MccainThis is from the ABC News blog: See the blog and leave comments HERE.

February 29, 2008 7:11 PM

At a town hall meeting Friday in Texas, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., declared that "there's strong evidence" that thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative that was once in many childhood vaccines, is responsible for the increased diagnoses of autism in the U.S. -- a position in stark contrast with the view of the medical establishment.

McCain was responding to a question from the mother of a boy with autism, who asked about a recent story that the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program had issued a judgment in favor of an unnamed child whose family claimed regressive encephalopathy and symptoms of autism were caused by thimerosal.
"We've been waiting for years for kind of a responsible answer to this question, and are hoping that you can help us out there," the woman said.

McCain said, per ABC News' Bret Hovell, that "It's indisputable that (autism) is on the rise amongst children, the question is what's causing it. And we go back and forth and there's strong evidence that indicates that it's got to do with a preservative in vaccines."

McCain said there's "divided scientific opinion" on the matter, with "many on the other side that are credible scientists that are saying that's not the cause of it."

The established medical community is not as divided as McCain made it sound, however. Overwhelmingly the "credible scientists," at least as the government and the medical establishment so ordain them, side against McCain's view.

Moreover, those scientists and organizations fear that powerful people lending credence to the thimerosal theory could dissuade parents from getting their children immunized -- which in their view would lead to a very real health crisis.

The Centers for Disease Control says "There is no convincing scientific evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site."

The American Academy of Pediatrics says"No scientific data link thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines with any pediatric neurologic disorder, including autism."
The Food and Drug Administration conducted a review in 1999 -- the year thimerosal was ordered to be removed from most vaccines -- and said that it "found no evidence of harm from the use of thimerosal as a vaccine preservative, other than local hypersensitivity reactions."

The Institute of Medicine's Immunization Safety Review Committee concluded "that the body of epidemiological evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism."

And a study of California Department of Developmental Services data published last month indicated that there was "an increase in autism in California despite the removal of thimerosal from most vaccines."

Yet there is a vocal, determined, passionate group -- including some medical researchers and organizations -- who vehemently dispute what the established medical community says about this wrenching issue. One of the questions they ask is why would the thimerosal have been removed from the vaccines if there was no real harm?

(The answer according to the Public Health Service, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers was "because any potential risk is of concern.") In any case, here we have a major political figure, the presumptive Republican nominee, who stated that he at the very least isn't as sure about thimerosal as the medical establishment is.

Moreover, he made it sound as if the thimerosal is still in vaccines -- though as I understand it, thimerosal is all but gone in almost every childhood vaccine now, and has been for years.

This could be quite controversial.


Benedetta Stilwell

Hi: I do not believe it is the thimerosal in the vaccines, I wish it were and then we could just take it out, get our vaccines, and not have to hear horrible stories from doctors about someone getting a staph infection from itching their chicken pox blisters. It is more complicated I fear. I believe this becasue my son was harmed by a DPT shot in 1987. He was misdignosed with tourettes in 1996 -all the while suffering from undignosed partial seizures -He was finally diganosed (after we moved to another state) in 2003 as an epileptic and has aspergers. I have a husband that reacted to a tetantus shot at age 34 and it took two years for the Emory Clinic to say he has a mitochrondrial disorder not genetic but environmental induced.(he is a chemical engineer at DOW by the way) I have a daughter who at age 2 came down with a disease I have never heard of called Kawasaki. My daughter also moderately reacted to her fifth DPT shot. Neither of my children reacted to the MMR.(I believe the parents of harmed children that do blame the MMR though) But because of this I will state again that I do not believe mercury (thimersosal) is the cause. It is the vaccine and it is the immune system of individuals. We need to find a simple test (or even a hard one) to find out who these people are before they are vaccinated and we (I) need to know if vaccine injuries are increasing and why. I think they are and not because more vaccines are being given but maybe by aquired immunity from vaccinated parents passing it on to their children (maybe). Anyway that is my wish list - that along with some people from the CDC, and health instuitions across this land to join the unemployment line. Teaching colleges at nursing school are still driving home to young nurses there is no such thing as vaccine injuries. I know this because my daughter is making a nurse and she has to sit through these silly lectures.

Donna Rode

Forgive me, but I have to disagree with most of you in the thinking that any of the "major candidates" or the "presumptive Republican nominee" are going to do anything about addressing the thimerosal/autism issue. I have been following this political campaign fervently, and all the presidential candidates, with the exception of Dr. Ron Paul, the Republican Congressman from Texas, receive major support from the big pharmaceutical companies. One other factoid about these candidates is that they continually flip-flop on many important topics facing our country today. Unfortunately, they seem willing to sell their souls to get elected. Dr. Ron Paul is still very much a viable candidate, and the fact that he is an obstetrician/gynecologist, with a 20+ years proven record of opposing mandatory vaccinations for anyone (including military personnel will be getting my vote - even if it is a write-in. I STRONGLY believe he is the ONLY CANDIDATE who will stop this nightmare we are all living in!


"I support the removal of thimerosal from all vaccines and work to ensure that Americans have access to vaccines that are mercury-free."

