The Vaccination-Autism Debate

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Before the rise of the vaccination-autism debate in 1988, the safety of the MMR vaccine was put in doubt because of its negative effects related to Urabe mumps stress that would result to meningitis. A case had been presented before a court in Britain in the 1980s indicating that the MMR vaccine caused Urabe mumps strain. The adverse reactions of the MMR vaccines was brought before the American and the Canadian authorities because of the reports that emanated from Japan that the vaccine caused meningitis. The distribution of the vaccine was suspended in the early 1998 but was recalled after a while. A solicitor was able to win a legal aid in pursuing a legal action against the manufacturers of the MMR vaccines in April 1994. The suit claimed that the use of MMR vaccination needed to be stopped because it was a defective product with dangerous side effects and caused autism.

Andrew Wakefield, a British gastroenterologist together with his partners published a study in The Lancet, a British medical journal in 1998. The paper proposed that the MMR vaccine be related to autism symptoms. Wakefield conducted a study of eight children who had developed autism symptoms from MMR vaccination (Greg Pasco 2011). He supposed that the MMR vaccine leading to the development of autism inflamed the intestinal tracts of the children. In the presentation of the case, Wakefield admitted that he was not very sure that MMR vaccination was solely responsible for autism, but it created awareness that the vaccine could cause autism. His research was based in one of the renowned Royal Free Hospital situated in London. The publication of this paper in the British medical journal caused many parents to cease from taking their children to be vaccinated parti...

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... most of the attention from the media and this contributed to the majority of the people easily believing in the publication.

The vaccination controversy proved the failure of journalism because the media caused dispensable deaths during the period of the health scare. The media always portrayed the health departments and the government incapable of providing the public with a solution on the MMR vaccination-autism debate. The media, therefore, gave out the opinion that the vaccines were not safe for the children. The media could have avoided publishing the poor-researched study and concentrate on publishing scientific evidences to create awareness to the public. The medical professionals indulged in eliminating the damage that was committed by the media by publishing scientifically based researches on the safety of the vaccines to restore confidence to the public.

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