The Pharmaceutical Companies Do Not Control the Scientific Research on Medicines

Those who consider vaccines to be unsafe or ineffective have a serious problem when faced with the medical literature, because study after clearly shows that vaccines are both safe and effective. Of course, this is not a problem for many in the anti-vaccination movement, as they are unfamiliar with the scientific literature. However, those who are familiar with the scientific literature are forced to find some way to discount this overwhelming evidence. Thus, they often posit that the medical literature is controlled by the “evil” pharmaceutical companies. According to the theory, these pharmaceutical companies are so heavily invested in the production of medicines that they keep the bad news about vaccines from getting out, and they “rig” the studies that are published in order to make sure that vaccines come out looking good.

There are, of course, several things wrong with such an outlandish conspiracy theory. First and foremost, the vast majority of those who perform and publish the studies which appear in the medical literature are not associated in any way with any pharmaceutical company. Thus, they would have no reason to do the pharmaceutical companies’ bidding.

Second, if the pharmaceutical companies really were able to manipulate the research, they would be just as likely to “rig” the data of a study on a competitor’s product to make it look bad as they would be to “rig” a study on their product to make it look good! For example, GLAXO Smithkline makes a Hepatits A vaccine. However, it does not make an MMR vaccine. Merck and company makes both. Clearly, GLAXO Smithkline would benefit greatly if it were determined that the MMR vaccine is fatally flawed. This would cause Merck and company to lose profits, possibly putting it out of business. If that were to happen, GLAXO Smithkline would suddenly get all of the Hepatitis A vaccine business. Thus, from a business point of view, GLAXO Smithkline should “rig” the studies on the MMR vaccine. Nevertheless, we do not see these things happening.

Thirdly, you might not be familiar enough with the medical literature to know this, but studies come out regularly which are really bad for the pharmaceutical companies. Let’s start with vaccines themselves. Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is one of the biggest killers of infants and young children in the U.S. For years, pharmaceutical companies have tried to make a vaccine. If a pharmaceutical company could get an RSV vaccine licensed, it would make millions! However, one has never been approved. Why? Because the studies done on the vaccines that have been made demonstrate that they are not safe enough or effective enough to be considered a reliable medicine1,2.

Now if the pharmaceutical companies were able to “rig” things to make their products look good so as to cash in on the misery of the American people, why didn’t they “rig” these studies to show that the RSV vaccines were safe and effective? After all, since RSV is still a big childhood killer, they would stand to make a lot of money if they could get their vaccine licensed. Nevertheless, they are missing out on this cash cow just because of a couple of annoying studies. Why haven’t they buried those studies or “rigged” them to come out in favor of the vaccine?

Another example of how the medical literature is clearly not slanted in the pharmaceutical companies’ favor comes from studying the history of the rotavirus vaccine. In 1998, the rotavirus vaccine was licensed because it passed all levels of controlled studies required for licensure. However, in the final level of clinical study, five children of the 10,054 who received the vaccine came down with a serious bowel obstruction. Only one child of the 4,633 who did not receive the vaccine (the control group) came down with the same malady. However, the difference between five out of 10,054 and one out of 4,633 was not statistically significant, so the vaccine was licensed3. Even though it was licensed, this serious bowel obstruction was listed as a possible side effect and was specifically flagged for surveillance once the vaccine was given to the general public.

In 1999 (just ONE YEAR later), the Vaccine Adverse Effects Reporting System (VAERS) logged 15 reported cases of the serious bowel obstruction amongst those who received the rotavirus vaccine. Even though the frequency of this side effect was low (15 out of 1.5 million doses), it generated enough concern that studies were quickly done to see if these cases were related to the vaccine.

Several studies were done4-5. The most thorough one demonstrated that there was a slightly elevated risk of serious bowel obstructions (one case in every 11,073 children vaccinated) for those who received the vaccine. Even though the risk is rare, the severity of the bowel obstruction combined with the low mortality of rotavirus in the United States led to the decision to pull the rotavirus vaccine from the standard vaccination schedule.

This story is illustrative in three ways. First, it shows the efficacy of the surveillance that is constantly done on vaccines. In just over one year after the licensure of the vaccine, an extremely rare side effect was reported, analyzed, and was serious enough to outweigh the benefits of the vaccine. As a result, the vaccine was pulled from the vaccination schedule. Second, it shows the risk/benefit analysis that is important for any medicine. The rotavirus vaccine was effective. It prevented the disease in many children who would have otherwise gotten it. However, the risk of death or long-term side effect from the disease is relatively low. Thus, even though this vaccine produced a benefit, that benefit was small. In addition, the medical studies clearly showed a risk that, although small, was not insignificant. Thus, the data indicated that on balance, children were probably more at risk getting the vaccine than not getting the vaccine, so the vaccine was pulled from the standard vaccination schedule. This is the kind of solid, medical reasoning that must be used when evaluating any medicine, including a vaccine.

Finally, this story clearly shows that the pharmaceutical companies do not manipulate the scientific studies. Even the studies done for licensure noted the problem. Those studies suggested surveillance after the vaccine was given to the general public. Thus, the pharmaceutical company did not “hide” the problem. In fact, they made sure that the problem was well understood so that surveillance could be done. Then, when the problem began to appear on VAERS, studies were quickly done, and the studies implicated the vaccine, causing it to be pulled from the vaccination schedule.

If the pharmaceutical companies were able and willing to manipulate the studies, they certainly did not do it here, and the result was a huge loss of money! Clearly, at a rate of 1 case every 11,073 children, this problem could have been easily “swept under the rug.” However, it was not. Why? Because the scientific literature is not easily manipulated.

I want to pause here a moment and point out that this whole rotavirus vaccine issue once again shows how ignorant anti-vaccine advocates are when it comes to the medical literature. If anti-vaccine advocates were even passingly familiar with the medical research on vaccination, they would not only know about the rotavirus vaccine issue, but they would also notice that many of the same authors on the study showing a definite problem with the rotavirus vaccine are also authors of studies that show other vaccines do not have problems. For example, these authors: Destefano F, Lieu T, Black SB, Shinefield H, and Chen RT are all a part of the study that caused the rotavirus vaccine to be pulled from the market. However, they are all also on a major study that showed no connection between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism or ADD.6 So could some anti-vaccination advocate please explain to me how these same authors can be “in league” with the big, bad pharmaceutical companies when it comes to thimerosal-containing vaccines, but not when it comes to the rotavirus vaccine?

