Are Multiple Vaccines Safe?

“One hundred years ago, children received 1 vaccine (the smallpox vaccine). Forty years ago, children received 5 vaccines routinely (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and smallpox vaccines) and as many as 8 shots by 2 years of age. Today, children receive 11 vaccines routinely and as many as 20 shots by 2 years of age,” the American Academy of Pediatrics states.[1]

The rising number of vaccinations given to children has raised concerns of parents. As a consequence of these trends, recent national surveys (from 2002) found that 23% of parents questioned the number of shots recommended for their children, and 25% were concerned that vaccines might weaken the immune system.[2]

Their fears have then been fueled even more since the British Doctor Andrew Wakefield published an article, since discredited, in The Lancet in which he described several children who developed signs of autism and intestinal symptoms following their MMR immunization. MMR is the combined vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella. It is given as a combined vaccine because separately they would require six injections in total, meaning that there could be a longer delay before the child was fully vaccinated, leaving them at risk[3].  Since its introduction, the number of children who catch these diseases has fallen to an all-time low[4]. Dr. Wakefield’s conclusion, however, was that the vaccine inflamed the disease in a manner that allowed an unspecified toxic substance to cross into the bloodstream. Medically the concerns raised by Wakefield have been disproved and the Lancet has retracted the article,[5] as had the twelve coauthors. Wakefield himself has been found to have had conflicts of interest and has been accused of falsifying his findings[6] and found guilty of professional misconduct by the UK General Medical Council and struck off the medical register.[7] This however is unlikely to completely reassure about multiple vaccines.

As the British media picked up the story, anecdotes from parents began to circulate in support. Vaccination rates in Britain have dropped to the point that outbreaks of the disease are again occurring. Many parents of autistic children on both sides of the Atlantic have embraced the theory. And many parents are just not sure what to think. Is the MMR vaccine really guilty as charged?[8]

This debate definitely is not one to be closed on basis of the majority of medical personnel assuring the vaccinations are safe. In August 2010, a man who suffered severe brain damage after being given the MMR vaccine as a baby has been awarded £90,000 in a compensation ruling.[9]

So do the potential benefits of multiple vaccines outweigh harms of the few? Or are multiple vaccines just too dangerous to use in general?   

[1] Offit Paul, Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?, 01/01/2002, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/1/124.full, accessed 06/01/2011

[2] Offit Paul, Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?, 01/01/2002, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/1/124.full, accessed 06/01/2011

[3] Bupa, Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, January 2010, http://www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/directory/m/mmr-vaccine, accessed 13/07/2011

[5] Harris, Gardiner, ‘Journal Retracts 1998 Paper Linking Autism to Vaccines’, 2010

[6] Deer, Brian, ‘Secrets of the MMR scare, How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed’, 2011

[7] Triggle, Nick, ‘MMR doctor struck from register’, 2010

[8] DukeHealth.org, Does the MMR Vaccine Cause Autism?  http://www.dukehealth.org/health_library/advice_from_doctors/your_childs_health/mmr_vaccine_and_autism, accessed 05/31/2011

[9] Heidi Blake, Man disabled by MMR vaccine awarded 90 000 after 13-year fight, 08/30/2010  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7970315/Man-disabled-by-MMR-vaccine-awarded-90000-after-13-year-fight.html, accessed 05/31/2011

 

Title 
Multiple vaccines serve millions with improved immunity
Point 

Multiple vaccines do the job of individual vaccines, but more efficiently and faster. Vaccines work because our body has a natural defense system called the immune system. The immune system recognizes foreign bodies such as viruses and bacteria and creates antibodies to destroy them. Once your immune system has had contact with a particular virus or bacteria it knows how to protect the body against it. Vaccines use the body’s ability to do this to help protect us against diseases that may otherwise be deadly. Vaccines contains part of the virus or disease and when injected stimulate the body to create antibodies to fight and neutralize the disease.

Multiple vaccines specifically are more efficient in delivering such vaccines than separate, individual injections. Combined vaccines reduce the number of necessary injections by a third, meaning less pain and less possible side-effects. Combined vaccines also reduce the time that children are at risk from the diseases being vaccinated against, leading directly to fewer cases of such diseases in the population[1]. The MMR combined vaccine, for example, which protects against measles, mumps and rubella, has led to an ‘all-time low’ number of children catching these diseases since being introduced in the United Kingdom[2].

