between vaccination and autism …, nor was there a relationship between autism and MMR …, or thimerosal …, … Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, the components of the vaccines (thimerosal or mercury) or multiple vaccines (MMR) are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.54
Even autism advocacy organizations reject a link between vaccination and autism:
Are Vaccines to Blame?
Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.55
But like the whack-a-mole game, this charge keeps raising its head after being refuted repeatedly. In particular, the originator of the claim, Andrew Wakefield, has been thoroughly discredited for fraudulent research56 and was stripped of his medical licence in 2010 for showing “callous disregard” for children’s welfare. A 2019 review documented many studies showing no link between MMR vaccine and autism, and explained more how Wakefield’s shifting hypotheses are without foundation. The abstract explains how the “vaccination causes autism” claim is both wrong and dangerous:
Autism is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. A report published in 1998, but subsequently retracted by the journal, suggested that measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism. However, autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that has a strong genetic component with genesis before one year of age, when MMR vaccine is typically administered. Several epidemiologic studies have not found an association between MMR vaccination and autism, including a study that found that MMR vaccine was not associated with an increased risk of autism even among high-risk children whose older siblings had autism. Despite strong evidence of its safety, some parents are still hesitant to accept MMR vaccination of their children. Decreasing acceptance of MMR vaccination has led to outbreaks or resurgence of measles. Health-care providers have a vital role in maintaining confidence in vaccination and preventing suffering, disability, and death from measles and other vaccine-preventable diseases.57
Also, and very importantly, if the autism really were due to thiomersal in vaccines, then removal of that from most vaccines should have caused reduction in autism rates. But they are rising instead.
The real reason for the perceived increase in autism
When it comes to some diseases, the increase in numbers can actually be attributed to the increase in average lifespan. That is, people now live longer, so have more chance to contract these diseases, instead of dying young of the infectious diseases now limited by vaccination. For example, since the average lifespan used to be in the 40s, there were fewer cases of cancer than an increased population who now have the average lifespan in the later 70s. We are living longer, but are also having more time to develop those diseases.
Therefore, in one sense there is a correlation between increase in vaccination and increase in some diseases: but not in the way anti-vaxers claim—rather, it’s because vaccines are allowing us to live long and healthy enough, so we don’t die before catching them!
In the case of autism in particular, the reason for the perceived increase is much more straightforward. There was a medical reclassification of many diseases under the ‘umbrella’ diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD. This means there is now one diagnosis, with degrees, instead of many different diagnoses. For example, my youngest brother, for example, is no longer diagnosed ‘Aspergers’, but instead ‘highly functioning ASD’. He is still the same person, but reclassified, as many others have been, making the number with ‘Autism’ look much larger without actually adding new people. To clarify, if there were 10 cases of A, 5 cases of B, and 15 cases of C, reorganizing them into 30 cases of ABC, one label, does not mean there was any increase in actual number.
Additionally, medicine is getting better at diagnosis, so people who used to be dismissed as ‘off’, ‘eccentric’, or sometimes even ‘insane’, are receiving proper diagnosis in recent times, increasing the numbers statistically, but not for any increase in affected people. For example, ‘weird Uncle Harry’ might not be seen as ‘weird’ if diagnosed in recent times, but instead properly diagnosed as ASD.
One can’t help but comment on the gross inconsistency in common anti-vax claims. On the one hand, they reject the strong, repeated correlation between introduction of a vaccine for a disease and decrease in incidence of that disease (and between rise of anti-vax practices and rise of those diseases). But on the other, they accept a correlation between vaccines and autism that’s so weak as to be non-existent.
“More vaccinated kids become sick than unvaccinated kids”
This claim is a clear demonstration of the misunderstanding/misuse of statistics. The important thing is the percentages of sicknesses in the vaccinated and unvaccinated kids, not the absolute numbers, simply because (fortunately) many more kids are vaccinated. One anti-vaxer claimed, “We have mumps outbreaks in the UK where 92% of the affected were fully vaccinated … .”58 Now I have learned not to trust unsourced claims from anti-vaxers (and this is so for even most sourced claims because of their propensity to misrepresent the sources), but even if we take this claim as factual, this is insufficient.
To illustrate: suppose that in an outbreak, there were 100 cases of mumps, and 92 of them were vaccinated and 8 were not, to match the claimed figures. But what was not said was, say, this was from a sample of 10,000, of whom 98% were vaccinated, i.e. 9800 people were vaccinated and 200 were not. So in reality, the properly weighted percentages were 92/9800 = 0.94% incidence of mumps in the vaccinated people, and 8/200 = 4% in non-vaccinated people. Therefore, these statistics, when properly understood, show that there is over four times the likelihood of getting mumps when non-vaccinated.
However, real-world stats show that the chance is far higher than that. E.g. with measles, “[vaccine] exemptors were 35 times more likely to contract measles than were vaccinated persons (95% confidence interval …)”59
“Babies get too many vaccines at once”
No, they don’t. This is another argument that seriously underestimates how good a working immune system is. In reality, even a thousand vaccines at once would use only about 1% of the adaptive immune system. This is because a child’s immune system must fight several thousand ‘new’ antigens every day from the environment, including from perfectly safe food, and even more with every cut or graze.
Indeed, this starts when a baby is born, transferring from the sterile environment in the womb to being exposed to trillions of bacteria in the outside world. The colon especially starts to be populated by all the ‘good’ bacteria (‘probiotics’) that we need for good health (this bacterial population is called the microbiome, and the number of bacterial cells in a healthy body can outnumber the human cells). The immune system must adapt and make sure that the bacteria can’t invade the bloodstream, i.e. septicaemia, which could cause fatal sepsis. There are thousands of bacterial species involved, each with its own set of antigens. And even after that, every cut and graze exposes the immune system to still more antigens.
This should put the vaccination schedule into perspective. All the vaccines together comprise only about 150 antigens. This is a fraction of a percent of the antigen load a healthy child faces every day. And even aside from this, although now we protect children against more diseases than decades ago, the number of antigens in the schedule has decreased about 20-fold.60
“Look at all the dangerous things listed in the package insert!”
