The Politics of Vaccination

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Authors’ note: When we wrote this nearly three years ago, we knew the vaccination controversy wasn’t going away, but we had no idea it would become such an issue in the already-bubbling (and babbling) 2016 presidential campaign. The measles outbreak that largely began at Disneyland (!) in mid-December has now led, as of the end of January, to more than 100 cases diagnosed in 14 states.

Both New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie and Kentucky’s Republican Senator Rand Paul landed in the thick of the fight this week with comments that suggested vaccination should be a matter of parental choice. Christie walked his words back; Paul at first seemed to double down, but then showed up at the US Capitol physician’s office for a booster shot and a photo op, proclaiming, “I think the science is clear that if you compare the risks of taking a vaccine to the ill effects of taking a vaccine, it’s overwhelming.”

As Jeremy W. Peters and Richard Perez-Pena wrote in The New York Times: “The politics of medicine, morality and free will have collided in an emotional debate over vaccines and the government’s place in requiring them, posing a challenge for Republicans who find themselves in the familiar but uncomfortable position of reconciling modern science with the skepticism of their core conservative voters.”

The efficacy of vaccines is past dispute, the theories linking vaccination to autism and other ills debunked. It’s important that our kids get the shots they need, not only for themselves but also for all the other children with whom they share classrooms, playgrounds and everything contagious that floats in the open air. While steadfastly maintaining our position of non-partisan progressivism, we agree with this tweet from Hillary Clinton: “The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork.”

Melinda Anderman of Duxbury holds her four and a half-year-old daughter, Margaret, as she gets an H1N1 vaccination during a flu clinic in Montpelier, Vt. November 2009. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

Melinda Anderman of Duxbury holds her four and a half-year-old daughter, Margaret, as she gets an H1N1 vaccination during a flu clinic in Montpelier, Vt. November 2009. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot, File)

We haven’t even turned the page on the controversy over contraceptives, health care and religious freedom when another thorny one arises involving personal conscience and public health. A flurry of stories over the past few days coincided with seeing a movie that inspires more than passing interest in their subject.

Steven Soderbergh’s film Contagion came out a few months ago and was inexplicably and completely frozen out of the Oscar nominations. But it is the most plausible experience of a global pandemic plague you’re likely to see until the real thing strikes. With outstanding performances from an ensemble cast that includes Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow and Laurence Fishburne, Contagion is stark, beautiful in its own terrifying way, and all-too-believable. The story tracks the swift progress of a deadly airborne virus from Hong Kong to Minneapolis and Tokyo to London — from a handful of peanuts to a credit card to the cough of a stranger on a subway. Rarely does a film issue such an inescapable invitation to think: it could happen; that could be us. What would we do?

With Contagion making such a powerful impression, for several days news articles seemed to keep popping up about contagious disease and the conflict between religious beliefs and immunization. There was nothing new about the basics: All fifty states require some specific vaccinations for kids, yet all of them grant exemptions for medical reasons – say, for a child with cancer. Almost all of them grant religious exemptions. And twenty states allow exemptions for personal, moral, or other beliefs.

According to the February 15 edition of The Wall Street Journal, a number of pediatricians are dropping families from their practices when the parents refuse immunization for their kids. “In a study of Connecticut pediatricians published last year,” the paper reported, “some 30% of 133 doctors said they had asked a family to leave their practice for vaccine refusal, and a recent survey of 909 Midwestern pediatricians found that 21% reported discharging families for the same reason.” They add:

“By comparison, in 2001 and 2006 about 6% of physicians said they ‘routinely’ stopped working with families due to parents’ continued vaccine refusal and 16% ‘sometimes’ dismissed them, according to surveys conducted then by the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

But some parents still fear a link between vaccinations and autism, a possibility science has largely debunked. Some parents just want to be in charge of what’s put into their children’s bodies, as one West Virginia politician puts it. And some parents just don’t trust science, period — a few have even been known to fake religion to avoid vaccinating their kids. So there are many loopholes. But now seven states are considering legislation to make it even easier for mothers and fathers to spare their children from vaccinations, especially on religious grounds.

In Oregon, according to a story by Jennifer Anderson in The Portland Tribune, the number of kindergartners with religious exemptions is up from 3.7 percent to 5.6 percent in just four years, and continuing to rise. This has public health officials clicking their calculators and keeping their eye on what’s called “herd immunity.” A certain number of any population group needs to have been vaccinated — 80% for most diseases, 92 percent for whooping cough – to maintain the ability of the whole population — “the herd” — to resist the spread of a disease.

Ms. Anderson offers the example of what used to be called “the German measles” – rubella. All it takes are five unvaccinated kids in a class of 25 for the herd immunity to break down, creating an opportunity for the disease to spread to younger siblings and other medically vulnerable people who can’t be vaccinated. If you were traveling to Europe between 2009 and 2011, you may remember warnings about the huge outbreak of measles there, brought on by a failure “to vaccinate susceptible populations.”