Vaccine studies are not the only ones that end up being bad for the pharmaceutical companies. Studies are constantly being performed on medicines that have been licensed by the FDA. Although most of these studies end up demonstrating the safety and efficacy of the medicine studied, this is not always the case. For example, a recent study shows that Lipitor and other cholesterol-lowering drugs can cause nerve damage7. Drug companies raked in more than 9 billion dollars on such drugs in the year 2000. Nevertheless, this study will reduce sales considerably, as it identifies an entire class of people who should not be taking such drugs.

Another example of a medical study that is bad for the pharmaceutical companies comes from the area of estrogen therapy. A major study was recently published which shows that estrogen therapy can have significant side effects8-9. This has already radically changed how doctors are prescribing the third most prescribed drug in the United States. Wyeth, a leading maker of estrogen therapy drugs, made more than 2 BILLION dollars from them in 2001. The company’s stock plunged 24% when the study’s results were announced. Wyeth itself actually informed all of the doctors in its database about the study, even though they knew it would dramatically decrease sales.10

So you see that the medical literature is decidedly not “pro-pharmaceutical company.” It is simply a forum for the publication of data. These data many times support the medicines made by the pharmaceutical companies, but sometimes they do not. It is the data, not the finances of the pharmaceutical companies, that drives the medical literature. Anyone who has dealt with the rigorous peer-review process necessary to publish in the standard medical journals knows that. However, the public does not, and anti-vaccination advocates prey on the public’s ignorance so as to cast doubt on the reliability of medical science.


1. Fulginiti VA, et al. “Respiratory virus immunization. A field trial of two inactivated respiratory virus vaccines: An aqueous trivalent parainfluenza virus vaccine and an alum-precipitated respiratory syncytial virus vaccine.” Am J Epidemiol 1969; 89: 435-448.
2. Chin J., Magoffin R.L., Shearer L.A., Schieble J.H., Lennette, E.H. “Field evaluation of a respiratory syncytial virus vaccine and a trivalent parainfluenza virus vaccine in a pediatric population.” Am J Epidemiol 89, 449-63 (1969)
3. Rennels M.B., Parashar U.D., Holman R.C., Le C.T., Chang H.C., Glass R.I. “Lack of an apparent association between intussusception and wild or vaccine rotavirus infection.” Pediatr Infect Dis J 1998;17:924-5
4. Kramarz P., et al., “Population-based study of rotavirus vaccination and intussusception.” Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2001 Apr;20(4):410-416
5. A good review of many of the studies: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 48: 577; 1999.
6. Verstraeten T., et. al., “Safety of thimerosal-containing vaccines: a two-phased study of computerized health maintenance organization databases.” Pediatrics 112:1039-48, 2003
7. Gaist D, Jeppesen U., Andersen M., Garcia Rodriguez L.A., Hallas J., Sindrup S.H. “Statins and risk of polyneuropathy: a case-control study.” Neurology 2002 May 14;58(9):1333-7.
8. Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators, “Risks and Benefits of Estrogen Plus Progestin in Healthy Postmenopausal Women: Principal Results From the Women’s Health Initiative Randomized Controlled Trial” JAMA 2002; 288:321
9. Lacey, James V. Jr, et al. “Menopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy and Risk of Ovarian Cancer” JAMA 2002; 288:334
10. Thayer, Ann “Halted Estrogen Study Hits Wyeth” Chemical and Engineering News, July 15, 2002; 8

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

Small Decision, Large Impact: Why Not Vaccinating Your Child Is Dangerous

“Study Shows Autism Is Linked to the MMR Vaccine,” the newspaper’s headline reads. A television news magazine runs a story filled with testimonies from parents about the deaths of their children just days or weeks after they received the DPT vaccine. Coalitions of parents form to call for the banning of current vaccines until better and safer ones are discovered. Meanwhile, medical professionals and politicians call for increased coverage rates with vaccines and encourage parents to continue immunizing their children.

Many parents, their heads spinning from listening to all of this, compromise and adopt an attitude like this one: “If everyone else is immunizing, then the immunity of others will keep my child safe and I won’t have to worry about the potential side effects from vaccines.” Often those who practice this are unaware of the consequences of their decision for both their own children and society at large.

Robert Chen and Frank DeStefano point out that criticism of vaccines becomes more common when the risk of the contracting the disease is low. This happens because, at that point, coverage of the vaccine is high and reports of side effects (whether genuinely associated with the vaccine or simply coincidental events) are bound to be more common1.

A potent example of this occurred in the early 1970s. Pertussis, more commonly known as whooping cough, was at record lows in developing countries with the use of the whole-celled pertussis vaccines. Studies appeared that seemed to link the vaccine to serious side effects in rare cases, and in extremely rare situations, death. Some countries continued their immunization programs with very little interruption in coverage while others, listening to the voices of worried parents and health professionals alike, terminated or modified immunization for pertussis for several years. E.J. Gangarosa and his colleagues researched the medical literature, popular literature, and disease case rates of several countries during this period and into recent years to chart the effects of this interruption, and their work has much to say about the costs associated with listening to the anti-vaccination movement.

Sweden’s immunization program against pertussis began in the 1950s. Disease case rates were at their lowest in the years leading up to the termination of the program in 1979, though several voices began to question the necessity and safety of the program early on, among them Justus Storm. A leading member of the Swedish medical community, he claimed that medical technology had advanced so much that pertussis was less dangerous than it once was and national vaccination programs could be terminated. When case rates for pertussis saw a minor increase, doctors began to question the efficacy of the vaccine as well. Later, some neurological problems were attributed to the vaccine, and pertussis immunization came to a screeching halt2. For the next three years, pertussis levels were still low, but then the climb in case rates began, and there were serious outbreaks in 1983 and 1985. Annual case rates for the general populace rose from about 75 per 100,000 people to 100-200 per 100,000 people (about a 2-fold increase). It is estimated that the annual number of cases per 100,000 children (age 0-6) rose from 700 in 1981 to 3200 (a 4.6-fold increase) in 19853. So we see that the children were hardest hit by the fact that the vaccination rate fell.

