Federal judges Thursday issued “three devastating verdicts” against a link between autism and the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, said The New York Times in an editorial. The judges, part of a special federal vaccine court, agreed with a “slew of major health organizations and scientific studies”: There’s no evidence that the MMR vaccine causes autism. This should persuade all but the most “die-hard” believers that vaccines are safe, and wise.
The verdicts were not only a “blow to crank science,” said Arthur Allen in Slate, but they might also help public health. The vaccine-autism theory was born in 1998, in a study by British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield. The London Times reported this week that Wakefield may have fudged his data, but his study has already left its mark: There were 56 measles cases in Britain in 1998; last year, there were 1,348 cases, including two deaths.
The Times article was written by a reporter who has filed medical misconduct charges against Wakefield, said David Kirby in The Huffington Post. No matter “what opinion you have about the vaccine-autism controversy,” he’s not a credible critic. Besides, vaccine-autism research is hardly “fringe.” Scientists, senators, and even President Obama have said we need more research.
The Times’ story isn’t the first to dispute the link, said Stacey Garfinkle in The Washington Post. But the lingering controversy highlights "just how easily we can all be played when it comes to our kids.” Peanut butter, plastic bottles, salmon: “We can’t—and shouldn’t—feel guilty for not preventing all the bad stuff.”