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Shingles and chicken pox vaccination
The American experience
Health Officials Threaten Legal Action Against Researcher

Pearblossom, California - Three different analyses of reported cases of shingles and chickenpox were published today in the October 2003 issue of Vaccine and suggest the threat of a shingles epidemic in the US due to mass vaccination with varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. Data collected under the CDC-funded Varicella Active Surveillance Project (VASP) of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Acute Communicable Disease Control Unit revealed that when chickenpox disease was significantly reduced in a population, there was an unexpectedly high number of shingles cases among unvaccinated children with a previous history of chickenpox. Shingles is usually mild in children and can be severe in adults. Complications from shingles, which is caused by the reactivation of the chickenpox virus that lies dormant in the body, result in about three times the number of hospitalizations and five times the number of deaths as those from chickenpox disease. 

The analyses were authored by Gary Goldman, Ph.D., a former research analyst with the VASP, using capture-recapture methods. Goldman worked from 1995 through late 2002 at one of three projects in the nation assigned to actively study the effects of chickenpox vaccine and received reports from three hundred different public and private schools, day cares, and healthcare facilities. He observed that because the vaccine is eliminating chickenpox disease, children and adults no longer receive the natural boost to their immune systems that they received from periodic exposures to the disease. Due to the dramatic decline in chickenpox, children are now experiencing a higher incidence of shingles and Goldman predicts that a large scale increase in shingles incidence will soon become manifest among adults-a group more susceptible to serious complications. 

Vaccine manufacturers plan to license a booster "shingles" vaccine to substitute for the boosting that naturally occurred when chickenpox disease was previously circulating in the population. "This will likely lead to endless disease-and-cure cycles," says Goldman. "Varicella vaccination would have been less problematic if all children had the opportunity to gain natural immunity and only those still susceptible at twelve years old were vaccinated."

Goldman also reports that shortly after communicating on authorship issues with health officials associated with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) concerning the shingles data and analysis, he was threatened with legal action if he published the manuscript in the medical literature. He said, "Whenever research data and information concerning potential adverse effects associated with a vaccine used in a human population are suppressed and/or misrepresented by health authorities, not only is this most disturbing, it goes against all accepted scientific norms and dangerously compromises professional ethics."

Between 1995 and 2000, shingles was not being studied, and positive aspects of vaccination contributed by Goldman were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and other medical journals. In 2000, after hearing reports that school nurses were seeing cases of shingles in children for the first time, Goldman suggested shingles be added to the active surveillance project. After two years of shingles data collection, Goldman documented the adverse effects that might well be associated with the universal varicella vaccination program. Currently, varicella immunization is mandated in thirty-eight states.

The European journal, Vaccine (Volume 21, Issue 27/28) has devoted eighteen pages to Goldman's three reports. 


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