Sixty Minutes Viewers

On October 20, 2004, Sixty Minutes II ran a segment called "Saying No to Vaccination."   NVIC president and co-founder, Barbara Loe Fisher was a featured interview.  The following letter was sent to the producers of the segment following the show.

407 Church Street, Suite H
Vienna, VA 22180

October 26, 2004

Michael Rosenbaum, Producer
Elliot Kirschner, Producer
60 Minutes (Wed)
524 West 57th St.
New York, NY 10019

Dear Michael and Elliot:

The sadness I felt after watching the segment you asked me to participate in (Oct. 20- Saying No To Vaccination) was not just about how you made me and the three mothers I referred to you look, it was shame for having believed that you were being honest with me. It was humiliation for having allowed myself to be deceived into dragging three mothers, who trusted me, into the most inaccurate and biased broadcast presentation that I have participated in during the past 22 years of work to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths through public education. It was a shock when I realized that, by my participation, I had been used to give you a vehicle to launch a gratuitous and inaccurate personal attack on Andrew Wakefield, M.D., while you failed to inform your viewers that the main spokesperson in your piece, Paul Offit, M.D., is a childhood vaccine patent holder and paid consultant for Merck, one of the largest childhood vaccine manufacturers.

From the first discussion we had on the phone to the last discussion the three of us had while standing in the lobby of the CBS office the second time I had flown to New York to be interviewed, you promised me that you would accurately and fairly portray both sides of the vaccine safety debate. Elliot, we spoke at length in phone conversations leading up to my persuading the Moms in New York to invite you and Dan Rather into one of their homes, about how 60 Minutes was going to take a "different" approach to the vaccine safety debate. We talked about examining it in the social context of health care consumers questioning vaccines, just as they are questioning the current medical model in search of alternative and complimentary ways of preventing disease and maintaining health. That is why I referred you to mothers who whose health care providers were involved in an holistic approach to maintaining wellness.

However, even if you had not misled me into thinking this was going to be your approach, it was unfair to tell me you "did not want a piece that talked about the scientific studies" and ask me several times not to talk about "the scientific studies" on camera when your piece was all about how parents should "trust the experts" and "the scientific studies." This was particularly unfair when the main thrust of my argument (which you both chose not to use) was that the crisis of trust currently existing between parents and doctors centers on the fact that what government health officials and doctors are telling parents is true about vaccine safety in their "studies" is in direct conflict with what parents are experiencing in their own homes after their children are vaccinated and they watch them regress physically, mentally and emotionally into chronic illness and disability.

I made that point several times in our filmed interview, including explaining why we want federal officials to open up their closed vaccine risk databases to independent scientific analysis. But you did not include any of this and instead chose to imply I was either ignorant or lying when I said the appropriate studies had not been done by government health agencies and industry to answer the outstanding questions about vaccine safety.

I also made the point, several times in our filmed interview, that the National Vaccine Information Center takes an informed consent position. We defend the right of parents and all citizens to be fully informed about the risks and complications of diseases and the risks and complications of vaccines and be allowed to make an informed, voluntary decision. This is in the tradition of the right to informed consent to medical treatment, which is the centerpiece of the ethical practice of modern medicine. We fully support a parent's decision to use all government recommended vaccines for his or her child. We worked for 14 years to persuade the FDA and CDC to license and make available a purified, less reactive DTaP vaccine for parents who want their children to be vaccinated for those three diseases. At the same time, we fully support a parent's decision to selectively vaccinate using an individualized schedule or the decision not to vaccinate. That puts us in the pro-informed consent or anti-forced vaccination position not in an anti-vaccine stance but you failed to make that distinction.

At the end of the segment, your correspondent, Dan Rather, inaccurately implies that today states require few vaccines and only recently began giving exemptions. He says "You may remember the days when all children had to be vaccinated before they entered school. While all states still require some vaccinations for school age children, many now give exemptions to parents who don't want their children immunized." If you had done your research, you would have understood that all states have always required children to be vaccinated since the turn of the 20th century when one or two doses of smallpox vaccine was required. For many years, the overwhelming majority of states have had exemptions to vaccination for medical, religious and, in about one-third of the states, for philosophical or conscientious belief reasons. The truth is that, today, all states require many vaccines - most require at least 31 doses of 10 vaccines for school entry. The CDC recommends 37 doses of 12 vaccines for "universal use" by all children and the remainder of these are in the process of being mandated.

