Anti-Vaxxer “Doesn’t Feel Responsible” for Measles Outbreak

Andrew Wakefield, father of the anti-vaccine movement, “[doesn’t] feel responsible at all” for the ongoing measles outbreak in Minnesota.

We beg to differ.

The largest ever measles outbreak in the state’s history is propagating among a tight-knit Somali immigrant community – the same community Wakefield visited at least three times in 2010 and 2011 to warn parents against vaccinating their children. His message clearly took root, because 92 percent of the 50 children affected in the current outbreak were either never vaccinated against measles, or did not finish the vaccine’s full course.

Wakefield and others who peddle the falsehood that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism are almost entirely responsible for the virus’ rampage against this community.

Vaccination safety isn’t a matter of opinion. A study in the Journal of American Medicine followed more than 95,000 children to conclude that the MMR vaccine doesn’t increase the risk of autism, even among the highest-risk children. Autism appears with equal frequency in vaccinated and unvaccinated children, and a firm scientific consensus – to the tune of tens of thousands of independent studies – confirms vaccines aren’t responsible.

Rarely will junk science have as immediate and deadly an impact as the anti-vaccine movement. Although most measles cases are limited to a high fever, flu-like symptoms, and a full-body rash, complications can include life-threatening swelling of the brain and pneumonia.

Measles is incredibly contagious. Roughly 90% of people not already immune to the virus (through vaccine or prior infection) but living with an infected person will catch it. Prior to vaccine availability in the 1960’s, an average of 500,000 Americans could expect to be infected each year.

That doesn’t even consider the litany of other vaccine-preventable diseases which anti-vaxxers presumably subject their children to, including:

Pneumonia, meningitis (swelling around brain and spinal cord), chickenpox, hepatitis A and B (liver infections), rotavirus (diarrhea), diphtheria (severe, thick throat infection), tetanus (painful muscle spasms) whooping cough, and HPV (cervical cancer).

Despite these very real risks, the anti-vaccine movement still clings to the wholly disproven notion that immunization causes autism. The very minor chance of vaccine-related injury is far outweighed by the benefits of vaccination in preventing deadly disease.