Did you know that around 100,000 children worldwide didn’t get vaccinated last year? No? Not a lot of people really know what the Anti-Vax movement is or what it’s really about, as it’s not really found in the UK; it started in the UK but moved to the USA and here’s why.

It all started with a man called Andrew Wakefield who was a Britsh surgeon and researcher. On February 28th 1998 he published a study on the side effects of Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine (or MMR Vaccine). His study claimed that the MMR vaccine caused autism in children. He saw that the number of children who were being diagnosed with autism was going up as well as the number of children who had had the MMR vaccine. 

anti vax movement
Pic Credit: AHRP

However, a better explanation for this is that as time goes on, doctors get better at diagnosing autism in children, meaning there are more official diagnoses per year. Furthermore, autism is a social disability which means that signs of autism don’t normally show until after the child’s first birthday, which is around the time a child gets the MMR vaccine. This evidence led to his study being disproven.

In addition, the study was undermined because he only looked at 12 children aged 3-10 (for a medical study to be proven as reliable you need thousands of patients to participate in the study). There were eleven boys and one girl (this was probably because autism is more easily found in boys than girls) and only eight out of twelve of the parents noticed the strange behaviour in their children around the time of their MMR vaccine. Because there were so many faults in his research he was stripped of his doctor’s licence. But he didn’t stop there!

He continued his work in the USA and is mainly working in New York. Then, back in 2016, he directed an anti-vaccination propaganda film Vaxxed. This film claimed that vaccinations were a big government cover-up. This attracted a lot of people’s attention to the movement.

The success of this movement has led a significant group of parents to deny their children vaccinations, which does a lot more damage than it should. Because children don’t get vaccinated this causes herd immunity to fail. Herd immunity is where a large area of people become immune to disease through vaccinations. When lots of places develop herd immunity for a disease, this causes that disease to die out and eventually that disease is no longer a problem. Also, herd immunity helps people who can’t get vaccinated because they aren’t old enough or they are receiving treatment for an illness that causes the immune system to weaken, making someone more susceptible to these illnesses.

For the USA this is a real problem, as from the 1st of January 2019 to 6th June 2019 there were 1,022 reported measles cases in 28 different states such as California, Texas, Los Angeles, Washington, Florida and many more. This is the largest number of measles cases in the USA since 1992. It was thought that measles had been eliminated in 2000.

anti vax movement

However, for the UK this isn’t much of a problem, although it is the country with the third worst record for failing to vaccinate children. (France is second and the USA is first), but this is because the parents don’t have the time to get their children vaccinated or they can’t get an appointment.

So just maybe, primary schools and nurseries should have days where they can vaccinate children whose parents haven’t got the time to vaccinate them/get an appointment to vaccinate them. Just saying.