A very good friend of mine, who’s expecting his first kid soon, posted up recently about the MMR vaccine and how Dr Andrew Wakefield’s research caused a lot of harm.
When my daughter was due her MMR jab, I did considerable research into this subject, but that pre-dates this blog by some years, so I thought it would be useful to summarise the several weekends of research I did on the subject at the time.
For things like this, I always like to go back to the source, as the internet is full of opinion and conjecture. This is the link for the full text of the original research that ex-Dr Wakefield did, ignore his summary and read it:
Note at the very bottom it says this:
“We did not prove an association between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and the syndrome described. Virological studies are underway that may help to resolve this issue.”
“If there is a causal link between measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine and this syndrome, a rising incidence might be anticipated after the introduction of this vaccine in the UK in 1988. Published evidence is inadequate to show whether there is a change in incidence or a link with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.”
I don’t think the published evidence was/is inadequate, just do a Google image search and checkout the rates of autism yourself. Take a look at the graphs and see if you can spot the step change when the MMR was introduced? (Pssst you won’t find one.)
“We have identified a chronic enterocolitis in children that may be related to neuropsychiatric dysfunction. In most cases, onset of symptoms was after measles, mumps, and rubella immunisation. Further investigations are needed to examine this syndrome and its possible relation to this vaccine.”
The point I’m trying to make is that ex-Dr Wakefield’s own research said they hadn’t found a link, the incidence data didn’t support a link, that there might be a link just because A followed B, sometimes, but that further research was necessary.
So now go back and read the summary of findings at the start, which begins:
“Onset of behavioural symptoms was associated, by the parents, with measles, mumps, and rubella vaccination in eight of the 12 children, with measles infection in one child, and otitis media in another.”
Note is says: “by the parents”. Nothing in the rest of the findings says he found a link. That’s because he didn’t, and he said he didn’t, as I’ve quoted above.
I actually feel a bit sorry for ex-Dr Wakefield, as it seems to me that somehow he got caught up in all this and misrepresented his own findings to people who it appears, didn’t do a very good job of reading the research in question.
Now having said all that, it’s absolutely true that vaccines are not completely safe. A small minority of people will respond badly to them, that’s just a fact. But in general*, the good vaccines do FAR outweighs the risk of side effects. But do your own research, the internet is a marvellous tool, as long as you’re careful what you read.
[* In case you hadn’t worked out already I’m definitely pro-vaccine, but I say “in general” as in my mind, based on the evidence I could find, the jury is still a long way out regarding the HPV vaccine.]