Here in the United States, several recent outbreaks of measles have been traced to pockets of unvaccinated children in states that allow personal belief exemptions. The Reuters news service recently reported 13 confirmed cases of measles in central Indiana. Two of them were people who showed up to party two days before the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Patriots and Giants fans back east were alerted. So far, no news is good news.

But this is serious business, made more so by complacency. Older generations remember when measles killed up to 500 people a year before we started vaccinating against them in 1963. The great flu pandemic of 1918 killed ten times more Americans than died in the Great World War that ended that year and took the lives of as many as forty million globally. Our generation was also stalked by small pox, polio, and whooping cough before there were vaccinations.

In a country where few remember those diseases, it’s easy to think, “What’s to worry?” But as the movie Contagion so forcefully and hauntingly reminds us, the earth is now flat. Seven billion people live on it, and our human herd moves on a conveyer belt of perpetual mobility, so that a virus can travel as swiftly as a voice from one cell phone to another.

When and if a contagion strikes, we can’t count on divine intervention to spare us. That’s when you want a darn good scientist in a research lab. We’ll need all the help we can get from knowledge and her offspring.

Watch a video version of this essay.

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  • The Cynical Pharmacist

    It would be one thing if only the child whose parents refused him/her vaccination suffered. But, that refusal translates into someone else’s child potentially being harmed.

    There lies the rub that should make required vaccinations mandatory, regardless of any “individual” beliefs.

  • guest

    so disappointed Bill.. used to look up to you..   For all those that vaccinate and are afraid of getting ill from an unvaxed person.. you just admitted your precious vaccine doesn’t work. Yet you will be gullible enough to say ‘but, but herd immunity’ and just repeat ad nauseum the fear tactics ….    ummm, isn’t the vaccine supposed to protect an individual?   If you get the vaccine, and it really REALLY works, then you have nothing to worry about from the unvaccinated person.. even if they have the virus..  Aren’t you protected by antibodies and immunity?  This is about money and profit, not health.   Did you know that in 2007 (it might have been 2008) the WRONG strain(s) were in the annual flu shot (the flu has different ‘strains’, thus the reason to need a new flu shot every year)…  SO that means that there was ZERO protection that year against the strains of flu going around…  Of course that year there were millions of people that died of the flu, because the vaccine was uselesss…   RIGHT?  Wrong.  The flu deaths were the same that year, as the year before..  Think about that.

  • Anonymous

    Bill–please do more homework! Vaccines in their current form are still questionable science, and the intensity with which they are perpetrated upon us is rife with  conflicts of interest (as so much of modern medical “science” is).  There have been no government studies as to their efficacy. Many doctors and health professionals refuse to have them themselves–why?? What do they know?

    Vaccinations have tripled in the past few decades and disease/disorders have increased along with it.  The number of vaccination related deaths, injuries, and subsequent disabilities is too great a price to pay for a procedure that is still not “proven science”.  Please, please, please spend some time with sites like,, Then shoot another show with someone like Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center and others who are on top of it.  Vaccines are being foisted upon us in a way that is too suspicious and way too similar to the unfounded ruse that terrorism continues to be this century.

  • guest

    but… if you are already vaccinated you have nothing to worry about?  right?  don’t they work?  

  • A Mom Who Vaxes

     Duh, “guest”–you just don’t get it, do you? No, vaccinations are not 100% effective. Who has told you that they are? Name something (and by that “something,” I mean provide links to peer-reviewed, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trials on the subject) that is completely effective, including acupuncture, chelation, ear-candling, chiropractic, homeopathy, or any number of shaky-science “solutions.” Second, there are a number of people–e.g., the immunocompromised (those with AIDS, cancer, etc.), those too young to be vaccinated, those with allergies to egg (in the case of the influenza vaccination)–who cannot be vaccinated. Thus, getting vaccinated is as much about protecting your fellow human as it is about protecting yourself and your family! Thank goodness many people still have the critical-thinking skills to make the right choice and vaccinate.

