Review of “Are your kids contagious” Tonight special on the Liverpool measles outbreak

MMR VaccineLiverpool is in the midst of a measles outbreak. Worryingly, there are currently over 7,000 unvaccinated under 5s on Merseyside. This prompted ITV’s “Tonight” show to film a special entitled “Are your kids contagious?”.

The details of the program are available here.

Overall, I was very impressed with the show. Right from the start, it was clear that the makers of the show knew about the scientific evidence, and the take home message was a firm “Get your kids vaccinated people!”. It was very refreshing to see a lack of BBC-style “false balance” in the show.  All through the show, it was taken as read that vaccines work and were safe, effective and required to stop diseases. They didn’t interview Andrew Wakefield, go to America to talk to Generation Rescue or Australia to talk to Meryl Dorey.

However, I did have a small gripe regarding their coverage of Andrew Wakefield. While they made it clear that his research on MMR was flawed and not accepted by the scientific community, they did say “Wakefield’s work did not agree with the scientific consensus and he was struck off”. Now, this makes it sound like a scientist can be dismissed from his position if he comes up with work which does not agree with the current consensus. This is not the case. Rather, Wakefield was struck off the medical register for a multitude of sins, including non-disclosure of a conflict of interest, paying children for blood samples at a birthday party, and worst of all, conducting painful investigations like colonoscopies and lumbar punctures without approval from his ethics committee.

The closest they got to false balance was to interview a couple of non-vaccinating mothers. Although they tried to argue in a subtly “Mumsy” way, they’re ill-informed selfishness was clear for all to see. I’m sure they only wanted what was best for their children, but they seemed to be in denial that their children could end up being contagious and passing diseases on to others. I thought the program did well to point this out.

The most moving part of the show was a feature on Dawn and Dave Benson, whose baby daughter died from whooping cough. I thought they were incredibly brave and selfless to appear on TV to tell their story, and I congratulate them for it. It was also a reminder that for whatever reason, some people cannot be vaccinated. This is why herd immunity is so important, as for everyone to be protected, as many people as possible need to be vaccinated.

Also, I think we all owe thanks to the many doctors, nurses and health workers who do a great job in administering vaccinations. Overall, I felt the program was well-researched and well balanced, with only a few small errors. A good example of what a documentary can be like without false balance!

 

2 Comments

  1. jane doe

    Wow – you really are blind to the FACTS!!! Mumsy way, how belittling you little man!! The show was completely flawed and did not present the facts at all. Here is just a few questions for you to think about: Why are people worried about the outbreak of ‘measles’ if they are vaccinatied??? Hmmm, worried it doesn’t work perhaps. The correct the Wakefield findings you mention, there are three confirming studies to which he did not say there was a definite link between autism and vaccines, he said there was a possible connection that ought to be investigated. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12849883 on ELEVATED levels of measles antibodies in children with autism. Other references? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1382498 – pubmed central has lots of documented evidence to suggest you’re talking out of your proverbial. Whatsmore, government statistics show that death rates of all infectious diseases have drastically fallen BEFORE the introduction of the specific vaccinations (Except smallpos where dath deates initially increased by 275% immediately after vaccinatin laws were enforced).Some other sources you may like to read include articles by Trevor Gunn, Ian Sinclair, and The informed Parent (Google them). As far as vaccination is concerned, a large percentage of children who are vaccination have contracted the diseases as is the same with whooping cough. SO PLEASE GET YOUR FACTS AND SOURCES RIGHT BEFORE ‘MUMSY’ offense remarks take place.
    1. Since 1970, more than 200,000 cases of whooping cough occured in fully vaccinted children
    2. 90% of the decline in death rates from infectious diseases occured BEFORE vaccination commenced
    3. The costs of whoopping cough increased by $8 to cover costs paid out to parents with brain damaged kids or those that died
    4. in 1976 Dr Anthony Morris, formed chief vaccine control officer of US Fodo and Drug Administration was sacked for warning the public about the dangers of the flu vaccine
    5. Britains leading vaccine manufacturer Wellcome, were forced to cease vaccine production. Reasons cited by company sppokesman ” too much litigation and too little profit” SUMS IT ALL DONT YOU THINK!!!!
    More reading: http://www.vaccinationdebate.com

  2. andrew

    Quote ‘These mothers accept that their child will probably catch measles at some point’

    Really? 60,000,000 people. Whats the probability that even if there was a 1000 people at one time walking around with measles, that their child will cross paths with that person. Then on top of that, the risk of being harmed. Soon you see that it would be better to avoid a thunderstorm or not take the risk driving to the doctors, as the probability of death and injury is much higher.

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