Unbelievable: Nearly half of Americans still suspect disproven vaccine-autism link

Despite overwhelming evidence that there is NO association between any vaccine in particular, or vaccines in general, and autism, just a slim majority of Americans – 52 percent – think vaccines don’t cause autism, a new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll found. Conversely, 18 percent are convinced that vaccines, like the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, can cause the disorder, and another 30 percent aren’t sure.

The poll was conducted last week, following news reports that said the lead researcher of a controversial 1998 study linking autism to the MMR vaccine had used fraudulent research to come to his conclusion.

The poll also found that parents who have lingering doubts about the vaccine were less likely to say that their children were fully vaccinated (86 percent), compared to 98 percent of parents who believe in the safety of vaccines.

Still, thank goodness, the percentage of fully vaccinated children remains high, at 92 percent, the poll found. Here are more details from HealthDay News:

“This sounds like a cup half-empty/cup half-full story,” said Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll. He noted that while the number of people who believe in a connection between vaccines and autism is “only 18 percent,” that nonetheless translates to “millions and millions and millions of people, and it’s clear that in some cases that has led them to not vaccinate their children.”

Vaccine safety has been a major concern for many parents since the publication of the 1998 study, led by now disgraced British doctor Andrew Wakefield, which concluded that the MMR vaccine caused autism. The journal that originally published the study, The Lancet, has since retracted the paper and Wakefield was recently barred from practicing medicine in Britain.

In recent weeks, another leading British medical journal, BMJ, has published a series of articles purporting to expose deliberate fraud by Wakefield in his handling of the research that served as the basis for the 1998 study.

In the new Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll, 69 percent of respondents said they had heard about the theory that some vaccinations can cause autism.

But only half (47 percent) knew that the original Lancet study by Wakefield and other researchers had been retracted, and that some of that research is now alleged to be fraudulent.

“Forty-seven percent is a huge number and this is a relatively new thing [allegations of fraud], so it’s remarkable that they have heard of it. But that still means that half the population has not,” Taylor said.

Still, the retraction and allegations of fraud do seem to have influenced public perception. Among those who had been following the news about Wakefield, only 35 percent believed the vaccine-autism theory, compared to 65 percent who had not kept up to date on the latest developments.

“There seems to be reasonable support for vaccination and I think this will increase with the revelation that a lot of this stuff was based on fraud or bad science,” said Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, chairman of pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Research Center at the Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City.

Overall, 69 percent of adults polled agreed that schools should require vaccinations — including, interestingly, 52 percent of those who believe that autism might be connected to vaccinations.

Sixteen percent of all adults surveyed said they knew of at least one family whose children had not received all recommended vaccines due to concerns about autism. One-quarter of those who believed the vaccine-autism theory said they knew at least one family that had not fully vaccinated their children.

Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center, which supports more research into the safety of vaccinations, said autism is just one concern linked to vaccines.

“Parents have legitimate questions about vaccine risks and want better vaccine science to define those risks for their own child,” she said. “This concern long predated the debate about vaccines and autism. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 was passed by Congress, in part, to address those concerns but has not done the job.

“The Harris poll points out the urgent need for a renewed effort to conduct new vaccine safety studies that are methodologically sound and free from real or perceived conflicts of interest,” Fisher added, “or a significant portion of the public will continue to question the conclusions.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated one in 110 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder, part of a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.

The Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll was conducted online within the United States and included 2,026 adults over the age of 18. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

31 thoughts on “Unbelievable: Nearly half of Americans still suspect disproven vaccine-autism link

  • Ruth

    I still believe it. The vaccines are out of control as they want my kindergartener to have at least 35 of them. They are filled with neurotoxins. My gut reaction/motherly instinct is that it is too many. The neurotoxins have to build up over time and cause damage, and there are board certified doctors out there who even say that. There may not be direct evidence that vaccines cause autism, but the number of autistic kids have gone from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 110. One of the major considerations should be the massive increase in number of vaccines.

  • Ruth, I’ve heard of and read about the “neurotoxin” theory. However, I am aware of NO evidence to support this theory. You should also know that a couple of proponents of the “neurotoxin theory” are listed at http://www.QuackWatch.com as “Nonrecommended Sources of Health Advice.”

