Wakefield Was Wrong About Vaccine Safety And Dr. Harrison Proves It
May 16, 2014

Since I first began contributing to Shot of Prevention I’ve had many opportunities to realize that people who support immunizations are genuinely concerned about the welfare of others.  Everyone from healthcare providers to public health professionals, and immunization coalition members to epidemiologists all commit themselves to educating others about the importance of timely immunizations.  They also play a key role in refuting the misinformation and negative accusations that continuously cause people to question the value and safety of vaccines.

When we look at immunization education challenges, there is no doubt that some of the most prevalent misconceptions about vaccines are the result of the work of one man – Andrew Wakefield.  Many people would agree that Andrew Wakefield’s “callous disregard” for scientific integrity has had ripple effects on immunization rates and disease outbreaks.   Not only have his professional dealings been questionable and heavily criticized, Wakefield has also been stripped of his medical license.   Yet, as an author of a book entitled Callous Disregard, Wakefield continues to promote his misguided agenda in an effort to defend himself and persuade others to question the benefits of vaccines.

Fortunately, organizations like Every Child By Two, work hard to dispel the myths that he has helped create.  And fortunately, Every Child By Two has the support of many devoted immunization advocates – people like Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH. 

As a retired epidemiologist, Dr. Harrison has worked in the areas of preventive medicine, infectious diseases, medical outcomes research, and evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.  After reading Callous Disregard, he felt compelled to refute each and every point that Andrew Wakefield attempted to make about vaccine safety and his article was ultimately published in a peer-reviewed online open-source medical journal.

JoelHarrisonHe explains:

I am a retired epidemiologist who has been following the so-called “vaccine controversy.” Outbreaks of totally unnecessary vaccine-preventable diseases as a consequence of misinformation and disinformation from anti-vaccine advocates who don’t understand science, don’t apply critical thinking; but fall back on conspiracy theories and ad hominem attacks. A leading figure is Dr. Andrew Wakefield. Despite his original article being retracted by the Lancet because of serious problems, loss of his medical license, etc. all of the anti-vaccine groups continue to support him and refer to his “research”.  In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Wakefield continuously pushed his book “Callous Disregard” saying that if people wanted the truth they should read his book. Cooper finally responded that if everything else he said was a lie, then his book would be one as well. Jenny McCarthy wrote the introduction to his book. 

In his book Wakefield claims that Sweden vaccinated their children with no concern for safety and the UK not only showed no concern for safety, but implemented a program with a “dangerous vaccine”, one that had the potential to kill over 14,000 kids. I found it and still find it incredible that people who praise the book didn’t even hesitate to believe that two modern technologically advanced Western democracies would be capable of such callous insane behaviors. Reminds me of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” except Wakefield wasn’t writing his book as a satire. I guess if his supporters lived four centuries ago they would have been lining up at their local butcher shops for delectable juicy morsels of Irish babies???

As a life-long proponent of public health and vaccines I decided to write a review of his book which entailed a lot of time and effort. It was recently published in a peer-reviewed online open-source medical journal. I believe my paper will contribute to undermining the credibility of the anti-vaccinationists; but only if people are aware of it and read it. So, I am contacting you as vaccine advocates, hoping you will read my paper, like it, and post it on your website.  A retired Swedish vaccine researcher, Dr. Brith Christenson, written about in Wakefield’s book and in my paper, read my paper and wrote a supporting letter to the journal which they published. You can find my paper and the supporting letter at:


Wrong About Vaccine Safety: A Review of Andrew Wakefield’s “Callous Disregard”


by Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH, The Open Vaccine Journal, Vol. 6, 2013, p. 9-25.


“This paper systematically examines the claims in Wakefield’s book as an example of similar erroneous claims being made within the anti-vaccination movement, contrasting these approaches to scientific foundations of vaccine risk and benefit. It is hoped that this review will be used by doctors and public health personnel to encourage parents hesitating to have their children vaccinated to question anti-vaccination claims in general, given that many proponents often refer to Wakefield as an authority and display in their writings and pronouncements similar examples of erroneous claims.  The public health risks from decreased vaccination are significant. Based on the old adage “trust but verify,” readers should examine the references and, where possible (URLs to many documents are included), obtain and read the original papers rather than rely on the “interpretations” of others.”


Letter to the Editor: Comment on Dr. Joel A. Harrison’s ‘Wrong About Vaccine Safety.’


by Brith Christenson, MD, PhD, The Open Vaccine Journal, Vol. 6, 2013, p. 26.



Please consider sharing this document and asking others to read it and distribute it widely.  We must continue to encourage people like Dr. Harrison, who refute the misinformation that is continually shared by people like Andrew Wakefield and other vaccine critics.  In a recent media analysis it was noted that various media networks “nourished anti-vaccine hysteria with 171 stories on the debunked autism link“.  Hopefully our efforts can swing the pendulum and help the media to address concerns about current outbreaks and the true and scientifically verifiable value of vaccines in reducing the preventable spread of disease.