Much of this type of argument is addressed in the above section about poisons. Also, we note that these inserts are written by the same ‘Big Pharma’ that is often vilified (see below), and usually approved by government departments such as the FDA in the USA. They are legal documents, not medical ones, and apply to all prescription medicines as well.
One thing that anti-vaxers pick up on are the reported side effects that the inserts are required to list, even without any proof of causation. And often, there are articles on junk websites with mendacious clickbait titles. One that has been doing the rounds is a heading, usually in the obligatory all-capitals:
FDA announced that vaccines are causing autism:
The FDA has published conclusive proof on their website that the dtap vaccine can cause autism.
Then usually something about the FDA ‘admitting’ a causal link.
But the highlighted paragraph which they hope people will not read carefully is:
Adverse events reported during post-approval use of Tripedia vaccine include idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, SIDS, anaphylactic reaction, cellulitis, autism, convulsion/grand mal convulsion, encephalopathy, hypotonia, neuropathy, somnolence and apnea. Events were included in this list because of the seriousness or frequency of reporting. Because these events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a causal relationship to components of Tripedia vaccine.
I have italicized some key words above, which should make it clear that these are voluntarily reported claims. There is no endorsement of whether the reports are accurate. Indeed, they make it clear that there is no proof that the vaccine actually caused these problems.
Vaccine injury stories are not what they seem. E.g the USA government maintains the VAERS – the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, and Australia has TGA Database of Adverse Event Notifications. Anti-vaxers point to these as evidence for widespread problems. But in reality, these are collections of unverified reports, even saying so up-front:
In accessing the database we encourage consumers to understand that a report of an adverse event does not necessarily indicate there is a causal link between a medicine and an adverse outcome.
Some of these reports that made it into the database were demonstrably false claims that vaccines cause Shaken Baby Syndrome, and even absurd ones such as one claiming that vaccines turned into the Incredible Hulk. In fact, under 3% of the cases in the VAERS database were definitely caused by vaccines—and most of this small fraction were minor injuries like low-grade fever or soreness at the injection site.61 “When you do the real numbers, the risk of serious vaccine injury is orders of magnitude less than 1%.”62
In fact, although the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) in the USA has an even lower standard of proof than even a civil case (preponderance of evidence), it has awarded comparatively very few payouts. From 2006 to 2014, 1,876 of those received compensation, which sounds like a lot, until it is compared with about 2.5 billion doses of vaccines were administered in those years. This means under one chance in a million risk of harm serious enough to warrant a payout.63
Vaccine injury lawyer supports vaccination!
In fact, the commonest vaccine injuries have nothing to do with the components of the vaccine, but are shoulder injuries from an improperly used needle. One specialist vaccine injury lawyer, Leah Durant, suffered such an injury. But far from being an anti-vaxer, she is a strong supporter:
Vaccines keep us healthy. They eradicate disease. If I had children, I would get them vaccinated.64
And when parents ask for her help to try to evade a vaccination requirement for a school, she refuses. Instead, she says:
I talk to them about my personal view about vaccinations and the fact that I feel vaccines are safe.
“God made a perfect immune system and doesn’t need our help”
Yes, He did, but we are now in a fallen world. The present curse-affected immune system demonstrably doesn’t protect us from every disease, as shown by the millions who have died from such diseases over history. The same applies to those who think ‘natural is good’, a form of the naturalistic fallacy, since nature is cursed (plagues are also ‘natural’). In a fallen world, there have also been many mutations of bacteria and viruses, which now cause diseases that were not there in an originally created very good world.
We should also note that if people were consistent with such claims, then they wouldn’t take care of any broken skin, because why does God need our help to wash and dress wounds given that the immune system He designed can manage without our help? Nor should we apply plasters or stitches to bleeding wounds, because God created Adam with a perfect blood-clotting system that doesn’t need our clever help. (But see Jesus’ reaction when Satan made a similar suggestion to Him—Matthew 4:6–7.)
Also, since God gave Adam perfect eyesight, then we shouldn’t wear glasses, since why does God need our help with His (now broken) design of the eyes with our ‘clever’ refractive aids?
Such a claim is also an affront to God’s sovereignty. God not only ordains the ends, but the means. If God chooses to bless someone with freedom from diseases, the means by which He bestows this blessing could certainly include vaccination. I’m reminded of this old tale:
A very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbour came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”
“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.”
A short time later the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”
“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.”
A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”
“No thanks,” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me.”
All this time the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”
“Yes, you did my child,” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.”
Of course, God could have rescued him supernaturally, and it is biblical to seek healing first from Him. The point is that unless one believes that God is no longer the sovereign of even this fallen world, He is also worthy of praise for the development of such things as surgical advances, antibiotics and vaccines, and in particular, ones that take advantage of His designed immune system. If, as seems likely, an effective vaccine is developed for the Ebola that is currently wiping out many thousands (written in January 2015), such outbreaks amid fears of worldwide epidemics will be consigned to history books. We will then have a right to also see this as part of His divine blessing—just as when He supernaturally heals without any mediate cause.
“Vaccination supporters are Big Pharma shills”
Of course, this is an ‘abusive ad hominem’ argument that’s far too common among anti-vaxers. A similar argument that is at least not a personal attack is to complain about the large profits of pharmaceutical companies.
I prefer vaccines to be made from profit-oriented companies, because they will earn profits only if buyers are confident that they will work. And probably even more importantly, they will suffer bad losses if they make something that hurts someone. Conversely, non-profit also means non-loss, and I can see little worse than decisions made by people who don’t stand to lose if they hurt people. As Adam Smith, actually a moral philosopher before he turned to economics, said about 200 years ago, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.” In this fallen world, selfishness is a ubiquitous human condition.
Also, the polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk famously refused to profit from his work, which probably could have made him $7 billion if he had patented it. Another thing, the flu shot is under $30, while there would be much more pharmaceutical profit if a person had to be hospitalized from influenza, or in days gone by, be maintained in an iron lung from polio.
