The American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM), a national medical specialty society representing primary care and public health physicians who administer individual and community immunization programs, has called on ABC to cancel or revise the medical content of its program, "Eli Stone," which suggests a connection between vaccines that contain thimerosal and autism. The show is scheduled to air Thursday, January 31.
As reported in The New York Times, the show depicts a lawyer who argues in court that a vaccine caused a child's autism. While the program includes statements that science has refuted any link between autism and vaccines, the episode's conclusion provides viewers with a very different impression; the jury awards the mother $5.2 million, leaving audiences with the potentially lethal misimpression that vaccines cause autism.
"In light of the numerous, extensive, and authoritative studies that show no link between vaccines containing thimerosal and autism, ABC's "Eli Stone" could seriously damage ongoing public health efforts to increase immunization rates across all populations," said Michael D. Parkinson, MD, MPH, FACMP, president of the ACPM. "We feel that ABC's decision to promote this false belief has the potential to significantly thwart important advancements we've made towards protecting our nation's public health from disease."
ACPM's President-Elect and Executive Director of the Jefferson County Department of Health in Colorado added, "The parents I talk to everyday don't understand the difference between the various vaccines that we recommend for their children and anything that implies that there is a danger with one will lead many parents to neglect them all."
The American College of Preventive Medicine is the national professional society for physicians committed to disease prevention and health promotion. ACPM's 2,000 members are engaged in preventive medicine practice, teaching and research. ACPM advocates for the specialty of preventive medicine and for national policies that promote health and prevent disease. ACPM maintains an active presence on Capitol Hill and among the many federal agencies and non-governmental organizations that shape national health policy.