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Trump Makes Vaccines-Autism Link Part of National Presidential Debate


One thing you can say about Donald Trump regardless of whether you like him or not, he’s not afraid to discuss highly controversial issues. In last night’s Republican presidential candidates’ debate he stirred the vaccines and autism link, so much so that he’s now being heaped with praise or dumped on, depending on the critic’s view on the issue. The Daily Beast is firmly casting him as a (choose your pejorative) vaccine truther or anti-vaxxer:

Heads up: Donald Trump is still a vaccine truther.

At the CNN debate Wednesday night, the GOP frontrunner broadcasted anti-science vaccine conspiracy nonsense—unchallenged by moderators or fellow contenders—to an audience of millions.

“We’ve had so many instances…a child went to have the vaccine, got very, very sick, and now is autistic,” he blathered. “Autism has become an epidemic. It has gotten totally out of control.”

Trump has long peddled goofy, debunked theories about a causal link between vaccination and autism. As far back as 2012, he suggested the practice of giving numerous vaccines to healthy babies is “monstrous.”

A study says @Autism is out of control–a 78% increase in 10 years. Stop giving monstrous combined vaccinations (cont)

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 30, 2012

And he decried so-called doctor-inflicted autism.

Autism rates through the roof–why doesn’t the Obama administration do something about doctor-inflicted autism. We lose nothing to try. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2012

Last year, he even made a campaign promise on the issue.

Trump and many other vaccine truthers argue that the standard medical practice of giving children multiple vaccines at once early in life can cause autism. This idea—that there’s any causal link between vaccination and autism—is as wrong as the day is long. But lack of correspondence with reality has never kept Trump from saying goofy nonsense in the past.

Anyway, Trump’s latest rants, which Ben Carson and Rand Paul echoed, go against the standard medical best practices. That’s because the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children get upwards of 23 vaccines in their first two years of life. As notes, sometimes children get up to six vaccinations at a time.

This may seem like a large number, but the truth is that the human immune system is equipped to handle a far larger number of assaults. The number of vaccines a child receives does not overwhelm the immune system but simply confers as much protection against preventable infectious diseases as possible. By vaccinating on the standard schedule, parents protect their children against a host of illnesses, from polio to measles to whooping cough. As the measles outbreak in Disneyland last year made clear, if we fail to vaccinate as vigilantly as possible, we leave our communities open to serious and potentially fatal diseases. Drawing out the vaccination schedule only makes children vulnerable to sickness for a longer span of time. It does them no good.

But none of that kept Dr. Trump from telling CNN’s massive audience that they need to question settled science. And Carson, a real live doctor who should know better, amiably endorsed Trump’s paranoia.

“We have extremely well documented proof that there’s no autism associated with vaccinations,” Carson said. “But it is true that we’re giving way too many in too short a period of time. And a lot of pediatricians now recognize that, and they’re cutting down on the number and the proximity.”…

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