Why Wakefield’s “Wrong About Vaccine Safety”

In February of 1998, Andrew Wakefield published a paper claiming that the MMR was linked to autism. The paper, it turned out, was fraudulent. The Lancet retracted the article, Wakefield was stripped of his medical license, and a large body of scientific research has thoroughly dismissed any connection between vaccines and the developmental condition — including a study published just this month that looked at more than 1 million people.

But the overwhelming evidence against his claims hasn’t stopped Wakefield from trying to perpetuate the myth. In 2010 he published Callous Disregard: Autism and Vaccines — The Truth Behind a Tragedy, where he claimed that the loss of his medical license was, in fact, political. A means, he claims, of silencing criticism regarding vaccine safety.

Well, one retired epidemiologist has had enough. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, has written a comprehensive paper systematically examining (and refuting) claims made by Wakefield in his book. His article, titled “Wrong About Vaccine Safety: A Review of Andrew Wakefield’s ‘Callous Disregard’,” includes a total of 142 references that serve to contrast Wakefield’s claims with what science has really shown regarding vaccine safety. Harrison writes in the abstract that he hopes “this review will be used by doctors and public health personnel to encourage parents hesitating to have their children vaccinated to question anti-vaccination claims in general, given that many proponents often refer to Wakefield as an authority and display in their own writings and pronouncements similar erroneous claims.”

A physician referenced by Wakefield in his book has also written a letter to the editor, stating that she was misrepresented in Callous Disregard and that she is “grateful to Dr Harrison for setting the record straight.”

You can read Harrison’s full paper by going here.

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