Autism and Vaccines: The Public Debate Rages On

Parents have been trying to find answers to the autism riddle for years. Is it vaccine-related? Is there an environmental cause? Is it purely genetic? The only thing for sure is that there are no absolute answers, nor are there promises of any for some time to come. With autism spectrum disorders affecting 1 in every 150 children today, families are hard pressed to find accurate information.

The blogosphere has been abuzz since early February with the latest round in the autism – childhood vaccine debate when the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet formally retracted Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s study published twelve years ago that purported a link between autism and the MMR vaccine.

Comments are still coming in response to Kristina Chew’s Care2 blog post about the retraction. More on those comments later, first here’s some background:

The controversy swirls around Dr. Wakefield’s original 1998 report, co-authored with colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine in London, which drew a connection between autism and MMR — the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine — but did not establish a cause. Dr. Wakefield advised instead to administer the vaccines separately.

That report spurred a number of parents – both here and in Great Britain, many of whom were wary of vaccines to begin with – to opt out of vaccinating their children altogether. In the U.S., the numbers rose from 0.77 percent in 1997 to 2.01 percent in 2000 according to an article in the journal Pediatrics. Britain saw a similar spike, and a measles outbreak. The BBC reported in 2006 that measles cases were at the highest they had been since 1988 – the year the MMR vaccine was introduced.  As recently as 2008 – cases were up 36% from the year before, according to Britain’s Health Protection Agency. A handful of children died as a result.

One of the more plausible autism – vaccine links that surfaced last decade questioned whether or not thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in vaccines to prevent the growth of bacteria, could be a culprit. Concerns and a public outcry about thimerosal prompted its removal, or reduction to trace amounts, in 2001, from all vaccines administered to children younger than 6.

Despite all of this, opposition to vaccines remains strong, equally as strong as the vilification of Dr. Wakefield and his report (which The Lancet partially retracted in 2004 before the full retraction on January 28th of this year).

“Unfortunately the idea that vaccines cause autism is already out there and the damage has already been done,” said Dr. Robert Field professor of health management and policy at the Drexel School of Public Health in Philadelphia in a report by ABC News just a few weeks ago on February 3rd.  “Years of research have clearly disproven the vaccine-autism link, yet many people continue to believe in it. If all that research hasn’t changed their minds, The Lancet’s retraction is not likely to make much difference,” he continued.

 “The retraction by The Lancet came far too late,” said Dr. Paul Offitt, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and a strong critic of the anti-vaccine movement, in a Wall Street Journal article, also on February 3rd. “It’s very easy to scare people; it’s very hard to unscare them,” he concluded.

Defenders of Dr. Wakefield stand by him, and to this day he has a strong following. “In this field, Dr. Wakefield’s contributions to our families and members are greatly appreciated and there are many who support him in his research efforts,” claimed the Autism Society, an advocacy group, in a statement in the same ABC News story.

And according to a New York Times February 3rd article “Jim Moody, a director of SafeMinds, a parents’ group that advances the notion the vaccines cause autism, said the retraction would strengthen Dr. Wakefield’s credibility with many parents. “Attacking scientists and attacking doctors is dangerous,” he said. “This is about suppressing research, and it will fuel the controversy by bringing it all up again.”

There seems little question the argument is not going away anytime soon. Kristina Chew’s Care2 post has become a de facto podium for the pros and cons, with over 1,400 comments to date.

Many anti-vaccination proponents raise concerns about Big Pharma’s influence on vaccine makers, and the scientific community in general.  “Why is it deemed acceptable for a doctor to be paid by a drug company in order to evaluate the efficacy of that same company’s products? The profession has no problem with that direct economic conflict of interests,” raised Suzanne F.

Chew’s blog also pointed up another issue echoed by many: “Had The Lancet’s editors chosen not to publish the 1998 study, the whole panic about the MMR may not have happened… As noted in the LA Times’s Booster Shots blog, “since the paper’s publication, millions of dollars of research funds that could have been spent looking for the causes of the disorder have instead been diverted to investigating the potential link to vaccines.”

