Enough with the vaccine debates. Please.

No doubt you’ve seen today’s headlines:

Screen shot source: http://news.nationalpost.com/arts/celebrity/robert-de-niro-and-robert-f-kennedy-jr-are-offering-a-100000-reward-to-anyone-who-can-prove-vaccines-are-safe

It’s time for reporters to stop giving this debate legitimacy by covering it without providing readers with the important, peer-reviewed evidence that vaccines are safe.

Quick bio lesson: Mercury can be in it’s metallic form (that cool sliver liquid from thermometers) or in an organic form. There are two organic forms of mercury that humans come into contact with and those are methyl mercury and ethyl mercury.

Methyl mercury bioaccumulates in animal tissue. This is the mercury we get concerned about in fish, for example (or rice in Asia). Our bodies don’t metabolize methyl mercury (it bioaccumulates) so it builds up and can cause problems. Methyl mercury gets into the environment from industrial processes like burning coal.

Ethyl mercury is a metabolic byproduct of thiomersal, which is the chemical in vaccines that people try to scare you about. Ethyl mercury doesn’t bioaccumulate. That means it doesn’t stay in our bodies like methyl mercury does.

In Canada, the only vaccine that contains thiomersal is the flu shot. Your kids’ life-saving vaccines — DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough), polio, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B), and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) — don’t contain thiomersal. But remember, you don’t need to worry about thiomersal because it doesn’t bioaccumulate.

There have been repeated studies and peer reviews that disprove a causal link between vaccines and autism. The original article that was published was redacted after peer review concluded that the author faked his results. The author himself redacted the 1998 article. That author also lost his licence to practice medicine. Why are people still referencing this guy?

It’s easy for Canadians and Americans (and other areas of the world with long-standing, successful vaccination programs) to dismiss the necessity of vaccines. Do you know why that is? Because the programs are so successful that whole generations haven’t had to see the devastation caused by diseases like polio, measles, and smallpox. If you ever want to get a historical perspective on what it was like to live in a time with these diseases, I highly recommend the book Outbreak! : 50 tales of epidemics that terrorized the world, by Beth Skwarecki.

It’s completely unacceptable in 2017 to be giving a platform to an unfounded opinion that can result in people dying. We vaccinate our kids to keep them (and the kids around them) safe from deadly diseases.

Resources:
How did this debate start? Here’s a great review: https://web.archive.org/web/20150816053137/http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.c5347

Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/114/3/577

Prenatal and Infant Exposure to Thimerosal From Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/114/3/793.short

Link between non-medical vaccine exceptions and increases in preventable disease: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/09/24/peds.2013-0878

Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence: https://web.archive.org/web/20150816034905/http://www2.aap.org/immunization/families/faq/VaccineStudies.pdf