Controversy of Vaccines and Autism

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Briefly describe the origin of the vaccines/autism controversy

The origins of vaccines date all the back to the 17th century, when Buddhist monks would drink snake venom to build immunity to snake bites. Also, in 17th century china they practiced vaccination against small pox but smearing cowpox on torn skin to confer immunity against small pox. In the west, Edawrd Jenner inoculated a thirteen-year-old boy with vaccinia virus, which demonstrated how vaccinations work to build immunity against small pox. According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry In 1998, Andrew Wakefield published a case series in the lancet, which suggested that the MMR vaccine may predispose to behavioral regression and pervasive developmental disorder in children. (The logic that the MMR vaccine may trigger autism was questioned because a temporal link between the two is almost predestined: both events, by design (MMR vaccine) or definition (autism), occur in early childhood) (Indian Journal of Psychiatry).  

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Where does the evidence stand today?

        The evidence today stands that the Lancet has completely retracted Wakefield’s work in 2010, according to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry. The sample size that Wakefield used was a relatively small sample size of 12 children and his work was uncontrolled in design. Wakefield was later found guilty for deliberate fraud since he picked and chose the data that was most suitable for their cause (Indian Journal of Psychiatry).  Wakefield was also found guilty for ethical violations since he had conducted invasive investigations on children without the necessary ethical clearness (Indian Journal of Psychiatry). And lastly he had been found guilty for scientific misrepresentation for claiming that his sampling was consecutive when it was selective (Indian Journal of Psychiatry).

What factors do you think drive the persistence of this controversy?

        I think that there are a few factors that drive the persistence of this controversy, one is social media plays a big part. I see so many people advocating against vaccinations since they still believe vaccines are more harmful than good. My very own sister who I love greatly is one of those people. She has a 7-year-old daughter who is vaccinated but I think she blames the vaccines on all my nieces issues. My aunt who has been a pharmacist for many years is also anti-vaccine. I think the second major thing that drives this controversy is the internet. I know for my sister all she does is read articles on the internet all day long. Now she has a degree in culinary arts with no medical background, so the articles she’s reading she is going to believe basically out of ignorance. Many people don’t know basic physiology and basic biology, so they are more likely to be skewed by what they read on the internet and believe that It is true because they read it on the internet.    

What are the risks of vaccine non-compliance to individuals? To the broader public?

        Some of the risk factors that are associated with vaccine non-compliant individuals is the increased risk of developing infectious diseases that once where nearly eradicated, diseases that are potentially fatal to adolescence, and the risk of spreading the disease to more vulnerable individuals. Some diseases that once were nearly eradicated are starting to reemerge due to vaccine non-compliance. In the case for pertussis, this is a bacterial infection that is on the rise among infants and teenagers. It spread through moisture droplets in the air and it is said that caregivers and parents are able to carry the bacteria that is affecting the children.  If an infant has pertussis and the parent or caregiver is attending to the child, the parent or caregiver can be helping the bacteria spread from one child to another. This puts the boarder public at risk because if a parent or caregiver came into contact with the pertussis bacteria, they are able to transmit it to other children just by contact. If that parent or caregiver passed the bacteria to the child and that child touched their nose or mouth, they just inoculated the bacteria to themselves. 

How can one highlight the importance of vaccines and address patient concerns while honestly acknowledging both the limitations and risks of vaccination?

One can highlight the importance of vaccines through education. Properly educating parents on the risks of vaccine non-compliance is essential to the health and well-being of their child. Taking in consideration for the parents’ concerns about vaccinations, one can still educate the parents about their concerns while addressing the importance of vaccines. And being honest with parents on the possible risks of the vaccinations is also important. I think that addressing the negative stigma that is attached to vaccines is key for the parent’s decision on whether or not to vaccinate their child. Parents deserve to know the truth about vaccines and not what their neighbor or what Facebook has said.

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Controversy Of Vaccines And Autism. (2019, Oct 31). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from

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