Having a crack: what do chiropractors know about vaccinations?

Chiropractors may be good at what they do but immunisation is not their field. Planetc1/Flickr

The publication by Australian Doctor of a controversial public lecture given earlier this year by Sydney chiropractor, Nimrod Weiner, has created a flurry of criticism about the lecture, particularly regarding claims about vaccinations.

We asked Professor Robert Booy to respond to some of the alleged errors in Nimrod Weiner’s speech:

I’ve benefited enormously from the expertise of chiropractors and osteopaths for a very troublesome back, and have consulted them hundreds of times. So it’s not the professional integrity of this health practice that I am questioning

What I’m saying is that this chiropractor is outside his area of expertise – immunisation is not his field.

Nimrod Weiner may indeed have studied immunisation for “hundreds of hours”, but an expert in a field is someone who has spent at least 10,000 hours.

I respect chiropractors for what they’re good at but immunisation is not their field and several points that Weiner makes need to be refuted.

And the truth is there will be some elements of truth in some of what Nimrod Weiner says.

Vaccine-preservative thimerosal has mercury in it

Nimrod Weiner quotes a claim that a child given all the vaccines on the schedule would receive 2370 times the accepted toxic dose.

Mercury has, in the past, been contained in many vaccines including those for children. But in recent years, it’s been removed from most of children’s vaccines.

Its removal was based the precautionary principle, which may have been overplayed because mercury had an important role in ensuring the sterility and safety of vaccines.

And there was no evidence whatsoever that it resulted in any side effects.

There’s mercury in the food chain and it bio-magnifies (increases in concentration) as its moves up. In fact, you may be exposed to more mercury from eating tuna than you do from getting vaccines.

So the mercury story is a furphy. If you look at autism diagnoses over the last couple of decades, the incidence of autism since mercury was taken out of the vaccines has actually increased.

If you thought mercury was causing autism, you’d have expected the incidence of autism to go down but the actual observation has been of an ongoing increase of autism.

Vaccine makers grow chicken pox virus on aborted fetuses and these viruses are used in vaccines

Some vaccines may have been developed from fetus cells a long time ago but that doesn’t happen any more.

We neither propagate vaccines nor develop vaccines using human fetuses. It’s not part of the story.

We use HUVEC cells which are human cells from someone who had a cancer a long time ago for research quite a lot, but we don’t use cells from fetuses.

Most importantly, we no longer see pregnant mothers or newborn babies dying of chicken pox because the vaccine has stopped transmission of the virus. It’s a tremendous advance.

But there are some children aged between 7 and 11 who haven’t had the vaccine. And there are children in Australia right now between 8 and 11 who haven’t had the catch-up dose. One of these children died about 18 months ago on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

Andrew Wakefield’s research is scientifically good

It’s been at least 18 months since Wakefield’s paper, which linked the MMR vaccine to autism was retracted by The Lancet.

It’s important to know that Nimrod Weiner didn’t even know the journal in which the paper was published.

The General Medical Council (GMC) in the United Kingdom did an extensive review of Wakefield’s research and found him to be both unethical and unreliable. The GMC is a very even-handed body that respects scientists and doctors who come before it. It’s not a board that sets out to harass and throw people out.

The herd immunity theory doesn’t make sense

Weiner doesn’t actually seem to understand herd immunity at all.

Individual immunity is where a person is protected because they’re vaccinated and this is extended to another person because the vaccinated one doesn’t catch or transmit the infection.

So if a baby in a family is only exposed to vaccinated people, even though that baby isn’t vaccinated against whooping cough for instance, they remain cocooned and protected by the herd immunity provided by the other members of the family.

Some people who are against vaccination take advantage of herd immunity because they know that so many other people are vaccinated that they are unlikely to catch the infection because it won’t transmit in a highly vaccinated population.

Homeopathic vaccines are safer because they use smaller doses

Vaccines work by exposing a human to a small dose of a germ which evokes an immune response. There are cells in the body that react to provide to protection in the form of chemicals called antibodies.

If we used substantially lower doses than we currently do, then people won’t be able to produce enough antibody to protect themselves.

Homeopathic “vaccines” are not vaccines.

An effective vaccine always involves using the smallest dose possible.

In developing new vaccines we use the lowest dose necessary to protect 80% to 90% of people.

Were we to reduce the vaccine dose by one-hundredth, the vaccine wouldn’t work. We know this from the work we do in developing vaccines.