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Anti-vaxx – or know the facts


Everyone wants a cure for autism, but scapegoating vaccines will not help families suffering from autism and hurts everyone equally.

Traci Pritchard

Traci Pritchard

Families struggling with autism rightfully want to know why their child has autism. An unfortunate article by Andrew Wakefield claiming an association between vaccinations and autism was published 20 years ago and later reported to be fraudulent and the author widely discredited. This fueled the momentum of the anti-vaxx movement and preyed on vulnerable parents struggling with an autistic child. The truth is, over the last decade or more, dozens of peer reviewed articles have shown zero association with vaccines and autism, and zero association with childhood vaccines and mercury accumulation in mothers or children.

As a physician, I understand these families. I believe in autonomy and verification. I know our profession can do better at forming trust and providing proper education to those who question vaccines. Wonderful, caring parents are being victimized by an understandable desire to find the answer for autism.

Vaccine facts:

  • Thimerosal is a pharmaceutical preservative with trace mercury that prevents microbes from growing in a medication bottle. It is no longer used in any single-use vials of vaccine since 2001.
  • Childhood vaccines are all single-use, thimerosal-free, mercury-free vaccines. Other vaccines are available in single-use vials including influenza vaccine.
  • Bottles are labeled “single use vial.” Single-use vials do not require the backup of a preservative and are thimerosal free.
  • There is zero mercury in childhood vaccines and all single-dose vaccines.
  • Mercury prior to 2001 in vaccines equals 12.5-25 µg of mercury per dose; these were single doses, not chronic exposure/intake like with pollution and food sources.
  • Mercury in a can of tuna fish equals up to 35.0-56.0 µg of mercury per 100 gram serving of tuna.

You can see that even for older vaccines, the amount of mercury contained in a single dose is far less than the amount humans are exposed to in the environment or through the food we eat. We are talking about trace amounts that our body can, and does, handle on a daily basis.

The data is clear. Vaccines are associated with a remarkable reduction in pain, suffering and death. Here are the historical facts:

  • 1 in 10 children with diphtheria die.
  • 1.3 in 10 people with tetanus die. Since vaccinations, the rate of tetanus declined 95-99 percent as of 2001.
  • Annual rate of measles in the U.S. was 4 million prior to the advent of vaccinations in 1964; prior to vaccination, measles was the most common cause of infant death.
  • Thanks to vaccines, measles was declared eradicated in the U.S. by 2000.
  • In the past few years with the drop in vaccination rates, the U.S. now has multi-state measles epidemics occurring.
  • Historically, 1:100 children and infants with measles die, and the others have a long, sometimes partial recovery with permanent deafness.

1:200 polio victims had irreversible paralysis, many of those also die. Vaccines are the only reason we have essentially eradicated this disease.The good ‘ol days of no vaccination programs were the days of iron lungs and child funerals and disability from infections that are now preventable. Know the facts. Everyone is harmed, even the families that subscribe to anti-vaccination, by supporting public policy designed to reduce vaccinations. Know the facts, and vaccinate.

Dr. Traci Pritchard is president of the Arizona Medical Association.


  1. How is comparing the amount of mercury ingested, where the body has protective measures to avoid absorption and even excretes it through the feces, the same as injecting it straight into the blood? You also make no mention of the polysorbate preservatives in the vaccines which are known to weaken the blood/brain barrier. I think everyone agrees getting polio is horrible; however, I also think you are not accurately addressing antiVaxx concerns by not diving into the facts/details which concern people and those who have experienced severe adverse events.

  2. Hello Walter,

    A few corrections:

    1. polysorbate is NOT a preservative
    2. the polysorbate 80 in vaccines do NOT weaken the blood brain barrier
    3. no vaccine is injected straight into the blood
    4. there are these people called toxicologists….who can explain how we know that the thimerosal in vaccines is safe

    It is natural for parents to have concerns about any medical product/procedure for their children.

    The issue is not legitimate concerns, the issue is the anti-vacc misinformation.


