Lior Brimberg, assistant professor at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, at NBC:
I've researched autism for more than a decade. Specifically, I've investigated how some antibodies in expecting mothers could complicate fetal development and lead to the condition. Through all my research and that of my colleagues, one thing is clear: Vaccines are not the cause of autism. And yet, that connection is on the tip of many tongues.
None of the claims have proven to be true when it comes to autism, and there's no reason to think they are any more valid with the Covid-19 vaccines.
Unfortunately, the fabricated link between autism and vaccines has made all vaccines suspect in the eyes of some skeptics. Now that Covid-19 vaccines are finally rolling out, the disinformation is clouding the science and adding fuel to the vaccine hesitancy fire.
A recent Pew Research Center poll reports that 39 percent of people say they definitely or probably wouldn't get a coronavirus vaccination. This endangers more than the people who don't get shots; we need a large though as-yet-undetermined percentage of people to be vaccinated before we see a slowdown in the virus's spread and with it the indirect protection known as herd immunity. Meanwhile, vulnerable groups whose immune systems are too compromised to be vaccinated are unprotected.
"Vaccine scares" have existed ever since the first smallpox vaccine was developed. Religious beliefs and distrust in medicine dissuaded some from inoculations; others believed they violated their personal liberty. Legally mandating vaccines in the mid-19 century galvanized these objectors into anti-vaccine movements, members of which claimed the right to make their own decisions about their children's bodies and their own.