A veteran congresswoman on Sunday backed away from her years of championing a discredited movement that claims vaccines cause autism.
A campaign spokesman for Rep. Carolyn Maloney said the congresswoman now “does not believe there is a link between vaccinations and autism.”
“Congresswoman Maloney believes in the efficacy and safety of vaccines. She was at the forefront of efforts to protect funding for vaccines in the Affordable Care Act,” the rep said.
But for years, Maloney beat the drum for authorities to the study for any links between vaccines and autism — even saying the denials of a connection reminded her of people who dismissed tobacco smoking as a cause of cancer.
“And you’ve got to listen, you know, to — I remember smoking. I was on the City Council. I sat through so many hearings where they vowed smoking was not bad for your health. It’s common sense it was bad for your health,” Maloney said during a November 2012 congressional hearing on autism.
“The same thing seems to be here with vaccinations. There’s too much verbal evidence coming from parents where they break down,[and say], ‘I had a normal child, I gave him a vaccination, and then they came down with autism,’” Maloney said.
She also said at the hearing, “I must have had 50 different parents write me or come to me and say, I had a healthy child, yet then they have 10, 9, 6 vaccinations at one time, and that child changed overnight and was knocking their head on the wall, and it was a changed child. In fact, I had a family in my office today where the mother broke down crying, saying, ‘My child was wonderful, bright, precocious, talking. She took those vaccinations, and the child became very incredibly sick and has never recovered.’ So, I’m interested in any studies on vaccinations and trying to understand that.”
Maloney’s provocative testimony was even favorably chronicled in the anti-vaccine book entitled, “The Autistic Holocaust: The Reason Our Children Keep Getting Sick.”
During the same hearing, Maloney stressed she was not opposed to vaccinations per se to prevent the spread of infections and disease.
“I’m for vaccinations. They prevent diseases. I’m totally for it,” she said.
But she also argued vaccinations for infants should be spread out instead of given at once or in rapid succession.
Medical experts said claims of a link between vaccinations and autism have been debunked over and over again.
“It is a settled issue and one parents should take great comfort in. There are now numerous studies — over ten — by investigators around the world that have shown there is no shown association between vaccines and autism. Multiple vaccines taken at one time, also no association,” said doctor Willam Schaffner, an infectious disease professor at Vanderbilt University Medical School.
Both the federal Centers for Disease Control and the New York State Health Department have statements on their websites saying vaccinations are safe and have no links to developmental disorders, including autism.
Maloney 72, first elected in 1992, is running for re-election this year in a district that includes Manhattan’s East Side and parts of Brooklyn and Queens.. She faces a Democratic primary from hotel magnate Suraj Patel, 34.
Among the prominent Americans who have pushed the anti-vaccine agenda are President Trump, Robert Kennedy Jr. and actor Robert De Niro.
Trump tweeted in 2014, “Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!” And during a presidential debate, he said, “I’ve seen it — a beautiful child — went to have the vaccine, a week later got a tremendous fever, got very, very sick, now is autistic.”
Kennedy had to apologize after once invoking the “holocaust” when discussing vaccinations and autism.
And De Niro, who has an autistic son, approved the screening of the anti-vaccine film “Vaxxed” at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival by the discredited researcher Andrew Wakefuleld. He withdrew the film after a crescendo of criticism from the medical community.