Let us be absolutely clear. The alternative to multiple vaccinations are single vaccinations, which take time and expose risk. Undoubtedly children’s lives have been endangered or lost for a completely fictional harm.

[1] Bupa, Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, January 2010, http://www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/directory/m/mmr-vaccine, accessed 13/07/2011

[2] NHS Choices, Introduction, http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/mmr/pages/introduction.aspx?WT.mc_id=010902, accessed 13/07/11

Counterpoint 

While multiple vaccines serve many, there are great concerns for individual members of society. This is why the United States government, for example, has established the “Vaccine Injury Compensation Funds”. The mission of these funds is that: “The VICP was established to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines.”[1]

The compensations are given, according to the HRSA to victims of the following vaccinations:

“Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP, DTaP, Tdap, DT, Td, or TT), Haemophilus nfluenza type b (Hib), Hepatitis A (HAV), Hepatitis B (HBV), Human papillomavirus (HPV), Influenza (TIV, LAIV) [given each year during the flu season], Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR, MR, M, R), Meningococcal (MCV4, MPSV4), Polio (OPV or IPV), Pneumococcal conjugate (PCV), Rotavirus (RV), Varicella (VZV), Any combination of the vaccines above, Additional vaccines may be added in the future.”[2]

Many of the vaccinations listed above are multiple vaccines. From this we can conclude, that many of them are not safe for each individual that gets vaccine.

[1] Health Resources and Service Administration, IVCP program, http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/, accessed 06/11/2011

[2] Health Resources and Service Administration, IVCP program,  http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/covered_vaccines.htm, accessed 06/11/2011

Title 
Multiple vaccines cause no harm
Point 

Despite fears to the contrary, multiple vaccines cause no harm. Being given immunization in many cases means that people receive a weakened virus. Many believe that because of this they will have a weakened immune system and also suffer from long term body harm.  The evidence suggests this is not the case, and that combined vaccinations cause no adverse harm in the vast majority of cases.

A University of Louisiana study, in which more than 1,000 children underwent in-depth neuropsychological tests after receiving a series of vaccinations, found that ‘there was no evidence of neurodevelopmental delays or deficits associated with on-time vaccination’.[1]

Further, multiple vaccinations, which ensure not only that children get their vaccinations but that they do so as quickly as possible, are associated with ‘improved performance’ compared with a control group that received the vaccinations individually and therefore more slowly[2]. Therefore, not only are multiple vaccines harmless, they are a better choice for parents hoping to ensure their children are inoculated from certain diseases.

This is nothing but scare-mongering by the press. No evidence exists that there is a link between MMR or any multiple vaccine and the development of autism. Pseudo-experts are exploiting the pain of families that have children which have this unfortunate disease. They should be ashamed of themselves.

[1]KevinMd.com, Multiple vaccines in infants are harmful, a theory disproved http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2010/06/multiple-vaccines-infants-harmful-theory-disproved.html, accessed 06/13/2011

[2] KevinMd.com, Multiple vaccines in infants are harmful, a theory disproved http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2010/06/multiple-vaccines-infants-harmful-theory-disproved.html, accessed 06/13/2011

Counterpoint 

The problem with studies that claim to prove there is no harm with multiple vaccines, are that they are studies that are firstly based on ethical restrictions. A test that would conclusively prove the harm of multiple vaccines would require deliberately denying certain children inoculation. Secondly, they monitor only the general population (in preliminary studies they exclude certain risk groups) and in studies after the administration of vaccines usually contribute some of the negative results to other environmental factors.

Studies are therefore in no way conclusive and do not disprove fully the claim that there is no harm connected with multiple vaccines.   

Title 
Multiple vaccines do not cause autism
Point 

In 1998, Dr, Andrew Wakefield started a big campaign against multiple vaccinations, when his research, published in The Lancet (a medical journal) a study on how MMR jabs increase the likelihood of children for autism. Because it was published in a well-known magazine it was considered a reliable source.

Since then several studies (31 according to the NHS) disproved the claims made by a study. They’ve proven there is no link between MMR vaccinations and autism.[1]      

Further on the World Health Organisation explained in 2003, that autism, especially in countries with high vaccination rates has not increased. The WHO states, that: “Autistic spectrum disorder represents a continuum of cognitive and neurobehavioral disorders including autism. The prevalence of autism varies considerably with case ascertainment, ranging from 0.7 – 21.1 per 10 000 children, with autistic spectrum disorder estimated to be 1 – 6 per 1000.”[2]

Based on that evidence we see, that not more children became autistic because of the vaccination and that on scientific grounds there is no found linkage between autism and multiple vaccination.

