Common Questions and Answers about Vaccines

Germaine Wensleydale
Feb 20 · 34 min read

When I find myself in conversations with anti-vaccination folks, the same talking points always arise. For those of you out there with questions of your own, or who need good information to cite in conversation with anti-vaccination folks, I hope this helps.

Please also check out the excellent Skeptical Raptor blog for more fantastic, evidence-based support for vaccines.

I know people who have never been vaccinated and are completely healthy.”

This is anecdotal evidence, so it doesn’t have much bearing in the scientific world. We use large samples (like an entire population) to evaluate outcomes like risk. Consider another anecdotal claim: I know people who smoked and never got cancer. Does that mean smoking doesn’t cause cancer? Of course not. Similarly, not getting vaccinated means you are leaving yourself open to disease, regardless of whether you actually contract those diseases.

And of course one might get lucky enough to avoid all of the diseases we’re commonly vaccinated against. One of the reasons you might do alright without being vaccinated is because everyone else is vaccinated — that’s herd immunity! But that doesn’t mean you’re not putting yourself and others at risk with the possibility that you will get sick.

“Why does it matter if I don’t vaccinate my kids? That doesn’t affect anyone else.”

Yes it does — it actually puts those in our communities most vulnerable to disease at mortal risk. They rely on herd immunity for survival.

“What is herd immunity?”

Here’s a good primer from the National Health Service in the United Kingdom.

Here’s another video explaining why this is important:

And another:

More on herd immunity (and herd protection) from the Oxford Vaccine Group at the University of Oxford: Herd immunity | Vaccine Knowledge

“Vaccines are okay, but multiple vaccinations in one shot aren’t. We don’t know what might happen.”

We actually do; this has been studied many times. Just one example includes the 1994 Institute of Medicine report. Note that the MMR vaccine is one such “combination” vaccine. Emphasis mine:

Adverse Effects of Vaccines reviews the epidemiological, clinical, and biological evidence regarding adverse health events associated with specific vaccines covered by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), including the varicella zoster vaccine, influenza vaccines, the hepatitis B vaccine, and the human papillomavirus vaccine, among others. For each possible adverse event, the report reviews peer-reviewed primary studies, summarizes their findings, and evaluates the epidemiological, clinical, and biological evidence. It finds that while no vaccine is 100 percent safe, very few adverse events are shown to be caused by vaccines. In addition, the evidence shows that vaccines do not cause several conditions. For example, the MMR vaccine is not associated with autism or childhood diabetes. Also, the DTaP vaccine is not associated with diabetes and the influenza vaccine given as a shot does not exacerbate asthma.

“We do know what happens when you get multiple vaccines at once — it is incredibly shocking to our system and has negative effects!”

The data does not support this claim.

“I insist that mixing vaccines is dangerous and untested.”

Vaccines are rigorously tested in combinations with one another to make sure they’re safe. Here are just a few examples of these safety studies:

“Concomitant use of an oral live pentavalent human-bovine reassortant rotavirus vaccine with licensed parenteral pediatric vaccines in the United States.”

“Immunogenicity and safety of an investigational multicomponent, recombinant, meningococcal serogroup B vaccine (4CMenB) administered concomitantly with routine infant and child vaccinations: results of two randomised trials”

“Booster vaccination of pre-school children with reduced-antigen-content diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-inactivated poliovirus vaccine co-administered with measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine: a randomized, controlled trial in children primed according to a 2 + 1 schedule in infancy.”

“The safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of a 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (7VPnC) concurrently administered with a combination DTaP-IPV-Hib vaccine.”

“Risk of febrile convulsions after MMRV vaccination in comparison to MMR or MMR+V vaccination”

“Administration of hepatitis A vaccine at 6 and 12 months of age concomitantly with hexavalent (DTaP-IPV-PRP approximately T-HBs) combination vaccine.”

“Concomitant use of the 3-dose oral pentavalent rotavirus vaccine with a 3-dose primary vaccination course of a diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-hepatitis B-inactivated polio-Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine: immunogenicity and reactogenicity.”

“Immunogenicity and safety of 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in infants and toddlers.”