  • Ruth

    I’m still not convinced. Every vaccine has two components, the agent that you’re seeking to elicit an immune response to, such as a measles virus, and an immune adjuvant, which enhances the immune response and is typically made from a variety of highly toxic compounds including aluminum compounds, MSG, and mercury. The purpose of immune adjuvants is to boost your immune system, or to make it react as intensely as possible for as long as possible.

    Artificial immune adjuvants can be dangerous in and of themselves. Dr. Russell Blaylock, M.D., a board-certified neurosurgeon and author says:

    “Studies have shown that these adjuvants, from a single vaccine, can cause immune overactivation for as long as two years. This means that the brain microglia remain active as well, continuously pouring out destructive chemicals.

    In fact, one study found that a single injection of an immune activating substance could cause brain immune overactivation for over a year. This is very destructive.”

    When my child is injected with a vaccine, the aluminum compounds it contains accumulate not only at the site of injection but travel to his brain and accumulates there. In your brain, aluminum enters neurons and glial cells (astrocytes and microglia).

    Studies have shown that aluminum can activate microglia and do so for long periods, which means that the aluminum in your vaccination is priming your microglia to overreact.

    The next vaccine acts to trigger the enhanced inflammatory reaction and release of the excitotoxins, glutamate and quinolinic acid, Dr. Blaylock points out.

    Meanwhile, if my child comes down with an infection, is exposed to more toxins, or have a stroke or head injury of any kind, this will magnify the inflammatory reaction occurring in his brain due to the vaccines. Research has shown that the more your immune system remains activated, the more likely it is you’ll suffer from a neurodegenerative disease.

    The aluminum hydroxide used in many vaccines, including hepatitis A and B, and the Pentacel cocktail for diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, polio, and meningitis, has been clearly linked to symptoms associated with Parkinson”s, ALS (Lou Gehrig”s disease), and Alzheimer”s.

    Scientists discovered the link after injecting mice with an anthrax vaccine developed for the first Gulf War. After 20 weeks, a fifth of the mice developed a skin allergy, and memory problems increased by 41 times compared to a placebo group. Also, inside the brains of mice, 35 percent of the cells that control movement were destroyed.

    There is overwhelming evidence that chronic immune activation in your brain, as discussed by Dr. Blaylock above, is a major cause of damage in numerous degenerative brain disorders, from multiple sclerosis Alzheimer”s disease, Parkinson”s and ALS, which may explain the link between aluminum-containing vaccines and these diseases.

    Late last year a team of scientists also found that vaccination involving aluminum-containing adjuvants could trigger the cascade of immunological events that are associated with autoimmune conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and macrophagic myofasciitis, a condition that causes profound weakness and multiple neurological syndromes, one of which closely resembles multiple sclerosis.

    Even a study in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, admitted that:

    “Aluminum is now being implicated as interfering with a variety of cellular and metabolic processes in the nervous system and in other tissues.”

    This has led some experts to suggest that aluminum in vaccines may be linked to autism. So it you may be right, the mercury may have nothing to do with the link to autism. It may be the aluminum.

  • Ruth

    In all due respect, I have one more comment regarding aluminum.

    babies who follow the recommended vaccination schedule are injected with nearly 5,000 mcg (5 mg) of aluminum by the time they are just 1.5 years old.

    The FDA considers levels of aluminum up to 0.85mg to be “safe,” so you do the math on the risk involved here.

    I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but with all the different opinions out there on this topic, I don’t think it’s “Unbelievable” that half of Americans don’t trust vaccines.

  • Ruth, I understand the argument and the theory. But, as far as I know, there is NO evidence to support the theory. You, like many who write me with “studies” or “evidence” almost always end up quoting Dr. Richard Blaylock.

    Unfortunately, Dr. Russell Blaylock is listed under “Promoters of Questionable Methods” on QuackWatch.com (http://www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/index.html).