Please note: Dr. Harrison is not an employee of Every Child By Two.  Rather, he volunteers his time to provide in-depth, well-researched analysis of articles which ultimately make false claims about the safety of vaccines.  The opinions in his articles reflect his views as the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Every Child By Two.  His articles are summarized here on Shot of Prevention with links to the full response on the Every Child By Two website.

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44 responses to “Wakefield Was Wrong About Vaccine Safety And Dr. Harrison Proves It”

  1. reissd says:

    Dr. Harrison’s wonderful, thorough article is more proof – if any was needed – that Andrew Wakefield’s word isn’t worth the ink it’s written in. It’s a pity that there are still people so under his spell as to ignore his many failings, and that there are parents still willing to trust him with their children.

  2. Courtney says:

    Dr. Wakefield’s study was actually looking at bowel disease in children with autism. The study lead him to the MMR vaccine connection as was suggested by the parents of the children studied. There was never any fraud proven, and in fact, all of the parents support Dr. Wakefield today. His co-author of the study, John Walker Smith, has been exonerated in court and Wakefield will also be exonerated.

    Here is a list of studies supporting his work:
    1) Furlano R, Anthony A, Day R, Brown A, Mc Garvey L, Thomson M, et al. Colonic CD8 and T cell filtration with epithelial damage in children with autism. J Pediatr 2001;138:366-72.
    2) Torrente F., Machado N., Perez-Machado M., Furlano R., Thomson M., Davies S., Wakefield AJ, Walker-Smith JA, Murch SH. Enteropathy with T cell infiltration and epithelial IgG deposition in autism. Molecular Psychiatry. 2002;7:375-382.
    3) Ashwood P, Murch SH, Anthony A, Hayes C, Machado MP, Torrente F, Thomson MA, Heuschkel R, Wakefield AJ., Mucosal and peripheral blood lymphocyte cytokine profiles in children with regressive autism and gastrointestinal symptoms: Mucosal immune activation and reduced counter regulatory interleukin-10. Gastroenterol. 2002;122 (Suppl):A617
    4) Ashwood P, Anthony A, Torrente F, Wakefield AJ. Spontaneous mucosal lymphocyte cytokine profiles in children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms: mucosal immune activation and reduced counter regulatory interleukin-10. J Clin Immunol. 2004;24(6):664-73.
    5) Wakefield AJ., Puleston J. Montgomery SM., Anthony A., O’Leary J.J., Murch SH Entero-colonic encephalopathy, autism and opioid receptor ligands. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 2002;16:663-674
    6) Wakefield AJ. The Gut-Brain Axis in Childhood developmental Disorders. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2002;34:S14-S17
    7) Uhlmann V, Martin CM, Sheils O, Pilkington L, Silva I, Killalea A, Murch SH, Wakefield AJ, O’Leary JJ., Potential viral pathogenic mechanism for new variant inflammatory bowel disease. Molecular Pathology 2002;55:84-90
    8) Ashwood P, Anthony A, Pellicer AA, Torrente F, Wakefield AJ. Intestinal lymphocyte populations in children with regressive autism: evidence for extensive mucosal immunopathology. Journal of Clinical Immunology, 2003;23:504-517.
    9) Torrente F, Anthony A, Heuschkel RB, Thomson MA, Ashwood P, Murch SH. Focal-enhanced gastritis in regressive autism with features distinct from Crohn’s and Helicobacter pylori gastritis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2004;99:598-605
    10) Ashwood P, Wakefield AJ. Immune activation of peripheral blood and mucosal CD3+ lymphocyte cytokine profiles in children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms. J Neuroimmunol. 2006;173(1-2):126-34.
    11) Wakefield AJ, Ashwood P, Limb K, Anthony A. The significance of ileo-colonic lymphoid nodular hyperplasia in children with autistic spectrum disorder. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2005 Aug;17(8):827-36.
    The following two peer-reviewed papers from the Royal Free Hospital in the UK were withdrawn for political reasons, but the science remains valid and relevant
    1) Wakefield AJ, Murch SM, Anthony A et al., Ileal- lymphoid- nodular Hyperplasia, Non- specific Colitis, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder in Children, The Lancet, 1998, 351(9103): 637– 41.
    2) Wakefield AJ, Anthony A, Murch SH, Thomson M, Montgomery SM, Davies S, Walker-Smith JA. Enterocolitis in children with developmental disorder. American Journal of Gastroenterology 2000;95:2285-2295.
    The following peer-reviewed papers duplicate Dr. Wakefield’s original findings in five additional countries, including the US, Italy, Venezuela, Canada and Poland:
    1) Gonzalez, L. et al., Endoscopic and Histological Characteristics of the Digestive Mucosa in Autistic Children with gastro-Intestinal Symptoms. Arch Venez Pueric Pediatr, 2005;69:19-25.
    2) Balzola, F., et al., Panenteric IBD-like disease in a patient with regressive autism shown for the first time by wireless capsule enteroscopy: Another piece in the jig-saw of the gut-brain syndrome? American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005. 100(4): p. 979- 981.