“Immunogenicity and safety of concomitant administration of a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (M-M-RvaxPro®) and a varicella vaccine (VARIVAX®) by intramuscular or subcutaneous routes at separate injection sites: a randomised clinical trial”

“Immunogenicity and safety of measles-mumps-rubella, varicella and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines administered concurrently with a fourth dose of heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine compared with the vaccines administered without heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.”

“Primary vaccination of infants with diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-hepatitis B virus- inactivated polio virus and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines given as either separate or mixed injections.”

“Safety and immunogenicity of a booster dose of the 10-valent pneumococcal nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae protein D conjugate vaccine coadministered with measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine in children aged 12 to 16 months.”

“Safety and immunogenicity of a combined live attenuated measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccine (MMR(II)V) in healthy children.”

“Safety and immunogenicity of a measles, mumps, rubella and varicella vaccine given with combined Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate/hepatitis B vaccines and combined diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis vaccines.”

“Simultaneous administration of meningococcal C conjugate vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-inactivated poliovirus-Haemophilus influenzae type b conjugate vaccine in children: a randomized double-blind study.”

“Immunogenicity and safety of an investigational multicomponent, recombinant, meningococcal serogroup B vaccine (4CMenB) administered concomitantly with routine infant and child vaccinations: results of two randomised trials.”

“Booster vaccination of pre-school children with reduced-antigen-content diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis-inactivated poliovirus vaccine co-administered with measles-mumps-rubella-varicella vaccine: a randomized, controlled trial in children primed according to a 2 + 1 schedule in infancy.”

“Immunogenicity, Safety, and Tolerability of Bivalent rLP2086 Meningococcal Group B Vaccine Administered Concomitantly With Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Acellular Pertussis and Inactivated Poliomyelitis Vaccines to Healthy Adolescents.”

“An open-label, randomized study of a 9-valent human papillomavirus vaccine given concomitantly with diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis and poliomyelitis vaccines to healthy adolescents 11–15 years of age.”

“Concomitant administration of live attenuated Japanese encephalitis chimeric virus vaccine (JE-CV) and measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine: randomized study in toddlers in Taiwan.”

“Immunogenicity and safety of a CRM-conjugated meningococcal ACWY vaccine administered concomitantly with routine vaccines starting at 2 months of age.”

“But I’m sure mixing vaccines leads to disorders!”

No — there are studies on this, as well:

“On-time Vaccine Receipt in the First Year Does Not Adversely Affect Neuropsychological Outcomes”

“Childhood vaccinations and risk of asthma.”

“No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study.”

“Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines and Autism: A Review of Recent Epidemiologic Studies”

“Vaccines are not associated with autism: an evidence-based meta-analysis of case-control and cohort studies.” n=1.256 million

“So mixing vaccines is safe?”

Not only is mixing vaccines safe (if well-tested, as they are), but the mixing approach isn’t something we do enough of in the clinic:

“Concomitant Adolescent Vaccination in the U.S., 2007–2012.”

“Concomitant (same-day) delivery of two or more vaccines to adolescents is effective, safe, and efficient. Increasing concomitant vaccination could improve coverage for recommended adolescent vaccines … Missed opportunities for concomitant adolescent vaccination persist, particularly for HPV vaccine.”

“My baby is getting too many vaccines too quickly. We should space them out more.”

The vaccine schedule is rigorously tested and updated by the CDC in accordance with the latest research.

“The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety: Stakeholder Concerns, Scientific Evidence, and Future Studies”

The committee found no significant evidence to imply that the recommended immunization schedule is not safe. Furthermore, existing surveillance and response systems have identified known adverse events associated with vaccination. The federal research infrastructure is a strong system.

“What’s the big deal if I delay a vaccine by a few months?”

The consequences can be deadly for either your child or other children. Again, there are studies on this concept:

“Parental refusal of pertussis vaccination is associated with an increased risk of pertussis infection in children.”

“Individual and Community Risks of Measles and Pertussis Associated With Personal Exemptions to Immunization”

“Nonmedical exemptions to school immunization requirements: secular trends and association of state policies with pertussis incidence.”

“Timely Versus Delayed Early Childhood Vaccination and Seizures”

“Association Between Vaccine Refusal and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States: A Review of Measles and Pertussis”

“Vaccine Refusal, Mandatory Immunization, and the Risks of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases”

“Vaccines don’t undergo double-blind studies to prove their safety the way other medications do.”

