Today the CDC “piled on” with new study results showing no link between childhood vaccines and autism. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that a startling number of parents are still not going to feel good about getting their children vaccinated against a range of terrible, avoidable diseases.
And far too many of them will find ways to avoid vaccinations.
It has been 15 years – 1998 – since then Dr. Andrew Wakefield of Great Britain published a paper in Lancet linking the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine with autism. Wakefield distorted data and just plain old lied about his subjects, of which there were only 15, and later resigned due to the controversy.
Sadly, it took until January 2010 – twelve years(!) — for the UK General Medical Council to find his actions fraudulent, for all kinds of reasons. On 24 May 2010 he was struck off the United Kingdom medical register.
But the damage was done. Desperate parents of autistic children, pained beyond measure, began clinging to his falsified research as truth. Hollywood celebs got into the roaring campaign against vaccinations. All flavors of purportedly “scientific” arguments were posited (There are too many shots too soon! There is mercury in the vaccines!…) and on and on.
No voice of reason or science could effectively shut down the misinformation. Many studies looking at all angles of the hypothesis were conducted and the Wakefield findings were repeatedly refuted.
Today’s release from the CDC may help, but it will stir rampant, painful denialism in the true believers – the “anti-vaxxers.”
And too many children will suffer, unprotected.
It may be possible to actually quantify the lives lost due to measles or other diseases in children whose parents denied them protection on the basis of Wakefield’s lies. Someone should do this, but it would meaning opening wounds in tortured, grieving parents. No parent deserves that.
Wakefield is still gadding about in Texas — No one in the UK would have him, so he spent some time over here on the lecture circuit.
He belongs in jail, not behind a microphone.