  • A Mom Who Vaxes

    Wish there was a “dislike” button here. Anyway, “bignosia,” your arguments are a steaming heap of fallacies that I can’t let slide by, lest the gullible read your anecdotes and buy into it. But I’ll only tackle the most egregious comment you’ve made, as I haven’t got hours to argue with you. “There have been no government studies as to their efficacy.” Try these data for great evidence-based starting points (on a number of vaccines):
    (1.) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 
    (2.) The College of Physicians of Philadelphia: 
    (3.) A tidbit here (, on influenza, which states “In a four-year randomized, placebo-controlled study
    of inactivated and live influenza vaccines among children aged 1–15
    years, vaccine efficacy was estimated at 77% against influenza A (H3N2)
    and 91% against influenza A (H1N1) virus infection (Neuzil et al.,
    2001). A two-year study of children aged 6–24 months found that the
    vaccine was 66% effective in preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza
    in one year of the study (Hoberman et al., 2003).”
    (4.)  The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia:
    (5.) The Immunization Action Coalition:
    (6.) The World Health Organization (position papers on various vaccines):
    (7.)Every Child by Two:
    Numbers 5 and 7 you might find particularly helpful, as they list quite a few “government studies” and data from other researchers and organizations as well. They also talk about several vaccines.
    So, bignosia, in the future, please provide adequate citations to back up your rambling anecdotes–beginning with your comment that “many” medical professionals “refuse” to be vaccinated.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Mom–I care about your kids’ health, too. The quandry on this issue is truly uncomfortable at this time with so much conflicting info as well as concealed conflicts of interests.

    The CDC is hardly a trustworthy source for such data given that the revolving door with Big Pharma and the vaccine industry–just one overt example:

    Evidence continues to mount indicating that vaccinated children are more disease prone than unvaccinated children. The studies are easy enough to find, but you can start here:

    be careful

  • guest 33

    It would be nice if you actually referred to peer-reviewed journals – that is what was asked of you by a mom who vaxes.   Unless you can do that, you are just looking at people believe in a certain.  By the way, a survey is not scientific research to look at side affects. 

  • guest 33

    Mom who vaxes – great reply –  yes, there are people who can’t be vaccinated for MEDICALLY reasons – they need the herd immunity to help them not get the various diseases.

  • Anonymous

    Know that I’m not categorically against vaccination–just seems like there are too many, too often that are not worth the risks. Surveys, though not scientific research, can indicate noteworthy trends effectively. One trend that is worrisome is conflict of interest. My conviction is that too many kids are over-vaccinated and put at risk unnecessarily for profit. Gov’t mandated vaccines=easy money for Big Pharma. The FDA and CDC are virtually staffed by the industry it is charged to regulate–an industry that is quite skilled with spin and ‘legitimate’ looking damage control. Please do not believe me, but take the time to find out yourself. One does not have to dig very deep to learn that even some ‘peer reviewed studies’ are complete frauds. As always seems to be the case–follow the money.

  • findmyway

    If the government is going to force people to be vaccinated then the profit motive should be removed from the equation. Big pharma makes billions on vaccines and is therefore motivated by more than just public health. If the pharmaceutical companies continue to produce vaccines than they should at least be responsible for their safety. As it is  the federal government protects these companies by paying damages through the federally mandated vaccine court. It is illegal to sue a vaccine maker if your child is injured by a vaccine.

  • Teresa Binstock

    Here are three studies unlikely to be mentioned by major media personnel. Each study is available free online.

    A Positive Association found between Autism Prevalence and Childhood Vaccination uptake across the U.S. Population.

    Delong G.

    J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2011 Jan;74(14):903-16.

    Infant mortality rates regressed against number of vaccine doses
    routinely given: is there a biochemical or synergistic toxicity?

    Miller NZ, Goldman GS.

    Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Sep;30(9):1420-8.

    Do aluminum vaccine adjuvants contribute to the rising prevalence of autism?

    Tomljenovic L, Shaw CA.

    J Inorg Biochem. 2011 Nov;105(11):1489-99. Epub 2011 Aug 23.

  • Mjamesb

    Hi Mom,

    What it boils down to is that I don’t trust the government or profit driven big pharma either.   Big pharma release meds that hurt people and cause law suits all the time.    The money they set aside for the law suits are part of their business model.    Big Pharma loves to get their vaccines on the recommended list as that releases them from a lot of the liability.    Its a fact that the original polio vaccine contained the S40 virus which is linked to cancer and they knowingly gave that to millions of people.     So sorry I don’t trust paid off agencies like the FDA or CDC when it is a revolving door between the regulators and the corporations just like in finance and the military industrial complex.   They would knowingly kill my child if it meant making an extra billion.   As far as pier reviewed argument…who do you think funds these papers???   You think a paper that could cost some company billions of dollars isn’t squashed???  You are naive.

  • j electrolux

    I’m not comfortable having Corporate Power fooling around with my immune system.  I trust the “bugs” more. Besides, I take care of myself nutritionally, mostly avoiding the processed non food loaded with sugar and chemicals that Corporate Power has offered as food. Our immune systems are sometimes referred to as a second brain  and if it is kept strong will protect us reasonably well in life. This is better Science.

  • Seekingthetruth

     “Guest” I notice you didn’t comment on the peer reviewed studies posted above by “Teresa.”  Do you prefer to ignore the science when it is shown to you?

  • Julie Matthews

     Way to go Teresa! I see no one is disputing the science you are posting. Thanks for elevating this discussion to facts.

