Vaccine Truths - from ‘The Medicine Men’, published 1975

The following short extract is taken from Vernon Coleman’s book The Medicine Men which was first published in 1975. The book, which has been out of print for decades, is now available again.

‘BCG vaccination for tuberculosis was introduced in 1928 but seventy-two children died in 1930 after a vaccine contaminated with a virulent bacillus had been used. The Salk vaccine was acclaimed as a breakthrough against polio but in 1955 in the United States there were two hundred and four cases of polio in inoculated children. Recently in the United Kingdom there have been angry discussions about the number of vaccine-damaged children in the country. One member of parliament, Jack Ashley, claims that there are about two thousand children in Britain seriously damaged by vaccines. He reported a survey which showed that one in every five thousand children vaccinated against whooping cough was permanently brain-damaged. A Swedish survey has shown that between one in three thousand and one in six thousand children has some form of cerebral illness after whooping cough vaccine. According to one consultant, at least a third of those children with brain damage should never have been vaccinated at all, as they had a history of fits and so on which usually act as contra-indications to vaccination. One problem in Britain has been that the whooping cough vaccine used has decreased in apparent effectiveness. When introduced it was 80 per cent effective but by 1968 it was only 20 to 30 per cent effective, so to increase its effectiveness the strength of the vaccine was increased, with the result that more severe reactions occurred. The row in Britain has built up because children are not compensated for brain-damage. In Germany, Denmark and several other countries there have for some time been compensation schemes for vaccine-injured children. One sad aspect of the whole thing is that we continue to vaccinate against such diseases as smallpox, although as Rene Dubos has written in Man, Medicine and Environment 'the chance of contracting smallpox is now so slight in our communities that, paradoxically enough, the risk of accidents originating from the vaccine is much greater than the chance of contracting the disease itself.'

This short extract taken from Vernon Coleman’s book The Medicine Men, first published in 1975. A new paperback edition of The Medicine Men is now available through the bookshop on this website.

Here are some reviews of The Medicine Men (which was serialized in The Guardian newspaper and the subject of a 14 minute video on the BBC’s six o’clock news):

Vernon Coleman writes as a general practitioner who has become disquieted by the all-pervasive influence of the pharmaceutical industry in modern medicine…He describes, with a wealth of illustrations, the phenomena of modern iatrogenesis; but he is also concerned about the wider harm which can result from doctors’ and patients’ preoccupation with medication instead of with the prevention of disease. He demonstrates, all the more effectively because he writes in a sober, matter-of-fact style, the immense influence exercised by the drug industry on doctors’ prescribing habits…He writes as a family doctor who is keenly aware of the social dimensions of medical practice. He ends his book with practical suggestions as to how medical care – in the developing countries as well as in the West – can best be freed from this unhealthy pharmaceutical predominance.

G.M.Carstairs, The Times Literary Supplement

What he says of the present is true: and it is the great merit of the book that he says it from the viewpoint of a practising general practitioner, who sees from the inside what is going on, and is appalled by the consequences to the profession, and to the public.

Brian Inglis, Punch

The Medicine Men is well worth reading

Times Educational Supplement

Dr Vernon Coleman…is not a mine of information – he is a fountain. It pours out of him, mixed with opinions which have an attractive common sense ring about them.

Coventry Evening Telegraph

The Medicine Men’ by Dr Vernon Coleman, was the subject of a 14 minute `commercial’ on the BBC’s Nationwide television programme recently. Industry doctors and general practitioners come in for a severe drubbing: two down and several more to go because the targets for Dr Coleman’s pen are many, varied and, to say the least, surprising. Take the physicians who carry out clinical trials: many of those, claims the author, have sold themselves to the industry and agreed to do research for rewards of one kind or another, whether that reward be a trip abroad, a piece of equipment, a few dinners, a series of published papers or simply money.

The Pharmaceutical Journal (1975)