Measles surge years after vaccine-autism scare: science denial comes home to roost

The AP reported this past week that the incidence of measles has surged in the UK since Andrew Wakefield and colleagues first made their report in 1998, now considered fraudulent, that cases of autism are linked to administration of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to children.  Many parents in the UK and throughout the world thought that withholding the vaccine from their children would protect them from autism, when in fact it made them more susceptible to contracting measles, and in turn made it more likely that they could spread it to others.  Ironically, this spring is the 50th anniversary of the creation of the first mumps vaccine by American microbiologist Maurice Hilleman, as chronicled in a fascinating story by Richard Conniff at the New York Times.  Hilleman ultimately combined his mumps vaccine with measles and rubella vaccines developed by other scientists to create and refine the MMR vaccine that was the source of the trumped-up controversy.  Now, medical professionals are scrambling to convince hesitant parents to bring in their unvaccinated children, a challenge exacerbated by the lack of a legal requirement in the UK for MMR vaccination.

 

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About Tom Schoenfeld

I am an olfactory neurobiologist who practices his science at Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, MA, in the Department of Biology and Chemistry. I have created "dissectingpublicscience.com" to help educate both my science students and the interested non-scientist about the process of science, by focusing discussions on how science is presented and misrepresented in the public media.
This entry was posted in biology, controls, doubt, medicine, news media, science denial, science writer, scientific method, scientist, unintended consequences and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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