Vaccines: As Safe As Can Be?

When a doctor says "multiple studies by prestigious scientific groups have found no evidence that vaccines cause autism" ["Feuding Over Vaccines," Nov. 8] he is tap dancing. There have also been "multiple studies" which have found to the contrary, so who is right?

The bottom line is that there is at least a 1 percent chance that an infant receiving a vaccine containing ethyl mercury (thimerosal) will suffer some brain damage as a result, and that chance is rising as we speak.

The real story here is that there are vaccines that do not contain thimerosal available to protect against the same diseases. Why are doctors so stubborn as to refuse to tell patients about the alternative? I would want my child immunized, but not from a multiple-dose container. (They use thimerosal to preserve the vaccines between doses.) Yes, it is more expensive, maybe twice as much. But who would want to run the risk of having a brain-damaged child?

This "my way or the highway" policy is obscene.

Frank Parish

Solomons, Md.

The story failed to bring up an important point. The ignorance of vaccine-phobic parents endangers all of our children. Vaccines are not 100 percent effective; some children remain vulnerable despite vaccination. That is why it is so important to have a group of children where most kids are immune, or "herd" immunity. This group of immune kids prevents deadly outbreaks from spreading through schools and communities.

Parents who refuse vaccination are using the immunity of other people's children to protect their own kids from disease. They want someone else to bear any risk associated with vaccination (yes, there is some risk of serious reaction, though very small) while their own children hide behind the immunity of others. By analogy, if diseases were gunshots, these parents would be shielding their kids behind the bodies of your children.

If enough parents refuse vaccination, outbreaks will occur, and children will die.

Amy Chai, MD

Ellicott City

As the grandparent of a vaccine-injured autistic child, if I took my grandchildren to a pediatrician who urged me to have them vaccinated, I would run the other way long before he would tell me to leave.

Maurine Meleck

Lawenceville, Ga.

It is a shame that the parents who are now refusing vaccines did not have the experience I had as a 13-year-old.

One beautiful June afternoon, in the mid-1960s, I took a walk with my grandmother through her community cemetery in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She knew almost everyone buried there. As she walked past the stones, she told me who was buried there, how she knew them, and if they were related to me. She also told me how these people died. All the diseases we vaccinate children for now were represented.

I remember some of my friends wanted to skip their children's vaccines because they were afraid of adverse reactions. As you can imagine, when my son was born, he received all his vaccinations. I was too horrified by my grandmother's description of her child's choking during whooping cough and the sleepless nights while she worked to save her child's life, to ever have chanced letting my son, or myself, go through that experience.

Linda Paine

Garrett Park

The evidence surrounding heavy metal presence in vaccines is unchallenged. It has been recently removed from the preservatives used, but is still present in many purifying agents. The federal government has acknowledged the impact vaccine poisoning has had on children by creating what is known as the vaccine court, in which petitions for damages are made as a result of vaccine-induced neurological injuries.

Why do I care? My 4-year-old was stricken within 48 hours of her MMR vaccination. She suffered repeated seizures, loss of motor control, mental faculties, etc. She is destined for a life of therapy and is unlikely ever to regain her previous abilities.

Any pediatrician who would threaten to "fire" our family for not accepting his mandate to submit all of our children to all the various vaccinations would be too late: We'd have fired him first.

Stephen H. Moriarty


Hypnosis, Skillful and Otherwise

From his descriptions in "A Rude Awakening" [Nov. 8], Simon Busch unfortunately placed himself in the hands of a rather unskilled practitioner.

A skilled hypnotherapist does not use a script, but uses an array of verbal and nonverbal instructions based on carefully observing the patient's reactions. A skilled practitioner would not have given Busch specific images to form but would instead give ambiguous suggestions that the patient can make specific in his or her own mind, thus eliminating the jarring effect he experienced when given the "lake or pond" decision.

Finally, by following a script, the doctor did not have the flexibility to incorporate new outside stimuli such as the loud noise from next door. Skilled Ericksonian hypnotherapists would have incorporated that noise immediately and used it as a metaphor for Busch's anxieties being stomped out, hammered flat, driven out of his body.

Mark Blaskey

Altoona, Wis.

I am writing on behalf of the thousands of hypnosis professionals who are certified by the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association (IMDHA) who were unfairly smeared by your adaptation of a press release issued by the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis ["Clinical Hypnosis: Not a Stunt, but a Focused Mental State" Nov. 8].

You allowed a professional organization with obvious financial interest in promoting the misconception that certified hypnosis professionals are not qualified to practice hypnosis to do just that. Never mind that well-trained, certified hypnosis professionals have been helping tens of thousands of people help themselves for decades.

For the record, the IMDHA is committed to ensuring the highest level of education and training for our certified members. We are confident that people interested in the services of a hypnosis professional will be well served by utilizing our free international referral service, which can be reached by calling 248-549-5594. For more information, see the Web site

Anne H. Spencer

Royal Oak, Mich.