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When Vaccine Refusal is Not Unethical

by James Lyons-Weiler(more info)

listed in vaccination, originally published in issue 254 - May 2019


Republished from


There is an entrenched herd mentality and groupthink phenomenon on the issue of the morality of vaccination refusal by those who scratch the surface of the issue that requires a specific constellation of embedded arbitrary values that both are not founded on basic logic and that also run counter to the norms and mores of relative value systems as they apply to individual vs. societal rights. In all of my writings to date, I have explored many issues, from natural vs. artificial herd immunity to miscalculations on the dose toxicity of aluminum by the US FDA. I now will tackle the unscrutinized presumption made by the herd that vaccinating one’s child is necessary and therefore should be a mandated moral duty of every parent.

The Medically Ineligible

First, let’s recall that “every parent” is an induction, which we disallow as an unwarranted generalization. That is to say, there must be some children in the population who cannot accept vaccines for medical reasons; the CDC’s Vaccine Information Statements and the vaccine product inserts and FDA labeling are filled with contraindications – which do parents little good if they are given after the administration of vaccines, counter to law.

Vaccine Risk Denialism

The portion of the population is likely much larger than is generally admitted, in large part due to the entrenchment of the idea that full and complete vaccination is always the goal for every vaccine, regardless of its true risk profile, not due to an objective assessment of the full profile of risks, or in the view of accurate knowledge of the percentage of individuals who are at risk of serious adverse events. Instead the view that complete vaccination coverage is the universal goal for every vaccine is compelled by the combined effects of a fear that vaccine risk awareness might lead to a dangerous drop in vaccination coverage, and a strategic overemphasis of the value of vaccination to society both in terms of the role of vaccines in decreasing the rates of morbidity and mortality from the spread of infection disease.

The specific strategic techniques employed include (a) exaggeration of the risks of active transmission of agents of infectious disease (measles deaths almost never occur in western countries, so cite death rates from measles outbreaks in Africa); (b) exaggeration of benefit of vaccination coverage to individuals in the population for which coverage adds no individual benefit (e.g., pertussis has virtually no individual risk to individuals outside of infancy).

The VRA Blow Back Effect

In reality, understatement of the risks of vaccination and the inducement of vaccination based on false premises of individual benefit is mathematically expected to lead to increased vaccine uptake; this will then lead inevitably to realization of the actual levels of morbidity and mortality due to vaccination, leading to justified activism by families who have family members who are injured or killed. These families are socially connected to families whose members may not be at the same risk level when the basis of that risk is due to genetics, but the vaccine injured families often feel they have a duty to warn others about the potential risks because they feel, rightly so, misled by elements of society, including the CDC, ACIP, the FDA, the AAP, the AMA, and their former medical doctors for failing to provide them with any means of detecting their familial or specific risk (e.g., “If I had only known“; “No one told me of the risk“).

This duty to warn of course is not sufficiently informed by the potential tools of science that could provide indicators (biomarkers such as pre-existing Th2/Th1 skew, family history or autoimmunity) and the medical community has blithely turned their backs on such potential indicators as not real without doing sufficient studies of how to use combined indicators of risk to predict, prior to vaccination, who might be at risk of serious adverse events.

Deconstructing “Vaccines Are (Always) a Public Good”

There is a widespread belief that the benefits of vaccination – any vaccination – is of such high benefit to society in terms of reduction of risk of morbidity and mortality that any individual who refuses vaccination for themselves or others are violating a moral code of the public good. In most cases, where a universal public good actually exists, society passes laws, with penalties for violating those laws. We all drive on the same side of the road, for example, and we all agree to interpret red lights as a command to not drive through an intersection.

For the last 100 years, in spite of rulings that have been interpreted as giving the rights of governments to mandate vaccination upon the population (of individuals), nearly all of society also saw the wisdom of providing exemption to those mandates. Those exemptions not only allow the vaccination program to remain Constitutional, by allowing people whose personal religious or moral codes compel them to refuse vaccination against other reasons to do so; they also provide a safety valve within which families who are a genetic risk of vaccine injury can escape the system and reduce the individual risk of vaccine injury. Vaccine mandate proponents and those who would take away the rights to exemptions fail on moral grounds because (a) they must deny that vaccine injury and deaths occur to minimize the immorality of compulsory vaccine injury for some, (b) in doing so, they stymie the ability of society to celebrate those whose children were injured as a result of the parents’ attempts to “do the right thing” and vaccinate their children in the first place, (c) they have prevented research on curative treatments of common childhood infections, (d) they have thwarted the correct perception that vaccines must be made safer, and the means of identifying those most susceptible to injury as mandated in the 1986 National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, (e) they have prevented the development of means of detecting ongoing vaccine injury, and (f) they have prevented the development of emergency medical care to minimize the neurological and immunological effects of vaccine injury, which can be debilitating.

