Vaccines: What Your Doctors Know and Don’t Know

What did your doctor learn about vaccines in medical school?

Do you ever wonder what doctors know about the dozens of vaccines they inject into your children? What they learn in medical school about vaccines? And after they graduate? Who controls what they are taught? My research has been quite an eye-opener.


First question: What do doctors actually learn in medical school about vaccines? Here’s what several have to say.

Dr. Suzanne Humphries:

We learn that vaccines need to be given on schedule. We are indoctrinated with the mantra that ‘vaccines are safe and effective’—neither of which is true. Doctors today are given extensive training on how to talk to ‘hesitant’ parents—how to frighten them by vastly inflating the risks during natural infection. …on the necessity of twisting parents’ arms to conform, or fire them from their practices. Doctors are trained that NOTHING bad should be said about any vaccine, period.” [1]

Dr. Bob Sears:

Doctors learn a lot about diseases in medical school, but we learn very little about vaccines. … We don’t review the research ourselves. We never learn what goes into making vaccines or how their safety is studied. So, when patients want a little more information about shots, all we can really say as doctors is that the diseases are bad and the shots are good.” [2]

Dr. Larry Palevsky:

“I was taught that vaccines were completely safe and completely effective. But I kept seeing that my experience … in using and reading about vaccines, and hearing what parents were saying about vaccines were very different from what I was taught … When I look at the studies that the AAP and the CDC put out, saying that there’s no correlation between vaccination and autism or vaccinations and asthma, I have to say that the studies just don’t hold up to the scientific standards.” [3]

Next question: Who controls what doctors are taught? The pharmaceutical industry. How? Big Pharma provides hefty contributions to medical schools and teaching hospitals, advertises in medical journals, and funds the majority of research.

Marcia Angell sums it up well:

“If drug companies and medical educators were really providing education, doctors and academic institutions would pay them for their services. When you take piano lessons, you pay the teacher, not the other way around. But in this case, industry pays the academic institutions and faculty, and even the doctors who take the courses. The companies are simply buying access to medical school faculty and to doctors in training and practice.” [4]

Worldwide, the vaccine market is approximately $30 billion. The U.S. claims two-thirds of that total, or $20 billion. [5] Which leads to another question: Should pharmaceutical companies be responsible for what doctors are taught about vaccines? They have everything to gain by selling vaccines and nothing to lose.


I’ve also wondered how doctors learn about new vaccines. After all, more are being developed all the time. It must be difficult for medical professionals to keep up with all those shots. Fortunately, Big Pharma makes substantial contributions to the billions of dollars spent on CME (Continuing Medical Education) each year. There are courses available in various formats, from webcasts and NetConferences to DVDs and onsite training. Their purpose? To teach doctors how to increase vaccination rates.


The CDC has online classes like “Immunization: You Call the Shots.” [6] And the CDC’s ACIP provides an online version of SHOTS, the current immunization schedule. [7]


The AAP offers the EQIPP (Education in Quality Improvement for Pediatric Practice) “Give Your Immunization Rates a Shot in the Arm” course. [8] Another AAP tool is the CASE model. [9] I have to preface this one by saying that anybody who knows me knows I am rarely speechless. But I was completely flabbergasted when I watched two videos designed to help doctors communicate with parents who have concerns about vaccines. I suggest that you watch both (“Do Vaccines Cause Autism?” and “Are There Too Many Vaccines?”). Just trust me when I say there is nothing I can say to prepare you for what you will see and hear.


The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has created a curriculum to help doctors deal with the “immunization pushback” and to “combat pseudoscience.” To help them respond when parents say, “I was reading about vaccines online …” or, “I was watching this show about vaccines …” [10]

A survey of pediatricians showed that 72.9 percent of parents refuse vaccines because they are afraid they cause autism, 61.5 percent because they aren’t sure the vaccines are safe (they’re too new or haven’t been tested enough), and 59.7 percent because they feel children get too many during the first 2 years. (That’s what I call progress!) With this in mind, is it any wonder that the emphasis on vaccine education for doctors is how to handle “vaccine-hesitant” parents?

The AAFP’s curriculum includes real-life scenarios of parental concerns and suggested responses for doctors. Here are a few.

Concern: Parents who think vaccines cause autism

Response: There is no scientific evidence showing a link between vaccines and autism. Children’s immune systems can handle the vaccines.


Concern: Parents who believe the vaccine schedule is a “money-fueled conspiracy”

Response: Doctors and public health officials support the schedule. Ask, “Do you really think I would recommend something that I didn’t think was best for your child?”