Someone sent this to me. Does anyone know of Barack Obama really saying this?

Sandy Gottstein

Thanks, Lucinda, for noting that Einstein quote, which I posted on the home page of my site about 2 weeks ago. It just about says it all.

And I just wanted to remind everyone that if you want to follow all the news, you can do so at

Hurray for the Internet!

Tim Welsh

Just tried to call a few AP outlets to ask why this was not front page news and got hung up on by the Dallas office... SO much for fair and unbiased reporting!

Kelli Ann Davis


Instead of trying to “slam” this site for “not doing their homework” maybe you should have done your own.

If you look on the right hand column under Current Affairs and scroll all the way down to December 12, you’ll see a beautiful picture of some A-Champ folks with Senator McCain. And you’ll see the reference to the Lieberman-McCain letter.

I suspect your comment has to do with “credit” more than anything (surprise, surprise Gomer Pyle style) and I hate to break the news to you but a LOT of people are talking to their Senators, Representative, Officials, etc. and have been for YEARS.

It is the CUMMULATIVE EFFORTS OF MANY INDIVIDUALS that have brought this issue to the forefront of the political arena – not any one person or group.



I am so happy that there is candidate running that is willing to have an opinion against the medical establishment when there are controversies such as this one. I want a president who would stand up for what is right and not take the side of what is popular and good for business. Someone has to look out for people of this country, especially our future generations. What we must realize is should Thimerisol turn out to be part of the cause of autism it will not only impact the drug companies, it will impact the American Academy of Pediatrics, The American Medical Association, the CDC and anyone else that had anything to do with the vaccines and the vaccine schedule. I think that this is very scary. However, the autism epidemic is even more scary. What is going to happen when all of these children become adults? Who is going to pay for their care? The Thimerisol issue is definitely controversial and scientists are divided on this issue. As far as I am aware it is not a dead issue and that more study is needed. We cannot take statements such “there is no evidence” as an absolute truth that Thimerisol does not cause autism. It may be part of a perfect storm of multiple causes that scientists have not been able to identify yet. We also need to look at some of the other ingredients of the adjuvants such as aluminum in our vaccines that may be contributing to autism as well. Adjuvants in vaccines are used to cause an immune response. Perhaps some people’s immune systems overreact to them. Epidemiology studies can have their flaws and do not address the biochemical processes involved. Many studies that are done on vaccines only address reactions that occur soon after the vaccine is given and do not study long term effects. The vaccines may also not be studied well enough in combination with the other vaccinations that children are given at the same time. We should not have blind faith in our policy makers who are pressured from the drug companies and physicians to put a new vaccine on the market and mandate it’s use. They can only make decisions based on the evidence presented to them which is usually from the drug companies themselves. Just this past week the advisory committee made a decision to recommend flu vaccines to all children up to 18 years old because flu cases are up. The only problem with this is that the current vaccine does not contain the strains that are causing the flu this year and needs to be changed. Flu vaccines are not totally safe (and most still contain thimerisol) and we should not be recommending them just because flu cases are up and we have it available. Most children can recover from the flu without complications. The benefits must outweigh the risk. I can understand the very young and the very old needing them but I am wondering why they suddenly want the older children vaccinated. I hope they are not doing this to financially support the drug companies so that they can change the strains in the vaccine. That would be bad policy. We need to recommend vaccines because of medical need, not for economic need and availability. I think that our vaccine program needs to be shaken up a little bit and we need to do some good research with a control groups of children who do not have vaccines. That would be impossible if we mandate them for all and put parents in jail for not having their children vaccinated. The public needs to be aware of what is going on and our politicians need to get their head out of the sand. John McCain is my man! He supports more research.


"PARODY, IN CAPS. The rest is real.

Statement from Bob and Suzanne Wright, Co-founders of Autism Speaks"

That was fun to read. Thanks.

Meanwhile I wish these guys would get off my TV set when my son is watching his favorite "Wheel of Fortune." I don't want him to be reminded him of his disability when he is watching the only show of the day he is allowed to see. Especially when its about looking for the "signs of autism." You see Autism Speaks, when you talk about *signs*, its already too late. You need to get into action before the *signs* stage. Do you even comprehend this very simple fact? You need to do something before you see the signs!! The question is, do you even want to? I don't see any *signs* that you do.

Lucinda White

"Moreover, he made it sound as if the thimerosal is still in vaccines -- though as I understand it, thimerosal is all but gone in almost every childhood vaccine now, and has been for years."

How can you possibly be a responsible journalist when you don't even bother to follow through and find out the facts. Thimerosol was still used in many childhood vaccines in 2004 as initially it's removal hadn't been made mandatory. It was a only a recommendation and if you were a drug company with a stockpile of thimerosol laden kid's vaccines, would you destroy them all or wait until there were used up or at their use by 2 1/2 years later? And what about the mercury burden the mother is passing onto her child in utero from the still thimerosol laden flu vaccines that are pushed onto pregnant women? It really saddens me that people in your position can be so flippant about such important issues. If you're a new parent, please do your own independent research before making the vaccination decision. Check into who sponsored that rose colored research. "A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of truth."-- Albert Einstein, letter to a friend, 1901


"really?", I personally do not understand the intent behind your comment. You seem to be attacking anyone who acted excited or surprised to hear of McCain's statements. You should not act superior to others in such a situation, you should be happy so many people responded and are aware of the Senator's work on our children's behalves. Try a little less snideness next time, I know we would all appreciate it. None of us needs to be attacked, we have enough going on in our lives and are as "up" on the news as we can each individually be. I always felt like no one on this site was judging. You've proven that wrong. Also, by not using your real name you show the true intent behind your message. Be kind and welcome anyone who is now in the know.

