By Randall Neustaedter

Randall Neustaedter wrote the first edition of the Vaccine Guide in 1996. This new edition follows the same structure as the first but also includes significantly new information on new and old vaccines, and has more research into vaccine effects. He includes important information on the smallpox and anthrax vaccines, the flu vaccine, vaccines for international travel, as well as the increasing scientific evidence that is connecting degenerative and auto-immune diseases to vaccines.

Neustaedter's book is unashamedly against vaccine. He makes no apologies for this, seeking to balance what he sees as the totally one-sided discourse on vaccines within the medical and scientific community, as well as the media. However, he is able to take this position without resorting to a victim mentality and over- dramatizing the extraordinary implications of the book. He lays out the evidence in a clear, even dispassionate way, while never letting go of the personal tragedies involved. He backs up his conclusions with solid scientific data, the result being one of the most complete books on the vaccination topic. Every homeopath and alternative health practitioner should have a copy of this book. The book contains essential information and I refer to it regularly when talking to patients.

The book is laid out in a clear and systematic way and is divided into two parts. The first discusses all the information needed in making a choice about vaccines and the second part explores each vaccine, making it easy for a reader to go straight to a relevant vaccine. In the first chapter, "Making an Informed Choice", Neustaedter dives straight into the real issues facing patients deciding about vaccination. He lays out the philosophical distinctions between the conventional medical argument for vaccines and their influence by the economic interests of drug companies, as opposed to a more "holistic" view of our health challenges. He is able to mention Hahnemann and homeopathy without it being reduced to a homeopathic rant - no mean feat! However, while I appreciate the laying of this philosophical foundation for the book, it may be a bit daunting to the confused parent who is approaching this subject for the first time. He then explores more deeply the political issues surrounding vaccine policy and research conclusions, clearly revealing the conflict of interest in much of vaccine research. This is again essential reading for the professional practitioner who should know this information, but again, it may be a bit much for the young parents of a newborn child.

The second chapter discusses adverse vaccine reactions, including some of the new research connecting Autism to the measles vaccine. This research caused a storm of controversy in England, leading to a great reduction in the number of children getting the measles vaccine. Even Tony Blair was questioned as to whether his new child was vaccinated against measles. However, the controversy never significantly breached the corporate media moat of conventional medical orthodoxy in the United States. The next chapter discusses contaminated vaccines, an extraordinary topic as it potentially links AIDS to contaminated vaccines from monkey viruses. Many activists within the AIDS community, as well as conventional AIDS researchers have explored this area. Neustaedter could have written a lot more on this subject but I think he was wise to simply overview it. However, I feel he could perhaps have mentioned that not only the polio vaccine but also the smallpox program in Africa could be connected to the spread of AIDS in that continent, especially given the current smallpox vaccine program. He could also perhaps have given more than one other reference on this subject.

He then explores the chemicals in vaccines, another very important subject, and then follows that up with how, through alternative medicine and a more holistic view, one can help protect health and immunity without vaccines. This part of the book can help patients decide on what to do about this subject, as opposed to just feeling helpless. The final part of this section of the book outlines the legal requirements for vaccines and how parents can legally choose not to vaccinate against one or more conditions.

The second section of the book goes into detail on vaccines currently in use. Neustaedter begins with Anthrax, which has the interesting effect of broadening the whole vaccine subject, not limiting it to childhood vaccines. He explores the effect of Anthrax on military personnel and its possible connection to Gulf War Syndrome, still a hot topic with veterans and others, one which will certainly arise again in the current climate of war. He also has a very good section on smallpox, again vital reading for all of us interested in the subject and in the current political climate. Although the possibility of the whole population being vaccinated against smallpox and other vaccines is now written into the New Homeland Security Bill, Neustaedter is able to write about the information in a balanced and even way. However, for those who are more faint of heart, it might be the final straw and lead to seeking the next boat to friendlier shores.

At the end of the book, Neustaedter has included an excellent number of appendices with lists of the designated vaccine timetable, organizations connected to vaccines, including the Center for Disease Control, as well as homeopathic organizations. He then lists other books on vaccines, web site resources, and a list of legal resources available. Although he mentions the work of Richard Moskovitz on vaccines in the reference section, it might have been good to mention him in the book list, as MoskovitzOs work is excellent and very accessible to read.

In conclusion, Neustaedter has done a very good job in creating this new edition of The Vaccine Guide. It is very timely, given new research implicating vaccines in the many chronic conditions exploding in our society, as well as giving notice to the seemingly endless pursuit of drug companies to find yet more vaccines to give to our children. I have read the old edition twice before, as well as many articles and books on the subject but I recommend this new edition. It may seem unpalatable, when already struggling with our daily lives and the world at large, but if Neustaedter is only even 50% correct in his analysis, then the vaccine issue is one of the most important issues facing the well being of the human population today.