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Dr Anita Milicic, an immunologist from the University of Oxford, has spoken out on the matter of vaccines .

She insists there is no evidence vaccines can cause autism or other diseases.

In fact, failing to be immunised leaves children at risk of meningitis, polio, measles and tetanus, among other potentially life-threatening illnesses.

Dr Milicic writing for The Conversation explains why no parent should leave their child unvaccinated.

anita

She wrote… “Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg recently posted a photo on the social networking site of his two-month-old daughter in the doctor’s surgery waiting to be vaccinated. It provoked a storm on social media, with millions of people commenting on the pros and cons of vaccination.

So was Zuckerberg right to have his child vaccinated? You take your perfectly healthy, happy baby to the doctor, she stabs her in the leg with a needle and you’re left holding a child that screams the place down for two minutes.

Well, it’s either that or risk catching meningitis, pneumonia, polio, diphtheria, measles, tetanus, or rubella.

In 1980, measles alone caused around 2.6m deaths. Global immunisation has brought this down, but still 115,000 people died from measles in 2014, mostly small children. Why, when we have a safe and effective vaccine against measles?

There are many logistical obstacles to successful vaccination globally, especially in poor countries, but that’s a different discussion. Let’s instead focus on busting some vaccination myths that have contributed to the recent rise of several infectious diseases in developed countries.

Myth 1: MMR vaccine causes autism

Rarely has a piece of misinformation single-handedly caused so much damage. In 1998, a Lancet paper by Andrew Wakefield proposed a causal link between the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and autism. Autism is usually diagnosed in preschool children (four-year-olds in the UK), and the second dose of MMR is given between ages three and four. The two can coincide, but there is no causality.

A formal inquiry found the research fraudulent and unethical – the children with autism were subjected to unnecessary invasive procedures such as colonoscopies and lumbar punctures. It was discredited and the paper retracted. But the damage was done. The MMR vaccine uptake in the UK fell from 94% to under 70%. In 2013, measles returned, resulting in serious illness, hospitalisation and even deaths in the UK and US.

Myth 2: The HPV vaccine isn’t safe

Human papilloma virus (HPV)

This claim is based on selective reporting of unexpected symptoms following a vaccination. Since 1990 health providers are required to report all adverse events that occur after vaccination, the VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System). To date, over 30,000 adverse events and 200 deaths have been recorded for the new HPV vaccine Gardasil (from nearly 200m administered doses). When a vaccine starts collecting bad reports, the number of reported “adverse events” goes up sharply. This does not mean the vaccine is the cause of these events, or deaths. What it means is that a death occurred after the person was vaccinated. People of all ages die worldwide every day. Some will have even received a vaccine prior to their death.

The only way to ensure that the reported adverse events are linked to a vaccine is to compare the number of the same events in a similar but unvaccinated sample of the population.

In November 2015, the European Medicines Agency completed a thorough review of HPV vaccine safety and found no concerns.

Myth 3: Vaccines contain toxic chemicals

Aluminium salts are commonly added to improve the immune response to the vaccine. Aluminium occurs naturally in breast milk, formula milk, some foods and drinking water. The total amount of infant exposure through food and vaccination is well within the recommended safe levels.

Thiomersal is a vaccine preservative containing a form of mercury that is easily excreted from the body (unlike methyl mercury found in tuna fish). The concerns about its toxicity are only theoretical and have not been scientifically proven. Thiomersal is not found in the childhood vaccines routinely used in the UK.

Formaldehyde is used in vaccine production to inactivate toxins from bacteria and viruses. A pear contains around 50 times more formaldehyde than is found in any vaccine.

Unlike most drugs, the vaccine patient information leaflets list every ingredient used in the vaccine production, including trace substances, so that anyone with a severe allergy to any of these substances is consulted prior to vaccination.

