Vaccine Resistance

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 The article was retracted in 2010, and the author’s medical license was revoked by the UK’s General Medical Council.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.

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  1. The medical and health professions and individual practitioners must speak out on this issue forcefully and promptly, and not let the narrative be taken over by those who use poor judgement and false facts to sway the public. As we all know, we will face a growing public health crisis if more and more people refuse to have their children vaccinated. Thank you for your timely statement.

  2. I hope someone (perhaps the leadership of Medical Letter) will send this information to Trump’s transition team–otherwise, we’ll once more be fighting this battle instead of moving forward with more scientific advancements.

  3. Richard Kravitz, MD, MSPH says:

    The anti-vax movement has received (possibly unwitting) support from the highest levels. This seemingly conservative approach is dangerously seductive. Science writer Brian Palmer explains why.

    Physicians are one of the largest, most respected groups of scientifically trained professionals in the United States. We are also one of the few such groups that are not yet tainted by the label of liberal elitism (perhaps because we take care of the kids and parents of Trump voters). We need to speak out individually and collectively on issues of science.

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