Brave Op-Ed in Baltimore Sun

An op-ed in the Baltimore Sun raises the question parents have been asking for decades: How many vaccines is too many? Margaret Dunkle, a senior research scientist at the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University, points out that at the moment, our children are scheduled to receive 36 doses of vaccines by the age of two – an extraordinarily high number, especially considering the recent study suggesting a link between high vaccination rates and occurrences of autism.

Dunkle raises questions familiar to everyone concerned with vaccine safety, but which still bear repeating:

While testing is routine for individual vaccines as they are licensed, research on the both short- and long-term effects of multiple doses of vaccine administered to very young children during the critical birth-to-2 developmental window is sparse to nonexistent.

 In addition to the number of doses, vaccine ingredients can be problematic, especially for susceptible subgroups. First are adjuvants, substances added to boost effectiveness and allow smaller doses of vaccine antigen to be used. The most common adjuvant is aluminum, which is found in vaccines for hepatitis and diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus.

Second are preservatives — such as thimerosal, which is 49.6 percent mercury. Thimerosal is still contained in many flu shots, although it was, except for trace amounts, removed from other child vaccines a decade ago. Many child vaccines (including those for diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus, HIB, and hepatitis) contain formaldehyde, which was just added to the government’s list of known human carcinogens.

Third are ingredients to which some people have severe allergies: stabilizers such as gelatin, and eggs or other proteins that are used to prepare vaccines for flu, MMR, and other immunizations.

It is heartening to see more people within the medical and policy-making fields step forward and add their voices to those already concerned about the effects of vaccines on our children. Hopefully, with greater awareness about these issues, we can begin to move towards safer vaccines and a healthier life for ourselves and our children.

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