Is there a link between vaccines and autism? A number of government agencies and medical institutions have found there is not enough evidence to support an association between autism and the MMR vaccine, but many autism patient advocates argue there is a causal link.
In the news today, a federal court denied federal compensation to three families who alleged their children’s autism cases were caused in part by a Merck & Co. vaccine. The families had applied to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) which was created in the 1980s to ensure an adequate supply of vaccines, stabilize vaccine costs, and establish and maintain an accessible and efficient forum for individuals found to be injured by certain vaccines. The VICP is a no-fault alternative to the traditional tort system for resolving vaccine injury claims that provides compensation to people found to be injured by certain vaccines.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington had been hearing these test cases representing specific theories of how vaccines allegedly cause autism. The decisions released today were based on the first theory, that MMR vaccine and vaccines containing a component called thimerosal (a mercury-containing preservative) can combine to cause autism.
Special masters of the court issued rulings on three of the test cases, saying none could prove the MMR vaccine or other vaccines caused the autism cases.
Read the U.S. Court of Federal Claims decision.
The mass media attention about mercury levels in vaccines and their possible connection to autism has prompted the removal of thimerosal from almost all vaccines. Whether or not thimerosal causes autism may still be up for debate–and today’s ruling is a big blow to parents who believe that it does. But one excellent outcome about the debate has been that our children are no longer having mercury introduced to their young bloodstreams. It’s mind-boggling that the powers that be in big pharmaceuticals thought that was acceptable for so long.
I would love to hear your ideas about the link between vaccines and autism–leave your thoughts in the comment field.