Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wants Americans to remember how crucial vaccines were to overcoming diseases that once terrorized the world.
"When the polio and measles vaccines became available for the first time, parents lined up to make sure their kids would be protected," Warren said at a congressional hearing on Tuesday. "They'd lived in a world of infectious diseases that destroyed children's futures, and they desperately wanted to leave that world behind."
She added, "These vaccines work so well that the memory of these diseases has faded, and the importance of vaccination has become less obvious."
Warren went on to ask Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, about the safety and efficacy of vaccinations. The answers were clear: vaccines are safe and effective.
At one point, Warren asked whether vaccines caused "profound mental disorders" — in a possible jab at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who claimed vaccines led to such problems before later walking back his comments.
Schuchat responded, "No, but some of the diseases we vaccinate against can."
The empirical research backs this up. A 2011 review of the research by the Institute of Medicine found that vaccines are not linked to autism or other serious medical problems. The one study that did find a link between vaccines and autism, published by The Lancet, an esteemed British medical journal, in 1998, was retracted in 2010 when investigators found the results were falsified and the research had been carried out in uncontrolled, unethical settings.