For a few years, the risks of autism have been the center of the discussion about vaccines and their possible side effects. While other fears about vaccines are also reported, including, for instance, the belief that they weaken immunity, the autism myth has become extremely widespread (DeStefano & Shimabukuro, 2019; Hausman, Lawrence, Marmagas, Fortenberry, & Dannenberg, 2018). It is likely to stem from a 1998 article that was published in Lancet and later removed because of its problems with quality and rigor. Healthcare professionals need to expose myths because the fear of vaccination has an impact on the health of entire communities, and with autism, the doubts are not evidence-based.
The fact that vaccination does not increase the likelihood of autism diagnosis is well-evidenced. For instance, a cohort study from Denmark used the data of over 650,000 children and revealed no connection between the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, and autism (Hviid, Hansen, Frisch, & Melbye, 2019). The same results were reported by a 2015 study that involved over 95,000 children from the US (Jain et al., 2015). Therefore, these findings are replicated by studies from different countries and periods. Vaccines are not without side effects; for instance, allergic reactions can be observed (DeStefano & Shimabukuro, 2019). However, it is reasonable to assume that autism is not one of them.
DeStefano and Shimabukuro (2019) warn that the persistence of the vaccination myths causes people to hesitate and delay vaccination. Such decisions may have negative consequences for the health of individual children and entire communities. The primary solution to the problem is education, which can be performed by healthcare professionals or other enthusiastic people. It is necessary to promote the learning of correct information about vaccination.
DeStefano, F., & Shimabukuro, T. (2019). The MMR vaccine and autism. Annual Review of Virology, 6(1), 585-600. Web.
Hausman, B., Lawrence, H., Marmagas, S., Fortenberry, L., & Dannenberg, C. (2018). H1N1 vaccination and health beliefs in a rural community in the southeastern United States: Lessons learned. Critical Public Health, 2018, 1-7. Web.
Hviid, A., Hansen, J., Frisch, M., & Melbye, M. (2019). Measles, mumps, rubella vaccination and autism. Annals of Internal Medicine, 170(8), 513-520. Web.
Jain, A., Marshall, J., Buikema, A., Bancroft, T., Kelly, J., & Newschaffer, C. (2015). Autism occurrence by MMR vaccine status among us children with older siblings with and without autism. JAMA, 313(15), 1534-1540. Web.