Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Wakefield’s article linking MMR vaccine and autism was fraudulent

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 06 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:c7452

Rapid Response:

anti-vaccine canards

Dr. Tomljenovic's answer to my letter is full of them.

Of course critical analyses of vaccine safety doesn't make one "anti-
vaccine", but speaking on anti-vaccine conferences and uncritically
copying and pasting bad and/or misinterpreted science from anti-vaccine
web sites makes one anti-vaccine.

To publically raise doubt about whether the measles vaccine actually
works, reveals biomedical illiteracy.
Claims like "If you search the literature you will find that outbreaks of
infectious diseases frequently occur in fully vaccinated populations"
identify the anti-vaccine activist, deliberately misrepresenting the
published evidence:

Gustavson et al ( describe
what we know to date: 1xMMR will leave about 5% of vaccinees non-immune
(in this case 4.1%), and "none of the 1732 seropositive students
contracted measles.".

Tugwell et al ( describe
an outbreak of chicken pox with an attack rate of 12% in children
vaccinated once, which is actually in line with the incidence second
varicella infections in patients who previously had the disease
( and roughly a quarter of the
incidence in unvaccinated children (although there were very few in that
particular outbreak this is what is commonly observed). The 1x varicella
schedule has recently been estimated to have prevented about 50'000
hospitalisations in the US from 2000 to 2006

Both in smaller outbreaks in the US (e.g. 2008 San Diego, 11 cases,
all unvaccinated
and larger outbreaks (e.g. 1999/2000 Coburg, Germany, 1200 cases, 1100
the risk of contracting measles was up to 50 times higher in unvaccinated
children than in vaccinated.

The anti-vaccine arguments of Dr. Tomljenovic have been debunked over
and over again.

Competing interests: I have previously blogged on this issue.

03 February 2011
Catherina G. Becker