Impact | Autism Action Network’s John Gilmore debates 2016 California measles case

April 8, 2016

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John Gilmore, Executive Director of Autism Action Network appeared on Fox News earlier this month to discuss a student in California who tested positive for measles.

Autism Action Network, a national, non-partisan, grassroots, political action organization formed by parents in support of children and adults with autism, vaccine injuries, and neurodevelopmental and communication disorders.

Fox highlights that only 44% of the school’s children are properly vaccinated and that “school officials are fearing an outbreak could be on the horizon.”

The reporter goes on to ask a fair question, “Are vaccinations really to blame?” Gilmore of AAN and Dr. Nina Radcliff debate the question.

2016_4_8 John Gilmore on Fox

April 2, 2016 | Fox News | Debate Transcript


  • Reporter: John, you don’t think a lack of vaccinations is to blame for this potential outbreak?
  • Gilmore: No I don’t, the way I understand it is the child traveled outside the United States, contracted measles wherever they went, brought it back to California. This happens all the time. There are very, very many strains of measles and the American vaccine only protects against a limited number of them. So, this is not an unusual incident and the school there has the ability to exclude any kids that have not been vaccinated until the period where they could contract the disease is over. This is standard public health policy. It happens all the time.
  • Reporter: You disagree though?
  • Dr. Radcliff: I do. I disagree. There is a number of parents who feel that measles and whooping cough is no longer a threat to their children and these outbreaks prove otherwise. And then there are parents that believe that autism is linked to the MMR vaccine but science does not back that fact up.
  • Reporter: Well, where do you come down on that side of it?
  • Gilmore: That is really kind of interesting because just this week there has been the whole controversy about the film at the Tribeca Film Festival that looked exactly at that issue, and what that discussed is the revelation that came from the CDC scientist who is still at the CDC, Dr. William Thompson, who said that he and colleagues have deliberately altered studies, destroyed data that showed conclusively that the MMR vaccine does indeed cause autism. That data has been supplied to Congress, they’ve had it for two years and the motion picture VAXXED, which was the one that was banned, goes exactly into that. So, does it prove it? No, but it really needs to be looked at very, very carefully.
  • Dr. Radcliff: Well, I’d like to go back a little bit in history to where this all started. Back in 1998 there was a Dr. Wakefield out of Britain that published an article that stated MMR is the cause of autism. Since then this has been thoroughly discredited. This doctor has in fact lost his medical license because some of the data that he presented was fraudulent. But still, this exists like an urban legend, that theory continues on. There has also been studies that show that children who have had the vaccine, who have not had the vaccine, have similar rates of autism. And I do understand, as a parent, if my child does have autism I’d want to know what the cause is. But I cannot make that leap. I cannot start making up facts and I cannot sit there and say science is wrong based upon a personal testimony.
  • Reporter: What about the argument that we are rolling back the clock here. That these outbreaks are happening. We’ve gotten rid of polio, we’ve stopped measles, and now we're seeing these outbreaks again and we're just rolling back the clock without these vaccinations?
  • Gilmore: It’s not that we’ve stopped measles, but again, let’s take a look at the outbreak of measles that got so much attention last year in Disney Land, right? Again, just like were seeing in Nevada County, in Disney Land it was the Philippine strain of measles. The American vaccine does not protect against it. We saw that in California because of the 150 cases of people who got measles in California, 50 of them were fully vaccinated.
  • Reporter: You say you disagree with that?
  • Dr. Radcliff: No, there was closer to 180 people who got the measles, most were unvaccinated or their vaccination status was not completely known. And, they did find that that particular strain of measles vaccine that we are administering is effective against it. So we cannot keep sitting there pounding our fists on the table and making the statements that are not founded in truth.
  • Gilmore: Well, let’s sort of correct the record here. I mean, you basically misstated what Andrew Wakefield said in his study. In his study that got so much attention he did not say that autism is caused by measles. He said it was something that needed to be looked into and he recommended continuing with measles vaccination. So, I’m sorry but you are simply wrong about that.
  • Reporter: Final word?
  • Dr. Radcliff: The final word is, as any parent, our decisions about our children are very important. We should always do our research. If there are concerns, speak with your physician about it. They can typically ease them. We need to look at the very fact that vaccines have dramatically decreased the risk of measles, whooping cough. One in every thousand children who have measles can have brain swelling. Three can die from measles. We’ve had 11 deaths in the United States from measles since 2000. That is too many for a vaccine that is 97% effective. We need to make wise choices when it comes to our children.
  • Reporter: Dr. Radcliff and John we appreciate you joining us this morning. Thanks so much.
  • John: Thank you.
  • Dr. Radcliff: Thank you.

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