Sometimes this argument is accompanied by claims that ‘Pharma’ must mean ‘sorcery’, because it comes from pharmakeia, which is translated that way in the New Testament. However, such claims display ignorance of the difference between Classical Greek and the Koinē Greek of the NT. Like most Greek-derived terms in English, the Classical Greek meaning was used. In particular, ‘pharmacy’ was derived via Old French farmacie, in turn derived from the Medieval Latin pharmacia, in turn from from the Classical Greek meaning of pharmakeia (φαρμακεία), meaning medicine. In turn, this was related to pharmakon (φάρμακον) i.e. a drug, whether a cure or a poison.
Finally, many of the anti-vax sites complaining about pharmaceutical profits have huge web stores for their own products. It’s not clear from biblical, or even economic, principles why ‘Big Pharma’ is evil while the multibillion dollar ‘Big Alterna’, ‘Big Essentia’, and ‘Big Supplementia’ (or ‘Big Placebo’)are good.
Every supermarket has rows of shelves full of natural supplements, and many of these supplements contain heavy metals such as iron, copper, and so on. But because these are apparently a natural cure, they are ok, but dangerous when minute doses are put into life-saving vaccines.
“Vaccines contain parts of aborted babies”
As it stands, this claim is false. There are no baby parts in vaccines. There are not even fetal cells. There is a most tenuous connection between abortion and vaccines, as follows:
Bacteria are genuinely living organisms, so can be cultured on nutrients. Viruses are not living,65 so require some living cells to be cultured on. Pasteur’s pioneering vaccination against rabies, caused by lyssaviruses, was obtained from the nerves of rabbits that had died from the disease. Pasteur weakened the virus by drying the nerve tissue for 5–10 days. Now most rabies is cultured on embryonic eggs—but those of chickens (‘RabAvert’), not humans.
Unfortunately, some vaccines have been cultured on cell lines that came originally from aborted babies: one (MRC-5) from an abortion that was performed in September 1966 and one (WI-38) that was performed in July 1962. There is no question that these original abortions were sinful. CMI takes a strongly pro-life position, that the human individual life begins at conception/fertilization, thus abortion is totally wrong, even for rape and incest (do children of rapists deserve the death penalty?). But note cell lines. This means descendants of descendants of descendants of one cell from each of these babies. And when a virus reproduces inside a cell, the cell is destroyed. So there are neither fetal cells nor fetal body parts.66
The above is the tenuous connection between vaccines and abortion. However, no new embryos are being generated for the purpose of culturing vaccines—this would be immoral. Rather, these vaccines use the cell lines from a baby already killed decades ago, and that not for the purpose of creating vaccines. Any cultures from these original lines are likely to be now removed by tens of thousands of generations. That deed was unfortunately done, and cannot be undone. There is also no evidence of any ‘moral hazard’67—that it would lead to more abortions. It would be a different matter when it comes to proposals to abort babies now, specifically to make vaccines, then my colleagues and I agree that we should refuse such vaccines and insist on ethical manufacture, such as the new recombinant technology.
Again, as bacteria don’t need to be cultured on live cells, this objection cannot be used to oppose any vaccines against bacterial diseases! Also, although influenza is a viral disease, none of the influenza vaccines have any connection with these babies. Rather, the most widely used flu shot was cultured on chicken egg cells, which is not surprising because influenza was originally a benign bird virus.
A similar comparison would be organ donation. Would we refuse a life-saving organ that was from a victim of a drunk driver for example who listed “Organ Donor” on the driver’s license, because he was killed in a sinful way? Accepting this organ is in no way condoning drunk driving.68 Another example: it would be totally immoral to murder someone to harvest his organs, even if it would save another person’s life. However, if someone you loved was murdered during an armed robbery, would it be immoral to consent to organ donation, so that even though a terrible sin had been committed, something good came from it, one silver lining on a very dark cloud? And would acceptance of such an organ mean condoning the murder? Similarly, should we refuse a life-saving treatment that is the one good thing that came from the abomination of murdering those two babies?69
The general principle here is that the beneficiary of the organ must not have been complicit in the crime in the slightest (called ‘formal cooperation in evil’). Actually the biblical ethical principles were deduced centuries ago. First, there is the Principle of Double Effect. That is, if a contemplated action has both good and bad effects, then it is permissible only if it is not wrong in itself and if it does not require that one directly intend the bad result. Second, there is “remote mediate material cooperation”, meaning that the moral object of the co-operator (in this case, the one being vaccinated) and that of the wrong-doer (the abortionist who aimed for a dead baby) are distinct. Under this principle, vaccination can be allowed if necessary to prevent severe illness and death (which it does), and if we also clearly condemn both the two abortions from which cell lines were derived and any future abortion to create more cell lines (which incidentally was not the purpose of the two abortions in question).70
An official statement from the Roman Catholic Church, which for all its flaws, has been among the staunchest defenders of the unborn, is notable here. The Pontifical Academy for Life, the Vatican’s official voice in the area of abortion/right-to-life, wrote a considered statement on this issue, at the request of the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future (and now former) Pope Benedict XVI, in response to Debi Vinnedge of Children of God for Life.
This statement would certainly prefer that no vaccines were made on cell lines from aborted babies. It further strongly urges its flock to demand alternatives without any ethical taint. Since then, some promising measles and rubella vaccines have been made by recombinant technology, but it might take a while for the bureaucrats to approve them. But until these alternatives exist, the statement states that it is permissible to use these vaccines. Indeed, if we did not, we would allow the further evil of endangering one’s own children and the whole community:
As regards the diseases against which there are no alternative vaccines which are available and ethically acceptable, it is right to abstain from using these vaccines if it can be done without causing children, and indirectly the population as a whole, to undergo significant risks to their health. However, if the latter are exposed to considerable dangers to their health, vaccines with moral problems pertaining to them may also be used on a temporary basis. The moral reason is that the duty to avoid passive material cooperation is not obligatory if there is grave inconvenience. Moreover, we find, in such a case, a proportional reason, in order to accept the use of these vaccines in the presence of the danger of favouring the spread of the pathological agent, due to the lack of vaccination of children. This is particularly true in the case of vaccination against German measles.71,72
CMI is an Evangelical Protestant organization, but we cited the well thought-out-response from the Vatican precisely because the Roman Catholic Church is well known for being the archetypical pro-life organization. It is a sad fact that it took Evangelical organizations quite a long time to catch up. In the 1960s and 70s, some of the best known Evangelical groups were not opposed to legalization of abortion. But here is a recent statement from the The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention:
Clearly, the process by which these vaccines are made is not ethically ideal.
