From The Editor | December 8, 1998

Classen: Vaccine Ills May Exceed Benefits

Data released from the CDC recently shows a substantial decline in childhood meningitis, which has been attributed to the childhood hemophilus vaccine. According to Dr. J. Bart Classen however, the reports fail to include the potential downside. While prevention of infection is an admirable goal, Classen says, the data indicates that the hemophilus vaccine may be causing more harm than good.

"Referring to the hemophilus immunization program as a near miracle or a public health triumph is very premature," says Classen, an immunologist at Classen Immunotherapies, "the vaccine side effects may exceed the benefits. Proper safety studies were never performed on the hemophilus vaccine so the risk is quite large," he claims.

Classen has published papers linking immunization against hemophilus and other diseases to the development of insulin dependent diabetes, an autoimmune disease. His work found that immunization starting after 2 months of life was associated with an increased risk of autoimmunity, compared to starting immunization at birth.

"The hemophilus vaccine may prevent 600 deaths a year in the US according to the CDC data, however according to our data, it may cause 2,000 to 4,000 cases of insulin dependent diabetes and diabetes is just one potential adverse event. Children die from diabetes, the disease definitely shortens one's life," adds Classen. "The tragedy of ignoring vaccine safety issues is that vaccine induced diabetes appears to be preventable."

Classen states that under current practices, vaccine manufacturers are generally only required to test vaccines for their ability to cause adverse events during the 3 weeks after the vaccine is given. If a vaccine does not cause patients to have a noticeable adverse event in this 3-week period then the vaccine is labeled safe and approved for widespread use. However, Classen's studies have shown that when vaccinated individuals are followed for years after being immunized they seem to be at a large increased risk for serious immunological disorders like diabetes.

The theory is that vaccines stimulate the immune system and exacerbate smoldering inflammatory condition. Public health officials in many parts of the world are beginning to question the standard policy of immunizing children before doing proper safety studies. In October, the Ministry of Health in France suspended routine hepatitis B immunization of school children while continuing hepatitis B immunization at birth. The reason for this decision was reportedly the increased risk of autoimmune diseases that has been associated with the vaccine when it is given starting at school age or later.

"The French decision to continue hepatitis B immunization at birth while discontinuing immunization starting at school age suggests the French Ministry of Health may believe that they can decrease vaccine induced autoimmunity by giving vaccines starting in the first month of life. They appear to be accepting our findings," adds Classen.

For more information: Dr. J. Bart Classen, Classen Immunotherapies, 6517 Montrose Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21212, USA. Telephone: 410-377-4549. Fax: 410-377-8526.