Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Tag: autism


Shot in the arm for supporters of childhood vaccination

Guadaloupe Robinson, 6, receives an MMR vaccine at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma in October 2010. Dad Reggie Robinson offers moral support. (Janet Jensen/Staff photographer)

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Just in time for the start of the school year comes a welcome endorsement of vaccinations – and repudiation of efforts to link them to everything from diabetes and autism to death.

An independent team of medical experts conducted a comprehensive study of the latest research and found that vaccinations rarely have serious side effects, and when they do they tend to be in people with pre-existing immune system disorders. That should come as welcome news to parents who might be reluctant to have their children immunized for school because of what they’ve read or heard about the safety of vaccines.

The most widespread claim – which has already been found to be false – links the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine to autism. Although the link has been debunked and the doctor who made it had his license revoked in his native Britain, about one in four parents still believes it.

Read more »


It shouldn’t be too easy to opt out of vaccinations

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

When it comes to legislation pertaining to childhood vaccinations, state lawmakers should heed the experts – like the Washington State Medical Association and the Washington Academy of Family Physicians.

They should politely but firmly reject the medical opinions of people who get their information from questionable Internet sites and quacks.

The legislation in question is House Bill 1015 and its companion Senate Bill 5005. It requires that parents who don’t want their children to be immunized against such diseases as polio, whooping cough, measles and diphtheria submit proof that a health provider has informed them of the risks and benefits of immunization.

Immunization is required for children to enter public school, but parents are allowed to waive that requirement by signing a form claiming medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Public health officials are concerned that so many parents are opting out that the “herd immunity” benefit of immunization is in danger of being lost – threatening the outbreak of diseases not often seen anymore in this country.
Read more »


Dishonest autism study wreaks far-reaching damage

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Twelve years ago, a research paper published in the prominent British medical journal The Lancet set off a firestorm whose damaging effects are still being felt today.

The paper suggested a link between a greater risk of autism and the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine routinely given to young children. Finally, parents had an answer to the mystery of why their children were afflicted by the disorder.

Only it wasn’t the right answer.

The Lancet has now retracted the 1998 paper, saying the lead author had been dishonest, violated research rules, and had subjected the 12 children involved with his study to needless suffering and procedures such as lumbar punctures and colonoscopies.

Dr. Andrew Wakefield recommended that the combined vaccine be split into three separate shots. But he didn’t disclose that a year earlier he had patented a measles vaccine that could be used if the combined vaccine were discredited. Nor did he reveal that his research was partly funded by lawyers of parents seeking to sue vaccine makers. Read more »