This is incorrect. Here are just a few of many, many examples (2963 in this search alone):

This one looks at concomitant vaccine administration (also listed above):

This one looks at the efficacy of a new vaccine:

This one measure the safety and immunogenicity of a vaccine with or without certain ingredients:

This looks at the effect of changing the vaccine dose for influenza vaccines in the elderly:

This one investigates the safety of a smallpox vaccine?

This paper examines the safety of a vaccine based on three separate double-blinded studies and one open-label randomized study:

This one looks at the “efficacy, safety and immunogenicity” of a vaccine in China:

This one looks at the “safety, immunogenicity, and lot-to-lot consistency” of a varicella vaccine:

“What happens if I refuse vaccines for my kids?”

You get outbreaks of epidemic proportions that hurt the most vulnerable in your community — the elderly, the immunocompromised and other folks who rely on you to get your vaccines because — for one reason or another — they can’t.

Some examples on the consequences of not vaccinating from Japan, where the MMR vaccine was made optional:

“Nationwide Rubella Epidemic — Japan, 2013”

“A Review of Factors Affecting Vaccine Preventable Disease in Japan”

“Vaccine chronicle in Japan”

“Association Between Vaccine Refusal and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United StatesA Review of Measles and Pertussis”

“‘Anti-vax’ mother’s regret over whooping cough ‘nightmare’”

“I think if we become educated on the vaccines we’re choosing to put into our kids bodies, we can pick and choose the ones we like.”

This sets extremely dangerous precedent and endangers the lives of both 1) those children and 2) other kids who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons and who rely on herd immunity to stay healthy. À la carte vaccination is a path to disaster, as evidenced by the repeated outbreaks of long since eradicated diseases like measles in developed countries (e.g. USA, Japan).

“Vaccines negatively affect the nervous system.”

This claim has been made many times and has been shown time and again to be demonstrably false. Two quick papers on the subject:

“Vaccination against hepatitis B, influenza, tetanus, measles, or rubella is not associated with an increased risk of multiple sclerosis or optic neuritis.”

“We found no longer-term association of vaccines with MS or any other CNS ADS, which argues against a causal association. The short-term increase in risk suggests that vaccines may accelerate the transition from subclinical to overt autoimmunity in patients with existing disease. Our findings support clinical anecdotes of CNS ADS symptom onset shortly after vaccination but do not suggest a need for a change in vaccine policy.”

“I heard there’s mercury and other scary chemicals in vaccines!”

Many of the things we eat or otherwise consume feature “chemicals” that seem scary, but actually aren’t because of 1) the particular chemical structure of the ingredient in the thing you’re consuming, which has drastic effects on how your body processes it, and 2) the amount of the substance which is kept well below toxic levels.

In this case, the version of mercury included in some vaccines is ethyl mercury — a compound utterly divorced from mercury the element. As Skeptical Raptor ably notes on their blog, chemical compounds take on new properties (and lose old properties) from their independent components. Table salt, sodium chloride, is (mostly) harmless — but try inhale chlorine gas, you’ll probably die.

Here’s are good breakdowns of some of the common ingredients in vaccines from the FDA:

“Am I just supposed to accept what doctors tell me? Who put them in charge?”

Doctors are experts in medicine, and therefore (not being a physician myself) I trust their judgement (especially in aggregate — that is, not just one doctor’s opinion but many in concert). I may have issues with the business practice of the pharmaceutical industry, but the science behind these drugs is public and peer reviewed.

But if you insist on going further than just credentials, you should ask for evidence from your doctor. If they’re worth their salt, they’ll provide you with plenty — or at least point you in the direction of good resources like PubMed (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/). As a matter of fact, that’s precisely what the American Academy of Pediatrics did here:

And when you do look at the reports, you’ll find extensive, overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe, that vaccine burden is not a concern, that spacing out vaccines is unnecessary and so on. The literature is clear and the data available for all to read.

In science, we make a point of not relying on reputation or station, but empirical, reproducible evidence itself. It’s why we anonymous peer review reports and frequently publish in openly accessible journals.

“We should be able to make our own decisions for our bodies and for our children.”

Twofold counterpoint to this: 1) in fact we are not legally allowed to make decisions which will harm our children based on belief and 2) these decisions do not just impact our children, but the health and safety of others around them. The community relies on herd immunity for survival.

