Measles, The Vaccine, The Scare……..

The news that cases of Measles are increasing nationally and globally has led to me thinking about what I know, or think I know, about the issue.

Some years ago, I attended a splendid meeting organised by Coventry Skeptics in the Pub.  The speaker was Brian Deer, The Sunday Times journalist who had investigated the work of Dr Andrew Wakefield. 
Dr Wakefield proposed a link between the MMR vaccine and cases of autism and bowel cancer.  Many people were very concerned by this link and many parents refused to have their young children immunised.  
The alleged link, led to a dramatic drop in MMR vaccination rates and a rise in cases of measles.  Had Dr Wakefield made an honest, reasonable mis-assessment, that would have been one thing, however The General Medical Council investigated Dr Wakefield’s work and conclude that the doctor  was “dishonest, irresponsible and showed callous disregard for the distress and pain” of children.  The GMC ruled that he carried out clinically unnecessary and invasive tests on children without ethical approval or appropriate qualifications.  It has to be noted that Andrew Wakefield, did rather well financially from the situation.
Today we have social media sites criticised for posting footage that may encourage/ reinforce self-harm or recruitment to terrorist groups.  Do we need to ban coverage of scientific/medical conclusions, that could lead to harmful social reactions, until those conclusions are verified by the medical establishment?
Bob Jelley
Chair, Coventry & Warwickshire Humanists

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