“This year, the U.K. has had more than 1,200 cases of measles, after a record number of nearly 2,000 cases last year. The country once recorded only several dozen cases every year. It now ranks second in Europe, behind only Romania.”
“This is the legacy of the Wakefield scare,” said Dr. David Elliman, spokesman for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, referring to a paper published in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues.
That work suggested a link between autism and the combined childhood vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella, called the MMR. Several large scientific studies failed to find any connection, the theory was rejected by at least a dozen major U.K. medical groups and the paper was eventually retracted by the journal that published it. Britain’s top medical board stripped Wakefield of the right to practise medicine in the U.K., ruling that he and two of his colleagues showed a “callous disregard” for the children in the study. Wakefield took blood samples from children at his son’s birthday party, paying them about 5 pounds each ($7.60) and later joked about the incident.