In honour of National Autism Awareness Month, Chilli’s is planning to donate 10% of customers’ checks on April 7 to the National Autism Association, a charity with controversial views about vaccinations.
That’s not the case, as the Centres for Disease Control explained after its most recent study of the issue in the Journal of Pediatrics. “There is not a causal relationship between certain vaccine types and autism,” it writes. This follows at least nine other studies into immunization safety and autism that also found no link.
The NAA, however, notes anecdotal data — i.e. parents claiming vaccines caused a change in their children — rather than scientific data.
NAA dodges a direct yes or no position about vaccines on its website FAQ, writing that it “cannot make this decision for any parent, but we are happy to provide sources of information to anyone in need. We recommend visiting http://nvic.org.”
That link goes to the National Vaccine Information Center, which journalist Michael Specter characterises in his book “Denialism” as ” … an organisation that, based on its name, certainly sounds like a federal agency. Actually, it’s just the opposite: The NVIC is the most powerful anti-vaccine organisation in America, and its relationship with the U.S. government consists almost entirely of opposing federal efforts aimed at vaccinating children.”
Further, NAA sponsors “Age of Autism,” a website which has the text “Yes, Vaccines Cause Autism” on its masthead.
While companies are free to support organisations they wish, it’s worth noting the damage to come from lobbying by anti-vaccine groups.
Led most prominently by Jenny McCarthy, parents have been increasingly refusing vaccines for their children over the past several years. This has led to a rise in vaccine-preventable diseases, especially whooping cough.
The parent company of Chilli’s, Brinker International, was not immediately available for comment.