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Why the Kennedy-De Niro Vaccine Challenge Matters

Robert Kennedy Jr. and Robert De Niro convened [1] a news conference on Wednesday at the National Press Club to announce a $100,000 cash reward [2] for anyone who identifies a peer-reviewed scientific study demonstrating that the mercury in vaccines is safe. Though the challenge was perhaps something of a stunt, the significance of the appearance was underscored by Kennedy’s confirming that President Trump may ask him to lead a commission on autism. The consequences of such a commission could extend beyond the narrow vaccine/autism debate. More significantly, the commission could expose the incentives driving vaccination policy, which, in the current political climate, could move mainstream opinion [3] against vaccines and also bolster doubts about the integrity of the health-care system.

Since at least 2007, Trump has suggested that the recent “epidemic” of autism might be related to current immunization practices. He is not categorically against immunization—in fact, he is “totally in favor of vaccines,” [4] as he says—but he suggests that the rate and quantity of injections given to infants, per the recommended immunization schedule [5], may contribute to incidents of autism. In Trump’s words, “massive combined inoculations” [6] and “simultaneous vaccinations” [7] may be producing a wave of “doctor-inflicted autism.” [8]

Trump’s central point that diagnoses of autism have skyrocketed alongside an increase in childhood vaccination is not in dispute. The term “early infantile autism” [9] was first introduced in 1943 based on clinical observations of eleven children. When Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger published a groundbreaking paper [10] on autism a year later, it drew little attention, and, indeed, was only translated and annotated into a widely-available English version in 1991 [11]. Possible links between immunization and autism did not draw much comment in subsequent years because mass vaccination itself was not yet a common practice. It wasn’t until 1949 that the combined diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT) vaccine [12] was licensed in the United States for pediatric use, and it was only around this time that large-scale vaccine production for public health became feasible.

The more salient question is whether vaccines are contributing to the wave of autism diagnoses since the 1980s, when major policy changes related to immunization were enacted. By 1981, under the Childhood Immunization Initiative, all 50 states instituted [13] laws linking school eligibility to immunization—an effective mandate far more stringent than what is instituted in Canada [14] and most European countries [15]. A surge of lawsuits followed and, in a series of high-profile settlements, manufacturers of the whooping cough and polio vaccines were held liable for injuries in children. In response to warnings from pharmaceutical companies that they would cease producing vaccines amid such a precarious legal environment, President Reagan, in 1986, signed into law the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act [16]. The mandatory no-fault compensation system [17] established under the new legal regime shields vaccine makers from civil product liability, as it forces victims to file initial claims under a federal vaccine compensation program in which awarded damages are paid by taxpayers.

The law was a boon to vaccine manufacturers. The vaccine business, as the Wall Street Journal reports [18], was “transformed from a risky, low-profit venture in the 1970s, to one of the pharmaceutical industry’s most attractive product lines.” From $500 million in 1990 [19], vaccine-industry revenues have grown to $24 billion today [20], expanding the pharmaceutical industry’s ability to enter into public-private partnerships, lobby [21] for lower licensing standards for vaccines, and advocate [22] against vaccine exemption laws.

Both the rate of vaccination and the rate of autism have spiked over the past three decades. From 23 doses of seven vaccines in 1983 [23], the recommended immunization schedule has tripled [24] to 69 doses of 16 vaccines, and Americans are now “required by law to use more vaccines than any other nation in the world.” [25] What fuels vaccine hesitancy is the fact that, for several decades through the 1970s, childhood autism remained [26] at a steady rate of about four in ten thousand children. After three decades of steady increases since the 1980s, however, the childhood autism rate, according to the CDC [27], has climbed to 1 in 68 or 1.5 percent.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a rebuttal [28] to Trump’s critique [29], Trump has said that he “couldn’t care less” [30] about the “shills” [31] of conventional medical wisdom, the pharmaceutical companies [32], and their “fudged up reports.” [33] In typical fashion, he declares that “the doctors lied” and that he is “being proven right about massive vaccinations.”

More influential to Trump than the medical establishment, it seems, is a dissident group of health practitioners, experts, and advocates. Trump has praised [34] the efforts of Bob Wright [35], the founder and former chairman of Autism Speaks [36]. And as a candidate, he met [37] with a group of vaccine skeptics including:

All of these experts either have children with autism or were drawn to the field after personal encounters with parents who are certain that their children suffered from vaccine damage. This, as Kennedy remarked today, has made an impact on Trump. Asked to explain his persistence on the issue, Trump has consistently cited the testimony of parents who attribute the onset [31] of autism in their children to vaccines—parents, he suspects, who “know far better” [46] than the experts who assert instead that autism is genetic or starts in utero. If Trump ultimately establishes a commission led by Kennedy, and the commission provides a platform for vaccine skeptics, millions of Americans would be exposed for the first time to counter-narratives in the vaccine/autism debate.