“Why does my kid need vaccinations against things like Hepatitis C? They’re kids! They don’t get those diseases.”

Yes they do, for any number of reasons — bodily fluid exchange from those who may or may not realize they’re infected, for example. These diseases can also be passed down from parents, and then their kids might interact with yours in school, daycare or elsewhere. There are entire webpages from reputable hospitals on, for example, Hepatitis C in children — it’s a real phenomenon and a potentially deadly reality to ignore.

“Surely my child doesn’t need a vaccination against chicken pox. That’s not even deadly!”

According to the CDC and the literature:

“Most children with chickenpox completely recover. But it can be serious, even deadly, especially for babies, pregnant women, adolescents, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. Make sure everyone in your family is up to date on their chickenpox vaccinations.”

“The flu won’t kill you — I don’t need a vaccine for that.”

It absolutely could kill you, particularly if you’re immunologically compromised. Infants die of the flu all the time.

But more importantly, not getting vaccinated means you might contract the flu, and then spread it around the community to folks who are vulnerable (the elderly, immunocompromised, etc.). This isn’t just about you, but those around you in public life.

“We don’t need a polio vaccine. No one gets polio anymore!”

No one gets polio anymore in most of the developed world because of vaccines. And of note, where vaccines have not been distributed effectively, polio is making a comeback. So it isn’t “gone” and you never know when you might come into contact with polio again.

“Okay, but I heard that vaccines cause autism. Especially MMR!”

Aside from being a grossly offensive canard toward people with autism (the supposition being you’d rather you kid get measles and potentially die rather than have autism), it’s not supported remotely by the literature.

Here’s a great comic from The Nib that should help introduce some of these ideas. It’s a go-to for me for explaining the basics of vaccines and the Andrew Wakefield debacle:

A major meta-study completed in 2014 came to this conclusion with a sample size of over 1.2 million children (unprecedented):

Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder. Furthermore, the components of the vaccines (thimerosal or mercury) or multiple vaccines (MMR) are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

There are countless studies debunking the mythological connection between autism and vaccines, but here are a few:

“Measles, Mumps, Rubella Vaccination and Autism: A Nationwide Cohort Study.”

Participants: 657 461 children born in Denmark from 1999 through 31 December 2010, with follow-up from 1 year of age and through 31 August 2013.

Conclusion: The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination. It adds to previous studies through significant additional statistical power and by addressing hypotheses of susceptible subgroups and clustering of cases.

“Immunization uptake in younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder.”

“Normal concentrations of heavy metals in autistic spectrum disorders.”

“Absence of detectable measles virus genome sequence in blood of autistic children who have had their MMR vaccination during the routine childhood immunization schedule of UK.

What Every Behavior Analyst Should Know About the “MMR Causes Autism” Hypothesis.”

“The autism-vaccine story: fiction and deception?”

“Thimerosal exposure in infants and developmental disorders: a retrospective cohort study in the United Kingdom does not support a causal association.

“Recall bias, MMR and autism.”

Measles vaccination and antibody response in autism spectrum disorders.”

Congenital rubella syndrome and autism spectrum disorder prevented by rubella vaccination — United States, 2001–2010.

“Relation of childhood gastrointestinal disorders to autism: nested case-control study using data from the UK General Practice Research Database.”

“New research demolishes link between MMR vaccine and autism.”

“No evidence for links between autism, MMR and measles virus.”

“Scottish expert group finds no link between MMR and autism.”

“When science is not enough — a risk/benefit profile of thiomersal-containing vaccines.”

“Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality.”

“Time trends in autism and in MMR immunization coverage in California.”

“Autism and immunizations: separating fact from fiction.”

“Do children who become autistic consult more often after MMR vaccination?”

“Vaccines for measles, mumps and rubella in children.”

“MMR vaccine and autism: a review of the evidence for a causal association.”

“Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: No epidemiological evidence for a causal association.”

“Age at first measles-mumps-rubella vaccination in children with autism and school-matched control subjects: a population-based study in metropolitan Atlanta.”

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14754936

“Vaccines and autism: evidence does not support a causal association.”

“Increasing exposure to antibody-stimulating proteins and polysaccharides in vaccines is not associated with risk of autism.”

