Vaccines in the News (again)

A new law in New Jersey and a new book brings vaccines into the news again. A New Jersey law now requires parents to get influenza vaccine for their preschool age children as well as other vaccines for their older school age children. For more detailed information read this article in the New York Times or review the requirements on the New Jersey Department of Health website.

I have to say that as a parent of small children, I want to know that the children they hang-out with all day have been vaccinated. Vaccines don't always produce the intended immunity and I don't want them getting sick with anything more serious than the usual infections. Actually I don't want them to get sick at all - but I can't control everything.

A new book written by Paul Offit, a pediatrician, called Autism's False Prophets: Bad Science, Risky Medicine, and the Search for a Cure defends vaccines. The book traces the history of autism theories and is widely supported by by pediatricians, autism researchers, vaccine companies and medical journalists. See this article for more information about the book. It sounds like it could be a great resource. We need to remember how bad some of these diseases are that we are trying to prevent. Many children have died from infectious diseases - I'm happy we can prevent many of them.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Flu is not typically a deadly diseases. Flu shots are loaded with neurotoxins (mercury, aluminum, etc). Flu shots should not be mandated.

posted on Wed, 01/14/2009 - 7:59am
Liza's picture
Liza says:

Influenza can be deadly. The CDC estimates that some 200,000 people in the US are hospitalized due to influenza each year, and 36,000 36,000 people die. Most of those people are very young, or very old--20,000 of the people hospitalized are under 5 years old.

Preschoolers are a reservoir of influenza virus. If you vaccinate them, you can help protect the entire community.

Lots of people who are anti vaccination, or anti certain vaccinations, say that the number of vaccines given in a single visit somehow overwhelms a child's immune system, eventually causing disorders like autism. Paul Offit, of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, has this to say:

"...current shots against 14 diseases contain 153 proteins, while babies cope with thousands of new foreign proteins daily in food, dirt and animal hair, and that the smallpox vaccine that nearly every American over age 30 got as a child contained 200 proteins."

The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia also maintains a great online Vaccine Education Center, with a section on "hot topics."

There is aluminum in some vaccines. (The hepatitis, HiB, DTaP, and pneumococcal vaccines contain aluminum, but the measles, mumps, varicella, rubella, and rotavirus vaccines do not.) It's used as an adjuvant, to boost the body's immune response. You can read more about that here.

"Aluminum salts are the only adjuvants currently licensed for use in the United States. They include aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate and potassium aluminum sulfate (alum). Aluminum salts were found initially to enhance immune responses after immunization with diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in studies performed in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The safety of aluminum has been established by experience over the past 70 years with hundreds of millions of people inoculated with aluminum-containing vaccines. Adverse reactions include redness or nodules at the site of injection."


"The aluminum contained in vaccines is similar to that found in a liter (about 1 quart or 32 fluid ounces) of infant formula. While infants receive about 4.4 milligrams of aluminum in the first six months of life from vaccines, they receive more than that in their diet. Breast-fed infants ingest about 7 milligrams, formula-fed infants ingest about 38 milligrams, and infants who are fed soy formula ingest almost 117 milligrams of aluminum during the same period."

As for mercury...Some flu shots do contain thimerosal, a preservative, and some don't. (You can request thimerosal-free influenza vaccines, and no other routine childhood vaccines licensed for use in the US contain it.) Thimerosal contains a very small amount of ethylmercury, which breaks down quickly in the body and is much less likely to accumulate in tissues and cause damage than its cousin, methylmercury. Further, many, many studies conducted over decades, in dozens of countries, that tracked hundreds of thousands of children have failed to find ANY link to autism.

Our family's pediatrician recommends the flu shot. She's the one who directed me to some of the above resources, and I'll take my medical advice from our doctor.

posted on Wed, 01/14/2009 - 12:34pm
Laurie's picture
Laurie says:

I too wouldn't want to be the parent/daughter/wife/friend of one of the approximately 36,000 people who die each year from influenza. I am vaccinated and encourage others to do the same.

posted on Thu, 01/15/2009 - 10:25pm
cabrunne's picture
cabrunne says:

The new law in New Jersey requiring flu vaccinations for pre-school children and vaccinies for older children is interesting in terms of the backlash of many parents. Despite strong evidence of support from the Centers for Disease Control and from many pnysicians, parents who oppose the law cite the increased risk of autism. On the one hand the public demands that our government whould make every effort to protect our health and welfare on the basis of sound scientific evidence. Yet, this law points to a basic desire to have final parental freedom to make these decisions, even if the rationale for opposing the new regulation is unfounded in fact or any other strong rationale.