They would see that the very term “anti-vaxxer” is misleading [47]. The voluminous writings of the “anti-vaxxers” in fact reveal little in the way of unified opposition to vaccines. Their views, to the contrary, are quite diverse in terms of which vaccines they endorse, the schedules they recommend, and their assessments of vaccine risk in relation to more natural alternatives. Kennedy himself is explicitly [48] “pro vaccine,” had all six of his children vaccinated, and believes that “vaccines save millions of lives.’’ But he questions the safety of neurotoxins in vaccines, particularly the mercury-based preservative thimerosal [49], given its causative link to brain disorders.

The American people would also learn that the activists with whom Trump has associated are not all that different from vaccine skeptics generally. Numerous investigations suggest that “anti-vaxxers” hardly conform to the caricature of fringe, anti-science zealots. They are, for the most part, highly-educated, wealthy [50], and, in the assessment [50] of pediatric infectious disease specialist Mark Sawyer, “mainstream upper class people who don’t reject modern medicine.” Steve Silberman observes [51] in his award-winning NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, that they are “generally better acquainted with the state of autism research than the outsiders presuming to judge them.”

Why then are vaccine skeptics treated with such contempt in establishment institutions? There are, it is true, growing numbers of writers such as the science journalist Maggie Koerth-Baker, who, after advancing the conventional narrative on vaccines, decided to study media reporting on the issue. She ultimately criticized her colleagues [13] in Aeon for their failure to acknowledge that vaccine rejection can be a “rational choice.” Yet standard accounts, insofar as they even mention the genuine debate among experts on vaccine safety [52], often ignore the science informing these objections. Nor do they grapple with personalized approaches to vaccine decisions that, as Prof. Maya Goldenberg argues [53], are not ignorant per se but can produce cost-benefit analyses that depart, in individual cases, from public health orthodoxy.

In addressing this question, it’s important to consider what vaccine skeptics, including those in Trump’s orbit, do have in common. Rather than a doctrinaire view on vaccines, what unites vaccine skeptics is a suspicion that a corrupt regulatory system, driven by the “seamless marriage” [48] between the health establishment and government agencies, is succumbing to the temptations of “bureaucratic preservation.” [48] The consequence, they fear, is routine data manipulation and stifling of dissent. A legal paradigm—upheld by the Supreme Court’s 2011 decision [54] in Breusewitz v. Wyeth—that does not permit class-action lawsuits or the checks and balances that prevail in almost every other industry, they argue, only exacerbates the risk.

Herein lies the problem. In a recent paper [55] in the journal Science and Engineering Ethics, Prof. Brian Martin found evidence not of a conspiracy, but rather of a pattern of “suppression of vaccination dissent”—one that made Andrew Wakefield “subject to a degradation ceremony, a ritualistic denunciation casting him out of the company of honest researchers.” Martin argues that challenges to free inquiry, while prevalent throughout mainstream science, are particularly serious in the case of immunization. Because “vaccination is a signifier for the benefits of modern medicine,” questions about vaccination are treated as “a potential threat to the public perception that credentialed experts unanimously endorse vaccination.”

While Trump can be faulted for his simplistic rhetoric on the issue, his objections appear to stem from legitimate questions. At a moment when doubts about vaccines are growing [56] and when the federal government, the big pharmaceutical combine, and health-care industries are the three least trusted institutions in America [57], a presidential commission would seem sensible.

Pratik Chougule is an executive editor at The American Conservative.

94 Comments (Open | Close)

94 Comments To "Why the Kennedy-De Niro Vaccine Challenge Matters"

#1 Comment By Rita Melilo On February 16, 2017 @ 11:58 pm

Fantastic article, Pratik! It’s refreshing to see real journalism happening here.

#2 Comment By David M. On February 17, 2017 @ 12:08 am

It is a betrayal of Western culture to promulgate such meritless hokum, and it moves this magazine several steps closer to the intellectual level of third world witch doctors.

There is nothing conservative about this.

#3 Comment By Smom On February 17, 2017 @ 1:44 am

Thank you for covering this issue fairly, Pratik Chougule and American Conservative! I am a far-left Bernie supporter who believes in government – as long as it’s not controlled by corporations.

I had 6 vaccinations in the 60s and believe they were beneficial. The US has gone astray since Big Pharma was absolved of liability for vaccines in 1986. Since 1986 the vaccination schedule has grown to 49 doses while in the UK and Europe the schedule is far more reasonable (no requirements for flu, chickenpox, HepB, or HPV/Gardisil for example).

