John Rich Sparks Debate Over Vaccines and Autism

john rich sparks debate over vaccines and autism

John Rich, best known as part of the country music duo Big & Rich posing in Nashville, Tennessee in January 2019. He’s shared vaccine theories online linking autism with vaccinations. John Rich of the band Big & Rich is seen at Mount Richmore on January 05, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

Country music singer John Rich is receiving social media backlash after he shared multiple tweets about the alleged links between vaccines and autism.

Rich, one half of the music duo Big & Rich, asked his followers if they were “awake yet” after he shared video footage that he claimed showed a vaccinologist admitting that a vaccine was never checked for a link to autism. Twitter users reacted strongly to Rich’s tweets, with some applauding him for speaking out, while others slammed him for launching unverified and unfounded claims.

Rich said that “according to the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] 1 in 36 American kids are diagnosed with autism,” although the CDC categorically stated on December 1, 2021, that “vaccines do not cause autism.”

The links between vaccines and autism have been touted for many years, but multiple studies, according to the CDC have disproved these links. While they have acknowledged a rise over time in the rate of children having autism, Robert Schechter and Judith K. Grether’s research disproved the theory in a 2007 study for the Immunization Branch of the California Department of Public Health.

Rich shared a captured video that allegedly shows Dr. Kathryn Edwards, a vaccinologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, during an online deposition on August 25, 2020, being questioned by Aaron Siri, representing the International Children’s Advisory Network.

“In your opinion, did the clinical trials [inaudible], many of which are still on the market today, were they designed to rule out that the vaccine causes autism?” the voice seemingly belonging to Siri said.

Dr. Edwards paused for a while and replied: “No. You’ve badgered me into answering the question the way you want me to but I think that that’s probably the answer.” Edwards then has to confirm that that is her “accurate and truthful testimony.”

Offering his own context to the clip, Rich wrote on Twitter: “This is a deposition of the most highly ‘regarded’ vaccinologist in the USA admitting under oath that they NEVER CHECKED for a side effect of the Hep2 vaccine being Autism. AWAKE YET?”

Further adding fuel to the fire of debate, Rich shared a study published in the National Library of Medicine, which he suggested proves that the rate of children with autism has risen from 4 in 10,000 American kids in the 1970s, to 1 in 36 in 2023.

“Something terrible has happened and no one will tell us the truth,” he wrote.

Rich’s statement comes from a March 2023 report from the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2020, they found that 1 in 36 children, or 2.7% of eight-year-olds had been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. It also revealed there was a higher prevalence rate among Black non-Hispanic, Hispanic, and Asian or Pacific Islander children compared to White non-Hispanic children.

While Rich seemed to stand by his statements, responding to comments with further links and points of his own, he was criticized by others.

“And you got your degree from which medical school?” one user wrote, as another asked: “Still wondering what medical schooling you had” while including the hashtags “fake cowboy, fake expert.”

Echoing the 2021 CDC report, @DaisyMc1975 said: “No vaccine gives a child Autism. Stop spreading that falsehood, as a parent of an autistic teen I know for a fact that is false, no one knows more about Autism then parents of Autistic kids. No one does more info research for everything associated with it.”

While some slammed Rich for his claims, others were happy to see him share his thoughts, and pointed to the rise in popularity of notable anti-vaccination politician Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

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