One particularly striking way of seeing the effect of Sweden’s drop in the pertussis vaccination rate is to compare pertussis in Sweden to pertussis in Norway. While Sweden was persuaded by the anti-vaccination movement; Norway was not. Norway continued its pertussis vaccination program, and as a result, its population remained protected. Compare the pertussis rates in the two countries as shown in the graph below4:


Since Norway and Sweden are neighboring countries at roughly the same socioeconomic level, one would not expect any significant difference in their level of health care, sanitation, etc. This is why the pertussis rates in the two countries were roughly equivalent from 1974-1982. Notice, however, that starting in 1983, the number of pertussis cases in Sweden began to rise dramatically, while the number of pertussis cases in Norway continued to decrease.

This graph dramatically illustrates the problem with listening to the anti-vaccination advocates. Due to the drop in the pertussis vaccination rate in Sweden, thousands of innocent children in Sweden needlessly suffered (and sometimes died) from the ravages of pertussis. Unfortunately, this sad tale has been repeated in several countries. Spain, Greece, the UK, Japan, and Canada also experienced drops in the pertussis vaccination rate. Directly following that, they experienced pertussis case rate increases of 10 to 100 times compared to their neighboring countries who did not listen to the anti-vaccination advocates 5.

The key concept behind the need for high vaccine coverage is that of herd immunity. That is, if everyone is immunized, the transmission of the disease can be slowed or stopped. This is important for three reasons. The first is that no vaccine is 100% effective for all people. As a result, there will always be a small percentage of people for whom vaccination does not work because their immune systems do not respond to vaccination, and thus they will always be at risk for those diseases.

The second reason, an increasing problem in the face of HIV and similar disorders, stems from the vaccination of those suffering from immune deficiency disorders. Their immune systems are too weak to handle vaccination, and therefore they should never be vaccinated. For those who cannot be immunized for such reasons, it is imperative that those around them be vaccinated so that the organism that causes the disease will no longer be transmitted to them. This is the only way that they can be safe from the risk of disease.

The last reason is for the sake of infants who are too young to be immunized. In a study done of infants hospitalized for pertussis, most of them contracted it from family members. “The clear message is that, if herd immunity is lost,” Nick Pigott and his colleagues say, “the most vulnerable children (preimmunisation infants) are at greatest risk. The consequences are potentially devastating.”6 In light of the importance of herd immunity, the attitude mentioned earlier (refusing to vaccinate a child assuming that your children will be protected by others’ vaccination) is shown to be dangerous. Indeed, the immunity of everyone around a child does help protect the child to an extent, but that child is also at risk to a much greater extent than his immunized neighbors. More importantly, as more people follow this practice, fewer people surrounding him are immunized.

In country after country, in many varying circumstances, the result is the same – a lack of vaccination coverage is a recipe for epidemic. When a parent does not vaccinate his or her child, not only is that child’s health at risk, but the health of everyone around that child is also at risk.


1. Robert Chen and Frank DeStefano, “Vaccine Adverse Events: Causal or Coincidental?” The Lancet. 1998;351:612 ( Available online)
2. EJ Gangarosa, et al. “Impact of Anti-Vaccine Movements on Pertussis Control: the Untold Story.” The Lancet.1998;351:357 ( Available online)
3. V Romanus, R Jonsell, and SO Bergquist. “Pertussis in Sweden After the Cessation of General Immunization in 1979.” Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. April, 1987; pp.364-71
4. Gangarosa et al. Ibid, p.360
5. Ibid, p.360
6. Nick Pigott, et al. “The Importance of Herd Immunity Against Infection.” The Lancet. 2002;360:645.( Available online)

*Erica A. Sommerville is not a medical doctor but a college student. She does not dispense medical advice. Her aim is to educate the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself
or your family.

Vaccines Do Not cause Multiple Sclerosis

According to anti-vaccination advocates, vaccination (with the Hepatitis B vaccine in particular) can cause neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS)1. This is supposedly the result of the vaccine producing antimyelin antibodies that attack the myelin sheath which exists around some nerves. However, a quick look at the medical data shows that this is just not the case.

In February of 2000, for example, Sadovnick and Sheifele reported on their study2 of school and hospital records in British Columbia, Canada. In this province, the Hepatitis B vaccine has been given to students age 11-12 (grade 6) since October, 1992. Thus, the researchers examined the number of multiple sclerosis cases amongst 6th grade students from January, 1986 to September, 1992 and compared it to the number of multiple sclerosis cases amongst 6th grade students from October, 1992 to September, 1998. The number of students in each case was similar, but the frequency of multiple sclerosis was actually a bit higher in the students prior to October of 1992 as compared to those after October of 1992. The difference was not statistically significant, but the result is clear. The hepatitis B vaccine cannot be associated with multiple sclerosis, as the multiple sclerosis rate was slightly lower after the vaccine was routinely given.

Another large-scale study comes Ascherio and others3. They used data from the Nurse’s Health Study, which has followed 121,700 women since 1976. They found no association between hepatitis B vaccination and the development of multiple sclerosis.

Another study was done on patients who had relapses of multiple sclerosis. After all, if the hepatitis vaccine produces antimyelin antibodies, it should exacerbate multiple sclerosis in patients whose disease is in remission. However, Confavreux and others4 followed 643 patients with relapses of multiple sclerosis and demonstrated that there was no association between exacerbations of multiple sclerosis and the hepatitis B vaccine, the tetanus shot, or the influenza vaccine.

Clearly, then, the medical literature does not support any kind of link between multiple sclerosis and the hepatitis B vaccine. Indeed, after reviewing all of the available evidence on the subject, the Institute of Medicine came to the conclusion that the hepatitis B vaccine does not increase a person’s risk of multiple sclerosis, nor does it trigger multiple sclerosis attacks.5

Another way of demonstrating that there is no medical evidence that the hepatitis B vaccine is linked to multiple sclerosis is to look at what the National Multiple Sclerosis Society says about hepatitis B vaccination. Since the mission of this society is “to end the devastating effects of MS,”6 they would definitely be interested in publicizing a link between multiple sclerosis and the hepatitis vaccine. Instead, they encourage the use of the vaccine7.

