The New York Times has reported that an antivaccine crusader may soon lead a government commission on vaccine safety. The commission is expected to focus particularly on the long discredited link between vaccines and autism, which originated in a study of 12 children that was published in The Lancet in 1998. The article was retracted in 2010, and the author’s medical license was revoked by the UK’s General Medical Council. Nevertheless, it appears that many families have come to the conclusion that the benefits of vaccines, particularly for their children, do not outweigh the potential harms.
Thanks to pediatric vaccines, young families have no memories of deaths from measles pneumonia or encephalitis, deafness and cognitive impairment from congenital rubella, thrombocytopenia from varicella, or orchitis from mumps, to say nothing of diphtheria, tetanus, or paralysis and death from polio. Without vaccines, they can all come back.
The CDC has stated unequivocally, with ample convincing documentation, that vaccines do not cause autism, no matter how many are given at the same time, and that vaccine ingredients, such as thimerosal, do not cause autism. A temporal association between vaccination and the onset of symptoms in some children with autism is scientifically meaningless.
In recent years, The Medical Letter has reviewed all of the vaccines recommended for routine use in children and adults, and some that are not routine, such as those for anthrax and cholera. In the painstaking review that accompanied our preparation of all of these articles, we have found no acceptable evidence that any of these vaccines cause autism.