    The reason? “Blaylock has endorsed views inconsistent with the scientific consensus, including that food additives such as aspartame and monosodium glutamate (MSG) are excitotoxic in normal doses and that the H1N1 influenza (swine flu) vaccine carries more risk than swine flu itself.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Blaylock)

    Ruth, you also may not be aware that a federal court has determined that the theory that vaccines cause autism is “scientifically unsupportable,” and that the families of children diagnosed with the condition are not entitled to compensation. (http://www.drwalt.com/blog/?p=1734)

    Three special masters in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims determined that the three families represented in the suit didn’t prove a link between vaccines and autism. The three released more than 600 pages of findings after reviewing these test cases.

    To me, this court ruling put to rest the persisting delusion (fixed false belief) that some have that vaccines are associated with autism.

    Whether it’s the MMR vaccine or the vaccine preservative, thiomersol, or vaccines in general, there is no compelling reason to believe that any of these factors are causing the increasing numbers of kids with autism or autism spectrum disorders (ASD). (Remember that the old numbers [1:1000] were autism only under an old definition of autism, while the new numbers [1:150] include autism and all ASD disorders — a far, far different thing — apples and oranges, if you would)

    Anyway, back to the Federal cases.

    “The cases had been divided into three theories about a vaccine-autism relationship for the court to consider,” the AP reported. The court previously “rejected a theory that thimerasol can cause autism when combined with the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine,” and “a theory that certain vaccines alone cause autism.”

    Although Special Master George Hastings was sympathetic with the families and believed they brought their claim in good faith, he found “the opinions provided by the petitioners’ experts in this case, advising the … family that there is a causal connection between … vaccines and … autism, have been quite wrong.”

    Until there is even a shred of reputable evidence that vaccines are associate with autism, it has to be considered another of the many “vaccine myths.”

    And also, hopefully, these final nails in the “vaccines cause autism” coffin will allow physicians, researchers, parents, and child activists to work together to find the real cause(s) of autism, and quit chasing our tails over a theory that no longer holds water or credibility.

  • Ruth, God bless you, but there you go again, mixing up apples and oranges. Here are the facts on aluminum (http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm):

    Aluminum is the most common metal found in nature. It is present in the water we drink, the air we breathe and the food we eat.

    Aluminum is present in vaccines that prevent hepatitis A, hepatitis B, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcus. Aluminum is NOT present in live viral vaccines, such as those that prevent measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox and rotavirus.

    Aluminum is present in certain vaccines to improve the immune response. Substances used to improve immune responses are called adjuvants. Adjuvants often allow for lesser quantities of the vaccine and fewer doses. Aluminum salts such as aluminum hydroxide, aluminum phosphate and aluminum potassium sulfate have been used to improve the immune system’s response to vaccines for more than 70 years.

    During the first 6 months of life, infants could receive about 4 milligrams of aluminum from vaccines (NOT 5 milligram). That’s not very much: a milligram is one-thousandth of a gram and a gram is the weight of one-fifth of a teaspoon of water.

    However, during the same period, babies will also receive about 10 milligrams of aluminum in breast milk, about 40 milligrams in infant formula, or about 120 milligrams in soy-based formula.

    But, this still begs the question: Is the amount of aluminum in vaccines safe?

    The answer is an unqualified YES.

    The best way to prove this question is to look at people who are harmed by aluminum. These people can be divided into two groups: severely premature infants who receive large quantities of aluminum in intravenous fluids, and people with longstanding kidney failure who receive large quantities of aluminum, primarily in antacids. (The average recommended dose of antacids has about 1,000 times more aluminum than a vaccine does.)

    Both of these groups of patients can suffer brain dysfunction, bone abnormalities or anemia because of the very high quantities of aluminum that have accumulated in their bodies.

    For aluminum to be harmful, two criteria must be met: people must have kidneys that don’t work well or don’t work at all, AND they must receive very large quantities of aluminum for months or years. In these situations, a lot of aluminum enters the body and not enough leaves the body.

    Nevertheless, isn’t it possible that aluminum in vaccines could be harmful to some healthy babies?

    Again, the answer to this question is an unqualified NO. The quantity of aluminum in vaccines is tiny compared with the quantity required to cause harm.

