Vaccines and Autism: Separating Fact from Fiction

Illustration of a person using a magnifying glass to undertake a scientific investigation on the myths linking vaccines and autism

There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that vaccines cause autism. This claim was first made in 1998 in a now-retracted study that had been published in the authoritative scientific journal Lancet. The author of the study had raised concerns about a possible link between (Measles-Mumps-Rubella) MMR vaccine and autism. But numerous studies conducted since then have consistently shown that vaccines do not increase the risk of autism. The idea that vaccines cause autism has therefore been thoroughly discredited by the scientific community.

Health Challenge

Take the challenge now and test your knowledge. Can you name the top 5 myths and misconceptions on vaccines that are circulating in African communities? Name them and see how many you got right! With the 21st century African bombarded with misinformation from beyond their culture, it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Don’t miss out on this engaging and interactive experience.


Uncover the truth: Can you name the top 5 African community misconceptions about vaccination? Take the challenge now!

Uncover the truth about African community misconceptions about vaccination!


Uncover the Surprising Myths About Vaccinations in African Communities – Are you aware of all of them?

The belief that vaccines are a form of population control or birth control or that they contain harmful chemicals.
That vaccines are not necessary because the diseases they prevent are not prevalent in Africa.
The belief that traditional remedies and herbs can protect against diseases just as effectively as vaccines.
That vaccines can cause autism or other serious side effects.
The belief that vaccines are not halal or haram (do not follow Islamic dietary laws).

Common Vaccines and Autism Myths and Controversies

  1. The MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine causes autism: This claim was first made in a 1998 study published in The Lancet. In the study a which has since been thoroughly discredited and retracted by the journal.
    • Among the issues identified with the study, the author was found to not have followed proper scientific method, making the study claims weak and without merit. For example, there was no control group to test whether what was being observed with vaccines and autism was a result of coincidence or if needed there was real evidence. According to US Government National Cancer Institute website, a control group is “the group that does not receive the new treatment being studied. This group is compared to the group that receives the new treatment, to see if the new treatment works.” For this case, on vaccines and autism, it means that the researcher had to study children who had not received the MMR vaccine and investigate if autism among them was higher, lower or the same as with the vaccinated children. As this did not happen, independent review found that the authors of the refuted study could not authoritatively determine if the occurrence of autism after receiving the MMR vaccine was caused by the vaccine or if it was just a coincidence. Moreover, there have been numerous scientific studies done thereafter to refute claims of existence of a link between vaccines and autism.
  2. The preservatives in vaccines, such as thimerosal, cause autism.
    • Thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative, was used in some vaccines in the past but has not been used in routine childhood vaccines since 2001. Studies have shown that there is no link between thimerosal and autism.
  3. Too many vaccines given at once can overwhelm a child’s immune system and cause autism.
    • The human immune system is capable of handling many different types of pathogens at once, and children receive far fewer antigens from vaccines than they do from everyday exposure to germs.
  4. The timing of the vaccines can cause autism.
    • There is no evidence to support the idea that the timing of vaccines causes autism. Studies have shown that there is no increased risk of autism among children who receive the recommended vaccines on schedule.

It is important to note that these myths have been debunked by extensive research and scientific studies, and vaccines are safe and effective in preventing serious illnesses.

Care for You and Your Family Starts Here

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Patient Information

I regret that you might not trust us, but please know that the recommendations we are making are made all over the world. While in Africa vaccine coverage is often limited, some countries are lucky to give even more vaccines to their children.

  • I would like you to trust us because we have your child’s best interests at heart. But if you would like, please speak with a healthcare professional near you on the information you have read on our website.
  • You should also know that here at Eastview Family Health, we make sure that our own children have all recommended immunizations and vaccinations, so clearly, we are very confident in vaccinations.

While at the hospital, find out if a doctor, clinical officer or nurse is available to speak with you about vaccines. If not, you can make an appointment to speak to one later. You can also do some reading by yourself on vaccine safety. As you self study, keep in mind that there is a lot of false information about vaccination on the internet. Therefore, it is best for you to use only websites from reputable organizations such as the ones below.

  • World Health Organization
  • U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Visit Website ->
  • Immunization Action Coalition. Visit Website->
  • Other credible websites, especially in the national language(s), including the website of your country’s Ministry of Health. Here you are likely to find well-done national publications with solid information on immunization.

This information on vaccines for babies and children was sourced, then aggregated and edited by our team of health professionals. The key sources are:

  1. United Nations Children’s Fund, ‘IPC for Immunization Package’, UNICEF, New York, 2019.
  2. Immunize.Org (IAC). (n.d.). Vaccine Information You Need From The Immunization Action Coalition. Vaccineinformation.Org. Retrieved June 30, 2022, from

  3. Davidson M. Vaccination as a cause of autism-myths and controversies. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2017 Dec;19(4):403-407. doi: 10.31887/DCNS.2017.19.4/mdavidson. PMID: 29398935; PMCID: PMC5789217.

EastView Family Health DOES NOT endorse or recommend the individuals, services or organizations that are included in our website. Eastview Family Health provides the contact information of healthcare providers and health facilities as a free public service.This contact information is a small subset of the full content in the EastView Family Health Database. Our website services, content, and products are for general informational and educational purposes only. We are NOT affiliated to the indivduals, services or organizations that are included in our website. EastView Family Health DOES NOT provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment; neither does information provided constitute a consultation. For more information hon how to use our website and products, read: Disclaimer. To get to know more about us read: About

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