Oh dear… Why can governments and government agencies never come clean, be honest and treat us as intelligent people who can, and would like to, think for ourselves…
As a result of current measles scare in Wales the health agencies are peddling the same old line – MMR is totally safe. There is, and never was, any foundation in the allegations about MMR and autism that caused the disastrous parental failure of trust in the vaccine – as a result of which we now have the potential for a measles epidemic. Sadly, the last of those statements is probably the only one that is true.
What caused the disastrous failure of of trust in the MMR vaccine was not Andrew Wakefield’s research into the possible connection between MMR and autism, but the government’s immediate and categorical denial that there could be anything in his research. So immediate and so categorical was it that parents smelt a ‘cover-up’. But instead of addressing their concerns, the government just continued to categorically deny any connection thereby re-inforcing parents’ cover-up fears.
Many thousands of pages have been written on whether or not there could be a connection between the live measles vaccine and late-onset regressive autism, and there is now significant amounts of research both supporting and rubbishing the theory. (Working both on the precautionary principle and the belief that, however much we have learnt about the human body there is vastly more to be learnt, I would come down on the side of caution and suggest that there could be a link and we would do well to investigate further.)
However, all that Andrew Wakefield claimed back in 1998 was the possibility that, in a very small subset of genetically or environmentally vulnerable children, if you give three live viruses together, ‘you potentially increase the risk of an adverse event [such as autism – my brackets] occurring, particularly when one of those viruses influences the immune system in the way that measles does.’ He did not suggest that you should not vaccinate children against measles, merely that you should do so on a more staggered timetable and with single rather than multiple vaccines.
It is recognised in all medical circles that vaccination can bring great benefits but that it is also a potentially dangerous business with a significant risk of untoward side effects. And that the more vaccines you give together, the shorter the time interval between vaccinations and the younger the age at which the child is vaccinated, the more you ramp up the potential for adverse side effects. That is not to say that you should not vaccinate, but it is very much to say that you should treat vaccinations with respect. For a very balanced and sensible view, see Dr Richard Halverson’s article here on FoodsMatter.
Of the children whose regressive autism (autism which strikes an apparently healthy, normal child around the age of two) appeared to be linked to the MMR vaccine, virtually all were atopic (had a genetic disposition to allergy and immune system problems), were unwell or had already had multiple course of antibiotics when the the vaccine was administered. Yet many millions or other children had the vaccines without apparent ill effect.
Would the sensible, balanced and responsible, if somewhat more labour intensive, approach to the problem not have been to screen each child before the vaccine was administered to ensure that it was in good health, had not had lengthy courses of antibiotics and did not come from an atopic background. If any of these applied then that child should either have been offered single vaccines at appropriately staggered intervals or, if it was just unwell, should have been sent away and its parents told to bring it back when it was in good health.
But that never happened. Parents were just told that Andrew Wakefield was a fraud and that his research was wrong, and that is what they are still being told. Yes, measles is a potentially dangerous disease, and herd immunity from it is a great thing. I just wish the government would go about achieving it in a more intelligent and convincing way.