  3. It would help if aborted babies were not now being used to make most of our vaccines. Also if new vaccines like the one for cervical cancer was tested better before putting it on the market. Also if vaccine cpmpanies were not shielded by congress so you could sue when damage was done.

  4. Hi Fran,

    What would really help is if you fact-checked rather than just repeating anti-vacc assertions.

    For example, under US law all families can sue vaccine manufacturers for alleged vaccine injuries.

    If you read cases (like Blackwell v Wyeth)–where the vaccines cause autism fraud was well detailed in Maryland Civil court…you will see why the anti-vaccs are trying to deceive people and hide the truth.

    Shall we keep going?


  5. Walter Kowalski


    Thanks for the corrections. You are right that polysorbate 80 is not a preservative and vaccines are not directly injected into the blood. Polysorbate 80 is used for many purposes especially and emulsifier/stabilizer; however, you are incorrect that it does not affect the blood brain barrier. There are many studies one can find on pubmed among other sources covering this. I am not sure if I am allowed to share links here in the comments so I will share the title and conclusion from just one study so you and others can go review it:
    [Polysorbate-80 modified neurotoxin nanoparticle with its transport and cytotoxicity against blood-brain barrier]. (21348312)
    “In conclusion, polysorbate-80 modified neurotoxin nanoparticles can transport across the BBB, while concentration of NT is greater than 200 ng x mL(-1), P-80-NT-NP has a little cytotoxicity against rBMECs.”

    Although not injected into the blood directly, injection of neurotoxic mercury particles into muscle tissue with vascularity is still very different than ingestion and although there may be some toxicologists who theorize why continued injection of toxic metals should not be a problem, there are no studies proving these opinions.

    You are also incorrect about the ability to sue vaccine manufacturers. The following is easy to find so I will not share a link since it may be frowned upon. Please refer to the following law:

    LII U.S. Code Title 42. THE PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELFARE Chapter 6A. PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE Subchapter XIX. VACCINES Part 2. National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Subpart b. additional remedies Section 300aa–22. Standards of responsibility

    which clearly states:

    (1) No vaccinemanufacturer shall be liable in a civil action for damages arising from a vaccine-related injury or death associated with the administration of a vaccine after October 1, 1988, if the injury or death resulted from side effects that were unavoidable even though the vaccine was properly prepared and was accompanied by proper directions and warnings.

    In this law, which was upheld in 2011 (BRUESEWITZ ET AL. v. WYETH LLC, FKA WYETH, INC., ) the US government states that vaccines are legally “unavoidably unsafe” and therefore cannot be held accountable for injuries which occur from a properly designed, engineered, and prepared product. If go to supremecourt dot gov opinions/10pdf/09-152.pdf you can read about the courts decision as well as the dissent from Justice Sotomayor starting on page 30 where she states:

    “…the Court excises 13 words from the statutory text, misconstrues the Act’s legislative history, and disturbs the
    careful balance Congress struck between compensating
    vaccine-injured children and stabilizing the childhood
    vaccine market. Its decision leaves a regulatory vacuum
    in which no one ensures that vaccine manufacturers adequately take account of scientific and technological advancements when designing or distributing their products.
    Because nothing in the text, structure, or legislative history of the Vaccine Act remotely suggests that Congress
    intended such a result, I respectfully dissent. ”

    I believe this is the concern Fran was trying to share albeit with more detail.

    Thanks for your thoughts and responses, Walt.

  6. The problem is that most antivaxers argue that people jump into the “sheep trend” without knowing the facts when they themselves jump on to an extremely biased and one sided argument about how they’re right and everyone else is wrong regardless of evidence.

  7. Hi Walter,

    Thank you for the follow-up comments, I appreciate your corrections.

