First, let’s look at how it all began.
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield plus others authored a report investigating the link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine in twelve recently diagnosed children, eight of whom has just received the vaccination. In the discussion section of the report the authors concluded that they, "did not prove an association between the MMR vaccine and the syndrome described."
I hope right now you’re thinking “Wait...what? They didn’t prove a link? But how did…”
In 1998, three factors coalesced to launch the autism-vaccine debate both in the UK and the United States. First, according to Paul Offit, co-creator of the rotavirus vaccine and head of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, a dormant vaccine fear existed from the 1980s in response to a TV show called “DPT Vaccine Roulette.” Second, panicked parents of children with autism were desperately searching for an answer, a cause, a cure for their children. And the third factor served as the catalyst to trigger the hysteria- Wakefield’s suggestion at a press conference that the link between the vaccine and autism did in fact exist.
So far we have (1) a paper that doesn’t prove anything, (2) a dormant fear of vaccines, (3) panicked parents and (4) a hint that there may be correlation between the MRR vaccination and autistic symptoms. Maybe parents get upset for a while, but then we’d come to our senses right? We’d listen to all the scientists telling us there was no proof, no reason to believe any link existed?
Twelve years later, we all know that’s not what happened. In my next post we’ll keep digging.