  • Seekingthetruth

     If you are admitting they are not 100% effective, how “effective” are they?  If they are not 100% effective, how do they protect you? Most outbreaks happen in vaccinated populations. What does the science show us? 

  • Guest…

    So GLAD Bill & Company is on the air. However, am also glad to see that there are many comments here about vaccinations. As an RN, I know the contents of vaccines have changed in the last decade, and the contents of today’s vaccines are not something I want in anyone’s body. Also, would not be so sure that autism issue has truly been ruled out! Many MDs can be paid, and have been paid, to say anything. So many people have researched issues more in depth than I can say here. Robert F. Kennedy’s 2005 article “Deadly Immunity” is worth reading; as is Jeremy Scahill’s article in The Nation magazine (believe July 2011) called “Germ Boys and Yes Men”. Work by Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins. A Canadian study in 2009 showed that people who received ordinary flu vaccination were twice as likely to get swine flu (H1N1). Sister Teresa Forcades i Vila a doctor in public health addressed the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic calling for a calm approach to the disease and emphasizes the right of citizens to refuse to be vaccinated against it – her talk is here: An excellent resource for information is the National Vaccine Information Center at

  • Patty

    I have triplet grandsons who are 17 1/2 months and were born at about 2 lbs. I agree babies need immunizations,however, there needs to be more research into the number of immunizations and how often they are given. My daughter and son-in-law have the triplets on a delayed shot schedule. They are made to question their decision by the medical community. My daughter’s immunization schedule in the 1970’s involved 10 shots. Today they have about 30 and give multiple vaccines at the same time. All you need do is look at a 4 lb baby and know you shouldn’t pump them with combination shots. Many couples want their children immunized just on a delayed schedule. The medical community’s concern is getting people in and out of their office and not how many shots are given at one time. It is my understanding European countries have fewer shots in the same time period. I would like to see stories comparing the two systems and pros and cons of each. It isn’t a question for most of having immunizations but rather how many and how often.

  • Jpfromct

     We chose not to vaccinate my son for a myriad of reasons. First and foremost, the testing is just not rigorous enough. Even though different shots are routinely given together, the vaccine manufacturers do not have to test the interactions of these vaccines with one another. The timeframe in which these vaccines are studied and brought to market are also much too short to detect long-term damage.

    And for those who keep insisting that vaccines are “safe,” why does the U.S. have a Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, that routinely awards damages to those injured by vaccines? .

    Also, check out this peer-reviewed article on brain injury and vaccine injury compensation:

    And, finally, check out the insert for the DTAP vaccine, which lists SIDS and autism among many other “adverse reactions”. Click the Package Insert link and see page 11:

  • A Mom Who Won’t Vax

     If vaccinations are not 100% effective, why are they being thrust en masse on infant populations? Why are we forced to vaccinate our children by pediatricians who blindly follow pharmaceutical companies’ dictates–based on incredibly bad science, which ignores vaccine injuries,  often very serious (note the terrible Gardasil outcomes where kids have died on the spot from the vaccine; note the MMRs where autism was seriously linked, notwithstanding the smear campaign against Dr. Andrew Wakefield?)–if vaccines are not really going to be effective? 

    Resistance to disease is about strong immune systems, not about injecting live or dead viruses into your body to produce antibodies that Might, just Might prevent you getting said disease.  There are many cases of vaccinated populations getting the disease they are supposedly vaccinated against–while unvaccinated populations remain healthy, by virtue of having stronger immune systems.  Which is an issue of good nutrition, as any of us who pursue holistic living knows–but don’t imagine a drug company or your pediatrician beholden to same will tell you that.

    Historically speaking, it is highly disputable that vaccines have eradicated diseases–but good sanitation and hygiene have–we simply live in cleaner times.

    The notion of herd immunity–which is behind this atavistic urge to vaccinate everyone and behind this bit of  biased journalism– is one that the average unquestioning and unscientific person gladly accepts–I wonder why?  If there are vulnerable members in the population who cannot be vaccinated –not “too-young people,” please, this country is forcibly vaccinating Infants as young as 3 months old–cancer patients etc., they should be working on strengthening their immune systems, with good old-fashioned healthful and plant-based nutrition–but no, they too are being misled by the “science” of Big Pharma’s treatments of such diseases as cancer into decimating their immune systems with toxic drugs. Unvaccinated kids are not unhealthy kids–it’s the vaccinated kids who spread disease, often, as many studies show. If an unvaccinated kid with a healthy immune system exists in a given population, disease-spread cannot be attributed to him/her.

    As a mom (with a background in science) who has vaxed, and has done her reading, and refuses any further to vax, I am appalled at the craven behavior of people who continue to vax–they won’t rest till everyone is vaxed because it is a matter of “public health.” From my critical thinking perspective, herd immunity makes absolutely no sense–the only way my kid or anyone else can avoid getting a disease is by having a strong  immune system.

