Studies show there is no link between autism and vaccination. Refusing to get your kids vaccinated against various diseases could be deadly to them and others. Also dangerous: politicians pandering to baseless fears of vaccines, whether done out of ignorance or not.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did some of that Monday, telling reporters during a trip to England that "parents need to have some measure of choice" about vaccinating their children, and there needs to be some "balance." In a 2009 interview, Christie also stood up for parents who oppose vaccination and sympathized with the belief that vaccines cause autism. But that belief has no credence.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) did an even better job of expressing the emotionalism behind the flawed logic of vaccine foes when he said, "I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines." But these kids most likely also drank milk and had bedtime stories read to them. Are we to believe those things cause autism?
The doctor who claimed to have found a link between the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine and autism isn't allowed to practice medicine anymore. Studies he published in 1998 were so laughably flawed that British authorities pulled his medical license. Dozens of studies since have shown no link. Yet the "anti-vaxxers" persist, and that's led to a resurgence in measles. This particularly endangers children too young to be vaccinated, and people with illnesses that prevent them from being vaccinated.
Christie said his kids are vaccinated, and his clarifications after the firestorm erupted suggest he doesn't believe vaccinations cause autism. He might, though, believe hedging his support for vaccinations will attract some voters. Paul said Monday that most vaccinations should be voluntary, then on Tuesday said he believes vaccinations are safe and parents should have their children inoculated. Then he got a hepatitis A booster vaccination himself, and tweeted a photo of it. Both potential presidential candidates want to have this issue both ways.
Perhaps if the unvaccinated are banned from polling places, politicians will stop this pandering.