Therefore, we should continue to advocate for use of alternatives when available and for the development of future vaccines to be carried out by other means.
The key consideration in whether using currently available vaccines is licit or immoral is whether there is material cooperation with the evil act of abortion. If the abortion was conducted in order to harvest tissues that were to be used for the vaccine, then it would clearly be immoral. But in the case of the vaccines listed above, the abortion was carried out for other reasons and the tissue was acquired post-mortem for the purpose medical research.
To determine the morality of using the tissue, it is helpful to compare it to another situation: the use of organs from a person who has been murdered. If a doctor were to offer to transplant a kidney or heart from the murder victim into a Christian, we would likely not have any objection. The primary concern would be whether the victim consented to organ donation prior to their death. But no one would say the Christian who received the organ was morally responsible in any way for the murder. Nor should we be overly concerned with the “slippery slope”of people being murdered in order to expand the number of organ donations. (If we saw evidence of that happening, however, we should change our objection.)
Currently, the use of the vaccines is not increasing the number of abortions that are being carried out every year. So the question is merely whether accepting the vaccine would be cooperating with the killing of the child in the 1960s. For a number of reasons, we would argue that is it not. The primary reason being that this situation is morally analogical to the case of the murder victim. For this reason we believe the use of the vaccines is justifiable based on the fact that we cannot change the way the cell cultures were obtained, there are no available alternatives, and the effectiveness of the vaccines as a means of preserving life and preventing suffering is clear.
We certainly respect the opinion of Christians who would disagree with our reasoning on this issue. However, we would add that a parent who refused to have their child vaccinated in order to avoid the connection—however remote—to the cooperation with abortion, is morally responsible for the outcome of that choice. If their child were to get sick and/or die because of the rejection of the vaccine, they would be morally responsible.
Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where it is almost impossible to do good without some indirect connection to an act of evil. As Christians we should strive to avoid cooperating with evil and prevent it from occurring in the future (e.g., we should oppose the making of new vaccines using the ethically tainted tissue), but we should not risk the lives of our children in order to avoid a remote connection that is tangentially related to an evil act.
There are helpful and strategic ways we can advocate for pro-life issues. Neglecting the use of something so inherently pro-life based on its history is not one of them.73
In any case, there remains a moral duty to continue to fight and to employ every lawful means in order to make life difficult for the pharmaceutical industries which act unscrupulously and unethically. However, the burden of this important battle cannot and must not fall on innocent children and on the health situation of the population—especially with regard to pregnant women.
An example of an alternative that does exist is the newer and more effective shingles vaccine Shingrix, made by recombinant technology, which is superseding Zostavax, which has residual components of the cell line MRC-5 cells.
And governments require a multitude of tests before any vaccination is released to the public. Of course, conspiracy theorists might argue that the government is somehow complicit, but what for? So, that it can cost the very same government millions of dollars in dealing with increased pandemics like swine flu, for example—a disease that the very same government officials would be likely to catch if they did not take the same flu shots they were advocating.
As for developments in C19 vaccines, some are being trialled on fetal cell lines (HEK-293 maybe, not definitely, from a baby aborted in 1972/3; or PER.C6 from one aborted in 1985). There are also those which are not connected to any cell lines: Novavax, Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), or Sinovac.74 Furthermore, RNA vaccines discussed above have yet another advantage in not using fetal cell lines. Such vaccines could be called “ethically untainted”.
There is also the recombinant protein vaccine project (UQ-CSL V451) of the University of Queensland in partnership with Australian biotech company CSL. This manufactures the spike proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 so the immune system can be trained on it. In the virus, the spikes are coiled, but when they meet the target cell, they uncoil and infect it. The tendency to uncoil would affect the recombinant vaccine as well, but the UQ has developed a molecular clamp to keep the spike proteins coiled. This way, the immune system can be trained to attack the virus before the spike can uncoil and infect. The proposed vaccine will also contain the long-used MF59 adjuvant.75
While we would prefer an ethically untainted vaccine, what happens if the only vaccine available is one the comes from either of these two fetal cell lines? I would concur with Australian Catholic priest and ethicist Rev. Kevin McGovern:
ChAdOx1 may be an ethically compromised vaccine. It is grown in a cell line called HEK293, which is widely believed to have been developed from cells from a human foetus which was electively aborted in 1973. However, even this is not certain. Professor Frank Graham who developed this cell line has said that, to the best of his knowledge, the origin of these cells is unclear, for they could have come either from an elective abortion or a spontaneous miscarriage.76
It should be stressed that the cells which are being used now to grow this vaccine are cells which are descended from the cells originally sourced from the foetus. Thus, while their lineage can be traced back to the foetus, the cells in use today are not the cells from the foetus. Further, the vaccine itself does not contain cells or DNA pieces which are recognisably human. The cells are killed when the virus grows in them, and the process of vaccine purification removes cell debris as well as any growth reagents.
If ChAdOx1 is ethically compromised, what should be done by religious leaders and other people like myself who are concerned about this?
First of all, we should make known our moral objection to ethically compromised vaccines, and lobby governments, researchers, and healthcare systems to prepare and make available vaccines which are not ethically compromised. At the time of writing, the World Health Organisation has identified 169 candidate vaccines, 30 of which are already undergoing clinical trials.77 Could the Australian government sign a letter of intent with another research team, so an ethically uncompromised vaccine could also be produced in Australia?
Second, religious leaders and people like myself also have an educative role to play—that is, a role in forming consciences about this issue. Part of this role is educating about the existence of, and problems with, ethically compromised vaccines.
