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After-jab exhaustion

MagazineJanuary 1995 (Vol. 5 Issue 10)After-jab exhaustion

Thousands of UK children are now being injected with the measles/rubella vaccine, regardless of previous immunizations and discounting any natural immunity acquired through having these diseases

Thousands of UK children are now being injected with the measles/rubella vaccine, regardless of previous immunizations and discounting any natural immunity acquired through having these diseases. We are told in leaflets and by countless experts that

My 27 year old son developed ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis), also known as CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) amongst many other names, after an atypical case of measles aged 12.

Stephen reacted badly to the measles vaccine when he was given it at a year old with repeated and prolonged screaming fits.

Although very alert as a young baby, he was late in walking and even later with speech (two and three years respectively). At 10, he caught measles, recovering normally. Two years on he contracted glandular fever, treated with antibiotics; within two months he had another bout of measles, this time atypical, and ME followed.

In his case, the measles immunization offered no life long protection; instead a later double bout of the illness led to chronic debilitating disease.

But how common are long term or immediate ME problems due to immunization generally? Most of the existing literature on the disorder focuses that it is caused by infections, particularly entero and (to a lesser extent) Epstein Barr viruses (glandular fever). Early accounts of epidemic outbreaks describe it as abortive and non paralytic poliomyelitis, affecting mainly hospital staff, people in institutions or military establishments, largely among women. But recent publications also mention the involvement of toxins, vaccines and other drugs in some cases in the cause of this or a similar disorder, sometimes in its onset.

For instance, one study mentions cases where vaccination against tetanus, cholera, flu and typhoid were associated with onset of the syndrome, without infection (The Lancet 1988: 1286-87). Another found that 9 per cent of cases started after immunization or surgery (Postgrad Med J, 1990; 66: 526-30). WCR Weir's report in the Royal Society of Medicine's Medical Literature: Infectious Diseases (1992; 61: 3-8) mentions various vaccines as precipitating the disorder.

In a major publication documenting papers presented at the 1990 first World Symposium on ME held in Cambridge, plus other available material (BM Hyde. et al. The Clinical and Scientific Basis of Myalgic Encephalomyeltis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The Nightingale Research Foundation, Ottawa 1992), one group of researchers found that teachers, health care and social workers, that is, people in close contact with infections and with many routine immunizations, were more prone to the disorder. Some epidemic outbreaks occurred after individuals were exposed to prophylactic shots against diphtheria, whooping cough and smallpox, the greatest risk being 8-14 days post inoculation.

In the same publication, CM Poser, examining chronic fatigue postviral syndrome (CFPVS), multiple sclerosis (MS) and chronic disseminated encephalomyelitis (CDEM) commented: "It is well recognized that in all three conditions a viral infection or an immunization may precede a bout of illness. The latter is of particular significance in CFPVS, which has been reported after immunization against tetanus, cholera, influenza and typhoid, and more recently after vaccination against hepatitis B."

Again, in the same book, HH Fudenberg states that the problems encountered by sufferers of ME are partly due to system dysfunction caused by antigen stimulation (the foreign bodies that prompt our antibody responses) by incomplete, dead (and/or perhaps latent) viruses.

At the international conference on CFS, held at Dublin last May, three papers documented the involvement of vaccines in this disorder. E Salit showed that of 134 patients, 10 (7.5 per cent) of CFS patients had immunizations within three months prior to becoming ill. BM Hyde et al found that over 3 per cent of 1826 ME/CFS patients fell ill immediately after immunization. In my own study, 12.4 per cent of 225 ME/CFS subjects (81 per cent with a diagnosis of ME) were vaccinated in the month before ME onset, as were 16 per cent of a separate group of young people under 25, diagnosed or believed to have ME (over an extended period this rate could rise to 25 per cent).

Complications appear to occur when a) vaccines "interact" with a dormant or incubating infection; b) in subjects where immune system may be impaired (eg after prolonged steroid treatment); c) other "allergy problems" exist.

I, too, found a link with ME and those professions regularly exposed to immunization. 45 per cent of 157 nonstudent cases came from health care and teaching professions.

Finally, the National Task Force Report on CFS/PVFS/ME, largely funded by the UK's Department of Health and published on 13 September of this year, acknowledges immunizations as trigger factors and as causes of relapses, among others.

Complications may arise due to an exhausted immune system, or depressed cell mediated immunity response (that is, the immune system response in the cells) during a persistent viral infection. The ABPI Data Sheet Compendium (1994/5) documents depressed cell mediated immunity for up to four weeks or longer after immunization with the new measles vaccines.

No one knows how many new cases of ME will result from this new vaccine campaign; there are bound to be some and possibly many. An even greater query may hang over the children's health in future years.


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