Why vaccination uptake matters to the autism community

27 Feb

With the recent outbreak of measles in California (and spreading elsewhere), we are seeing a lot of new coverage of vaccine related questions. We are also seeing a number of vaccine antagonistic individuals and groups showing that they are, well, antagonistic towards vaccines. There is no surprise that much of the antagonism towards vaccines is coming from a segment of the autism parent community. Besides being highly irresponsible in general, these groups are putting our own communities at risk.

In an outbreak people with developmental disabilities are at heightened risk of becoming infected. Autistic children are nearly twice as likely to see a doctor for an infectious disease visit than a non autistic child. (click to enlarge)


And multiple studies have shown an increased risk of complications or death from infectious diseases. In a recent influenza outbreak, the CDC reported on the deaths in people with underlying medical conditions. This was discussed here at Left Brain/Right Brain as Children with neurologic disorders at high risk of death from flu. From the CDC press release:

Of the 336 children (defined as people younger than 18 years) with information available on underlying medical conditions who were reported to have died from 2009 H1N1 flu-associated causes, 227 had one or more underlying health conditions. One hundred forty-six children (64 percent) had a neurologic disorder such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, or epilepsy. Of the children with neurologic disorders for whom information on vaccination status was available, only 21 (23 percent) had received the seasonal influenza vaccine and 2 (3 percent) were fully vaccinated for 2009 H1N1.

Another CDC study, and again discussed here, Severe Influenza Among Children and Young Adults with Neurologic and Neurodevelopmental Conditions — Ohio, 2011.

In one facility with 130 residents total 76 residents had acute onset of respiratory illness. 13 were severely ill. 10 were hospitalized, and 7 died. 7 out of 130 dead in one outbreak.

Here’s a 1988 study, Causes of death of patients in an institution for the developmentally disabled.

Respiratory disease, predominantly pneumonia and aspiration, accounted for 72% of deaths

Pneumonia is relatively common following diseases including measles and influenza.

A study from 1996 Large sequential outbreaks caused by influenza A (H3N2) and B viruses in an institution for the mentally handicapped tells us that residents of the facility were about twice as likely to get sick (59% became ill) as staff. Residents were about 5 times as likely to be sickened twice as were staff.

These are just a few studies I’ve collected. Not a thorough search at all. But the point is clear: the developmentally disabled are more likely to be sickened and more likely to be injured or killed by disease.

What is the infection rate and the rate of injury or death from other infectious diseases, say measles, in the developmentally disabled population? We are lucky enough in the U.S. to not have those data. But if we take the approach proposed by those who are opposed to vaccination, we may find out soon.

By Matt Carey

27 Responses to “Why vaccination uptake matters to the autism community”

  1. Jim Rose March 1, 2015 at 01:31 #

    Reblogged this on Utopia – you are standing in it!.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 1, 2015 at 17:44 #

      Because we, the people, have accepted liability for them. It is a program that we as a nation have instituted so we have allowed ourselves (through our government) to be sued directly.

      It is a very rate thing that we allow our government to be sued. A sovereign nation must allow itself to be sued.

      • anotherinternetuser March 1, 2015 at 17:49 #

        When people won’t stand behind their work/products it says a lot about their work/products.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 1, 2015 at 18:21 #

        “When people won’t stand behind their work/products it says a lot about their work/products.”

        We do. The vaccine program is a national program and we stand behind it. I made that point clearly above. You ignore it. Were you ignorant of this or do you not care?

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 1, 2015 at 18:34 #

        Simply amazing. Evidence is provided that infectious diseases infect and kill the developmentally disabled and all you can talk about is the old, tired vaccines are bad arguments.

        Again, I invite you to discuss the article above.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 1, 2015 at 17:56 #

      You have links to the self-named “National Vaccine Information Center”. I’ve asked them for information in the past and they have refused to respond.

      Could you tell me, where on this “information center” website can I find this recent study

      Various vaccine schedules tested for safety in an animal model. Funded by groups linked to the NVIC. But no mention? Could it have to do with the fact that they found no evidence of harm in those vaccine schedules?

      The head of the NVIC once put out a video talking about “fatal pig viruses” in vaccines. I asked them to clarify (a) why they didn’t point out that there were tiny amounts of nonviable virus fragments found and (b) the viruses are only fatal to infant pigs, not humans. That latter seems a rather important point to leave out, don’t you think? The “Information” center declined to give me information.