Another part of this role is helping people to decide what to do if only an ethically compromised COVID-19 vaccine is available. Using this vaccine would involve what Catholic ethics calls very remote mediate material cooperation with the original elective abortion. Our educative role helps people to see that this very remote cooperation does not involve condoning abortion, and also does not potentially encourage further abortions. Our educative role also involves helping people to recognise the possibly very serious consequences of not being vaccinated against COVID-19. For if we are not vaccinated, we could catch the virus, infect others, and possibly cause their deaths. All up, our educative role helps people to see that if only an ethically compromised COVID-19 vaccine exists, the only truly pro-life decision is to receive the vaccine so as to save lives.
Finally, there is one thing which religious leaders and people like myself must not do. If only an ethically compromised COVID-19 vaccine exists, we must not in any way encourage or support people to refuse to be vaccinated. On this matter, I note that on social media, Archbishop Anthony Fisher, the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, recently stated,78 “I have not, nor would I, call for Catholics to boycott the vaccine if it became available.”79
While vaccines stimulate the body’s own immune system (active immunity), another possibility is using antibodies already made by immune systems of those who have recovered from the virus (passive immunity). The two products under development are called convalescent plasma and hyperimmune globulin. Such passive immunity treatments have been used for the other nasty virus that came from a benign bat virus, Ebola. One advantage of passive immunity is its immediate effect, while active immunity takes a week or two to develop. But passive immunity is really a stop-gap measure to save lives in the absence of a vaccine. We really don’t want an ongoing supply of people recovering from the disease; we would like people to avoid getting the disease in the first place!
“Bill Gates supports vaccination to reduce population growth”
This is a very misleading half truth. One can disagree with Gates that the world is overpopulated—and I do. But it doesn’t mean that bearing false witness is acceptable. Here is the reality. Gates wants to reduce population growth (true). Gates supports vaccination as a means to this end (true). BUT Gates has repeatedly and clearly stated that vaccines save children’s lives. How can all these statements be true? Actually, they can be reconciled, and Gates has explained this repeatedly. One doesn’t need to agree with his reasoning, but one should not misrepresent it. He has repeatedly given the following argument (given in schematic form):
- Overpopulation is a problem (false)
- Poor people in poor countries have children partly to support them in old age (arguable)
- Child mortality is high (true for most of human history)
- So parents have lots of children to make sure that at least some survive to adulthood (possible)
- Vaccination lowers child mortality (true, and Bill Gates says this over and over)
- Therefore parents will not need to have so many children, since vaccinated kids will survive (this is his argument, again stated many times).
- Therefore Gates supports vaccination as a way both to reduce child mortality and to reduce population growth, and the above explains how they are not contradictory.
“The HPV vaccine encourages sexual immorality”
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths among women. Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes nearly all cases. “The causal role of human papillomavirus infections in cervical cancer has been documented beyond reasonable doubt.”80 It is also likely that HPV has a role for prostate cancer, although the researchers say this is merely “highly likely” rather than “conclusive” as with cervical cancer.81 Thus an HPV vaccine that targets the strains of HPV involved in genital warts should drastically lower cancer deaths:
Like all vaccines, these HPV vaccines are not foolproof. They do not protect against all of the 100-plus types of HPV. But both vaccines are nearly 100% effective in preventing disease caused by high-risk strains of HPV—HPV 16 and 18—which together account for 70% of all cervical cancers, as well as many cancers of the vagina and vulva.82
The HPV can be spread through sexual contact. So one objection to the vaccine is that it encourages sexual immorality. However, it does no such thing. It might lower the risk of one of the physical consequences, but that is hardly the same as encouraging it. For comparison, seatbelts will protect drivers to some extent in a crash, but it doesn’t mean that seatbelts encourage reckless driving, therefore we should not install them. Also, HPV can affect virgins.83 Also, even though it’s a terrible thing to think about, what if your child were raped by someone HPV-positive? Even the moral hazard argument is unsound—we don’t want our kids to have sex before marriage, but if they make a mistake, do we want them punished with HPV or cervical cancer? And, since one does not need to have intercourse to get HPV, shouldn’t we do everything to protect them, regardless?
“The government should not force people to be vaccinated”
This argument confuses two separate questions:
- Is something good (or bad)?
- Should the government mandate (or prohibit) it?
I.e. one can argue that something is good, without saying that the government should make it compulsory, whether vaccines, seatbelts, bicycle helmets, etc. And one can argue that tobacco, alcohol, recreational drugs are harmful, without arguing that the government should punish people for taking them.
For this article, I am not making an argument for the role of the government. Rather, I am noting that there is a logical distinction between “vaccines are good” and “vaccines should be compulsory”—the first does not entail the second.
- Vaccination is one of the most important advances that God has allowed us to discover to alleviate the effects of the Curse.
- Vaccines train our immune system (which was designed by God to function in such a way) with dead or weakened germs, so it is ready to destroy invading live germs.
- Many diseases have been eliminated or drastically reduced by vaccines. There is no plausible alternative explanation for why particular diseases decreased so drastically at different times that correlate to when the particular vaccines became widespread. Further, the same diseases flare up in places with low vaccination rates. And such results are totally expected given what we know of how immunity works.
- Nothing is 100% safe. However, the safety of vaccination should not be compared with an impossible perfection, but with the (un)safety of non-vaccination.
- Vaccines are accused of containing dangerous poisons. But whether anything is poisonous depends on the amount. The ‘toxic substances’ in vaccines are many times lower than the toxic dose. Some of the ‘toxins’ exist naturally in the body in far greater amounts than the vaccines. Others occur in much higher amounts in well known foods.
- Vaccines cannot cause the disease, since they are made from dead germs. Some people get sick with the illness being vaccinated against just after vaccination, but before their immune system has been trained, so falsely think that the vaccination caused the illness. This is the post hoc ergo proper hoc fallacy. In other cases it is because it is a different illness (common cold rather than influenza, e.g.).
- There is no statistically significant evidence that vaccines cause autism, and much evidence to indicate that they do not.
- A claim that “We should trust God to heal us” fails for two reasons. First, such claimants would generally bandage wounds and wear seatbelts, rather than trust God to protect them from harm regardless. Second, given the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God, He is healing us through the wisdom He gave to the vaccine’s discoverers and prescribers.
