The Wakefield Effect has hit Europe pretty hard. It will be a while before we return to a better state.
Outbreaks of measles are putting Europe’s commitment to eliminate the disease by 2015 under threat, the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned.
Levels of vaccination have been too low in some countries, particularly in rich western European nations.
Experts said it was not too late to hit the target, but “extraordinary” effort was needed.
Claims of a link between the vaccine and autism in 1998, which have since been completely discredited, damaged uptake figures – particularly in the UK.
Dr Pier Luigi Lopalco, the head of vaccine preventable diseases at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, said “that story survives” and keeps cropping up across Europe.
He said: “Another problem is the acceptability of vaccination by a part of the population that is becoming larger and larger.
“I’m talking about middle class people that more and more are sceptical towards vaccination and accepting alternative remedies instead.”
We saw the first person with measles die in Wales just a little while ago. But Wakefield, whose discredited research was the impetus for the MMR vaccination scare, still has a platform for spouting misinformation. It’s too easy to spread fear and very difficult to undo the damage done.
Tip: Wasim Zahid