It has been routine for years nowfrom the day children are born, they begin a program of vaccinations designed to protect them from potentially deadly diseases. But now comes concern that for some children, some of these shots may lead to disorders that spell a lifetime of misery.
It would be irresponsible to leave children at risk of diseases that can kill, and not every vaccine that can provide protection is laced with the toxic substance that so many have questioned, but no matter what you may hear from the people you depend upon to protect your health, the safety of some vaccines is still questionable.
At the heart of the controversy is a substance called Thimerosal. Used as a preservative or a sterilizing agent in vaccines for years, it is half mercury, a substance so toxic that a minute amount can destroy brain cells quickly and irreparably.
Some children injected with the mercury in childhood vaccines seem unable to adequately expel it though their hair and their urine, and some scientists say that now, as a result:
"?there can be little doubt that mercury concentrations, once administered as part of the childhood routine vaccination schedule, resulted in a significant number of children developing neurological disorders."
-David Geier, Researcher
Meeting at the national Institute of Medicine here in Washington just this week, scientists debated what so many parents have told us they already know.
They believe autismwhich has skyrocketed in Michigan by nearly 1500% in the last decadeis linked to the mercury in vaccines, and some blame it for a host of other problems including Attention Deficit Disorder, hyperactivity, speech disorders and other troubles that have caused so many youngsters to fill special education classes at schools all across Michigan and around the country.
"Everybody wants vaccines to be as safe as they possibly can," U-M Chief of Pediatrics Dr. Gary Freed, M.D. has said, but medical experts at the respected University of Michigan are among those who continue to downplay any real concerns. Following our first reports about the issue on Action News last Fall, the university website countered our broadcasts with what it said was "the truth about vaccines," labeling the concerns we reported as mere "rumor and speculations," claiming its professional staff is trained to handle such concerns, despite the fact they gave our producer what they later admitted was patently inaccurate information to her questions on the phone. Regardless of which shot is given, one nurse wrongly informed the producer, there will not be mercury in the shot.
Even today, U-Ms website wrongly claims "no harmful effects have been reported" from the mercury in vaccines except for minor redness and swelling where needles have been injected.
The site urges parents to rely on unbiased research but only offers links to government and medical association sites which almost exclusively dispute or downplay concerns.
Remember how U-Ms chief of pediatrics concluded mercury-containing vaccines were safe, even though we found hed never even read studies that say otherwise? Were still waiting for him to call back and answer whether he
and his colleagues have yet read those studies so they can comment on the latest research that contradicts their opinions.
And that state of Michigan health official who also rejected vaccine safety concerns out of hand? Dr. Johnson doesnt work for the state promoting childhood vaccinations anymore. He has taken a spin in that revolving door between government and industry to a new jobwith one of the nations biggest vaccine makers.
So, whats going on as this important controversy continues to boil? At the Washington meeting, research scientist Dr. Mark Geier, M.D., PhD. had a strong opinion.
"In my view, this is not a scientific issue. This is about as proven an issue as youre ever going to see, and whats occurring here is a cover up under the guise of protecting the vaccine program. And Im for the vaccine program. You keep covering it up and your not going to have a vaccine program," Geier announced.
Dr. Geier is among those who also complain Thimerosal remains in childhood vaccines today, despite government assurances it no longer does. Geier says he has photos to prove it.
Does the latest research show that your child may have been adversely affected by mercury in a vaccine?
"Theres children out there already who, no doubt, in my opinion, have been affected and there will be children in the future who will be affected by these levels in these vaccines," says Dr. Richard Deth of Northeastern University.
Are the findings of researchers who have found otherwise badly biased?
We will hear some harsh words from a congressman and physician who says we cant always count on being protected by government agencies like the CDC, which serves as its "own watchdog, neither common nor desirable when seeking unbiased research."
Tune in to later editions of Action News as we continue to investigate.