In 2016, the hashtag #wedid swept through the vaccine risk aware community, driving home the simple message: “you should celebrate our sacrifice, instead, you castigate and hate and marginalize the very heroes you are calling upon in your quest for 100% vaccination coverage”. Social media now allows the rapid dissemination of knowledge of deaths due to vaccination, a practice I have participated in because absent the knowledge of mortality due to vaccination, the amplified perception of high risk of mortality due to mild childhood diseases unfairly pits families at risk of vaccine injury against an non-existent risk.

The assumption that herd immunity is a justification for placing vaccination in the same category as “public good” is questionable under circumstances in which the cost of vaccination to society are not fully measured. In fact, Harvard-Pilgrim released the statistics on the rate at which an automated vaccine injury detection system reported vaccine adverse events compared to the passive VAERS reporting system and found that 99% of vaccine adverse events were not detected and reported by medical practitioners. Doctors are required by law to report all vaccine adverse events, but there are no penalties to them for failing to do so.

While the increase burden of infectious disease on low-income families existed in the late 19th and early 20th Century, universal modern healthcare means that less disparity in access to medical care and knowledge of sanitation and hydration practice that prevent deaths of measles and other infections are widespread.

Some have characterized the choice to not vaccinate as the actions of a parent selfishly only considers the interest of their child at the increased risk to others in the population. In my experience of speaking with hundreds of such so-called “self-interested” agents, I have seen them acting in the same way a parent might act if the saw a car coming at them in their lane; they might break the law in the interest of saving their own child by driving in the wrong lane themselves in hopes of avoiding a head-on collision, placing other travelers and themselves at increased risk. Or they might break the norm of driving on the curb, taking the risk of running into debris, or perhaps a stalled car. Rather than characterize them as agents who arbitrarily decide to drive in the wrong lane, vaccine risk aware parents who choose to not vaccinate should be seen as curbing to reduce the specific risk.

In so doing, such families are also reducing the burden of the cost of vaccine injury to society in terms that cannot be adequately measured because of the entrenched vaccine risk denialism that prevent the accounting of costs for arthritis, seizures, deaths, ADHD, autism, allergies and the many autoimmune disorders that are routinely induced using animal models.

By contrast, vaccine risk and injury denialism drive up the rate of chronic illness, neurodevelopmental disorders, psychiatric conditions, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, and, quite possibly, the cost of criminal activities. Readers entrenched in the vaccine risk denialism will read that last sentence as “vaccines are responsible for all cases of neurodevelopmental disorders, psychiatric conditions, autoimmune disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, and all criminal activities”, which, of course, is a mis-read of the sentence. In reality, the actual total cost of mass vaccination programs to society is unknown due to the entrenched vaccine risk denialism, which leads to, among other things, a refusal of the NIH to prioritize extra-mural funding for the study of safe ways for the removal of thimerosal-derived organic mercury and vaccine-derived aluminum from the brains of individuals who happen to tend to accumulate these and other toxins (aka, the Canaries).

No “Free Ride”

In reality, none of the hundreds of VRA Americans that I know count the value of the herd immunity via the absence of circulating measles, etc. among their reasons to avoid vaccines. They are aware of the arguments for herd immunity but being skeptical they see holes in the argument. They realize that in order to achieve real herd immunity, lasting immunity is necessary. Most adults over the age of 26 who received mumps vaccination do not realize that they likely are not immune to mumps infection due to combination of the limitations of the immunity conferred by the MMR, and the fact that the wild-type mumps has now evolved away from the vaccine-type mumps virus.

The argument that non-vaccinating families are somehow “free-riding” on herd immunity emphasizes their role as a potential reservoir or source of transmission of mild childhood infections. However, children of families who do not vaccinate also tend to home-school, and those who do not also keep their kids from school if they show signs of fever. The impact of the rule of keeping your sick child home on the rates of transmission of childhood diseases must be very large.

