Category Archives: Rebuttal

Italian Court overturns decision that compensates for autism

In June 2012, a labor court in Rimini, Italy granted compensation to the family of a child named Valentino Bocca. The family alleged that the MMR vaccine Valentino received as part of his childhood immunizations caused his autism, and the court compensated them on that theory. The lower court’s decision was never on very firm grounds: it depended in part on testimony of an expert decision who relied, in turn, on Andrew Wakefield’s debunked studyBut it was used by anti-vaccine activists as part of their claims.

On February 13, 2015,  a Court of Appeals in Bologna overturned the decision–a decision that apparently lead to a decline in MMR immunization rates in Romagna, an historical district of Italy.


The Court of Appeal accepted the appeal filed by the Ministry of Health (ministero della Sanità). The expert appointed by the court of appeal highlighted that there is no scientific evidence supporting a link between vaccines and autism. The expert highlighted that the lower court expert was wrong to rely on the study by Andrew Wakefield, a study debunked and rejected by the scientific community.

The expert also highlighted that while there is some temporal link between Valentino’s MMR vaccine and autism, in the sense that the diagnosis of autism followed the vaccine, the temporal connection was not strong and does not itself support a causal connection.

The expert, Dr. Lodi, stated that “In the medical history of the child there is not an objective temporal correlation between the gradual emergence of autistic disorders and the MMR vaccine, there is only the fact that the two events occur one before the other, but as shown, this is not sufficient to relate the two events “.

The Bocca’s lawyer, Luca Ventaloro, claimed that he will appeal to the Supreme Court of Cassation (Corte Suprema di Cassazione), the highest court in Italy.”

Do vaccine mandates or liability violate informed consent?

“Several people have asked me whether having school mandates is in tension with the idea of informed consent. The answer is no. While school mandates have some effect on parental autonomy, the doctrine of informed consent should not be conflated with autonomy.

For a somewhat different reason, imposing sanctions on those who do not vaccinate is also not a violation of informed consent.”



Why a law allowing teen agers to consent to certain vaccines is justified

This post, written with Arthur Caplan, responds to Alan Phillips’ claim that a law proposed in New York, a law that would allow teen agers to consent to certain vaccines – the HPV and Hepatitis B vaccine – without needing parental permission is unconstitutional and illegal. The post explains why the law is both legal and justified.



Responding to Maine’s Coalition for Vaccine Choice’s Law:

The Maine Coalition for Vaccine Choice proposed a very problematic law that could mislead parents into not vaccinating because of false claims and would go against public policy. This post explains the problems with the law.




Walker-Smith’s acquittal does not exonerate Andrew Wakefield

This post responds to the anti-vaccine claim that by reversing the finding that Prof. John Walker-Smith, the senior author on Andrew Wakefield’s Lancet paper, was guilty of serious ethical violations, a British Court also cleared Andrew Wakefield from the findings of a General Medical Council panel against him. No, that is incorrect.