Shhhh, don’t talk.
Remember that study linking MMR vaccines with autism? The one which The Lancet later retracted after 10 of the 13 authors renounced the conclusions? Now it has also been found fraudulent:
A new examination found, by comparing the reported diagnoses in the paper to hospital records, that [Andrew] Wakefield and colleagues altered facts about patients in their study. The analysis, by British journalist Brian Deer, found that despite the claim in Wakefield’s paper that the 12 children studied were normal until they had the MMR shot, five had previously documented developmental problems. Deer also found that all the cases were somehow misrepresented when he compared data from medical records and the children’s parents. [MSNBC]
Not only did Wakefield perpetrate a fraud, but he was developing his own vaccine to compete with the MMR vaccine he was trying to discredit (and stood to earn millions of dollars on his own vaccine if he succeeded). He was also paid off by a lawyer, Richard Barr, who was trying to mount a class action suit against the manufacturer of the MMR vaccine. Can you say conflict of interest? Can you say, “Why the hell isn’t this doctor in jail?”
And the question on everyone’s mind is, of course, what does Dr. Jenny McCarthy have to say about this? GOOD answers that question in a post with the headline, “Jenny McCarthy Doubles Down on Anti-Vaccine Position”, which, if I rewrote it, would say, “Jenny McCarthy Doubles Down on Anti-Vaccine Position, Is Allegedly A F*cking Moron”. And if I could get away with not using the “allegedly”, I would. Anyway, here’s her brilliant reaction to new information:
McCarthy defends the study’s author and the parents whose children were studied, quoting one of the parents as saying: “How could the BMJ scrutinize what Brian Deer has said without looking at our children’s medical notes which they are not allowed to have? This needs to be challenged.” [GOOD]
Or to put it another way, “La la la I can’t hear you.” Brian Deer looked at the medical records in the Wakefield study. Saying he didn’t doesn’t change that he did. That’s the cool thing about the scientific method: conclusions have to be verifiable and repeatable. Which means other scientists can scrutinize all the data, and when the results don’t hold up to that peer review, good scientists will admit their hypothesis was wrong instead of, say, taking a pay off from a lawyer to falsify data.
If you’re concerned about the real, verifiable side effects of a vaccine, fine. Look into it and judge the risks. Hmm, is an arm that’s sore for a few hours worth the whole not dying thing? You decide. And maybe you don’t want your kid’s first vaccine done at a clinic three miles from a hospital because you’d be three miles from the ER if the kid turns up allergic to egg products and has a severe allergic reaction. That’s a valid concern. There are real risks to vaccines, and there are imagined risks. The real risks of vaccines are much more tolerable than the diseases these vaccines prevent. Ask your grandparents about polio sometime. If you’re going to risk having your kid — or a baby they come in contact with who is not yet old enough for vaccination — die from an easily preventable disease all because you think — with complete lack of valid scientific proof — that your kid will develop autism from an ingredient that isn’t even in the vaccine anymore, then I hate you. I hate you so much. Dana McCaffery didn’t have to die.
Phil Plait says it well:
Please, please, please: if you know anyone at risk of being affected by antivax propaganda, send them to Immunize for Good. There is a wealth of factual information there, especially in their Fact or Fiction section.
That simple act can save lives.
[Sources: BadAstronomy, GOOD, WashingtonPost, MSNBC, Scepticsbook, all the stuff linked above, and common f*cking sense]