Frontline (1983– )
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The Vaccine War 

1:07 | Clip
Frontline examines both sides of the debate over vaccines. On one side, the public health community wholeheartedly endorses them. One the other, parents and politicians accuse them of causing disorders like autism.


Jon Palfreman


Jon Palfreman





Episode credited cast:
Lorie Anderson ... Self - Parent
Desi Arnaz ... Self (archive footage)
Lucille Ball ... Self (archive footage)
Donna Bradshaw-Walters ... Self - Pediatrician, Ashland, Or
Arthur Caplan ... Self - Center for Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania
Jim Carrey ... Self - Actor, Parent (archive footage)
Cynthia Cristofani ... Self - Pediatric Intensivist
Emilio Emini Emilio Emini ... Self - Pfizer, Inc.
Anthony Fauci ... Self (as Dr. Anthony Fauci)
Barbara Fisher ... Self - President, National Vaccine Info. Ctr.
Eric Fombonne ... Self - McGill University
Alvaro Fontan ... Self - Father
J.B. Handley ... Self - Founder, Generation Rescue
Anders Hviid ... Self - Dr. Med. Sci., Statens Serum Institut
Hank Jenkins-Smith ... Self - University of Oklahoma


Frontline examines both sides of the debate over vaccines. On one side, the public health community wholeheartedly endorses them. One the other, parents and politicians accuse them of causing disorders like autism.

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autism | vaccine | vaccination | See All (3) »


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User Reviews

Anecdotal evidence and emotion versus empirical data.
1 October 2011 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

As you may be able to tell from my summary, I am NOT without a very strong opinion in the debate about whether to vaccinate or not vaccinate our children--and I am sure this has a lot to do with my loving this episode of "Frontline".

In recent years, one sort of data has become very, very important to some people--anecdotal evidence. Anecdotal evidence means evidence based on personal experiences--and often very strong emotion. And, while anecdotal evidence has some value, some strong advocates of this sort of evidence see no use in other sorts of evidence--evidence derived from double-blinds, strict controls and large numbers of experimental subjects. How this sort of scientific evidence can be so easily dismissed has really baffled me. In this episode of "Frontline", others apparently are worried about this trend as well--how more and more and more kids are not being vaccinated by their parents because of various reports about negative aftereffects from the shots (often from celebrities or posters on the internet).

According to "Frontline", much of the reason many are choosing not to vaccinate is because common diseases from 40-60 years ago are mostly gone--and the need for the shots isn't readily apparent. Further, these folks also say that there is a lot of financial benefit to sell these vaccines--and that is why they still are being widely marketed. However, the scientific community responds that while there are risks associated with ANY vaccine, the risk of death or severe illness are still much greater without the vaccines.

Much of the thrust of the anti-vaccine movement are worries about Autism. They point to the ever-rising numbers of kids diagnosed with this disorder. According to them, vaccines are THE reason for this increase. However, I do know that much of the increase is due to two huge factors: a further broadening of the criteria by which an individual is diagnosed with Autism (it's MUCH easier to make the diagnosis today--mostly because milder cases are identified and wouldn't have been decades ago) as well as a much, much greater awareness of what Autism is and a strong drive to diagnose these individuals as early as possible. Further, the signs of Autism just coincidentally are seen at about age 18-36 months--around the same time most kids are receiving vaccines.

The bottom line is should we trust scientists or an ex-Playboy model (the current voice of the anti-vaccination movement). I know this sounds harsh and a bit smug, but this does cut to the heart of the matter. Also, "Frontline" doesn't equivocate on this either--saying that study after study show no link between vaccines and Autism. And, they point out, that the one original study which said there MAY be a link between Autism and vaccines turned out to be seriously flawed and the researcher admitted his results were 'a mistake'. Yet, oddly, this seemed to have almost no impact on those against vaccines.

My feeling is that if you think vaccinations are good, you'll appreciate my review and this episode of "Frontline"; and if you think vaccines are the devil, you'll think I am a total idiot and hate the review and the "Frontline" folks for having made this particular show. I loved how the folks at "Frontline" did not equivocate in the least--making an extremely strong and well-reasoned case for vaccinations.

"I know it's true...I read it on the Internet!".

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Release Date:

27 April 2010 (USA) See more »

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1.78 : 1
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