Early childhood vaccinations have often been the target of advocacy groups and the media, who have linked them to autism.
But the June 4 “CBS Evening News” abandoned that philosophy and warned viewers that avoiding vaccinations could have a detrimental effect on a child’s health, backtracking on earlier reports “Evening News” has aired linking a vaccine preservative to conditions like autism.
Avoiding vaccines could have consequences like “The child who didn’t get the whooping cough vaccine and is now on a respirator and may have permanent brain and lung damage,” Dr. Bruce Brovender, a pediatrician, told “Evening News.”
Brovender told CBS vaccines are essential and warned the longer children go without inoculation, the longer they go without protections from serious diseases.
That’s a different message from what “Evening News” conveyed to its viewers a year earlier. In a June 11, 2007, segment, CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reported on the plight of the parents of an autistic child and their fight to win money from a federal fund for “vaccine damages.”
However, this time, “Evening News” showed signs there is no link between autism and thimerosal.
“Safety concerns about a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal led to its removal from most childhood vaccines almost a decade ago,” CBS medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook said. “But since then, autism rates have gone up not down.”
LaPook told “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric the causes of autism are unknown and reminded viewers of the positive functions vaccines serve.
“People forget just how deadly these diseases used to be,” LaPook said. “[I] think one of the reasons [vaccines are a contentious issue] is we still have no idea what actually causes autism.”
CBS has come a long way in three years. One CBS story, which aired on July 15, 2005, included the ranting and ravings of environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. “The science connecting brain damage with thimerosal is absolutely overwhelming,” Kennedy claimed.