    3) Balzola F et al . Autistic enterocolitis: confirmation of a new inflammatory bowel disease in an Italian cohort of patients. Gastroenterology 2005;128(Suppl. 2);A-303.
    4) Krigsman A, Boris M, Goldblatt A, Stott C. Clinical Presentation and Histologic Findings at Ileocolonoscopy in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Chronic Gastrointestinal Symptoms. Autism Insights. 2009;1:1–11.
    5) Horvath K., Papadimitriou J.C., Rabsztyn A., Drachenberg C., Tildon J.T. 1999. Gastrointestinal abnormalities in children with autism. J. Pediatrics 135: 559-563.
    6) Sabra S, Bellanti JA, Colon AR. Ileal lymphoid hyperplasia, non-specific colitis and pervasive developmental disorder in children. The Lancet 1998;352:234-5.
    7) Sabra A, Hartman D, Zeligs BJ et al., Linkage of ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia (ILNH), food allergy and CNS developmental abnormalities: evidence for a non-IgE association, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol, 1999;82:8
    8) Galiatsatos P, Gologan A, Lamoureux E, Autistic enterocolitis: Fact or fiction? Can J Gastroenterol. 2009:23:95-98
    9) Jarocka-Cyrta et al. Brief report: eosinophilic esophagitis as a cause of feeding problems in an autistic boy. The first reported case.J. Aut. Dev. Disord. Online July 10, 2010
    The following articles support the importance of recognizing and treating gastrointestinal symptoms in autistic children:
    1) Buie T, et al. Pediatrics. 2010 Jan;125 Suppl 1:S19-29. Recommendations for evaluation and treatment of common gastrointestinal problems in children with ASDs.
    2) Buie T, et al. Pediatrics. 2010 Jan;125 Suppl 1:S1-18. Evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of gastrointestinal disorders in individuals with ASDs: a consensus report.
    The following peer-reviewed papers provide further support for gastrointestinal disturbances involving the immune system in autism.
    1) Jyonouchi H., Sun S., Lee H. 2001. Proinflammatory and regulatory cytokine production associated with innate and adaptive immune responses in children with autism spectrum disorders and developmental regression. J. Neuroimmunol. 120(1-2):170-9
    2) Jyonouchi H, Geng L, Ruby A, Zimmerman-Bier B. Dysregulated Innate Immune Responses in Young Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Their Relationship to Gastrointestinal Symptoms and Dietary Intervention. Neuropsychobiology. 2005;28:5177-85
    3) Jyonouchi H, Geng L, Ruby A, Reddy C, Zimmerman-Bier B. Evaluation of an association between gastrointestinal symptoms and cytokine production against common dietary proteins in children with autism spectrum disorders. J Pediatr.2005;146(5):605-10.
    4) Jyonouchi H, Sun S, Itokazu N. Innate immunity associated with inflammatory responses and cytokine production against common dietary proteins in patients with autism spectrum disorder. Neuropsychobiology. 2002;46(2):76-84.
    5) Vojdani A, O’Bryan T, Green JA, McCandless J, Woeller KN, Vojdani E, Nourian AA, Cooper EL. Immune response to dietary proteins, gliadin and cerebellar peptides in children with autism. Nutr. Neurosci. 2004;7:151-61.
    6) Whiteley P, Haracopos D, Knivsberg AM, Reichelt KL, Parlar S, Jacobsen J, Seim A, Pedersen L, Schondel M, Shattock P. The ScanBrit randomised, controlled, single-blind study of a gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for children with autism spectrum disorders. Nutr Neurosci. 2010;13(2):87-100.
    7) Knivsberg AM, Reichelt KL, Høien T, Nødland M. A randomised, controlled study of dietary intervention in autistic syndromes. Nutr Neurosci. 2002;5(4):251-61.
    8) Balzola F, et al. Beneficial behavioural effects of IBD therapy and gluten/casein-free diet in an Italian cohort of patients with autistic enterocolitis followed over one year. Gastroenterology 2008;4:S1364.
    9) Valicenti-McDermott M., McVicar K., Rapin I., et al., Frequency of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Association with Family History of Autoimmune Disease. Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. 2006;27:128-136
    10) Chen B, Girgis S, El-Matary W. Childhood Autism and Eosinophilic Colitis. Digestion 2010;18:127-129
    11) Sandler R, Finegold SM., Bolte ER., et al. Short-term benefit from oral vancomycin treatment of regressive-onset autism. J Child Neurol. 2000;15:429-435

  3. Chris says:

    One big problem with your “list”, Courtney, the replications need to be independent. This means no friends or colleagues like Krigsman or Balzola.

    There is one big bit of documentation that is also missing: verifiable documentation dated before 1990 that shows an increase in autism (and gut issues) rising in the USA coincidental with the use MMR, which was introduced in 1971 and was the preferred vaccine for the 1978 Measles Elimination Program. Obviously that should have been noticed in a country that is both much bigger and using the MMR much longer than the UK. Where is that evidence?