    Bill Moyers needs to do a whole bunch more research before he can properly tackle the subject of vaccines. To call the current American craze to vaccinate an issue of “science”  is a joke–it is, like everything else in USA, a political move, based on Big Money, not on any informed concern for public health. The whole tenor of this piece targeting parents who “fear Science” is misconceived and highly offensive to anyone with a mind and a genuine concern for their children’s and their community’s well-being.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    In principle there is a strong resemblance between the druggist who refuses to dispense contraceptives, and the pediatrician who refuses to treat children who have not had recommended immunization. Such closed minded stubborness all depends on the refusnik’s beliefs, and interests. Think about this, what if your employer could dismiss you from your job (without unemployment benefits) if you failed to have your child vaccinated? Senator Roy Blount (R-Tennessee) proposed a bill that could bestow those powers and it was barely voted down in the Senate this week. I say this because the bill implies there is no medical privacy between your employer and your family’s medical records. So if one displeases the Lord they must be cast out. Economic power is used to enforce belief on underlings’ bodies. Poorer women will instantly recognize the pattern. Authoritarianism that allows no leeway for another’s choices is oppression. There must be a demonstrated herd threat before imposition of herd measures are justified. First demonstrate that threat.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Welp, they passed the buck again! Last week Moyers’ essay on herd immunity opened a sweet can of worms. He may have intended to compare contraception choice as a prescription to mass immunization. If so, this was insanely awkward, as any thinking person looking back can see. Looks like the worms are being dumped in the compost bin of viewer puzzlement. They’ll be back. It’s up to M&C if they return as a toxic ingredient or a nutrient. Some careful compost management will be required.

    “Contagion” as a thought provoker is another mis-step. Not only is it an extreme emergency  model based on influenza, but the film itself is a disjointed and unengaging  series of awkwardly dramatized moments that fail to relate a coherent narrative. It’s loose-ended sensationalism at its peak. For any anxious viewer who takes it seriously it generates mostly fear and little thoughtful consideration. I watched it with a group in a home theater, and our consensus labelled it a distrust generator. All we wanted to talk about afterward was biological warfare. 

    Hey, if you’re going to discuss contraception using a film how about a film on birth control.
    And, if you’re going to discuss childhood immunizations let’s take them one at a time and not be blindly equating measles and hepatitis B to a global influenza epidemic. When you do these awkward things viewers suspect incompetence, or even some hidden agenda in behalf of authoritarian power.

  • Mjamesb

    Mandatory vaccinations = fascism    
    Gonna start taking children away from their parents because they don’t vaccinate?  

  • J T Lessard

    My thoughts exactly. Look further back at who is funding the pro-vaccine research both in & out of medical schools. Research that has any negative implication is buried or labeled “quackery.”The wolves have plenty of sheep to choose from in this country, that’s for certain.

  • J T Lessard

    If our medical system were as wonderful as many want to pretend,  what with all the mandated vaccines & other forced methods of preventing or combating an illness (such as cancer in children) then why aren’t we number ONE in the world for health care…?!?! We’re nowhere near the top. Diseases have been going up, not down! Children are getting fatter & sicker, with diseases that were once considered “old-age” maladies. I remember hearing once, when I was young, that people with highly developed intellects & IQ’s, sometimes lack common sense. It would appear so….Look at the overall picture compared to past years & other countries, currently! And, what about the hundreds of thousands who now die from medical error &/or properly prescribed pharmaceuticals…?! You don’t see the drugs getting pulled from the pharmacy….If they do, it’s after many have already perished. No, but if a few people have an adverse reaction to an herb…watch out! Raw milk, almonds….Yep, those are the bad boys….In conclusion, forcing someone to put something on or in their body..against their will…is tyranny. If the science is so good & the results so fantastic (proven by the numbers of people really getting well) then no arm-twisting would be required.

  • J T Lessard
  • J T Lessard

    One last post…couldn’t resist!

    ‎”Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round heads in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do. ”
    ~ Jack Kerouac

