One of the biggest decisions for parents of small children over the last decade, has been whether to have a child vaccinated with the MMR jab.
The triple vaccine is said to protect against Measles, Mumps and Rubella and is highly recommended by the officers of our nanny state who, of course, always know best. They do not take kindly to anyone questioning their self proclaimed wisdom and will take all the action they think necessary to quash any dissent.
One such dissenter is Dr Andrew Wakefield, a gastroenterologist who now faces being struck off as a physician by the General Medical Council (GMC) after a hearing said to have cost £1million and lasting 148 days.
The GMC, today, ruled that Dr Wakefield has ‘failed in his duties as a responsible consultant’ and ‘acted dishonestly’ after he published the results of his study questioning the safety of the MMR jab in The Lancet in 1998. He believed - and still does - he had uncovered a link between the MMR vaccine and bowel disease and autism.
Following publication of his claim, the uptake of the jab decreased by over 20% and he was blamed for panicking the public. It seems unsurprising then, that an attempt would be made to destroy his reputation.
Interestingly, Tony Blair, while in office as Prime Minister, refused to clarify one way or the other whether his own children had been given the vaccination and this did little to instill confidence amongst worried parents.
Today’s ruling has not found Dr Wakefield guilty of being wrong but guilty of using the methods he did when carrying out his research.
The children in his study, were aged between three and ten and all had enjoyed a life of normal development, before having the vaccination. However, soon after having the MMR jab, they were found to suffer intestinal problems including diarrhoea and constipation. Nine of the group were diagnosed with autism.
According to the research team, subsequent study of a further 48 children revealed that 46 followed the same pattern.
However, the GMC has not questioned the results of the study but the methods used by Dr Wakefield’s team.
Amongst the accusations were: ‘subjecting vulnerable children to inappropriate and invasive tests’, of ‘being in breach of some of the most fundamental rules in medicine’ and accusing Dr Wakefield of not having paediatric qualifications and not having worked as a clinician for a number of years.
Finally, the GMC claimed the children did not meet the criteria for inclusion in the research and that the doctors did not have ethical approval to investigate them.
Surely, one of the most ‘fundamental rules' of a medical researcher, is to voice concern when there is doubt about something that could be so harmful to those most vulnerable.
All of the above accusations are, really, just technicalities and designed to distract from the main point.
Dr Wakefield has not been found guilty of being wrong but has been found guilty of questioning the word of those who are too arrogant to believe they could ever be wrong.
Science is, by its very nature, a subject of continual questioning and we must never just give in to things we are given as 'fact'.
After all, it was not that many years ago we were told, as 'fact', the earth was flat!
The future health of our children is even more important.