The Polio Vaccine Part 2
The polio vaccine: a critical assessment of its arcane history, efficacy,
and long-term health-related consequences
By: Neil Z. Miller, medical research journalist and Director of the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute
6. Are polio vaccines safe? When national immunization campaigns were initiated in the 1950s, the number of reported cases of polio following mass inoculations with the killed-virus vaccine was significantly greater than before mass inoculations, and may have more than doubled in the U.S. as a whole. For example, Vermont reported 15 cases of polio during the one-year report period ending August 30, 1954 (before mass inoculations), compared to 55 cases of polio during the one-year period ending August 30, 1955 (after mass inoculations)– 266% increase. Rhode Island reported 22 cases during the before inoculations period as compared to 122 cases during the after inoculations period — 454% increase. In New Hampshire the figures increased from 38 to 129; in Connecticut they rose from 144 to 276; and in Massachusetts they swelled from 273 to 2027 — whopping 642% increase (Figure 2) [26:140;29:146;42].
Figure 2. Cases of polio increased in the U.S. after mass inoculations
When national immunization campaigns were initiated in the 1950s, the number of reported cases of polio following mass inoculations with the killed-virus vaccine was significantly greater than before mass inoculations, and may have more than doubled in the U.S. as a whole. Source: U.S. Government statistics.
Doctors and scientists on the staff of the National Institutes of Health during the 1950s were well aware that the Salk vaccine was causing polio. Some frankly stated that it was “worthless as a preventive and dangerous to take [26:142].” They refused to vaccinate their own children [26:142]. Health departments banned the inoculations [26:140]. The Idaho State Health Director angrily declared: “I hold the Salk vaccine and its manufacturers responsible” for a polio outbreak that killed several Idahoans and hospitalized dozens more [26:140]. Even Salk himself was quoted as saying: “When you inoculate children with a polio vaccine you don’t sleep well for two or three weeks [26:144;43].” But the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, and drug companies with large investments in the vaccine coerced the U.S. Public Health Service into falsely proclaiming the vaccine was safe and effective [26:142-5].
In 1976, Dr. Jonas Salk, creator of the killed-virus vaccine used in the 1950s, testified that the live-virus vaccine (used almost exclusively in the U.S. from the early 1960s to 2000) was the “principal if not sole cause” of all reported polio cases in the U.S. since 1961 . (The virus remains in the throat for one to two weeks and in the feces for up to two months. Thus, vaccine recipients are at risk, and can potentially spread the disease, as long as fecal excretion of the virus continues .) In 1992, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an admission that the live-virus vaccine had become the dominant cause of polio in the United States . In fact, according to CDC figures, every case of polio in the U.S. since 1979 was caused by the oral polio vaccine . Authorities claim the vaccine was responsible for about eight cases of polio every year . However, an independent study that analyzed the government’s own vaccine database during a recent period of less than five years uncovered 13,641 reports of adverse events following use of the oral polio vaccine. These reports included 6,364 emergency room visits and 540 deaths (Figure 3) [47,48]. Public outrage at these tragedies became the impetus for removing the oral polio vaccine from immunization schedules [36:568;37;38].
Figure 3. Polio vaccine: adverse and serious adverse reactions
In the mid-1990s, during a period of less than five years, there were 13,641 documented adverse reactions to the oral polio vaccine. 6,364 of these were serious enough to require hospital emergency room visits. 540 people died.
Source: Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS); OPV Vaccine Report: Doc. #14
The following story is typical of the damage associated with oral polio vaccines: “Four months ago my son was taken to a local clinic for his polio vaccine. I wasn’t aware that he was going to have one, and would have prevented it if I had known. Unfortunately, he changed from that day — high-pitched screaming, smelly stools, non-stop crying, difficulty in breathing, high temperature, and lethargy. He also lost weight. Weeks of sleepless nights for all of us followed. His development ceased. He had been able to stand and move around, but he went back to remaining in basically whatever position we left him in.
“My wife was six months pregnant at the time, and about a week after our son’s polio vaccine, she began to have headaches, loss of balance, muscular weakness, and frequent tiredness. I panicked because everything seemed to be pointing to polio infection. Then, a week after her continuous headaches began, she had to go to the hospital because there was something wrong with the pregnancy; she lost our daughter.
“I tried to get a polio test, and to find the cause of this tragic series of events, but the medical profession was extremely unhelpful. They laughed at me. I will never know why our son suddenly stopped growing or why his development regressed. I will never know why we lost our daughter. The only thing I am sure about is that the precursor to these events was the polio vaccine.” [From an unsolicited e-mail received by the Thinktwice Global Vaccine Institute—www.thinktwice.com]
Today, fact sheets on polio published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, warn parents that the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) can cause “serious problems or even death…” The company that manufactures the current inactivated polio vaccine warns that Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a debilitating ailment characterized by muscular incapacitation and nervous system damage, “has been temporally related to administration of another inactivated poliovirus vaccine [3:780].” And although this company makes the claim that “no causal relationship has been established,” it also admits that “deaths have occurred” after vaccination of infants with IPV [3:780]. Yet, like the days of old, despite these “danger alerts,” medical authorities continue to assure parents that the currently available inactivated polio vaccine is both safe and effective.
