One of the most frustrating misperceptions in our many studies on what people commonly get wrong is the enduring myth that vaccines pose a risk to healthy children. It’s particularly maddening because it has direct and long-lasting consequences.
Public Health England recently warned young people to look out for symptoms of measles before attending a music festival in Essex. This was in response to 12 cases being identified in the county since July, way up on usual numbers. The rise reflects a broader trend. Measles cases in Europe increased fourfold in 2017, affecting more than 20,000 people and causing 35 deaths.
In the UK, the rise in cases is often among young adults, who were less likely to be immunised as children during a period of vaccine concern sparked by Andrew Wakefield’s now completely discredited claims that the MMR vaccine caused leaks in the gut that went through the bloodstream to the brain.