- Vaccines do not have parts of aborted babies. True, some vaccines against viral diseases are cultured on cell lines from two babies aborted over 40 years ago, but no babies are being aborted today to make vaccines. Morally, it would be better to use an alternative, if it is available, but if not, it would be no different from using the organs of a person killed by sinful means—as long as the beneficiary played no part in the killing.
Overall summary statement (representing the position of CMI ministries generally)
Vaccination of minors, in most jurisdictions, remains a parent’s choice. While there are real and immediate risks associated with vaccination, these are small overall, and the long-term risks of non-vaccination are much greater. Therefore, it is our opinion at this point in time that people should not forego vaccinations unless there is a sound medical reason for this following discussion with their own professional medical adviser. In fact, we urge people to consult their own doctors regarding any decision involving their own or their family’s health; none of this article should be construed as individual-specific medical advice.
References and notes
- Sarfati, J., Miracles and science, creation.com/miracles, 1 Sep 2006 Return to text.
- Carter, R. and Sarfati, J., Why CMI rejects ‘conspiracy’ theorizing, creation.com/conspiracy, 13 Apr 2017. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., Should creationists accept quantum mechanics? J. Creation 26(1):116–123, 2012. Return to text.
- See the graphs by YEC nuclear chemist Dr Jay Wile, For some diseases, it was vaccination, not sanitation, blog.drwile.com/?p=12101, 3 Feb 2014. Return to text.
- Wile, J.L. and Sommerville, E.A., Vaccines are incredibly effective at preventing disease, drwile.com/lnkpages/render.asp?vac_effective, 2009. Return to text.
- Dunlop, R., 9 vaccination myths busted. With science! mamamia.com.au/news/vaccination-myths-busted-by-science-cheat-sheet-on-immunisation, 12 November 2011. See also the very thorough article answering many medical and theological arguments against vaccination: Herrell, H., Should I Vaccinate My Child? howardisms.com, 5 May 2018. Return to text.
- Offit, P.A., The Anti-Vaccination Epidemic: Whooping cough, mumps and measles are making an alarming comeback, thanks to seriously misguided parents, online.wsj.com/articles/paul-a-offit-the-anti-vaccination-epidemic-1411598408,24 Sep 2014. Dr Offit is a top paediatrician and vaccine expert. Return to text.
- Cockburn, P., Polio: The deadly summer of 1956, The Independent, 1999, republished as independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/polio-the-deadly-summer-of-1956-2117253.html, 27 Oct 2010. Return to text.
- Parker, A., Growing Up Unvaccinated: I had the healthiest childhood imaginable. And yet I was sick all the time. slate.com/human-interest/2014/01/growing-up-unvaccinated-a-healthy-lifestyle-couldnt-prevent-many-childhood-illnesses.html, 6 January 2014. Return to text.
- This was variable: low of 3,349 deaths during the 1986-87 flu season to a high of 48,614 in 2003-04, Estimates of deaths associated with seasonal influenza—United States, 1976–2007, cdc.gov, 27 August 2010. Return to text.
- Ianelli, V., Deaths from flu, 2013–2014 flu season, pediatrics.about.com, 14 Oct 2014. Return to text.
- Legge, A. et al., Rates and determinants of seasonal influenza vaccination in pregnancy and association with neonatal outcomes, Canadian Medical Association Journal, 6 Jan 2014, doi:10.1503/cmaj.130499. Return to text.
- Fell, D.B. et al., H1N1 Influenza Vaccination During Pregnancy and Fetal and Neonatal Outcomes, American Journal of Public Health 102(6):e33-e40, 2012, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300606. Return to text.
- Wile, J.L., Flu shot during pregnancy produces unexpected benefits, blog.drwile.com/?p=12645, 3 Jul 2014. Return to text.
- Known as post-herpetic neuralgia, more common in older patients. Return to text.
- Vaccine Information Statements: Chickenpox, cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/vis/vis-statements/varicella.html. Return to text.
- Chickenpox (Varicella) Vaccine, WebMD, webmd.com/children/vaccines/chickenpox-varicella-vaccine. Return to text.
- Complications of Measles, cdc.gov/measles/about/complications.html. Return to text.
- Craig, A.T., Heywood, A.E., Worth, H., Measles epidemic in Samoa and other Pacific islands, Lancet 20(3):273–275, 1 Mar 2020. Return to text.
- Gold, G.E., MMR vaccine appears to confer strong protection from COVID-19: Few deaths from SARS-CoV-2 in highly vaccinated populations, researchgate.net, last updated 10 May 2020. This aligns with the research of Danish immunologist Christine Stabell Benn, whose research suggests that vaccines with live attenuated pathogens confer wider immunity than just against those pathogens. See Benn, C.S. and 3 others, Revaccination with live attenuated vaccines confer additional beneficial nonspecific effects on overall survival: A review, EBioMedicine 10:312–317, 15 Jul 2016. Return to text.
- Devlin, H., Measles wipes out immune system’s memory, study finds: Scientists say threat posed by measles is ‘much greater than we previously imagined’, Guardian, 31 Oct 2019; citing 1. Petrova, V.N. and 13 others, Incomplete genetic reconstitution of B cell pools contributes to prolonged immunosuppression after measles, Science Immunology 4(41):eaay6125, 1 Nov 2019 | doi:10.1126/sciimmunol.aay6125, 2. Mina, M.J. and 14 others, Measles virus infection diminishes preexisting antibodies that offer protection from other pathogens, Science 366(6465):599–606, 1 Nov 2019 | doi:10.1126/science.aay6485. Return to text.
- Wile, J.L., Vaccines are very safe, drwile.com/lnkpages/render.asp?vac_safe#r1, 2009, Return to text.
- Budnick, L.D. and Ross, D.A., Bathtub-related drownings in the United States, 1979–1981, American J. Public Health 75:630–633, 1985. Return to text.
