Guilty Even After Proven Innocent: The Vaccine-Autism Myth and its Consequences

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Guilty Even After Proven Innocent: The Vaccine-Autism Myth and its Consequences

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Title: Guilty Even After Proven Innocent: The Vaccine-Autism Myth and its Consequences
Author: Su, Shi
Citation: Shi Su, Guilty Even After Proven Innocent: The Vaccine-Autism Myth and its Consequences (April 2011).
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Abstract: In 1998, Dr. Andrew Wakefield began promoting the idea that the MMR vaccine could be linked to autism. The media soon picked up on Wakefield’s idea, propagating a myth about vaccines and autism with celebrity assistance and the support of certain government officials. As a result, vaccination rates dropped, outbreaks of diseases normally prevented by vaccination occurred, and segments of the population developed long-term concerns about vaccine safety. All this happened in spite of multiple studies and reports from researchers and prominent health agencies denying a causal connection between autism and vaccines as well as an in-depth investigation that ultimately found Wakefield’s work to be the product of severe ethical violations. That the myth has persisted in the face of such damning evidence to the contrary demonstrates the power of the Internet and its wealth of (mis)information, a development with which public health agencies and the medical community must come to terms if they are to combat the vaccine-autism myth effectively. The medical community must also begin to engage in more dialogue with parents so that doctors can demonstrate to parents why their expertise should be trusted over the myriad of information available online. By rebuilding parental trust in the medical profession as opposed to the Internet, the vaccine-autism myth may finally be rejected so that children will be protected from disease and attention can turn to the pressing issue of what actually causes autism. This result would be the most beneficial outcome for children, a goal that all parties to the controversy can support.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:8965622

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