    By the way, gut issues affect lots of kids. Many times it has to do with anxiety, it really has nothing to do with vaccines.

  4. Good lord Courtney, did you even read the article linked in this post? Wakefield will not be exonerated. He is well past even a glimmer of hope in that regard. Don’t follow his crowd. He’s a lying liar. Read the article linked herein. Dr Harrison did an amazing job of smacking down every single claim Wakefield wrote about in his book. Wakefield is completely wrong, did a shoddy job all around. Read this article instead of just automatically slamming it.

    (and yes I have already read your links )

  5. JGC56 says:

    ” There was never any fraud proven…”

    Except for the part of the Lancet paper where he reported that 9 of the 12 subjects of the retracted 1998 Lancet paper had regressive autism, when in fact only 1 of the 12 subjects had a diagnosis of regressive autism and 3 of the 9 didn’t weren’t diagnosed with autism in any form.

    And the part where he described all 12 children as previously normal, when in fact 5 had documented pre-existing developmental concerns.

    And the part where he reported children as experiencing the first onset of behavioral symptoms within days of MMR vaccination, when records instead document them as occurring months later.

    And of course that part where he altered the medical records of 9 of the twelve subjects to change normal colonic histopathology reports (finding “no or minimal fluctuations of inflammatory cell populations”) to report instead “non-specific colitis.

    And the part where he indicates that 8 parents were reported as blaming the MMR vaccine for their child’s symptoms, when in fact 11 parents made this allegation at the hospital (the three allegations that were excluded all gave onset times of months after inoculation, and their exclusion was necessary to create the false impression of a close temporal association between vaccination and symptom onset).

    But other than all that…

  6. lilady says:

    Per Courtney:

    “Dr. Wakefield’s study was actually looking at bowel disease in children with autism. The study lead him to the MMR vaccine connection as was suggested by the parents of the children studied.”

    You missed a few steps, Courtney.

    The majority of the “parents of the children studied”, were referred to a bottom-feeding lawyer by JABS (a notorious anti-vaccine group located in the U.K.), thence to Wakefield.

    “There was never any fraud proven, and in fact, all of the parents support Dr. Wakefield today.”

    The ‘operative phrase’ in your statement is that those “parents support Wakefield today”. How many of those parents testified on behalf of Wakefield during the GMC Fitness-To-Practice” hearing?

    Why didn’t they testify, under oath, at that hearing?

    “His co-author of the study, John Walker Smith, has been exonerated in court and Wakefield will also be exonerated.”

    John Walker-Smith appealed the GMC decision; Wakefield didn’t.

    John Walker-Smith threw Wakefield under the bus, by claiming that Wakefield lied to him about the purpose of the study.

    A generous offer was extended to Wakefield, to replicate his “study” findings…and he didn’t.

    I’ve read those studies that you listed, (in spite of the fact that your anti-vaccine sources have a penchant for renumbering those studies and providing faulty citations), and the ones which have Wakefield and his colleagues as authors, are bogus. Wakefield and his colleagues depleted the Legal Aid funds in the form of exorbitant “expert witness” fees, before any lawsuit against the manufacturers of MMR vaccines, was commenced:


    To add to Dr. Harrison’s excellent analysis of Wakefield’s “research” and “study” findings, I present to you, this excellent YouTube video which explains how Wakefield manipulated the raw data on the PCR measles virus, which Wakefield claimed to have fund in lymphatic tissue in the guts of his “study” subjects:


  7. Courtney says:

    I am sorry lilady, I do not accept “You Tube” videos as evidence.

  8. Lawrence says:

    @Courtney – lol, pot, kettle, black!

    Actually, that video shows real evidence, as opposed to Wakefield’s fraud.

  9. lilady says:

    “I am sorry lilady, I do not accept “You Tube” videos as evidence.”


    “I am sorry lilady, I do not understand the graphic presentation of PCR testing and how Wakefield manipulated the raw data on the PCR measles virus, which Wakefield claimed to have found in lymphatic tissue in the guts of his “study” subjects”

    FTFY, Courtney.

  10. Courtney says:

    Google University and You Tube videos are worthless. Next you’ll be quoting something from whale.to

  11. Lawrence says:

    @Courtney – so refreshing to see someone such as yourself come to realize that all of your “evidence” is nothing but a pile of lies built on top of a fraud by a man who has been laughing all the way to the bank since 1998…….

  12. lilady says:

    “Google University and You Tube videos are worthless. Next you’ll be quoting something from whale.to”

    Next you’ll be quoting something from the May 10, 2010 post from Age of Autism:


    – 10 points for plagiarism

    – 10 points for failing to cite your source

  13. Lawrence says:

    @lilady – Courtney is actually funny tonight…..although I seriously doubt she could ever look in a mirror & even imagine how wrong she actually is.

  14. lilady says:

    Lawrence, I know Courtney is posting for our (unintended) viewing pleasure.

