The concept of vaccination has been around since the 18th century. It was a British doctor named Edward Jenner who first tried to use a scientific approach to controlling an infectious disease by the deliberate use of vaccination . His work introduced the world to an entirely new concept of fighting diseases. A concept that is so common in these modern times, we cannot imagine a world without it. Or can we?
Data from the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment shows that an increasing amount of parents choose not to vaccinate their children . The measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccination-rates, for instance, fall below the 95% coverage that is required by the world health organization to ensure herd immunity. The reasons for this decline are complex, but one reason stands out. This is the fear of side-effects and specifically the fear of inducing autism.
When looking at the possible side-effects mentioned by the Institute for Side-Effects Lareb, autism cannot be found . So, where exactly did this fear of autism come from?
It all started in 1998 when a British doctor named Andrew Wakefield and 12 colleagues published an article in the Lancet claiming that the MMR vaccine may cause behavioural regression and pervasive developmental disorder (autism) in children . The article received wide media attention and soon many studies followed, refuting the statements made by Wakefield . In 2004, it was also revealed that Wakefield had failed to disclose certain financial interests. His research received funding from lawyers who had been suing vaccine-producing companies. Despite these revelations, it was not until 2010 that the Lancet officially retracted the 1998 article. Three months later, Wakefield lost his medical license and was barred from practising medicine in the UK . To this day, Wakefield continues to support his initial claims and believes he has been the subject of a major conspiracy.
Despite all attempts to rectify the wrongdoing of the 1998 article, some damage has already been done. It is not too late, however, since most parents still choose to vaccinate. I think little children will always remain afraid of their next vaccination, but parents really should not have to be.
 Riedel, S. Edward Jenner and the history of smallpox and vaccination. Proceedings (Baylor University. Medical Center) 18, 21-25 (2005).
 E.A. Van Lier, J.L.E.G., P.J. Oomen, H. Giesbers, J.A. Van Vliet, I.H. Drijfhout, I.F. Zonnenberg-Hoff, H.E. De Melker. Vaccinatiegraad en jaarverslag Rijksvaccinatieprogramma Nederland 2017 (2018).
 “Lareb.” Lareb.nl. N.p., 10 Febr. 2019. Web. Retrieved from: https://www.lareb.nl/nl/image-widget/informatie-over-vaccins Accessed at: 10 Febr. 2019.
 Wakefield, A.J., et al. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. Lancet (London, England) 351, 637-641 (1998).
 Rao, T.S. & Andrade, C. The MMR vaccine and autism: Sensation, refutation, retraction, and fraud. Indian journal of psychiatry 53, 95-96 (2011).