Could it be that the US vaccination schedule has grown in direct proportion to Big Pharma profits? Is it a coincidence that children in the US suffer from far greater incidence of autism, ADHD and myriad other health issues?

When I was a kid, measles, mumps and chicken pox were considered a non-threatening rite of childhood passage. I and all of my siblings and friends had them with no problem.

On the other hand, my son was damaged in 2004 by his 18 month MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella).

When it happens to your own child, your perspective on this issue changes permanently.

#4 Comment By Jennifer On February 17, 2017 @ 9:28 am

It is interesting that so many readers comment about mentioning Wakefield’s “fraudulent” work but dismiss the CDC’s fraud in the MMR study, where they literally shredded evidence of a link between autism/MMR. Cherry picking data to support the conclusion they want to be true! You lose all credibility of being unbiased when you do this. Thank you so much for a well written and FACTUAL article!

#5 Comment By Wizard On February 17, 2017 @ 12:39 pm

Actually, there’s a very simple reason autism diagnoses have greatly increased: the definition of autism has been greatly broadened.

Let’s say I decide to do a nationwide count of poodles, counting only purebred, AKC-registered poodles. Five years later, I do another poodle census, but this time I count non-registered poodles, mixed-breeds that are part poodle, and any dog that just looks like it might be a poodle. I’m willing to bet that I’ll get a much higher count the second time around, but that doesn’t mean the poodle population has sky-rocketed.

And the thimerosal connection is obvious nonsense, since it was being phased out when this supposed “explosion” of autism started.

#6 Comment By mrscracker On February 17, 2017 @ 12:50 pm

The BBC had an article online today in their Health section which says brain scans may detect autism in infants before any symptoms are displayed. The article claims that would debunk the MMR vaccine link because the brain differences are visible in the scans before the age at which the MMR vaccine is administered.
So maybe one more piece of the puzzle but I imagine there may be any number of factors. Plus, other vaccines are given to infants much earlier.

#7 Comment By sdharms On February 17, 2017 @ 1:22 pm

most of the “skyrocketing ” of autism diagnosis is because the range of symptoms that are diagnosed as autism was widened DRASTICALLY under Clinton.

#8 Comment By Andrea Woodruff On February 17, 2017 @ 2:10 pm

THANK YOU. My trust in journalism just went up a notch. As a family affected, I appreciate someone writing something close to accurate about this topic. I do believe vaccines have saved lives, but I can’t stand the cover up regarding the side effects.

#9 Comment By Michelle Sydney On February 17, 2017 @ 7:26 pm

The discussion should not be taboo. Is the house of cards on which vaccine mandates are built so precariously balanced as to buckle at the slightest breeze of doubt in its validity?

I’m baffled every day by the contentious nature of this debate. I think it’s un-American to stifle inquiry and vilify skeptics. I want to hear what they have to say.

I will scrutinize any product that I use with my kids. Why not something that’s to be injected??

#10 Comment By VWM On February 17, 2017 @ 7:41 pm

This author fails to mention:
1)Andrew Wakefield’s research was based on a sample size of 8 children

2) his findings have never been replicated under the scientific method

3) he was being paid by a lawyer who was suing Eli Lily

4) Lancet retracted its publication of his work

#11 Comment By mrscracker On February 17, 2017 @ 8:13 pm

sdharms,
Yes, the autism spectrum diagnosis been extended so far that it makes you wonder.

