The people behind the anti-vaccine documentary Vaxxed are still extremely busy, touring it at theaters across the country, legally threatening a woman who publicly criticized it, and now, filming a series of testimonials from parents who believe their children were injured by vaccines. The most high-profile comes from Nico LaHood, the District Attorney in Bexar County, Texas, whose segment was partially filmed in his office.
“I’m here to tell you,” he says, from behind his desk, in a preview posted online on August 26. “Vaccines can and do cause autism.”
Vaccines do not cause autism, but LaHood and his wife Davida believe that both their son and daughter were injured by vaccines. They spoke to Polly Tommey, who works with Vaxxed filmmaker Andrew Wakefield, the former gastroenterologist who lost his medical license after authoring a debunked study linking the MMR vaccine and autism. Tommey has said her son Billy became autistic after receiving the MMR vaccine.
The LaHoods told Tommey that their daughter as an infant was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, which they believe was actually an allergic reaction to a vaccine. They similarly believe that their son developed “tics” after getting vaccinated at 18 months, and indicate that the boy now has autism.
“He’s almost six and he’s not able to verbally communicate,” Davida LaHood says, in tears.
Nico LaHood claims in the video that he has a friend who’s “on the bench for Merck — he’s a scientist, he was in clinical development,” who didn’t vaccinate his children.
“That says a lot, doesn’t it,” Tommey says thoughtfully.
The video relies on a mixture of things favored by the Vaxxed filmmakers: genuinely upsetting footage of distraught parents, and the veneer of authority conveyed by someone who is an apparent “expert” in determining danger. The fact that LaHood is a prosecutor is heavily and repeatedly stressed.
“I seek truth,” he says. “I’m a prosecutor for a living. So I look for truth. I have to follow evidence wherever it leads me. So I took that same approach in looking at this issue.”
At the same time, LaHood—an elected official—accuses “our own government” of “deception,” namely lying about vaccine safety. “Whether it’s intentional or not, the result is the same.”
LaHood also praises the Vaxxed filmmakers: “You’ve handled this documentary like a trial.”
A recent, unrelated thread on LaHood’s Facebook page has devolved into an argument between the DA and the public about vaccines.
As the San Antonio Current notes, LaHood made is comments at a time when a growing number of Texas parents are choosing to exempt their children from vaccines for non-medical reasons. It’s part of a 12-year upward trend, which public health officials in the state are warning could leave school-age children vulnerable to preventable diseases like measles and whooping cough.