Clearly, then, the available medical data indicates that vaccines do not cause multiple sclerosis.


1. See, for example, ( Think Twice) Return to text
2. Sadovnick A.D. and Scheifele D.W. “School-based hepatitis B vaccination programme and adolescent multiple sclerosis”, Lancet 2000;355:549-550 Return to text
3. Alberto Ascherio, et. al., “Hepatitis B Vaccination and the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis” NEJM 2001;344:327-332 Return to text
4. Confavreux C., et al. “Vaccinations and the Risk of Relapse in Multiple Sclerosis” NEJM 2001;344:327-332 Return to text
5. Board on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention and the Institute of Medicine Immunization Safety Review: Hepatitis B Vaccine and Demyelinating Neurological Disorders 2002 ( Available online) Return to text
6. See ( The National Multiple Sclerosis Society website ) Return to text
7. See ( The National Multiple Sclerosis Society website ) Return to text

Dr. Wile is not medical a doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

Vaccines are Recommended Based on Health Concerns, Not Monetary Concerns

While reading through anti-vaccination literature, I often come across the argument that vaccines are a multi-billion dollar business, and that the standard vaccination schedule is built mostly out of a desire to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies rather than out of concern for people’s health1.

As is the case with most of what the anti-vaccination movement claims, this idea cannot stand up to scrutiny. If the standard vaccination schedule is meant to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies, it is doing a lousy job! After all, there are many, many vaccines that are available today and licensed for use but are not on the standard vaccination schedule.

For example, we do not routinely vaccinate against smallpox anymore. Why? Because the vaccine has completely destroyed smallpox (see “The Unique History of Smallpox”). As a result, the only smallpox viruses left are in laboratory samples. This means that the chance of catching smallpox (barring some terrorist act or horrible laboratory accident) is zero. As a result, there is no need to be vaccinated against smallpox, so it is no longer on the standard vaccination schedule. If the goal were to simply enrich the pharmaceutical companies, why aren’t we still vaccinating against smallpox? The vaccine has already been used on millions and millions of Americans. Why not still use it today? Because medically, there is no reason to use it anymore.

We also have vaccines against diseases that still exist today but are not found in the United States. There are vaccines against yellow fever, typhoid, tuberculosis, and Japanese encephalitis2, for example. These vaccines have all been shown to be safe and effective, and they are used in many parts of the world. Why aren’t they a part of the standard vaccination schedule? Because as long as you stay in the United States, you have almost no chance of being exposed to these diseases. Thus, there is simply no medical reason for you to get vaccinated. Now, if you end up traveling to parts of the world where these diseases are a problem, you definitely should be vaccinated against them, because you are likely to be exposed to them. Otherwise, however, there is simply no reason for you to be vaccinated. As a result, these vaccines are also not a part of the standard vaccination schedule.

Now once again, if the goal were to simply make money for the pharmaceutical companies, why not throw the yellow fever, typhoid, tuberculosis, and Japanese encephalitis vaccines into the standard vaccination schedule for everyone? After all, they are all licensed, which means that they have been demonstrated to be safe and effective. Indeed, they are used routinely on people for whom the risk of these diseases is significant. Why not just use them for everyone in the United States as well? The answer is simple – the standard vaccination schedule is determined based on the health of the people of the United States. If there is little or no risk for contracting a disease in the United States, there is no reason to spend the time and money vaccinating everyone against the disease. In addition, there are risks associated with any activity, including vaccination. A vaccine is recommended for everyone on the standard vaccination schedule when the risk of not vaccinating exceeds the risk of vaccinating (see “Vaccines are very Safe”). For the yellow fever, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, and meningococcal vaccines, the risks of vaccination exceed the benefits of vaccination, except for certain high-risk groups. As a result, vaccination is only recommended for those high-risk groups. This is the kind of sound, medical thinking that goes into modern medicine, and it is the same kind of thinking that is sorely lacking in most anti-vaccination literature.


1. See, for example, (Mercola’s website) Return to text

2. Center for Disease Control (CDC) “Vaccine Recommendations for Infants and Children” (Available online) Return to text

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

Vaccines DO NOT Cause Autism

One of the most popular claims in the anti-vaccination literature is that vaccines (often the MMR vaccine) are linked to autism1. This claim has gotten even more popular since Dan Burton’s Congressional committee has held hearings on this subject. However, Congressional hearings are hardly scientific forums, given the fact that such environmental experts as Meryl Streep testify before Congress on the effects of pesticides2, and biochemistry luminaries like Ben Affleck3 testify before Congress on current advances in genetics. Congressional hearings are forums for disgruntled citizens to make impassioned pleas and for craven politicians to “perform” for their constituents. If you want to know the truth about medicine, you must look at the medical literature, and the medical literature is quite clear – there is no link between vaccines and autism.

Let’s start with the idea that the MMR is somehow linked to autism. Taylor and others4 looked at autism cases in the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1999. Since the MMR vaccine was introduced in the UK in 1988, this study encompassed 9 years prior to use of the MMR and 11 years after its use began. They found that the autism rates increased steadily from 1979 to 1999, with no increase in the rate after the MMR was introduced. If the MMR were linked to autism, you would expect a “bump” in the autism rate shortly after the MMR became widely-used. No such “bump” occurred. Also, comparing vaccinated children to unvaccinated children, there was no difference in the average age at which diagnosis occurred. If the MMR were linked to vaccination, you would expect that the vaccinated children’s autism would occur nearer to the vaccination as compared to unvaccinated children. This was not the case.

In a similar study, Dales and others5 looked at the number of autism cases in California from 1980 to 1994. They also looked at the rate of MMR vaccination over the same time period. Here is what they found:

Autism Incidence

Notice that there is no correlation between the number of autism cases and the vaccination rate. The vaccination rate of those at or under the age of 17 months increased by roughly 50% over the period, while the number of autism cases increased by 600%. Also, if you look at the date range of 1988 to 1994, you will see that the vaccination rate of those at or under the age of 17 months barely changed at all, while the number of autism cases increased by 300%. The data are even more striking for the vaccination rate of those at or under the age of 24 months. That vaccination rate barely changed over the entire time period, but the number of autism cases increased by 600%.

