Every now and then, the debate about whether Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccines cause autism resurfaces and throws off the work of doctors and scientists everywhere, who have been trying to negate this false claim made by a doctor in 1998. A US federal Judge’s assent to let the charges proceed against Merck, one of four producers of the MMR vaccine, regarding lying that the vaccine was 95 percent effective has given rise to calls for checking its link to autism once more. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in the US is seen as part of the conspiracy, although no evidence exists to support any of these theories.

While the scientific community does not possess a complete understanding of the specific genes that cause autism, it is an irrefutable fact that autism is something that a child is born with. Complications during birth and agents that cause birth defects are also cited as other factors. The only real link that exists so far between the administration of the vaccine and autism, is that the pediatrician has an opportunity to interact with, and examine his patients properly when they are brought in for the vaccine. Parents cannot always detect something is amiss with children that lie on the lower end of the autism spectrum. Additionally, it is not always easy to determine that someone has autism until they are three to four years old, which is incidentally around the time the child is supposed to get their second dose of the vaccine.

The vaccine debate, while relevant to Pakistan, extends to a host of other countries including many developed nations. Vaccines for both polio and MMR save millions of lives every year, and conspiracy theories against both cause a large number of parents to endanger their own children. Both diseases had exponential incidence rates before the vaccines were invented, and the only thing stopping them from being completely eradicated are smear campaigns designed to inspire fear and doubt in people. The global community has come close to elimination, and hiccups such as this should not be allowed to undo decades of hard work.