Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Controversial Film Linking Vaccine and Autism Coming to Pittsburgh

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Controversial Film Linking Vaccine and Autism Coming to Pittsburgh

Article excerpt

A controversial film that asserts a government cover-up on a purported link between autism and vaccines will premiere in Pittsburgh on Friday.

"VAXXED," pulled from New York's Tribeca Film Festival in March after groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics voiced concerns to actor and festival founder Robert De Niro, will be shown for seven days at the Parkway Theater in Stowe.

The theater's owner, Aaron Stubna, was contacted by members of a nearly 750-person Facebook group, "Bring VAXXED to Pittsburgh," in an effort to have the movie shown here. The movie, directed by anti-vaccine advocate Andrew Wakefield, revolves around secretly recorded conversations with a scientist from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who alleged that the federal agency omitted data about a link between autism and the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine in a journal article. The CDC recommends children receive a dose of the MMR vaccine between 12 and 15 months old and then again at 4-6 years.

Mr. Stubna contacted the distributor and viewed the movie before deciding to show it at the Parkway Theater, which he bought in 2011 and is hoping to revitalize with an art gallery and microbrewery.

"I thought it was very well done - as a theater owner, I have no problem screening this film," he said. "They call it an anti-vaccination film, which it was not. To me, not knowing much about the subject, what I took from it is that this particular vaccine, MMR, by giving all these different types of vaccinations and mixing them together, it could cause autism. I found it to be a real eye opener."

And that is what some medical professionals in Pittsburgh are afraid of.

"It's a dangerous and misleading attempt to perpetuate a conspiracy theory that is completely discredited," said Arvind Venkat, a physician at Allegheny General Hospital who specializes in educating emergency departments on the acute needs of patients with autism. …

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