26 MAY 2007, Page 24

Vaccines don’t kill

Sir: Whatever the cause, the deaths of Harry and Christopher Clark were a tragedy, as was that of their mother. Their family has our sympathy. Neville Hodgkinson argues (‘What killed Sally Clark’s child?’ 19 May) that there is a strong possibility that the death of one of the boys was due to the DTP (diphtheria/ tetanus/whooping cough) vaccine he had recently received. Vaccines are one of the most researched aspects of modern medicine and this suggestion is not supported by the evidence. A major US review, in 2003, of the proposed role of vaccines in cot death concluded that the evidence ‘favors rejection of a causal relationship between DTwP vaccine and SIDS [sic]’. There is no credible research that contradicts this conclusion.

Neville Hodgkinson refers to an unpublished report, produced by Professor Gordon Stewart, showing that the whooping cough vaccine was ineffective. Professor Stewart’s views on the vaccine are well known and are not supported by the facts. There is considerable evidence that the vaccine in use in the UK was highly effective, as is the new one. Similarly, Hodgkinson suggests that there is a strong case that autism is caused by vaccines. There is now a large body of evidence showing this is not the case for any vaccine, including MMR.

We ask that journalists check credible scientific evidence before making statements that could have serious consequences.

Dr David Elliman

Consultant Paediatrician, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children

Dr Helen Bedford

Senior Lecturer in Children’s Health, Institute of Child Health

Dr Patricia Hamilton

President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health