Measles outbreak 15 years after false report linked Vaccine to Autism


Measles outbreak affects the Swansea area of Wales, 15 years after a paper by Andrew Wakefield was published suggesting a possible link between MMR vaccine and autism. 1219 cases of measles were reported in southwest region of Wales by the Wall Street Journal between November 2012 and start of July compared to a meagre 105 cases in entire Wales  in 2011.

The outbreak of measles in Whales is alarming because it is a highly contagious disease that could quickly cross borders and reach third world countries, where it is far from being eliminated. As the world has become a global village, the measles virus could then be carried back by travelers to U.S and U.K, making it a pandemic.

In 1998, the results of the study by Wakefield were published in a Welsh newspaper.  It led to a fear of vaccination for measles amongst parents with the result of a severe drop in rates of vaccination of an entire generation of children.  U.S and U.K. were on the verge of total elimination of measles when this upsurge was reported and connected to the inaccurate research paper. Even though the paper was debunked as irresponsible, withdrawn by The Lancet, and Wakefield stripped off his medical license due to severe professional misconduct, the resistance to MMR vaccine persists.

Despite the link between MMR vaccine and autism being disproved, many parents lost faith in vaccinations.  While the panic may have ended, many today still believe in the inherent dangers of vaccination, despite the statistic and research proving otherwise.  In the United States, it is estimated that 10% of parents delay routine vaccinations for their young children and often miss them entirely.

It is necessary for parents check and cross-check before they make any medical decisions for their children Studies are updated every few years and newer research brings to light new discoveries and observations. Also, public health authorities like the Center for Disease Control, CDC, remind us to consider various sources of information before jumping to any conclusions.