[1] NHS: Ruling on doctor in MMR scare, January 2010 http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/01January/Pages/MMR-vaccine-autism-scare-doctor.aspx, accessed 06/13/2011

[2] World Health Organization, MMR and Autism, published 01/23/2003 http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/topics/mmr/mmr_autism/en/, accessed 06/13/2011

Counterpoint 

Even though major science research has shown that there is no link between syndromes such as autism and multiple vaccinations, a major aspect proponents of the theory claim is the ingredient “Mercury”, that may cause many of the problems for brain cells and other behavioral functions. For example according to a study, Mercury that is present in MMR “readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, preferentially targets nerve cells and nerve fiber and degrades them”. [1]    

[1] David Thower, A review of evidence between Vaccination and regressive autism, NTL World  http://www.nccn.net/~wwithin/MMR_VaccineTHROWER.pdf, accessed 06/13/2011

Title 
All vaccinations are tested rigorously before they are approved, and tracked afterwards
Point 

All vaccinations are tested rigorously before they are approved for use. As vaccinations represent an important and potential harmful intrusion in an individual’s body, it is very important that they are safe. This is especially clear when governments decide to make immunization obligatory; they have to be sure they administer to their citizens safe vaccinations.

Based on the increase in the number of compulsory vaccinations in different countries, many governments have also stocked up on the funding of vaccination controlling of offered immunization treatments. Such stockpiling would only occur if they were confident that the vaccines have passed through a rigorous testing process.  

Furthermore, even after being approved, organizations exist, like the United States Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, as a center for tracking adverse events related to specific vaccines. If the events classified as serious are reported regularly for a specific vaccine, the vaccine can be subject to further study[1].

[1] Why it is important to monitor vaccine safety, Center for disease control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccine_monitoring/Index.html, accessed 07/10/2011

Counterpoint 

The problem with current testing is that, while they provide some control groups usually those with rare reactions are not included in trials (because it may represent even less than 1 % of the population in a country). So even though there is deliberate screening for rare reactions, it is very likely that such events do not even get detected. The policy is that if serious reactions are found when the vaccine is in widespread use, the vaccine may be withdrawn. But by then it has made already damage and endangered human lives.

Further on, due to ethical concerns vaccine trials may deliberately exclude members of high risk groups and so prevent conclusive consequences for those groups. So while vaccines may be safe for the general population, they represent a high risk for parts of the population for which trials have not been done due to different reasons.[1]

[1] Why it is important to monitor vaccine safety, Center for disease control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccine_monitoring/Index.html, accessed 07/10/2011

Title 
More vaccines together destroy the immune system
Point 

Giving just one vaccination shot to a body means injecting in it a virus. The subsequent process is justified as follows, using the example of a polio vaccination: “The vaccine is a clear, colorless sterile suspension for subcutaneous injection. IPV contains strains of the 3 types of polioviruses (Types 1, 2, and 3). After some time has passed, produces protective antibodies in the blood (serum immunity)” as stated by Brown University.[1] So by this logic, the more vaccines are combined and given together the more viruses are induced to the body of a child. This could potentially cause a weakened immune system if the antibodies did not form as expected.

Dr. Neustaeder Randal states that in 1996 a study (published in the New England Journal of Medicine) found out that the tetanus vaccine, for example, disables the immune system in HIV patients. Tetanus vaccination produced a drop in T cells (cells which should protect the body from any dieseases) in 10 of 13 patients, a classic sign of immune deficiency. HIV viral replication increased dramatically in response to tetanus vaccine. Finally, white blood cells from 7 of 10 uninfected individuals became more susceptible to HIV infection following tetanus vaccination.[2]

This demonstrates, for some, a connection between a weakened immune system and vaccination. This connection would only be exacerbated with multiple vaccinations.

[1] Vaccine Strategies, Brown University http://www.brown.edu/Courses/Bio_160/Projects1999/polio/vac.html, accessed 06/03/2011

[2] Neustaedter Randal, Do vaccines disable the immune system ?,  http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/Do_Vaccines_Disable_the_Immune_System/539, accessed 06/03/2011

Counterpoint 

The American board of Pediatricians states that: “Studies on the diversity of antigen receptors indicate that the immune system has the capacity to respond to extremely large numbers of antigens. Current data suggest that the theoretical capacity determined by diversity of antibody variable gene regions would allow for as many as 109 to 1011 different antibody specificities. But this prediction is limited by the number of circulating B cells and the likely redundancy of antibodies generated by an individual.”

