This is an update to my previous post: Incredulity of Privilege V: Andrew Wakefield's Shenanigans. Orac reports that Wakefield lost his license to practice medicine yesterday:
It's finally happened, more than six years after investigative reporter Brian Deer first reported Wakefield's massive conflicts of interest and dubious activities related to his "research" suggesting a link between the measles strain in the MMR vaccine and inflammation of the gut in autistic children, nearly three years after the start of the British General Medical Council's hearings into anti-vaccine hero Andrew Wakefield's fitness to practice, nearly a year and a half after solid evidence that Andrew Wakefield hadcommitted research fraud for this "study," and less than four months after the GMC ruled that Andrew Wakefield had acted with "callous disregard for the distress and pain the children [who were his research subjects] might suffer." This morning in the U.K. the GMC ruled that, because of his unethical and dishonest behavior in conducting his research, Andrew Wakefield should be "struck off" the medical register, meaning that he will no longer be licensed to practice medicine in the U.K.:
The doctor who first suggested a link between MMR vaccinations and autism is to be struck off the medical register.
I was thinking that the whole anti-vaccination movement is based on the incredulity of privilege. Almost no one of my generation has seen real-life suffering and death caused by vaccine-preventable diseases (thanks largely to high rates of vaccination--that is, until very recently).
I've written about Andrew Wakefield's disgusting shenanigans before, and I've also critiqued some of the misinformation and scientifically unsupported claims of the prominent anti-vaccine organizations.
I get it. It's a terrible experience to vaccinate your beloved, unblemished newborn. Even when you know the miniscule risks of vaccines are wildly less dangerous than the risk of a young child contracting a deadly vaccine-preventable disease, it's very hard to do. (My own Trophy Husband manages to skip most of the vaccine-related checkups. Something about "work...") It's heartbreaking to hold your peaceful infant while gloved hands that were formerly very gentle suddenly cause intense pain. The startled look of shock and betrayal on my babies' faces always--always makes me cry. Then I spend the next week sick to my stomach waiting for scary fevers, or seizures, or horrible life-threatening allergic reactions to occur (which, thankfully never have because actual vaccine reactions are incredibly rare).
I can totally understand how individual parents have trouble sorting out conflicting information about vaccines. (Here's a great primer with links to credible, primary, peer-reviewed scientific sources.)
What I can't understand is why a bastard like Andrew Wakefield, who tortured animals and treated children with absolute cruelty, is a hero of the movement.