  • CamSalis

    He’s got it wrong

    As much as I love Bill Moyers, he’s got it
    wrong this time, and he does an injustice to parents when he implies
    they have a control problem. When his kids were growing up the number
    of vaccines they received (in the 50’s) was limited mostly to measles,
    mumps and rubella. Since then the oracle in Atlanta, the CDC, has
    decreed that infants and small children receive many dozens of vaccines,
    mixed together, all at virtually the same time. There has been no
    dependable research into the implications of jolting a child’s immune
    system in this way vs using a different method. It may not be the
    vaccines themselves that cause problems with the public but the way they
    are administered. That, and the coordination of the vaccine schedule
    with the development of autism.
    The secret reason that so many vaccines are administered at one time
    is that Big Brother doesn’t think parents can be trusted to bring their
    kids back for an extended series of vaccinations. So the option for a
    more reasonable vaccination schedule is simply removed.
    Bill Moyers parrots the mass media when he vastly overestimates the
    detriment from, and the numbers of, cases of disease due to unvaccinated
    kids. Reasons for outbreaks, small as they are, may include mass
    immigration from countries that don’t bother with the niceties of
    disease control as well as the lessening effect of childhood
    vaccinations as we get older. Were you aware that Big Brother is
    worried about a smallpox outbreak since no one in the U.S. has been
    vaccinated since the 1970s when the disease became extinct? People who
    were vaccinated back then have lost their immunity over time. Why they
    would worry about an extinct disease is a subject for another day.
    Remember when ABC reporter David Bloom died of a blood clot called
    Deep Vein Thrombosis shortly after arriving in Iraq in 2003? The press
    speculated that the cramped conditions during the long plane ride was
    But whispered quietly in vaccine circles was a different reason. The
    smallpox vaccine, required for everyone entering Iraq from the U.S.,
    carries well known cardiac side effects including death from DVT.
    I wouldn’t vaccinate my kids either.

    Cameron Salisbury


  • GradyLeeHoward

    JT Lessard- Innovation in the arts or sometimes in politics is fundamentally different than medicine which purports to be directly guided by scientific research. We could clean up and simplify American medicine to a great extent by removing the profit motive as much as possible. Doctoring has become a warped profession dominated by insurance, pharmacy, device manufacturers and institutional speculators. We need to decontaminate medical science  
    of greed. Your marketplace of ideas thinking can only worsen it.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    I look forward to March 9th when M&C will clarify human rights contradictions arising from mixed analogies in the presentation of contentious issues. A scientist guest, or several, could be of help.

  • J T Lessard

    Since I am an advocate of “Single Payer,” I am in agreement with you, except for your last statement. I believe that innovation can  be applied in all arenas. Thoughts come before the manifestation of those thoughts….regardless of where they are directed. 
    We have been “brainwashed” into believing that the way of the AMA is the “only” way, with much the same zeal that a religious enthusiast would beseech someone to accept Christ, or be banished to hell! Thinking “outside the box” takes courage & innovation. Scientific measures can then be applied to new paradigms. Science is an ever-changing area of study though, so we ought to always understand that still, we don’t know it all. Sometimes the forest is missed for the trees….

  • Robin Gaura

    Hi Bill,

    We certainly need more attention to our social policy concerning public health. I object to your dismissal of parents who choose not to vaccinate. Had you seen a small child shake, burn and suffer in reaction to a vaccination which contains 700% the amount of mercury that they should bear for their weight, you might think differently. Had you visited the many parents of autistic children who link their child’s devastating disability to nitrogen in the well, or a vaccination. Heavy metals are linked to autism and cognitive disfunction. Check out Robert Kennedy Jr.’s article in Rolling Stone some years back.

    When we have research that shows that types of mad cow can be transmitted through surgery and airosol, why have we no adequate testing of all meat products? Could it be because somebody will make trillions in the for profit health sector? OK, maybe a little paranoid. But I read research, and I have chosen to minimize my children’s exposure to the latest medical procedure. Everyone’s situation is different, we should be free to decide. There is a history of medical abuse in coercive programs to take heed of.

    Thanks Bill, I’ve admired your work since the Campbell interviews. 

  • greg

    I am a big Bill Moyer fan but was concerned about this story.  I wonder how much research Bill did.  Did he talk to anyone at the National Vaccine information Center.  Did he talk to any Natropaths like Dr. Mercola.  Did he talk to any Homeopaths about the history of immunity.

  • Jessoconnor11

    I am a huge fan of Bill Moyers  and am so happy he is    back on the air.  I would LOVE LOVE LOVE and entire show or month of shows dedicated to the vaccine controversy.  No one trusts any one on either side of the debate  because so much money is at stake for the drug companies as well as doctors.  Parents are truly left in the  dark.  Parents want to do the right thing, but honestly what parent these days has time to sift through all of the information out there to find out what is truth, what is fiction what is best for the child’s health. We need real science, real history to expose the truth  about vaccinations.  
     Vaccination is merely the artificial triggering of temporary responses to manmade pathogens.  Immunity?  That’s a different topic altogether.
    Before  mass vaccinations, the human species was building herd immunity to all the infectious diseases, to one degree or another.  But that took 200.000 years. Consider this: the baby boomer who got measles as a child and who now has lifetime immunity, may not be immune to the new manmade atypical adult forms of measles resulting from mass vaccination.  Why not?  Because the new form has only been around for less than 30 years, whereas measles has been around for centuries.  Just like with too many antibiotics causing superbugs, vaccination is creating new diseases.
    We need real answers from people who have no ulterior motive other than to make sure we are doing the right thing for our children.  Injecting toxins in to a pristine bloodstream without truly know if it is the right or wrong thing to do, is in my opinion totally insane. I implore Bill to send out his teams of brilliant researchers to gather the true information.  I would, but I’ve got diapers to change, meals to cook and carpool.
    I trust Bill…but he needs to do more research.

