George and Candy Gonzalez make all sorts of misleading statements in their letter last week (Fri 28th). It would take a very long time to address each point, but let me reply to a few. First, whilst acknowledging the fact that any medical intervention has risks, the science is clear: vaccines are safe and effective, and adverse side effects are rare. In fact, and more importantly, NOT vaccinating your child has more risk!
Secondly, though there are more vaccinations than ever before, today’s vaccines are far more efficient. Small children are actually exposed to fewer immunologic components overall than children in past decades.
Thirdly, the type of mercury found in thimerosal, ethylmercury, differs from methylmercury, the type commonly found in fish and known to be harmful in large amounts. Ethylmercury, is broken down and excreted from the body much more quickly than methylmercury, and no scientific study has found a link between ethylmercury and autism or any other harmful effects. With respect to formaldehyde, research shows there is 50 to 70 times more formaldehyde present in an average newborn’s body than in a single dose of vaccine. In brief, current science shows formaldehyde in vaccines to be harmless. And where aluminum is concerned, it is the third most common naturally-occurring element, after oxygen and silicon. It is found in plants, soil, air, and water. A breast-fed infant will naturally ingest around 7 milligrams of aluminum in her diet throughout the first six months of her life. In contrast, the standard vaccines administered over the first six months of an infant’s life contain an average of just 4.4 milligrams of aluminum. Aluminum has been used safely for over six decades in vaccines, with no scientific evidence indicating otherwise.
Fourth, yes, the US passed the 1986 which gave vaccine manufacturers immunity, for good reasons at the time. This does not mean you cannot receive compensation for adverse effects, and indeed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act has paid over US$3 billion (up to 2012). Between 1988 to 2008- 925 claims were compensated – a very, very small number of the children actually vaccinated in that same period.
The science is open, available and comprehensive with respect to vaccines, and I encourage everyone to read and educate themselves on the matter. But just like climate change, there is a minority of loud voices that lead an anti-vaccine campaign based on fear and bad science – and it is dangerous for every child.
Equally Concerned About All Children