“The Vaccinated Vulnerable” aka “The Asymptomatic Carriers Reservoir”

In these infections, another group is hardly ever considered, and they appear to now vastly outnumber the unvaccinated. Unlike the unvaccinated, these individuals can acquire an infection but remain largely asymptomatic, or present only non-specific symptoms insufficient to keep them from school. These individuals are the asymptomatic individuals who, because they vastly outnumber the unvaccinated, represent the largest “threat” and the most likely reservoir of mumps virus and the pertussis bacterium. They have been called “The Vaccinated Vulnerable” by some who perceive them to have paid an individual price of taking the risk of vaccination but who do not enjoy immunity from vaccination and are therefore somehow placed at risk by those who do not vaccinate.

In reality, the “Vaccinated Vulnerable” are not necessarily vulnerable because their infections tend to be asymptomatic. In fact, because of this fact, they carry the pathogen without symptoms, placing those who choose to not vaccinate due to real or perceived increase of individual risk of harm from vaccines at increased risk of infection. It is truly a good thing, therefore, that mumps and measles etc. are almost always clinically mild.

At the Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge, we are currently calculating the effects of the efficacy of a vaccine on the relative sizes of the populations of the unvaccinated and vaccinated infected. Our preliminary results are very interesting: for every value of efficacy, along the dimension of vaccine coverage, there exists an expected switch point at which the VIs outnumber the UVIs. After the level of vaccination coverage leads to a switch point where VI > UVI, those who opt out of vaccines become scapegoats. In fact, they eventually become such insignificant contributors of risk compared to asymptomatic carriers – the ethics switch and compulsory vaccination become abusive, increasing risk to those who opt out due to empirical evidence of risk in their families.

Importantly, increased efforts to vaccinate do not change the fact that VIs outnumber UVIs until 100% vaccination is achieved, at which point the total vaccine coverage also causes 100% of those who will be injured, or die, to be found.

Here are the prediction curves for 88% efficacy:


Graph1 Mumps Vaccinated via Unvaccinated


Blue dots represent the % of infected who are vaccinated;
orange represents the % infected who are not vaccinated.


This means there is circulating undetected asymptomatic mumps infection – that is, 100% vaccination does not eradicate the mumps virus. The presence of the unvaccinated in school only reveals the already circulating mumps virus.

At a lower level of efficacy, the switch point is much lower:


Graph Mumps Vaccinated via Unvaccinated


Blue dots represent the % of infected who are vaccinated;
orange represents the % infected who are not vaccinated.


These preliminary predictions will be evaluated using public health data

These models allow us to study and compare the predicted effects of various policies and practices, such as at-home testing for mumps infection (exclusion based on clinical detection of mumps virus) and the exclusion of the unvaccinated on the rates of total infection and on the rates of symptomatic infection.

The results are compelling – but they represent predictions. The expected values and relative sizes of VIs and UVIs across all levels of vaccine efficacy – and they provide a novel road to insight on the effects of vaccination on public health. The classic literature indicated 10-20% of mumps infections were asymptomatic; a recent study found that 4 of 5 – or 80% – of active mumps infections were sub-clinical – consistent with the predictions of our analyses.

Moreover, research at The Institute for Pure and Applied Knowledge (IPAK) in this area may allow us to estimate the actual effectiveness of a vaccine based on the numbers of VIs and UVIs by inverting the analyses. This could be key to answer the question relevant to the Merck MMR whistleblower case in which the whistleblowers reported 18% efficacy initial test results, whereas the FDA submission cited close to 90% efficacy achieved – but after Merck allegedly spiked human samples in the lab with MMR antibodies from rabbits.

Our results to date have been shared with other scientists and a group of MDs [medical doctors].

Your support in continuing this effort, started in late October 2018, is desperately needed. Our aim is to complete the analyses, compare our predictions to empirical data from public health sources and the published literature, and publish the results in a mainstream vaccine journal.

The public has supported IPAK since 2016 to conduct science in the public interest. We bring objectivity to all we do. But refusing to partake in programs designed to mislead the public on risks associated with vaccines, this makes IPAK an outlier organization that openly defends the public’s right to objective, science-based public health policies. For this effort, we are asking for monthly donations. To help IPAK complete this project, please visit this link. To make a more sizable one-time donation to drive this forward, please visit

James Lyons-Weiler, PhD

Acknowledgement Citation

Republished from


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About James Lyons-Weiler

Lyons-Weiler PhD is a research scientist and author of three books, the latest of which is "The Environmental and Genetic Causes of Autism". He is available for speaking engagements and book signing events at your location. To contact, follow on twitter @lifebiomedguru, email  jameslyonsweiler 

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