  • Eddie

    Read A Shot in the Dark  by Coulter, Harris and Fisher, Barbara

  • Anonymous

    The Swiss Government’s Remarkable Report on Homeopathic Medicine
    Dana Ullman, Huffington Post, 2/15/2012


     Naturopaths.  Homeopaths.  Are you serious?  Good grief.  You ask for “research” and THOSE are the sources you recommend?  I presume no polio or measles vaccines for YOUR children, huh?  If they die or are crippled by your neglect, at least you can claim you stood by your convictions.  And if they infect (and injure) other children whose parents share your lunatic notions, not your problem.

    Oh, by the way, I suppose you have, and will, refuse the tuberculosis and pneumonia vaccines for yourself.  True believers would rather die than switch.


     THANK YOU.   A mother with a brain and the willingness to actually read the literature.  A thorough and brilliant reply.

    Unfortunately, the antis will not follow up on the leads you have provided.  Interfering with True Beliefs contributes to Cognitive Dissonance.  (Their heads might explode.)

    I will repeat what I said above, THE DISEASES CAN KILL OR MAIM YOUR CHILDREN, people.  If you aren’t willing to protect them, you don’t deserve them.


     Right, your Naturopaths and Homeopaths and the National Vaccine Information Center …   They aren’t in it for the money?   THEY SELL ALT-MED GARBAGE.  They make their livings at it.



     Exactly.  But peer reviewed studies are hard to read.  Work and thought are required.  And intellectual honesty,.

    Much easier to let your local woo-seller to do your thinking for you.


     He trusts “the ‘bugs’ more”.  Wonderful.  He avoids sugar.  Bravo.  Immunity guaranteed.


     Good grief.  Did you read the article past the first paragraph?  Immunized children are unlikely to get, for instance, measles.  Vulnerable children WILL get it.  And some of them will die.


     Vaccines are not claimed to be “safe”.  NOTHING is “safe” possibly excepting Homeopathic nostrums which have nothing at all in them but water.

    What matterws is THIS:  Vaccines are safer than the diseases they are designed to prevent.

    Just for fun, why not show some initiative and look up the fatality rates for polio and rubella and so on and so on.  Guaranteed, you have cleverly “chosen” to put your children at significant risk.  But who knows?  They might actually get lucky and survive.


     Thank you, Patty.  THAT was a legitimate concern you presented.  The science isn’t perfect.  How could it be?  We have come a long way in 100 years, and we have a long way to go.

    Refusing to immunize children is abusive neglect.  THINKING about how it could be done better – kudos.


     um, read her first post …  and then read the literature.  She has done most of your work for you.

    Did you know you can die from a spoonful of water?  The sensible thing to do is be thoughtful and well informed when you grab that spoon.



     And your follow-up is also a dandy.  Well done.

  • BethSY

    Dear Mr. Moyers,
    Please investigate further why we parents do not want to vaccinate our children. 

    As others have posted here, there are too many of us who have seen our children react strongly to a vaccine and then develop autism. 

    Please REMOVE the January 2011 article Retracted autism study an ‘elaborate fraud,’ British journal finds.   See the following press release that one of the doctors accused of fraud that article was exonerated on March 7th. James Murdock and GlaxoSmithKline have been implicated in the original accusations of fraud..

      “Andrew Wakefield’s Co-author Exonerated of Professional Misconduct in MMR Paper.”

  • BethSY

    Max, perhaps we could argue that vaccinating children who have a weak immune system or a heavy toxic load is “abusive neglect.”

  • BethSY

    Yes, Teresa!  Thank you!

  • ocschwar

    Before mass vaccinations, parents lost most of their children to infectious disease before the children reached age 5. 

  • Guest

    Herd immunity? What kind of herd immunity can there be if the MMR vaccine is not only not 100% effective but also conveys a short lived immunity at that? Those of you who were vaccinated as children, especially those who were vaccinated before boosters became the norm are well past the 2 – 10 years of whatever immnuity was gained from the vaccine. So there is a large portion of the population who are not protected from measles as adults even though they were vaccinated as children. The original idea of herd immunity arose from the immunity gained from the population who had contracted these infections naturally and had a lifetime immunity to it. It was adopted by vaccine proponents despite the fact that whatever immunity is induced by vaccines last for a limited amount of time.

  • Guest

    So you

  • bmc

    Bill, you are posting outdated and inaccurate information. Again, I urge you to do some serious research before you blindly add your voice to the propaganda machine.
    “The efficacy of vaccines is past dispute, the theories linking vaccination to autism and other ills debunked.”

