This is a letter I wrote in 2013. I had only undertaken high school biology, so please feel free to correct any mistakes I’ve made in the comments. I never received any reply (surprise, surprise). If I were to write it today, I wouldn’t be so sheepish. For reference, the website can be found here: http://avn.org.au/.

Hopefully the infanticidal, disinformative woo-treadmill will run out of fairy capital soon

Dear AVN,

I have a couple of queries about some assertions being made on your site; my intention is not to ridicule you, simply to try to understand a few things better. I’m not a doctor so I don’t pretend to be well educated in this area. As a consumer who attempts to be informed, however, I would simply like to better understand a few of your positions as the reasoning is not readily clear to me. I am hoping you will be able to patch the holes for me.

Firstly, I noticed that your page has a link to “vaccine ingredients” which unfortunately I can’t view but I was wondering what it is about vaccine ingredients I should be worried about? I assume you don’t mean aluminium (there’s roughly 1000 times more in a single antacid tablet), thimersol (which has actually stopped being used in most vaccines but even if it was still there there’s more in breast milk and deep-sea fish/tuna than in vaccines). In addition the cumulative amount of formaldehyde that is acquired through complete vaccination is far lower than a child can expect through natural exposure throughout the course of day-to-day life. So which are the things I’ve missed that I need to be concerned about putting into my body?

Secondly, does your organisation cite and rely on Andrew Wakefield’s publication of his study in The Lancet on the MMR vaccine as scientific proof of autism despite his conflict of interest? Are you aware that he was developing his own vaccine and was being paid by a class action specifically to find the link? Or do you use a different study to make your assertion that MMR causes autism?

Thirdly, on your Vaccination Page under the subheading “Keep the following in mind”, point 7 states: “No vaccine can give you lifelong immunity – only natural infection can do this. So everyone who is vaccinated may, at some unknown point in the future, again be susceptible to the diseases they were vaccinated against.” I may be mistaken, but my understanding was that after natural infection, memory b and t cells are produced which are used to stimulate the production of cytotoxic t cells upon reinfection. Is this not exactly the same mechanism that occurs through vaccination? Why is it different when a dead/inactivated version of the same string of DNA is injected? Surely this can’t be referring to live/activated vaccinations as they are literally the same as the actual disease only weakened. Am I missing something?

Finally, the page “Make an informed vaccination choice” suggests that the site offers pros and cons about vaccinations, however I am having difficulty finding the listed pros. Your organisation may feel that there is absolutely no benefit from vaccination, however in the interest of balance I would still be interested in reading what they are.

In addition, I’m finding it difficult to access much of the information on your site. For instance, under the ‘Vaccination Information’ tab, many of the listed diseases return only a heading and no information on the disease or the vaccination. Am I misunderstanding how the site operates (is all this on a forum or something) or could it be my browser or is there no information there currently?

Thank you very much for your time,

Isaac

[Note: This has been edited slightly to clear up some grammatical errors that I’d made two years ago]

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