In 1998, British doctor Andrew Wakefield recommended further investigation of a possible relationship between bowel disease, autism, and the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine (MMR). A few years later, Wakefield alleged the vaccine was not properly tested before being put into use.
Then the media became involved. They seized Wakefield’s statements and ran. They roused public fear and confusion over the safety of the vaccine. The Lancet, the journal that originally published Wakefield’s work, stated in 2004 that it should not have published the paper. In 2010, the Lancet formally retracted the paper after the British General Medical Council ruled against Wakefield in several areas.
The anti-vaccination movement has a lot of support in the United States as well. Despite evidence to the contrary, including a large number of research studies that have not found a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, the campaign has raged on.
There are a variety of reasons behind vaccine opposition. Some people have to forgo different vaccinations due to a high risk of potential allergic reactions. Religious beliefs are often cited as the reason behind their refusal to get vaccinated, though most mainstream religions do not condemn vaccines.
There was a belief that diseases were disappearing due to better sanitation and hygiene, not vaccines. This has been proven false by the resurgence of previously eradicated infectious diseases. It was also believed that a vaccine wouldn’t protect you. Those who are vaccinated can still get sick, but they will experience mild symptoms.
Many think that pharmaceutical companies can’t be trusted and only want to sell their products, regardless of the impact on the people who use them.
There is the common belief that since these diseases have been eliminated, there’s no need for vaccinations. This is a naive belief because medicine has proved that diseases will only stay eradicated as long as vaccines are still used to prevent them.
Currently the biggest objection in the United States is that the risks outweigh the benefits. Parents claim many medical risks, including autism, as potential consequences of being vaccinated.
MMR and autism have been ignorantly linked by parents, celebrities, and mainstream media. Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey have been some of the most outspoken about this.
They have been on multiple news programs and magazines claiming their son has autism because of being given the MMR vaccine. The media continues to give this more coverage than it deserves and encourages parents to believe it.
In 2011, an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on eight vaccines given to children and adults found that with rare exceptions, these vaccines are very safe.
A 2013 CDC study added to the research showing that vaccines do not cause autism. The study looked at the number of antigens (substances in vaccines that cause the body’s immune system to produce disease-fighting antibodies) from vaccines during the first two years of life. The results showed that the total amount of antigen from vaccines received was the same between children with autism and those that did not have autism.
Credible science based studies and evidence have no place for these “anti-vaxxers.” They are more interested in pseudo-science and sensationalism. They are using the mainstream media to further their cause and the results will prove to be deadly.
Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of Texas Children’s Hospital and President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, states that we can expect a measles epidemic to overwhelm the state by 2018 driven by dropping vaccination rates which have been propelled by the anti-vaccination movement.
Hotez warns the state is at risk because of the rise in the number of parents filing for non-medical exemptions of the Mumps, Measles, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine in recent years. He is predicting a “measles time bombs.”
According to Hotez, measles could erupt in school districts with “low vaccination coverage,” and the most vulnerable are infants too young to be vaccinated. He also writes the “dangers unvaccinated children face are potentially more severe than many may realize.”
The numbers of “conscientious” objections filed in Texas schools has almost doubled since 2010, with a 19-fold increase when compared to 2003, the first year Texas allowed parents to reject vaccines for personal reasons. Only 18 states still allow these types of exemptions because of the risk associated with them.
Dr. Hotez anticipates the number of unvaccinated school children will jump to 50,000 by next year, leaving Texas “dangerously close” to slipping below the 95% coverage rate to prevent outbreaks. Hotez expects a February or March 2018 epidemic.
He emphasized one contagious person could easily infect 12-18 infants too young to get the MMR vaccine. Babies get their first MMR vaccine between 12 and 15 months. During the Disneyland outbreak in 2014/2015, a four-month-old baby was one of nine infants under a year old who caught measles.
Hotez has previously called measles a leading cause of child mortality, killing 100,000 youngsters worldwide each year. “Infantile measles is a scary and lethal disease. It’s why I wrote the article to warn about the risk to unvaccinated infants.”
The doctor from England who began this, Andrew Wakefield has not strayed far from the cause. He relocated to Austin where he and Texans for Vaccine Choice “are heavily promoting the 2016 documentary “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe.” Wakefield directed the film which not only claims links between vaccines and autism but also a cover-up by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The vaccine opposition continues to make outrageous claims which are widely publicized by the media. The hype just does not stand up to the facts:
In 2015 a team of researchers examined the records of 95,727 children in an 11-year window. They studied the risk of developing autism in children who received the MMR vaccine compared with those who didn’t. For children with older siblings diagnosed with autism, the study’s authors said they “found no evidence that receipt of either 1 or 2 doses of MMR vaccination was associated with an increased risk of ASD.”
The work was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
What the numbers do prove is that media outlets and celebrities have no business giving medical advice. If this disturbing trend continues, our children will begin dying from a preventable disease.