#12 Comment By Krissy Alonzo On February 17, 2017 @ 10:39 pm

I spent waaayyy too long yesterday arguing with people who dismissed out of hand that there needs to be ANY reform or change to our current vaccination policy. No matter that no other country save possibly Australia has as aggressive of a policy. No matter that some of the required vaccines are for diseases that are not contagious. No matter that the free market plays no part in our policy as drug makers are immune to civil or criminal liability. No matter that the definition of “deadly” disease changes every time a new vaccine is introduced. Nope, Nada! Grown adults put their fingers in their ears and shouted “nah nah nah” while stomping their feet. This strikes me as so peculiar. I can’t imagine what could be driving such a lack of critical thought. Tonight on Stossel, John did a segment on privatizing our Air Traffic Control system. Where privatization has been tried, i.e. in Canada, it is wildly successful. The system is cheaper, safer and allows more planes to fly. This is achieved primarily through new technology and streamlining the workforce. When John asked his guest from The Manhattan Institute, why it has not been tried here, she explained that the Congressman (Shuster) refusing to move such a bill forward has received $119k in donations from the union and his girlfriend happens to be the President of one such union. Needless to say, money and politics are endangering our air travel system, putting hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of us at risk. TAC itself was founded to counteract the lies coming from the GWB administration that was leading us into war. We have endless examples of government corruption, collusion, fraud and ineptitude. And yet, when one points out that there is a possibility that our a vaccine policy might possibly be compromised by conflict of interest (CDC Director becomes President of Merck Vaccine Division, CDC owns vaccine patents, CDC rules allow Vaccine makers to vote on whether or not to make a vaccine “required”, CDC panel on vaccine safety includes vaccine makers who stand to gain financially, etc) otherwise thinking people refuse to consider the possibility. That says to me that common sense is no longer part of the equation. I can see someone being rabidly and aggressively opposed to making the polio vaccine for example, optional. Maybe even Rubella or Measles or Pertussis. Fine, let’s agree on those. But chicken pox? Hep B at 12 hours old? C’mon people. Tetanus isn’t even contagious. Gardasil wears off in 5 years but is recommended for 9 yo. I’ve read some reasonable comments on here. Can one of you please answer my very sincere question? I asked these questions yesterday and was rewarded with “STFU”, “You’re not a Dr so you can’t ask these questions,” and “Idiot”. While all of those are scintillating remarks, they do little to advance a rational discussion or to lend credibility to your side of the argument. Anyone want to take a chance? It could lead to many more kids receiving life-saving vaccines, which is your goal, right? You have nothing to lose… I won’t even argue with you so it won’t be a time commitment. I just want the truth. That’s all. I have no agenda.

#13 Comment By Chris Hickie, MD, PhD On February 18, 2017 @ 6:04 am

If a group of grade school children started claiming 2+2=5, would you, Mr. Chougule write an article saying a commission to investigate their claim is warranted? Because that’s what you’ve done here with vaccines. And Andrew Wakefield is not a “dissenter”. No, Wakefield was so immoral and unethical in his research that he was “struck off” by his medical board and lost his license. Very few physicians in the UK are ever “struck off” and that should tell you just how egregious and unacceptable his actions were concerning the unethical research he did for his now-retracted 1998 Lancet paper. To condemn any of us scientists an physicians who criticize Wakefield shows you have no understanding of what Wakefield actually did. If you don’t have the ability to grasp Wakefield, you don’t even meet a minimum level of expertise to write on vaccines.

#14 Comment By Carmen Delgado On February 18, 2017 @ 7:05 am

Why do they have to give so many at the same time, that’s my concern.

#15 Comment By Bardachd On February 18, 2017 @ 7:11 am

Has anyone mentioned the use of fetal cell lines in vaccine production? Is it a good idea to inject children with pieces of human DNA?
WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

#16 Comment By Joan On February 18, 2017 @ 7:15 am

What about the pushing of vaccines on the elderly how many have dementia and suffering from Alzheimer’s can’t this be a coincidence?

#17 Comment By Mary On February 18, 2017 @ 8:50 am

Why has no one taken seriously the fact that the rate of increase in “ultra-sound technology” corresponds directly to the rate of increase in Autism?

#18 Comment By mrscracker On February 18, 2017 @ 10:31 am

Mary,
I wonder about the routine use of ultrasounds during pregnancy, too.
I think there are a lot of questions to ask and when discussion is stifled, we should be concerned.

#19 Comment By Laura On February 18, 2017 @ 10:53 am

Some people don’t think autism is on the rise and that all they did was “broaden” the spectrum. You people obviously aren’t that old, 30 years ago you hardly knew of anyone with an autistic child, now they’re left and right, you see them in shopping centers, etc. Also, have you seen how stuffed special-ed classrooms are with autistic kids and other kids damaged by vaccines? Did you know there’s a high demand for special-ed teachers now? There wasn’t 20 years ago. The autistic spectrum has only broadened because vaccines can damage a kid’s brain in different ways. You idiots also never seen your own children, perfectly healthy and walking and talking, within 48 hours of vaccines become a dribbling idiot. You have no concept and no realization.

#20 Comment By Ralph Fucetola On February 18, 2017 @ 11:28 am

Please tell President Trump to stop vax mandates here: [58]

#21 Comment By Ralph Fucetola On February 18, 2017 @ 11:35 am

Chris Hickie, MD, PhD is misinforming The American Conservative readers about Dr. Wakefield. The good doctor has been exonerated. The UK scandal sheet that attacked him is no longer in business; the writer who “exposed” has been shown to have lied. The other doctors on his 1998 Lancet paper have received back their licenses.

