On his essential website, Vaxopedia, pediatrician Dr. Vincent Iannelli asks this question of those who would insist on delaying or refusing vaccines:

If vaccines are associated with autism, then why don’t the counties with the highest immunization rates have the highest rates of autism?

 

Dr. Iannelli has looked at the data on autism prevalence in the U.S. and explains that, in fact, the evidence shows that rates of autism are lower in counties where immunization rates are high. Besides, Dr. Iannelli reminds us that of the potential reasons why autism spectrum disorders exist, vaccines aren’t one of them:

The great majority of parents know that:

  • it is not the MMR vaccine
  • it is not thimerosal or thimerosal containing vaccines
  • it is not the overall number of vaccines that are given to a child
  • it is not the timing of when the vaccines are given to children

 

And it hasn’t been just one or two studies that have shown that there is no association between vaccines and autism. There are dozens. There is also a comprehensive review by the Institute of Medicine and a very large meta-analysis that have come to the same conclusion.

Vaccines are not associated with autism.

 

The point to be made here (again) is that there are still a large number of parents who deny the overwhelming scientific and clinical evidence that modern vaccines are safe, have few side effects (and extraordinarily rare serious ones), and are extremely effective in preventing debilitating, disabling, and deadly childhood infectious diseases.

This brings us to the growing number of children diagnosed with measles in the U.S. recently. Because some parents persist in believing the flawed and since-discredited study from Andrew Wakefield more than 20 years ago — the fraudulent claim made of a link between MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine and autism gave rise to the anti-vaccine movement we see today — growing numbers of unimmunized children are now getting sick from measles. Yet another study — a big one involving more than 650,000 children — was published last week in the Annals of Internal Medicine and should tear at least one more page out of the vaccine-denier’s playbook:

The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism, does not trigger autism in susceptible children, and is not associated with clustering of autism cases after vaccination.

 

Despite what parents may be reading or viewing on social media from anti-vaccine trolls or hearing from fake experts on television or in their communities, MMR vaccine does not cause autism. Instead, it prevents measles (and mumps and rubella), thereby allowing a large number of children the opportunity to someday become adults.

 

(Google Images/Dr. Robert O’Connor)