Continued Nonsense From Age of Autism

There’s no way to dissect all of the reasons the anti-vac (anti-vacc?) proponents are wrong, dishonest, lazy, and dangerous in a single blog post.  To borrow a phrase I’ve seen used extensively by Mike the Mad Biologist, it takes a lot to deal with the thermonuclear-level stupid that this group spews out on a regular basis.

Surprising myself, my opening salvo against the ‘Mercury Militia’ will not be directed at Jenny McCarthy.  My contempt for her is essentially limitless.  However, my target today is Dan Olmsted, the current editor of the Age of Autism website.

Today, Olmsted posted on the AoA website assailing the New York Times for what he deemed laughable inconsistency in publishing a story about the CDC recommending that children as young as six months old receive flu shots in conjunction with an editorial about the dangers of the mercury emitted from power plants.  Let’s make sure we get the big point out of the way first.  Vaccines do not cause autism.  The premise that the mercury preservative in vaccines causes autism has been thoroughly debunked almost from the time the idea first gained traction.  As the years have gone by, the evidence has only grown more substantial.  Unfortunately, that has failed to stop Olmsted and his ilk from spreading misinformation and lies that only serve to scare young parents and endanger the lives of children by putting them at risk for preventable disease.  Speaking of outright lies, it should also be pointed out that, despite Olmsted’s tantrum regarding the CDC’s recommendation, the influenza vaccine given to children 6-23 months old contains NO MERCURY!  Once again, there is no thimerosal in the only approved influenza vaccine for children under two years of age.  In addition, there are three different forms of the influenza vaccine for children 2-5 years old that are also preservative-free.

So Olmsted is discouraging the vaccination of young children against influenza.  What, exactly, is the big deal?  It’s true, influenza does not represent nearly the danger to infants and young children that a reemergence of pertussis or polio does, and taken as an isolated event, it might be quite easy to ignore this particular bit of hand-waving.  However, this is not an isolated event, and the actions of Olmsted and Age of Autism, Generation Rescue, and others are doing very real harm, even in the case of something as seemingly innocuous as the flu.

It is important to note that the disease(s) colloquially known as the stomach flu are are not influenza.  Influenza is an acute respiratory infection that, while unpleasant, is usually cleared by the immune system of healthy individuals.  However, when the flu infects the lungs of an individual with a compromised or weakened immune system, the disease can become very serious, even leading to death.  The most at risk for serious influenza infections are the elderly and the very young.  The latter group being those individuals the CDC is now advocating receive flu shots (much to Olmsted’s chagrin).

In the end, it comes down to this: Dan Olmsted is promoting an ideology thoroughly disproved by science.  Instead of objectively reviewing the facts and moving on, he has instead chosen to continue his crusade using scare tactics and dishonesty, going so far as to encourage the disuse of a potentially life-saving vaccine that doesn’t even include the mercury ‘bogeyman’ he so illogically fears.  It would be merely sad if it weren’t so dangerous.


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