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Letters: Vaccination story was misleading

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I was disappointed that your paper chose to include a story with so much misleading information about vaccinations on the front page. While I cannot comment on the pamphlet Mr. Knutson is distributing, I would like to share some further information about the 1998 study by British physician Andrew Wakefield that alleged a link between vaccinations and autism:

First, Wakefield's study claimed a link between the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccine and autism, and had nothing to do with vaccines for H1N1 or any other kind of influenza.

Second, it was later revealed that one of Wakefield's funding sources were the litigants in a lawsuit claiming that there was a link between MMR vaccines and autism. The Lancet, the British medical journal that published the study said that if they had known of the conflict of interest, it would not have published the article in the way that it did.

Third, in 2004 10 out of 12 of Wakefield's co-authors formally retracted the paper and its findings. Since then, the Centers for Disease Control, the National Academy of Sciences and the UK's National Health Service have all conducted studies that found no link between autism and MMR vaccines.

Finally, under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the United States has a court that specializes in claims of injury from vaccine. That court ruled on Feb. 12, 2009 that parents of autistic children are not entitled to compensation due to claims of injury from vaccine.

And I would point out again that all of this was about childhood MMR vaccines and had absolutely nothing to do with seasonal influenza or the H1N1 epidemic. Printing this kind of misleading information is, at best, irresponsible when we could be on the verge of a massive public health crisis, and I would strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated, especially if you fall into one of the main risk groups for H1N1.

Curtiss Peterson, Menahga

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