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Should I Vaccinate My Kids? Vaccines and Autism

Updated on April 5, 2013

The History of Anti-Vaccine Thinking

There has been a lot of vaccine controversy in recent years, as some doctors and parents hypothesize the link between childhood vaccines and autism. A new study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has found no link between vaccines and autism, but many still worry, and it is unlikely that the study will have much effect on those who are concerned about vaccines.

The history of the anti-vaccine movement goes back more than ten years. In 1997, the FDA conducted a search for possible sources of mercury in the products that it regulated. Everyone was surprised to find out that childhood vaccines contained higher than expected levels of thimerosal. Thimerosal is a preservative that contains ethyl mercury. Starting in 2001, the FDA began to work with vaccine manufacturers to eliminate thimerosal from vaccines, and now many vaccines are thimerosal-free (but not all). At the same time the thimoseral controversy was rocking the United States, a scientist named Andrew Wakefield in the United Kingdom claimed to have found a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. His results have since been found to be tainted with research problems and conflicts of interest, and his results cannot be confirmed as true or false. As a result of these controversies and more, many parents in the United States and across the world are choosing not to vaccinate their children.

Jenny McCarthy and her son, Evan, on the cover of her book "Louder Than Words"
Jenny McCarthy and her son, Evan, on the cover of her book "Louder Than Words"

Jenny McCarthy's Fight Against Vaccines

Public figures have also contributed to the increased fear of vaccines and autism. Actress Jenny McCarthy, ex-girlfriend of Jim Carrey, is a famous example of an anti-vaccination activist. McCarthy's son Evan was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and McCarthy believed his autism started after vaccination. She has a large following of people concerned about the relationship between autism and vaccination. McCarthy is also dedicated to helping parents find information about alternative treatments for autism through her organization Generation Rescue.

Time Magazine cover from May 15, 2006
Time Magazine cover from May 15, 2006

Read the Full FDA Report about Thimoseral in Vaccines

If you're curious about the thimoseral content of current vaccines, click the link below to read the full FDA report about the thimoseral content of the most common vaccines. The report also contains information about research done on the link between thimoseral and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, ADHD, and more.

Click here to read the full FDA report about thimerosal, mercury, and vaccines.

Poll time! Do You Vaccinate? Feel free to tell us your reasons in the comments section!

Given the controversy surrounding vaccines, did you (or will you) choose to vaccinate yourself or your children?

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    • thewritingowl profile image

      Mary Kelly Godley 4 years ago from Ireland

      The last report issued by the CDC on this controversy as detailed in the book 'Evidence of Harm,' by David Kirby, says that this report did conclude that vaccines may cause adverse reactions in a small number of children who are already genetically predisposed to vaccine damage..that's the interesting area that remains unstudied as far as I can see.

      All the research data to date has been conducted on children who have a 100% active immune system to begin with. But what about children who don't have this to begin with i.e. genetically vulnerable children e.g. children who are born carrying the Fragile X gene. These kids are already much more likely to have DD, ADHD, ASD and other neurological conditions so throw substances from vaccines into the mix and who knows what this may make worse? I personally have spent two years now trying to find out if my son has FXS or not, nobody will tell me one way or the other in Ireland. How many other kids out there remain undiagnosed too and this conveniently keeps the statistics low for this group of children who may be a lot more prone to adverse reactions to vaccines. Why??

    • hazelbrown profile image

      hazelbrown 5 years ago from Central PA

      Hi msperfecthealth,

      Thank you for commenting! I'm so glad everything has worked out for your boys. I'm starting to think of having children in the next couple of years, and to be honest, I have no idea what I will do. I've also read a lot about the vaccines not being very effective, even if you do use them... it's a lot to consider!

    • msperfecthealth profile image

      Edie 5 years ago

      I have two strong healthy boys and neither of them have been vaccinated. The eldest, age 8, has had the mumps and measles but you wouldn't have even known he had them. He got over them both within three days and played through both episodes. Also, both boys have been exposed to chicken pox a couple of times now but neither have gotten... I followed my gut and didn't allow others to tell me what my children needed and I'm glad I have.