Dr. Wakefield alerted the medical community that certain vaccine reactions damage the child’s gastrointestinal system. It is certain that vaccines are, according to many courts, “unavoidably unsafe” and are, according to the insurance industry “uninsurable.”

It is time to stop the pro-vax lies. Vaccination is based on a conflict-of-interest pseudo science and will prove to be as evil a medical mistake as was medical community support for tobacco!

#22 Comment By Lisa On February 18, 2017 @ 12:44 pm

The use of neurotoxins is bad on it’s own. But the spike in autism rates is directly correlated with the use of Human Fetal Cell lines to manufacture the vaccines. The MMR vaccine and the Varicella, among others, are only manufactured using human diploid cells, rather than chicken or pig like in other countries. The incidence of autism in Japan is MUCH lower…and they give those vaccines, but they’re manufactured in a safe way. Google Children of God for life for more information. Even if you don’t buy into their religious argument, use your brain and analyze the data. Do you really think it’s a good idea to inject human DNA into our kids?

#23 Comment By Rachel S. On February 18, 2017 @ 7:04 pm

grumpy realist says:
February 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm

Because There. Is. No. Mercury. In Vaccines.

Grumpy, you’re correct about the single dose vials – no thimerosal. But, in multi-dose vials there is thimerosal as there must be a preservative in any vial of a sterile substance that is to be accessed more than once, thereby risking introduction of possible impurities.

Like you, most people are not aware of this fact, so a pregnant woman would not know it, and even her doctor may not know to tell her to ask for a single dose vial vaccine for her flu shot. Nor would a mother, and likely her pediatrician, know to ask that her child receives only vaccines from single dose vials.

“The flu shot is absolutely safe for pregnant women!”

We hear such received fiction repeated by doctors every flu season, but no conclusive evidence exists to support that lie since no study has been done. Furthermore, such a study could never be done. It would never be approved as it would be highly unethical to do such a study.

Instead, all pregnant women are convinced to be part of an unethical study, without being fully informed and without their consent – all of this is unethical. And as of yet, we do not know if thimerosal can affect neuronal development in the fetus, nor at what stage of development if it does, even now as the experts are suggesting that autism begins in pregnancy.

Now we are being told that there’s a link to autism development during pregnancy.

What’s next? Will we be told the mother’s diet is the cause of autism: The two nightly lobsters or the chocolate covered carrots she ate so many of to satisfy her cravings during pregnancy, or is the cause the one glass of wine each night with dinner, perhaps?

#24 Comment By Rita On February 19, 2017 @ 1:19 am

I’m a biochemist and the fetal cell line issue is troubling. It should be investigated.

#25 Comment By mrscracker On February 19, 2017 @ 9:23 am

Lisa,
Thank you for your comments. I oppose vaccines manufactured from fetal cell lines for religious and ethical reasons. There may additionally be reasons to oppose them for health concerns.
As a parent and grandparent, I want to see ethical alternative vaccines offered.

#26 Comment By Hoping for sanity On February 19, 2017 @ 11:35 am

I’ve worked with a number of children with the label of autism, as well have worked with many children whom don’t have same.

In my experience and observation at least, there are often clear differences between the children with the label of autism and those without it.

While it may be applied more broadly and more often now than in the past, generally speaking, there does seem to be more of it and the label is usually applied well.

Hence, there seems to be other factors besides the above going on in the increase of children with these symptoms. Some of which, can be fairly obvious and physical in nature, such as “hand flapping”, rocking, etc.

How many of you older folks remember being in school and seeing fellow students hand flapping, introversion way past the norm (I’m an introvert), longer processing/sorting times of info, generally unusual behaviors, insights, perceptions, etc, etc.

Yeah, that’s right, you didn’t really see too much of the above, just like I didn’t, and I’m only in my late 30’s. Whatever is going on or whatever the cause(s), it’s definitely increasing.

#27 Comment By PJ London On February 19, 2017 @ 1:26 pm

To those ‘anti vaxxxers” who are dispirited by the nnsense of people in these comments (re Wajefield et al.)
Trolls Used by Big Pharma to Attack Vaccine Objectors

“Have you ever been on an Internet forum, blog, or Facebook Page where all of a sudden, out of nowhere, several people appear to contradict the main topic being discussed, especially if it is regarding a controversial topic like vaccines? Well it is entirely possible, and even likely, that it is not coincidence, and that it is a well-coordinated attack by “trolls”. As Greenwald reveals in his recently published article, there are definitely programs in place in government spy agencies to do just that.

