Finding Middle Ground in the Vaccine-Autism Debate


In watching the Elizabeth Birt Center for Autism Law and Advocacy (EBCALA) as it held its press conference on the steps of the US Court of Federal Claims a few days ago, I was struck by the common message of parents whose children were injured by vaccines which can be summed up with the phrase, “we are for vaccines, but make them safe."

The parents professed belief in the necessity of vaccines, even though they had been granted settlements in the “Vaccine Court” for the heart-wrenching outcomes of their children having received them.

There have been arguments made by some (including on our site) that the Vaccine Court "settlements" were not an admission of wrongdoing and therefore, no conclusions could be drawn from them. However, my personal experience differs from this sentiment.

Twice, I have brought a legal challenge against entities and twice, they have settled. The main reason for a settlement is that the other side knows they can’t win in court and/or wants to avoid adverse publicity. Settlements are, in fact, a tacit admission of vulnerability.

As far as the issue of “has autism,” “causes autism” and “autism-like symptoms," this to me is a lot of semantic parsing. The Vaccine Court is never going to come out and say that vaccines cause autism and the speaking of this kind of legalese only punches up that fact.

But it requires no stretch of the imagination to see that vaccines could trigger genetically-latent autism in vulnerable individuals, nor that a vaccine calamity could aggravate a child’s pre-existing condition. 

Dr. Jacqueline McCandless, a luminary in the autism world, offered this advice regarding vaccines:

"Several caveats are that the child should be in good health before receiving vaccines, all vaccines be thimerosal free * and all vaccines be given as separate components, e.g. M & M & R each being six months apart and boosters only for those testing negative for immunity. Hepatitis B should be given to a newborn only if the mother tests positive, otherwise the child can wait until 4-5 years of age."

It’s disheartening that the vaccine war rages on, when a middle path seems to be so clear. No one wants the resurgence of dreaded childhood diseases, but at the same time, no one wants children with acute sensitivities to environmental toxins to suffer vaccine injuries. However, the entire debate has become so vitriolic and divisive, meeting somewhere in the middle appears to be a Herculean task.

As one of our other authors noted, it’s going to require cleared-eyed members of Congress to walk that middle ground to get things done but frankly, I don’t have a great deal of confidence in that happening.

Promising research into vaccine safety by The Thoughtful House and efforts to create a vaccine that requires neither refrigeration (rendering additives obsolete) nor injection provide hope that our polarized vaccine conversation can be resolved to the benefit of our children and future generations.


* In a depressing turn of events, legislation in Florida to regulate thimerosal and other toxins in vaccines was recently blocked after a hoard of pharmaceutical lobbyists descended upon the capitol.

4 Responses to Finding Middle Ground in the Vaccine-Autism Debate

  1. Jerry Dziuba says:

    I don’t foresee any middle ground being reached as relenting that it may be a good idea would be admitting that there is indeed a problem and a connection. The price of that is just too steep so the only option available is to keep denying it. The defense keeps getting more and more tenuous but it’s their only recourse and card to play. Plus I’m sure it’s very hard for many physicians to admit to themselves they may in fact be harming the very children they are trying to protect.

  2. Susan says:

    Yes, and the financial stakes are so very high! If the under the tongue, preservative free vaccines take hold that could be a game changer. With no shelf life the pharmaceutical companies could make more money and expand their markets into remote parts of the world, so their self interest would at last be aligned with people who want safe, additive free vaccines.

    I’m sure it’s hard for doctors. My son was very sick and the doctors wanted to give him chemotherapy. I took a different path and his pediatrician was profoundly upset when my choice was vindicated. He turned beet red and fought back tears, choking out the words, “we got it all wrong…”

    Susan Moffitt

  3. The difference between “pro-vaccine safety” and “anti-vaccine” is a matter of getting the facts straight. When Jenny McCarthy tells us that vaccines contain anti-freeze and ether, she is anti-vaccine because those two substances have never been used in vaccines. When somebody dismisses a mountain of scientific evidence with improbable conspiracy theories, that is anti-vaccine. The same goes when someone uncritically quotes, or cites Boyd Haley as a vaccine expert.

    I would like to see the vaccine wars come to a screeching halt, but not if it means ignoring the scientific method, or embracing logical fallacies.

  4. Susan says:

    I only have a nodding acquaintance of Ms. McCarthy, and deliberately so.

    My point is that it is possible to support more research into the synergistic effects of vaccines on the intensified vaccine schedule without being against them. You can advocate for vaccine improvement without eschewing their worth.

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