Concern: The source of vaccine-hesitant parents’ information

Response: Ask why they’re “taking medical advice from a celebrity, friend, relative, or magazine instead of from their child’s doctor.” Credible, scientific information comes from “reliable/stable groups” such as the AAP, NIH, and WHO. It’s not anecdotal, and nothing is being sold, such as a book, which would indicate a conflict of interest.


Concern: Parents who want to follow an alternate schedule

Response: Unvaccinated children can get sick and make other kids sick. Delaying shots delays protection. Ask, “You don’t delay putting your baby in a car seat. Why do you want to delay protection from vaccines?”


Concern: Serious side effects

Response: Serious side effects are extremely rare (1 in 100,000 children). Say, “Billions of people have received some vaccines. If they clearly caused a significant side effect, we would know about it.”


Concern: The purpose and safety of vaccine ingredients

Response: Each ingredient serves a purpose and is necessary. There is “no known toxicity” to any of them.



Pediatricians and other doctors aren’t the only ones giving vaccines. All 50 states allow pharmacists to administer shots. And they do so—at the rate of millions each year.

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has developed a certificate program for pharmacists. Besides learning about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases, they are taught marketing skills for increasing vaccine rates and strategies for dispelling common myths about vaccines. [11]

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) provides recommendations for pharmacists and their role in decreasing the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases. They include reminders to patients; disseminating information through phone, postcards, brochures, e-mail, television, and newspapers; presentations to community and professional groups; participation in public events; and seizing opportunities for screening (for example, a patient buying bandages and antibiotic might need a tetanus shot). [12]

Like physicians who increase vaccination rates, pharmacists get awards—the Immunization Champion Awards. In addition to six other categories, this year’s program (supported by Novartis Vaccines) awarded honors for “special recognition and lifetime achievement.” The activities by the more than 100 nominees included a “Beat the Bug” campaign with “little green squeezy bugs” for customers and a “bug mascot” at the state fair”; an off-site clinic at the local radio station that gave a flu shot on the air; and inflatable syringe balloons in a pharmacy along with associates standing outside the store in a pig costume with a sign saying “PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST THE SWINE FLU.” [13]


With all the “continuing education” doctors and pharmacists are bombarded with, it’s amazing what they don’t know about vaccines.

From recent news stories, it’s clear that vaccines are being stored improperly. That expired vaccines are being used. And the latest? Reusing syringes. The Safe Injection Practices Coalition’s One & Only Campaign states that in the last decade, more than 130,000 patients in the U.S. have been notified of “potential exposure” to hep B, hep C, and HIV. The One & Only Campaign’s slogan, by the way, is “One Needle, One Syringe, Only One Time.” Doctors actually have to be taught this? [14]

I bet few people have seen this story on the news. It’s not like the media has been all over it. Something as dangerous and negligent as reusing syringes and infecting people with life-threatening diseases. The irony of it is, I didn’t find out about it until I was researching what doctors know about vaccines.

In addition to these recent “errors,” I bet most doctors can’t name the ingredients and amounts in each vaccine. Or the risks and side effects (other than mild fever and redness at the injection site). Do they even know that some vaccines still contain mercury—more than the amount recommended in the EPA safety guidelines?

Another thing doctors don’t know anything about—or they know but deliberately give false information when parents ask—is vaccine exemptions. Many doctors tell parents their kids can’t go to school without vaccines. Not true.

Do you think doctors read any of the studies that show a definite link between vaccines and autism? Studies like Dr. Wakefield’s and the subsequent ones that replicated his findings? I doubt it. They’re too busy reading articles published in journals like Pediatrics and written by pharmaceutical company board members. Articles teaching them how to handle anti-vaccine parents and lessen the pain of vaccines. Anything that will raise vaccination rates.

You can sum up in one word what doctors, pharmacists, and others are taught about vaccines. Propaganda. They learn what Big Pharma wants them to learn, and they help line Big Pharma’s pockets—and destroy lives in the process.

“[Pharmaceutical companies] have proven themselves to be completely untrustworthy based on past behavior. In a court of law, if such a company were an actual witness, an attorney would never put them on the stand due to a serious lack of credibility. Are you really going to take these companies at their word that these shots are safe when money and profits are impacted by their answer?” [15]




















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About the author

Jennifer Hutchinson

Jennifer Hutchinson is a freelance editor and writer. She has devoted the last few years to helping Jake recover, researching autism and vaccines, and sharing what she knows with others. She lives in Winchester, Virginia, with Ann and Jake.