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Find out more at Immunisation Time for a sensible debate

Apart from the occasional reference in the wider media to the benefits of immunisation programmes or the adverse effects of inoculation with a particular disease, the main information available about immunisation is dominated by two extremes. What is the devout sceptic to think; how can a concerned parent come to a sensible, balanced decision on whether or not to accept a particular immunisation, especially when there is pressure from nursery or school in favour of going ahead?

countries which administer the highest number of immunisations. Whether this link has been properly demonstrated, or whether it is just a matter of conjecture may be worth exploring; certainly those who are completely against immunisation would say that it damages the immune system and is at the root of various conditions such as chronic fatigue, but I am not aware of any hard evidence for this. I find it impossible to consider that the

Government information is unfailingly

pro-immunisation and orthodox medical services view it as one of the keystones of preventative medicine. In the alternative media, more coverage is given to the homeopathic and naturopathic view that immunisation is an insult to the natural functioning of the human body. To back this view, there has been some suggestion that statistics show that the least healthy populations live in those

eradication of smallpox or polio could be regarded as a “bad thing”. On the other hand, I am suspicious of the drive to abolish childhood diseases, particularly in communities where children are generally fit and well-fed and have no lasting effects from the diseases concerned. I am aware of arguments about complications from diseases such as measles and mumps, but in the case of measles, for instance, there is a ready remedy in the form of vitamin A supplementation. The measles element of the MMR vaccine is a particular case in point, in that it appears that there was a cover-up of increased incidence of autism amongst African-American boys in the US. The MMR immunisation was also the subject of a question posed by Dr Andrew Wakefield, which resulted in his being pilloried and then barred from practising as a doctor. He had merely suggested that there should be further investigation of a possible connection between MMR and the development of autism; not that there definitely was a connection. Subsequently, it turned out that he was not far


wrong, although possibly only in respect of people with a certain genetic predisposition. Indeed, it has recently been reported that members of the UK government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation were made aware of a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism 10 years before Andrew Wakefield published his controversial paper. Of course, it may be impossible to be sure that autism in the same individuals would not have been triggered by another event. Other immunisation programmes that seem to

merit closer scrutiny include HPV, which seems to have resulted in a plethora of horror stories from the US, and the British influenza vaccine, the efficacy and cost/benefit ratio of which need to be strongly questioned. A recent report on Radio 4 indicated that there was no obvious benefit for at least two of the target population groups for ‘flu’ injections.

Roger Oliver

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