Vaccines are a trusted method for the prevention of disease all over the world. They work by introducing a dead or weaker version of a virus or bacteria into the bloodstream, so the immune system can learn to fight it. Regular immunizations now prevent illnesses that were once permanently damaging and life threatening. However, many people are expressing concerns about the risks of immunizations. This concern peaked in the late ‘90s with the MMR vaccine controversy.
The MMR vaccine protects the body against measles, mumps, and rubella. In the past, these viruses were extremely dangerous. They often resulted in severe disabilities and death. For a while, the world considered this vaccine to be a blessing.
In 1998, The Lancet, a popular medical journal, published an article supporting the theory that the MMR vaccine led to autism. Autism is a developmental disorder that affects cognitive function and the ability to understand social skills. After the release of this article, many parents refused to allow their children to receive the MMR vaccine. The controversy surrounding this vaccine mostly existed throughout Europe. Many doctors believe that this theory was quickly discredited, but not before causing significant damage. It resulted in many cases of the measles and mumps, which often led to death.
Illness and injury are especially devastating when involving children. The MMR controversy solidified a very real fear of parents and guardians. It is perfectly natural for them to have concerns about their child’s medical treatment. The idea of injecting living viruses and bacteria into your child’s system can be terrifying. Also, today’s society has so much information readily available. The average citizen can become educated on just about everything. Unfortunately, all of this information cannot be trusted. Even respectable sources can provide incorrect material. There was no way the publishers at The Lancet could have predicted the reactions or subsequent deaths resulting from the article. Although the decision to refuse the vaccine was perhaps misguided, these parents believed they were acting in their child’s best interest.
Sometimes there are no black or white answers. We often have to look at risks, balance them, and make a decision based on the best advice we can get. A risk of death, or a far smaller one of autism is a case in point.
Please be aware that the articles on this site are written by mothers who are discussing their own experiences and their own opinions. They do not, and are not meant to, represent professional advice and should be read with that point firmly in mind.
Our children’s welfare is paramount; if you are ever in the slightest doubt about any aspect of caring for a child you are urged to seek qualified, specialist advice from a professional advisor.