Pharmaceutical medicine” sounds like code for vaccines, given that she links it in the same sentence with “one shot on top of another shot on top of another shot” during childhood — and it’s hard to imagine what that might refer to other than multiple vaccines, a mainstay of childhood medicine. But a link to autism has been debunked in study after study.

Fears about a link between autism and vaccines started in 1998 after the publication of a genuine hoax — the Wakefield study, in the journal Lancet. Based on a supposedly random sample of 12 children, now-discredited anti-vaccine activist and former physician Andrew Wakefield suggested that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine led to gastrointestinal symptoms, which in turn put harmful proteins in the bloodstream that resulted in autism.
Dozens of studies followed, including one that studied 1.8 million children over 14 years, all of which showed there was no link. Eventually, it was revealed that Wakefield had received secret payments from a lawyer seeking to sue MMR manufacturers and who supplied some of the patients, had filed a patent application for his own measles vaccine, and had misrepresented or altered medical histories of the 12 patients. In 2010, the article was retracted and Wakefield lost his medical license.

But the damage has never been erased, as fears about a link between vaccines and autism persist among parents. “There are dozens of studies looking at autism and vaccines, and they don’t show a link,” said Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation, which has posted dozens of studies on its website. “It is not even a case of needing to do more research.”