This idea is both wrong, and a red herring. People who do not have normally function immune systems can be overwhelmed by multiple antigens. They can also have their immune systems over react to the antigens and develop autoimmune disorders like Gulliam-Barre and Autism.
There is no debate to the idea that vaccines can trigger autoimmune disorders. The safety sheets that comes in the box will list the autoimmune disorders that can be triggered by the vaccine. There is no debate as to whether or not autism is an autoimmune disorder. The only debate is whether or not autism is one of the autoimmune disorders that is triggered by vaccines.
Doctors angry at vaccine backlash
The campaign against a new jab is exposing children to killer illnesses, fear medical experts
Robin McKie and Jo Revill
Sunday February 12, 2006
Britain's leading child health experts united this weekend to reassure parents that the use of multiple vaccines for children was safe, calling claims to the contrary 'irresponsible'.
Anti-immunisation campaigners say too many jabs can overload a child's immune system and lead to illness. But experts say the idea endangers children's lives. 'The idea of vaccine overload damaging our immune defences is rubbish,' said Professor David Goldblatt, director of clinical research and development at Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, London. 'It is a myth, and those who spread it are doing immense harm. The public is beginning to doubt the worth of vaccines and that has deeply worrying implications for their health.'
Last week the government announced it would add a new vaccine against the pneumococcus bacterium - a cause of ear infections, pneumonia and meningitis - to its immunisation programme for children, raising the number of jabs given to under-twos from seven to 10.
Groups like the anti-vaccine campaign Jabs, backed by several tabloid newspapers, argued that would put too much strain on children's immune systems. They said previous combinations of vaccines had triggered serious side-effects in children.
The claim was flatly rejected by scientists. The only previous connection drawn between multiple vaccines and illness was in 1996 when autism was blamed on immunisation for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR). The link was refuted by all subsequent studies.
'Twenty years ago, news of a new vaccine that could save children from dying from meningitis would have been hailed as a medical breakthrough,' said paediatrician Adam Finn, of Bristol Children's Hospital. 'Now it is howled down as a threat to their well-being. It is very depressing.'
People underestimated the complexity and power of the human immune system, the scientists said. Far from being overwhelmed by a handful of new substances in the bloodstream, the body was capable of coping with an estimated 10 billion chemical invaders, known as antigens.
'Even if the concept of immune overload was true, campaigners would still not have a leg to stand on,' said Dr David Elliman, of Great Ormond Street. 'Far from increasing numbers of antigens to stimulate immune defences, we have reduced them a hundredfold.'
Until a few years ago the whooping cough vaccine given as part of the 5-in-1 jab (see box) used whole bacteria. These contained about 3,000 antigens, each raising an immune response. Today the vaccine uses a fragment of the bacterium containing only five antigens and triggering five immune responses. 'The idea we are overloading the system is therefore utterly ridiculous,' said Elliman.
The protest is alarming, say scientists, because it has already led parents to reject vaccination for their children. 'That can only lead to deaths,' said Prof Goldblatt. 'Diseases like measles and mumps can, in small numbers of cases, cause serious disease and even kill.'
Doctors worry the campaigns will make ministers and civil servants hesitate over the introduction of more multiple vaccines for the young. These could protect against severe diarrhoea, chicken pox, and human papilloma virus, which can cause cervical cancer in later life.
'The sort of things being said about immunisation cannot help but make parents worry,' said Elliman. 'They shouldn't; vaccines are life-savers.'
Campaigners insisted vaccine overload was real. 'Vaccinations deliver the virus very quickly into the bloodstream in a totally different way from the way in which you breathe in germs,' said Jackie Fletcher, founder of Jabs. 'We want to know what trials have been done on babies to show that the new immunisation plans will be safe. We have been shown nothing at all by way of evidence.'
Vaccinations given to under-twos
Two months: Pneumococcal vaccine and the five-in-one vaccine, which protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio and Hib (a bacterium that leads to meningitis).
Three months: Five-in-one booster and meningitis C vaccine.
Four months: Boosters for five-in-one, meningitis C and pneumococcal.
One year: Combined Hib/meningitis C vaccine
Thirteen months: MMR (mumps, measles and rubella), pneumococcal booster.