These data are fairly straightforward. There seems to be no association between the MMR and autism. It also illustrates another lie told by many anti-vaccination advocates. They often claim that the number of autism cases have increased as the vaccination rates have increased. These data show that such a claim is simply wrong. Autism rates have skyrocketed as vaccination rates have barely changed.

In a more direct study, Madsen and others6 examined all children (more than half a million) born in Denmark from 1991 through 1998. Of those children, 82 percent had received the MMR vaccine. The other 18% had not. The researchers found that there was no difference between the autism rate of vaccinated children as compared to unvaccinated children. In such a large study, even a slight increase in the risk of autism due to the MMR vaccine would show up. However, no such increase was seen. This is strong evidence that the MMR vaccine is not linked to autism.

The thought that vaccines are somehow linked to autism has also come about due to the fact that a mercury-containing compound (thimerosal), is sometimes used as a vaccine preservative. As a result, when a person gets certain vaccines, he also gets a small dose of mercury. Since high doses of mercury have been linked to neurological problems, there are those who think that the small amount of mercury in some vaccines can cause neurological problems such as autism. However, several studies have been done specifically looking for a link between the thimerosal in vaccines and autism, and none can be found.

For example, Heron and others7 studied almost 13,000 children in the United Kingdom. They tracked the amount of mercury the children were exposed to through vaccination as well as other sources (such as the consumption of fish). They also examined many other factors that lead to developmental disorders. When they adjusted for all of those factors, they found no link between thimerosal exposure and developmental disorders, including autism.

Probably the most convincing study showing that thimerosal is not linked with vaccination comes from Denmark8 , where all thimerosal-containing vaccines were discontinued in 1992. The study looked at all autism cases diagnosed from 1971 to the year 2000. The results indicate that the number of autism cases was fairly steady until 1990, and after that, it rose steadily throughout the study period. If thimerosal were to blame for autism, you would expect the number of autism cases to drop, remain steady, or at least not increase as dramatically after 1992, when the use of thimerosal-containing vaccines was discontinued. That did not happen. Thus, autism is simply not related to thimerosal exposure through vaccination.

Many studies using many methodologies have been done trying to link vaccines or the thimerosal contained in some of them to autism, and the link is simply not supported by the data. Just recently, the Institute of Medicine examined all available studies on autism and vaccination. Five large studies conducted in the U.S., Denmark, the U.K., and Sweden since 2001 showed no link between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism. In addition, 14 large epidemiological studies showed no link between the MMR and autism. A few studies showed a tenuous link between vaccines and autism, but each study had flaws, and none of them were nearly as large or far-ranging as the studies that showed no link. Thus, the vast majority of the data show that there is simply no link between vaccines and autism. This is why the Institute of Medicine clearly states, “The committee concludes that the body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism. The committee also concludes that the body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.”9 In other words, the data clearly say that vaccines are not related to autism.

In fact, the latest research indicates that autism is a genetic disorder. A French team of scientists10 has identified two mutated genes that appear to cause autism. Both genes are located on the X-chromosome, which makes sense, since autism is four times more prevalent in men than women. Since women have two X-chromosomes, they are less likely to be affected by a mutated gene on that chromosome. After all, a woman would have to acquire one mutated gene from her mother and another mutated gene from her father to be affected. This is rather unlikely. On the other hand, a man needs only inherit one mutated gene on the X-chromosome, and he will be affected by the gene.

What do these genes do? They tell the cell to produce proteins called “neuroligins,” which appear on the junctions between nerve cells. These junctions are called “synapses,” and they allow nerve cells to communicate with one another. Neuroligins are crucial for the proper function of a synapse. Thus, if a neuroligin is not made properly because the gene that codes for its production is mutated, it makes sense that the person affected by such a gene would have a neurological disorder.

The sad thing about the anti-vaccination advocates’ lies regarding vaccines and autism is that they have distracted medical researchers from finding the real cause of autism. Let’s hope that no more distractions occur and that medical researchers can do what they should have been doing all along. That’s the hope of Dr. Peter J. Hotez, whose son has autism. He not only knows the challenges of having a child with autism, he also knows the medical research behind the condition. You can read about his book refuting the anti-vaccination movement here.


1. See, for example, (Think Twice) Return to Text
2. Health Effects of Pesticide Use On Children: Hearing Before the Subcomm. on Children, Family, Drugs and Alcoholism of the Senate Comm. on Labor & Human Resources, 101st Cong., 1st Sess. 32 (1989)28 Return to Text
3. Promise of the genomic revolution : hearing before a subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, One Hundred Seventh Congress, first session, special hearing, July 11, 2001, Washington, DC. Return to Text
4. Taylor B, et al. “Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association” Lancet 1999;353:2026-9 Return to Text
5. Dales, L, et al., “Time Trends in Autism and in MMR Immunization Coverage in California” JAMA 2001;285:1183-5 Return to Text
6. Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen, et al. “A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism” NEJM 2002;347:1477-1482 Return to Text
7. Heron J, et al. “Thimerosal Exposure in Infants and Developmental Disorders: A Prospective Cohort Study in the United Kingdom Does Not Support a Causal Association. ” Pediatrics 2004;114: 577-583 Return to Text
8. Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen, et al. “Thimerosal and the Occurrence of Autism: Negative Ecological Evidence from Danish Population-Based Data. ” Pediatrics 2003;112: 604-6 Return to Text
9. Institute of Medicine Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism 2004, p. 1 (Available online) Return to Text
10. Jamain S, et al., “Mutations of the X-linked genes encoding neuroligins NLGN3 and NLGN4 are associated with autism” Nat Genet. 2003;34(1):27-9 Return to Text

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

Vaccines are the Reason That the Childhood Diseases are so Rare Today

In some ways, the effectiveness of vaccines has become a problem. Today, you almost never hear of children dying from diseases such as smallpox, polio, measles, mumps, pertussis, etc. It still happens (See “Individuals Who Have Suffered and Even Died Because They Were Not Vaccinated”), but it is rare. Why is it rare? Because vaccines have virtually eliminated such diseases! As a result, people tend to think that these diseases are “a thing of the past” and thus connect them with an age where sanitation and medical practices were poor. In fact, many anti-vaccination advocates make the specific claim that vaccines are not responsible for the decline in these diseases1.

