There is no link whatsoever between vaccination and autism. There is no epidemiological evidence to link the two. There are anecdotes of cases of neurological disease that may be temporally associated with vaccination. To prove that vaccination causes autism a high quality study should show this. There is no such study published.
On the other hand there is some anecdotal evidence that some children who had reactions to vaccines have been awarded some damages. This is true but the number of cases is small and it is worth analysing these few cases that are used as evidence as to why these awards are made. The body awarding compensation for vaccine associated injuries in the US is called National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program
Vaccines save lives by preventing disease.
Most people who get vaccines have no serious problems. Vaccines, like any medicines, can cause side effects, but most are very rare and very mild. Some health problems that follow vaccinations are not caused by vaccines.
In very rare cases, a vaccine can cause a serious problem, such as a severe allergic reaction.
In these instances, the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) may provide financial compensation to individuals who file a petition and are found to have been injured by a VICP-covered vaccine. Even in cases in which such a finding is not made, petitioners may receive compensation through a settlement.
How does the VICP work?
The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is a no-fault alternative to the traditional legal system for resolving vaccine injury petitions.
It was created in the 1980s, after lawsuits against vaccine companies and health care providers threatened to cause vaccine shortages and reduce U.S. vaccination rates, which could have caused a resurgence of vaccine preventable diseases.
Any individual, of any age, who received a covered vaccine and believes he or she was injured as a result, can file a petition. Parents, legal guardians and legal representatives can file on behalf of children, disabled adults, and individuals who are deceased.
What is the process?
An individual files a petition with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services medical staff reviews the petition, determines if it meets the medical criteria for compensation and makes a preliminary recommendation.
The U.S. Department of Justice develops a report that includes the medical recommendation and legal analysis and submits it to the Court.
The report is presented to a court-appointed special master, who decides whether the petitioner should be compensated, often after holding a hearing in which both parties can present evidence. If compensation is awarded, the special master determines the amount and type of compensation.
The Court orders the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award compensation. Even if the petition is dismissed, if certain requirements are met, the Court may order the Department to pay attorneys’ fees and costs.
The special master’s decision may be appealed and petitioners who reject the decision of the court (or withdraw their petitions within certain timelines) may file a claim in civil court against the vaccine company and/or the health care provider who administered the vaccine.
That the claim is settled does not mean that a direct link is proven.
What does it mean to be awarded compensation?
Being awarded compensation for a petition does not necessarily mean that the vaccine caused the alleged injury. In fact:
Approximately 70% of all compensation awarded by the VICP comes as result of a negotiated settlement between the parties in which HHS has not concluded, based upon review of the evidence, that the alleged vaccine(s) caused the alleged injury.
Attorneys are eligible for reasonable attorneys’ fees, whether or not the petitioner is awarded compensation by the Court, if certain minimal requirements are met. In those circumstances, attorneys are paid by the VICP directly. By statute, attorneys may not charge any other fee, including a contingency fee, for his or her services in representing a petitioner in the VICP.
What reasons might a petition result in a negotiated settlement?
Consideration of prior U.S. Court of Federal Claims decisions, both parties decide to minimize risk of loss through settlement
A desire to minimize the time and expense of litigating a case
The desire to resolve a petition quickly.
Two such awards are used by antivaxxers to ‘prove’ that a direct link between a vaccine and autism occurs. In fact when you examine them you find that this is not the case. Take the case of Ryan Mojabi. The judgement can be easily found and is not hidden. Take this analysis here of the case, which quotes the judgement and award.
Take this analysis here of the case, which quotes the judgement and award.
In the first case, the parents of Ryan Mojabi, then aged nine, claimed that their son suffered “a severe and debilitating injury to his brain, described as Autism Spectrum Disorder” after receiving several vaccinations between 2003 and 2005, including “more specifically, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccinations” (see below).In fact, the US court found no link between the MMR vaccination and autism, contrary to what Alternative News Network says.
The court actually found that Ryan suffered encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) within five to fifteen days of his first MMR vaccination on December 19, 2003. They awarded nearly a million dollars in compensation to Ryan’s family.
Brain damage is a very rare possible side effect of the MMR vaccine, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
So to be clear, what Ryan Mojabi had was encephalitis, not autism, even though the family alleged that he suffered from autism.
The Emily Lowrie case
In the second case, the Alternative News Network says a girl named Emily — daughter of Jill Lowrie — “won compensation following vaccine-related brain injury that, once again, involved MMR and resulted in autism”.
This claim was reported in a Huffington Post article in January 2013. Its author David Kirby said the US vaccine court awarded Emily’s family millions of dollars after they alleged she was “severely injured by a reaction to the DTaP vaccine at 15 months (when MMR, HiB and prevnar were also given)”. He added that Emily “has seizure disorder and PDD-NOS, a form of ASD (autism spectrum disorder)”.
But the US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) “did not admit that vaccination caused encephalopathy or autism”, he says.
The alleged link between the MMR vaccination and autism is added into the Alternative News Network’s article, published four years later. However, the ruling in Emily’s court case does not mention the words ‘MMR’ or ‘autism’. It actually says her mother, Jillian, claims she suffered brain inflammation after receiving a diphtheria, tetanus and a cellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccination.
Brain inflammation is recorded in fewer than one in 10 million doses, the French medical agency (ANSM) says. “The risk of developing brain inflammation after receiving a vaccine is much lower than the risk of developing it because of natural infections,” ANSM added.
It’s worth noting that many people with autism do suffer from brain inflammation, as this 2015 study says. But “it would be false to say that the measles vaccination can cause autism because inflammation of the brain can cause autistic spectrum problems,” said professor Kumaran Deiva, head of paediatric neurology at Bicêtre hospital in France.
“You will not find, except well-established genetic causes, any viral infection which causes autism,” he told AFP. “Inflammation of the brain can cause autistic traits, but not ‘real’ autism, which is characterised by language, behaviour and social interaction difficulties.”
So can we please discuss facts. If vaccines cause autism as is alleged why are there so few cases suggesting a link between the two? A robust epidemiological study to try and prove this link could be properly made, if someone was genuinely concerned about it. Millions of doses of vaccines are given to children around the world but there are no reports of connection between the two and safety studies have been studied and safety monitored constantly that shows no such links.
The two cases above proving the link between autism and vaccines do no such thing, they prove nothing. Headlines from antivaccine websites alleging that this is the case prove nothing. Could Paul address this calmly before moving onto other allegations please?