Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Review of Hear the Silence

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 01 January 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:51

Rapid Response:

The prevention of vaccine reactions

We know that reports of severe reactions following infant
vaccinations, though rare, are causing widespread anxiety among the
population. Moreover, physicians are discussing the question as to how
many days after vaccination an infant death should be considered as
attributable to a vaccine (1).

A review of the World literature on vitamin C and vaccine reactions
in animals has revealed that supplementary vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has a
potent and highly significant protective effect (2). Ascorbic acid reduces
both the morbidity and the mortality following the injection of all
bacterial and viral toxins tested in guinea pigs, and even in rats and
mice, which make their own ascorbic acid from simple sugars in the liver.
Clearly, even the ascorbic acid-producing animals do not always make
enough ascorbic acid for all their needs. The highly protective effect of
vitamin C has also been reported in children by Kalokerinos (3) in his
studies of aborigines in Australia.

One therefore cannot help wondering why the various national centers
for disease control have not yet recommended vitamin C to be given before
all vaccinations. It would surely be most beneficial, not only in reducing
severe vaccine reactions and deaths, but also in reducing or preventing
the residual disabilities which can occur following minor cerebral or
subdural haemorrhages.

We now know that the bleeding of severe vitamin C deficiency (or
scurvy) is due to capillary fragility arising from the accumulation of
excessive levels of histamine in the blood (4), causing widening and
separation of the tight-junctions between the endothelial cells of the
capillaries and venules, from which the bleeding arises (5). The histamine
accumulation in scurvy is due to the fact that ascorbic acid is essential
for the body’s progressive removal of histamine by converting it to
hydantoin-5-acetic-acid and on to aspartic acid in vivo (6). Nowadays,
with so many vaccines being given simultaneously to infants, one has to
consider that the histamine arising from the injection of these foreign
proteins and the histamine arising from any childhood infection will be
added to the already elevated blood histamine level due to ascorbic acid
depletion, so leading to a toxic blood histamine level which can be fatal.
Perhaps this severe condition should not be called Infantile Scurvy or
Barlow’s Disease, but rather Toxic Histaminaemia or a Barlow’s Disease

No doubt Health Departments will soon conduct studies of plasma
ascorbic acid and whole blood histamine levels on soldiers before and at
various intervals after single and multiple vaccinations for overseas
duty. Such studies will certainly confirm that outwardly normal people
with somewhat low ascorbate levels have markedly elevated blood histamine
levels, and that their blood histamine concentrations increase even more
following vaccinations. A more useful estimation of the time range of
vulnerability for each vaccine might then be made.

Until then, we can hope

1) That vaccinations will be postponed when an infant is premature or
is ailing in any way, even with the common cold.

2) That consideration will be given to reducing the number of
vaccines to be given at one time.

3) That 500 mg of vitamin C powder in fruit juice will be given to
infants to drink before their vaccinations. (More vitamin C can be given
by intramuscular injection, if the infant develops a high-pitched cry, a
febrile illness, or has a convulsion.)

C.A.B. Clemetson, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Tulane University School
of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, Tele: 504-866-1525, Email:


1) Buttram H. Shaken baby syndrome, or vaccine-induced encephalitis?
Med Sentinel 2001; 6:83-89.

2) Clemetson CAB. Vaccinations, inoculations, and ascorbic acid. J
Orthomolecular Med 1999; 14:137-142.

3) Kalokerinos A. Medical Pioneer of the 20th Century. Melbourne,
Victoria, Australia: Biological Therapies Publishing Pty Ltd; 2000.

4) Clemetson CAB. Histamine and ascorbic acid in human blood. J Nutr
1980; 110:662-668.

5) Clemetson CAB. Is it “shaken baby,” or Barlow’s disease variant? J
Amer Phys Surg 2004; 9:78-80.

6) Chatterjee IB, Majumder AK, Nandi BK, Subramanian N. Synthesis and
some major functions of vitamin C in animals. Ann NY Acad Sci 1975; 258:24

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

15 November 2004
C. Alan B. Clemetson, M.D.
Professor Emeritus, Tulane University School of Medicine
c/o 5844 Fontainebleau Drive, New Orleans, Louisiana 70125