      The NVIC has had as a board member who believes that vaccines are a “holocaust of poison”. So, as an information source, I consider them a bit biased.

      In the Wall Street Journal article, the note that vaccine manufacturers still face liability for poor manufacturing methods. They also face litigation for “failure to warn”.

      So, we as a people have taken on both the responsibility for verifying that a vaccine design is appropriate and the liability for any harm that results from that design. The manufacturers have liability for manufacture and warning. The program is far from without any liability.

      • Lawrence March 1, 2015 at 18:05 #

        And vaccine manufacturers are still liable to the FDA for the entire R&D process, which means years of research, years of clinical trials (to show both safety and effectiveness) and post-release surveillance, which can result in a vaccine being taken off the market (like the original Rotavirus vaccine).

        Again, I really don’t think you’re using the same vocabulary as the rest of us.

  2. anotherinternetuser March 1, 2015 at 17:44 #

    Before her death in 2011, Dr. Bernadine Healy was Health Editor for U.S.News & World Report and wrote the On Health column. She was a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and served as director of the National Institutes of Health and president and CEO of the American Red Cross.Dr. Healy’s blog, Heart to Heart, is where she covered matters close to her heart, including cardiovascular disease and other important aspects of personal health and health policy.Archive of Columns: 2004 – 2008 2008 Columns 2007 Columns 2006 Columns 2005 Columns 2004 Columns

    Excerpts from Sharyly Attkiksson’s (former CBS investigative reporter) interview with Dr.Healy:

    Lastly, Healy says the government has a long way to go to even do basic research that could get at the heart of what she believes is an open question. For example: why in the past decade hasn’t the government compared the autism/ADD rate of unvaccinated children with that of vaccinated children? If the rate is the same, it tends to point away from vaccines. If the rate is markedly lower in unvaccinated children, it tends to point toward vaccines.

    The government has a dataset of unvaccinated children available. It has published more than one survey of parents of undervaccinated and unvaccinated children (to find out why the parents are choosing not to vaccinate). It would seem simple to use those same families to measure their rate of autism/ADD. Also, why hasn’t the government used vaccine court as a resource to ask the autism/vaccine question. There, nearly 5,000 families have self-selected as believing their children’s autism was caused by vaccines. Many have expressed willingness to let their children’s medical records be released and studied; but nobody in the government has been interested.

    • Lawrence March 1, 2015 at 17:49 #

      You know, those comparisons have actually been done (and quoted here on this very blog) – but the anti-vax crew doesn’t like it, because we find little, if any difference, between vaccinated and unvaccinated children when it comes to the rate of autism…in fact, there is a slight decrease in the rates of autism for vaccinated children, which means that vaccines might have a preventative effect.

      There are groups who fund studies on the anti-vax side as well – but, like the recent SafeMinds-funded primate study, the results aren’t what they want to see.

      • anotherinternetuser March 1, 2015 at 17:55 #

        Objective, independent, peer reviewed studies is what is needed and is still being waited for..

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 1, 2015 at 18:20 #

        I presented objective, peer reviewed studies above. And you callously ignored them and drove this conversation to your own goal. Pretty much textbook trolling. And shame on me for falling for it.

        So, how about the fact that infectious diseases are more dangerous to the developmentally disabled population than to the general population? And that it follows that allowing these diseases to come back by discouraging vaccination would harm this community?

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 1, 2015 at 18:31 #

      You know, I never saw Bernadine Healy apologize for her time spent on the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition. TAASC denied the dangers of second hand tobacco smoke, while taking tobacco company money. They also denied global warming.

      Funny how people who bring her up as some sort of expert ignore those points.

      Healy said that we need to look at “the children who got sick”. After her comment we did that. Hornig et. al.
      Lack of association between measles-mumps-rubella vaccination and autism in children: a case-control study.

      Price et al.. Among others.

      Objective, peer reviewed science. Just like you claim you want to see.

      The government has funded an independent group to do a study on vaccinated and unvaccinated children. Should be out.

      Why not use the court? I take it you haven’t explored this question as the answer is simple: we do not get the right to study people who sue us in court. It’s not like one says, “I petition the court for my claim of vaccine injury” and in so doing we get to say, “so, therefore you have accepted that you will be a study subject in a research program”.

      “There, nearly 5,000 families have self-selected as believing their children’s autism was caused by vaccines. ”

      And many, many of them just couldn’t be found when it came time to litigate their case. They had moved and had so little interest in the court anymore that they didn’t try to stay in contact with the court. One can find decision after decision on the vaccine court website denying claims for this reason.

