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Letter: Vaccines add new kinds of risks

A young boy receives an immunization shot at

A young boy receives an immunization shot at a health center in this file photo. Autism risk isn't increased by the use of recommended childhood vaccines, U.S. health officials found in a study addressing parent concerns that too many immunizations may cause the disorder. (Sept. 11, 2007) Credit: Getty Images

In response to the letter about vaccines written by a doctoral candidate at Stony Brook University ["Risks from vaccines are minuscule," April 6], quoting the worldwide death rate from measles of 145,000 is often used as a scare tactic. The writer accurately states the death rate from measles in the United States in 2013 was zero, which is the figure we should be concerned with. Few people, if anyone, have died from the measles in this country in the last 10 years.

There may be many people who think as I did, that tens of thousands of people died yearly from the measles in the United States before the measles vaccine was introduced. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website reads, "In the decade before 1963 when a vaccine became available, nearly all children got measles by the time they were 15 years of age. It is estimated 3 to 4 million people in the United States were infected each year. Also each year an estimated 400 to 500 people died, 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 suffered encephalitis (swelling of the brain) from measles."

That means that the vast majority survived the measles, and many acquired lifetime immunities and possibly stronger immune systems. No need to vaccinate. Surely with today's medicine, the 400 to 500 deaths could have been reduced.

Instead, the medical establishment decided to spend millions to vaccinate and re-vaccinate hundreds of millions of people, which carries additional risks.

Mike Houlihan, Islip