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The Latest Reported Measles Outbreak Could Basically Be Blamed on Andrew Wakefield

JACINTA BOWLER
19 FEB 2019

As of Friday, seven cases of measles have been reported to the British Columbia (BC) Centre for Disease Control, in Canada in the latest outbreak of this vaccine-preventable disease.

 

That may seem low compared to the 62 cases currently recorded in Washington State, but with 87.3 percent of two-year-olds in BC having had received their measles, mumps and rebella (MMR) vaccine in 2017, it's a good reminder that even just a few unvaccinated people in the community can have huge unintended consequences.

For example, this current outbreak in BC may have started due to three unvaccinated children who contracted measles during a trip to Vietnam.

After a number of hospital visits and a few days back at school, the youngest was finally tested for measles, and the disease was confirmed.

The dad of these kids has stepped forward to tell his side of the story. Sadly, it shows that even 20 years later, the dangerous and completely false 'vaccines cause autism' myth is still damaging families.

"We worried 10-12 years ago because there was a lot of debate around the MMR vaccine," the father explained in an interview with CBC News. "Doctors were coming out with research connecting the MMR vaccine with autism. So we were a little concerned."​​

 

Given that paediatricians worldwide are constantly working to dispel this MMR vaccine conspiracy, the 'doctor' this dad was likely thinking of is none other than infamous Andrew Wakefield – a discredited former doctor who wrote a controversial, unethical, and fraudulent research paper claiming a link between the MMR vaccine and autism back in 1998.

Since then, researchers across the world have shown time and time again that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism, but sadly Wakefield and his bogus claims keep popping up like a dangerous game of whack-a-mole.

Over 20 years after publishing this 'study', and nearly 10 years after it was retracted and he was struck off the UK medical register, Wakefield's dangerous claims are still causing direct harm to children whose parents have been convinced not to vaccinate in fear of their children developing a lifelong condition.

We need about 95 percent vaccine coverage to stop outbreaks from happening. This means that those who are too young or sick to receive vaccinations are still protected from the diseases that are likely to cause them the most harm.

 

But across the world, we're sitting at around 85 percent – much lower than where we need to be. Another issue is anti-vaxxer pockets, towns or areas where the vaccination rates are lower than the average, usually due to successful misinformation campaigns from anti-vaxxers.

And then there's the issue of anti-vaccination Facebook advertising to vulnerable populations like pregnant women.

The misinformation is out there and it's extremely dangerous, as this outbreak shows - after all, parents just want what's best for their children.

"We're not anti-vaccination," the father explained to CBC News. "We're just very cautious parents and we just tried to do it in the manner that was the least invasive possible on the child's health."

The problem is, whether parents have completely fallen down the antivax rabbit hole, or are indeed just 'cautious' about what vaccines could do to their child, the results are the same if the child doesn't get vaccinated.

"There's nothing else where you would accept a risk of one in 3,000-5,000 of your child dying," said Natasha Crowcroft, from Public Health Ontario in an interview with Global News.

"If you were going to Canada's Wonderland, and they said, 'It's a really safe ride but every 3,000-5,000 rides, someone is going to die,' nobody would get on that ride."

Thankfully, we're seeing another emerging trend - some of the kids who are becoming old enough to decide for themselves are actively choosing vaccines, even if it means defying their parents.

But first, they need to survive until adulthood.