Vaccination has greatly diminished death, illness and suffering in the world. But no other medical technology has been so dogged with controversy. The book chronicles the development of the key lifesaving vaccines since the 18th century. It tells the stories of great scientists and their discoveries, of the protests and pain along the stumbling path of progress. This is the first book to tell the whole story of vaccination for a general audience. In light of controversies about flu vaccine and autism, it will be of particular interest to parents, pediatricians, public health workers and anyone fascinated by medical history. Read More>>

Also Available: Table of Contents and Index

Arthur Allen is a Washington DC-based journalist who has written on vaccine issues in The New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, The New Republic, Atlantic Monthly, Salon and Slate.


2007 Nominations for the next Vaccines-Cause-Autism theory....

Barbara Loe Fisher's National Vaccine Information Center is a resource center for people who think that their children were injured by vaccines as well as others who think vaccines are harmful for one reason or another. I subscribe to her listserv, which is always on the 'qui vive' for bad news from the vaccine front.

Today, however, she reports the latest autism statistics from California, with an observation that will not be cheering to Safe Minds, Generation Rescue and others who blame mercury in vaccines for the "autism epidemic." Most scientists and others who understand how autism diagnosis and reporting have changed over the past three decades see the steady increase of autism reports as largely an artifact of new discovery methods. But nevermind them -- let's say there is an epidemic. It doesn't take a toxicologist to observe that the numbers from 2002 to 2006 completely overturn the thimerosal thesis. Over a period in which thimerosal in vaccines was at levels lower than in the 1960s, the number of diagnoses grew from just over 20,000 to just under 33,000, with the sharpest increase in the 3-5 year olds, the group that got those largely thimerosal-free vaccines.

Barbara Loe Fisher has never blamed mercury exclusively for the autism problem. Her own child is not autistic and she blames his problems on the DTP vaccine, an earlier chapter in vaccination's troubles. Still, she's convinced that increased vaccination is responsible for a whole raft of illness. "Constant atypical manipulation of the immune system with lab-altered viral and bacterial vaccines containing many different additives may well be harming an expanding number of children, who are biologically vulnerable to vaccine-induced chronic inflammation and neuroimmune dysfunction," she states in today's missive. "... How many of the growing numbers of autistic children are among the biologically vulnerable, who cannot handle the 48 doses of 14 vaccines the CDC and AAP tell doctors to give them? Answering this question, she concludes, requires scientific investigation that goes far beyond the mercury hypothesis." Look for Fisher's comment to be a bellwether in the shift to a new villain in the vaccines-cause-autism theory. MMR didn't fly, thimerosal is crashing. A new theory is ready to be rolled out... nominations?

Below is a chart (courtesy of the DDS via Rick Rollens and the National Vaccine Information Center) comparing the age distribution of the autism population for the four year period between 12/02 and 12/06 with percentage comparisons broken down by age group as the part of the whole for 12/02 and 12/06, and the percentage increase by age group between 12/02 and 12/06:


3-5 year olds 4039 * (20%)
6-9 year olds 5884 (29%)
10-13 year olds 3733 (18%)
14-17 year olds 1825 (9%)
18-21 year olds 1118 (5%)
22 to 62 and older 3762 (18%)

TOTAL: 20,377


3-5 year olds 6348 (19%) ** 36%
6-9 year olds 8782 (27%) 33%
10-13 year olds 6312 (19%) 41%
14-17 year olds 4108 (13%) 56%
18-21 year olds 2102 (6%) 47%
22 to 62 and older 5125 (16%) 27%

TOTAL: 32,809



The numbers have gone up for all groups, including those who were infants in the 1980s, well before thimerosal was a problem. Even the 42-51 year olds increased--from 700 to 1,061. Obviously, these people didn't become autistic between 2002 and 2006. They registered, or were registered, for services, is all. Presumably they had relative mild autism that hadn't been diagnosed before, or they were switched to "autistic" out of categories like mental retardation.


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» Rosie O'Donnell vs. David Kirby on the "causation" issue of autism: Guess who loses? from Respectful Insolence
Pity poor David Kirby. After all, he made his name by hitching his star to a losing hypothesis, namely that the mercury in thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. He wrote a book about it, Evidence of Harm, back in 2005... [Read More]



Several of the key players have already started to make noises about Aluminium and of course we have Kirby's Chinese/forest fire/crematorium driven epidemic.


At least one of the mercury people is all up in arms about squalene, too. But they talk about aluminum more. A lot of them seem to like the "too many vaccines at one time" idea, but that one lacks a one-word villain and there's already published material refuting it.

Ms. Clark

Without an epidemic, there's no need to find a vaccine villain. There's been no epidemic. My prediction is that organizations that say there has been an epidemic will start to distance themselves from that and do some fancy backpeddling on the subject, and organizations that can't distance themselves from the epidemic NAA and Generation Rescue, for example, will fold or shrink down to a handful of really crazed antivaxers (see: Lenny Schafer).

It should be interesting to see if Kirby's nasty little attack on Rosie O"Donnell (it's on the Huffpoof blog) will blow up in his face. Kirby is a zero compared to Rosie O'Donnell, not that she's that big herself, but she's pretty popular with some folks.


As I said on another blog, Kirby is looking for all the world like someone who realizes his big movie deal and chance for mainstream stardom is drying up. He hitched his wagon to the wrong cause, listened to the wrong people, and now it's blowing up in his face.

I still think the vaccine schedule is the obvious "next" target of a segment of the hardcore anti-vaxers, along with nebulous environmental causes. Basically, the argument is going to be that an overload of "toxins" causes autism. There isn't much money in that, though, unless they want to try to sue folks within the CDC for putting too many vaccines on the schedule or something loony like that.


The CDDS data for the 3-5 age group is so severely undercounted that it is worthless. All that has been proven is that Kirby is not that smart. He's a journalist for chrissakes.

For the it's "pure genetics and better diagnoses only" crowd, this just in from Denmark . . .

You remember Denmark, don't you? Of course, you do. How can this be? Uh oh.


Does that study postulate WHY "reported incidence" of said disorders in Denmark is increasing?


And guess what - if autism incidence really is increasing in Denmark, that pretty much shoots the whole "thimerosal plays a role in autism" not-really-a-hypothesis dead.


"The CDDS data for the 3-5 age group is so severely undercounted that it is worthless."

It's not, if you consider it's supposed to be only autistic disorder (which arguably it isn't exactly that).

Reports of increases in diagnosed incidence don't tell us anything about a real increase. They would have to be studies that do whole population screenings.

frederick varricchio

If Mercury is that silvery liquid that breaks up into smaller pieces and then can reassociate, then Thimerosal and vaccines Never contained an atom of it. However if you say thimerosal is a mercury derivative, that is acceptable. One or two electrons change everything. Look at table salt NaCl which is derived from 2 elements that you don't want tohave any contact with.
This is High School chemistry. See the 6/15 WashingtonPost editorial.

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