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MMR - Major or Minor Reaction?
MMR Vaccination - Is it a Friend or Foe?
Member Name: fjpickett
MMR Vaccination - Is it a Friend or Foe?
Date: 18/12/01, updated on 26/05/02 (195 review reads)
Disadvantages: According to the government
I appreciate that this is stepping in where angels fear to tread, but before you rush to the bottom of the page to register your displeasure with an NU, please read the bit in between. I *have* studied the subject, and where there are quotation marks, it is not me saying it, it is someone better qualified.
I should emphasise, also, that I do not know whether MMR is safe. I have to rely on the opinions of others, but this is where it gets difficult. The government's own Committee on the Safety of Medicines concluded its own investigation into the possible link with autism thus: "It is impossible to prove or refute the suggested associations between MMR vaccine and autism." In other words, they don't know either, and yet the official line (from the NHS leaflet 'MMR The Facts') is that there is no link between MMR and autism.
Given the government's record on previous matters, this doesn't inspire much confidence. These are the same people who told us that asbestos, DDT and Thalidomide were safe, that BSE couldn't cross the species barrier (while using bovine material to produce vaccines, incidentally) and that organo-phosphates and depleted uranium posed no hazards to their users! I'm not a cynic, but I've reached the stage where any assurance from on high that something is perfectly OK tends to confirm the opposing view. As Carl Sagan, the hugely erudite astronomer said: "Arguments from authority simply do not count - too many authorities have been wrong too often."
There is a thing called the precautionary principle which, to put it simply, states that you don't do something until you're sure about it. The fact that I'm writing this, and the numerous discussions that revolve around MMR (and other vaccines, such as the one for pertussis) should suggest that the jury is still out, which is not how it should be. Did you know, for example, that no controlled long-term tests ha
ve been done for MMR, simply because they are not a requirement? (And yes, I know about the tests in Finland, but only those patients who had an early reaction were followed up).
The more I learn about the subject, the less I am in favour of MMR and vaccines in general. It seems to me that they have taken the credit for the elimination of many diseases that would have gone anyway, thanks to improvements in treatment and standards of living. For example, the mortality from measles in the UK declined naturally by over 97% between 1900 and 1950, before any vaccine was available. They are also widely credited with the elimination of smallpox, although 90% of the world's population was never vaccinated! Indeed, where vaccines were used to treat specific outbreaks, e.g. in the Philippines, they were spectacularly unsuccessful. The 'father' of modern vaccinations, Edward Jenner, lost his own son to the after-effects of a vaccination and refused to have any more to do with them, which is something that the medical textbooks somehow manage to overlook.
If you're a pragmatist (although I defy any real-life parent of a toddler to do this with a clear conscience), you may take the view that if something does go wrong, at least there will be a safety net. Well, yes, but the onus will be on you to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that the vaccine was responsible, which will take a long time and a lot of money and effort, and for what? A medium sized cheque to cover some of the costs of looking after a child that was perfectly healthy before they received a 'safe' treatment that you sanctioned! Even so, the American vaccine injury compensation program has now paid out over $1 billion, so you can't say it doesn't happen, and the cost so worries Gordon Brown that he recently blocked proposed changes in the rules regarding compensation here, which is a curious position to take if the process is as safe as the Dept. of Health maintains.
The lady who later founded the JABS group (www.jabs.org.uk and well worth a visit) was moved to do it when she discovered that her vaccine-damaged child was not a case in a million, but one of thousands who had hitherto been unaware of the existence of the others. Then there is the possible link between DPT shots and cot deaths, and the similarities between the major side-effect of pertussis vaccine and the main symptom of shaken baby syndrome, but that's another subject. I'm bound to be accused of scare-mongering here, but if you don't know, and the medical establishment fails to mention it, how can you reach a sensible decision?
Despite my own misgivings on the subject (none of my 3 children has had the Pertussis jab or MMR) I do not seek to twist anyone's arm over this - I just think that people should be given clear information and allowed to make up their own minds, although this is very difficult in a climate where the government is more anxious to please its friends in the big pharmaceutical businesses than ensuring the health of its voters, which they only have to consider every 4-5 years! Also, all the 'official' information is supplied by an unholy alliance of civil servants, senior doctors who have long since given up dealing face to face with real patients, pharmaceutical lobbyists and politicians, so it's not surprising that it recommends a course of action that is thought to save doctors work and expense (hence MMR), while ensuring a steady market for patent medicines and making patients feel that their interests are being served.
There is also the 'no such thing as a free lunch' rule, which means that if you vaccinate for measles, say, you simply alter the disease's modus operandi, so the result is that it appears in adulthood (when the vaccine has worn off) or, more seriously, in young babies. This is exacerbated by the fact that only the disease itself confers proper immunity, and v
accinated mothers are unable to transmit the necessary antibodies via their milk. There is also the suspicion that messing around with people's immune systems (which have evolved over millenia, are complex and not yet properly understood) produces unpredictable and unwanted effects in later life.
Finally, and one of the reasons I'm writing this now, there is the question of young Leo Blair's vaccination status. I enquired about this myself a few months ago, and (not surprisingly) got no reply, but I see that the question is now being asked by Daily Mail, who have a large female readership with more than a little interest in the answer. Cherie Blair is an intelligent and independent woman who, among other things, acts for the parents of autistic children, and can therefore reasonably be expected to have done her homework, and one can only assume that the reason she's not saying is that the answer would seriously embarrass her husband. The same question has been put to members of the government, and the most revealing 'no comment' so far has come from Alan Milburn. He's the Minister of Health.
Addendum - Look for the book 'Fatal' by Michael Palmer. This is fiction, but is written by a qualified medic, and addresses many of the points that bother me about the whole subject. Figures just released for autism in the UK now place it at roughly 1 in 80 children - when MMR arrived in 1988, it was over 1 in 2000. Circumstantial maybe, but if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...