Vaccines and Autism (Yes) in the Same Sentence

Vaxxed DocumentaryI’ve seen Vaxxed: From Cover-up to Catastrophe. A film yanked off the schedule at the Tribeca Film Festival. Much maligned and the people maligning it hadn’t even seen it. Snatched up by the Angelika Film Center in New York City.

Enter me, ticket in hand for the 1:15 showing on its first day. Producer Del Bigtree is standing outside the theatre answering questions as I head in to settle into a seat. I recognize him from a recent interview he did. At two points in an hour and a half I have to focus on not letting the tears welling up in my eyes spill and escalate into a sob.

The upshot? Blazing anger. Here’s what I’m done with.

I’m done apologizing or hedging when I talk about the potential link between vaccines and autism.

I’m done with engaging anyone in a serious conversation on this topic who hasn’t read more than a few articles in a mainstream publication. You want to keep recycling the same old tired “facts” on this? Have at it. Have a party with your fabulous self.

You want to look at me with that glazed over, head tilted to the side posture when I talk about this for real? That oh-poor-deluded-Nancy look? I’ll stop mid-sentence and move on to another topic. Your issue, not mine. Keep your tunnel vision. I’m done.

I’m done with know-it-alls who roll their eyes and write me off as a science denier or a person who practices willful ignorance. I know what a peer-reviewed study is. I know all about how Dr. Andrew Wakefield was stripped of his license. I’m armed with information, thank you.

I’m done discussing this with people who think I either agree with them or else I’m an anti-vaxxer. Or those who believe the people associated with the Vaxxed film are anti-vaxxers. Or those who keep writing headlines and willy-nilly using the term anti-vaxxer as a “title” or “modifier” to describe this film or the people in it when it is flat-out not true.

I’m done with talking about it to anyone who brings up iron lungs and the return of polio since none of this has anything to do with the polio vaccine and never did. Diversionary tactics, anyone?

I’m done with getting into a debate with people who completely discount the many, many stories parents tell where a child goes from hitting all his markers, talking, walking, animated, lit up, to limp, disengaged, regressive on the goddamned day he had his MMR shot. Casting aside the feelings and observations of distraught parents who simply state that this happened? It happened. Why in holy hell would they make it up? Is it because they want to hear a high-pitched squeal coming from their previously healthy child, a noise so piercing and jarring they now can’t take him out in public?

I’m done with the cruel tone I’ve seen in countless articles, the nasty comments that follow them, and the sarcastic Facebook posts from parents of healthy kids who are petrified and puffed up in their superiority and mean-spiritedness toward other parents whose only “crime” is a whole different brand of fear born of a life-altering event they’re being told didn’t happen the way they saw it.

I’m done having this conversation with people whose anger is misdirected at parents who don’t know which end is up because they’re too busy changing their 8-year-old’s diapers or wondering why he’s banging his head repeatedly into a wall when in fact there are real culprits who should be on the receiving end of our rage.

Vaxxed reviewProducer Del Bigtree — credible. Dr. Brian S. Hooker – credible. Dr. Jim Sears — credible. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) whistleblower Dr. William Thompson — credible. Dr. Andrew Wakefield — yes, credible. All of them pro-children, pro-vaccine, pro SAFE vaccine. Done with explaining any of it to those shut down on the topic.

Data thrown in the trash. Study numbers shrunk and fudged. The better outcomes for children who have the MMR shot after age three instead of at the CDC-mandated 12-18 months – hidden. The very body we’re supposed to trust hiding something, so obvious when watching its director squirm and evade before Congress. Done.

Suddenly I’m comfortable with thumbing my nose at those who choose to stay closed to the possibility that we’ve been lied to, that a man whose name is on a CDC study is having a crisis of conscience, that the very idea that Merck or any other vaccine company could choose money over public health is laughable. Yeah, doing the right thing for public health always wins out over money. Just ask the citizens of Flint. And keep watching your TV programs where the drug commercials list two dozen side effects worse than the condition they’re supposed to help. Do we really not believe that comes with consequences?

What did this movie do for me? It released me from thinking that I have to justify my healthy questioning to people who don’t know nearly as much as I do on this topic.

