As the start of the federal government's most ambitious vaccination program approaches, it is worth taking a second look at the history of similar campaigns in the past. Since most of the media and government health officials constantly laud vaccine successes, this article will dwell more on the stories that are not as widely disseminated.

The results of many past mass inoculation efforts have been severely criticized, and are cited by some health experts as another reason for - at the very least - exercising extreme caution. In addition to outright catastrophes that are attributed to vaccines and government mandates, some medical experts say the benefits are dubious at best.

The most relevant and frequently cited example is the mass immunization program of 1976 against a supposed outbreak of the swine flu virus. After some recruits at Fort Dix in New Jersey contracted the illness, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the United States Public Health Service recommended that the population be vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the federal government decided it was necessary to spend almost $150 million to immunize "every man, woman and child."

Following a massive government propaganda operation similar to the one being witnessed today, millions of Americans dutifully lined up to get their shot. It was safe, effective, and necessary, Big Brother assured the populace. But government officials lied.

By the time the dust had settled, only one person's death had been linked to the swine flu, while hundreds of deaths and thousands of grave neurological disorders were attributed to the vaccine. The campaign was suspended after just 10 weeks as the reports of side effects - often fatal - continued to pour in from around the country.

The "pandemic" never materialized, but since the government had agreed to exempt vaccine manufacturers from liability (much like today), taxpayers were on the hook for billions in damages. One of the most common horrors and widely reported consequences of the immunization was the emergence of the paralyzing neurological disease known as Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) in some inoculated Americans. Documents prove the CDC knew about the potential for these effects, but citizens were never informed. A CBS 60 Minutes investigation also revealed that the government had even lied in claims it made that certain well-known figures had taken the vaccine.

But in addition to the 1976 "fiasco," as it was dubbed, a wide variety of other government vaccination debacles have been highlighted by medical experts and opponents of the swine flu vaccine. Several, for example, point to the outbreak of smallpox in the 1920s and a court case dealing with the issue. Dr. True Ott wrote in a widely publicized article entitled Vaccine-induced Disease Epidemic Outbreaks that the spread of smallpox was actually caused by the government vaccine, which used live viruses.

"The Protective Bureau proved in court that there was no epidemic before the vaccinations," he said, referring to the watchdog group Advertiser's Protective Bureau in Kansas City, Missouri, and the smallpox epidemic in the early twenties. "The court record on this case is very clear. In the weeks and months following the 'mass vaccinations' ­ the area's hospital beds were filled to over-flowing with vaccine-induced smallpox cases."

Ian Sinclair, an author and vaccination researcher who has studied the issues for over 20 years, points to a slew of other cases of immunization schemes that in retrospect turned out to be disastrous. He provides compelling historical examples from a variety of sources, noting that he believes vaccines are "biological poisons" that offer no protection whatsoever and are actually a contributing factor in disease.

When the German government rolled out its compulsory immunization against diphtheria in 1940, there were 40,000 reported deaths from the illness, Sinclair notes. By 1945, 250,000 people had died from the disease. Sweden stopped its whooping cough vaccination program in 1979 when it was discovered that 84 percent of the children who fell ill from the disease had been vaccinated against it three times. And a study published in 1994 in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that more than 80 percent of American children under five with whooping cough had been fully vaccinated.

A 1970s vaccine study in India revealed that tuberculosis occurred more often in people who had taken the shot than in those who had not. In the United Kingdom, Sinclair points out that the Community Disease Surveillance Center acknowledges over 200,000 cases of whooping cough in fully vaccinated children between 1970 and 1990. An outbreak of polio in Oman in the late 1980s struck hardest in areas where vaccination was widespread.

And back to the United States again; in 1977 the developer of the first polio vaccine, Dr. Jonas Salk, testified with other scientists that the cause of most polio cases in the United States since 1961 was the inoculation itself. A revealing 1990 article about measles in the Journal of the American Medicine Association pointed out that: "Although more than 95% of school-aged children in the US are vaccinated against measles, large measles outbreaks continue to occur in schools and most cases in this setting occur among previously vaccinated children."

This is just a small sampling of the damning body of evidence mounting against the cause of vaccinations and their government sponsors. Sinclair highlights many more examples, and other experts have created lists of their own. There is a massive amount of information available about these issues, so it is certainly worth considering in light of the new swine flu program - especially with the revelations that it has been fast-tracked through safety tests under the guise of an "emergency."

But the pandemic announcement by the World Health Organization (WHO), which ushered in the so-called emergency, deserves some historical perspective as well.

Unbeknownst to most people, the definition of what constitutes a pandemic was changed quietly by the WHO earlier this year. The change was dramatic: No longer did the disease have to create "enormous numbers" of deaths and illness to be considered a pandemic, now it just had to be a new strain for which humans have no immunity. The repercussions of the heightened state of emergency can be dramatic, but this will be a topic for another time.

Another bit of historical information worth considering is a past prediction by global health officials that proved to be way off the mark, to say the least. In September of 2005, the head of the United Nations' bird flu preparations estimated that the "epidemic" could cause up to 150 million human deaths. So far, the WHO has confirmed slightly more than 250.

The WHO has also been accused of sparking the AIDS epidemic in Africa via its smallpox vaccination campaign. "I thought it was just a coincidence until we studied the latest findings about the reactions which can be caused by Vaccinia," a WHO advisor told the London Times in an article entitled Smallpox vaccine 'triggered Aids virus'. "Now I believe the smallpox vaccine theory is the explanation to the explosion of Aids." The article continued by noting that: "The greatest spread of HIV infection coincides with the most intense immunization programmes."

The global health "authorities" have made plenty of other significant blunders and miscalculations as well. In 1967, the WHO declared that Ghana was measles-free after 96 percent of the population was vaccinated. But just five years later, the country suffered its most deadly outbreak of the disease.

So while governments like to take credit for success in eradicating disease and protecting the public, this is not generally the reality. In fact, governments and their programs often cause disasters under the guise of caring for citizens, and improved health has much more to do with other factors - like improved hygiene, capitalism, freedom, and the higher standard of living those entail.

"Most people believe that victory over the infectious diseases of the last century came with the invention of immuni[z]ations," writes Dr. Andrew Weil in Health and Healing. "In fact, cholera, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough, etc. were in decline before vaccines for them became available - the result of better methods of sanitation, sewage disposal, and distribution of food and water."

It is clear that the swine flu vaccine carries risks and that governments do not have a stellar track record when it comes to the healthcare business or vaccination programs - or anything really. The disease also seems relatively mild thus far.

Americans should carefully educate themselves regarding the disease and the vaccine - considering the risks of both. But no matter what happens, the government should cease its propaganda and the mass vaccination campaign, with everything that involves. It must obey the Constitution and allow citizens to make their own decisions with their families and doctors.