@kimlacapria. “FALSE: Autism Is Now Disclosed as DTaP Side Effect.” Snopes. Snopes, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.
The article “Shot in the Dark” on snopes.com discusses the merits of a rumor that started in March of 2016 about the DTaP vaccine. It was claimed that “autism was now disclosed and acknowledged as an adverse event reported for use of DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis) vaccine.” This claim soon arose all over social media, as this seemed to finally be admission from the medical community that vaccines could cause autism, which has been denied for years. The rumor popped up because the insert label for the vaccine lists autism as reported adverse event to the vaccine. People read this statement and ran with it, making wild claims that this proved there was in fact evidence to support a link between autism and vaccines. However, people failed to read the context of the insert. The important qualifying sentence clearly emphasizes “because these events are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequencies or to establish a casual relationship to components of the Tripedia vaccine.” So really, the “adverse events” listed were just reports from the users of the vaccines themselves, and data was not collected scientifically to support the claims. The article then goes into the history of the autism-vaccine conspiracy theory, which originated with Dr. Wakefield’s publication in the in The Lancet medical journal. Wakefield claimed to have found a link between DTaP and autism, but later retracted the article, after it was thoroughly disproved. However, the seed of doubt was already planted in the minds of the public, and the irrational fear of vaccines was able to take a strong hold and persist, even though today.
It has been proven time and time again that the link between vaccines and autism is unfounded. But does this mean that there couldn’t be other unknown concerns about vaccines? The benefits of vaccines and the importance of herd immunity has become so entrenched in society, that people who choose not to vaccinate or raise any doubts about seem to be ostracized. Wishes to not be vaccinated are often associated with the false autism conspiracy theory, which can lead to other questions about vaccines being shut down. Is it still worthwhile to question the use of vaccines?