Robert De Niro did us a favor in the end. This film would have gotten lost at the Tribeca Film Festival. Now it will get traction. It will hold feet to the fire. It will spur discussion and action.

Go see it. Don’t go see it. Whatever. But if you choose the latter option, keep your ignorant opinion to yourself.

‘Cause arguing with the likes of you? Yeah — I’m done.

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40 Responses to “Vaccines and Autism (Yes) in the Same Sentence”

  1. Debbie Pierro
    April 2, 2016 at 7:08 pm #

    Thank You for your no nonsense perspective. I feel the way you do…Done wasting my energy on those who complain “what can I do?’ and then don’t bother to do anything including a stitch of research on their own. Thank you for your “doneness”!!!

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 2, 2016 at 7:15 pm #

      I’m so happy this resonated, Debbie. After seeing the film I went and had a glass of wine and jotted down some notes. I then went out with friends for happy hour and shelved it for a while. But around midnight I was home and realized some people really wanted to see my “review.” And this is what came pouring out of me. I polished it this morning and voila. I love that it’s speaking to (and for!) a lot of people.

      • Ellie B
        April 6, 2016 at 1:23 am #

        Wow Nancy …. I am from Australia …. Love, Love, Love what you have written … I feel the exactly the same …. Sometimes I really do wonder about people and feel really sad that people just don’t want to know!! Thank you so much.

  2. Sorel
    April 2, 2016 at 8:32 pm #

    Thank you. Sometimes as I read and research and uncover what is going on I feel like I am in a bad dream I cannot wake up from. And now it has become very real for me as I have to catch up my daughter on vaccines in order for her to enter 7th grade in CA. I am sick over it and this whole debacle. The thing that infuriates me the most is why we are where we are in this debate. Dr. Wakefield started a very important conversation that has gone NOWHERE in nearly 20 years and in the meantime more and more children are experiencing terrible health problems. Why is there not more outcry and demand for answers?!! My heart burns in anger at the fraud the denial the obsufcation of the issue at hand. Our children are sicker than ever. What the fuck is going on? Why does it seem that people just so blindly get glazed over and talk about “herd immunity” like it is gospel? Why is fear and platitudes about iron lungs and even mostly mild childhood diseases making people shUT down to lookING deeper into this? At times I fall so far down the rabbit hole I am not sure I can come out..
    And then sometimes I am inspired and hopeful. Reading this is one of those times. Thank you.

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 2, 2016 at 9:10 pm #

      I am so, so happy to have given you a moment of inspiration and hope. Thank you for taking the time to share your story.

    • Laura
      April 5, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

      Be sure to check whether your state law allows you to demonstrate immunity through blood tests. Chances are your child is immune to many of the diseases they’re wanting her vaccinated for. Look into it!

  3. Sharon Silva
    April 2, 2016 at 9:32 pm #

    Thank you — I’ve hit “done” on this too. I’m always posting about vaccines, but I am really really glad they pulled Vaxxed from Tribecca, because now I’m researching even more, like I finally checked Jeff Bradstreet out (he still lives on youtube) and to destroy lives in this way . . . thank you, I’m done too.

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 2, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

      Rock on, Sharon.

  4. Michelle
    April 2, 2016 at 10:21 pm #

    Thank you. I have been thinking the exact sentiment. I’m done wishing I could open the eyes of my peers. I’m done arguing with people who flamingly disregard my gut feelings towards my child. I’m done trying to show people that our government does in fact, not always (read: hardly ever) have our best interests in mind. I have made an educated decision and I am done fighting for respect. Some day this nation will wake up, and it will likely be too late.

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 2, 2016 at 10:48 pm #

      Thanks, Michelle. I mostly agree, but would add that I think the government here thinks it is acting in the best interests of public safety by not causing an uproar around vaccines. I’m parsing, I know, but I believe it’s an important distinction however misguided their intent might be.