- When Western governments first began to introduce seatbelt legislation, some ‘anti’ campaigners pointed to situations in which people had even been trapped inside a burning vehicle from a malfunctioning belt. But the risk-reward tradeoff was and is overwhelmingly in favour of seat belt usage, i.e. while seat belts will kill/injure some people, they will save far more lives than that. The analogy to vaccination is clear. Airbags have also been known to injure some people in certain circumstances, but on the evidence one would much rather have them than not. Return to text.
- It is actually a mid-19th–century invention. Cedric M. Smith, Origin and Uses of Primum Non Nocere — Above All, Do No Harm! Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 45(4): 371–377, Apr 2005 | doi:10.1177/0091270004273680. Return to text.
- Compare the self-contradictory arguments that atheopaths have used against Christianity and biblical creation, Sarfati, J., The illogic of anti-creationism, Creation 35(4):6, 2013; creation.com/anti-creationism-illogic. Return to text.
- Bergman, J., Understanding poisons from a creationist perspective, J. Creation 11(3):353–360, 1997; creation.com/poison. Return to text.
- The dose required to kill half the members of a tested population in a given duration. Return to text.
- Environmental Health & Safety, Safety In The Workplace, University of Florida, ehs.ufl.edu/programs/bio/toxins/toxin-table. Return to text.
- ‘Thio’ means that a sulphur atom has been substituted for an oxygen. Return to text.
- The mainly-USA term ‘thimerosal’ is the result of metathesis or switching of sounds in the word: the ‘o’ and ‘mer’. Return to text.
- Hence the term oligodynamic effect, from Greek oligos = few. It seems to be common among chalcophile metals like mercury, silver and copper, i.e. with an affinity for sulfur, so they disrupt vital sulfur-containing bacterial enzymes. Return to text.
- Jamieson W.A. and Powell, H.M., Merthiolate as a preservative for biological products, American J. Hygiene 14:218–224, 1931. Return to text.
- Thiomersal (C₉H₉HgNaO₂S) has a relative molecular mass of 404.81, and mercury’s relative atomic mass is 200.592 or about 50%. Return to text.
- This assumes a 2.5 ounce (71 gram) serving, and tuna has an average of 0.427 parts per million of mercury. Mercury in canned tuna still a concern: New tests reinforce a need for some people to limit consumption, Consumer Reports, January 2011; consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/january/food/mercury-in-tuna/overview/index.htm Return to text.
- Note in original: Powell H.M. and Jamieson, W.A., Merthiolate as a germicide, American Journal of Hygiene 13:296–310, 1931. Return to text.
- Baker, J.P., Mercury, Vaccines, and Autism: One Controversy, Three Histories, American Journal of Public Health 98(2):244–53, 2008 | doi:10.2105/AJPH.2007.113159. Return to text.
- Ball, L.K., Ball, R., and Pratt, R.D., An assessment of thimerosal use in childhood vaccines, Pediatrics 107(5):1147–54, May 2001. Return to text.
- Pichichero M.E. et al., Mercury concentrations and metabolism in infants receiving vaccines containing thiomersal: a descriptive study, Lancet 360(937):1737–1741, 30 Nov 2002 | doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(02)11682-5. Return to text.
- This undesirable outcome arises from the perverse incentives involved. If something is not banned and it can be even remotely connected to harmful effects, the bureaucrats can be hauled before Congress and character-assassinated by the media. But if they ban this product that might have saved many lives, very few will link the lost lives to the absence of this product. So bureaucracies always tend towards banning over approval. See Milton Friedman, [FDA =] “Frustrating Drug Advancement”, Newsweek, 8 Jan 1973, p. 49. Also, when they do finally approve something while bragging it will save 100,000 lives per year, no one bothers to ask about the million lives lost while they held this product up for 10 years. Return to text.
- ‘Firing the rascals’ will make no difference, because the same incentives will apply. Expecting a change in outcomes without changes in incentives is like expecting a cat to bark. See Milton Friedman, Barking Cats, Newsweek, 19 Feb 1973, p. 70. The only way to change things is to make it profitable for even the wrong people to do the right things. Return to text.
- Offit, P.A., Thimerosal and Vaccines — A Cautionary Tale, New England Journal of Medicine 357:1278–1279, 27 Sep 2007 | doi:10.1056/NEJMp078187. Return to text.
- Thimerosal in Vaccines, FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/SafetyAvailability/VaccineSafety/ucm096228#t1, 18 Jun 2014. Return to text.
- Description of how diphtheria and tetanus toxoids are prepared, fda.gov/downloads/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/UCM142732.pdf Return to text.
- Do vaccines contain formaldehyde? Vaccine Information Center, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, vec.chop.edu/service/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-safety/vaccine-ingredients/formaldehyde.html, Apr 2013. Return to text.
- The Toxin Gambit Part 1: Formaldehyde, Just the Vax Blog, justthevax.blogspot.com.au/2009/05/toxin-gambit-part-1-formaldehyde.html, 11 May 2009. Return to text.
- Report on Carcinogens, Thirteenth Edition: Formaldehyde, National Toxicology Program, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Return to text.
- Formaldehyde, International Programme on Chemical Safety, World Health Orgnization, inchem.org/documents/ehc/ehc/ehc89.htm#SubSectionNumber:5.1.4 1989. Return to text.
- What about people who get a seasonal flu vaccine and still get sick with flu-like symptoms? in: Misconceptions about Seasonal Flu and Flu Vaccines, cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/misconceptions.htm. Return to text.
- Haelle, T., The truth about the flu shot: It may not always prevent illness, but it will reduce risk of death: Why get a flu vaccination that doesn’t always prevent the flu? A lot of reasons, as it turns out, nbcnews.com, 7 Mar 2018. Return to text.
- New CDC study shows flu vaccine reduces severe outcomes in hospitalized patients, cdc.gov, 25 May 2017.Return to text.
- Sathyanarayana Rao, T.E., Andrade, C., The MMR vaccine and autism: Sensation, refutation, retraction, and fraud, Indian J Psychiatry 53(2):95–96, April–June 2011 | doi:10.4103/0019-5545.82529. Return to text.
- Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 14 May 2004; iom.edu/Reports/2004/Immunization-Safety-Review-Vaccines-and-Autism.aspx Return to text.