    P.S. All of Courtney’s studies are listed on whale.to.

  15. dingo199 says:

    What does it feel like, Courtney, to have your cherished beliefs so comprehensively eviscerated?
    Oh, that’s right, you don’t know, because your mind has reverted into cognitive dissonance mode, and blanks out everything outside it’s delusional focus.

  16. lilady says:

    Let’s not forget Andrew Wakefield’s blatant fabrication of correspondence he claimed to have had with Dr. Brith Christenson MD, PhD at the Upsala County Council Department of Disease Control and Prevention. That fabricated claim, has now been addressed by Dr. Christenson’s letter, which was published in the Open Vaccine Journal.

    Thank you Dr. Harrison and thank you Dr. Christenson.

  17. Joel A. Harrison, PhD, MPH says:

    Courtney writes: “Dr. Wakefield’s study was actually looking at bowel disease in children with autism. The study lead him to the MMR vaccine connection as was suggested by the parents of the children studied. There was never any fraud proven, and in fact, all of the parents support Dr. Wakefield today. His co-author of the study, John Walker Smith, has been exonerated in court and Wakefield will also be exonerated.”

    Approximately two years prior to his study, Wakefield began consulting for the Dawburn law firm who was representing families with autistic children suing the MMR vaccine manufacturers. In addition, Wakefield helped the Dawburn law firm write a grant proposal for conducting research to prove that the vaccine was the problem. In his 1998 article Wakefield writes: “12 children consecutively referred to the department of pediatric gastroenterology . . .” However, it was discovered that 11 of the 12 children came from either those being represented by the Dawburn law firm or JABS, an anti-vaccine group in the UK who were actively collaborating in the law suit. What’s more, evidence was found that Wakefield had spoken with the families prior to their coming to the Royal Free Hospital where he was employed as a researcher. Wakefield has not denied this; but considers it unimportant; but, of course, it is, the children were a grossly biased sample. So, “the study [did not] lead him to the MMR vaccine connection.”

    Though a number of problems were found with the study, for sake of argument, let’s assume it was a study conducted to look at “bowel disease in children with autism.” What the parents thought was irrelevant. What if the children had truly been normal referrals to the clinic? If a couple of the parents believed their children had been abducted by aliens for testing in the middle of the night and the following day began showing signs of autism would Wakefield have included this in his paper? What if the parents belonged to an extreme fundamentalist church and believed that some sin they had committed caused their children’s condition, a punishment from on high? Would Wakefield have included this? Or what if several lived in a rural community and believed that the mass spraying of pesticides was the cause (actually there are studies indicating prenatal exposure to certain pesticides as involved in development of autism), would Wakefield have included this in his paper?

    Not only had Wakefield been paid consulting fees by the Dawburn law firm of approximately $700,000; but prior to publication of his 1998 article he had applied for a patent for a monovalent measles vaccine which, if people stopped using the trivalent MMR vaccine, would have been worth quite a bit, that is, if the vaccine was any good?

    As Courtney writes: “His co-author of the study, John Walker Smith, has been exonerated in court and Wakefield will also be exonerated.” Yes, John Walker Smith got his medical license back; but was he exonerated? What about Wakefield? He began his own appeal; but claims he was forced to drop it due to lack of funds. If he had continued would he also have regained his medical license?

    From the actual judgment of the British High Court:

    “When the person undertaking the activity has two purposes or when different people participating in the same series of activities have different purposes, it may be very difficult to say into which category the activities fall. This difficulty is particularly likely to arise in activities undertaken by an academic clinician and/or in a teaching hospital with a research department. These difficulties arose in this case: Dr. Wakefield’s purpose was undoubtedly research [my emphasis]; Professor Walker-Smith’s may have lain anywhere on the spectrum. It was for the panel to determine where it did; but first, it had to determine what his intention in fact was.

    Professor Walker-Smith’s intention

    The panel made no express finding on this issue and cannot have appreciated the need to do so. There was a good deal of evidence, to which I refer in greater detail below, that Professor Walker-Smith and his team were undertaking what any reasonable body of medical practitioners would categorize as research – but also that he intended and genuinely believed that what he was doing was solely or primarily for the clinical benefit of the children. When such an issue arises, a panel will almost always have to determine the honesty or otherwise of the practitioner. “ (Mitting, 2012, p. 9)

    Judge Mitting’s ruling was based on a legal technicality not considered by the British Medical Council, that is, the BMC did not discuss nor justify why their decision gave greater weight to the evidence that Walker-Smith’s intentions were based on research rather than the best clinical interests of his patients. But the judgment also made clear that “Dr. Wakefield’s purpose was undoubtedly research [my emphasis].” Keep in mind that part of the evidence against Wakefield was that he was carrying out research on children prior to receiving approval to do so (General Medical Council, 2010ab; Mitting, 2012).