This tactic of trained trolls can be used by those outside of government also, and Big Pharma seems to be one business sector that employs this tactic as well, especially targeting publishers who report on the dangers of vaccines.”
Happens every time. The billions in Vaccine sales are at risk, and truth, reputations, and people are destroyed to maintain those billions.
Everyone admits that there are children destroyed by vaccines.
Everyone knows that these lives are needlessly destroyed, and yet you get stupidity such as ‘herd immunisation’. In every case the manufacturers say things like : ‘Side-effects – the most important being anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) – are rare. Anyone who has had an allergic reaction to the diphtheria toxoid should not receive the vaccine again.’
Severe allergic reactions can kill you, and you are the lucky ones. Those that do not die can be sentenced to a life time of pain and sickness.
The truth is that many more children are harmed by vaccines than would be harmed by the diseases that are supposedly prevented.
As children we all had measles, chicken pox and mumps, never heard of children dying from them.
It is as nonsensical as ‘Flu’ vaccines.
Investigate for yourself. Read and listen to both sides of the debate.
Make up your own minds.
Do not let the paid snake oil salesmen con you any longer.
Ask yourself why Gates who has openly said that the world needs a major depopulation to be saved, is pouring his millions into Vaccination programs. (Other than the fact that he owns large shareholdings in the vaccine companies.)
“The individual is handicapped, by coming face-to-face, with a conspiracy so monstrous, he cannot believe it exists. The American mind, simply has not come to a realisation of the evil, which has been introduced into our midst . . . It rejects even the assumption that human creatures could espouse a philosophy, which must ultimately destroy all that is good and decent.” — FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, 1956

#28 Comment By Tony On February 19, 2017 @ 2:30 pm

I’ve read some pretty ill-informed comments here, even by MD’s and PhD’s. From saying the definition of autism has expanded and now it’s more recognized, to whatever. Funny thing – when I was in H.S., there were no special ed classes, there was no one with autism. My H.S. had 8,000 students. Back in the late ’80s, I was a substitute teacher, and there were already special ed classes. So don’t tell me it’s just more recognized now. That is total rubbish (to say it nicely).
People need to use some LOGIC and COMMON SENSE – U.S. Supreme Court said vaccines are “UNAVOIDABLY UNSAFE.” WHy? Why do drug companies have no vaccine liability if vaccines are safe? Those who want mandatory vaccines say that if people stop vaccinating, all those diseases will come back with a vengeance – well, by age 28, all the childhood vaccines have worn off, and less than half of adults get vaccinated, so where are all the epidemics (pandemics?) and why aren’t all the adults dropping like flies? If vaccines are effective, why are most outbreaks happening in vaccinated populations? And if they are safe, why have there been over 60,000 deaths (perhaps much higher) in VAERS (where less than 1 in 10 actually gets reported, maybe as little as 1 in 100 – I’ve multiplied by just a factor of 10), E.R. visits – over 2 million, Hospitalized – over 600,000, Life Threatening – over 110,000, and Disabled – over 82,000. Here’s a chart from the CDC for 2014 Pertussis cases ( [59]) – notice in the lower right chart that over 5x as many cases reported in those who got the 3+ recommended vaccines compared to those who did not get the vaccine. The above does not even take into account the possible long term side effects which are unknown as there are no studies available for this. Did you know that to save one person from getting meningitis, the meningococcal vaccine will have killed three people and injured many more? And finally, why have there not been any comprison studies in the U.S. between vaccinated and unvaccinated people? I know, that last question is a tough one, but if you actually spend some time on it, you’ll figure it out.

#29 Comment By Colleen On February 19, 2017 @ 4:09 pm

As a child I spent a couple of months in Hospital in the early 60’s. Part of the morning we had a nurse take our Temps. Often the temperature was broken and different Nurses allowed us to play with the mercury. Now I have Grand children and neither they or their Moms have had any issues.

#30 Comment By Mark Wax On February 20, 2017 @ 7:25 am

1. The Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) has veered wildly from Congress’ intent in the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of 1986.
 As originally intended, the VICP was supposed to be fast, generous, and compassionate towards those “wounded on the battlefield” in the war on disease. The idea was in return for protecting vaccine manufacturers from liability and making vaccines safer, families of those injured would be compensated through an administrative process based on a table of presumptive vaccine injuries. At its outset, 90% of claims were “on table.”
 The reality today is the reverse: slow, adversarial, miserly and abusive towards petitioners’ lawyers, parents and the injured or deceased children.
 In the meantime, the original parameters have changed dramatically: the vaccine schedule has tripled and the table of injuries has become much more restrictive, forcing 90% of petitioners into “off-table” litigation.

