NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A state senator’s controversial comments linking vaccines to abortion fetuses and autism had medical professionals reassuring the public that vaccines are safe.
"Many are saying that these vaccinations pose danger, for example when Sen. Lambert and I were growing up autism did not exist,” said Sen. John Milkovich, D-Shreveport, on the Senate floor.
He then brought up aborted fetuses.
"Did you know that tissue from aborted babies is now used in vaccines? Did you know that vaccines use aluminum which is known to be a neuro-toxin?” said Milkovich.
Milkovich took to the Senate floor to speak against a bill by fellow Democrat, Sen. Regina Barrow of Baton Rouge.
The legislation would let adults who get vaccinations in the future opt to have that information go into a state database. Barrow said with some vaccinations available in retail outlets, the bill aims to prevent duplicate vaccinations.
"So, if an individual does not want to, they don't have to,” she said.
The state health department maintains vaccines are safe.
"There's absolutely no link to autism, it does not contain any mercury, those are two of the common myths that are out there but they're both untrue, it's a very safe vaccine and quite effective as well,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Assistant State Health Officer at the Louisiana Department of Health.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana is a physician and strong proponent of vaccinations.
"There's now outbreaks of people with measles because of this fake news regarding measles vaccine,” Cassidy said in response to questions about Milkovich’s comments.
He was also asked about vaccines and fetuses.
"And the connection to aborted children, there is tissue from 1963, the early sixties in which some fetal material was used to create vaccines, but that’s what, 56 years ago and the Catholic Church has said that the benefits of immunization so outweigh this concern that the Catholic Church strongly recommends immunizing children,” Cassidy stated.
Dr. Kanter urges parents to get their information from reliable sources.
"I would advise parents their first source of information should be kids’ pediatrician, that’s the best place to go, and if you want to read online I would start with reputable sites like the CDC, and the WHO, there’s just a lot of lies and misinformation out there and I really hate to see more parents fall victim to it,” Kanter stated.
As the U.S. faces the worst outbreak in measles in decades, Kanter said people should keep in mind that measles can result in serious health problems.
"We don’t know yet what the complications will be from the kids who have contracted measles but we do know a certain percentage of them will get encephalitis or brain damage, a certain percentage will have long-term disability and a couple might die, so I don’t want anyone’s child to be a statistic,” Kanter stated.