  5. Sally Rubin
    April 2, 2016 at 10:35 pm #

    Woot! Woot! Thanks for this, Nancy! I was thinking I had gotten algorythmically shunted to the hinterland on FB because of my positive posts about VAXXED. I just posted some cat videos to get back in the algorhythmic pipeline (since we all know how Mark Zuckerberg feels about all this). Now, I’m going to repost your response because, like you, I’ve done my homework…all of it. Read so much on this topic, I’m virutally unimpeachable in my fact-checking. I was present when Liz Birt had the Simpsonwood Conference minutes in her hand which she had requisitioned via the Freedom of Information Act and she was telling someone from the CDC about it. I followed her out and we had a long discussion about her son who had been examined by Dr. Wakefield. I saw the x-ray of his gut. I heard her story in person. And, I too, am sick to death of so-called journalists being the lazy asses they are with echoing someone else’s ungrounded statements on this topic. Like the New York Times today, for example. What a crap piece of writing.

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 2, 2016 at 10:58 pm #

      Thanks for sharing. Sally, I presume you mean this from The Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/02/nyregion/anti-vaccine-film-pulled-from-tribeca-film-festival-draws-crowd-at-showing.html?_r=0

      I find it odd that the reporter quotes a film maker not related to this film in order to provide what I can only assume is supposed to be balance. His contention that if we’re paying attention to a “debunked” theory it’s less time we’re spending helping autistic people thrive in the world doesn’t wash with me. I completely disagree that we can’t do both. We must do both. Accepting and understanding autism is only part of this complex equation.

      • Sally Rubin
        April 2, 2016 at 11:26 pm #

        Well, the “balance” concept is something Americans have come to accept as *news.* It’s not. The A-B Fallacy assumes that if A is correct, then B is not. So, it’s a BS argument at the outset. Most things, as we’ve seen, are just not that simple.

        Secondly, what really irked me about that particular article is that she chose the WORST OF THE WORST of the articles (the Indiewire article which I don’t even want to link here it is just that gross) that have come out so far to quote. What that was all about, I don’t know…other than, if her organization’s sponsors want her to write something disparaging, and maybe (just maybe) in her heart of hearts, it’s not *really* sitting right, but heck it’s her job…then quoting someone else is easier.

        At this point, if someone comes out of the starting gate simply repeating what’s already out there…the unfact-checked stuff…I’m done. I guess the public is in such a trance about vaccines that they can’t extricate themselves enough to engage in civil discourse about what is, to us, something that impacts them, too.

        Sigh…

    • Jennifer Hansen
      April 3, 2016 at 10:21 pm #

      Yeah Sally. I wish all parents of school aged children would get together and force the school superintendents, principals and teachers and nurses to watch the film and stand up for parents rights.

  6. Kate Cohen
    April 3, 2016 at 2:10 am #

    Thank you! Your review is so very powerful! I was holding my breath and felt every word. Where can I see this film in CA?

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 3, 2016 at 3:14 am #

      Thank you for the feedback, Kate. So far the film is only available in New York. Perhaps follow the website or Facebook page for future distribution news?

    • Hyla Cass M.D.
      April 3, 2016 at 8:33 pm #

      Go to http://vaxxedthemovie.com and subscribe for news of screenings. You can sponsor your own as well: screenings@vaxxedthemovie.com>. I saw in in L.A. recently at a private screening and was deeply moved, and greatly angered. We can’t sit by and let the outrage continue! As the heroic Dr. Wakefield, says, he does it for the kids. And must we.

  7. Maggie
    April 3, 2016 at 4:44 am #

    I just left the theater myself and I say your post is perfection. I am done with the bickering and same old tired rhetoric. Now I will add ‘have you seen the movie?’ To my line of questioning of ‘have you actually READ his study?’ Or ‘why on earth would all these parents lie?’ It’s going to come crashing down, let’s just do it before the statistics are 1 in 2.

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 3, 2016 at 1:42 pm #

      Amen!

  8. Stella
    April 3, 2016 at 5:57 am #

    The Japanese government got rid of the MMR years ago. And you can’t call that a country with a low population and insidence of desease, or “behind” when it comes to progress. They are usually one step ahead (they banned the hpv vaccines too).

    • Janem1276
      April 5, 2016 at 5:38 pm #

      Actually Japan is very much behind when it comes to adopting new vaccines. The MMR they were using was not the same one used in the US and did have a lot of problems. And, wow, the incidence of autism in Japan continued to rise after discontinuation if the MMR vaccine.

      http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/Vaccines/noMMR.html

  9. Hans Kvisgaard
    April 3, 2016 at 9:11 am #

    Please release this film world wide. I live in Denmark, and hope we will be able to se the film here as well. This i a shocking description/reaction to the film, a film everybody with with children MUST see.

