Autism Debate May End Up Harming Children
WebMD News Archive
Everyone supports further study of medical issues. But wishy-washy
government positions on the safety of the MMR vaccine can lead parents to
believe that safety is truly at issue. That's the subliminal message of these
hearings, and it's a wrong message.
The harm that Burton can cause may be beyond measure. Vaccines are the
underpinning of our disease-prevention programs. Imagine a world in which
children routinely contracted measles, mumps, and polio, just to name a few
diseases that vaccines have virtually eliminated.
Public-health officials already are challenged to assure that all children,
particularly those in low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods, obtain all
their shots. Undermining the public's confidence in vaccines, which may be the
ultimate effect of Burton's crusade, can make it more difficult to obtain
Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot of publicly stated opposition to
Burton's position. It's not that the public-health community believes what
Burton is saying. It's that the public-health community is not taking Burton
seriously enough. They do not believe that a single congressman-grandfather, no
matter how powerful his committee chairmanship, can reverse broad public
acceptance of immunization programs.
Burton is acting as a grandfather might. But his actions as a congressman
come under a different level of scrutiny. In this case, when you read about
Burton's hearings, remember that you're hearing the voice of an angry
grandfather, not a public-health official. And don't forget to get your kids
vaccinated according to the CDC schedule.