    Here’s another way to think about this: All babies are either breast-fed or bottle- fed. Because both breast milk and infant formula contain aluminum, all babies have small quantities of aluminum in
    their bloodstreams all the time.

    The amount is very small: about 5 nanograms (billionths of a gram) per milliliter of blood (about one-fifth of a teaspoon).

    Indeed, the quantity of aluminum in vaccines is so small that even after an injection of vaccines, the amount of aluminum in a baby’s blood does not detectably change. In contrast, the amount of aluminum
    in the bloodstreams of people who suffer health problems from aluminum is at least 100 times greater than the amount found in the bloodstreams of healthy people.

    So, what happens to aluminum after it enters the body?

    Most of the aluminum that enters the body is eliminated quickly. Though all of the aluminum present in vaccines enters the bloodstream, less than 1 percent of aluminum present in food is absorbed through the intestines into the blood.

    Either way, most of the aluminum in the bloodstream is immediately bound by a protein called transferrin, which carries aluminum to the kidneys where it is eliminated from the body.

    About 50 percent of aluminum in vaccines or in food is eliminated in less than 24 hours; 85 percent is eliminated in two weeks and 96 percent is eliminated in three years. The ability of the body to rapidly eliminate aluminum accounts for its excellent record of safety.

    Nevertheless, can’t aluminum accumulate in the body?

    Yes. The small quantity of aluminum in food, water, or vaccines that is not eliminated by the kidneys begins to accumulate in the body. Most of the aluminum settles in the bones, some in the lungs and some in the brain.

    By the time children become adults, they will have accumulated between 50 and 100 milligrams of aluminum, almost all of which comes from FOOD.

    To be rational, a parent choosing to not vaccinate a child because of aluminum would also have to choose to not feed or hydrate that child. Both decisions are irrational … both are harmful to children.

  • Ousa

    Can you please direct me to the studies that prove these vaccines are safe for my kids. Safe under the current schedule given multiple vaccines at one visit. Also, studies that aren’t done or funded by the pharmaceutical companies that profit from the mandatory vaccines. I really appreciate it. Oh, also are there studies that include possible risk to immune compromised children, such as preemies. Thank you for your time.

  • Katie

    I suppose when there are actual studies that truly display the safety of a vaccine- not just the clinical trials used as “evidence” to show the safety- more people may consider injecting their kids. Show me what is does on a molecular level- show me that it doesn’t destroy any cells or neurons or anything else. The science to truly test it is there- why do they always use information from clinical trials? With all due respect Sir- you haven’t seen any evidence because there hasn’t been true testing. I find it interesting that people who don’t immunize are also some of the most educated people in our country. I don’t think the jury is out- and I believe information is being withheld and/or not tested. As far as Dr. Wakefield………fraudulent handling of medical records huh? Well- since he didn’t have access to those records that he apparently tampered with…..I suppose someone isn’t telling the whole truth. Just a gut feeling- oh wait- it’s proven. :)

  • Andrea

    Hmmmm, well what about formaldehyde and phenol? I don’t think they are particularly safe to be injecting into an infant, are they?

    What about the porcine viruses that were found last year contaminating both the rotavirus vaccines on the market?
    http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/ApprovedProducts/ucm211101.htm

    I personally, am more worried about cancer from vaccines. The polio vaccines during the 50’s contained a simian (monkey) virus (similar to the porcine virus contamination recently). This virus, SD-40 has been since linked to several different types of cancer.

    http://www.sv40foundation.org/Articles.html

    And even from wikipedia, which I don’t believe is on the quacklist yet…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SV40

    Personally, I think we do not understand the complex workings of the immune system sufficiently to be messing with it. If your immune system is working well, you will not get sick, no matter what germs attack you, right?

    Why not focus on strengthening immune systems rather than manipulating them?

  • Wendy, the fact is that the evidence IS in … the studies have been done … in multiple countries. Vaccines don’t cause autism … period. It’s been proven for anyone with both with an open and rational mind to see. To believe otherwise is to believe a lie.

  • Andrea, great questions. If you’re interested in the facts, here are your answers.