- Taylor, L.E., Swerdfeger, A.L., and Eslick, G.D., Vaccines are not associated with autism: An evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies, Vaccine 32:3623–3629, 2014 | doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.04.085. Return to text.
- autismspeaks.org/what-autism/faq, accessed 21 Mar 2018. Return to text.
- Godlee, F., Smith, J., Marcovitch, H., ‘Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent’, British Medical Journal 342:c7452, 2011 | doi:10.1136/bmj.c7452. Return to text.
- DeStefano, F. and Shimabukuro, T.T., The MMR Vaccine and Autism, Annual Review of Virology 6:585-600, Sep 2019 | doi:10.1146/annurev-virology-092818-015515. Return to text.
- Andrew B., comment on Jonathan Sarfati, Ebola disease: the result of the Fall, creation.com/ebola-fall, 25 Oct 2014. Return to text.
- Salmon, D.A., Health consequences of religious and philosophical exemptions from immunization laws: individual and societal risk of measles, Journal of the American Medical Association 282(1):47–53, 7 Jul 1999. Return to text.
- Too many vaccines? What you should know. Children’s Hospital of Philadephia, Volume 4, Winter 2018; media.chop.edu. Return to text.
- Loughlin, A.M. et al., Causality assessment of adverse events reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), Vaccine 30(50):7253–9, 26 Nov 2012 | doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.09.074. Return to text.
- McGrath, K., Vaccine injury stories: the sacred cows of the Internet? voicesforvaccines.org. Return to text.
- Kluger, J., Here’s how the anti-vaxxers’ strongest argument falls apart, Time, 19 Aug 2015; time.com. Return to text.
- Wadman, M., Vaccines on trial: U.S. court separates fact from fiction, sciencemag.org, 27 Apr 2017 | doi:10.1126/science.aal1109. Return to text.
- See also Bergman, J., Did God make pathogenic viruses? J. Creation 13(1):115–125, 1999; creation.com/viruses. Return to text.
- ‘The Vaccine Mom’, Descendants of human fetal cells in the making of vaccines, thevaccinemom.com, 7 Feb 2015. The author is Taryn (Harvey-)Chapman, a medical molecular biologist who works as the immunologist for a team of biomedical engineers focusing on creating new vaccine technology. She started ‘The Vaccine Mom’ after her own children were born, and of course then vaccinated, so she could communicate up-to-date vaccine research in a way that most concerned parents can understand. Return to text.
- Economists use the term ‘moral hazard’ when a particular policy provides an incentive for wrong or counter-productive behaviour. For example, if welfare policies mean that a woman is better off financially being a single mother than marrying the working father of her child, then they will incentivize single motherhood and discourage the biblical ideal of a family with a married mother and father. Economists Thomas Sowell (1930– ) and Walter Williams (1936– ), themselves ‘African-American’, argue that such policies have done what slavery, overt racism, Jim Crow laws, and segregation could not: destroy the black family in America. Return to text.
- Sarfati, J., Vaccines and abortion? creation.com/abortion-vaccine, 24 Mar 2012. Return to text.
- Jay Wile makes a similar argument in his article Vaccines DO NOT Contain Fetal Tissue, drwile.com/lnkpages/render.asp?vac_abortion, 2009, which independently came to the same conclusions as mine. See also Return to text.
- Grabenstein, J.D., Moral considerations with certain viral vaccines, Christianity and Pharmacy 2(2):3–6, 1999; immunizationinfo.org/files/nnii/files/Moral_Considerations_With_Certain_Viral_Vaccines.pdf Return to text.
- Note in original: “This is particularly true in the case of vaccination against German measles, because of the danger of Congenital Rubella Syndrome. This could occur, causing grave congenital malformations in the foetus, when a pregnant woman enters into contact, even if it is brief, with children who have not been immunized and are carriers of the virus. In this case, the parents who did not accept the vaccination of their own children become responsible for the malformations in question, and for the subsequent abortion of foetuses, when they have been discovered to be malformed.” Return to text.
- Moral reflections on vaccines prepared from cells derived from aborted human foetuses, Pontifical Academy for Life, for the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, 9 Jun 2005; immunize.org/concerns/vaticandocument.htm; italics in original. Return to text.
- Carter, J. and Smith, J., Explainer: Vaccines and aborted human fetal tissue, erlc.com, 5 Feb 2015. Return to text.
- Abbamonte, J., Which COVID-19 vaccines are being developed with fetal cell linesderived from aborted babies? Moral guidance on using COVID-19 vaccines developed with human fetal cell lines, Population Research Institute, pop.org, 4 Jun 2020. The PRI is a pro-life group devoted to exposing the myth of overpopulation. Return to text.
- CSL to manufacture and supply University of Queensland and Oxford University vaccine candidates for Australia, csl.com, 6 Sep 2020. Return to text.
- Austriaco, N.P.G., Moral guidance on using COVID-19 vaccines developed with human fetal cell lines, thepublicdiscourse.com, 26 May 2020. Return to text.
- WHO, Draft landscape of COVID-19 candidate vaccines, who.int, accessed 3 Sep 2020. Return to text.
- WHO, Fisher, A.; cited in: McCulloch, D., Religious leaders sound vaccine warning, youngwitness.com.au, 25 Aug 2020. Return to text.
- McGovern, K., Catholic ethics and the problem of an ethically compromised COVID-19 vaccine, abc.net.au, 25 Aug 2020. Return to text.
- Bosch, F.X. and 4 others, The causal relation between human papillomavirus and cervical cancer, J. clinical Pathology 55(4):244–265, Apr 2002 | doi:10.1136/jcp.55.4.244. Return to text.
- Lawson, J.S., Glenn, W.K. Evidence for a causal role by human papillomaviruses in prostate cancer—a systematic review, Infectious Agents and Cancer :15: Article 41, 14 Jul 2020. Return to text.
- HPV Vaccines, WebMD.com, accessed 31 July 2020. Return to text.
- Questioning whether to get your child the HPV vaccine? Read this, shotofprevention.com, 21 Jan 2016. Return to text.