Mr. Robert DeNiro for making the decision to remove the documentary "Vaxxed" from the lineup. While Mr. DeNiro originally desired to add more to the conversation on vaccines and autism, we are thrilled to hear that he listened to the advice and wisdom of the medical professionals he met with from the CDC when they assured him that there are no links between vaccines and autism, and that nothing additional would be added to the conversation by showing the film.
It's really important that DeNiro canceled this film, and this is why: vaccines don't have anything to do with autism, and promoting this idea is not only dangerous to public health, but it leads parents to put their children at risk by making the choice to forgo the recommended schedule of vaccines for their children without any good reason to do so.
The film "Vaxxed" discusses the flawed research of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist who lost his medical license for claiming that the MMR vaccine led to autism based upon his "research," which appeared in the British Medical Journal, The Lancet, in 1998. It has been stated that the Wakefield fraud is "likely to go down as one of the most serious frauds in medical history." (Godlee F. The fraud behind the MMR scare. BMJ. 2011;342:d22.)
Lancet retracted Wakefield's study and 10 of the 12 authors also rescinded their involvement.
Since the Wakefield study hit the world in 1998, countless families across the globe have made the choice to stop vaccinating their children for fear of developing autism despite the fact that there are hundreds of large-scale studies involving thousands of children which demonstrate no link between vaccines and autism. Parents still cling to Wakefield's study, which only included a sample size of 12 children from which he took blood samples at child's birthday party. Research studies typically include thousands of study subjects, and 12 is hardly grounds for proving any link of any kind. Further, no scientist or researcher has ever been able to replicate Dr. Wakefield's results and the CDC alone has funded 9 studies since 2013 which also demonstrate no link between vaccines and autism.
The global damage from Wakefield's retracted study has been insurmountable. In Britain, MMR vaccinations dropped to only 80% in 2004. There were more cases of measles in the US in 2008 than there were in 1997 before the MMR vaccine was widely utilized. Even after anti-vaxxers funded a study which also demonstrated no link between vaccines and autism, people still believe that there is a link.
Wakefield received more than $670,000 from lawyers to testify on behalf of families who intended to sue the manufacturers of the MMR vaccine, while Wakefield was also working on his own measles vaccine. This was a huge conflict of interest which he failed to report and ultimately led to the rescinding of his medical license in 2004.
It was a very big high-five for public health that "Vaxxed" was not played at the TriBeCa film festival and we are very thankful that to TriBeCa and Mr. DeNiro for making the decision to end a conversation which shouldn't have been started in the first place. Here's a great review on the documentary and why it's not worth seeing: https://www.statnews.com/2016/04/01/vaxxed-autism-movie-review/
There never has been, nor will there ever be, a link between vaccines and autism and getting your children vaccinated against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) is one of the best choices you can make for your family!
Angela Quinn, BSN, RN is a registered nurse on Long Island, NY. She is passionate about nursing and public health and is involved with a number of projects which promote life-saving vaccines. Angela volunteers as an Executive Board Member in Vaccine Advocacy for Nurses Who Vaccinate, is the founder of the blog Correcting the Misconceptions of Anti-Vaccine Resources and is the creator of Future Nurse Abby.