Tonawanda News

Columns

May 1, 2014

WALLACE: Anti-vaxxers are hurting us all

Tonawanda News — It’s National Infant Immunization Week. But unfortunately, we seem to be regressing as a society where immunizations are concerned.

Measles, a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects young children, is making a comeback and parents’ refusal to have their children vaccinated is the cause. 

Measles has infected 129 people in 13 states in 2014, the most in the first four months of any year since 1996, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in April.

California has seen 58 cases, New York has had 24 and Washington state has had 13. Symptoms of measles include fever, a runny nose, cough, a distinctive rash all over the body and can be deadly.

Researchers have worked for years to develop immunizations to prevent dangerous and deadly diseases with much success. Diseases like polio, small pox, whooping cough and measles were once eradicated thanks to the vaccines developed to prevent them.

But now, these diseases are returning with a vengeance due to misinformation and urban legend.

The anti-vaxxers, as they are called, are parents who believe that there is a link between autism and vaccines, particularly the measles, mumps, rubella or MMR vaccine. These parents live in a time when they have never seen what these diseases can do and where there is an ever-increasing rate of autism with no explanation.

Where did the idea come from that the MMR vaccine was linked to autism?

The MMR vaccine controversy originated around the 1998 publication of a research paper in the medical journal “The Lancet” by British doctor Andrew Wakefield. The article cited a link between autism and MMR vaccines.

Investigations revealed that the author had multiple undeclared conflicts of interest, manipulated evidence and broke other ethical codes. The article was partially retracted in 2004 and fully retracted in 2010. Wakefield was found guilty by the General Medical Council of serious professional misconduct in May 2010 and was no longer allowed to practice as a doctor. 

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