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MMR: "CHOOSE SCIENCE OVER SCARE STORIES"

17-07-2007

Supporters of Dr Andrew Wakefield - who first suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism - claim that he's the victim of a "witch hunt" by the General Medical Council, which is currently assessing his fitness to practice. Dr David Nicholl, a neurologist at City Hospital in Birmingham, begs to differ.

Whatever the outcome of the GMC case into Andrew Wakefield, it is time that society and the media faced some harsh facts regarding MMR, rather than the hysteria they have chosen to publish.

The MMR vaccine is safe and there is overwhelming scientific evidence to back this up from numerous studies.

The Lancet was probably correct to publish the small original Wakefield case series in 1998 in the interests of open scientific debate. However, the tabloid media, led by the Daily Mail, were completely misleading in the way in which they have reported this story and have failed to report the large international studies which have demonstrated no link between MMR and autism.

The public, given the scandal over mad-cow disease and BSE, were understandably sceptical about Big Government saying that MMR was safe.

However, it should be a journalist’s job to report a health story with balance and that means looking at the scientific integrity of the studies, reporting large negative studies that indicate a drug like MMR is safe, rather than over-reporting scare stories based on a small case series such as the original Wakefield report.

We can then divert vitally needed resources into finding the real causes of autism which is what all of us, not least the parents of these unfortunate children, need to know.

An apology by the Daily Mail and others who have mis-reported this story would go a long way to restore confidence.

5 years ago I wrote in the Observer about the media hysteria in relation to MMR, and also described what can happen if you don’t have the jab. There can be severe neurological complications to measles, namely SSPE - an awful illness, not dissimilar to Mad Cow Disease.

All my 3 children have had MMR (because it is more effective than single jabs) and I haven’t made any money from solo vaccinations - unlike some private GPs who have minted it.

Of course, if you want to take Dr Wakefield’s word for it (not forgetting that he was paid handsomely for his medico-legal work) and ignore the scientific evidence in support of MMR, then that is your choice.

I would choose good science over hysteria any day of the week when it comes to the welfare of my kids.

To see yesterday’s article “Witch Hunt Claim As MMR Doc Faces Charges” (click here)

And join the debate on the News Section of our Message Board - “Is there a link between MMR and Autism?”

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