Last year, I wrote about some of Sarah Myhill’s incorrect assertions regarding vaccination. Since then, Dr Myhill has substantially amended her website, removing many of the factually incorrect statements. However, some still remain.
It’s odd that Dr Myhill hasn’t taken the time to remove all the dubious statements regarding vaccination, given that the GMC’s Interim Orders Panel considered Dr Myhill’s case (along with others) in March this year. On page four of this PDF, point 8 of the determination states that:
You must continue to ensure in relation to your website, or any website relating to your medical practice, that there are no pages, downloadable content, including documents, forum or discussion board content, or other references or online media relating to the following subjects:
There follows a list of topics that should not be referred to on Dr Myhill’s website or any site referring to her medical practice. Here’s the one that caught my eye:
f. Any immunisation or vaccination.
It seems that Dr Myhill has failed to ensure that there are no references to “any immunisation or vaccination” on her website: Swine Flu: what about a vaccine. The page states that: “Vaccinations are always a two edged sword – they have the ability to switch on the immune system. Ideally, of course, this should be against the virus, but vaccinations can certainly switch on chronic fatigue syndromes, probably allergies and possibly autoimmunity. ”
The page on autoimmune diseases has this: “Vaccinations all contain immune adjuvants (without which they do not work!) such as mercury (thiomersal,) aluminium, squalene (a toxic lipid) or whatever. These have the potential to switch on the immune system to trigger allergies and/or autoimmunity. My personal view is that the evidence for benefit of the annual flu vaccination is probably out-weighted by potential damage so I no longer recommend this for my patients. Instead I direct them to Viral infections – good nutrition is highly protective against viral infection.”
Thiomersal is not an adjuvant, it’s a preservative. Squalene (a favourite bugbear of the anti-vaccinationists and said by Dr Myhill to be “a toxic lipid”) is a naturally occurring substance found in plants, animals and humans – and is also found in a variety of foods, cosmetics, over-the-counter medications and health supplements. The evidence suggests that the squalene contained in vaccines poses no risk. Myhill claims that ingredients used in some vaccines may trigger allergies or autoimmunity, and offers her personal opinion that the risks of flu vaccination outweigh the benefits. Here is a paper on the real and presumed side effects of vaccination:
During recent years a scala of diseases or symptoms have been associated with vaccination (presumed side effects). Careful and extensive investigations have shown that such hypotheses could not be supported. Examples are allergic diseases as asthma, diabetes mellitus, multiple sclerosis (after hepatitis B vaccination), autism and inflammatory bowel disease (after MMR vaccination) and sudden infant death syndrome. The total number of cases where at least a possible relation between side effects and vaccination is observed–apart from local reactions and moderate general symptoms–is very rare (about 0.25 per 1000 vaccinations) and does not balance the benefits from vaccination.
There are more references to vaccination on Myhill’s site here, here, and here. Dr Myhill consistently claims that vaccination is linked to CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), talking of vaccines “switching on chronic fatigue syndrome” and “triggering flares of CFS”. I’m always willing to be proved wrong, but I don’t think there is reliable evidence of an association between vaccination and CFS.
Appel, Chapman and Shoenfeld seem to think it is at least plausible that vaccination could be linked to CFS and call for further research, but state that: “Little is known about this issue. There are some reports on CFS occurring after vaccination, but few prospective and retrospective studies failed to find such an association” and point out that a working group of the Canadian Laboratory Center for Disease Control (LCDC) that was founded in order to examine the suspected association between CFS and vaccinations concluded that there is no evidence that relates CFS to vaccination.
A Norwegian study found “no statistically significant association between vaccination against meningococcal disease in teenagers and occurrence of CFS/ME”, and a double-blind, randomized study of the effects of influenza vaccination on the specific antibody response and clinical course of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome found that “no difference could be detected between immunized and placebo CFS patients in immunization side effects”.
There are two issues here: firstly, the GMC appear to have been insufficiently diligent in ensuring that Dr Myhill’s website is in compliance with their conditions; secondly, the references to vaccination on Myhill’s site contain statements that are unsupported by evidence, misleading, or untrue.
Update, 18th August
A comment below asks “So what if patients read her site and decide not to get a flu jab? So they get the flu? I’m not sure why you believe you should be in charge of that. ” It’s worth remembering that the complications include pneumonia, Reye syndrome, myocarditis, and death (0.5-1 per thousand cases). [PDF] For swine flu in 2009, the mortality rate was found to be lower – 26 per 100,000 (0.26 per thousand cases). Link. Graph of mortality per 100,000 of population from the Public Health Agency of Canada:
Update, 22 June 2012