Anne Dachel

What I like best about McCain's statement on autism and vaccines is that it puts this controversy into the political arena. A presidential candidate questioning the safety of vaccinations is about as explosive as it gets. I want the general public to start asking, "Why are we always talking about autism? We never used to."

Anne Dachel
Media Editor AOA


really? how is this new news?
this is an incredible move by this man and it goes without notice to you all?
i am so confused.


PARODY, IN CAPS. The rest is real.

Statement from Bob and Suzanne Wright, Co-founders of Autism Speaks

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN is not a spokesperson for Autism Speaks. HE is A CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT and we love HIM very much. Many of JOHN’S personal views differ from ours and do not represent or reflect the ongoing mission of Autism Speaks. HIS appearance with THE VOTERS OF TEXAS was done without the knowledge or consent of Autism Speaks.

Autism Speaks is committed to finding the causes of and a cure for autism. We are proud of our scientifically based research programs, including those established by NAAR and CAN, and will continue to pursue them. The members of our scientific advisory teams have impeccable credentials and we fully support them. There is no question that genetics plays the leading role in autism and that environmental triggers are key issues for many children. These areas, as well as biomedical treatments, need huge research support.



Autism Speaks merged with NAAR because it believes in and supports its scientific mission, methods, and advisory board. We are proud of the accomplishments of NAAR and grateful to the families and volunteers who created it. They are a tremendously valued part of Autism Speaks. We welcome input from volunteers and parents/guardians of children with autism of all ages, including adults with autism. We apologize to our valued volunteers who were led to believe otherwise by SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN’S statement.

Raymond Gallup

For information, Imus whose wife Deirdre Imus has been out in front on the autism/thimerosal issue, is publically supporting McCain for President on his radio show in the morning (WABC in NY).

Mom to 2 on Spectrum

Well, According to the CDC's site directly, while Thimerosal is not an official ingredient in 'Childhood' vaccines anymore, it is listed as a 'possible trace ingredient in all vaccines due to the processing of the vaccines'. Also, since they are listing only as a trace amount, it no longer has to be measured or tested, or accounted for. Oh, and the CDC (and others in Government and Big Pharma) always say 'Childhood Vaccines'...however, it is STILL an ingredient in the Flu and Pneumonia (sp?) Vaccines, and at last check, the CDC reccomends that all CHILDREN over 6 Months of age-CHILDREN age 5 years old get BOTH really, those 2 Vaccines are in fact, CHILDHOOD VACCINES! I am SO happy that someone in the Public is starting to actually ADDRESS this at a PUBLIC event...WAY TO GO!
I have no idea about Obama's aide, but if its so, that is truely truely a sad sad sad thing, especially since Obama seems to be about CHANGE, and I really feel a CHANGE coming about with the truth finally coming out about Vaccines and the Autism connection!


Everyone talks about the safety of Obama (the first black president) or Hillary (the first female president); but, they need to worry about little old McCain speaking out against the vaccines are safe lies. Maybe he didn't want to be left out of the death threat club... his chances are better than the other two of being "taken out" - they only have to worry about the KKK and chauvinists (in other words, shooters trained at the same place the Storm Troopers trained!).... McC has to worry about The Man!! Scary!! We all know how accurate "their" shots are! Two words Johnny boy, duck and roll!


Sorry, he still won't get my vote...

I am hoping Obama and Hillary will address this (with a little more gusto, actually) when the conceded case is given the attention it deserves.


so I guess some Democrats may be switching parties ??
Hey one issue voters - whats up?

Kelli Ann Davis

“This could be quite controversial.”

Crud, talk about being behind the power curve!

Earth to Tapper….Earth to Tapper…is anybody home?

Teresa Conrick

"In any case, here we have a major political figure, the presumptive Republican nominee, who stated that he at the very least isn't as sure about thimerosal as the medical establishment is.

Moreover, he made it sound as if the thimerosal is still in vaccines -- though as I understand it, thimerosal is all but gone in almost every childhood vaccine now, and has been for years.

This could be quite controversial."

Wow..that is a mouthful!! This is not the first time that McCain has jumped in to give his 2 cents..He helped enormously with the Eli Lilly Bandit issue...homeland security and all that fun stuff.

What may get even more interesting is that one of Obama's "top aides" here in IL has a child with autism (somebody help me out if I screw up some of these details..) and that aide resisted past attempts for any of the IL biomed parents to share info with Obama. The aide had a very anti-biomed approach and whispered this in Obama's ear too much. Maybe this has changed, I am not privy but, again, this may get really interesting. With the push for the flu vaccines, this issue may be on the front burner so stay tuned!


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