Skip to content
Surprising Science

The Evidence Is Overwhelming—Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism

Anti-vaxxers may have a friend coming into the White House, and medical experts are worried.   
A doctor vaccinates a child.

A small but tenacious group of parents and others who are against vaccines may soon enjoy support from the White House, a fact that is causing health experts alarm. Since 2000, a small but tenacious group of parents have refused to vaccinate their children and advocate against it, believing that the contents cause autism. Because of this, cases of measles, whooping cough, and mumps have increased dramatically, illnesses which medical science was thought to have under control, and in the case of measles, nearly wiped out.

Now they’re back with a vengeance, as a 2015 outbreak of measles at Disney World suggests, and anti-vaccinators may be to blame. Not only does the trend hurt individual children, but it weakens herd immunity effect. There will always be those with compromised immune systems and other natural impediments to vaccination. But if everyone around them is vaccinated, they are by default protected. The herd immunity effect weakens however with each child left unvaccinated.

Recently, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who is a known vaccination skeptic, met with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan. Kennedy suggested that Trump tapped him to lead a panel on vaccines. Quizzically, just after this meeting, a spokesperson for Trump assured the press that no one had been selected for the position just yet.

Meanwhile, Kennedy told reporters he had been offered and accepted the position. In the past, Kennedy has supported an exemption for parents against vaccination, as it’s illegal in most states not to vaccinate your kids. According to Kennedy, mercury additives in vaccines cause autism, and big pharma, the government, and the media have all conspired to keep this from the public.  

Robert Kennedy, Jr. talks to reporters outside of Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Not only have vaccine myths been debunked, backing an anti-vaccine agenda runs counter to the government’s own stance, as well as that of the medical establishment. There already exists a federal advisory committee on immunization. These are medical experts and public health professionals who weigh in on vaccine-related issues from time to time.

Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, Peter Hotez, told The Washington Post that few could be less qualified than Kennedy for a vaccine commissionership. Hotez also said that there is overwhelming evidence that no link between autism and vaccinations exists. There isn’t “…even any plausibility for a link,” he said. Daniel Salmon is an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He’s also the deputy director of the school’s Institute for Vaccine Safety.

Salmon said that, “Vaccines are very safe and very effective.” They offer a high level of protection. Most are “80-99% effective.” Meanwhile, according to Salmon, negative effects are very rare. Because of this, vaccinating children should be one of the simplest decisions parents make, not only to protect the child but other vulnerable people in society.

Newborns and small children can get up to 200 vaccines. But the advantages far outweigh the risks.

In the case of an adverse reaction, the most common side effects are soreness at the injection area, a lack of energy and in some cases, a low-grade fever. In very, very rare cases, a febrile seizure can occur. These may look worrisome, but they do not cause any long-term effects. As for a connection with autism itself, 13 studies of the highest caliber have been conducted. All turned up bupkis. The CDC, Institute of Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, and many other esteemed medical organizations regularly assess such studies. Hotez called the pile of evidence against vaccines causing autism “massive.”

Kennedy is hardly the only celebrity anti-vaxxer out there. Count Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey among them. And Trump himself has made statements supporting the movement. During the 2015 Republican Presidential Debate, Trump said he witnessed it himself. “We had so many instances,” he said, “people that work for me, just the other day, two years old, a beautiful child, went to have the vaccine and came back and a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.”

Oddly enough, former neurosurgeon and housing and urban development (HUD) nominee, Dr. Benjamin Carson, on that very same stage, noted the overwhelming evidence against vaccines causing autism. So what is the fear, if anti-vaxxers grow in number or are allowed more leeway? It could increase the infection and transmission of diseases such as the flu, pertussis or whooping cough, measles, and many others.

To hear what geneticist Michael Wigler thinks of vaccines causing autism, click here: 


Up Next