HOUSTON - A major reversal for Eagle Mountain International Church where families lined up to get vaccines after a church visitor returned from overseas and infected at least 21 parishioners with measles, some as young as 4-months-old.
The church pastor has long been critical of vaccines, suggesting a link to autism.
Michelle Guppy of Cypress told Local 2, "There is a link. You can't dispute it anymore. As I found out, autism is forever. There's no vaccination to reverse the damage of a vaccination."
Guppy said her son Brandon changed within months of receiving a round of vaccinations at age two. She compiled a photo collage illustrating Brandon before autism and vaccinations, alert and babbling, then after.
Now 19, Brandon is non-verbal, severely developmentally delayed, suffers from chronic bowel disease and uncontrollable seizures.
Guppy said, "All of these things are an adverse reaction to the very thing that I was told would save his life one day."
Kelsey-Seybold Clinic Managing Physician for Immunization Practices Dr. Melanie Mouzoon said, "Unfortunately, it's an urban myth that hasn't been completely squashed yet."
Dr. Mouzoon said she is aware of pockets of unvaccinated people in the Houston area.
She said, "It's not as bad as some places in the Northeast, but interestingly enough, it tends to be smaller, private schools, often religious schools and very often upper middle class families that refuse this vaccine."
Mouzoon joins other medical experts who dispute any link between vaccines and autism.
She explained, "Autism has now been shown to be genetic and there are some environmental factors and we know what some of those are. But vaccines are not one of those environmental factors. Vaccines have been studied more than any other environmental component... and do not raise the risk of autism in the family."
Guppy said she's not telling parents not to vaccinate, but is calling for more independent research so families can decide for themselves.
She explained, "As a parent and as a pregnant mom, you research everything. You research the formula, the crib, the car seat. You research everything for the safest possible product for your child. But you don't see parents, young parents, pregnant moms researching what they inject into their children."
Health officials say they do believe parents who are choosing not to vaccinate are well intentioned, but measles are so contagious, 90 percent of people who are not fully immunized can become infected.
Resources for families:
National Vaccine Information Center
National Autism Association http://nationalautismassociation.org/about-autism/causes-of-autism
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute of Mental Health
Copyright 2013 by Click2Houston.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.