I am a person that is solely convinced by facts when it comes to contentious issues, but so much of the literature regarding vaccination is based on an argument of emotion. So here is a simple list of fact based arguments about vaccines, all referenced with scientifically sound research papers that have been peer reviewed. With all the cards on the table, it is easy to see why many people say there is only one side to this discussion.
Nothing has been as rigorously researched as the supposed link between vaccination and autism, (specifically MMR and autism). Here’s what we know – there is no link. The one paper that did make the link has not only been discredited, it has been withdrawn. The author has been investigated for unethical practices and fraudulent research. He did not declare his financial interest in finding the link – which were that he was paid to do the research by a law firm hoping to fund a class action law suit for the parents of autistic children. He also planned to develop and market his own single antigen vaccine, which would have pocketed him millions. He stood to make a lot of money from a positive result. When the result wasn’t what he had hoped for, he faked it. For more information, check out http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/autismwakefield.html. It’s from the American Academy of Paediatrics – a credible and reliable source.
The thousands and thousands of other studies that have been conducted could not find any evidence of this link. A major requirement for a piece of research to be considered factual is that it can be replicated. Wakefield’s study cannot, and considering the questionable methodology and undisclosed vested interests, it alone does not stack up well to the torrent of opposing studies. For examples, see here and here . If you check the About the Authors tab in this study you will note that the researchers all hail from well-respected institutions like Harvard and Columbia. You can also see that it has been peer reviewed prior to publication.
Vaccination does not cause autism. It is the one causal link scientists have been able to conclusively discount. We don’t know what causes the nuerological differences in a child with autism, but we do know it is not vaccination. It is time to look elsewhere.
Thimerisol and Aluminium are usually the main culprits here. The truth is, thimerisol is not used in vaccines anymore and has been found to be safe. It is a compound made up of around 49% mercury with the remainder being an assortment of other trace minerals like selenium, sodium, carbon and hydrogen. In a vaccine, it’s purpose is as a preservative. Unlike some other vaccine preservatives it does not reduce the efficacy of the vaccine it protects, so its removal has resulted in lower sero conversion rates, (vaccines are slightly less effective because it was removed). In early 2000, due to the Andrew Wakefield paper in the Lancet, a number of lobbyists moved to have thimerisol removed from childhood vaccines and since 2001 no vaccines on the childhood schedule have contained the compound. Not only is thimerisol safe, but it has been removed from vaccines anyway. It is not responsible for autism, vaccines injury or anything else. If you are interested in reading more, check out this link.
Aluminium, (an adjuvant in several vaccines that ensures efficacy), has also been studied and is safe. The truth is these elements exist in trace amounts in our diets and in the soil our food is grown in. The amount found in vaccines is minimal and is perfectly safe.
For specific details about toxins in vaccines, see the following references – this one is from the AAP again and is quite thorough. This one details the comparitive levels of ‘toxins’ in human breast milk with vaccines, (hint – there’s less in vaccines).
- Vaccines Overload the Immune System
They don’t. The schedule is specifically designed to make sure children are protected as early as possible from infectious disease. This article discusses why alternative schedules are unnecessary -, from the Journal of the AAP.
Some people go so far as to say they would prefer their children develop a natural immunity to disease without the risk of being immunised. Of course, your child may develop a natural immunity if they came into contact with a childhood disease. On the flip side, it may kill them, and meanwhile they may infect other children who may become ill as well. Measles has been highlighted by the World Health Organisation as one of the five largest killers of children worldwide. 122,000 children per year are killed after contracting measles, mostly in countries which do not have access to ongoing vaccination programs. Make no mistake, childhood diseases are deadly.
There is a reason infant mortality rates have plummeted in the last century – vaccines. For more information, read here. You will note this article from the Australian Bureau of statistics also mentions Sudden Infant Death Syndrome – another favourite argument of the anti-vaccine lobby. Statistics show the SIDS has drastically reduced since the introduction of vaccines, so that argument is nonsense. What we do know is that there is no link between SIDS and vaccination. But don’t take my word for it – read here an article from SIDS and Kids.
- There are Natural Alternatives
Nothing protects from disease like vaccines. Not homeopathics, not chiro, not breastfeeding, not a macro diet, nothing. Vaccines are the single best way to protect your child and the community from disease. A good diet, breastfeeding, lots of fresh air, sunshine and exercise are all great things for your children, but they won’t ward off vaccine preventable disease. Be very wary of practitioners who suggest otherwise, particularly if they are trying to sell you something. Even the British Homeopathic Association recommends vaccination. This article specifically references homeopathy with regards to replacing vaccination. This one is more general.
- There is a Conspiracy
Okay, so I have no reference here because it’s hard to prove something doesn’t exist. But think for a moment about who is selling – yes, selling – the conspiracy to you. Is it someone who stands to profit from you not vaccinating your child? Someone that wants you to use natural therapies, for example, who wants you to believe that every doctor, regulator, government official, researcher and pharmaceutical representative is in on a giant conspiracy to make you…decrease the risk of your kids getting sick? Even a fellow parent caught up in their own conspiracy theory fed to them by someone else hoping to profit? Apply the logical test. If it seems far-fetched it probably is. And if someone is selling you something, they are not independent. This piece touches on the big pharma conspiracies and it’s written by a scientist, (her references are written into a link within the article). Interestingly, the man who discovered the polio vaccine, (Jonas Salk) did not make a penny from the patent. He gave it to the world for free. Not much of a conspiracy, but he saved an awful lot of lives and was responsible for the eradication of a deadly and debilitating disease.
A note about disseminating good scientific information from junk science – there is plenty of information on the web about vaccination, but unfortunately not all of it is accurate. If you want to do further reading, (which I encourage you to do if you are still on the fence), have a read of this article for a quick summary about critically evaluating the information you read online with specific regards to vaccination. It has a handy list of sources that contain valid scientific links and give some tips about what to look for when wading through the sea of information on the internet. The article is put out by a US not for profit public health service called the National Network for Immunisation Information.
Your most important source of information when it comes to vaccination or anything else regarding your child’s health, is your local GP. Ask them to explain why vaccination is important and what the possible drawbacks are. Ask them about the rate of vaccine injury, (it differs from vaccine to vaccine but is usually about 1 in 1,000,000). As the ant- vaccination campaign would say, get yourself educated. The idea of introducing a foreign substance to your child’s body can be frightening, but decisions as important as these should be made with facts, not fear, in mind. Because when it comes down to it, it really is a no brainer. Vaccines save lives, and one of them could be the life of someone you care very deeply for. For me, that’s enough.