posted on Fri, 01/16/2009 - 10:12am
Dawn Marcotte's picture
Dawn Marcotte says:

My daughter suffers from Aspergers, A form of Autism. She was required to take over 25 vaccinations before she turned 3. This has to have some kind of effect, especially when there is mercury in the vaccinations. I think there needs to be more studies about the long term effects of these shots - do they all really need to happen before the age of 3.

posted on Fri, 01/16/2009 - 12:56pm
Liza's picture
Liza says:

I'm sorry about your daughter, Dawn. I have a daughter with a sensory processing disorder, so I have a sense of how frustrating it can be.

But I need to emphasize that there is NO mercury in routine childhood immunizations licensed for use in the US. The only exposure to Thimerosal kids are getting is through flu shots.

Thimerosal's been out of childhood vaccines since 2001. If mercury was the cause of autism, you'd expect the rate of diagnoses to be decreasing. But it isn't. It's increasing. That's pretty strong evidence that thimerosal isn't the cause.

As for the timing and number of vaccinations, here's what the CDC has to say. Basically, kids get the shots before they're 3 because that's when they're most vulnerable to the diseases the shots protect against. And kids are exposed every day to more antigens and foreign proteins -- and stuff like formaldehyde and aluminum, I should add -- than vaccines expose them to.

For my money, I'll bet that autism spectrum disorders and sensory processing disorders aren't due to any one cause. My guess is that there's a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors at work.

posted on Fri, 01/16/2009 - 1:06pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Might it also be that we are simply more aware of some of these disorders, and so they are diagnosed where in the past they might have been unnoticed or unexplained?

I think that we need better science education for parents in order for them to understand what evidence is and is not. Without understanding how science works, parents can so easily be duped by fear mongers.

posted on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 9:04am
David Pollard's picture
David Pollard says:

Research by Laura Curran and colleagues may hold a clue to the perceived connection between vaccination and autism. Their research discovered that autistic spectrum symptoms were reduced during the time that infants had a fever. Rodney Cotterill had published details of similar findings in Nature as early 1985, in a paper titled 'Fever in Autistics', though there seems to have been little further research in this area until recently.

Autistic spectrum symptoms generally develop quite slowly. In a proportion of cases it could well be that, because of their slow onset, existing symptoms would not have been noticed at the time of vaccination. Vaccination can cause a fever. Fever reduces autistic spectrum symptoms, and these then return as it abates.

Because the symptoms return relatively rapidly as the fever comes to an end, and because parents may be more aware of nuances of behaviour at such times, this may be the point when symptoms which already existed are first noticed.

In these situations, when autism is subsequently diagnosed, they will not unreasonably conclude that as the symptoms appeared soon after vaccination it was the vaccination that caused the autism.

If this explanation for anecdotal accounts is indeed correct, it would go some way towards explaining the persistence of the urban myth. For to say that there is no connection whatsoever between the vaccination and the symptoms is, in effect, to call those parents who observe such a connection liars. A proportion will, not without justification, dig in their heels and say that the scientists are wrong; because the epidemiological conclusions deny the evidence of their own eyes.

The myth that vaccination causes autism can be expected to disappear only when this correlation, that the jab may cause symptoms to come to notice, is recognised and acknowledged. As the recent figures on measles infections show, the fear of vaccination has had damaging consequences.

Possibly what is needed is research into the roots of the urban myth, rather than assurances from politicians which no one really trusts. It's a mistake to treat all parents as stupid.

posted on Sun, 02/01/2009 - 9:22pm
carol's picture
carol says:


posted on Mon, 03/16/2009 - 10:01am
zachary william ambrose froelich's picture
zachary william ambrose froelich says:

Vaccines are the way to go. Well done New Jersey!

posted on Sun, 03/29/2009 - 3:41pm
good mom's picture
good mom says:

Vaccines are dangerous for those who cannot tolerate them - such as kids will an egg allergy or other severe food allergies. Allergy testing should be done before vaccines are administered!

posted on Tue, 04/07/2009 - 12:29pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

I absolutly hate shots! :o)

posted on Wed, 04/08/2009 - 2:38pm

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