It is very easy for us to forget how thoroughly modern medicine has changed our lives. We no longer have to fear for ourselves and our family as plague tears through the community. Infectious disease is no longer the main cause of death in America and Europe, as it once was. In large part we have to thank vaccination for this miraculous progress. So why do so many people continue feeling nervous about vaccines?
It's about time. Researcher Andrew Wakefield's 1998 MMR study -- which kicked off a decade of misplaced fears about vaccines causing autism before the study was officially retracted -- has been declared an "elaborate fraud" by the British Medical Journal (BMJ). I fully hope that, as BMJ's editors asserted, "Clear evidence of falsification of data should now close the door on this damaging vaccine scare," because when the public's faith in vaccines wavers and vaccination rates decline, children fall ill from vaccine-preventable diseases, and some of them die.
Have you ever wondered why, exactly, vaccines are erroneously associated with autism? I'll tell you: In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield held a press conference to announce that his research had revealed a possible link between the MMR vaccine and autism. He published his findings in the respected independent medical journal The Lancet, and spent the next few years promoting his vaccine-autism "concerns" through media outlets like the TV news magazine 60 Minutes....more