    In addition, the ruling goes on to state:

    “As for the link between the MMR vaccine and autism, in response to a letter from Wakefield on February 20, 1997 in which Wakefield discussed his acting as a consultant in pending legal actions on behalf of autistic children, Mitting includes that Walker-Smith responded: “My position as with measles, MMR and Crohn’s disease is that the link with MMR is so far unproven. It is clear that the legal involvement by nearly all the parents will have an effect on the study as they have a vested interest. I myself simply will not appear in court on this issue.” (Mitting, 2012, p.5)

    So John Walker Smith, prior to the study made it clear that he was aware that the children were involved in the lawsuit and had “vested interest[s].” He was not “exonerated”; but won on a legal technicality. Many disagree with Judge Mitting’s ruling. It is clear from the quote above from Smith and other memos and documents that he was both aware that the children were part of a study and that the invasive procedures, e.g. lumbar punctures, colonoscopies, etc. were to collect data for the study. At the time of the appeal Walker-Smith was 75 and long retired so Judge Mitting may well have simply decided restoring his license could do no harm, especially after a long distinguished career. He had just come to the Royal Free at the end of his career. In any case, Mitting made it perfectly clear that he saw Wakefield’s action as research!

    Besides being dead wrong about each claim, Courtney displays two major flaws that I’ve seen over and over again from anti-vaccine proponents:

    1. Without even carefully reading what I wrote rejecting it.

    2. Posting numerous studies. Several years ago, on another blog, someone posted study after study. I managed to find most of them, either on the internet or going to local university library. I carefully dissected the studies, showing major flaws. Not once did the poster blink; but continued to post more studies. At one point I asked them to, in their own words, explain the main points of a couple studies, just to see if they had actually read them; but they just kept posting. Probably copied unquestioningly from some other websites. I finally understood that the goal was to wear me down. At some point I stopped responding and, I guess, they assumed they had won. Some of the so-called studies weren’t even studies, just opinion pieces. In other words, the poster didn’t really know what they were talking about; but had taken a position and was deaf to any type of rational scholarly dialogue. In their mind they had won when I didn’t bother to respond anymore. This type of reasoning is frightening. If it was just debating the authenticity of Piltdown man it would just be an exercise in futility; but when the health and welfare of our children is involved this could be catastrophic.

    As for the manipulation of the PCR data, it was not so much manipulation as just inadequate methodology, that is, risk from contamination not removed, etc. Dr. Stephen Bustin went to the lab that conducted the PCRs with samples that contained measles RNA and those that did not. The blinded lab results found RNA in samples not containing it and vice versa. A recent article by Bustin describes his tests, etc (Bustin, 2013)

    Another point. In the interview on Anderson Cooper, Wakefield accused Brian Deer of being paid by the pharmaceutical industry. Cooper replied that Deer denied this. I would have asked Wakefield what evidence he had that would pass public scrutiny. Deer was a freelance investigative journalist asked by the London Times and Channel 4 to look into increasing outbreaks of measles following increasing numbers of parents refusing to vaccinate their children. This seems quite reasonable to me that a newspaper and TV station would see outbreaks of a childhood disease previous not seen as worth investigating. Just one more example of Wakefield throwing out claims without any credible evidence.

    The General Medical Council’s determination and Judge Mitting’s ruling give additional information and are well-worth reading.

    Not one claim made by Courtney was valid. Assuming she just parrots what she reads on various websites, including cutting and pasting lists of studies, it isn’t difficult to understand why, not only regarding vaccines; but the discourse on many subjects of vital interest to our nation are so problematic. We have a public where many lack understanding of basic scientific reasoning and methodology, lack the skills involved in critical thinking, and choose to believe whatever fits their pre-conceived notions without taking the time to do some “fact checking.” It would have been quite simple to find online Judge Mitting’s ruling and read it, only a couple of pages.


    Stephen A. Bustin. Why There is no Link Between Measles Virus and Autism (Chapter 5). Re-cent Advances in Autism Spectrum Disorders – Volume 1, INTECH, 2013 Available at: http://www.intechopen.com/books/recent-advances-in-autism-spectrum-disorders-volume-i/why-there-is-no-link-between-measles-virus-and-autism

    General Medical Council. Determination on Serious Professional Misconduct (SPM) and sanction in the cases of Dr Wakefield, Professor Walker-Smith and Professor Murch. 24 May 2010a. Available at: http://www.gmc-uk.org/news/7115.asp

    General Medical Council. Fitness to Practise Panel Public Minutes: Dr. Andrew Jeremy Wake-field – Determination on Serious Professional Misconduct and Sanction. 24 May 2010b. Available at: briandeer.com/solved/gmc-charge-sheet.pdf

    Mitting, Mr Justice. UK High Court of Justice. Judgment: Between Professor John Walker-Smith, Appellant and General Medical Council, Respondent, March 7, 2012 –Available at: http://www.bailii.org/ – in Search Box type Professor John Walker-Smith

  18. Melody RN says:

    Thank you Dr. Harrison for your work. I was very happy to see it featured here on Shot of Prevention. It’s a fabulous refutation of Mr. Wakefield’s dishonest and disingenuous book. I hope your article follows Wakefield’s book so no one falls victim to his misinformation.

