It can be frustrating to be a clinician in the era of the internet and instantaneous availability of data especially when the reliability and accuracy is variable. But this is the world we live in and there is plenty of data showing that patients are accessing information in ever increasing numbers. The challenge has been helping patients filter the data for both relevance and accuracy.
Vaccination has been at the epicenter of a these challenges for some years – in fact long before the wide spread use of the internet thanks to a piece published in The Lancet in 1998 and unusually retracted. In fact the BMJ published a paper in 2011 declaring the paper fraudulent – as they noted in the discussion the lead author (now stripped of his medical degree and academic credentials) was clearly actively perpetrating the fraud
Who perpetrated this fraud? There is no doubt that it was Wakefield. Is it possible that he was wrong, but not dishonest: that he was so incompetent that he was unable to fairly describe the project, or to report even one of the 12 children’s cases accurately? No. A great deal of thought and effort must have gone into drafting the paper to achieve the results he wanted: the discrepancies all led in one direction; misreporting was gross. Moreover, although the scale of the GMC’s 217 day hearing precluded additional charges focused directly on the fraud, the panel found him guilty of dishonesty concerning the study’s admissions criteria, its funding by the Legal Aid Board, and his statements about it afterwards
Sadly despite repeated studies and investigations. Despite the retraction of the original article by the Lancet. Despite the other authors personally retracting the paper we still hear about a “link”. Sadly some high profile individuals continue to perpetrate the fraud (notably the model Jenny McCarthy and most recently the “reporter” Katie Couric).
I saw the posting by Aaron Carroll MD, MS is a Professor of Pediatrics and Assistant Dean for Research Mentoring at Indiana University School of Medicine (the Incidental Economist) last week when he posted this map of the real effects of this in Vaccine Preventable Outbreaks (click on the map button on the left if necessary)
In fact Dan Munro posted his own take on this piece: Big Data Crushes Anti-Vaccination Movement. As he sadly notes
Add a well known celebrity (or two) and the effects can be powerful, long term and hard to refute.
And ss Dr Carroll notes the impact can be seen in the chart above:
- All of that red, which seems to dominate? It’s measles. It’s even peeking through in the United States, and it’s smothering the United Kingdom.
- If you get rid of the measles, you can start to see mumps. Again, crushing the UK and popping up in the US.
- Both measles and mumps are part of the MMR vaccine.
- Almost all the whooping cough is in the United States.
But the best part of this post is his accompanying video – included below – well worth watching the full 8 minutes
Expertly and accurately put.
Vaccinate your kids….please.