7. How effective are polio vaccines?
Polio is virtually nonexistent in the United States today. However, according to Dr. Robert Mendelsohn, medical investigator and pediatrician, there is no credible scientific evidence that the vaccine caused polio to disappear . From 1923 to 1953, before the Salk killed-virus vaccine was introduced, the polio death rate in the United States and England had already declined on its own by 47 percent and 55 percent, respectively (Figure 4) . Statistics show a similar decline in other European countries as well . And when the vaccine did become available, many European countries questioned its effectiveness and refused to systematically inoculate their citizens. Yet, polio epidemics also ended in these countries .
Figure 4. The polio death rate was decreasing on its own before the vaccine was introduced
From 1923 to 1953, before the Salk killed-virus vaccine was introduced, the polio death rate in the United States and England had already declined on its own by 47 percent and 55 percent, respectively. Source: International Mortality Statistics (1981) by Michael Alderson.
The standards for defining polio were changed when the polio vaccine was introduced. The new definition of a polio epidemic required more cases to be reported. Paralytic polio was redefined as well, making it more difficult to confirm, and therefore tally, cases. Prior to the introduction of the vaccine the patient only had to exhibit paralytic symptoms for 24 hours. Laboratory confirmation and tests to determine residual paralysis were not required. The new definition required the patient to exhibit paralytic symptoms for at least 60 days, and residual paralysis had to be confirmed twice during the course of the disease. Also, after the vaccine was introduced cases of aseptic meningitis (an infectious disease often difficult to distinguish from polio) and coxsackie virus infections were more often reported as separate diseases from polio. But such cases were counted as polio before the vaccine was introduced. The vaccine’s reported effectiveness was therefore skewed (Table 1 and Figure 5) [52,53].
Table 1. Polio or aseptic meningitis?
Cases of polio were more often reported as aseptic meningitis after the vaccine was introduced, skewing efficacy rates. Source: The Los Angeles County Health Index: Morbidity and Mortality, Reportable Diseases.
Figure 5. Polio cases were predetermined to decrease when the medical definition of polio was changed
Source: Congressional Hearings, May 1962; and National Morbidity Reports taken from U.S. Public Health surveillance reports.
The fact that dubious tactics were used to fabricate efficacy rates was corroborated by Dr. Bernard Greenberg, chairman of the Committee on Evaluation and Standards of the American Public Health Association during the 1950s. His expert testimony was used as evidence during Congressional hearings in 1962. He credited the “decline” of polio cases not to the vaccine, but rather to a change in the way doctors were required to report cases: “Prior to 1954 any physician who reported paralytic poliomyelitis was doing his patient a service by way of subsidizing the cost of hospitalization… two examinations at least 24 hours apart was all that was required… In 1955 the criteria were changed… residual paralysis was determined 10 to 20 days after onset of illness and again 50 to 70 days after onset… This change in definition meant that in 1955 we started reporting a new disease… Furthermore, diagnostic procedures have continued to be refined. Coxsackie virus infections and aseptic meningitis have been distinguished from poliomyelitis… Thus, simply by changes in diagnostic criteria, the number of paralytic cases was predetermined to decrease… [52:96,97]”
Coming up next: Polio vaccines, cancer, and AIDS. What do they have in common?
 Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR); 55th edition. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics, 2001:778
 McBean E. The Poisoned Needle. Mokelumne Hill, California: Health Research,1957:11
 Strebel PM., et al. Epidemiology of poliomyletis in U.S. one decade after the last reported case of indigenous wild virus associated disease, Clinical Infectious Diseases CDC, February 1992:568 79
 Data taken from government statistics, as reported in an Associated Press dispatch from Boston, August 30, 1955. As reported by Saul Pett in an Associated Press dispatch from Pittsburgh, October 11, 1954.
 Washington Post, September 24, 1976.
 American Academy of Pediatrics, Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases: 1986 (Elk Grove Village, Illinois: AAP):284–5.
 Institute of Medicine. An evaluation of poliomyelitis vaccine policy options. IOM Publication 88-04 (Washington DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1988).
 Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), Rockville, MD.
 IOS. The Polio vaccine coverup COPV Vaccine Report: Document #14. www.ios.com/~w1066/poliov6.html
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Polio: What You Need to Know, Atlanta, GA: CDC, October 15, 1991:3.
 Mendelsohn R. How to Raise a Healthy Child…In Spite of Your Doctor. (Ballantine Books, 1984:231.
 Alderson M. International Mortality Statistics, Washington, DC: Facts on File, 1981:177–8.
 Hearings Before the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, House of Representatives, 87th Congress, 2nd Session on HR 10541. May 1962:94–112.
 Los Angeles County Health Index: Morbidity and Morality, Reportable Diseases