(November 11, 2009—New York, NY) Autism Science Foundation President and Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee member Alison Singer joined her colleagues on the IACC in voting to eliminate references in the autism strategic plan that could imply that vaccines cause autism or that call for additional vaccine research. “Draft materials submitted to the IACC suggesting vaccines and/or vaccine components were implicated in autism were rejected by the committee because the IACC determined that they were not based on good science,” said Singer. In addition, the two research objectives proposed that specifically called for additional vaccine research were not approved.
Two initiatives in the plan, one old and one new, could allow for vaccines to be studied as part of larger environmental initiatives if circumstances warranted. First, the IACC voted to retain language from the 2009 plan calling for studies of environmental exposures outlined in the 2007 IOM report “Autism and the Environment”, which could include vaccines. The IACC also voted unanimously to add a new objective to study whether or not there are certain subpopulations that are more susceptible to environmental exposures such as immune challenges (including naturally occurring infection, vaccines, and/or immune disorders).
“More than a dozen studies indicate that neither vaccines nor any specific ingredients in vaccines cause autism. The IACC affirmed that there is no reason to call out vaccines as a specific area worthy of further study in relation to autism,” said Singer. “Vaccine safety research is an ongoing process at the CDC. If some new science were uncovered that brought vaccines into question, then new studies could be done under the auspices of this strategic plan. But there is nothing in the plan that specifically calls for additional vaccine research because there are no data implicating vaccines as a possible cause of autism. While research on environmental factors is important, it makes little sense to pursue a specific study of vaccines, the one environmental factor that science has already ruled out.”
Singer added that some groups seem to be misinterpreting the inclusion of the word “vaccines” in the list of examples of immune challenges as a mandate for vaccine research, and have issued misleading statements. “Based on the votes taken yesterday, the IACC was clear in its position about autism and vaccines. But if there is public confusion about this new research objective then I will try to make sure we clarify it at our next meeting,” Singer said. The IACC will continue its work on the plan at a meeting on December 11, 2009 with the goal of finalizing the revised plan by January, 2010.
Singer was appointed to the IACC in 2007 by HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt.
To learn more about the Autism Science Foundation, visit http://www.autismsciencefoundation.org