This lie can be refuted in many different ways. If you look at our article entitled “Vaccines are Incredibly Effective at Preventing Disease,” you will find two graphs that clearly show that the declines in polio and measles are directly correlated with the licensure of the vaccines for those diseases. In addition, you will find a discussion of the many detailed, controlled experiments that show that those who are vaccinated are significantly less likely to be infected than those who are not.

Another way to refute the lie is to see what happens when vaccination rates decrease. You can find a discussion of that in our article entitled, “Small Decision, Large Impact: Why Not Vaccinating Your Child Is Dangerous”

Of course, the best way to refute the lie is to simply discuss the histories of the diseases that vaccines have conquered. Below, you will find links to a discussion of the history of smallpox and a discussion of the history of polio. Those histories clearly show how important the vaccine was in the destruction of these terrible diseases.

The Unique History of Smallpox

The Continuing History of Poliomyelitis


1. See, for example, ( There’s More to Vaccination than the Shot) Return to Text

Dr. Wile and Erica A. Sommerville are not medical doctors. Dr. Wile is a nuclear chemist, and Miss Sommerville is a college student. As a result, they do not dispense medical advice. They simply educate the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

The Flu Shot Protects Against More Than the Flu!

The scientific studies on the flu vaccine are quite convincing. The influenza vaccine is 70-90% effective in preventing the flu in young, healthy adults.1 It can even reduce influenza-related death in the elderly by as much as 80%.2-3 In addition, the flu shot has been demonstrated to significantly reduce the risk of an influenza outbreak in nursing homes. 4 Now, a growing body of evidence indicates that regular flu shots can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke better then even cholesterol-lowering drugs!

In December of 2000, Naghavi and others5 reported the results of a small study they did on coronary heart disease patients seen in a single hospital during the flu season. In their study, patients who did not received the flu shot that season were three times as likely to develop a new heart attack than those who did receive the flu shot. Of course, the study was small, so further research was suggested.

Now that research has been done. In April of 2002, the results of a placebo-controlled study6 of 301 heart attack and angioplasty/stent patients was released. In this study, patients were given either the flu vaccine or a placebo. A follow-up interview was performed in six months. Those who received the placebo were slightly more than twice as likely to have a heart attack within those six months than those who received the flu vaccine. Thus, the flu vaccine protects not only against the flu, but also against heart attacks! In fact, the results indicate that the incredibly inexpensive flu shot could end up saving more lives than expensive cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Not only does the flu shot protect against heart attacks, it also seems to protect against stroke. Lavelle and others report on a study7 of 270 patients that found the risk of stroke is roughly twice as great for those who do not get the flu shot as compared to those who do. Once again, this is a small study and needs to be supported by further research. Nevertheless, the data are encouraging.

This research also adds to a growing body of research which shows that some vaccines protect against more than just the disease for which they were designed. Not only does the flu shot reduce the risk of heart attacks and possibly strokes, the DPT vaccine protects against SIDS, and following the standard vaccination schedule reduces the risk of general infection. This, of course, is not surprising, as the data clearly show that the higher the vaccination rate in a population, the more healthy the population.


1. Palache AM, “Influenza vaccines: a reappraisal of their use.”, Drugs 54:841-56, 1997. Return to Text
2. Arden NH, Patriarca PA, Kendal AP, “Experiences in the use and efficacy of inactivated influenza vaccine in nursing homes. “, In: Kendal AP, Patriarca PA, eds. Options for the control of influenza., New York, NY: Alan R. Liss, Inc., 155-68, 1986. Return to Text
3. Patriarca PA, et al., “Efficacy of influenza vaccine in nursing homes: reduction in illness and complications during an influenza A (H3N2) epidemic.”, JAMA 253:1136-9, 1985 Return to Text
4. Patriarca PA, et al., “Risk factors for outbreaks of influenza in nursing homes: a case-control study. ” Am J Epidemiol 24:114-9, 1986 Return to Text
5. Naghavi M, et al., “Association of influenza vaccination and reduced risk of recurrent myocardial infarction.” Circulation 102:3039-3045, 2000 Return to Text
6. Gurfinkel EP, et al. “Influenza vaccine pilot study in acute coronary syndromes and planned percutaneous coronary interventions: The FLU Vaccination Acute Coronary Syndrome (FLUVACS) Study.” Circulation 105:2143-2147, 2002 Return to Text
7. Lavallee P, et al., “Association between influenza vaccination and reduced risk of brain infarction.” Stroke 33:513-518, 2002 Return to Text

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, Dr. Wile not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

The REAL Side Effects of Vaccines

Vaccines certainly have potential side effects. Virtually everything does. Every year, approximately 350 people die taking baths1. Nevertheless, we all still take baths. That’s because the benefits of taking a bath far outweigh the risks. It’s the same with vaccines. Vaccines do have risks, but the benefits of getting vaccinated far outweigh the risks. Thus, unless someone has specific health conditions that prohibit vaccination (these are called “contraindications”), they are much safer being vaccinated than not being vaccinated.

Anti-vaccination advocates try to claim that all sorts of nasty side effects are associated with vaccination. For example, most anti-vaccination websites will claim that certain vaccines can cause Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), even though many controlled studies indicate that the incidence of SIDS amongst vaccinated children is lower than the incidence of SIDS amongst unvaccinated children2-4. In the same way, anti-vaccination advocates claim that vaccines are linked to autism, even though controlled studies show that there is no such link5-8. The list could go on and on.

If you are interested in learning the REAL side effects of vaccination and their frequency, you can simply go to the Center for Disease Control’s website. The CDC monitors (and often initiates) the latest studies on vaccination and compiles a detailed list of each vaccine and its side effects. If you want to make an informed choice regarding vaccination, please look at scientific sites like this one. You might also want to look at our article entitled “A Small List of the Lies Told by the Anti-Vaccination Movement” to see that many of the side effects that anti-vacciantion advocates claim are simply not real.


