There has been much in the news recently regarding vaccines and autism – from the President-elect’s meeting with Robert F. Kennedy, the environmental activist and outspoken vaccine conspiracy theorist, to a controversial column that calls vaccines into question written by Dr. Daniel Neides, a family physician and executive in the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.
These conversations have re-ignited discussions around vaccines and autism, prompting people to ask, “Do vaccines cause autism?”
The answer is unequivocally no, say experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, Autism Speaks and the Autism Science Foundation. In fact, dozens of studies over the past 17 years show vaccines (and vaccine ingredients) are safe and do not cause autism or other disorders.
“Vaccinations are one of the triumphs of pediatrics and public health,” Dr. Fred Volkmar, director of the Yale University Child Study Center and a keynote speaker at our upcoming Milestones autism conference in June, said in a recent interview with The Plain Dealer.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Vaccines protect children’s health and save lives. They prevent life-threatening diseases, including forms of cancer. Vaccines have been part of the fabric of our society for decades and are the most significant medical innovation of our time. Vaccines are safe. Vaccines are effective. Vaccines save lives.”
To ignore the implications of evidence-based studies is puzzling, to say the least, and potentially dangerous (and lethal) to an individual child and to the larger community – essentially putting all at risk.
Consider low vaccinations rates in Southern California which enabled the Disneyland measles outbreak in 2014 and correlations between pertussis and measles outbreaks among children in states where parents are exempt from school immunization requirements. We as a community have a responsibility to share the evidence to support life-saving vaccines, as the overwhelming evidence rejects a link between vaccines and autism.
The President-elect has indicated an interest in an autism commission. The autism community needs to prepare for the large numbers of individuals completing their high school careers and seeking community employment, housing to meet their individualized needs, and integration into the community. Let’s dedicate our efforts and resources to support these areas, rather than pour money into and spread misinformation on an issue that has already been settled (i.e. the erroneous link between vaccines and autism).
Ilana Hoffer Skoff
Executive Director, Milestones Autism Resources