health policy · infectious disease · news · pediatrics

Vaccine Hoax

According to the NY Times, there’s a new report discrediting the Wakefield study.  Andrew Wakefield’s unethical science — including undisclosed financial gain and altered data — is one of the worst medical moments of the modern era, right up there with Tuskegee.

I once reported on an anti-vax rally for a summer internship, and it was one of the saddest moments of my medical education.  Hundreds of parents swarming around Capitol Hill, listening to Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey blather on about medicogovernmental conspiracy.  Oh no!  We actually want to prevent diseases that kill more than three-quarters of the world’s children! (Fun fact: Did you know that measles kills more children under age 5 than HIV/AIDS?)

Once, a long time ago, when I was in India, I saw a man crouching by the tourist gate of the Mughal fort we had just visited.  Then I looked again and saw that he wasn’t crouching at all.  His right leg was withered away, a crumpled bit of skin lying uselessly at his side.  Polio.  It seems like something so far away, so ancient. Until suddenly you see it and smell it and then somehow it’s not so far away at all.

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4 thoughts on “Vaccine Hoax

  1. Sad thing is this will be out of the news cycle by the end of the week without any true public education campaign about what a m***erf***er Wakefield is. The anti-vaccincists will stay entrenched and continue to seduce scared parents of newly diagnosed autistic children with their sweet nectar of something/soemthing to “blame” for their child’s diagnosis, parading around Wakefield as a martyr for the cause.

    I’m afraid a lot more children are going to have to die of preventable disease before people wise up. I hope I’m wrong though.

    1. Yeah, I know. This article was buried in the depths of the Times’ website; I only stumbled on it by accident when searching for something else.

      I do have to say, though, that I haven’t had a parent refuse a standard vaccine (except Gardasil) on my Primary Care and Pediatrics clerkships. Not a large sample, of course, but maybe we are making headway after all….

  2. My dad’s an autism specialist and has been saying this for years.

    I had pertussis as a kid (around age 12, when it appears the first DPT vaccine “wears off”) and even though it wasn’t a terrible disease that would permanently harm me, it was rough – nothing an infant wants! I wish people would realize what’s at stake. As if polio, etc., just died out naturally!

    1. I think anyone with actual knowledge of how vaccines work would understand the implausibility of the anti-vax argument.

      Pertussis is an awful disease. I had it myself, during second year of med school. Not fatal or permanent, obviously, but it’s almost impossible to work when you’re coughing and vomiting every half-hour! They don’t call it the hundred-day cough for nothing.

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