Myth 4: Vaccines can give you the disease they’re meant to be protecting you from

It is impossible to get a disease from a vaccine made with killed bacteria or viruses, or made with only part of the bacteria or virus. In rare cases, vaccines that contain a live weakened virus can cause a mild form of the disease they protect against. The live oral polio vaccine did cause polio in a handful of cases and has not been used in the UK since 2004. The MMR vaccine very occasionally causes a mild form of measles or mumps that can last for a day or two. This kind of vaccine is only a risk to children with weak immune systems, such as those with cancer, who instead have to rely on protection through herd immunity.

Myth 5: Vaccines only profit Big Pharma

Yes, vaccines are profitable, but far less profitable than most drugs, amounting to only 1-2% of global pharmaceutical sales. It takes decades and hundreds of millions of dollars in investment to develop and licence one vaccine. Without recouping these costs there would be no investment to develop new vaccines. Some vaccines are too costly for global coverage – although the manufacturers sell them at a reduced price to the developing countries and organised vaccination initiatives. And, as we are currently in the Decade of Vaccines, greater vaccine accessibility and improved pricing transparency are high on the agenda of the WHO and GAVI (a Global Vaccine Alliance), and major funders such as the Gates Foundation.”

She adds – “We are fortunate to live in a time where we have access to vaccines against many terrible diseases. We should take advantage of this. As most parents will know, babies and young children are particularly prone to infections. Don’t compromise your child’s health by denying them vaccination. If they do catch something, it might just be too late.”

Share your thoughts below.

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  • Thanks for sharing this article with good information which combats the untruths that are out there about vaccination.


    • Also, I am pleased that so many people are coming out to explode the myths around vaccinations.

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  • I would never even consider not vaccinating my child. Mainly for her protection but for the protection of other kids and school etc too. I think its great now that they’re enforcing that children who are not vaccinated cannot attend certain child care centres. Its about time!

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  • I too believe in immunisation. Cheers.

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  • I believe in immunisation. My son has autism and in hindsight, his symptoms were clear before his first vaccination. I abhor those who claim the link is there. It is damaging, ill-informed and spiteful. I don’t know how anyone can watch a child with whooping cough and say that not to vaccinate is ok.

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  • it is important to protect from an outbreak and I believe in immuisation

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  • Thanks so much for publishing this .
    Vaccination is so important.

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  • My youngest had an adverse reaction to the triple antigen needle. He ended up with a very high temperature and mouth ulcers. Once he had recovered from this we waited 3 months then had the needle repeated but instead of one needle, it was spread out over 3 needles and given once a month. He had no problems. I believe immunisation saves a lot of lives.

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  • A comment made about both sides having strong arguments. I wonder how ‘strong’ there opinion would be if their child died from something so easily preventable- like measles.

    Thanks you to the author for writing about the original (rubbish) article from Andrew what’s his face, that started all this rubbish behaviour from parents (not vaccinating their children). It was found to be , after a formal inquiry (unsurprisingly), rubbish.

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  • Thankyou. Some great information there. It’s amazing how many people still believe the autism link despite it being found to be fraudulent and discredited. I love that this addresses some of the common myths.

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  • This is one of these big debates where you find people pro or con an idea (same for breast feeding and formula feeding). This article is clearly written by someone is pro the idea. I don’t think that someone who’s against vaccination will be influenced positively by this article.Personally I think both sides have some strong points.

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  • So good to read this article. Very convincing.

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  • I have seriously never understood the debate. My generation (born in the late 80’s, early 90’s) is basically telling their parents that they are idiots that didn’t care about us when they vaccinated us by refusing to vaccinate our kids. When i fell pregnant with my first, there was absolutely no question in my mind that we were going to vaccinate. It was just another part and oarcel of having a child in my mind

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  • Thank you for publishing this article. So important for people to read. Hopefully another step towards getting most people to realise vaccines save lives and any so called risks dont even compare to the illness your child or another could suffer from being unvaccinated.


    • Very well said. The higher the population protected, the safer everyone will be. Sometimes I think people need to be reminded how debilitating and deadly these diseases are, before they decline to protect their children.

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  • Fantastic article. I hope it makes a difference

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  • Great article. The problem is that for every actual, clinical fact out there in relation to vaccines, there’s a pseudo-scientific rebuttal thrown back from people who have “done their research”.

    Reply

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