Why Vaccine-Autism Myth Started and Why it Still Endures Today
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes” -Mark Twain
Andrew Wakefield, a former British doctor, falsely linked the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine to autism in a prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, on February 28, 1998. The paper was eventually retracted, and Wakefield was de-licensed. Unfortunately, Wakefield and the vaccine-autism myth persist.
Though Wakefield was exposed as a fraud, his vaccine-autism myth was persisted, causing confusion and harm globally. The myth was particularly effective in Western societies, where countries like the United Kingdom experience decades-long setbacks to immunizations rates, rates which contributed significantly to the over 12,000 cases of measles experienced by UK families after the Study’s publishing.
“As a family physician with four decades of experience fighting preventable disease around the globe and a professor of anthropology risk, and decision science studying global vaccine confidence, we’ve seen the deadly harm that fraudulent science and unfounded claims can cause. We must vigilant if we are to avert epidemics that would have been prevented were if not for vaccine denial, ” said Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH and Heidi Larson.
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