Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Misconceptions about the new combination vaccine

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 19 August 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:411

Rapid Response:

What David Salisbury said, and the DOH's position on multiple vaccine safety

John Heptonstall cites the remarks of David Salisbury in a BBC
Newsnight interview (10 August 2004) concerning an infant's ability to
deal with multipe challenge as quoted by Andrew Wakefield in the Sunday
Telegraph (15 August 2004). I have a transcript of Dr Salisbury's precise

"The immune system of a baby has got huge spare capacity to deal with
challenge. If we didn't, the human race wouldn't survive. But let's look
specifically at vaccine. This has been studied carefully. A baby's immune
system could actually tolerate perfectly well 1,000 vaccines".

I subsequently had the opportunity to ask Dr Salisbury about this
statement, and while I cannot quote him directly he made a distinction
between overload - which was the point that he was apparently making in
the interview - and the enhanced risk of adverse reaction which he
accepted would be the consequence of such an action.

I hope this clarifies the point.

Competing interests:
As above

Competing interests: No competing interests

20 September 2004
John Stone
London N22