  19. dingo199 says:

    Yes, thanks Dr Harrison.

  20. Bonnie says:

    Thank you Dr. Harrison. Sometimes there is no reply that will satisfy those who will not accept or learn the truth. Thank you again for presenting the facts. I agree that in most cases it is futile to keep responding to unsubstantiated claims; that is if it had to do with something frivolous. In this case public health and safety are at risk and I applaud your efforts more than you will ever know.

  21. Thanks for sharing this — it was brought to my attention from a post at Facebook, “I Fucking Hate Pseudoscience.” I reposted the article and h/t’d both of you.

  22. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your articles to be well researched.

    Would you offer the option for guest contributers to write content for your website?
    I would really like the opportunity to blog on topics
    related to the content that you publish on your site.

  23. Narad says:

    Would you offer the option for guest contributers to write content for your website?

    Can you write about ponies?

    Duly reported to abuse@tppwholesale.com.au and abuse@zendesk.com.

    HTH. HAND.

  24. Narad says:

    I hadn’t seen Dr. Christenson’s follow-up comment before; it’s a fine flourish.

  25. Lou says:


    Here is some good information for you. http://www.ageofautism.com/dr-andrew-wakefield/

  26. Lawrence says:

    @lou – I have a feeling Courtney is well acquainted with AoA, but AoA has a real problem with things like the truth and facts.

  27. Sullivan (Matt Carey) says:

    “and in fact, all of the parents support Dr. Wakefield today.”

    Not the case. One of the Lancet 12 parents has been rather critical of Mr. Wakefield.

  28. Wendy Stephen says:

    Dr Harrison

    In your paper you asked the question, “Did the UK grant a license for a urabe -containing MMR vaccine after Canada withdrew the Urabe MMR vaccine?”

    The answer must surely be yes.

    Jane C Mcdonald,MD, Dorothy L. Moore ,MD,PHD, and Patrick Quennec,RT, note in their paper “Clinical and Epidemiologic Features of Mumps Meningoencephalitis and Possible Vaccine-Related Disease” in the Paediatric Infectious Disease Journal vol 8, November 1989, following a study at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, that ” there have been no further cases of mumps CNS infection since the vaccine was withdrawn in February 1988 (unpublished data)”

    The UK version of urabe containing MMR, Pluserix, was licensed on 17th June 1988.

  29. Wendy Stephen says:

    Dr Harrison

    In your paper you also asked the question, “was the Urabe strain-containing MMR vaccine a dangerous vaccine?”

    The answer to this question must surely be yes.

    It seems highly unlikely that the UK regulatory authorities would have rushed to remove the two urabe containing MMR vaccines from the market in September 1992 when the risk of contracting aseptic meningitis was found to be one in 3,800 doses distributed, had they not viewed them as dangerous.

    The Committee for the Safety of Medicines (CSM) when calling for an import ban preventing the import of all urabe containing vaccines into the UK in 2002 issued a press release which advised that “the risk to children of a potentially serious neurological complication makes its use unnaceptable and we are advising the MCA not to allow importation of vaccines containing this strain”.

    Additionally, it was said that “viral meningitis is a potentially serious and distressing condition and urabe mumps vaccine-associated meningitis has led to seizures, hospitalisation and invasive clinical tests including lumbar puncture”

    The fact that recipient children were at risk of suffering potentially serious neurological complications and Urabe mumps vaccine -associated meningitis had induced seizures resulting in hospitalisation and lumbar punctures for some children, was an indication of just how dangerous the Urabe containing vaccines were.

  30. Lawrence says:

    @Wendy – and by the figures cited via the link, Mumps is far more dangerous than any Urabe containing vaccine…..

  31. Renée says:

    Mumps is a mild disease, how could it be far more dangerous?

  32. Chris says:

    Mumps itself causes meningitis, encephalitis, sterility (swelling of the testicles), deafness and occasionally death:

    A recent outbreak of about 1500 cases resulted in:

    Sixty-five reports of complications from mumps have been received: orchitis (55 cases), pancreatitis (five cases), aseptic meningitis (two cases), transient deafness (one case), Bell’s palsy (one case), and oophoritis (one case). Nineteen hospitalizations from mumps have been reported; no deaths have occurred.

    And why would you ever want a child to suffer with it?

    Now please explain how the MMR vaccine causes more harm than mumps by providing PubMed indexed studies by reputable qualified researchers. Make sure that the number of complications exceeds 65/1521, or one out of twenty three doses (or 4%)… and at least one out of eighty needed hospital care (which is over 1%).

  33. Lawrence says:

    @Renee – perhaps you need to speak to individual who have suffered serious complications from Mumps (there are plenty of them) and also examine the historical evidence of the number of serious side-effects over the years….what might be a mild disease for one child might render a second sterile….

  34. Renée says:

    So, a 1.2% hospitalization rate. How many of these complications you mention were still present a month later? Mumps does not even render a post-pubertal male sterile, in some cases it may reduce fertility, not eliminate it.

