What are the things that a haphazard medical study can do to public perception? For one thing, it can influence the minds of many in a wrong way. This is exactly what happened when a scientific research erroneously concluded that measles vaccines could lead to children’s autism. No matter how many succeeding studies have discredited it, too many people have been influenced by its false premise.
The number of confirmed infected people due to the Disneyland out break last December have grown to 166 cases. It has spread from California to 17 other states including Washington D.C. Doctors and public health officials are having difficulty in convincing parents that measles vaccines are safe and effective and it is to their best interest to have their children vaccinated.
A lot of parents, especially those who are behind the anti-vaccination group are resisting the call for vaccination. They are afraid their children will develop autism. One member, who claimed to have suffered from autism because of measles vaccine is Nicholas Wildman, a six feet tall individual who is already 19 years old but still in diapers. His parents believed that it was the vaccine that lead their son to suffer from the disease.
“I should have never have had him have that vaccine” for measles, mumps and rubella, his mother said.
The controversy started when Dr. Andrew Wakefield fabricated a research which linked measles vaccines to autism. The resulting study was even published in the British Journal the Lancet but was later debunked and retracted for falsification issues. Doctor Wakefield had his licensed revoked because of this.
According to Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, there is no proof that there’s a connection between autism and measles vaccines.
“Absolutely no doubt,” he said. “MMR vaccine does not cause autism. It never made biological sense that it would and now we have all the epidemiological studies showing that it clearly didn’t.”
So how could a fraudulent study attract such attention? “Because we don’t know what the cause or causes of autism was,” said Offit. “Now he’s got a reason, right? He’s got a boogeyman.”
No matter how many times it has been repeated that measles vaccines do not lead to autism, Dr. Offit explained that the present infection is largely associated to the research of Dr. Wakefield
“I think if you ask parents why is it you’re hesitating to get this measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, I think many would say, ‘I still think it’s possible that this vaccine might cause autism.’ “
Still, the doctor said that this is not an “I told you so moment” but rather a time to reconsider and do what is right.