Misconception about Vaccines and Autism Essay

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Misconception about Vaccines and Autism
Kristen Roensch
Unit 6 Project
CM220: College Composition II

The decision whether or not to vaccinate your children in America is a topic of heated debates in many parenting forums. Still, most schools have a policy in place insisting that children receive a certain number of vaccines prior to entering into the school community. There are an increasing number of parents who are requesting non-medical exemptions from these policies, citing religious beliefs and even personal preferences. A large number of people reach the decision to apply for these exemptions under false pretenses. In 1998 there was an announcement that the MMR vaccine directly lead to the development of disorders on the autism spectrum. Thanks to the support of Jenny McCarthy, an actress and the mother of a child with autism, people began to believe this misconception. In 1998 Andrew Wakefield released a study in the Lancet in Great Britain detailing the link between the Measles Mumps and Rubella vaccine and autism spectrum disorders. (AAP, 2014) This particular vaccine is administered around 12-15 months, and the first symptoms of autism often appear around 18 months. This made it easier to convince people that the two were directly related. After this study was made public, more and more people in Britain chose to stop using this particular vaccine and at the same time new cases of measles in the country rose. This study was retracted in February of 2010 (G. Harris, 2010), and disproven by multiple studies. He was then totally stripped of his license to practice medicine later in 2010. It was decided that Dr. Wakefield had been dishonest in his research, since it was paid for by the families of children who were looking to sue the vaccine makers. Also that he operated unethically in his treatment of the children whom he studied by having them undergo invasive and painful procedures that had no effect on his research. Lastly, it was discovered that Dr. Wakefield himself developed a measles vaccine and would personally benefit from if the MMR vaccine was removed from circulation. Even with this outright proof that there is no connection between the MMR vaccination and autism, Dr. Wakefield and his ideas still garner a great deal of support, and in some setting almost a cult like following. Jenny McCarthy then became the public face of the vaccines cause autism movement. She has a 12-year old son, Evan, who has a severe form of autism. As a matter of fact, when she landed a position as host on the View, there was some public outrage. People believed she would use this forum to promote her radical support of anti-vaccination. However, the truth is Jenny McCarthy is not a firm opponent to vaccines. She does not attempt to convince people NOT to vaccinate their children. Her argument is that we need safer vaccines, and that not all children need every vaccine at the same time. McCarthy did believe the propaganda, and publically spoke about the link between autism and vaccines, however the press…