Parents of children aged four to 16 with a predisposition to autism are being urged to complete their vaccine series until the 12th month of school.
The move follows the findings of an independent review of Cochrane review of medical evidence for delaying and rolling back vaccination. It found that the decision to take the children out of the programme at two years, with continuing inoculations only until age four, when their risk of illness would peak, wasn’t based on any solid scientific evidence.
“There is general consensus that vaccination should continue until two years of age, then stop, with unvaccinated children to remain uncontaminated for a reasonable period,” the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance said.
But one of the thinktank’s UK representatives, Matthew Roberts, said the move to delay vaccination for some teenagers was “irresponsible” and unnecessary.
“There is no evidence that vaccinations have significant impacts on autism, and a roll-back in protection for some groups of children is so unscientific that it can only be criticised as scientifically irresponsible,” Roberts told the Guardian.
“We are playing catch-up with other countries and the world’s medical establishment is largely behind what we are doing. That is not quite yet the case, but it is ever likely.”
Researchers found there is no evidence that vaccination for tetanus, diphtheria, polio and measles has a protective effect on certain groups of children with an increased risk of autism.
“There is no evidence that MMR reduces or doesn’t reduce autism in all children but there is evidence that protection decreases in some children,” said Roberts.
The study, titled Vaccinations in a Responsive Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder by June 2018: Choosing more evidence-based and sensitive science, did not examine what vaccinations to delay or what to shorten.
While the parents of children who were diagnosed with autism later in life were urged to continue vaccinations until age four, CVID-19 vaccines for children with a predisposition to autism were now expected to be completed after the 12th month of school.
This would reduce the risk of an unprotected child entering school. “This means that, from 2019, children with a risk of autism spectrum disorder who are in the age group six months to two years, and 13 months to 18 months, would start a full sequence of three vaccinations on the first day of school, rather than be placed on their course after age one,” CVID-19 said.
This is not the first time parents of children with autism have been told to delay vaccinations for their children. Roberts, who co-founded the Stop Autism Now charity and a foundation to study the link between autism and childhood vaccines, said the move was disrespectful to parents, “especially children of autistic parents.”