At KSRI, we wish to point out that there are more reasonable positions to take than the ones that your neighbors, family and local community may support. It is difficult to take the rational high road sometimes, especially when it involves children. So, with a topic that invokes dreadful fears about making children ill, the emotion runs at an all-time high. This is a hugely important topic that everyone should know about, even if you do not have children — do vaccines cause autism.
The answer is “No”. VERY clearly “No”.
But the story of why this fear came to be so pervasive in our society is complicated and painful, involving bad science, manipulation, media coverage, celebrity endorsements, ignorance and misplaced concerns.
The story began with a published study whose results took on a pervasive life of their own, quickly leaving the realm of science to become a public health scare and a frustrating fight between false ideas and a solid body of scientific evidence.
You may have heard about the person who started the dispute named Andrew Wakefield. The story of researcher Andrew Wakefield and the anti-vaccination (antivax) movement is described here (Please note that real physicians write the cited blog, which is a highly credible source.) Another rundown of Mr. Wakefield and his sordid history is here.
There is more you should know. Controversy swirls around Mr. Wakefield. The journal that published Wakefield’s original work that started the controversy retracted it. That means it must no longer be considered as part of the scientific record of literature.
Wakefield has his medical license revoked in the UK.
Andrew Wakefield was paid by lawyers to undermine the MMR vaccine (measles/mumps/rubella).
He was found to have faked data linking autism to vaccines.
This story on Andrew Wakefield and the MMR – autism fraud contains a comprehensive timeline of how this unfolded.
With a series of stories spread over seven years, Brian Deer has pursued a landmark public interest investigation for The Sunday Times of London and the United Kingdom’s Channel 4 Television network into allegations – first made in Britain – linking the three-in-one measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (MMR) with claims of a terrifying new syndrome of bowel and brain damage in children. These allegations led to a decade-long health crisis in the UK, and sparked epidemics of fear, guilt and infectious diseases, which have been exported to the United States and other developed countries, spawning every kind of concern over vaccinations.
Most importantly, you should know the truth about vaccinations and the hazards of NOT vaccinating:
While there are many debatable issues in the autism world, vaccines are no longer among them. This is a blessing for parents, children, and pediatricians. The real tragedy of the suggestion that vaccines cause autism is that millions of research dollars have been diverted to disprove a relationship that never existed to begin with.
In The Vaccine War, FRONTLINE lays bare the science of vaccine safety and examines the increasingly bitter debate between the public health establishment and a formidable populist coalition of parents, celebrities, politicians and activists who are armed with the latest social media tools — including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter — and are determined to resist pressure from the medical and public health establishments to vaccinate, despite established scientific consensus about vaccine safety.
There is a giant amount of material on the web supporting each viewpoint – pro and anti-vaccination. If this is a topic on which you have personal interest, we strongly suggest the following credible references: Science Based Medicine blog, Respectful Insolence blog , Autism’s False Prophets by Paul Offit , CDC:Vaccine Safety
Wakefield, while discredited in every way – by having his paper retracted, his license revoked and accused of fraud, still has a cult following who claim it is a conspiracy to discredit his work. At this point, with all the evidence against him, it would be an absurd position to defend him. The bottom line is, the risk of not vaccinating your child is far, far greater than the small risk that vaccines will not work or will be harmful to that child. The process of vaccination is one of the greatest human discoveries, saving millions of lives and preventing billions of people from suffering because of diseases that once plagued human society. Please weigh the genuine scientific evidence and decades of positive results before making a decision not to vaccinate.