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Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Public health officials: science won in "vaccine court"
Court rules vaccine preservative does not cause autism

(March 17, 2010) Despite well-publicized concerns about the safety of childhood immunization, there is no scientific evidence that vaccines or vaccine additives cause autism, says Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. And now the "vaccine court", which ruled 13 months ago that the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) does not cause autism, dismissed claims that thimerosol, a preservative used in some vaccines, caused the neurological disorder.

"Science won in court again this time," Meyerson said. "There have been literally hundreds of rigorous scientific studies of the suspected link between vaccines and autism. All of them reach the same conclusion: vaccines do not cause autism. It is time to stop investing limited resources studying non-existent links to autism and find out what really does cause it."

Meyerson said the development of vaccines to prevent communicable diseases like measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) or tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap), among other serious illnesses, is a modern day miracle.

"Vaccines are a victim of their own success," he said. "Most of us are too young to remember a time when babies dying from communicable diseases were not an uncommon occurrence. That can make us underestimate how important vaccines are for the health of children, families, and communities."

Meyerson is sympathetic with parents who have concerns about the safety of vaccines.

"There is a lot of unfounded negative press about vaccines. It can be very scary for parents to hear horror stories about the risks of vaccine. We encourage parents to do just a little research at reliable sources like the Centers for Disease Control website. Then discuss your concerns with your children's health care provider. Ask questions. The best parents are well-informed parents."

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties.