Fact-Checking The Claims by Dr. Daniel Neides That Question The Safety of Vaccines

In an article on Cleveland.com by Dr. Daniel Neides, the Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, Dr. Neides dares to question the safety of vaccines. He even goes on to say we are “being lined up like cattle and injected with an unsafe product”. This article of course became controversial immediately among the pro-vaxxers, and was even removed from the site for a few hours “inexplicably”. The pro-vaxxers say he was spreading “dangerous misinformation”, he “caused damage”, and he was full of “empty rhetoric and harmful myths”. Cleveland.com published their own hit-piece (by a “medical reporter”). Forbes published a hit-piece (by a journalism major) calling the Neides article “a striking display of anti-science fear mongering” that spread “harmful misinformation” and “undermined the credibility of the Cleveland Clinic”. Vox also published a hit-piece (by a “health correspondent”), saying “the medical community needs to figure out how to deal with its anti-vaccine faction”. But what are the claims in the Neides article, and are they factual?

The first claim is that the regular flu vaccine contains the preservative thimerosal. This is correct. The CDC says “Flu vaccines in multi-dose vials contain thimerosal to safeguard against contamination of the vial”.

The next vaccine-related claim is that “formaldehyde is a known carcinogen”. Actually, according to cancer.gov: “In 2011, the National Toxicology Program, an interagency program of the Department of Health and Human Services, named formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen in its 12th Report on Carcinogens“. Therefore, another factual claim by Dr. Neides regarding vaccines.

Further in the article, Neides writes “as of 2010, the rate of autism in the U.S. escalated to 1 in 68 children. The deniers will simply state that we do a better job of diagnosing this ‘disorder’. Really?” Implying that the increase in autism is not due to diagnostic procedure alone. This is backed up by evidence as well. A University of California study concluded that changes in diagnoses patterns alone cannot explain the rise in the disease. That study can be found here.

Another major claim by Dr. Neides is that “the adjuvants, like aluminum – used to stimulate the immune system to create antibodies – can be incredibly harmful to the developing nervous system.” Again, this claim is backed up by a study. The study, titled “Are there negative CNS impacts of aluminum adjuvants used in vaccines and immunotherapy?” states “aluminum has been demonstrated to impact the CNS at every level, including by changing gene expression. These outcomes should raise concerns about the increasing use of aluminum salts as vaccine adjuvants and for the application as more general immune stimulants” and that “autoimmune and inflammatory responses affecting the CNS appear to underlie some forms of neurological disease, including developmental disorders.”

Finally, another claim by Neides is that “newborns without intact immune systems and detoxification systems are being over-burdened with PRESERVATIVES AND ADJUVANTS IN THE VACCINES” (emphasis in original). Again, a study (here) backs up this claim by concluding “the evidence presented in this study shows that multiple vaccines administered during one visit, and vaccinating young infants, significantly increase morbidity and mortality.”

There was certainly fear mongering after the Neides article was published. The fear mongering was not done by Dr. Neides, however. As you can see, his statements regarding vaccines were based in fact and logic. The fear mongering was carried out by members of the press, attacking the doctor using words intended to discredit him, hoping an appeal to emotion would win out over facts and evidence. We should applaud Dr. Neides for speaking the truth.

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