2. The program is known as “vaccine court” but in no way is it a court, nor does it in any way represent a fair tribunal. As co-managed by the Court of Federal Claims, the Division of Vaccine Injury Compensation of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Constitutional and Specialized Tort Litigation Section of the Department of Justice, the VICP has become extremely abusive towards petitioners.
Abusive aspects include:
 Short 3-year statute of limitations: DVIC and CSTL work aggressively to keep cases out of the program
 Standard rules of evidence, civil procedure and discovery do not apply
 Very poor transparency, sensitive information is under seal
 Special masters intimidate and abuse petitioners’ experts
 Petitioners’ lawyers are harassed, paid too little, too late and marginalized
 Inappropriate standards of scientific proof from civil court are applied
 Omnibus proceedings are used to bundle high frequency events and deny compensation to classes of victims

3. HHS and DOJ have committed fraud to cover up that vaccine injury causes autism.
 Contrary to the VICP’s rulings in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding, the VICP has ruled in favor of vaccine-induced autism many times, and HHS has conceded it.
o The “Unanswered Questions” research team discovered and confirmed at least 83 compensated cases of vaccine injury were diagnosed cases of autism
o The Hannah Poling case was originally a test case in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding but HHS conceded it before going to trial
 VICP is still compensating brain injury cases resulting in autism
 Based on the sample in the Unanswered Questions article, approximately 40-50% of known cases of childhood vaccine-induced brain injury involve autism
o 62 cases of autism were discovered in a sample of 150, suggesting 40-50% of the compensated cases of vaccine-induced brain injury have autism
o The VICP has compensated over 1,300 cases of childhood encephalopathy, suggesting that it has knowingly compensated hundreds of cases of vaccine-induced brain damage including autism

#31 Comment By James McGuire On February 20, 2017 @ 7:36 am

“the challenge was perhaps something of a stunt”

Those are the “truest” words in this article. The idea is clearly a stunt, since definitively proving something is completely safe is an impossibility. You might as well ask if drinking water is safe [It’s not, since some people have died after doing so].

What stinks is that he has thrown down this challenge, without defining the parameters of what is “safe” or not. Then, to judge any claims, he will appoint his own panel of so-called experts who all have a history of antivaccine leanings to assess the claim, rather than an independent panel of true experts.
Of course, he will never accept any claim is valid, you can be quite sure of that.

#32 Comment By Techy On February 20, 2017 @ 9:14 am

Not much to add here since comments to these posts are always similar. However, if you want to inoculate your children please do so but do not force me to inoculate mine. Medical decisions are choices and this is a medical decision. Once the government starts choosing for you, what’s next? When to live, when to die? We are supposed to be free and have choice which is what makes the United States what it is – free. So we should be in choosing to be or not be vaccinated.

#33 Comment By mrscracker On February 20, 2017 @ 9:32 am

Colleen,
As a child, our dentist used to give us mercury in a paper cup to take home and play with.
I’m reading a book about Abraham Lincoln and it describes mercury as a common 19th Century treatment for syphilis and other ailments.
So I guess mercury exposure wasn’t so rare back in the day. Hat makers were much exposed to mercury, too. I read that’s where the inspiration for the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland originated.

#34 Comment By Gary Ogden On February 20, 2017 @ 10:05 am

Thank you for this article, which is an excellent summary of the questions of vaccine safety. What may be as dangerous as mercury in vaccines are the nanoparticles of aluminum salts used as an adjuvant (to increase the immune response). They are used in nearly all the pediatric vaccines, and have been in use for 80 years. It is the sheer volume of exposure, especially in infancy, to these potent neurotoxins today which have made the injury they produce obvious. Humans, and most other living creatures ingest Al, and have throughout the history of life on Earth, since it is one of the most abundant elements in Earth’s crust. Biology deals with this elegantly, and we absorb very little, since Al has no biological function. Injected into muscle, with antigen adsorbed, is an entirely different matter. Biology is not equipped to easily rid the body of it. Macrophages, our major line of defense against the foreign invaders to which we are continually exposed, attack and envelop these hybrid particles, but are unable to dissolve the Al, as they would a microbe. Thus, they can carry these particles, Trojan horse fashion, into the organs, including the brain.
What is astonishing and infuriating about the mainstream media is that they never engage the science of vaccine risk and injury (which is abundant) and they never give credence to what many thousands of parents say happened to their children; they ignore them.
Nor do they ever confront the horrible state of public health in the United States. The vaccination schedule and mandates represent the gravest threat our nation has ever faced.

