Vaccines, Autism, and the Coronavirus – Part One
I’m very passionate about this issue, so I need to “check in” with it from time to time. Now seems like a really good time to check in on the topic of vaccines.
First, I’ll discuss my (relatedly strong) opinion on autism-related vaccines.
What’s the issue with vaccines and autism?
The false notion that vaccines cause autism.
This is a pretty big issue in the autism community. It’s an issue with an important and very wide reach because it has to do with the health of our entire country (and the world, for that matter). Vaccines make our communities safe by eradicating certain diseases in the largest sense of a population. Vaccines have all-but eliminated certain diseases/illnesses. They are essential to the health of society as a whole. (Yes, there’s something like a 1% chance that a person who takes a vaccine can have a reaction, but the odds of that are so low that it’s worth (IMHO) making large populations safe.
What’s my personal and specific position?
I have never believed that vaccines caused my son’s autism, nor do I believe that any vaccination causes autism. I believe that autism has a genetic link and may or may not surface in an individual in varying degrees (hence the autism “spectrum” disorder). It is that genetic link that begins all of it, it is not a shot of a vaccine that “triggers” autism. My son’s diagnosis was mild, high-functioning autism. I am convinced of the genetic links in my and my husband’s family.
It is genetics.
My son’s diagnosis came fourteen years ago. Today, the diagnosis may be “worded” differently (for example, Aspergers is no longer a part of the dsm-5) but I believe it was and still is accurate.
What bugs me the most about the autism-vaccine issue?
The way the anti-vaccination movement came about.
It is my understanding that a doctor (not mentioning the time period or the doctor’s name here) did a study that “proved” a link between autism and the MMR vaccine.
The study was discovered to be fraudulent, the doctor had falsified some of his work, and that very same doctor eventually lost his license to practice medicine.
However, the anti-vaccination movement grew out of celebrity Jenny McCarthy’s touting of this study as a “cure” for her son’s autism. She went on interviews claiming that this study was proof of how a child gets autism. She claimed that her son got his autism from the MMR vaccine. She said he was cured but blamed the MMR vaccine. She said this doctor was brilliant for discovering that the MMR vaccine causes autism. Her celebrity got her this attention.
And, that created a problem…
The false idea that the MMR vaccine causes autism.
It does not (again, IMHO).
After the doctor was called out, this celebrity had to recant. (Or, more truthfully, she just shut up about it.
The damage, however, had been done. The anti-vaccination movement was on. Parents all over the country began to refuse to vaccinate their children.
Soon measles, whooping cough, and other diseases began to creep back into society. We had them eliminated. They were back.
All of this is my opinion, yet I feel very strongly about this issue.
I feel very strongly that Jenny McCarthy began this anti-vaccination movement.
And, I believe it is bad.
What are some recent developments?
One was the release of yet another study (we’re around 150 or so studies now) that thoroughly debunks the theory that vaccines cause autism. 150 is not a small number.
The second development displays the power of reason (to me, at least).
A young man with autism stood up for his rights.
A young guy who had just turned eighteen went against his mother’s wishes and got himself vaccinated.
Woo hoo, I say.
This young man felt his body needed protecting. He said that his mother had spent his entire life saying that vaccines were dangerous. As he got older, he began to do some research on vaccines and he had learned that they were not dangerous at all. They were (generally) safe. He had tried to convince his mother of this, but she refused to vaccine him when he was under eighteen.
So, when he turned eighteen, he got himself vaccinated. His mother continued to publicly object, but I say congratulations to the young man who believed in science and wanted to make his own life choices.
To his credit, this young man testified before Congress.
I believe these two recent stories support my belief that vaccines do not cause autism. They’re stories that continue to show the strength is science and reason. People want to feel safe. This is how we can do it.
How does this lead to a discussion on the coronavirus?
Read Vaccines, Autism, and the Coronavirus – Part Two to find out.
Vaccines, Autism, and the Coronavirus – Part One
Here’s some reading on how often the idea that vaccines cause autism has been debunked:
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