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Vaccination: Yes or No?

14 March 2014, 18:00

The recent announcement that the Health department will be inoculating grade 7 girls against the human papilloma virus in order to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer in women has brought a lot of comment both pro and anti the process. A great deal of emotion is shown by those commenting. Information presented by the different groups is like chalk and cheese.

Those who are anti-vaccinations appear to search on line for their information but use terms like “conspiracy, third world test subjects, vaccination conspiracy” which brings up results that do contain views very similar to those they espouse, is this not a matter of confirmation bias? Those who are pro-vaccination appear to use peer reviewed papers published by reputable scientific or medical publications.

The majority of those who oppose vaccinations are prone to attributing their opposition to a few common factors. Big pharmaceuticals and their unreasonable drive for profit is often quoted as a reason not to vaccinate. Dangerous chemicals in the vaccines is another reason given. Some of the more frequently mentioned are mercury, aluminium phosphate, ammonium sulfate and formaldehyde.

The following written by Lucky Tran a scientist with a PhD in molecular biology from Cambridge might cast light on these chemicals.

Mercury is an element in the compound thiomersal which was part of many vaccines. It has been claimed with NO tangible evidence other than a multifaceted correlation that thiomersals cause autism. This has been investigated thoroughly and no causal link has been found.

* Aluminium phosphate is an aluminium salt which is used as an adjuvant in vaccines. An adjuvant is a compound which causes an immune response to be higher and stronger, so that the immune system comes into contact with the attenuated virus more, so that it can recognise the antigens of the virus and provide immunity. They are a necessary part of the vaccine if you want it to work well.

* Ammonium sulfate is used in the process of purifying the proteins in the synthesis of a vaccine. It is also found in bread and flour, so you’d better learn to enjoy rice if you want to avoid it.

* Formaldehyde is used in the treatment and purification of vaccines and stops contamination. Most of this is removed before the vaccines are shipped, although some remains.

Those who are against vaccines due to conspiracy theories, Andrew Wakefield and Jenny McCarthy are all very misinformed and are putting people other than their own children at risk. Herd immunity is being compromised and outbreaks of serious childhood diseases are becoming more frequent. Those who could not be immunized due to medical reasons are now at risk due to the loss of the herd immunity. Diseases such as polio, mumps, measles, and pertussis are being recorded in greater numbers and are resulting in long lasting effects and even deaths.

Read and understand both sides of a story before making assertions that have no factual basis.

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