      Here’s the thing–the best possible examples of autism as a vaccine injury were presented by attorneys. With many years to prepare the cases. And all six cases failed. The court noted that the cases were not even close. I don’t think the vaccine court is where you want to mine for evidence.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 1, 2015 at 18:36 #

      The interesting thing is that you misrepresent what Bernadine Healy said in her interview. She clearly accepted that the epidemiological studies showed that the risk wasn’t high, but was calling for biological studies to be performed.

      But the whole, “epi studies are sound” part of her stance is always ignored by those who quote her.

      • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 1, 2015 at 19:06 #

        Apparently “Inside Vaccines” read this article and completely missed the point.

        If we let vaccine preventable diseases come back, we in the developmental disability community will suffer the consequences more than others.

      • Chris March 1, 2015 at 19:16 #

        “Inside Vaccines” has a long history of cherry picking and other dishonest methods. Several years ago DeeTee discussed them on a JREF forum thread, where one person associated with that site chimed in as “Minority View”. The forum name has changed but the conversation still exists:

    • Lawrence March 2, 2015 at 13:19 #

      Yes, because once the actual science was examined on appeal, the Court rightly agreed that it didn’t hope up to any sort of real scrutiny.

      The AoA’ers are going to lose their minds over this one…yet another “retracted” decision.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 2, 2015 at 17:37 #

      Thanks for this. I believe there may be a discussion online about this. I’ll try to find it.

    • Sullivan (Matt Carey) March 2, 2015 at 18:15 #

      In the end I didn’t spent a lot of time on the Italian cases. They were so clearly poor–lack of adequate defense, accepting pretty bad evidence (bad studies, that document that listed all reported adverse events as causal adverse events and more). It was sad that these happened and fed the likes of AoA, but they were clearly wrongly decided. No surprise at all that they failed on appeal. None.

  3. giuseppe March 2, 2015 at 13:21 #

    No link between vaccine and autism . Wakefield based judgement reversed on appeal in Bologna .


  4. B Gregory March 21, 2015 at 02:01 #

    I had a friend. She was working. The phone rang. She looked positively panicky until she looked at her cell phone. I asked her what was wrong. Her daughter had a serious fish allergy. If she even smells fish, she must be taken to the hospital or she could die. She was one of the reasons I researched the peanut allergy epidemic. What could possibly be causing it? I found the answer. You cannot be allergic to something without first being exposed to it. Scientists have injected animals with food protein and aluminum adjuvant to create food allergies in the animal. Is there food protein in vaccines? I found many patents for adjuvants and culture mediums with food products. No matter how refined an oil can be, there is a trace of food protein. Not every kid gets the food protein in the shot. Just the unlucky ones. How can this be legal? It is. Pharmaceutical companies can “self affirm” GRAS (generally recognized as safe) ingredients. GRAS ingredients do not have to be listed on the package insert. Self affirmed GRAS ingredients don’t even get submitted to the government and they become a protected trade secret, protected by international trade law. Every food oil known to man was listed in the patents for vaccine adjuvants. Every food known was listed in patents for culture mediums. Only the final culture medium is listed on the package insert.


  1. Was autism ever a first advocacy priority for those promoting the idea that vaccines cause autism? | Left Brain Right Brain - March 2, 2015

    […] The message he had for many years was that autistic children are sick. Not healthy. His former organization (Safeminds) would be quick to point out a number of conditions that are more common in autistics than in the general population. Since even by his own definition autistics are not “healthy”, why should we let measles return in force to the U.S.? Of course it is Mr. Blaxill’s failed hypothesis that vaccines are making children “sick”. But let’s consider this very real point: the developmentally disabled are more likely to become sickened by infectious diseases and they are more likely to die (Why vaccination uptake matters to the autism community). […]

  2. Hey Jimmy Kimmel, thanks from your autism community! | Left Brain Right Brain - March 3, 2015

    […] We need more people standing up against those who scare people about vaccines. And by “we” I mean the autism community and the developmental disability community. Our community is the most at risk for injury or death from infectious diseases. Diseases that injure or kill do so more to our communities (Why vaccination uptake matters to the autism community). […]

  3. The Moral Outrage of the Anti-Vaccine Movement – VAXOPEDIA - October 24, 2018

    […] Why vaccination uptake matters to the autism community […]

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