And further on, the board explains that: “If vaccines overwhelmed or weakened the immune system, then one would expect lesser immune responses when vaccines are given at the same time as compared with when they are given at different times. However, the following vaccines induce similar humoral immune responses when given at the same or different times:

1) MMR and varicella

2) MMR, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP), and OPV

3) hepatitis B, diphtheria-tetanus, and OPV

4) influenza and pneumococcus

5) MMR, DTP-Hib, and varicella

6) MMR and Hib and 7) DTP and Hib

Achieving similar immune responses by giving vaccines at the same time at different sites may be more easily accomplished than by combining vaccines in the same syringe. Challenges to giving many vaccines in a single injection are based partly on incompatibilities of agents used to buffer or stabilize individual vaccines.[1]

[1] Offit Paul, Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?, 01/01/2002, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/1/124.full, accessed 06/01/2011

Title 
Cases prove that vaccines have bad consequences for children’s health
Point 

Human bodies are different and react to drugs differently. Especially when there is not just one foreign substance, but let us say 24 of them given to a human body over a period of time, there is increased risk that at least one of the substances may cause damage to the body. The drugs can damage an individual for life.

The case of Robert Fletcher can be used as an example (reported by the Telegraph): “The seizure occurred ten days after the vaccination. Robert is severely disabled as a result of vaccination. Mrs Fletcher said: “Robert is nearly 19 but mentally he is like a 14-month-old toddler. He can’t stand unaided and he is doubly incontinent. He can’t speak except to say ‘Hi, Mum’ or ‘Hi, Daddy’.” [1]

Robert Fletcher is not the only one with such severe symptoms and worse is that physicians never can be sure what the outcome will be. So multiple vaccines are dangerous, as they have no predicted outcome (because people’s response to vaccinations are varied) but, in a minority of cases, they present with very severe consequences.   

[1] Heidi Blake, Man disabled by MMR vaccine awarded 90 000 after 13-year fight, 08/30/2010  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7970315/Man-disabled-by-MMR-vaccine-awarded-90000-after-13-year-fight.html, accessed 05/31/2011

Counterpoint 

Every single medicine has some side effect, but we don’t ban all medicine.

In most cases vaccinations may have some mild side effects:  

“DTaP/IPV/Hib: The vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio and Hib may cause redness and swelling on the site of vaccination, which lasts a few days. Babies may have a mild fever for up to ten days following the jabs.PCV: Redness and inflammation at the injection site affects about one in seven children. Mild symptoms of irritability, raised temperature and digestive disturbance may occur.MenC: Swelling and redness at the injection site is common. Some toddlers have disturbed sleep and some a light fever within a few days of their jab. Older children may complain of a mild headache.

MMR: Cold symptoms, a fever and swollen salivary glands may be noticed in children any time from a few days to three weeks after their MMR jab. Some may develop a rash or lose their appetite for up to ten days.”[1]

The side effects are very low compared with those associated with the diseases themselves. Mild versions of the symptoms associated with the disease being vaccinated against are occasional side effects. Allergic responses are very rare.

[1]Babies and immunization, BBC Health http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/child_development/babies_immunisation.shtml,accessed 06/13/2011

Title 
Pharmaceutical companies want people to believe it’s safe
Point 

The vaccination market is large and very profitable; as such, pharmaceutical companies have an interest in and the clout required to ensure that vaccines that are harmful are not reported as such. Up to the year 2003 manufacturers' profits on vaccinations have risen as the average cost to fully immunize a child at a private physician's office has climbed 243% since 1986, from $107 to $367. The most prominent beneficiaries have been the two producers who dominate the U.S. market for DPT and polio vaccines, Connaught Laboratories ($300 million in U.S. sales last year) and Wyeth-Lederle Vaccines & Pediatrics ($350 million). U.S. revenues for both companies have increased 300% since 1986, estimates David Molowa, international pharmaceutical analyst at the Wall Street investment firm Bear Stearns. In the same time only a few people have been compensated for the loss or impairment of their children due to vaccines.[1]

Further on in the document: “Vaccines get the full story”: The same people who make rules and recommendations about vaccination profit from vaccine sales.  For example, Dr. Julie Gerberding, who was in charge of the CDC for eight years, is now the President of Merck Vaccines.  Dr. Paul Offit, a member of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP), developed and patented his own vaccine.[2]

These organizations and beneficiaries have a vested interest in ensuring that their vaccinations appear publicly as safe and harmless.

