5. The alleged link to the MMR vaccine and autism still makes parents decide against vaccinations
In 1998, Andrew Wakefield was joined by 12 colleagues to publish a case series in which they posited that the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine could potentially cause behavioral regression and pervasive developmental disorder. The study was not strong, the sample size was small, the design uncontrolled, and the conclusions all speculative; however, it ignited fear in people and gained tremendous publicity, essentially starting a rumor that some people still believe in, despite the fact that it has been widely disproven. Ten out of the twelve co-authors have even retracted their interpretation of the data, and information has been revealed that Wakefield was being funded by lawyers who were working lawsuits against companies that produced such vaccines.
Unfortunately, while there is no merit to the study, it has caused many parents to decide against vaccinating their children, which in effect causes harm by exposing themselves and others to such diseases.