For one of the country's highest-profile vaccine researchers, the accusation that the medical establishment is covering up a link between autism and vaccinations hits a nerve. Peter Hotez's 15-year-old daughter, Rachel, has autism, a fact that colors every aspect of her family's life. Her parents, Peter and Ann, declined to let a reporter meet Rachel but opened up to the Washington Post.
"It is an ever-increasing snowball of horror—one disappointment after another," Peter Hotez says. "You recognize the gravity now as she has become a difficult and impossible teenager." He dismisses the notion that vaccinations are to blame. "This is not something that can be caused by a toxin after birth. This is a deeply patterned mis-wiring in the brain, and this is not how a toxin works."