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  • Unscientific Anti-Vaccine Hysteria Could Cause A Measles Epidemic

    Posted on August 15th, 2008 Jordan No comments


    Herd immunity arises when enough of the population has been vaccinated against a disease that individual cases cannot spread to enough people to cause an epidemic. We almost got there with measles near the end of the 20th century. Then Andrew Wakefield published a now-discredited study and the myth began that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism.

    from The Guardian:

    The rate of MMR vaccination fell from 91% in 1997 – approaching the “herd immunity” levels that would virtually wipe out the disease – to 80% in 2003. They have recovered only slightly since then. The reason, almost certainly, is that parents were frightened by a possible MMR “link” to autism. This fear carried little credibility among medical professionals. But it received high, sometimes hysterical, media coverage.

    [...]

    The research that led to suggestions of an MMR “link” with autism came from Dr Andrew Wakefield and 11 colleagues at the Royal Free Hospital, London. It was later discredited. He and two others are now charged with serious professional misconduct before the General Medical Council.

    This myth has received enough sensational press coverage that the suspicion that vaccines cause autism has entered common knowledge. Celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey are furthering anti-vaccination propaganda. This could have serious repercussions on public health in America. Just when science was finally ridding us of a deadly disease, unscientific superstition came along to put us back in danger.

    See Wikipedia for a summary of the “controversy” regarding autism and the MMR vaccine, and Science-Based Medicine for a discussion of vaccine side effects from an MD who specializes in Infectious Disease.

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