“MMR vaccine and autism: an update of the scientific evidence.”

“MMR vaccination and autism: is there a link?”

“Negative association between MMR and autism.”

“Autism and measles-mumps-rubella vaccination: controversy laid to rest?”

“Vaccine safety evaluation: Practical aspects in assessing benefits and risks.”

“Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and the development of autism or inflammatory bowel disease: the controversy should end.”

“No evidence of persisting measles virus in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from children with autism spectrum disorder.”

“Immunizations and autism: A review of the literature.”

“MMR: where are we now?”

“MMR and autism: further evidence against a causal association.”

“The end of the road for the campaign against MMR.”

“No evidence for a new variant of measles-mumps-rubella–induced autism.”

Pervasive developmental disorders in Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Prevalence and links with immunizations.”

“Administration of thimerosal-containing vaccines to infant rhesus macaques does not result in autism-like behavior or neuropathology.”

“Addressing the controversy regarding the association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.”

“Response to measles-mumps-rubella vaccine in children with autism spectrum disorders.”

“Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses.”

“New evidence reaffirms the safety of the MMR vaccine.”

“Parental report of vaccine receipt in children with autism spectrum disorder: Do rates differ by pattern of ASD onset?”

“Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autistic spectrum disorder: report from the New Challenges in Childhood Immunizations Conference convened in Oak Brook, Illinois. June 12–13, 2000.”

“Vaccine Safety: no link between thimerosal and autism.”

“Closer look at autism and the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.”

“Thimerosal exposure in infants and developmental disorders: a prospective cohort study in the United Kingdom does not support a causal association.”

“Blood mercury concentrations in CHARGE Study children with and without autism.”

“Mercury in vaccines.”

“An epidemiological study on Japanese Autism concerning Routine Childhood Immunization History.”

“No effect of MMR withdrawal on the incidence of autism: a total population study.”

“Lack of association between measles virus vaccine and autism with enteropathy: a case-control study.”

“Thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism: a review of recent epidemiological studies.”

“Association between thimerosal-containing vaccine and autism — No causal relationship found.

“Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autisms.”

“Number of antigens in early childhood vaccines and neuropsychological outcomes at age 7–10 years.”

“Autism Occurrence by MMR Vaccine Status Among US Children With Older Siblings With and Without Autism.”

“Adverse events after immunisation with aluminium-containing DTP vaccines: systematic review of the evidence.”

“Unintended events following immunization with MMR: a systematic review.”

“Epidemiology and possible causes of autism.”

“Mumps, measles, and rubella vaccine and the incidence of autism recorded by general practitioners: a time trend analysis.”

“Relationship between MMR vaccine and autism.

“Immunization uptake in younger siblings of children with autism spectrum disorder.”

“Prevalence of pervasive developmental disorders among children at the English Montreal School Board.”

“Prevalence of autism and parentally reported triggers in a North-east London population.”

“A population-based study of measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and autism.”

“MMR vaccination and autism — a population-based follow-up study.”

“Thimerosal and the occurrence of autism: negative ecological evidence from Danish population-based data.”

“MMR and Autism: what is the evidence for a causal association?”

“Safety of Vaccines Used for Routine Immunization of US Children: A Systematic Review.”

“Neurologic disorders after measles-mumps-rubella vaccination.”

“Use of combination measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella vaccine: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).”

“US Report finds no link between MMR and autism.”

“Autism Spectrum Disorder: No causal relationship with vaccines.”

“IOM Report: no link between vaccines and autism.”

“Regression of language and non-language skills in pervasive development disorders.”

“Measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and the development of autism — epidemiologic evidence against such an association is compelling.”

“No evidence of an association between MMR vaccine and gait disturbance.”

“Autism and vaccination — the current evidence.”

“The relationship between MMR vaccination and the number of new cases of autism in children.”

“Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: a case-control study.”

“Lack of association between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.”

“The genetics of autism.”

“Thimerosal and autism?”

“Vaccines and autism in primate model.”

“Thimerosal and vaccines–a cautionary tale.”

“Communicating science to the public: MMR vaccine and autism.”

“Serious adverse events after measles-mumps-rubella vaccination during a fourteen-year prospective follow-up.

“Thimerosal-containing vaccines and autistic spectrum disorder: A critical review of published original data.”

