The recent measles outbreak in California and across the country has unleashed a new wave of controversy about vaccines. Most have decried the anti-vaccine movement as ill-informed, unwise and dangerous for the Americans' health at large. Some, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, both presidential hopefuls, have spoken out in favor of parents' rights on the topic.
Hysteria over vaccines is nothing new to history. A 1930 political cartoon depicting anti-vaxxers made the rounds on the internet Tuesday. Back then, it was smallpox. These days, it's measles.
The question remains: who the hell started this round of uproar?
In a HuffPost Live discussion Monday, host Nancy Redd and experts examined the supposed findings of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, an Englishmen whose 1998 study shakily linked specifically the MMR vaccine — which combats measles, the mumps and rubella all at once — to autism. Wakefield wanted to have separate vaccinations for each malady.
"It came out later that he had a patent on a single vaccine that would've replaced the 'combination jab,' as they call it in England. He did some studies on 12 children [injected with the MMR vaccine] and found that there might be this connection to a gut disorder that was related to autism," said Bonnie Bertram, a producer on the New York Times' Retro Report account of the matter.
Countless scientists have deemed the science behind Wakefield's experiment rubbish. Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, an infectious disease specialist, said Wakefield's findings are just a reheated "lie" that had already been a hot topic in the medical field.
"It wasn't like everybody loved the measles vaccine until Wakefield did his one article and screwed up the whole universe," Sepkowitz said. "There was tremendous backlash from the first smallpox vaccine. There's been an ardent anti-vaccination movement going back from [Edward] Jenner. It's never gone away."
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