LETTERS: Needle point

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The Independent Online
DENIS MacEoin is right to say that discussions of immunisation campaigns should proceed on the basis of logic and not emotion (Letters, 15 October); it is because so many papers have failed to do this, preferring instead to inflate a handful of cases into a scare story, that I have become so irritated with them. There is a vast body of information available about the effects of various kinds of immunisation; for the common vaccines the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of benefit from their use rather than harm and, as scientists, it is essential that we ensure the case for immunisation does not go by default. It is, of course, perfectly possible that some long-term adverse effects remain to be discovered but in the present state of knowledge it would be grossly unethical to leave a group of people deliberately unvaccinated so that they could be guinea pigs for future research.

It is curious also that he should champion improvements in public health rather than vaccination as a means of eradicating infectious disease - when did the two methods declare themselves to be in opposition?

Dr R A Fisken

Bedale, North Yorkshire