Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Letters Case for mandatory vaccination

Debating the future of mandatory vaccination

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 07 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4100

Rapid Response:

Vaccine authorities don't want to know about adverse effects. II

Steve Hinks has assembled an impressive collection of information about the adverse effects of HPV vaccines. Perhaps he remembers Charlotte Haug's assertion that we will not know FOR DECADES if the vaccines are safe or effective. (New Scientist 9/16/11) Dr. Haug was editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Norwegian Medical Association, and her assertion is no less true today than it was in 2011.

Right now I am waiting for the BMJ to publicize the latest piece of bad news about influenza vaccines: an overall doubling of miscarriage risk among women who get flu shots early in pregnancy, and an 8-fold increase in risk after getting the second of two pH1N1-containing vaccines in consecutive seasons. (Donahue, Vaccine 2017;35:5314) The more we hear about them the more we realize that, like the fabled emperor, the flu vaccines have no clothes.

Meanwhile, American pediatricians who last year said that eliminating non-medical vaccine exemptions could be ethically and scientifically justified only for measles vaccine (Opel, Pediatrics 2016;137(4):e20154230) are now discussing how to prepare the ground for eliminating non-medical exemptions for ALL vaccines. (Opel, JAMA Pediatr 2017; 171:893)

A case can be made for mandating diphtheria, pertussis, polio and measles vaccines for US children. These vaccines should be free, and we should be willing to delay initiating vaccination until 4-6 months of age. Other vaccines should be voluntary until their long-term safety and cost-effectiveness have been established by high-quality and unbiased research.

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 September 2017
Allan S. Cunningham
Retired pediatrician
Cooperstown NY 13326, USA