    (1) Concerning formaldehyde and phenol, if you don’t want them in your or your child’s system, then don’t eat, They are in many foodstuffs. Don’t mix up exposure or ingestions of extremely small amounts and safe amounts of substances and the intake of larger and potentially unsafe amounts. See my comments about aluminum above.

    (2) GlaxoSmithKline’s Rotarix rotavirus vaccine was found to contain DNA from an apparently harmless pig virus. In fact, the pig virus DNA was in the vaccine throughout clinical trials and NO safety issues emerged from these international studies with 90,000 participants or in post-marketing surveillance covering more than 69 million doses of the vaccine. Nevertheless, as a precaution the FDA is asking doctors to stop using the two-dose Rotarix vaccine, which it approved in 2008.

    (3) For the “cancer from vaccines” question, I’ve written about that in my blog, “Vaccine Myth #12: The Polio Virus Vaccine Is Contaminated with a Virus That Causes Cancer.” You can read more at http://www.drwalt.com/blog/?p=238. The take home is that no currently manufactured polio vaccines contain SV40, so current poliovirus vaccines pose no risk of ill effects from the virus.

    (4) As to your contention that “… if your immune system is working well, you will not get sick, no matter what germs attack you…” nothing could be further from the truth. No doubt a healthy immune system prevents infections, but no rational person believes and no studies have demonstrated that a healthy immune system prevents ALL infections. Variations of this delusion are discussed in past blogs:
    a) Vaccine Myth #3: Vaccines Aren’t Necessary (http://www.drwalt.com/blog/?p=69),
    b) Vaccine Myth #6: It’s Better to Be Naturally Infected Than Immunized (http://www.drwalt.com/blog/?p=100), and
    c) Vaccine Myth #7: Vaccines Weaken the Immune System (http://www.drwalt.com/blog/?p=121).

    Hope these facts are helpful to you.

  • For those of you following this string, Patrick Fisher posts on a wrong page (http://www.drwalt.com/blog/?p=4218) this comment: I am also highly suspicious of vaccines and will never allow one to be put in my body ever again. I much prefer the eat-well-live-well method of health care. I agree with the MDs who say that vaccines are dangerous. I’m a big fan of Dr. Joseph Mercola, who also is a big opponent of vaccines, most recently the H1N1.

    Here’s my reply to Patrick:

    Patrick, I’ve met Dr. Mercola and think is a very nice and a sincere person. At one time, he posted some nice words about me on his web site (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/04/16/dangers-of-televsion-review.aspx). However, on this issue, the vast majority of evidence-based physicians and researchers disagree with him and I believe he is sincerely wrong.

    Furthermore, I was saddened to learn (as you may be) that QuackWatch.com:
    (1) Lists Dr. Mercola under the category of “Promoters of Questionable Methods.” (http://www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/index.html)
    (2) Lists Dr. Mercola’s Web site under the category of “Nonrecommended Major Sites.” It says, “Each of these sites provides a huge amount of information, most or all of which promotes unsubstantiated theories and/or methods. They may be useful to researchers seeking descriptions of these theories and methods from their proponents. However, they should be avoided by persons seeking high-quality information on which to base a health-related decision.”
    (3) Last but not least, “FDA Orders Dr. Joseph Mercola to Stop Illegal Claims.” (http://www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/mercola.html)

  • Ousa, here are just a couple of examples:

    Probably the best recent example of the positive impact of vaccines is the Hib vaccine, which prevents meningitis, ear infections, and other serious infections caused by the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib). When the current Hib vaccine was introduced to this country in 1990, Hib was the most common cause of bacterial meningitis.

    For decades, Hib had caused approximately 15,000 cases of meningitis and 400 to 500 deaths every year. After the current Hib vaccine was introduced, the incidence of Hib meningitis declined to fewer than fifty cases per year—typical of ALL widely used vaccines.

    In England, it is estimated that the meningitis C vaccination has saved 500 lives since 2000 and the pneumococcal vaccine, introduced in 2006, has prevented 470 deaths or serious illness in young children. Before routine meningitis immunization was introduced in 1999, up to 78 children a year were killed by the infection.

