NBC News reports that the Danish researchers also found that “Kids who got the MMR vaccine were seven percent less likely to develop autism than children who didn't get vaccinated.” Now, the researchers do not say there is a causation between getting the vaccine and not having autism. So while “children who had no childhood vaccinations were 17 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism than kids who did get recommended vaccinations,” may seem like smoke—it isn’t exactly fire either.
The study is not a controlled one and so there are a variety of variables unaccounted for. The authors note it was also very possible that the onset of autistic symptoms may lead parents to not vaccinate their child.The fact of the matter is that children with siblings who have autism are seven times more likely to be diagnosed with autism themselves. Unvaccinated children may be in families with higher rates of autism in their siblings, in the first place.
The United States has seen a rise in measles cases over the past decades, driven in no small part by anti-vaccination sentiments. States like Texas even have representatives still under the delusion that there is no need for vaccinations since we have things like Advil and penicillin. Hopefully some of these elected officials can be disabused by these notions by listening to experts.
The problems we have in the anti-vaxxer movement are similar to the the ones we have in the climate change movement—people treating anecdotal evidence with higher validity than broader data. It’s understandable. Wrapping one’s mind around something you cannot see—millions of data points and cases—is much harder than listening to a handful of emotionally charged stories from parents dealing with life changing news.