  10. Dcembre
    April 3, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks very much for this article… Hope the DVD comes out soon, it will sell…!

  11. Sheryl
    April 3, 2016 at 3:55 pm #

    Yes, yes, yes, you nailed it Nancy! As I sit here faced with the looming fallout of SB277 and pulling my kids from the school they love to fulfill the vitriolic fears of paranoid, uneducated parents and money grubbing, so-called “representatives”, I say amen, sister!

    The tide is FINALLY turning. The mainstream media is reporting shocking truths. Well, shocking to them, anyway. We can all share a collective sigh, though, and I thank the parents who have been fighting this for a lot longer than me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  12. Autismmom
    April 3, 2016 at 7:47 pm #

    Thank you, thank you. The center cannot hold – the denial that autism is medical rather than some mysterious developmental disorder; the risible ‘expanded and better diagnosis’ explanation for the epidemic; the disgraceful, vicious attacks on the ‘science’ blogs toward heartbroken parents who dare question vaccine safety because they saw regression with their own two eyes.

    The numbers are too staggering and parents are too connected by social media to stand for the lies anymore. But the medical and scientific community will defend the inviolability of vaccines until the bitter end because there will be such a crisis of confidence from the public that they know they will never recover their trust again. They’re just praying to run down the clock so the truth will out when they’re safely retired. So many lives destroyed. These aren’t quirky kids who are socially awkward and good at math and who will rule Silicon Valley someday. They are often nonverbal and still in diapers. They self injure because they are in such agony and also suffer from comorbidities like seizures, debilitating autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s, and severe gut dysbiosis. They will require expensive care for the rest of their lives, if they don’t drown first (10 times more likely than a neurotypical child), or beaten to death by or left to die in a hot van by a caregiver.

  13. Martha
    April 3, 2016 at 8:08 pm #

    The reality is that there is an entire population of non driving, parent dependent adult children with autism in their late 20s and 30s who are victims of the first onslaught of this epidemic. If you think it isn’t a reality…come on over for a visit and be enlightened.

    I have written our story. Please read Set Apart: A Mother’s Steps to Peace (Westbow Press) available at

    http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/set-apart-martha-griffin-weis/1122276274.

    It IS child abuse.

  14. yvonne
    April 5, 2016 at 2:21 am #

    Your comment says it all. Just hope we are fortunate enough to have the film shown in Australia. I am fed up with being abused whenever I mention on FB that I am late seventies, and had most of the what I consider “mild” childhood diseases, mumps, measles, rubella, pertussis , chicken pox, in the days before pre vaccination; and survived, unscathed, with life time immunity, as the overwhelming majority did. It appears to me, they love to hear about the deaths ad nauseum, but really do not want to hear about the survivors. Not opposed to immunisation per se,just the amount on the schedules, and ever increasing.

  15. Shelly
    April 5, 2016 at 3:32 pm #

    I am so glad to read your perspective. I have three kids and all were vaccinated according the “schedule” I along the way refused some vaccinations and flu shots. I am a lucky one. Have basically three healthy children all have some type of learning issue. Easy enough to deal with. As I was raising them, I learned more about vaccines. What I determined was that they are not so bad, there are too many to close together. I begged my friends who had children way after me to Spread them out. Wait a few months before vaccinating. So my point is I am not anti vaccine, Im anti the schedule.

    So now on to the documentary. I am fed up with people telling me its a scam. I had dinner last friday night with a top guy from Merck. I waited until I was leaving to tell him I saw the movie. He went off on me about Wakefield and the movie. If people would just listen, really listen, they would see that this movie is not anti. Its against bundling the injection and giving it when it is given.

    And finally, not related to above, the stat that resonated with me during this movie was the 644 cases of measles during the 2014 outbreak. But in the same year over 1.1 million kids were diagnosed with autism. That is epidemic. And, if its not the MMR then why are we pulling out all resources to figure out what is causing this. Is it because its not contagious like Ebola?