Carla S. commented: “Rejecting decades of information, trials, studies and actual evidence in the face of one poorly-constructed trial is simply not the answer. If MMR or any other vaccine is the cause of autism, I believe the cases would number in the tens of millions, but they do not. And what of all the children not vaccinated who are still diagnosed with autism? This complicated condition simply cannot be wished away by exposing millions of children to the disease that killed so many.”

Indeed from a medical standpoint, there is no question that vaccines have been a crucial weapon in eradicating deadly diseases worldwide.  The Lancet retraction of the Wakefield study does, for all intents and purposes, discredit the link between autism and vaccines. But parents who bear the emotional burden of caring for a disabled child in a world seemingly devoid of answers, just want clarity, and unfortunately the only thing that’s clear right now is science does not yet know the absolute cause of autism.


Image: m_bartosch /

Suzi Schiffer Parrasch


William C
William C3 months ago


W. C
W. C3 months ago

Thank you for the information.

Past Member
Past Member 6 years ago

Google,' The Complete Deconstruction of The British Medical Journal/Brian Deer false allegations against Dr Andrew Wakefield aired Jan27,2011 on Dr GaryNull'sShow.British Medical Journal & The Lancet wedded to Merck CME partnership. ProgressiveRadioNetwork*cm.www*knowshots*com. Healingourchildren*net. Google,'Do Vaccines Disable The Immune System? by Dr Randell Neusaedter. Google,'CDC Concedes Secretly That Vaccines Have a Link To Autism.' YouTube Dr Maurice Hillerman Censored Interview. YouTubeVideo,'The TruthAboutVaccines.' See the movie, 'In Lies We Trust.' on YouTube or Netflix. See The Movie,'Vaccine Nation.' on YT or NF. See the movie, 'All Fall Down-CCHR' on YT. also, see 'Guinea Pig Kids' on YT also the movie,'Vaccination-The Hidden Truth.' Google, 'US Government Wants To Test Anthrax Vaccines On Children.' wwwdtldsfreedomforum*cm www*newslettertree*cm. Truthfrequencynews*cm. www*vaclib*org. www*healthfreedomportal*org Google,'US Goverment Infected Guatamalans With Syphillis.' lookup measle vaccine ingredients. Rense*cm Get off The 'LameStreamMediaTrain & realise all they care about are PROFITS! NOT HUMAN HEALTH. Thanks for the propaganda piece Care2 but I'm not buyin it! Peace & Love to all Truth Seekers out there & *Don't Drink the Koolaid!

Racquelle Pilon
Racquelle Pilon7 years ago

Sandy and Tigger I would send you a 100 green stars if I could!! And Susan L and sandra d too! Thank you for you the invaluable information you've shared. Truth is good to hear!

Can you guys come on over to the 'Wakefield's Study Linking Vaccines to Autism was 'Deliberate Fraud' post by Kristen Chew here on Care2. The comments could use some further injections of facts, reason, & sanity.

sandra d.
sandra d8 years ago

"Dr. Ayoub was, as many of you are, very concerned about mercury (thimerosal) in vaccines for a number of years, and attended a number of autism conferences that featured physicians who were highlighting the dangers of mercury.

However, a few personal encounters heightened his interest in another toxic metal frequently used in vaccines, namely aluminum.

Parents of autistic children kept pointing out the fact that their children’s heavy metal toxicity profiles showed high amounts of aluminum, and they wanted to know what that meant.

Secondly, a well respected nutritionist who deals with industrial aluminum toxicity showed him toxicity profiles of middle school children who had ADHD. In his estimate, 90 percent of the children in one particular school had developed ADHD during the course of a single year, and their toxicity profiles showed massive amounts of aluminum.

