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Interim Health Commissioner walks back vaccine comments

Posted at 6:29 PM, Feb 09, 2018

After she was criticized for stating the "science is still out" on the link between vaccines and autism on a radio show, Milwaukee interim health commissioner Patricia McManus, walked back her comments in a statement to the Milwaukee Common Council. 

“My daughter received all of her immunizations as a child, and all of my grandchildren continue to do so as well. I do not question the science," McManus said in a prepared statement Friday. "I, as most public health professionals and doctors, believe that the best thing to do is to get immunized.”

McManus made the comments on the radio show The Forum on Thursday, saying, “I mean, there’s still people who believe it. And so I don’t know. I think the science is still out. I think that’s a decision that these families are going to have to make on their own at this point.”

"The information that is out there, especially from CDC they basically say there's been no way of knowing that there has been a linkage between autism and MMR," McManus also said.

A statement from CDC said the opposite: "All reputable scientific studies have found no relationship between MMR vaccine and autism."

A board member for Wisconsin's American Academy of Pediatrics and one of the leading experts on immunizations in the state, Dr. Margaret Hennessy, also disagrees.

"The other thing to keep in mind is there is no controversy in medicine. We're not still thinking there is a link. We are not still looking for a link. There is no link," Hennessy said.

The Common Council approved McManus by a 13-1 vote earlier this week. Head of the Common Council Ashanti Hamilton said he stands by McManus' appointment. 

She was recently appointed the interim commissioner to replace Bevan Baker, who resigned amid a controversy over communication with families of children at-risk for lead poisoning.