Vaccinations Spark Debate

March 2015

Despite hundreds of years of success with vaccination, some doctors, along with the general public are beginning to question whether vaccines end or create clinical issues. Vaccines, first used by the Chinese, have existed since around 1000 C.E. Ever since, modern vaccines have spread around the globe and have offered viable solutions to deadly diseases such as polio and smallpox. Recently, their frequency has been increasing with technology and research. Focused research enables vaccines to effectively treat childhood diseases such as measles, mumps, and rubella. Vaccines for these diseases reduce the disease burden greatly.  So, with such a successful history behind, why are people all of a sudden questioning the effectiveness of vaccines? On one hand, concerned parents and professionals question the theory and application of our vaccine policy and its effectiveness. This perspective is passionately countered, as vaccination is considered modern medicine’s greatest achievement. Either way, the debate regarding vaccines continues.

Concerns about vaccines have been contested for decades. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day 12,000 babies are born in need of  fourteen vaccinations before the age of two. While some scrutinize vaccines for safety, CDC insists, “Vaccines reduce the risk of infection by working with the body’s natural defenses to help it safely develop immunity to disease”. The incidence of autoimmune diseases among children is rising to epidemic levels, and concerned people see a correlation to vaccine history. Parents and sceptics want the independently researched scientific data that verifies both safety and efficacy of these medical products and procedures. While vaccine proponents admit some risks, they insist that the success rates outweigh the potential dangers.

Recent opposition to vaccines emerged following the release of a study completed by British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield. The study claimed a link between the MMR vaccine and bowel disease, present in many children with autism. However, those engrossed in the study were horrified to discover that Wakefield has been accused of fabrication in his research and scientific analysis. Health Impact News confirmed Wakefield has repeatedly been accused of fraud. While Wakefield is not necessarily an anti-vaccine doctor, the conclusion of his study stems from his beliefs in problems regarding the combination of  the three vaccines: measles, mumps, and rubella. According to Oxford Journals, Wakefield claimed the three-combo vaccine contained preservatives that are toxic to the central nervous system, later adding that the simultaneous administration of multiple vaccines weakens and overwhelms the immune system.Wakefield’s study resulted in a substantial decline of MMR sales throughout the UK. At least seven medical journals prove Wakefield’s findings inaccurate and unjustified; Experts have found no association between the MMR vaccine and  ASD. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims’ Office of Special Masters confirmed that thimerosal in vaccines does not increase the risk of the disorder. Several demographic analyses have also found that autism rates continued to rise even after thimerosal was removed from all vaccines except some flu shots. Therefore, the connection between autism and MMR vaccines Wakefield presented is considered merely coincidental.

Wakefield’s study depicts the level of controversy that has surrounded the use of vaccines. Experts argue that studies such as Wakefield’s lack adequate scientific evidence, yet they still succeed in creating doubt regarding vaccine safety. Links between certain vaccines and diseases remain available for debate, but those fixated on autism’s relation to MMR vaccines should become aware of its fabrications.