#35 Comment By James On February 20, 2017 @ 11:13 am

In reply to Joan, my theory regarding Alzheimers is the prescribing of Statin drugs is causing this. Cholesterol is an important part of the brain, Statins lower Cholesterol, however they do not prevent heart attacks. Cholesterol is also the base of hormones such as testosterone. Now we are seeing a large amount of impotence, and prescribing of Viagara etc.
I agree with some vaccines but the schedule should be much smaller, and the newer ones should be optional.

#36 Comment By Leon Hsu On February 20, 2017 @ 2:14 pm

Excellent article. I hold a PhD in engineering and I strongly agree that vaccines are neither safe or effective. Unsuspecting parents have been lied to again and again.

#37 Comment By Jimmy Chonga On February 20, 2017 @ 6:17 pm

Only 1 reason to vaccinate – make the large drug companies even fatter and sassier.

#38 Comment By Stephen R Gould On February 23, 2017 @ 12:46 pm

@Leon Hsu: I hold a PhD in engineering

…which does not make you any kind of authority on medical matters.

Scalia is right when he says that vaccines are unavoidably unsafe. However, doing without vaccines is unavoidably far less safe – and that is the key issue.

As far as vaccines and autism is concerned – no study that has withstood scrutiny has shown any link. There are plenty of developmental and exogenous factors that affect babies and it’s simply the post hoc fallacy to conclude that as “my baby got vaccinated and later became X” that X was caused by vaccination.

If there has been an increase in autism spectrum disorder in the last few decades not merely due to an increase in both diagnosis and definition, it behooves us to look at other possibilities – from older parents to other environmental contaminants to survivor bias.

#39 Comment By Russell Seitz On February 23, 2017 @ 5:29 pm

Yet aanother vivid illustration of the editorial hazards of not having a science editor.

Kennedy & de Nero may be ornaments to the great bipartisan tradition of crankery and quackery, but what in the name of Chemtrails , shark cartilage & Scientology does their innumerate delusion have to do with American conservatism ?

#40 Comment By PETER STOW On February 23, 2017 @ 5:37 pm

There are already a number of comments here correctly pointing out the widely known fact that Dr Wakefield was utterly discredited for his own research when it was discovered to be heavily biased in favor of the company who was paying him at the time. Like others here, I will discontinue my membership of American Conservative as I was looking to it as a rare source of responsible conservative journalism and have no interest in what our new President likes to describe as “fake” news.

#41 Comment By Krissy Alonzo On February 23, 2017 @ 5:59 pm

Gary Ogden’s comment above is excellent. It’s alarming to me that all rational thought goes immediately out the window when vaccines are mentioned. Free market enthusiasts and small government conservatives suddenly come down with amnesia and forget all of the lessons we should have learned in the last 100 years in regards to de-regulation, innovation, and free market principles. The auto industry, telecommunications and cosmetic surgery industries are just 3 examples of how corporations, in partnership with government agencies, can stifle innovation and limit competition leaving the consumer with an inferior product and undue safety concerns, not to mention higher prices. It is shocking to me that we have these examples, hold these beliefs but forsake them when it comes to vaccines. Most people (if anyone were actually able to be heard above the hysteria) would tell you that they are for the idea of vaccines but simply want to make sure that we are getting the safest vaccines available and that the number we are mandated to get is actually for our good and not some other motive. The MMR is still manufactured using decades old technology. Screenings for at-risk recipients etc have not been invented. Why is this? And why do people who claim to be free-market proponents not acknowledge that innovation and safety measures have not evolved because of the cozy relationship between the corporations and the government agencies tasked with regulating them?

#42 Comment By Matt F On February 23, 2017 @ 9:02 pm

“Trump has consistently cited the testimony of parents who attribute the onset of autism in their children to vaccines—parents, he suspects, who “know far better” than the experts who assert instead that autism is genetic or starts in utero.” -thats nice that he values their opinion but why would they know better? They are looking to find a reason for something mysterious. Vax are an easy target bc. Kids are vaccinated all the time. Plus they heard it is true. But the reality is that controlled studies have failed to find a link between mercury (ie giving vax with and w/o mercury) or any other component of vaccines and it is very likely that they would have by now given how well studied this is. Putting this up against parent’s hunches is pretty silly.

#43 Comment By michael On February 26, 2017 @ 11:14 pm

Gary Odgen’s eloquent comment above sums up the situation quite well. He speaks for so many citizen scientists who take the time to read the studies, industries clinical trials and follows the evidence. Vaccines have done more damage than will truly be acknowledged.

#44 Comment By Mitchell Hall On February 28, 2017 @ 11:55 am

Not one of the arguments in this article is based on any kind of scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism.

Because there is none.

You’re embarrassing yourselves with this textbook conspiracy-minded drivel American Conservative. We expect significantly more intellectual rigor.