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Here's where the editor expresses the view of THE BEE on matters of interest -- with a TV tip, too

As you surely are well aware, there is an outbreak of the serious childhood disease Measles in the area – mostly in Clark County, Washington – with over 70 victims, mostly kids, and almost all not vaccinated against the once-universal scourge. Until recently considered eradicated by the requirement for kids getting the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, the decision by parents to risk their kids by skipping the vaccine has revived the diseases.

Although most kids survive them, they actually can in some cases be fatal. And parents who reject the vaccine are putting everybody else's kids at risk, too.

So how did we get in this fix? Apparently lies are easier to believe than the truth. Certainly there is evidence that some in politics are taking full advantage of this idea.

What lie are we talking about in this case?

"The idea that vaccines cause autism is still around, and is still getting a lot of exposure in social media," said Anders Hviid, lead study author and senior investigator at Statens Serum Institut in Denmark, which has just completed a massive study which should be reassuring to anyone still having doubts about this myth.

The "fake news" linking vaccines and autism grew out of a 1998 study by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, which was published in the medical journal "The Lancet". Subsequently it was learned that Dr. Wakefield had been compensated by a law firm intending to sue manufacturers of the MMR vaccine! And in 2010, he lost his medical license. In 2011, "The Lancet" retracted the study, after an investigation found that Dr. Wakefield had altered or misrepresented data on the 12 children who were the basis for the conclusion of his study. Only 12 children!! That's an insignificant number on which to base any statistical analysis, in any event. A number of subsequent studies tried to reproduce the reported results, and instead found no link between vaccines and autism.

As for that massive new study, there were over 650,000 children in it! Researchers used a population registry to evaluate whether the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine increased the risk of autism in children born in Denmark between 1999 and 2010.

In the study, 657,461 children were followed through August of 2013, with the researchers documenting diagnoses of "autism spectrum disorder" as well as known risk factors such as age of the parents, diagnosis of autism in a sibling, preterm birth, and low weight at birth.

The result of this massive study – the MMR vaccine did NOT increase the risk of autism in children who were not considered at risk for autism, and did NOT trigger it in those who were, according to the study, which was published on March 4 in the respected weekly journal "Annals of Internal Medicine", which has been published by the American College of Physicians since 1927. [You can read the report here – annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2727209/mmr-vaccine-associated-risk-autism]

The World Health Organization has called "vaccine hesitancy" – the reluctance or refusal to vaccinate children, despite the availability of vaccines – as a "top 10 threat to global health" in 2019.

And, for any parent who may think vaccination is ineffective or worthless, check the statistics – and you won't have to look far. The indisputable fact is that nearly everybody who has been getting measles this year in the Portland Metro has NOT been vaccinated. Only two of the seventy-plus cases had received any vaccine – and those two had received only one of the two required shots, and not the other one. Nobody who was vaccinated with both shots got sick. Nobody. (Older residents who got these diseases before the vaccine was developed do have immunity from actually having been very sick.)

So, particularly since vaccination is required for school enrollment, we say, "get the vaccinations done, already". Don't wait. Keep your kids, and everybody else's, safe. And alive.

Local TV viewer alert

We've kept you posted, as the FCC has whacked off piece after piece of the TV broadcast band to auction off to wireless companies. What used to be 81 available TV channels has now shriveled to only 35, at least five of which are considered not very good for digital TV. So we hope the Federal Communications Commission and Congress are through doing this.

In the meantime, stations using the frequencies recently auctioned off have to move to others. KOIN-TV-6 did it late last year; KATU-TV-2 will do it on April 12. So, on or after April 12, "rescan" your digital TV set to continue receiving "Channel 2". They are not the last local TV station to have to do this, so occasionally rescanning in the future – particularly if a station suddenly disappears! – is a good idea. But, if you receive the local stations from satellite or cable, they will handle it at their end, and you won't need to do anything. This rescan only applies to those who receive local digital TV, free, from some sort of antenna.

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