1. Budnick, L.D., and Ross, D.A., “Bathtub-related drownings in the United States, 1979-1981.” American Journal of Public Health, 75: 630-633, 1985. Return to Text
2. Essery SD, et. al. “The protective effect of immunisation against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) in relation to sudden infant death syndrome.” FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol 1999;25:1-2, 183-92 Return to Text
3. Hoffman HS, et al. “Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis immunization and sudden infant death: results of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Cooperative Epidemiological Study of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Risk Factors.” Pediatrics 1987;79:598-611. Return to Text
4. Walker, A.M., et al. “Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis immunization and sudden infant death syndrome” Am. J. Public Health 1987;77:945-951 Return to Text
5. Taylor B, et al. “Autism and measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine: no epidemiological evidence for a causal association.” Lancet 1999;353:2026-9. Return to Text
6. Kreesten Meldgaard Madsen, et al. “A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism” NEJM 2002;347:1477-1482 Return to Text
7. Peltola, H., et al. “No evidence for measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine-associated inflammatory bowel disease or autism in a 14-year prospective study.” Lancet 1998;351:1327. Return to Text
8. Immunization Safety Review Committee, Stratton, Kathleen, et. al., (Ed) “Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine and Autism” Immunization Safety Review Institute of Medicine, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2001 ( Available online) Return to Text

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

Vaccines are Safe

In order to try to get you to refuse vaccination, the anti-vaccination propagandists will often try to convince you that vaccines are unsafe. They will tell you that vaccines cause debilitating disease and sickness. However, such claims ignore the medical literature, which says something quite different. Before I tell you how we know that vaccines are safe, let me spend a moment discussing what “safe” means in terms of medical science.

Would you consider taking a bath to be safe? Did you know that roughly 350 people die every year because of taking baths1? If so many people die every year taking baths, why do we continue this “dangerous” practice? We continue it because it is significantly more dangerous to not take baths than to take baths. If you decide to stop taking baths due to the alarming statistic quoted above, you are opening yourself up to all kinds of diseases. Thus, even though it is possible for you to die taking a bath, the benefits of taking that bath far outweigh the risks. As a result, we continue to take baths, despite the fact that some people die from it every year.

That’s exactly the kind of reasoning used to determine what is medically safe. Virtually every medicine and activity comes with risks. Even vitamins can cause liver damage, bleeding problems, heart injury, and bone problems, especially when taken in high doses.2 Thus, no matter what you do, you take risks. The question when evaluating any medical procedure is simply this: Do you risk more by refusing the medical procedure than by accepting the procedure? In the case of vaccinations, the medical research is quite clear. You are significantly more at risk if you refuse the standard vaccinations than if you get them.

How can I state this so definitively? All you have to do is look at the data that has been collected on this point, and it is quite clear. First, we know that over the past several years, the vaccination rate has increased in the United States. During this same time period, children in the United States have become significantly more healthy. Consider the following data3:

Now do these graphs prove that vaccines are safe? Of course not. There are many factors that contribute to health and mortality, and there is no way from this study to conclude whether the increase in vaccination rates actually caused the increase in children’s health and the decrease in mortality rates. However, this graph presents a huge problem to anyone who wants to claim that vaccines are dangerous. If vaccines are so dangerous, why are children becoming healthier while the vaccination rate is increasing?

Of course, the only way to make a strong scientific conclusion when it comes to medicine is to do controlled studies. Many such studies have been done, and the conclusions are that vaccinated children are healthier than non-vaccinated children. For example, one study looked at 496 vaccinated and unvaccinated children, comparing the health of the vaccinated children to that of the unvaccinated children. It found that children who received immunizations against diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, Hib, and polio within the first 3 months of life had fewer infections than those who did not. Surprisingly enough, even the rates of infections unrelated to the vaccines were lower in the vaccinated group than in the unvaccinated group.4 Several other studies5-7 reach similar conclusions. These studies clearly show us that the risk of not vaccinating is higher than that of vaccinating, because unvaccinated children are sicker than vaccinated children. You can choose to ignore such studies, but you do so at your family’s risk!

The other way we can see how risky it is to not vaccinate people is to observe what happens when vaccination rates go down. For example, in 1975, Japan imposed a moratorium on the use of the pertussis vaccine, due in part to hysterical anti-vaccination propagandists. As a result, the vaccination rate dropped significantly. In the three years before the moratorium, there were 400 cases of pertussis and 10 associated deaths. In the three years following the moratorium, there were 13,000 cases (33.5 TIMES as many cases) of pertussis and 113 associated deaths (11.3 TIMES as many deaths). Of those that didn’t die, more than 200 experienced convulsions and about 15 have permanent brain damage. Due to these alarming statistics, the government started promoting vaccination again, and vaccination rates increased dramatically. As a result, pertussis rates went back to their pre-moratorium levels.8 That’s the risk associated with not vaccinating – innocent children die or suffer permanent injury.

This kind of tragedy occurs in the United States as well. Between 1990 and 1991, there was a measles outbreak in Philadelphia. The outbreak was traced back to a church whose members refused immunization on religious grounds. In the outbreak, 1,600 children were infected. Of those, nine died. Of the nine innocent children who died, seven were from that church. The other two who died were babies who lived nearby and had not yet gotten their MMR vaccination9. Had the church not been anti-vaccination, these nine precious ones would still be alive today. If you would like to learn more about the ravages induced on innocent children by the anti-vaccination movement, please see our discussion entitled, Small Decision, Large Impact: Why Not Vaccinating Your Child Is Dangerous or Individuals Who Have Suffered or Died Because They Were Not Vaccinated.

Before I end this discussion, I must spend a moment discussing the contents of vaccines. Anti- vaccination propagandists will often list the contents of vaccines in order to try to scare you. Many of the contents of vaccines sound scary, and some (like mercury) are even known to cause biological harm in certain situations. As a result, the anti-vaccination propagandists will tell you that vaccines contain poisons. Of course, if this were true, the studies I listed above (references 4-7) would have reached radically different conclusions. If vaccines were toxic, then vaccinated children would not be healthier than unvaccinated children! Nevertheless, the studies demonstrate that they are.