In addition, he did a pilot study with Dr. Usman, who treats autism with biomedicine, and when he evaluated the aluminum burden of these autistic children, he found that high percentage of them also had very high aluminum burdens.

All of these events led him to look deeper into the aluminum issue, which we discuss at length in this interview."

Read the article and get the FACTS--not so-called "data" from drug-company-paid "scientific" studies.

Joyce M.
Sandra D8 years ago

"On May 11, 1987, The London Times, one of the world's most respected newspapers, published an explosive article entitled 'Smallpox Vaccine Triggered AIDS Virus'. The story suggested the smallpox eradication vaccine program sponsored by the World Health Organization was responsible for unleashing AIDS in Africa. Almost 100 million Africans living in central Africa were inoculated by the WHO
( .

In Dr. Campbell Douglas's 1987 report titled 'W.H.O Murdered Africa' he writes that, "There is no question mark after the title of this article because the title is not a question. It's a declarative statement." (

Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win Nobel Peace Prize claims, what is a common belief in some parts of Africa, that, "In fact it (the HIV virus) is created by a scientist for biological warfare."

Kihura Nkuba spoke about Polio vaccine genocide in Uganda. "At the main hospital in Mbarara during that month of 1977 more than 600 children had died following polio vaccination. 600 children! So even some of the timid medical practitioners who were initially afraid to come out, started coming out giving information and saying 'Oh, we knew this oral polio vaccine was trouble because as soon as the child receives it, they get a temperature and their health goes downhill and there is nothing that you could do.'" ("


Joyce M.
Sandra D8 years ago

"Memorial to Vaccine Victims

They had no voice. They had no choice.

They are the men, women, and children who have died or been injured by vaccines in nations around the world for the past 200 years. This is a virtual Memorial dedicated to those whose lives have been forever changed by vaccines they were often required by law to use."

Thank you again for this post, Sandy and Tigger!!! Folks, please scroll down and read her other posts. They are informative and based in fact--not in "studies" conducted by "scientists" in the pay of pharmaceutical companies who manufacture these vaccines. That is called a conflict of interest.

Joyce M.
Sandra D8 years ago

"Memorial to Vaccine Victims

They had no voice. They had no choice.

They are the men, women, and children who have died or been injured by vaccines in nations around the world for the past 200 years. This is a virtual Memorial dedicated to those whose lives have been forever changed by vaccines they were often required by law to use."

Thank you again for this post, Sandy and Tigger!!! Folks, please scroll down and read her other posts. They are informative and based in fact--not in "studies" conducted by "scientists" in the pay of pharmaceutical companies who manufacture these vaccines. That is called a conflict of interest.

Michael Cozens
Michael Cozens8 years ago

There is no evidence for the so-called "vaccine-autism" link beyond vague conspiracy theories. In the meantime, anti-vaccine paranoia continues to cost lives and endanger those with weakened immune systems by undermining herd immunity.

Janice P.
Janice P8 years ago

I have been suspicious of thimerisol for some time. After all, it is a heavy metal, and I do not believe that heavy metals belong in the body. They are not expelled, and how can we be certain of the cumulative effect of any heavy metal in the body?

When my parents were still alive, I always requested that their physician order flu shots for them without thimerisol. He always accommodated me. The problems may not be with the vaccine, itself, but with the delivery agent. Until pharmaceutical companies ( and universities or laboratories funded by pharmaceutical companies) stop paying for research studies, we may never have any honest answers. Any studies that indicate problems with a drug are not going to be disclosed, if the research study was funded by the drug company producing the drug. They would be cutting off their own profit.

Moreover, most physicians are not well-versed on issues relating to many drugs. The reason? Most medical schools are partially funded and endowed by pharmaceutical companies. Physicians only know what they are taught in medical school, and most will never learn anything that will conflict with the school's sponsor's bottom line: profit. This is one reason that, although many supplements work as well or better than many high-priced drugs, your doctor will never know about it - and, unless you do your own research, neither will you.