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The Facts In The Case Of Dr. Andrew Wakefield
diversion sign
A fifteen page story about the MMR vaccination controversy. As ever, I'm sure a few spelling errors have slipped past me. Feel free to point any out so I can correct them.

The reference links for the strip are in the next blog entry.

Now! Let's have a heated debate!

2013 update. Since I wrote this blog entry, this cartoon strip as well as many others on such subjects as homeopathy, chiropratic, evolution, and the supposed NASA Moon hoax landings, have been published in a book: Science Tales in the UK (Myriad Edtions) and How To Fake A Moon Landing in the US and Canada (Abrams). Here's the link to my main blog.

1 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

2 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

3 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

4 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

5 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

6 MMR Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 7 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 8 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 9 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 10 Vaccination Scandal Story

mmr 11 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 12 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 13 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 14 Vaccination Scandal Story

MMR 15 Vaccination Scandal Story

I am Darryl Cunningham and this is my main blog.

As someone whose family deals with autism daily in our son, I find both the pro and anti-vaccine lobbies insulting.

Firstly, parents should NOT be coerced into vaccinating (the term "immunising" is technically and medically incorrect) their children, yet in many countries this is the case. When we question the safety of vaccines, including the recent flu vaccine that is causing convulsions in babies here in NZ, we are labelled paranoid and anti-vaccine. Perhaps we are just demanding higher safety standards, and being cautious?

Regarding the "vaccines cause autism" lobby, legal battles have been fought and won on this issue, yet I do not believe for a moment that my son's autism was caused by vaccination. Nor do I believe that vaccination is the sole or even the primary cause of autism.

What is clear is that funding into the causes of autism is sorely lacking. This is a disability that affects a child from age 2-3 (usual diagnosis age) through their entire life, and is devastating to the entire family, and challenging to the community.

Where is the funding and social support? Where are the studies? We spend far more money on heart disease, which in most cases is entirely preventable and is usually diet-reversable than on autism. Some balance might be fair.

Finally, I ask about your motives on posting this entire article. It does not solve the puzzle of autism - it merely adds more fuel to the fire of "us v them" on the already overpublicised autism versus anti-vaccination battleground. It is children like mine who are the victims here - I call for a truce, and instead some brainpower being directed towards searching for the cause and cure for autism.

In fact, several of the causes of autism are known and, if anything, the facts are leaning towards genetic damaged by teratogens, such as the already known autism causing drug sodium valproate which, when exposed to babies in utero, resulted in autism rates of up to 15% in studies.

This has become more long-winded than I intended it to be. I'm just asking for a little respect for autism and the damage it does. If people like Jenny McCarthy seem to be grasping at straws, no matter how foolish those straws appear, maybe it is time we asked why - and to me the answer is clear - science and our communities are not doing their jobs of finding the answers and supporting those of us who are there in the real world, dealing with autism every single day of our lives.

The victims are the children whose parents are not vaccinating them due to unfounded fears - fears that years and years of studies have shown to be unnecessary.
The victims are the children who are too young to be vaccinated, who are left open to disease when the children who could receive the vaccines are left unprotected by their parents, and herd immunity disappears.
The victims are all of the people who could be saved but aren't, when formerly-rare diseases start to make a comeback due to poor vaccination rates.

Autism is a serious problem, but it cannot and should not be hijacked to help the spread of other diseases. They can and should be entirely separate issues, and that is why the article is both relevant and helpful.

(Deleted comment)
Thank you for this. It all needed to be said, and you have done so in an exemplary manner!

Excellent - now do Cheney and Gore

This is good stuff! In other words, if someone has all the solutions to a problem they just made up or took advantage of trending data to lie about, then they are just making things up in order to get money and power. I agree.

Now do one with Cheney where Bush's administration wants war for oil and he has all these conflicting interests meaning the war must be about those conflicting interests. And I agree - it's probably all about those conflicting interests.

Then do Al Gore. Where he cries that the planet is heating up and unless we buy carbon credits (or something, he's just suggesting obviously), and sure enough it is, and surely that will continue, right?...So Al sets up some companies trading in a commodity based on these fears, I mean who doesn't want to save the planet? Turns out Al Gore has all kinds of planet-saving stuff already in place, wow - what a genius - he has the solutions all ready for us, before we even have defined the entire problem. He's at least as good as Wakefield.

Lies and fear know no party affiliation, neither should cynicism.

Re: Excellent - now do Cheney and Gore

when the majority of scientists agree Al Gore is wrong about the environment, you'll be right. Until then, bzzzzt, stupid comparison.

Page 5, panel 4 still has "Wakfield".

Thank you. I used to work in a natural foods store, and the best "refuting" I ever got of the anti-vaccine stuff at the time was pretty much "but hippies hate science so they're wrong," which was unconvincing at best.

Your use of facts and comics is marvelous (and not a little chilling), and I'm glad this link was shared with me.

Linked in from Science Based Medicine.

Brilliant. I'm the parent of an autistic child, and the way my son's situation is being used to promote this idiotic anti-vax nonsense pisses me off no end. You present the real facts in a clear, unambiguous way.

Page 8, middle row. Unfortunate use of Comic Sans.

Lucid, straight, poignant and insightful.

Massive kudos to you.

Great post, good to see something of value on LJ

Bloody hell Darryl! I see you've been BoingBoinged too. Fantastic amount of attention you're getting - many congratulations indeed!

Thank you so much for this!

Great comic, very useful.

I do want to bring up an interesting issue, that is misapplication of vaccines. My son had an incorrectly done polio vaccine at about a year old - the nurse put the needle into his leg to the barrel, in my opinion likely very near the bone at his small size. I actually complained at the time, the doctor's office told me she was a "contract" nurse there just for a day. He did get a very large welt and pain in the leg for weeks, and "coincidentally" started to lose his speech within a few weeks as well - diagnosis autism spectrum. At five, after a lot of therapy, he started speaking somewhat and now at 10 is doing very well in school but has behavior issues.

What I find alarming is that people are quick to blame the vaccines themselves, which are perfectly safe to the vast majority of children, and not look at the potential for bad practices taking a safe drug and making it unsafe. There are things like not giving vaccines when the immune system is already activated, such as if the child has a cold or flu, that parents aren't always aware of.

I find Ms. McCarthy distasteful at best and destructive at worst, and the more you read of her interviews and 'stance', the more you feel sorry for her and her child. What I see when I see the autism "epidemic" is the faces of many of the kids diagnosed as "MR" when I was a kid, and nowadays we are able to differentiate between MR and autism. They should do some serious comparisons of the numbers from 40 years ago until now.

this is awesome tall guy, nice one!

Great comic about an important, silent problem. Well done.