Ok, here’s the truth and here’s the myth:
Truth=rates of incidence of autism in the United States have risen to the point that 1 out of 150 children by the age of eight in the US have been diagnosed with autism. This is truly alarming.
Junk Myth: the use of a preservative in childhood vaccine (thimerosal – an organic compound containing mercury used as a preservative in vaccine) is linked to the rise in autism. There is NO scientific validity to this claim. In 1992 Denmark discontinued the use of thimerosal in childhood vaccines. In the 16 years since the rate of autism has continued to grow.
The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both consistently and clearly stated that there is absolutely no evidence of any linkage between thimerosal and autism. Fringe groups who have campaigned against childhood immunizations have used this myth to perpetuate their cause.
Immunizations save lives. Immunizations have virtually eradicated many diseases world-wide. Any serious candidate for any office in the United States (and any democracy for that matter) would do well to carry the banner of science and health.
Why bring this up now? Today, the GOP candidate (and putative nominee), John McCain stated ‘There is strong evidence that indicates that it’s (autism) got to do with a preservative in vaccines”. I would urge Senator McCain the next time he goes sailing to steer clear of the edge of the earth. We certainly don’t need our presidential candidates to plunge to their death falling into the abyss or banging their head on the sharp corner of this flat planet.
Why does this matter? Every child needs to be vaccinated. Parents should be encouraged to keep their kids up-to-date with vaccinations. As stated above – this practice can save a child’s life. Any statement by a public figure held in high regard by many that would discourage immunizing children is not only wrong-headed, but just plain dangerous.
My political preference may not be the party of McCain, but I, and any health professional, should be just as incensed if this kind of hobgoblin nonsense came from the party of the donkey. I urge Senator McCain to recant this statement and make childhood immunization an important plank in his campaign for President.