Old rumors die hard: Today the Washington Post had another story about how some parents still believe that vaccines contain thimerosal. Of course, that hasn’t been true for years.
The preservative thimerosal, which contains a form of mercury called ethyl mercury, was removed from most vaccines (with exception to influenza vaccines) in the United States more than a decade ago and has long since been absolved of causing autism.
While it does still remain in most flu vaccines, you can ask for one without it. Another theory popped up about overloading a child’s immune system.
“The good news here is that these are questions that can be answered by science, and science has answered them,” says Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, a research organization that helps fund research into the causes of autism. Pointing to the many papers that have explored and refuted the links between autism and thimerosal, the MMR vaccine, and vaccine timing, Singer says: “They’re all showing the same thing — that vaccines do not result in an increase in the diagnosis rate of autism…”
There are still other concerns to be addressed, of course. Worries about aluminum are unfounded, as children are exposed to far more in foods they eat. But more notably there is the objection that some vaccines contain human protein from aborted fetuses. But this does not mean that new tissue is being farmed from recently aborted children. The protein is from the same decades-old cell lines that have been used in so many scientific applications.
Not only is the protein not harmful, but back in 2005, the Vatican responded to the humanitarian concern. They confirmed the belief that pharmaceutical companies continue to act immorally, and that parents should still have the right to conscientious objection. But they also directed that, while fighting for vaccines without fetal cells, it is most important to shield people from the risk of disease. So allowing your children to be protected with these vaccines is not immoral.
I understand being skeptical of Big Pharma. I personally have chosen not to have my daughters inoculated with the Gardasil shot, as I feel it is part of an agenda to normalize teen sexuality. But ultimately we must accept that most vaccines are in the best interest of society. Newborns, pregnant women, the elderly, cancer patients, and others with compromised immune systems are at risk from those who are unaware they are contagious. Lives are at stake.
If you choose not to vaccinate, your child may be fine. He or she may never harm another person unintentionally. But you may be taking a risk that is unfair to the weakest of your brothers and sisters.