Social media has contributed to the exponential rise in the number of parents who are choosing not to vaccinate their children due to the claim that vaccinations cause autism, a claim that has never been substantiated. This issue originally arose in 1998 after a research paper was published that claimed links were found between the MMR vaccine and autism. That paper has since been redacted for lack of evidence.
According to the most recent study, which took place in August 2013, researchers examined 657,461 children who were given vaccines. Of that amount, 6,517 children were diagnosed with autism. In fact, these researchers found that children are seven percent less likely to suffer from autism if vaccinated.
“This idea that vaccines cause autism is still around and is still getting a lot of exposure in social media,” said Anders Hviid, a lead study author at Statens Serum Institut in Denmark.
There have been countless instances of misinformation being pushed out to the public from social media, leading to an influx of children who are not vaccinated. As a result, there have been outbreaks of diseases that were once thought to have been eradicated all across the United States.
In March 2014, Donald Trump, who was not currently president at the time, tweeted that children often have no issues or signs of autism until after they “get pumped with massive shots of many vaccines and doesn’t feel good and changes – AUTISM. Many such cases!”
The aforementioned 1998 study, which was published by Andrew Wakefield, was issued for the sole reason of helping a law firm who intended to sue the manufacturers of MMR vaccines. According to CNN, Wakefield lost his medical license in 2010 after it his lack of evidence and his compensation by the law firm were revealed.
Dr. Paul Offit, who is director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, explained how he sees the next few years going forward. “I think we are at a tipping point,” Offit said. “I think people need to realize that a choice not to get a vaccine is not a risk-free choice. It’s a choice to take a greater risk, and unfortunately right now, we are experiencing that greater risk.”
In an email to the National Post, Dr. Hviid explained that “parents should not skip the vaccine out of fear for autism.” Dr. Hviid added: “The dangers of not vaccinating includes a resurgence in measles which we are seeing signs of today in the form of outbreaks.”
Hviid’s study also claims that many of those who were diagnosed with autism after being vaccinated were undiagnosed from birth.