“Thimerosal-containing vaccines and autistic spectrum disorder: A critical review of published original data.”

“Mercury concentrations and metabolism in infants receiving vaccines containing thiomersal: a descriptive study.”

“No evidence for measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine-associated inflammatory bowel disease or autism in a 14-year prospective study.”

“Vaccines and autism: a tale of shifting hypotheses.”

“Prenatal and infant exposure to thimerosal from vaccines and immunoglobulins and risk of autism.”

“Study finds no association between vaccines and autism.”

“Is there a ‘regressive phenotype’ of Autism Spectrum Disorder associated with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine?”

“Childhood vaccinations anno 2004. II. The real and presumed side effects of vaccination.”

“Prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in an Icelandic birth cohort.”

“Continuing increases in autism reported to California’s developmental services system: mercury in retrograde.”

“Does thimerosal or other mercury exposure increase the risk for autism? A review of the current literature.”

“Environmental factors in the development of autism spectrum disorders.”

“Autism and MMR vaccination or thimerosal exposure: an urban legend?”

“MMR vaccination and pervasive developmental disorders: a case-control study.”

“On-time vaccine receipt in the first year does not adversely affect neuropsychological outcomes.”

“Childhood vaccines and autism — much ado about nothing?”

“Detection of antinuclear and antilaminin antibodies in autistic children who received thimerosal-containing vaccines — mercury as in thimerosal-containing vaccines is likely not related to autoimmune phenomenon in autism.”

“Autism spectrum disorders in children with active epilepsy and learning disability: comorbidity, pre and perinatal backgound, and seizure characteristics.”

“Autism and thimerosal-containing vaccines: lack of consistent evidence for an association.”

“Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality.” (a review of more than one thousand studies)

“An epidemiological study on Japanese autism concerning routine childhood immunization history.”

“Vaccines and the changing epidemiology of autism.”

“Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association.”

“Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination and bowel problems or developmental regression in children with autism: population study.”

“Autism and MMR vaccination in North London: no causal relationship.

“Effect of Pentavac and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccination on the intestine.”

“Early thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological outcomes at 7 to 10 years.”

“MMR-vaccine and regression in autism spectrum disorders: negative results presented from Japan.”

“The combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccines and the total number of vaccines are not associated with development of autism spectrum disorder: first case–control study in Asia.”

“Safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines: a two-phased study of computerized health maintenance organization databases.”

“No association between early gastrointestinal problems and autistic-like traits in the general population.”

“Thimerosal and immunizations — evidence does not support the hypothesis of a potential relationship between neurodevelopmental disorders and thiomersal-containing vaccines.”

“Association Between Influenza Infection and Vaccination During Pregnancy and Risk of Autism Spectrum Disorder.”

“MMR vaccine is not linked to Crohn’s disease or autism.”

How Japan became a “measles exporter” and faces a measles epidemic because of its ban on MMR vaccination: http://www.smh.com.au/.../2007/05/27/1180205052602.html

“I heard that in Japan the MMR vaccine was banned because it made people sick!”

This is true. There was a bad batch of vaccine that hurt people in Japan. The response was to first ban MMR, then make it optional. The consequences have been devastating, and Japan remains the only developed country to regularly face measles outbreaks.

Funny enough, banning/making MMR optional in Japan (which, again, subsequently led to a measles epidemic) means we have a case study in what happens when a population doesn’t get the MMR vaccine. Turns out? This had no effect on autism rates. This is yet more proof that there’s no connection between vaccines and autism.

“Vaccines aren’t 100% harmless, so I shouldn’t use them.”

This is a common misunderstanding of risk. When you understand odds and all of the other things you do daily that are far more likely to be dangerous or fatal, not vaccinating becomes an irrational concept. Part of the problem is that humans are really bad at assessing risk, leading to fears over things like flying or, in this case, vaccinations.

We covered a lot of ground here. Remember, while you don’t have to platform anti-vaccination folks — but if you do, you should do so and with the facts at your disposal. I hope this is a useful resource to those of you out there who support vaccinations but who may not have all of the links at their fingertips.

Germaine Wensleydale

Written by

Cancer biologist. Film journalist. Political enthusiast. Twenty-something mostly straight male. Opinions are my own and don’t represent any group or interest.

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