… an increasingly tough challenge for scientists balancing compelling data with public concern over vaccines and their side effects. Treatments which stimulate immunity to disease are highly controversial. In the past couple of decades – especially after a British doctor made now-discredited claims linking the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to autism – the field has become even more charged. After the false alarm sounded by British doctor Andrew Wakefield, some scientists say they are more hesitant to credit reports of potential side effects from vaccines.
The Reuters story is pinned on emerging findings that one version of an H1N1 vaccine (Pandemrix, not used in the US) is linked to an increased incidence of narcolepsy among children, especially in Scandinavian countries. First reports were met with skepticism, including my own, but further studies indicate a real link. Yet the scientist who made these findings had trouble getting them published because researchers and journal editors eyed askance claims about adverse events and vaccines, given how empty the charges of an MMR-autism link proved to be. And that’s not good for science.