Controversy is always brewing when it comes to the Great Vaccination Debate, and actress Amanda Peet recently kicked it up a notch recently when she told Cookie magazine that she thinks "parents who don't vaccinate their children are parasites."
Now, what I'd like to think she meant is that parents who don't vaccinate their kids are relying on the fact that other people do, so their kids are protected anyway. But many parents are on the fence about vaccinations in general, and I'll admit here and now that I'm one of them.
This September, kids in New Jersey will have to get a flu shot in addition to all of their other immunizations before they can go to preschool or daycare. Amanda Peet notwithstanding, I have a problem with this.
It's not the "Big Brother" aspect of it, per se, or the fact that the influenza vaccine isn't really that effective (it works on less than 15 percent of the people who exhbit flu-like symptoms). It's the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu shot is one of the few vaccines that still contain thimerosal, a preservative made up of approximately 49-percent ethyl mercury that has been linked anecdotally to autism.
Why do I say "anecdotally"? Because what a parent observes in his or her child, even if it's the same observation made by hundreds of thousands of parents in hundreds of thousands of children, is not technically scientific proof of anything.
Before I get beat down by angry commenters, please note this: Our 10-year-old boy was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, a form of high-functioning Autism, nearly five years ago. When he was about around 19 months old, and again just before Kindergarten, he received several vaccinations simultaneously, which is standard procedure. Some of the shots were for multiple diseases and, at the time, all of them probably contained thimerosal. He has never been the same. We don't know whether it was the thimerosal, or whether his young immune system became compromised, or whether it was already compromised and the shots made it worse, or if he had some other (maybe genetic) issue that was triggered by the shots, but after the last round of them we became card-carrying members of the Autism Community. So my calling the evidence "anecdotal" -- hey, that's just me trying to be objective here.
But if you're looking for scientific evidence, here's something for you: A study conducted earlier this year and presented at the International meeting for Autism Research in London found that infant monkeys given the vaccines officially recommended by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics exhibited autism-like symptoms after vaccination. Medicines are routinely tested in monkeys before they are approved for public use; no such safety testing of the current childhood vaccination regimen has ever been conducted.