Witnessing the first symptoms of autism emerge just after a child has received an MMR vaccination is bound to raise questions in parents’ minds that have rightly been investigated; especially with constant scare stories like this Observer front page with so many problems it’s been removed from the newspaper’s archives.
Life is full of coincidences and yet coincidences are always hard to believe… to rely on them when writing fiction is a grave sin that smacks of unforgivable laziness.
People need to believe that there’s a reason their child is autistic and to apportion blame would provide some comfort, while fighting MMR provides a focus for all that understandable anger. Yet there is no reason for any reasonable person, free of all that emotion, to believe in any link between MMR and autism.
It’s unlikely that this most recent and comprehensive study to find no link between autism and MMR will kill the story. Newspaper comments are already dominated by unqualified armchair researchers who attempt to rubbish this work, while ignoring the well documenting failings of the doctor who sparked the panic.
The vulnerable need to better protected from charlatans bearing false health warnings. Just as the unqualified are barred from providing legal advice, so they should also be barred from giving us medical advice. Nobody can provide evidence that homeopathy is better than a placebo but that doesn’t stop Prince Charles demanding it on the NHS. It should.
Worse still ‘doctor’ is not a protected a title so anyone can pretend and they do; dodgy characters call themselves ‘doctor’ to sell books, promote TV shows and the rest. That should stop too.