    With every vaccine on the market, the incidence of disease for which they are designed to protect us and our children, is dramatically reduced—usually within several years after the vaccine against a disease was introduced. And, in virtually every case with virtually no major harm.

    Not only are the studies overwhelming, most anti-vaccine zealots will not speak of the above history of vaccines—which is amazing. Not only do vaccines work, they work phenomenally well—and they save lives!

    You can read more in my blog, “More on the Risks of Not Vaccinating Your Children.” (http://www.drwalt.com/blog/?p=583)

  • NoVaxMama

    For those of you who say that the adjuvants such as aluminum, mercury, etc. are safe in vaccines because they are found in nature, in foods, or in your body under other circumstances: Do you differentiate between the fact that aluminum, for instance, ingested in food stuff is broken down differently in the digestive system than it is when it is injected directly into your bloodstream?

  • Ousa

    Thanks for the info, and I read the link as well. I do understand the positive impact vaccines offer. The information I previously requested is, where can I find studies that show these mandatory vaccines are safe…particularly for immune compromised kids like my preemies. Thanks again.

  • Chris

    The truly unfortunate thing here is that Dr. Walt is not a big movie star. If only he were, parents would listen and heed his advice to immunize their children. After all, that’s what gave Wakefield’s lies traction in the US. Whether you followed Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s heartfelt pleas on the talk show circuit or not, they were the ones who pushed the anti-vaccine agenda into the news, and anyone who now risks their children’s health, their very lives, must recognize that they are indirectly or directly taking medical advice from Hollywood personalities. Now if you want acting advice, go there, but if you want to make important decisions about the health of your family, please consider that Wakefield’s study was fraudulent. It was a lie! Struggling now to find a link between vaccines and autism is just a sheepish attempt avoid feeling we were duped. Thank God The Lancet did the right thing and retracted the study. Now, please, listen to SOUND medical advice and vaccinate your children, and if you know any Hollywood types who will go on Oprah spread that message, send them to this blog, please.

  • NoVax Mama, you’ve gotten some wrong information from somewhere. Here are the facts: Most of the aluminum that enters the body, no matter the source, is eliminated quickly. Though ALL of the aluminum present in vaccines enters the bloodstream, and less than 1 percent of aluminum present in food is absorbed through the intestines into the blood, either way, VIRTUALLY ALL of the aluminum in the bloodstream (whether from injection or ingestion) is immediately bound by a protein called transferrin, which carries aluminum to the kidneys where it is eliminated from the body. About 50 percent of aluminum in vaccines or in food is eliminated in less than 24 hours; 85 percent is eliminated in two weeks and 96 percent is eliminated in three years. The ability of the body to rapidly eliminate aluminum accounts for its excellent record of safety. Here’s where you can find more accurate and trustworthy information:

    1) http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/additives.htm
    2) http://www.chop.edu/export/download/pdfs/articles/vaccine-education-center/aluminum.pdf

  • Laura

    These diseases are still around in other countries – they are not gone. The ONLY reason the “don’t vaccinate your kids” choice works is because most of us vaccinate our kids – therefore, somewhat protecting those who choose the no vaccination route. It wasn’t that long ago in our country that many of these diseases had a devastating impact on families – and vaccines became such a blessing as that meant one less fear about losing your child. Many many many more children die from NOT being vaccinated then from being vaccinated. Is it really worth the risk? Don’t base decisions about vaccinations on false research.

  • Dave

    Something to keep in mind is that vaccines don’t just protect the individual, they provide benefit for the population by reducing the incidence of the infectious agent in the population. At the risk of sounding communist, one could say it is your societal duty to vaccinate yourselves and children. It is by that mindset that polio was essentially eradicated from the Western world and we don’t see smallpox anymore.

