“According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the mercury-containing chemical has been removed from routine childhood vaccines since 2001,” writes Ty Chandler in a USA Today story entitled “Calif. lawmakers advance controversial vaccine bill.”
Chandler didn’t do her homework, and USA Today didn’t do its fact checking. 2001 didn’t mark the removal of mercury in childhood vaccines, it marked the start of their removal, a process that is not yet complete. Chandler can verify this error by checking the website of the Food and Drug Administration, which explains it “has worked with, and continues to work with, vaccine manufacturers to reduce or eliminate thimerosal from vaccines.” Thimerosal, a preservative and sterilizing agent that remains in common use in the manufacture of vaccines, is half comprised of a mercury compound.
A child that hews to the CDC schedule can receive a full dose of mercury each and every year through the flu vaccine, in addition to lesser doses that remain present in other vaccines. Given mercury’s annual injection into children starting at the age of 6 months, it is illogical to cite the absence of mercury as proof that mercury cannot be causing autism.
Chandler also goofed in allowing a falsehood by Dr. Dean Blumberg, representing the American Academy of Pediatrics and the California Medical Association, to go unchallenged. “Let me be clear: There is no scientific controversy about vaccine safety and vaccine effectiveness,” Blumberg was quoted as saying. “This is not open to dispute among mainstream doctors and scientists.”
In fact, this claim has long been disputed by numerous mainstream doctors and scientists, among them Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former head of the National Institute of Health, the former head of the American Red Cross, and the former Chair of the White House Cabinet Group on Biotechnology, one of several White House positions she held in service to three U.S. presidents.
USA Today (@USATODAY) and Ty Chandler @TyChandler_News receive four Band-aids for shoddy journalism. It’s ok to quote representatives of government and industry associations. It’s not ok to accept their word as gospel. All sources need to be checked and, in controversial stories, double checked.