DPT: A Shot in the Dark by Harris L. & Barbara Lee Fisher Coulter

DPT: A Shot in the Dark

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The case against mass immunization of children for whooping cough. In this country, the authors hardly need tell us, children are routinely immunized against pertussis (whooping cough) as part of the three-in-one diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus injections given in series beginning usually at two months of age. Since the development of pertussis vaccine, however, there have been strong anecdotal and research reports that it can cause serious and permanent neurological damage--including convulsions, mental retardation, and physical handicaps. It may even be implicated in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Fisher is the organizer of Dissatisfied Parents Together (DPT, of course), a group devoted to abolishing the vaccine; with Coulter (a Washington-based medical writer), she contends that the vaccine is too dangerous for mass use, that physicians are generally ignorant of its dangers, that parents are not properly warned of them, that drug companies prepare the vaccine irresponsibly, and that federal health authorities have been negligent in allowing the mass vaccination to continue. Certain points are well-documented here: pertussis vaccine is highly reactive, more than other such medications, and dosage strength varies greatly from batch to batch. (Japan has developed and introduced a safer vaccine.) Physicians are often ignorant of the dangers and warning signs of reactions, and certainly parents are rarely warned of the possibility of serious side-effects. Indeed, parental concern over high fevers and other reactions is usually brushed off by pediatricians, sometimes with catastrophic results. (There are numerous examples here.) Coulter and Fisher are on weaker ground, however, in insisting that a conspiracy of silence exists among federal authorities, medical authorities, and the pharmaceutical industry; inertia or indifference could equally account for a lack of investigation or reform. (Some European countries no longer routinely immunize children against pertussin because of the vaccine's side-effects.) The authors have arranged their facts to support their case--but if this isn't an impartial book, it's a responsible eye-opener.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich