The other day I was watching the show Private Practice on Netflix. The episode I had been watching was about the mother of an autistic boy who had just come back from overseas, with her she brought back her three sons who had contracted measles. The mom refused to vaccinate her younger two sons, because her oldest has autism which she attributes with the vaccines. By the end of the episode one of her three sons die so the pediatrician without the mothers consent went and gave the vaccine to the youngest son, so he wouldn’t die also.
This episode had me start thinking about whether vaccinating children was actually this controversial, and to my surprise it was, there are thousands of articles on whether vaccines cause autism or other cognitive/ developmental problems, but none of them had hard factual evidence connecting autism to vaccines except one discredited article by Andrew Wakefield.
Andrew Wakefield was a British doctor who in 1998 published a paper saying that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccines have been directly linked to the cause of autism in children. Wakefield had conducted the study with 12 other scientists/ doctors. He himself had written the final paper alone with none of the other scientists/ doctors present.
The “findings” that Andrew Wakefield had supposedly found have been discredited by the British General Medical Council in 2004. Wakefield had been given many opportunities to redo the experiment or even come out and say that he had given false information but he had declined both offers. Wakefield and the 12 other doctors/ scientists have since had their medical licenses taken away, and are now seen as a joke in the scientific community.
Some parents don’t vaccinate because they believe that the vaccines cause autism, others think that the diseases we have vaccines for are no longer an a problem, because they’ve been completely wiped out. Some parents do vaccinate just on their own schedule. Not the schedule that the government nor the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommend.
The government and the CDC recommends that each child should get 14 different vaccinations against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, diphtheria, Hib, Hepatitis A and B, flu, pertussis, polio, pneumococcal, rota-virus, and tetanus. They recommend that these 14 shots be administered within the first 6 years of a child’s life.
In states like New York public schools are trying to get the government to pass a bill saying children have to get vaccinated in order to be let into the school. Parents are trying to get federal laws passed saying that if they don’t want to vaccinate their kids they don’t have too, because it is their right as the child’s parent to refuse the vaccinations. Physicians are trying to get childhood vaccinations be a federally mandated law with serious repercussions to those parents who fail to obey by that law. Physicians are advocating for this law, so that no outbreaks happen like back in 2015 when we had a measles outbreak in Disneyland.
It seems like this topic has been controversial for decades, and will continue to be controversial. But as of now there is no actual evidence linking vaccines to causing developmental problems. Yet parents are still refusing to vaccinate their kids. Would you want your child sitting next to a non vaccinated kid in class who might be carrying the measles virus with the potential of causing an outbreak in the school?