Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Feature

Pandemrix vaccine: why was the public not told of early warning signs?

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.k3948 (Published 20 September 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3948
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Adverse events: GSK pandemic influenza vaccines

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Rapid Response:

Vaccination policy is political - citizens are entitled to transparency and accountability

Tom Jefferson says "As Healy pointed out, openness and clarity are the enemies of vaccine hesitancy. Non response and obfuscation are gifts to those who are ideologically opposed to vaccines and their use."[1]

Jefferson's bald reference to those "who are ideologically opposed to vaccines and their use", discounts the legitimate concerns of citizens who are alarmed at rapidly increasing vaccination schedules and the arguable over-use of vaccine products.

Vaccination policy is a serious political issue in our liberal democracies, and citizens are entitled to transparency and accountability for taxpayer-funded vaccination schedules.

In my experience of questioning vaccination policy, it’s the protagonists who seem to be ideologically driven, treating ‘vaccination’ as a religion that must not be questioned, and refusing to be accountable for individual vaccine products.

Vaccine products are added without any consultation with the community, and are even being mandated by governments in countries such as Australia, the United States and Italy. It’s astonishing that the move towards mandating the medical intervention of vaccination, and the deleterious impact on the right to 'informed consent', has had such little critical analysis. Associate Professor in International Criminology Paddy Rawlinson is one of the few academics to tackle this subject, in her essay Immunity and Impunity: Corruption in the State-Pharma Nexus.[2]

Transparency and accountability for vaccination policy is seriously lacking. For instance, we need open examination of the committees and groups influencing vaccination policy, including conflicts of interest of participants. The current crisis at Cochrane highlights even further serious problems with conflicts of interest in evaluating medical products, e.g. HPV vaccines.[3]

We need to seriously look at the quality and objectivity of the data underpinning the effectiveness and safety of the ever-increasing number of vaccine products and revaccinations on vaccination schedules. We desperately need truly independent and objective evaluation of vaccine products.

It’s extremely difficult for citizens to gain accountability for vaccination policy, with politicians and vaccination bureaucrats blatantly ignoring citizens' concerns on this matter. It’s also difficult to raise this issue on public forums, where the threat of censorship hovers constantly, and where people hiding behind pseudonyms often try and sabotage debate on mainstream media platforms.

Meanwhile, more and more lucrative vaccine products and revaccinations are being added to international schedules. We have no idea of the long-term cumulative consequences of this increasing vaccine load.

Yes, the desire to prevent disease with a ‘magic bullet’ vaccination is understandable. But problems are emerging, not only with Pandemrix, but also with other vaccines, e.g. the pertussis/whooping cough vaccine[4,] including the pressure for repeated revaccination throughout life with this combination vaccine product.[5]

Citizens are entitled to query whether the over-use of vaccine products could be leading to a disaster even greater than those already unfolding with the over-use of antibiotics, opioids, anti-depressants and other medical products.

Stop the polarised ‘pro’ / ‘anti’ vaccination war that has hindered scrutiny of the booming international vaccine market, and start having some considered discussion on the proliferation of these products.

References:
1. Tom Jefferson provides his interpretation of David Healy’s response. David Healy did not actually use this specific wording in his rapid response on this article.
2. Paddy Rawlinson. Immunity and Impunity: Corruption in the State-Pharma Nexus. International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy. Vol 6 No 4 (2017): https://www.crimejusticejournal.com/article/view/447
3. See my rapid responses on Fiona Godlee's BMJ article Reinvigorating Cochrane: https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3966/rapid-responses and on Nigel Hawkes' BMJ article HPV vaccine safety: Cochrane launches urgent investigation into review after criticisms: https://www.bmj.com/content/362/bmj.k3472/rapid-responses
4. Resurgence of Whooping Cough May Owe to Vaccine's Inability to Prevent Infections, posted on BU School of Public Health, 21 September 2017: http://www.bu.edu/sph/2017/09/21/resurgence-of-whooping-cough-may-owe-to...
5. Six doses of pertussis containing vaccines are ‘recommended’ for children now, plus repeated revaccination of women for every pregnancy, healthcare workers, early childhood educators and carers, travellers etc. See Summary and Recommendations, Pertussis (whooping cough) in The Australian Immunisation Handbook: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccine-preventable-diseases/...

Competing interests: No competing interests

03 October 2018
Elizabeth Hart
Independent
Adelaide, Australia