Chili's has canceled a fundraiser for a group that states on its website that autism can be triggered by vaccinations, a position that has been widely discredited by the medical community.
Chili’s, which is part of Dallas-based Brinker International, had planned on donating a portion of its sales on Monday to the National Autism Association. On its website, the Massachusetts-based group says it believes that vaccinations can "trigger or exacerbate autism in some, if not many, children."
The belief that the battery of vaccinations routinely given to infants could lead to autism was spurred by a British study that has since been retracted. Many studies have discredited the link.
On its Facebook page, Chili’s said: “While we remain committed to supporting the children and families affected by autism, we are canceling Monday's Give Back Event based on the feedback we heard from our guests. We believe autism awareness continues to be an important cause to our guests and team members, and we will find another way to support this worthy effort in the future with again our sole intention being to help families affected by autism.”
April is National Autism Awareness Month.
Wendy Fournier, president of the National Autism Association, told The Associated Press that she was "shocked" by the backlash and "this group of individuals that is trying to pigeonhole us as anti-vaccine."
Fournier noted that the National Autism Association's focus is on safety issues for children with autism and that it doesn't have any programs related to vaccines.