05/26/2005 02:17 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Vaccines and Safety and Autism

Dr. Strasburg’s comments about vaccination are valuable and accurate. I agree that without vaccines, the twentieth century would have been medically and socially a very different place. Yes, tens of thousands of deaths from vaccine-preventable disease would have occurred.

And, yes, there are still countries with polio outbreaks and countless fatalities from measles.

However, I disagree with some of Dr. Strasburg’s conclusions. There’s no polio in the Western Hemisphere and there have been no cases of wild polio in the U.S. for twenty-six years. Measles cases number fewer than fifty each year and mumps no more than 200-300.

The Institute of Medicine chose to ignore excellent research supporting a link between thimerosal and autism. Look at Dr. Geier’s presentation in particular.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (of which I have been a member for a quarter century) has a very cozy relationship with the vaccine industry. Most authors and speakers in the vaccine controversy have been paid consultants to the vaccine industry. Most of these researchers still accept funds while commenting on the issues.

However, even the AAP has been adamant about removing mercury from childhood vaccines. They have failed in these efforts: The flu shot has as much mercury preservative as any shot has ever had and, up until a few months ago it was impossible to get a mercury-free tetanus shot.

Dr. Strasburg’s reductio ad absurdum story about storks in Belgium is distracting and not germane to this discussion.

If one supports vaccinations (and I certainly do when they are safe and relevant to a child’s life and circumstances) clear thinking would suggest that “16 to 20 injections within the first 18 months of life” is not the best or safest way to accomplish the task.