NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee physician recently elected to Congress is being criticized by top state leaders for alleging without evidence that vaccines may cause autism.

Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Green has since walked back the comments he made Tuesday at a town hall, saying he encourages families to vaccinate their children. On Monday, he also claimed the Centers for Disease Control hid information from the public.

On Thursday, the Tennessee Department of Health issued a brief but direct statement saying vaccines "do not cause autism" but do "save lives."

Earlier in the day, Tennessee GOP U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander tweeted a similar statement.


Neither statement mentioned Green. Health Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hart declined to elaborate, saying the agency's statement spoke for itself.

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