Sometimes, though, opinions can easily be confused with facts. This is an area of potential problems for almost any topic, but can become particularly dangerous when discussing public health issues.
Take the autism/vaccine connection. This is an area where there are numerous known facts along with lots and lots of opinion. Regrettably, this is also an area where, in some areas of the popular media as well as the internet, opinions have come to be viewed by some as facts. This is a trend that is potentially dangerous to the public health and, as such, the Autism Hub members have joined together today to help counteract that trend.
Here are some facts:
There exists no scientific evidence showing that the administration of childhood vaccines cause autism.
There exist in excess of 20 studies that show there is no link between childhood vaccines and autism.
Today, there is an outbreak of measles - a highly communicable, vaccine-preventable disease that kills up to 3 of every 1,000 children who contract it in developed countries - in my area of the country. So far, 11 children have been diagnosed. All 11 children have NOT received the measles vaccination. For some, it is becuase they have not yet reached one year of age. For the rest, it is because their parents chose not to have their children vaccinated, possibly due to their fears about the vaccine/autism connection. Source.
Regardless of your view on the vaccine/autism connection constantly discussed in the media, please carefully consider these three facts as you read the following letter from Susan Stevens Martin of the American Academy of Ped Pediatrics. If, after reading the letter, you feel that you are a candidate to be a media contact on this issue, please leave your contact info in my comments section for this post or email me directly. Thank you for taking the time to consider helping with this very important public health issue. The AAP letter follows:
As part of our ongoing response to media stories regarding autism and
vaccines, the AAP communications department is compiling a list of
parents who support the AAP and are available for interviews. We are
looking for two types of parents who could serve as spokespersons:
Parents of children with autism spectrum disorders who support
immunization and who do not believe there is any link between their
child's vaccines and his or her autism.
Parents of children who suffered a vaccine-preventable illness. This
could be a parent who declined immunization, whose child became ill
before a vaccine was available, or whose child was ineligible for
We are asking for your help identifying parents who would be good
spokespersons. They do not need to be expert public speakers. They
just need to be open with their story and interested in speaking out
on the issue. We will contact candidates in advance to conduct
pre-interviews, to offer guidance on talking to reporters and to
obtain a signed waiver giving us permission to release their name.
If a parent were placed on our list, we would offer their name and
contact information to select media. We hope to build a list of
parents from a wide range of geographical areas.
As the Jenny McCarthy and "Eli Stone" stories illustrate, this issue
is likely to recur in the national and local media. The AAP is
committed to doing all we can to counter such erroneous reports with
factual information supported by scientific evidence and AAP
The anti-vaccine groups often have emotional family stories on their
side. The ability to offer a reporter an interview with a similarly
compelling parent who is sympathetic to the AAP's goals is a powerful
tool for our media relations program.
Please contact me if you have any questions or to suggest a parent to interview.
Susan Stevens Martin
Director, Division of Media Relations
American Academy of Pediatrics