  • Kim

    Even if the fact that Dr. Wakefield’s research has been proven to be fraudulent, or the other research that shows that vaccines are safe, does not convince you, consider this: ALL of the diseases for which we immunize against (measles, rubella, pertussis, diptheria, tetanus, polio, meningitis, influenza, rotavius, etc.) CAN and DO KILL and/or cause significant disability. That is a fact. If you don’t believe the evidence supporting vaccines, don’t be foolish and underestimate the power of these diseases. They can kill your children. Before vaccines were available these diseases killed children more than we can really understand (because we live in an era with advanced medical technology). I have not done the math myself, but I would guess that, before the advent of vaccines, these diseases killed more children than the number that are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders each year.

  • Cheryl

    Dr. Walt,
    Please tell me what you think about the possible Mitochondrial Disease and Autism connection. What bothers me is that you won’t admit that there **could be** an underlying condition in which vaccinations bring on a reaction leading to ASD. Why won’t doctor’s even admit the *possibility*?? You say because there is *no proof or evidence* but I don’t feel that there has been adequate testing to prove vaccinations are safe for those more fragile than others. Why won’t you answer the question about whether the vaccines have been proven safe for immune compromised kids and preemies???? It is the one size fits all mentality that is so troubling! It would just make my day to hear a mainstream doctor say, “Well yes, it is possible…and because it IS a possibility then we should do everything in our power to research this more so that more children are not damaged.”

  • Laura, thanks for the post. You are correct. Furthermore, almost all of the outbreaks of vaccine-preventable disease that we’ve seen in the U.S. over the last five years (including measles and pertussis) have been because of unvaccinated people spreading the disease (1) either to children too young to yet be immunized (in the California almost a dozen infants died because of the epidemic of pertussis) or (2) to the small percent of people who had been immunized but were not fully protected.

    In the past, I’ve accused parents who do not vaccinate their children of child abuse. It often causes quite a reaction (Radio Listeners ‘Angry as Hornets’ About Dr. Walt’s Comments on Childhood Vaccination … http://www.drwalt.com/blog/?p=504). Here’s part of that blog:

    I had predicted to the station that I knew that this comment would likely stir up some significant listener reaction – both positive and negative. Indeed it did. But, if I knew that going in, why would I go ahead and purposefully say it?

    Especially since I know that parents who choose not to vaccinate their children (at least for reasons that are neither based upon their religious or on the child’s allergies) often are quite offended by such a statement.

    But, the issue is not whether they are offended or not. The issue is what is the truth?

    I suspect the rich man was offended when Jesus told him to sell all he had. But, Jesus still told him the truth.

    And, to many, the Gospel is offensive — even scandalous — yet we still lovingly tell people the truth.

    Some women find it offensive, even guilt provoking, when they learn the Birth Control Pill they are taking or have taken can lead to unrecognized abortions. Yet we tell them and counsel them on how to deal with this truth. (You can read more about this in two of my past blogs: Did you know the birth control pill can cause abortions? and American Society of Reproductive Medicine Statement Confirms the Pill Causes Abortion.)

    But, the fear of offense should not, in my opinion, keep us from confronting people with the truth – especially as relates to their children. People who choose to not vaccinate their children are usually wonderful and sincere people. But, in my opinion, they are sincerely wrong – as their decisions are usually based up one or more vaccine myths.

  • Great point, Dave, and one that has not entered the string until you pointed it out. I’ve blogged about it in the past (http://www.drwalt.com/blog/?p=504):

    First, (parents who do not vaccinate their children) put their children at significant risk for potentially fatal or disabling diseases (thus my child abuse allegation).

    Second, they put the community at risk because their kids can carry and pass on these preventable diseases to other.

    I remember the first baby that I delivered to an unvaccinated young woman who had developed German Measles during pregnancy. The child was born severely mentally retarded and blind. The mother and her parents were heartbroken. They had chosen to not take the vaccines that would have saved this baby and them a lifetime of grief.

    I remember the young 6 year old girl I admitted to the hospital with a bacterial infection known as Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b). Unfortunately, the infection gave her Hib meningitis. She’ll get better, thank the Lord, but her hearing is permanently affected and she’ll need hearing aides the rest of her life. Unfortunately, she was doomed to this fate because her parents had unwisely chosen not to vaccinate her. They chose not to have her take the HIB vaccine that has reduced the incidence of invasive HIB by more than 99%.

    According to recent news reports, in the last few weeks, up in Minnesota (the same area of the broadcast), 5 unvaccinated children came down with invasive Hib. One died. At least three of the affected children (and perhaps all five) had not received any vaccinations, including the 7-month-old who died, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Simply put, my case and the Minnesota cases were all preventable tragedies. Can you imagine the grief that the parents of the dead 7 month old must be experiencing?

    So, I stand by my charge that choosing NOT to vaccinate your children against fatal or disabling diseases (at least without sincere religious or allergic reasons) is a form of child abuse.

  • Cheryl,

    Let’s take your statement apart piece by piece. May I?

    1) Please tell me what you think about the possible Mitochondrial Disease and Autism connection. What bothers me is that you won’t admit that there **could be** an underlying condition in which vaccinations bring on a reaction leading to ASD. Why won’t doctor’s even admit the *possibility*??

    Cheryl, as far as I know, there is only one possible case connecting mitochondrial disease and autism. This is the very “controversial case” of Hannah Poling, whose underlying mitochondrial disorder was said to have been “aggravated” by vaccines, after which she developed symptoms of autism. While one expert in mitochondrial disorders, Dr. Darryl Devivo, a professor of neurology and pediatrics at Columbia University, states that “After caring for hundreds of children with mitochondrial disease, I can’t recall a single one that had a complication from vaccination.” Hmm … seems like there may not be much connection there Cheryl.

    One reviewer wrote, “Many questions remain as to whether or not there is such a link: Writing in the March Salon, pediatrician Rahul Parikh, M.D., wrote that “mitochondrial disorder does not equal autism”; in a March New York Times op-ed, Paul A. Offit, chief of the infectious diseases division of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, notes that the claim of a vaccine aggravating Hannah Poling’s underlying mitochondrial disorder is “biologically plausible.” That is, such a connection is possible in theory, but it does not appear to be worthy of belief and factual.”

    So, this is pretty far from a proven connection. Many say it’s “an unproven connection.”

    2) You say because there is *no proof or evidence* but I don’t feel that there has been adequate testing to prove vaccinations are safe for those more fragile than others.

    Vaccines have more scientific testing behind them than most any pharmaceutical on the market. Also, they have the proof of history … of having saved hundreds of thousands of lives. (I’ve commented on this in a previous answer above … check it out).

    3) Why won’t you answer the question about whether the vaccines have been proven safe for immune compromised kids and preemies????

    I have. See my answers to Ousa above. Maybe you didn’t read the string before making your unfounded accusation???

    4) It is the one size fits all mentality that is so troubling! It would just make my day to hear a mainstream doctor say, “Well yes, it is possible…and because it IS a possibility then we should do everything in our power to research this more so that more children are not damaged.”

    That’s the point, Cheryl, that you apparently cannot or will not see: the vaccine-autism link has been soundly refuted. And, even worse, the original research that suggested the link has been shown to be fraudulent. The doctor who perpetuated the fraud has lost his license to practice medicine. And, worst of all, there are babies who have died because parents drank this man’s Kool-Aid.

    In point of fact, it is your “one size fits all” mentality that is so troubling. “It would make my day to hear” an anti-vaccine zealot “say, “Well yes, it is possible” that the vaccine-autism connection has now been disproven. And, because of this, “we should do everything in our power to research (the actual cause of autism and ASD) so that more children are not damaged.”

  • Well, some of you have written and wondered why I’ve not posted your post. Two reasons: (1) either I’ve already answered the comment or question above, or (2) you use mean, offensive, or disrespectful language. Like mom used to say, “If you can talk nice, you won’t be allowed at the table.”

  • David

    I think that diet has way more to do with an increase in autism and other childhood diseases, that are on the rise, than vaccines do.

    At the same time that these have been going up, the FDA pushed eating more and more grains and wheats and pushing oils that are based on vegetables rather than animal fats. Humans didnt survive on vegetable oils until just the last half century.

    I am not trying to push any opinion on people, but I was amazed to hear things about our current diet that we are eating and how it is different than we have eaten for thousands of years.

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