A recent Wall Street Journal article describes what happened as a result of Wakefield’s lies. In the name of “keeping kids safe”, parents are avoiding vaccines that are known to be both safe and effective, and which, ironically, really do keep kids safe.
I call it Brochovich Syndrome. Erin Brockovich, a non-scientist, single mother, uncovered a health disaster caused by the local utility near her small California town – the utility was poisoning the water and then lying about it.
This has caused countless others to search for the causes of things like autism. Many non-scientist parents blame vaccines for causing their child’s autism, either through the preservative (which contains mercury atoms) or the MMR for being too much for the child’s body at once. Some even combine these theories. A man named Andrew Wakefield, who had a serious, undisclosed conflict of interest proposed the MMR theory.Of course smart people – with actual medical training – came up with the idea to use preservatives in vaccines to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination of the vaccine. In essence, it’s not too different than asking medical professionals to decontaminate wounds with agents that kill bacteria – these infections can be deadly. Obviously, injecting live infectious bacterial or fungi into a body is a bad thing. So they added thiomersal (alternative name/spelling: thimerosal). They needed something that would kill fungi and bacteria, to keep vaccines safe. So they used this chemical to do it. Thiomersal technically includes mercury, although saying that is rather like saying “Water contains explosive hydrogen” because water has two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Thiomersal consists of, yes, mercury atoms, and also sulfer, sodium, hydrogen, and carbon. And while it is a toxic substance (so are lots of drugs we use – the key is dosage – when you want to kill disease, you use things that…well, kill – for instance, oxygen is toxic). So, a tiny amount of thiomersal is used, which has been determined to not be harmful to humans (even infants) in the concentration used, to avoid infection, which has been determined to be deadly to humans (even infants).
What happens when something like thiomersal is not used? Simple – people die. Of course if you think autism is worse than death…well, maybe it’s worth it for the discredited hogwash that generated mercury-in-vaccine hype.
Then there is the MMR which doesn’t contain thiomersal (it works on a different principle and thiomersal would destroy the vaccine). The theories are that the three elements of the MMR overwhelm the body’s defense mechanism, causing autism, and that these should be given individually instead of combined. Of course they are given combined because all three elements – measles, mumps, and rubella – can be dangerous or deadly. Ironically, rubella is one of the few known causes of autism – when the mother has rubella in pregnancy, birth defects are a too-common result. And you get rubella by not getting vaccinated (note that there is no link in children getting rubella and autism). So the very act of people not getting the MMR (uh, to supposedly avoid being given autism) is likely to increase the prevalence of autism! But the idea with giving all three at once is that it is much easier to accomplish. Instead of a child needing to see a medical facility three times, and have proper records and such, it’s one visit. One visit is easier than three, particularly once the diseases are mostly under control (and thus not seen as a reason for rushing to the doctor to prevent). Plus, most people’s experience with the mumps or measles is that “you get over it.” Often, you do. But it still can have lifelong effects. For instance, the mumps, while not causing autism, can cause deafness, impotence, miscarriage, meningitis, encephalitis, and even death in some cases. And while these things are rare, they are more common than it causing autism! But even so, the call for separate vaccines persists – despite it meaning less people will get the vaccines, and it being bad medical science to cater to people who hold irrational fears of medicine.
But, when the medical professionals shouted about “MMR DOESN’T CAUSE AUTISM” AND “THIOMERSAL DOESN’T CAUSE AUTISM,” people saw it as a cover-up. It was the medical community protecting themselves. And then came people with Brockovich Syndrome – they “discovered” the connection between giving their child a vaccine and the child “developing” autism, usually with a dramatic fever at some point shortly after the vaccine. Medical science says autism is clearly not related to vaccines. But that’s not enough to cause someone to think that it doesn’t, if they think they’ve made the connection.
Oh, on Erin Brockovich and her findings of contaminated water causing the unusually high prevalence in Cancer? Some skepticism may be warranted.