Channel 4 Dispatches programme recently aired an episode entitled "Trump, the doctor and the vaccine scandal" looking at the resurgence of vaccine skepticism in the USA, in particular in relation to the MMR vaccine and the false claims linking it to autism. In response to this programme, the BSI has released the following statement:
“Vaccination continues to save countless lives around the globe and represents a triumph for disease prevention. Vaccines are amongst the simplest and most effective public health measures we have that prevent people from contracting a whole range of life-threatening and debilitating infections.
It is now over 7 years since Andrew Wakefield was struck off the medical register for making false claims about the MMR vaccine, having been shown to be dishonest and irresponsible by the General Medical Council. In the time since those claims were made, seventeen authoritative studies conducted in seven different countries invalidate his assertions. All this high-quality evidence shows that MMR vaccine is safe to use and does not cause autism.
Measles and mumps are highly contagious viral diseases that can lead to serious, debilitating and potentially life-threatening complications. Thanks to immunisation, we are now close to eradicating measles in the UK. In 1967, the year before measles vaccination was introduced, there were over 460,000 cases of measles in the UK. In 2016, only 531 cases were reported, a decrease of 99.9%. This is a wonderful achievement, threatened by the unscientific and unjustified claims of Wakefield and his supporters.
The World Health Organization has set the target of eliminating measles from Europe by 2020. With the help of vaccination, our communities now need to work together to make this target a reality so that future generations do not have to face the scourge of measles.”
UK viewers can watch the full Dispatches programme on Channel 4 OnDemand.