UPDATE: A new study, released Jan. 30 by researchers at the University of Rochester, further debunks the myth that thimerosal, the mercury-tinged preservative in vaccines used in the 1990s, can be linked to autism. Read it here.
There’s been plenty of buzz about the new lawyer-and-hallucinating-prophet TV show, “Eli Stone,” which debuts on ABC Thursday night. Now there’s more. The American Academy of Pediatrics has demanded that ABC cancel the series opener (pictured at left) because the series’ first legal case argues a link between vaccines and a child’s autism. The show includes statements that science has disproved any link between autism and vaccines, but the episode’s ending implies the opposite when the fictional jury awards the mother $5.2 million. Needless to say, pediatricians are apoplectic. The president of the pediatric association, Dr. Renee Jenkins, called ABC’s perpetuation of the myth that vaccines cause autism “the height of reckless irresponsibility.”
“Many people trust the health information presented on fictional television shows, which influences their decisions about health care,” said Jenkins. “In the United Kingdom, erroneous reports linking the measles vaccine to autism prompted a decline in vaccination and the worst outbreak of measles in two decades, including the deaths of several children…If parents watch this program and choose to deny their children immunizations. ABC will share in the responsibility for the suffering and deaths that occur as a result.”
Now, ABC has agreed to include a disclaimer along with a link to the Center for Disease Control’s autism web site when the show airs Thursday evening. The series’ producer and co-creator, Greg Berlanti, said he believes the episode shows both sides of the argument. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization say there’s only one side and that their studies have rejected any link between autism and the preservatives found in vaccines.
Your thoughts? Is ABC being reckless?