    The statement above is untrue. There are many questions concerning the safety of vaccines and it takes a great deal of time to sift through the body of articles and research papers that bring up many questions. I asked you yesterday to investigate (deeply) Dr. William W Thompson who now has legal whistleblower status. Dr Poul Thorsen who worked on 36 CDC studies and is wanted by the FBI, and the MERK law suit brought fourth by two whistleblowers. Please examine all the CDC/Pharmaceutical bed hopping. I am so very surprised that things you do not tolerate in other areas of government and big business, you are tolerating and supporting with vaccines. Your article reeks of being grossly uniformed. You are posting these things without sufficient due diligence and it is dangerous in a country that has NDAA, NSA, Citizens United and possibly the TPP.
    From Thompson’s legal statement:
    “I regret that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information in our 2004 article published in the journal Pediatrics. The
    omitted data suggested that African American males who received the MMR
    vaccine before age 36 months were at increased risk for autism.
    Decisions were made regarding which findings to report after the data
    were collected, and I believe that the final study protocol was not

  • Moderator

    Just to reiterate what was stated above: “The efficacy of vaccines is past dispute, the theories linking vaccination to autism and other ills debunked. It’s important that our kids get the shots they need, not only for themselves but also for all the other children with whom they share classrooms, playgrounds and everything contagious that floats in the open air. While steadfastly maintaining our position of non-partisan progressivism, we agree with this tweet from Hillary Clinton: ‘The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork.'” -Theresa @ Moyers

  • bmc

    Dr. Thompson’s legal statement…/

    This is on pub med and about a Canadian outbreak involving a majority of vaccinated individuals

    This is from the CDC on how measles can occur in a population with 100% vaccine compliance

    This is from the Journal of advance practice nursing on the inaccuracy of flu death stats…/1212-do-not-believe-everything…

    This is from the pubmed, link vax and SIDS

    This is a proven case of measles outbreak caused by a vaccinated individual…/measles-outbreak-traced…

    is a very excellent and relevant discussion about why herd immunity
    isn’t working. This is a must see for anyone wishing to debate.

    This from pub med on acute post vaccine brain encephalopathy

    This is a cached CDC page about cancer causing simian virus found in the polio vaccine

  • stash

    You should actually read the decision itself rather than the press releases. The Court in no way exonerated the paper, the unethical treatment or the fraud that occurred. The Court said the General Medical Council should have asked, and determined, whether Walker-Smith knowingly or unwittingly engaged in unethical treatments and fraudulent acts. The Court gave Walker-Smith the benefit of the doubt that he was mislead/tricked by Wakefield because they didn’t feel the GMC sufficiently addressed his foreknowledge or intent. They in no way excused or exonerated the paper, the unethical treatments, actions or fraud committed. In short, they found he was duped by Wakefield.

  • stash

    Don’t confuse her. Anyone who demands “real” science when there is nearly 150 years worth of information on vaccines, or 1000 years if you are talking about immunization instead of “shots,” isn’t interested in the science. Man-made measles? Pristine bloodstream? If you breath, your bloodstream isn’t pristine. Do you know, or care that there is a significant difference between elemental mercury, phenylmercury, methylmercury and ethyl mercury? If you walk and breath, drive a car, or enjoy electricity from the burning of fossil fuels you’re exposed to mercury every day. Do you care about bioaccumulation? Which mercury bioaccumulates and which doesn’t? Not understanding something doesn’t make it untrue or part of a conspiracy! Sounding scary doesn’t make something dangerous. Someone arguing that the earth is flat does not create a “debate” or controversy or change the science or facts. Enough already. I’m going to take a dose of dihydrogen monoxide and go to work.

  • stash

    You really need to learn the difference between elemental mercury, methylmercury, phenylmercury, and ethylmercury. Try also bioaccumulation and how it applies to the above forms of mercury and the human body. A parent “linking” autism to vaccines is no more valid than one linking autism to phases of the moon or stepping on sidewalk cracks. Saying vaccines cause autism doesn’t make it the truth anymore than saying that the earth is flat makes it true or debatable. Any scientifically based study with facts and evidence showing a causal linkage would make the concerns valid and based on science and fact rather than gossip, misinformation and fear-mongering.

  • Ausmboomer

    Thank you for posting all of these wonderful links. I don’t understand why our society continues to trust gov as long as there are theories supported by facts surrounding the issue of vaccines and their safety. This isn’t even to mention our food chain, horrendous amount of toxins abound, air, water and the list goes on.

  • NotARedneck

    Placebos “work” in as much as the power of suggestion can make the symptoms of many medical problems go away – at least for a while, if they are legitimate. Perhaps they just want to save money and put off the day when they actually have to pay for real treatment. Of course, hypochondriacs might be “cured” of their problems, when they get the attention that they crave.

  • AutismDad

    Garbage. Kangaroo court was meant to protect vaccines.