In what is probably the best indicator yet of just how divided the nation is on the autism-vaccine controversy, a new Harris Interactive/Healthday poll released today shows that fifty-two percent of Americans think that vaccines do not cause autism. The survey comes nearly one month after the Dr. Wakefield MMR scandal broke and was taken into account when polling was conducted just last week. The remaining forty-eight percent consists of those who aren’t sure of a link (30%) and those who believe a link exists (18%). The most notable part of the survey is that 52% of respondents said that autism might be connected to vaccines.
With such division in public opinion, it’s evident that the autism-vaccine debate is not going away anytime soon. And with these kind of statistics, we should expect to see the continued contemptuous debates and vitriol that have reached levels typically reserved for politics.
Pro-vaccine groups, pharmaceutical companies, and governmental health agencies will continue to push their case dismissing any link between autism and vaccines, while many parents of children with autism and the anti-vaccine lobby will undoubtedly fight back in this continuing tug-of-war saga.
What makes the whole scenario disheartening is that autism rates are continuing to climb (1 in 110 in the US and an astounding 1 in 60 in the UK) with no easing in sight and the scientific community are still at odds over potential causes. As a result, the fighting and squabbling will continue.
Hopefully, in the near future, surveys like the one conducted by Harris Interactive will not be necessary and we will finally get to the bottom of what is responsible for such a spike in autism in the last 20 years. Then the debate can finally end and the autism community can come together and undo the massive schism that has been created by this issue.