Measles was declared eradicated in the United States in 2000, but dwindling vaccination rates has caused an outbreak of over 100 confirmed cases across 14 states. Many of those infected are too young to have received the full measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine, as the first dose is administered at 12 months, with a second dose between 4-6 years.
The low vaccination rates are caused in part by the myth that vaccines contribute to the onset of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The idea that vaccines are associated with autism has been solidly debunked, with not a single shred of scientific evidence to support that it is true.
Rob Ring, the Chief Science Officer at the advocacy organization Autism Speaks, has spoken out on the issue regarding the possible link between vaccinations and ASD. Ring was short and firm: There is absolutely no link.
"Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism," Ring stated on Autism Speaks' website. "The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism. We urge that all children be fully vaccinated.”
It all started in 1998, when a man named Andrew Wakefield published a paper in The Lancet, indicating a link between the MMR vaccine and the onset of autism. Other scientists were highly skeptical of the results, and have never been able to replicate the findings. Despite the scientific community casting doubt on the findings, vaccination rates began to decline.
It was later revealed that Wakefield had a financial conflict of interest with the study and his data was actually fraudulent. The paper was then retracted, he was stripped of his medical license, and the scientific community collectively screamed, “Ha! I knew it!”* Rather than admit they were wrong, the anti-vaccination movement turned Wakefield into a martyr.
It is unclear what power Autism Speaks' position on vaccines will have within the anti-vaccination community, but it is encouraging to know that one of largest autism advocacy organizations in the world are firmly on the side of science, and seeking to finally squash that rumor for good.
*The collective screaming part probably didn’t really happen. I’d like to think it did, though.
[Hat tip: ABC News]