There is a mixture of facts and fictions as far as the controversies of vaccines and the allegation/suspicion that they cause autism are concerned. It is an old feud which does not however seem to be really laid and buried yet.
Giant pharmaceutical companies and governments of several countries argue vaccines are safe. But a number of scientists, often times lone-voices, have relentlessly argued that there is a connection between the mercury found in vaccine preservatives, thimerosal to be specific, and autism.
Some of these scientists are no small timers. An example is the respected Boyd Haley, a retired professor of Chemistry, who argued for years that thimerosal, a mercury-preservative that was used in vaccine, was toxic. From about 2001, the use of thimerosal as a preservative in childhood vaccine was stopped by many vaccine manufacturers.
But the very fact that the use of thimerosal as preservative has now been banned in many developed nations further increases the gulf of suspicion, with these lone-voice-scientists and concerned groups alleging that there is some sort of cover up in such a banning, which is short of acknowledging the wrong and harm that has been wrought in the past decades of infant vaccination. The recent interview granted by Haley in August 2014 makes an interesting listening in this regard.
Well, as typical of our world, this discussion and debate appears like some distant, technical, academic exercise. In as much as it does not touch one’s family and loved ones, I do agree with that sentiment. But if you know a friend whose child suffers autism, or you have an acquaintance with a person who suffers this medical condition, then such a discussion as this takes on a most practical, interesting dimension.
The latter is the case for me. It is in fact the torturous life that a family which is dear to me is passing through right now because of the thimerosal or no thimerosal-use, and its consequence on their now autistic child, which brought this whole issue to my interest.
In the absence of a conclusive word on the possible harm of some preservatives used in the vaccination of children, and given the fact that one of such preservatives like thimerosal has already been definitely identified as been toxic and in fact lethal, it is the utmost concern of the writer that our health authorities be more vigilant.
I trust the ministry of health is doing the very best in this regards. But learning from hindsight, and in a world where many stuff that are already obsolete often end up on the shores of developing countries, the ministry of health would want to further step up on its sworn-duty to protect the citizens of Nigeria by ensuring that such vaccines never find their ways into our hospitals and that current vaccines pass through standard examinations. On no conditions should vaccines with any of the controversial preservatives be permitted in circulation in the country and in her health institutions.
Surely that is an herculean task given the bogous and yet-to-be-fully-cordinated nature of our administrative system in Nigeria. All the same, it is an effort that must now be made a priority, a vigilance that must be exerted and worked on.
A coordinated effort at ensuring quality vaccination, and dissemination of helpful and truthful information, which educate the people, will go a long way in dealing with the mistrust that the suspicion for vaccines has already raised in some quarters. One could indeed say that it is more than a suspicion, given the cited withdrawal of some vaccines which contained elements like thimerosal already in many developed countries.
The interest of the write-up is to serve as a further sensitization on this issue. The health and future of the young ones been vaccinated in Nigeria today, and indeed everywhere, must be assured by a greater vigilance to the unfolding scene in the vaccine debate which lingers on.