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Mmr: immune from criticism

MagazineMay 1998 (Vol. 9 Issue 2)Mmr: immune from criticism

Recently, after the Royal Free Hospital in London published a study in The Lancet showing a possible association between the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, the government and the medical community rushed forth to declare that this entire business is sheer coincidence

Recently, after the Royal Free Hospital in London published a study in The Lancet showing a possible association between the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism, the government and the medical community rushed forth to declare that this entire business is sheer coincidence.

They've been maintaining that the children received the vaccine at the point when autism would have been first recognised and diagnosed anyway. Parents are being urged to continue to give their children the triple jab, lest a "social tragedy" by which they mean a measles epidemic ensues.

By dismissing the Royal Free study, the medical community has chosen to ignore a number of other disturbing links between MMR vaccine and autism. According to Dawbarns, the King's Lynn based firm of solicitors representing many children allegedly damaged by the MMR vaccine, more than a third of their cases, now numbering over a thousand, involve children who were developing normally but then became autistic right after vaccination. Autism occurred twice as much as any other serious side effect.

But the most worrisome aspect of this episode is what it reveals about the way in which the authorities handle negative findings about vaccination.

A month before the MMR autism link was first made public, the Lancet published a review article, written by a joint team from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the UK Public Health Laboratory Service Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, attempting to demonstrate that in areas where high coverage with the diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis vaccines was maintained (such as Hungary, Poland and the US), the incidence of whooping cough was 10 to 100 times lower than in countries where immunisation was "disrupted" and programmes "compromised" by "anti vaccine movements" (their words, these). Incidentally, it's worth noting that some of the authors of the review are the same folks who carried out American and British studies demonstrating that children receiving the DPT and the MMR vaccines had three times the seizure rates as those who didn't. The Americans have never made public their study which represented one of the largest vaccine studies to date and the British didn't publish their findings until after the 1994 measles vaccine campaign had been completed.

This idea that it is only an anti vaccine "element" that disrupts the efficacy of whooping cough vaccines betrays a shocking distortion of the truth. For one thing, earlier in January Dutch scientists were puzzling over the fact that Holland had suffered an epidemic of whooping cough, despite vaccination rates as high as 96 per cent comparable to America's. Furthermore, there was no clustering of cases among the unvaccinated so this couldn't be laid at the door of the anti vaccine "element". The same is happening in Norway and Denmark.

Officialdom has been gripped by a strange hysteria, which places blanket vaccination coverage above anything else, including safety or even necessity. After all, it bears repeating that measles hasn't killed one single child in Britain in seven years, so it's not like halting the vaccine programme while the link between MMR and autism is investigated represents a life or death health risk.

Dismissing the autism link, Medical Monitor (18 March 1998) went as far as to say that: "We should be cautious in drawing firm conclusions from cases referred to a unit known to be interested in a possible link between MMR vaccine and disease."

In other words, we shouldn't believe anyone, even a prestigious group of scientists, who might possibly feel the need to investigate whether a vaccine could be doing harm.

Increasingly, with vaccination, it seems the real immunity here is full immunity from any criticism.

!ALynne McTaggart


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