  16. Nadine
    April 5, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

    You nailed it. 🙂
    I am too sooo done feeling like I have to excuse myself for daring to question and observe etc….

  17. Nancy Colasurdo
    April 5, 2016 at 7:41 pm #

    I continue to be gratified by all of the comments on this piece. I feel like I’ve spoken for many people who felt silenced before. Hear us roar.

  18. Desiree
    April 6, 2016 at 2:40 am #

    I haven’t had the chance to see this yet, though I very much look forward to it!

    I was never a “single minded” advocate of vaccines causing autism, but I wasn’t sitting there saying no way either. There are many people who get the vaccines and are just fine, but what those people seem to forget is that the exact chemistry of each like vaccine is not 100% the same every time – and neither is each persons own anatomy.

    I haven’t seen the connection between autism and the MMR vaccine first hand but have seen another very serious “coincidental” disease linked to the MMR vaccine that despite having no real information on how the disease came to be, I seem to be the only one who sees the connection in this case and is willing to even consider it! Researching online, I found other parents have made the same connection still without any acknowledgement. It frustrates me that whenever it’s even suggested that a vaccine causes something serious aside from the side effects already acknowledged, that you’re immediately looked down on and the mere idea is shot down without even a thought!

    Read more on our story here: http://www.mamasvoice.ca/blog/vaxxed/

  19. Beth
    April 6, 2016 at 3:54 am #

    Wow. You are me. I am you! Thanks for describing the feeling of the scream that I carry around in my stomach. I wish I never followed the pediatrician’s orders. My youngest son suffers with status epilepsy from his 5 year old shots. What also must surface are the hundreds of thousands of injuries that didn’t happen right away. That no one reported let alone recognize as a vaccine injury. This is a wasteland of lies and propaganda that manifest in our children’s bodies. The perfect crime. Revolution time Mama bears!!!

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 6, 2016 at 5:44 pm #

      Very powerful response, Beth. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Jen Res
    April 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    They are screening VAXXED in Santa Monica starting next Friday April 15th.
    It’s at the LAMMELE MONICA on 2nd street.
    I already bought my tickets…
    🙂
    I’LL BE DAMNED IF I’M GOING TO BE TOLD WHAT TO SEE… WHAT TO THINK….
    Great Essay Nancy..
    🙂

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 8, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

      Thank you! And please report back after you’ve seen it. Would love to hear your take.

  21. Jill
    April 10, 2016 at 2:37 am #

    Beautifully said! Thank you so much for so succinctly saying what needs to be said. I’m joining you. I’m not explaining, I’m not educating, I’m just dropping the mic. I’m done!

  22. Julie
    April 14, 2016 at 1:23 am #

    As a mother of two sons with Aspergers (high functioning autism), I cannot express anything other than my heartfelt thanks for your column. I haven’t yet seen the movie but as soon as it is available in Australia, I will.

    While I am not and never have been anti-vax, I am stunned at how many vaccinations our Government want to give our kids. When my last son was born, they not only wanted to give him the usual Vitamin K shot, another injection in case he had some disease (can’t remember what), but also a Hepatitis injection. This, for a newborn baby!! When I queried it, they said the latter was because I was born in Asia, even though I have lived in Australia since I was 4 years old!!

    Now they want to give my 15 year old, two catch up MMR shots, plus 3 Gardasil shots. Gardasil used to only be given to girls; now it is also given to boys. And our Government have made it mandatory to have these shots, and withhold some social security benefits if you decline. Very unfair, particularly as life is already hard enough financially and emotionally with all the daily struggles with kids with autism.

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      April 14, 2016 at 1:34 am #

      I so hope you get to see the movie, Julie. The pushback today is particularly strong here because Robert De Niro encouraged people to see it while being interviewed on the Today Show this morning. I had no idea the Australian government was so forceful on this issue. Wow. And Gardasil is mandatory? I am not anti-vaccine, but Gardasil makes me very nervous.

      I appreciate your feedback. Sending you good thoughts as you navigate things.

  23. janem1276
    August 13, 2016 at 4:05 pm #

    I’m sorry that you believe the propaganda

    • Nancy Colasurdo
      August 13, 2016 at 4:54 pm #

      I’m sorry that your mind is nailed shut.

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