[1] Whale Magazine, The lethal dangers of billion-dollar vaccine business with government approval, drug companies sell vaccines that leave your child brain damaged, can spread polio from your baby to you and can even kill, http://www.whale.to/vaccines/money_mag.html accessed 06/13/2011

[2] International Medical Council on Vaccination, Vaccines get the full story, http://www.naturalnews.com/SpecialReports/VaccinesFullStory/v1/VaccineReport-EN.pdf, accessed 06/13/2011

Counterpoint 

The mere fact pharmaceutical companies make profits from their vaccines is not evidence of anything other than innovation and sound economics. It wouldn’t matter how hard pharmaceutical companies wanted people to believe vaccines were safe, if they were harmful, the evidence would be quickly apparent. The fact only a few people have been compensated for damages resulting from vaccines is testament not to the will of pharmaceutical companies to deny the ill effects of their vaccines, but rather proof that in the overwhelming majority of cases, the vaccines are safe and effective. 

Bibliography 

Single Author:

1) Offit Paul, Addressing Parents’ Concerns: Do Multiple Vaccines Overwhelm or Weaken the Infant’s Immune System?, 01/01/2002, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/109/1/124.full, accessed 06/01/2011

4) Heidi Blake, Man disabled by MMR vaccine awarded 90 000 after 13-year fight, 08/30/2010  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7970315/Man-disabled-by-MMR-vaccine-awarded-90000-after-13-year-fight.html, accessed 05/31/2011

16) Neustaedter Randal, Do vaccines disable the immune system ?,  http://www.healthy.net/Health/Article/Do_Vaccines_Disable_the_Immune_System/539, accessed 06/03/2011

Deer, Brian, ‘Secrets of the MMR scare, How the case against the MMR vaccine was fixed’, BMJ, 342:c5347, 5 January 2011, http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347.full

Harris, Gardiner, ‘Journal Retracts 1998 Paper Linking Autism to Vaccines’, The New York Times, 2 February 2010, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/03/health/research/03lancet.html

Triggle, Nick, ‘MMR doctor struck from register’, BBC News, 24 May 2010, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8695267.stm

Author unknown or organizational information:

3) DukeHealth.org, Does the MMR Vaccine Cause Autism?  http://www.dukehealth.org/health_library/advice_from_doctors/your_childs_health/mmr_vaccine_and_autism, accessed 05/31/2011

5) How do vaccines work, http://wanttoknowit.com/how-do-vaccines-work/, accessed 06/03/2011

6) Post-Polio Health International, Incidence of Poliomyelitis in the US http://www.post-polio.org/ir-usa.html, accessed 06/03/2011

7) Health Resources and Service Administration, IVCP program, http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/, accessed 06/11/2011

8) Health Resources and Service Administration, IVCP program,  http://www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation/covered_vaccines.htm, accessed 06/11/2011

9) NHS: Ruling on doctor in MMR scare, January 2010 http://www.nhs.uk/news/2010/01January/Pages/MMR-vaccine-autism-scare-doctor.aspx, accessed 06/13/2011

10) World Health Organization, MMR and Autism, published 01/23/2003 http://www.who.int/vaccine_safety/topics/mmr/mmr_autism/en/, accessed 06/13/2011

12) KevinMd.com, Multiple vaccines in infants are harmful, a theory disproved http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2010/06/multiple-vaccines-infants-harmful-theory-disproved.html, accessed 06/13/2011

13, 14) Why it is important to monitor vaccine safety, Center for disease control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/Vaccine_monitoring/Index.html, accessed 07/10/2011

15) Vaccine Strategies, Brown University http://www.brown.edu/Courses/Bio_160/Projects1999/polio/vac.html, accessed 06/03/2011

19) Babies and immunization, BBC Health http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/child_development/babies_immunisation.shtml,accessed 06/13/2011

20) Whale Magazine, The lethal dangers of billion-dollar vaccine business with government approval, drug companies sell vaccines that leave your child brain damaged, can spread polio from your baby to you and can even kill, http://www.whale.to/vaccines/money_mag.html accessed 06/13/2011

21) International Medical Council on Vaccination, Vaccines get the full story, http://www.naturalnews.com/SpecialReports/VaccinesFullStory/v1/VaccineReport-EN.pdf, accessed 06/13/2011

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