What do you think about vaccines? Are you concerned about their long-term side effects?
You are not alone, some percentage of the population (nationally and internationally) are concerned about getting vaccinated (e.g. against measles) and end up suffering from other diseases, such as a well-known and commonly mentioned disease, autism.
Some of the opponents of vaccines say that most of the vaccines contain mercury, and getting these products can result in nerve cell damage and consequently autism.
Because of this simple statement, some parents think that this linkage is so easy to understand and makes so much sense that it cannot be wrong. Subsequently, many of these parents have been refusing to vaccinate their children.
Now, we can’t understand why vaccination is important without understanding the disease that we are trying to vaccinate against.
Let me tell you more about measles,
Measles or rubeola is a viral infection and the virus itself is a member of the family Paramyxoviridae (the name is a real tongue twister). This virus usually enters the body through the airways and eyes and then spreads to the lymph nodes.
The infected individuals are mostly asymptomatic up to 10 days after the first virus entry into the body.
After the above period, some of the infected patients present with generalized symptoms such as fever, malaise, cough, red eye and runny nose.
Some patients also could present with so-called Koplik’s spot.
What is a Koplik’s spot?
These spots are usually 1 to 3 mm whitish, grayish, or bluish elevations, typically seen inside the mouth and around the cheek area. These spots could last up to 3 days and then disappear.
Patient with measles could also develop a rash that interestingly starts on the face and then spreads to neck, upper torso, lower torso and at the end to the extremities. The rash begins to improve after 2 days.
A complicated measles infection can result in pneumonia, infection of the brain and heart and a few infected individuals can die from the above complications.
How to manage measles?
The best way to manage measles after it happens is supportive care and mostly with treating the complications of this infection.
But clearly, the best management is to prevent the disease in the first place and nothing (at this point of time) can compete with vaccination.
What are some concerns about vaccines and why do some parents refuse to vaccinate their children?
Families refuse the vaccines for many reasons, including:
- Concerns about the safety of vaccines
- Believing that their children are safe and they are not at danger of getting the disease
- The costs of the vaccines
- Believing in natural ways of treating a disease
Many opponents of the measles vaccine rely on a study published in Lancet in 1998 that reported about 12 children who received measles, mumps and rubella vaccination (MMR) and developed chronic bowel problems and 9 of them developed autism.
Later, it was found that this “study” was based on fraudulent information and the paper was retracted in 2010.
But until today, many individuals who are against measles vaccination base their arguments on the findings of this fraudulent study.
How about thimerosal and autism?
Since the 1980s, the number of children who have been diagnosed with autism is increasing. And since this time more children are vaccinated. If we look at this trend then we might conclude that more vaccination equals more autism.
However, to date, no national or international study could show any association between vaccinations and autism.
Why are we noticing an increase in number of children diagnosed with autism?
The reason for this change is probably related to altered diagnostic criteria and also higher level of awareness in the public and among professionals.
What about mercury in the vaccines?
There are two different available forms of mercury; methyl-mercury versus ethyl-mercury. Thimerosal is a preservative and contains a low dosage of ethyl-mercury (approximately 25 micrograms of mercury per 0.5 mL dose).
The chance of having mercury toxicity is very low if blood and urine concentration is under 100 mcg/L.
For some of you who don’t know what half-life means, let me explain.
Half-life is the time needed to decay 50% of a product taken into the body. In other words, 50 days would be needed to get rid of 50% of Methyl-mercury from our body and only 7 days for Ethyl-mercury.
So when you look at the table above, the kind of mercury (Ethyl-mercury) in the Thimerosal has a lower half-life, can’t cross into the brain and is in a small dosage.
Despite the lack of studies linking Thimerosal to autism, this preservative was removed from most of the vaccines.
In summary, I have to say that there is not enough reliable data linking vaccines to any autism or developmental diseases. Based on current high quality data, there are no scientific reasons not to vaccinate a child.
Go to comments and tell me what you think.