The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week that nearly 120 people have contracted measles as a result of the outbreak that started a couple of months ago in Disneyland. According to a CNN poll, nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe parents should be required to vaccinate their healthy children against such preventable diseases.
But some people won’t vaccinate their kids because they still believe the falsehood that it raises the risk of autism. In the face of the measles outbreak, Autism Speaks, a leading autism advocacy organization, urges parents to vaccinate their children.
As reported by the Washington Post, Rob Ring, the chief science officer for Autism Speaks, issued a statement that vaccinations cannot cause the disorder — and telling parents to vaccinate their children.
“Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism,” it said. “The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.”
Could anything be clearer for the people who have shown a disturbing inability to accept hard science? Yes, fear is a powerful motivator, but when it has been proved to be unfounded, when a reputable nonprofit organization that promotes autism awareness and sponsors research in the field is on the record as supporting immunization, fear should fall victim to fact.
The bogus study that started the whole fiction claimed that there was a link between the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. But it was discredited, the journal that published the study retracted it and the British doctor who conducted it lost his medical license.
Last year, The Post reported, Ring also definitively supported vaccinating children. “Autism Speaks’ own policy on vaccines echoes those of other credible health-care organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization,” he said. “We strongly encourage parents to work with their physician to ensure their children receive the full benefits immunization offers in protecting their loved ones against a variety of preventable childhood diseases.”
All states grant parents the right not to vaccinate children for legitimate medical reasons, such as certain medical conditions or for religious reasons. But nonmedical exemptions are increasingly suspect, and since the recent outbreak, more medical professionals have weighed in publicly about the anti-vaccine movement. Some refuse to treat patients who refuse their immunizations.
Said one, as quoted by the Associated Press, “Parents who choose not to give measles shots, they’re not just putting their kids at risk, but they’re also putting other kids at risk — especially kids in my waiting room.”
The risk is especially unfair for people who can’t be vaccinated because they have a medical condition or because they are too young (less than a year old). One doctor interviewed by WWBT-TV in Richmond, Va., said, “I’ve seen the horror stories of what happens from these diseases and now this generation of doctors have never seen them because of immunization practices. One out of a thousand people infected with measles dies. And just because we haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it’s not coming.”