Once again, the debate has been stirred over the possible link between vaccines and autism. There are firm believers on both sides of this argument, but I am not one them. I have yet to see any research to answer the many questions that swirl around the efficacy of vaccines or their safety. But this newest study leaves me with a lot more questions than answers.
Here is a news report detailing the claims of the study:
Many people will read articles such as the above and leave it at that. I don’t trust a reporter’s take on a study or even a researcher’s interpretation of their study. I want to see the study for myself. If you do too, you can read it here:
Now, at first glance, it seems that the researchers do, in fact, conclude that “too many vaccines” do not have an association with or causal link to autism. However, I like to always check a few specific parts of any study. And this one, in my opinion, has some serious flaws.
First of all, they used a relatively small sample: only 256 children with autism and 756 controls. I question why they had more than double the number of controls compared to the children with autism. Next, when looking at their discussion of the study, they admit several flaws that I absolutely agree with. They did not specifically measure the antigenic loads of the vaccines. They only estimated the total antigens and polysaccharides, not taking into account that variations in vaccines might cause a greater or lesser immune response. I also question the fact that they did not utilize any measures to effectively prevent bias. Both the researchers and the participants were fully aware of the intent of the study. Only the assessors were blinded. Everyone should be blinded to protect the validity of the results.
This takes me to the most troubling information I uncovered—the funding. The CDC initiated this study. It was contracted to an organization called Abt Associates. When you look at this company, they list the CDC and other government agencies as their clients. They also have a researcher in their employ who has published two other studies refuting the link between autism and vaccines. This is the very same researcher who conducted and published the study we are discussing today. This bothers me because this is a man with an agenda. He embarked on this study, not to find an answer, but to prove a point. What if he had found a different answer? Would that have been published?
Then, we see an additional source of funding: AHIP aka America’s Health Insurance Plans. They are the national trade association that represents the health insurance industry. Now, surely they have a dog in this fight. If, somehow, research emerged that vaccines were harmful in some way and people stopped utilizing them, do they not stand to lose money? Well, of course they do.
What does the federal government stand to lose? Quite a bit more than just a good public health policy. There are contracts with private companies to administer vaccines for one. Then, there is this:
Did you know that the federal government has maintained a large trust fund for children who have been injured by vaccines, since 1988? If vaccines are so completely and utterly safe, then why in the world does this fund exist?
When it comes to the ongoing research being initiated by the federal government, check out the years of claims against the fund for vaccine-related injuries as it relates to autism. The government has continued to litigate and subsequently deny these claims.
I’m not trying to be a conspiracy theorist here. I am saying that both sides have legitimate claims. Those who distrust vaccines have every right to distrust them. They are not 100% safe and children are permanently injured or killed by vaccines every year. Scientists, doctors and public health officials who fail to be less than honest about this indisputable fact do not help their position when promoting vaccine efficacy by failing to disclose the risks to parents who are trying to make an informed decision. And while there is evidence that vaccines cause harm, there is no conclusive evidence which vaccines and what harm that might be, as it relates to a variety of disorders that are currently being studied.
Ultimately, we as parents, have a right to make informed decisions. To have scare tactics from either side is unfair. We deserve unbiased and accurate science to guide us when it comes to protecting our children. There are no easy answers.
For me, I like science that has proven itself. I don’t mind a vaccine that has been around for a while and that plenty of people have survived. I’m not a big fan of new drugs. I don’t want my kids to be guinea pigs. How many new drugs have we seen introduced to the market only to have problems 10 or 20 years later? While I don’t want my children to suffer a terrible disease, I do have to weigh the risks of the disease against the risks of preventing it. I don’t distrust all vaccines. I treat each one as an individual intervention. I look at how the immune system was designed to work and develop and ask if I should interfere with that and do the benefits outweigh the risks? In some cases, that means a vaccine is warranted. In other cases, it does not.
As far as autism goes, I am certain that something is causing this in our children. Something that we have done differently in the last twenty years is altering our kids’ development and we need to investigate every possible cause. If that means honestly looking at vaccines, then we need to do so. Our kids depend on us to make these decisions for them. I just wish science would catch up with itself. Don’t our children deserve that?
- The Anti-Vaccine Movement: A Terrible Track Record (jdc325.wordpress.com)
- CDC study finds childhood vaccines not linked to autism (kvue.com)
- Can We Trust the CDC Claim that There is No Link Between Vaccines and Autism? (healthimpactnews.com)
- Vaccines Not Linked To Autism. Again. (forbes.com)
- Why We’re Still Talking About Vaccines and Autism (shotofprevention.com)
- Not anti-vaccine, except when he is anti-vaccine (thepoxesblog.wordpress.com)