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If the executives at ABC needed any more reason to reconsider their decision to put Jenny McCarthy on The View, they should read the story on the front page of Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. A lengthy article details how, 15 years ago, the view that autism is linked to vaccines gained currency in the southern part of Wales:

Many here refused the vaccine for their children after a British doctor, Andrew Wakefield, suggested it might cause autism and a local newspaper heavily covered the fears. Resistance continued even after the autism link was disproved.

The bill has now come due.

A measles outbreak infected 1,219 people in southwest Wales between November 2012 and early July, compared with 105 cases in all of Wales in 2011.

As the article notes, the notion of the link really caught on because of a group of mothers who learned about Dr. Wakefield’s research (which was later retracted by the journal where it was published) and then took up the cause themselves.

As Dr. Wakefield's concerns gathered steam in Britain's national media in 1997, a Port Talbot mother, Jackie Eckton, phoned the South Wales Evening Post to ask whether other parents had experienced problems with MMR.

In one 1997 article, Ms. Eckton told the Post the vaccine turned her 3-year-old, Daniel, who had been diagnosed with autism, into a "distant and silent recluse." She told the paper she wanted to form "some sort of action group so people can help each other fight this thing and what it does."

What the vaccine actually does is fight measles, “a respiratory condition causing fever, cough and rash. Most people who catch it recover fully. But measles can lead to deafness and pneumonia, and, in about one in 1,000 cases, death. It is one of the most contagious diseases, spread by coughing and sneezing.”

It doesn’t take spending much time on Facebook to realize that many mothers in the U.S. now espouse similar views. When something is wrong with their children, they mention vaccines as a possible cause. And they often solicit advice from other Facebook readers about whether to get their children vaccinated for fear of the results. 

This is precisely the crack Mommy medical team that is causing widespread illness and even death in Wales now. And they are the ones who will now get to hear their views confirmed on ABC’s The View. McCarthy, who espouses the unscientific view that vaccines cause autism, will now be able to influence the daytime show’s audience of some 3 million (many of whom are mothers of young children).

ABC executives might want to read the thoughts of Dai Lloyd, a doctor in Wales who has treated patients affected by the recent outbreak:   

"Despite the fact that it's one of the greatest health measures ever invented by man or woman, there seems to still be a small residue of humanity that objects to the very idea of immunization. . . . If you go around the cemetery you can see the historical evidence of childhood slaughter from pre-immunization days."

Another entirely preventable case of history repeating itself.

1 thought on “An immunization lesson from Wales”

  1. Carol says:

    Dear Naomi,

    There is a problem here. More and more kids are being diagnosed with autism. Don’t you think it would be helpful if instead of always attacking a possible reason, the medical establishment and the newspapers would try to find out why? They give us silly reasons like fat mothers and old fathers. But what is it that everyone is affected by?
    Vaccines. All babies must have them, says the medical establishment. Now that some don’t, it’s the perfect randomized trial!

    Just for your interest, the Danes don’t vaccinate their babies as early as we do. They have much more body weight when they receive vaccines. Maybe many little tiny babies can’t fight off the diseases injected into them.

    Autism is an awful disease. You don’t ever get over it and it destroys families. You generally get over measles.

    Your column is too flippant and heartless for me this time.

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