Following questioning me on film, your correspondent, Dan Rather, stated to me that he admired my "passion" and my ability to "articulate" my position but that he had a 'bias" toward "the doctors and the science." When I reminded him that we maintain that the "the science" is inadequate quantitatively and qualitatively, he admitted that several of my points made sense, including the fact that "we might be using too many vaccines" and that the "government database on vaccine risks should be open for everyone to see." I am left to wonder if his "bias" toward unquestioning belief in the infallibility of doctors like Paul Offit either got in his way or your way in the editing room.

I have debated physicians three times live on the "Today Show" as well as on other television shows and discussed both the science and the ethics of mandatory vaccination. I would have gone head to head with any doctor and talked about the scientific studies, including those concerning pertussis and pertussis vaccine, which was the subject of the first major book to critique the mass vaccination system, DPT: A Shot in the Dark (1985, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich), which I co-authored. That book was used as a reference by the Institute of Medicine in 1991 in its report on the adverse effects of pertussis and rubella vaccines. I will talk about the scientific studies anywhere with anyone but you requested that I not talk about them because you obviously wanted to deceive me about what you really intended to do.

You opened with a mother talking about the dangers of whooping cough, which was entirely appropriate because it is important to discuss risks of diseases if you are also going to discuss risks of vaccines. But you did not discuss vaccine risks except to categorically dismiss their significance. You did not include a mother talking about what happened when her child suffered a vaccine reaction. On camera I talked about what happened to my child after vaccination. I talked about what happened to other children after vaccination. I gave you a computer CD with several hundred pages of descriptions of vaccine reactions reported by ordinary citizens across this country in an on-line petition calling on the CDC to open up their vaccine risk databases. But none of that was included.

You totally ignored the entire point of why there is a crisis of trust among educated parents when it comes to "trusting the experts" and their "scientific studies" because you were afraid to address the real issue: too many educated parents' children are regressing after vaccination and being left with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism and other brain and immune system disorders that are preventing them from leading healthy, normal lives. And these educated parents are too educated to buy the line that it was "just a coincidence" that it all happened after their children were given multiple vaccines on the same day. Then these educated parents use their education to analyze the methodologically flawed vaccine safety studies, many of which are conducted by doctors paid by drug companies making and selling vaccines. And then they realize they have been deceived.

Just like parents were deceived by doctors and pubic health officials about the safety of anti-depressants for children.

Just like you deceived me.

Then they don't trust the experts anymore. Then they demand the right to say no to vaccination. Because they would rather take their chances with a disease than allow one more doctor to put a loaded syringe into their child and pull the trigger.

It is really quite simple.

Michael, you know exactly what you are doing from choosing the color of the backdrops, camera angles and lighting for each interview to the background research you conduct on each person you consider for interviewing and the edits you make. Elliot, you are young. The next time you think about setting up someone who trusts you in order to advance your career, you should remember this: in the end you will reap what you sow in this life. Always.

Very truly,

Barbara Loe Fisher

cc: Dan Rather, Correspondent
Andrew Heyward, News Division Chief
Les Moonves, President

Dear Sixty Minutes Viewer:

Making a well informed vaccination decision is one of the most important health care decisions you will ever make for yourself or your child. To be a well informed health care consumer, you must gather information and speak to one or more health care professionals before you make your decision.

The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) supports the well informed, voluntary vaccination choices of all citizens. The choice of whether, when, where and how to vaccinate belongs to you and it is your responsibility to weigh the benefits and risks of vaccination after becoming fully informed. This website provides a large amount of free information about diseases and vaccines and links to many other information sources.


  • Sign Up for NVIC’s Free E-News reports and complimentary newsletter
  • Order DPT: A Shot in the Dark. Co-authored by Harris Coulter and Barbara Loe Fisher, this landmark book (1985- Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) had an historic impact on the development of the vaccine safety debate. A collector’s item, this was the first major book to critique the mass vaccination system by revealing the brain damaging side effects of the “P” part of the DPT vaccine.
  • Become a Member of NVIC and receive news bulletins, newsletters and other information about diseases and vaccines while supporting the public education work that NVIC does, including protecting informed consent rights.
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