What evidence does Mr. Kennedy have to support the claim that vaccines cause autism?
Mr. Kennedy does not believe that vaccines are the sole cause of autism. He believes they are a contributing factor. Dr. Leo Kanner’s 1943 study of children born between 1931 and 1938, all of whom were born to educated and affluent parents, many of which were MDs, described the new discovery of the disorder known as autism today.  As tempting as it is to use the age of autism to vindicate vaccination as autism’s culprit, we must not ignore the fact that the inaugural diphtheria toxoid vaccine was newly licensed in 1932, marking the first time aluminum was used in human vaccines–and this was done in combination with mercury, which was still considered to be a miracle drug at the time.  The rapid rise of autism coincided with the expansion of the vaccine schedule from 24 doses of 7 vaccines throughout childhood up until 1986 to 62 doses of 13 vaccines in 2002.  CDC currently recommends over 70 doses of 17 vaccines. 
While the phasing out of thimerosal mercury from routine infant vaccines began in August 1999, the Public Health Service delayed its goal for mercury-free vaccines until the end of first quarter 2001.  Existing vaccines were not ordered to be destroyed — they were allowed to be injected into infants until their shelf life expired, which was anywhere from one to three years after March 2001.
Despite its alleged harmlessness, thimerosal has been recognized as a Proposition 65 reproductive toxicant in the state of California since 1990, and its material safety data sheet advises against its use during pregnancy; the “Special Remarks on Chronic Effects on Humans” section reads, “May cause adverse reproductive effects and developmental defects.… May affect genetic material.” 
In July 2001, the National Academies of Science/Institute of Medicine reviewed the safety of thimerosal in vaccines.  The committee recommended that “full consideration be given by appropriate professional societies and government agencies to removing thimerosal from vaccines administered to infants, children, or pregnant women in the United States.” CDC failed to act on that recommendation despite the fact that they were the ones who convened the IOM’s review of thimerosal.
Furthermore, in the fall of 2002, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) put the influenza vaccine on the childhood vaccination schedule.  Almost all 2002 flu vaccines included bolus doses of mercury, yet regulators continue to deceptively claim that mercury was removed from vaccines on the childhood schedule in the early 2000s. ACIP had already recommended that pregnant women take a flu shot beginning in early 2001, which began the nation’s first push to vaccinate every pregnant woman in America with influenza vaccines loaded with mercury.  Just as routine infant vaccination mercury exposure began its steep decline from 2001 to 2004, ACIP managed to overlap the on-ramp of prenatal and infant flu shot mercury exposure, which meant children continued to suffer mercury exposures comparable to those received by children prior to removal from the other childhood vaccines. This action concealed the beneficial impacts of mercury’s removal from routine infant vaccines, and allowed vaccine promoters to claim there was no association between autism rates and mercury removal.
For the most recent 2022–2023 flu season, 22 years after mercury was “removed” from childhood vaccines, FDA is still allowing children to be injected with 25 micrograms of mercury per half ml dose in three of the five pediatric-approved flu vaccines, which are still sold in multi-dose vials. 
Furthermore, autism is not the only issue of concern when it comes to the childhood vaccine schedule. Developmental disorders, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and other conditions are also associated with vaccination. CDC refuses to perform a study comparing the outcomes of fully vaccinated children to children who have never received any vaccines. However, parents have funded numerous such studies:
- "Hepatitis B vaccination of male neonates and autism diagnosis, NHIS 1997-2002" Conclusion: “Boys vaccinated as neonates had threefold greater odds for autism diagnosis compared to boys never vaccinated or vaccinated after the first month of life." 
- “Pilot Comparative Study on the Health of Vaccinated and Unvaccinated 6- to 12-Year-Old U.S. Children” Conclusion: "The vaccinated were less likely than the unvaccinated to have been diagnosed with chickenpox and pertussis, but more likely to have been diagnosed with pneumonia, otitis media, allergies and NDD [neurodevelopmental disorders]. After adjustment, vaccination, male gender, and preterm birth remained significantly associated with NDD." 
- “Preterm Birth, Vaccination and Neurodevelopmental Disorders: A Cross-Sectional Study of 6- to 12-Year-Old Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Children.” Conclusion: "Preterm birth coupled with vaccination, however, was associated with a synergistic increase in the odds of NDD, suggesting the possibility that vaccination could precipitate adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in preterm infants. These results provide clues to the epidemiology and causation of NDD but question the safety of current vaccination programs for preterm infants." 
"Analysis of health outcomes in vaccinated and unvaccinated children: Developmental delays, asthma, ear infections and gastrointestinal disorders" Conclusion: "Vaccination before 1 year of age was associated with increased odds of developmental delays.” 
All scientific studies claiming to disprove the link between vaccination and autism are deeply flawed. Children are deemed "unvaccinated" when they are simply unvaccinated for one vaccine but received all others, and they are compared to fully vaccinated children with, not surprisingly, very similar outcomes.  In one CDC study, the children harmed by vaccination were eliminated from the study group with an arbitrary requirement that was not part of the initial study protocol: requiring a birth certificate from their mothers, who were inner-city and low income, and who did not have the document.  Only one vaccine (MMR) and one ingredient (thimerosal mercury) have ever been looked at for their roles in causing autism, and those studies have been annihilated. 
One hypothesis for the mechanisms and pathways by which vaccines may induce autism involves inflammation, aluminum, and the cytokine protein IL-6. It goes as follows:
If a pregnant mother gets sick, whether her immune system is activated by a viral or bacterial infection that activation can impact the neurodevelopment.
See: "Pregnancy, Immunity, Schizophrenia and Autism" 
- This immune activation leads to a cytokine storm, specifically releasing interleukin-6. See: "Maternal immune activation alters fetal brain development through interleukin-6" 
- Aluminum is a primary trigger for immune activation, causing inflammation in a baby's brain during a critical time of development. See: "Aluminum Adjuvant Linked to Gulf War Illness Induces Motor Neuron Death in Mice" 
- Aluminum can increase IL-6 in the brain. See: "Neuroprotective Effect of Nanodiamond in Alzheimer’s Disease Rat Model: a Pivotal Role for Modulating NF-κB and STAT3 Signaling" 
- Specifically, Hepatitis B vaccine induces IL-6 in postnatal rats. "Neonatal vaccination with bacillus Calmette-Guérin and hepatitis B vaccines modulates hippocampal synaptic plasticity in rats” 
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