This 16-Year-Old Scam is Still Getting Children Sick

An infographic tackles the dangerous fallout from a fraudulent medical study

Photo by John Vachon for the United States Farm Security Administration, 1943

In 1998, the Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals, published a paper by Dr. Andrew Wakefield that asserted a connection between vaccines and the development of autism. The study was a complete fraud. Since then, Wakefield’s findings have been disproved over and over again, he has been barred from practicing medicine in the U.K., and the Lancet has retracted the publication. But Wakefield’s work has still managed to have far-reaching consequences, and can be traced to as the source of the modern anti-vaccination movement, popularized by ex-Playboy model Jenny McCarthy and taken up by terrified yuppie parents, conspiracy theorists, and smug “natural living” fanatics everywhere.

Unfortunately, the actions of this paranoid coalition have had real-world repercussions, and countries like the U.S. and the U.K. are starting to see outbreaks of diseases like measles and pertussis (whooping cough) that were all but eradicated only a generation ago. Just to give you an idea of the problem’s scope, in certain wealthy Los Angeles neighborhoods, vaccination rates have dropped to as low as those in South Sudan. By failing to vaccinate their children, these parents—well meaning as they might be—put everyone at risk.

The Lexington, KY-based infographic agency Nowsourcing has put together an informative, illustrated piece outlining the fallout of Wakefield’s destructive influence over the last 16 years.