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Autism charity founder is anti-vaccination campaigner

The founder of a British autism charity is an anti-vaccine campaigner with strong links to the discredited former doctor Andrew Wakefield. Polly Tommey, who believes that the MMR vaccine caused her son’s autism, founded the US and UK branches of the Autism Trust and produced a highly controversial film (Vaxxed) directed by Mr Wakefield alleging a link between vaccines and the condition. Scientists and campaigners have expressed concern that Ms Tommey’s role in the charity was in conflict with her views about vaccines. Jon Spiers, chief executive of the charity Autistica, called the film highly irresponsible.  (From the Times, 1.2.17)

Dutch physicians: vaccinate against rotavirus

The Dutch Health Council (Gezondheidsraad) is letting babies and their parents down in the fight against rotavirus, medical experts say. While all surrounding countries have adopted a vaccination policy against the diarrhoeal disease, that annually kills up to half a million young children around the world, the Netherlands are yet to develop an immunisation programme.

In 2010, the Health Council, which advises the government on medical matters, actually held a majority vote in favour of adopting the rota vaccine, but it wasn’t carried out. The minority, who held that the consequences weren’t severe enough and the project too expensive, had their way. Emeritus professor in child medicine Ronald de Groot adds that ‘there are fears of rising opposition to vaccination in society. But you simply need to inform people well. (…) [Since 2010] we’ve added to the record dozens of dead children and thousands of hospitalisations that could have been prevented.’