How can a vaccine containing things like mercury be safe? The answer is quite simple, and anyone with a modicum of training in chemistry should know this. Whether or not a substance is toxic to the body depends on its concentration. Substances like mercury are toxic only if they reach a high enough concentration. It is important to note that even things we think of as “healthy” are also toxic at high enough concentration. For example, if you take too many vitamins, you risk damaging your health (see reference 2). Thus, the concentration of a substance is instrumental in determining whether or not it is a poison.

At the concentrations found in vaccines, mercury (and other supposed “toxins”) are not toxic. How do we know that these substances are not toxic at the levels found in vaccines? Because study after study has demonstrated this. First of all, in order to get licensed vaccines must undergo a long-term, rigorous approval process that includes animal studies and controlled studies on volunteers. These controlled studies are specifically designed to look for maladies that might arise from any of the additives in the vaccines. Secondly, follow up studies are constantly being done to monitor vaccine safety. Finally, the Vaccine Adverse Effect Reporting System (VAERS) investigates all reported cases of what appear to be reactions to a vaccination. As a result, we have a wealth of data regarding the effects of vaccines, and the data continually point to the fact that it is much more risky to refuse the standard vaccinations than to accept them.


1. Budnick, L.D., and Ross, D.A., “Bathtub-related drownings in the United States, 1979-1981.” American Journal of Public Health, 75: 630-633, 1985. Return to Text
2. Illnesses and Injuries Associated With the Use of Selected Dietary Supplements, U. S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 1993 (Available online) Return to Text
3. America’s Children: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics, 2002 (Available online) “General Health” is given as the percentage of children (Age 0-18) in very good or excellent health. “Infant Mortality” is the number of deaths of children under 1 year of age per 7,500. “Child Mortality” is the number of deaths of children age 1-4 per 150,00. “Preadolescent Mortality” is the number of deaths of children age 5-14 per 300,000. Return to Text
4. Otto S, et al. “General non-specific morbidity is reduced after vaccination within the third month of life-the Greifswald study.” J Infect. 41:172-175, 2000. Return to Text
5. Black SB, et al. “Apparent decreased risk of invasive bacterial disease after heterologous childhood immunization.” Am J Dis Child. 145:746-749, 1991. 6. Davidson M, , et al. “DTP immunization and susceptibility to infectious diseases. Is there a relationship?” Am J Dis Child., 145:750-754, 1991. Return to Text
7. Essery SD, et al. “The protective effect of immunisation against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) in relation to sudden infant death syndrome” FEMS Immunol Med Microbiol, 25:1-2, 183-92, 1999. Return to Text
8. Gangarosa, AM, et al. “Impact of Anti-Vaccine Movements on Pertussis Control: The Untold Story” Lancet 1998; 351(9099) 356-361. Return to Text
9. Anita Manning, “To vaccinate or not to vaccinate: Parents worry about safety-which worries health officials,” USA Today, July 17, 2000. Return to Text

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.

Dr. Murch Retracts Claim

One of the most popular claims in the anti-vaccination literature is that vaccines (usually the MMR vaccine) are linked to autism1. One reason that this claim remains popular is that there is one study2 that anti-vaccine advocates use to “support” their claim. This study examined 12 patients and suggested that there might be a connection between the MMR vaccine and a bowel obstruction from which they suffered. The authors of the study then speculated this bowel obstruction could cause a loss in nutritional absorption in the small intestine, which could lead to developmental disorders such as autism. Of course, any study that even hints of such a connection should be taken seriously, but the tiny sample of patients certainly cast doubt on the conclusions. Thus, larger studies were implemented to determine if, indeed, there was a link between the MMR vaccine and bowel disorders or autism. As discussed elsewhere on this site subsequent large-scale studies showed absolutely no link.

In the medical community, those studies put the case to rest. However, anti-vaccination advocates will not discuss the results of these large-scale studies and instead continue to hype the claims of the original small study that was published in 1998. Well, Dr. Simon Murch, one of the authors of that study has finally had enough. In a letter to the editor published in the Lancet, Dr. Murch stated:3

“There is now unequivocal evidence that MMR is not a risk factor for autism – this statement is not spin or medical conspiracy, but reflects an unprecedented volume of medical study on a worldwide basis.”

Why did Murch come forward to denounce his own study? There seem to be two reasons. First, he recognizes that because of the effectiveness of anti-vaccine propaganda, the vaccination rates in the UK (where he resides) have reached a low of 84%. This means that measles is being reestablished in the UK and that deadly epidemics are possible this winter. Perhaps he feels somewhat responsible for this, despite the fact that he is not to blame. Only those who misuse his research are to blame. His study hinted at a possible problem. It is good scientific procedure to publish the study so as to encourage further research. However, now that the subsequent research overwhelmingly shows that his initial conclusion was wrong, it is also good science to admit that and move on.

There seems to be a second reason. Dr. Murch is a medical doctor and, as such, cares for his patients. He is astonished at how the parents of his patients completely ignore medical science when it comes to their own children. In his words:

“We’ve seen well over 300 children with autism, and even in cases where there is clearly a genetic cause of autism or when there were problems manifesting in the first year, parents are still fixated on MMR,” he said. “It’s a natural human reaction. They want something to blame for such a tragic event.”4

It is time for the anti-vaccination advocates to come clean. When one of the authors of the only study to which they can point clearly says that the study was wrong, it is time to stop referencing the study. Of course, given the track record of the anti-vaccination movement, I doubt that this will happen!


1. See, for example, (Think Twice) Return to Text
2. Wakefield AJ, et al., “Ileal lymphoid nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and regressive developmental disorder in children.” Lancet, 351:637-41, 1998. Return to Text
3. Murch, S., “Separating Inflammation from Speculation in Autism” Lancet 362:1498, 2003 Return to Text
4. Ibid Return to Text

Dr. Wile is not a medical doctor. He is a nuclear chemist. As a result, he does not dispense medical advice. He simply educates the public about scientific issues. Please consult a board-certified medical doctor before making any medical decisions for yourself or your family.