    1. Polysorbate 80
    Your reference is to Zhao paper from 2010. You have come to the incorrect conclusion because you failed to consider the following important details:

    a. Dose—the dose of Poly80 in vaccines is orders of magnitude too low to work as described in the Zhao paper

    b. Effective dose #1—Poly80 interacts rapidly with lipids and proteins, starting with the protein in the vaccine. So the amount of free Poly80 (possible to interact with the BBB) is much lower than the dose the patient receives. Like ~ zero…..

    c. Effective dose #2—Poly80 is very unstable in the human body and any free Poly80 immediately starts being rapidly degraded (source: Tellingen et al, Clinical Cancer Research, Vol. 5, 2918–2924, October 1999).

    Bottom line: there is functionally—if not literally—zero exposure of Poly80 from vaccines to the BBB. It does NOT affect the BBB.

    2. Mercury…again, there is lots and lots of relevant data on the safety of thimerosal when injected…you just have to check with toxicologists.

    3. The law
    Thanks for fact-checking with the actual law. Your error was that you stopped reading too soon.

    You need to continue on to:
    42 USC CHAPTER 6A, SUBCHAPTER XIX, Part 2, subpart b: additional remedies
    §300aa–21. Authority to bring actions
    Which explains in part A how all US families can sue vaccine manufacturers.

    Further, you didn’t read your own reference (BRUESEWITZ ET AL. v. WYETH LLC, FKA WYETH, INC.,) correctly.

    From page 3 of the opinion:
    “At that point, a claimant has two options: to accept the court’s judgment and forgo a traditional tort suit for damages, or to reject the judgment ****and seek tort relief from the vaccine manufacturer****.”

    More importantly, there are recent lawsuits against vaccine manufacturers….the most recent US Civil court ruling was published March 21, 2019 from NY state…claiming MMR causes autism and fraud etc….

    The case is Doe v. Merck & Co., Inc. (1:16-cv-04005-FB-RLM) which can be found on courtlistener.com.

    Lots of the “big names” in the anti-vacc world and lots of their standard claims and the Court details the staggering and systematic incompetence/dishonestly of the anti-vaccs and how the family was deceived by them.

    It is very unpleasant to read….


  8. Wakefield’s paper clearly stated they weren’t suggesting a link between autism and the MMR, simply that more research was needed.

  9. Hi Ben,

    Please re-read the lancet paper….Wakefield exactly claimed there was a link between autism and MMR.

    He did claim that the link was not proven.

    Then he did run a scam telling parents that in fact MMR caused autism. And de did get remarkably wealthy running his scam!


  10. Jennifer Stanovich

    Hi Al. I’ve read your comments with interest and appreciate you clarifying where information is not quite accurate/misinterpreted and leads to an incorrect conclusion.

    I hope you will provide your opinion on the Gardasil studies showing a 2.3% indicence of potential new autoimmune disorders. The package insert breaks out the injection site reactions in 3 groups-Gardasil (5088 girls), adjuvant-containing placebo (3470 girls) and saline placebo (320 girls). However, for systemic reactions, they combine those who received adjuvant-containing placebo with those who received saline placebo. They compare this combined placebo group with the Gardasil group and both groups have a 2.3% incidence of potentially new autoimmune conditions. A significant majority of the placebo group likely received the adjuvant-containing placebo and not saline given the numbers in the two groups broken out in the the injections site reaction analysis. 2.3% of girls developing a new autoimmune condition in a 6 month + 14 day time period is not typical. Since both groups show the same 2.3% incidence, it appears to not be caused by Gardasil. However, they did not show the saline placebo separate from the adjuvant-containing placebo. Since both the placebo and Gardasil groups received the aluminum-containing adjuvant, the autoimmune conditions could be caused by the adjuvant . What is your perspective on this?

    I also read the court cases you mentioned, at least the versions I could access on the internet. In the first the claimant did not follow procedure and had not exhausted his options in the vaccine court so he wasn’t eligible to sue the vaccine manufacturer and his other claims of responsibility of other parties had no grounds. In neither did I see anything that “details the staggering and systematic incompetence/dishonestly of the anti-vaccs”. To what in those cases were you referring?

    I truly want to understand the FACTS of these arguments. Thank you in advance for your response!

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