  35. JGC56 says:

    Renee, if you’re’re going to focus solely on asceptic meningitis and consider the multiple other adverse sequelae associated with mumps infection (orchitis, pancreatitus, etc.) risk analysis still storngly supports vaccination rather than being vaccinated against measels, even with the Urabe vaccine.

    Per Wendy’s post the risk of contracting asceptic meningitis associated with Urabe strain measles vaccine (1 in 3800 doses) is 0.02%, while per Chris’ post the risk of contracting asceptic meningitis as a consequence of mumps infection (2 in 1500 infections) is 0.13%.

    That’s an order of magnitude greater risk associated with remaining vulnerable to infection.

  36. Chris says:

    “How many of these complications you mention were still present a month later?”

    What kind of criteria is that? Well one big complication are the hospital bills. And perhaps the damage caused by the meningitis, and sometimes the hearing loss is permanent.

    Now provide the PubMed indexed studies by reputable reliable researchers that the MMR vaccine (the one used in the USA has never contained the Urabe mumps strain, even when it was introduced in 1971) causes more harm than mumps. Which before there was a mumps vaccine was the most common cause of post-lingual deafness (because even at just one out of twenty thousand it lots when millions of kids got mumps before the 1970s).

  37. JGC56 says:

    Sorry, a five-fold difference–not a full order of magnitude.

  38. Chris says:

    JGC56: “Per Wendy’s post the risk of contracting asceptic meningitis associated with Urabe strain measles vaccine (1 in 3800 doses) is 0.02%, while per Chris’ post the risk of contracting asceptic meningitis as a consequence of mumps infection (2 in 1500 infections) is 0.13%”

    And remember the Urabe measles strain was never used in the USA, and only used in the UK for four years. It was not even in any MMR vaccine in either country by the time Andrew Wakefield was doing his case series “study.”

    And if Renée wished to argue that the MMR vaccine causes autism, then she needs to produce the verifiable documentation dated before 1990 that autism rates increased during the 1970s and 1980s in the USA after it was introduced. The USA is a much larger country and was using the MMR for two decades before Wakefield did his small cases series in the UK, so it should have been noticed.

  39. Wendy Stephen says:

    Dr Harrison

    I note from your paper that you consider it “highly unlikely that many, if any, cases of aseptic meningitis would have been missed” in recipients of MMR vaccine.

    The post vaccination diaries issued to families were only maintained for a period of twenty one days. However a number of case reports identify urabe vaccine induced aseptic meningitis in recipient children way beyond the twenty one days covered by the diaries. Miller, E. et al in their paper “Risk of Aseptic Meningitis After Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccine in UK Children”, published in the Lancet, Vol 341, April 17th, 1993 noted that “half the aseptic meningitis cases identified in children aged 12-24 months were vaccine associated with onset 15-35 days after vaccine”

    The Canadian Medical Association Journal, Vol 138, January 15th 1988 reports on a case of mumps meningitis in a 14yr old, twenty six days post vaccination with the urabe containing Trivirix.

    In their paper “Clinical and Epidemiologic Features of Mumps Meningoencephalitis and possible Vaccine-related Disease”, Vol 8, Paediatric Infectious Disease Journal November 1989, McDonald et al report on a 4yr old who developed mumps meningitis twenty six days after receiving Trivirix.

    Had urabe vaccine induced mumps meningitis been occurring in the UK beyond twenty one days these cases would not have been entered into the diaries and would not have been included in the surveillance data collected.

    Additionally the other surveillance schemes in the UK failed to detect the scale of the problem.The minutes of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) meeting of the 6th November 1992 noted that “many lessons had been learnt from MMR. It was agreed that better surveillance was needed as well as consideration of how adverse events were followed up”.

    The July 1995 edition of the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology journal stated that “The urabe experience was exacerbated by the failure of the yellow card surveillance system to detect the scale of the problem…”

    The MMR trial in Somerset similarly failed to detect a problem with the JCVI at their meeting of the 7th March 1990 noting that “the surveillance of MMR vaccine in Somerset is unlikely to detect issues of concern, problems exist with under reporting”

    The British Paediatric Surveillance Unit study, set up to investigate cases of meningitis in children within six weeks of having received the MMR also failed to detect the scale of the problem with the lead researcher, Norman Begg submitting a letter to the Archives of Disease in Childhood, 1993 noting that the low risk rate detected by the BPSU may have been as a result of paediatricians failing to make the connection between the symptoms presenting in the children and the MMR vaccine.

    These numerous acknowledged failings in the surveillance schemes must surely make it likely, if not certain that cases of aseptic meningitis were missed.

  40. Lawrence says:

    @Wendy – so you point out two cases (out of how many vaccinated) that occurred at 26 days after vaccination – and what evidence is there that these individuals didn’t just get mumps (since the vaccine isn’t 100% effective & uptake in the 1988 – 1992 time period was still relatively low)?

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