A plan to screen the anti-vaccination documentary Vaxxed at Ventura College has proven controversial in the midst of the campus’s Holistic Health Week. Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe contends that the Centers for Disease Control led an effort to suppress findings surrounding a link between the MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccination and a rise in autism.
The film will be screened and a Q&A with the film’s producer, Del Bigtree, will follow on the evening of Wednesday, April 5, in the Applied Science Center on campus.
Professor of biology Ty Gardner, who teaches human anatomy and general biology, responded to a Facebook posting of the event with critical articles regarding the film.
“Vaxxed seems to be a propaganda film that is pushing the idea that the MMR vaccine in particular, and perhaps the timing of receiving the MMR vaccine, is the cause of autism,” said Gardner. “The reason that I say it’s a propaganda film is that if you watch it you’ll notice that it makes largely emotional appeals, which I think are pretty easy because particularly strong cases of autism can be emotionally disturbing, or emotionally disturbing, period.”
The film alleges that a Centers for Disease Control whistleblower concealed and destroyed data on a 2004 study that showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.
Gardner says that his comments on the Facebook event page were made in order to “provide a few sources where people could rather easily find information to another side to this film.”
Raeann Koerner, chair of the Ventura College Health Education and Kinesiology Department (not the Student Health Center) and one of the coordinators of the Holistic Health Festival, which coincidentally is being held on the same day but has no correlation to the screening, says that the film was brought up at a recent board meeting by a Ventura College professor to be shown in his classroom, but that interest grew large enough that the showing was moved to the Science Center. The film and Q&A are both open to the public, and Koerner says that she expects the conversation to be lively.
“This is a highly controversial subject, and our health department does not officially take any side on the matter of the vaccine’s safety; but what we do as instructors is encourage a healthy discussion on this as well as other controversial health topics, such as abortion, methadone and other things,” said Koerner, also adding genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to the mix.
“Again, I think a healthy discussion after the documentary is good for everybody,” she said.
Vaxxed will be screened at 6:30 p.m. on April 5, followed by a question-and-answer session with the film’s producer, in the Ventura College Applied Science Center, room 150, 4667 Telegraph Road, Ventura. Parking is $2. For more information, visit www.venturacollege.edu.
This story has been updated to clarify the name of the Health Education and Kinesiology Department.