Legal shoe drops on vaccine-autism link

A special master of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, dubbed the "vaccine court," ruled today that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism. It does, however, usually prevent Measles, Mumps and Rubella (german measles), all of which I got as a kid and all of which are extremely nasty.

A special master of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, dubbed the "vaccine court," ruled today that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism.

It does, however, usually prevent Measles, Mumps and Rubella (german measles), all of which I got as a kid and all of which are extremely nasty.

The court issued three reports on specific cases, having heard evidence since 2007.

The legal ruling seems to contradict a 2008 decision by federal officials that a Georgia girl's parents were entitled to damages because vaccinations may have aggravated a mitochondrial condition, resulting in autism.

It is true that autism is increasing, but the rate of increase in cases has levelled off in recent years.

The ruling was not unexpected. As I wrote on Tuesday the researcher who first identified the link, Andrew Wakefield, has now been charged with faking his study in concert with plaintiffs' attorneys.

Does this end the matter? It should. After all Keith Olbermann has already called Wakefield his "worst person in the world."

Of course it doesn't. An entire industry has evolved since Wakefield's original work aimed at scaring parents away from vaccines and risking the lives of their children.

Take David Kirby (above). Please. He has been flogging the story for a decade now. Is he discouraged? Of course not. He has a long Huffington Post blog entry up today attacking the court, the vaccine industry, Olbermann, and Brian Deer, the journalist whose work has Wakefield up on charges.

Kirby was so desperate for validation he even took to praising Melanie Phillips, Britain's answer to Ann Coulter.

Kirby notes that Olbermann is now excoriating Deer, but that does not change the scientific evidence. Nor does the HuffPo's failure to identify Kirby's own financial interest in keeping the story alive.

My point here is that neither the law nor science can easily prevail once politics takes hold of a story, so that money and reputations become wedded to a particular position. Nor, for that matter, can journalism.

What will end it?

If you do the right thing and get your kids vaccinated. Vaccines will always carry risks. But ignorance carries bigger ones.