Fallout of the vaccine-autism scare: Measles in Wales

24 Apr

Jim Carrey, Jenny McCarthy, Andrew Wakefield…what do these people have in common? They have all helped promote fear of vaccines–especially the Measles/MumpsRubella (MMR) vaccine–by claiming there is evidence vaccines cause autism.

To be fair, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy relatively new to the scene, unlike Dr. Wakefield, whose flawed research really fueled the fear. Perhaps the actors could learn from the doctor’s lesson: you claim MMR causes autism, that reduces the number of people getting immunized and people get sick. Pretty simple logic.

Measles was considered basically wiped out in the UK until a few years ago when it returned, sickening thousands and killing a few. Last year, measles returned to the US, and it’s back this year. Now we see that the UK isn’t being spared int he 2008-09 season: Wales has approximately 60 cases of measles suspected or confirmed.

Nineteen cases are in Llanelli–that’s in the lower left corner of this map:

Map showing location of recent measles outbreak in Wales

Map showing location of recent measles outbreak in Wales

That’s a short ride from Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol…lots of high density population centers. Any reasonable person would find that scary.

We in the autism communities need to stand up against misinformation that leads to people being sickened and, in some cases, killed. The MMR-Autism link never had good evidence, and now there is good evidence that MMR does not cause autism Even people like the autism-is-vaccine-injury proponent Rick Rollens admitted it’s time to look beyond MMR (and here).

Jim Carrey seems to understand at least on some level that it is wrong to dissuade people from vaccination. He claimed (incorrectly):

We have never argued that people shouldn’t be immunized for the most serious threats including measles and polio…

Maybe there is some Clintonian logic about the words “We” and “argued”. But, on Larry King Live, Jenny McCarthy stated:

You need to find a doctor that can find an alternate schedule. Generationrescue.org has three of them on there.

Generation Rescue, aka “Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey’s Autism Organization” has alternate schedules on their website. The “favorite” of the three alternate vaccine schedules states, very clearly,

One should avoid vaccines that contain live viruses. This includes the combined measles mumps and rubella vaccines…

You’ve talked the talk, time to walk the walk, Jim. Pull that schedule off your website. Get your organization to make a clear statement about the value of vaccinating against measles.

I realize that I have concentrated a lot on Jim Carrey in this piece. But, there is a man who can make a difference in the future. That future will see people in the US and the UK sickened by measles. The question is how many. What Jim Carrey says could make that number larger or smaller, it all depends on whether he makes good on his sentiment that measles is a serious disease worth immunizing against.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: