Lea Thompson and Her Vaccine Roulette

Many of the people in the modern anti-vaccine movement have become house-hold names.

Jenny McCarthy

Andy Wakefield

Bob Sears

But who remembers Lea Thompson?

Lea who?

vaccine-roulette
Lea Thompson won an Emmy award for Vaccine Roulette.

Lea Thompson is the consumer reporter for WRC-TV in Washington, DC who wrote, starred in, and produced the anti-vaccine “documentary” Vaccine Roulette in 1982.

Widely dismissed as anti-vaccine propaganda, much like Vaxxed, featuring vaccine-injury stories and so called experts, such as Robert Mendelsohn, the airing of Vaccine Roulette is often credited as the start of the modern anti-vaccine movement.

Vaccine Roulette scared a lot of parents away from vaccinating their kids and like the anti-vaccine books, websites, and movies that are put out today, it was filled with misinformation.

For example, studies have shown that the DPT vaccine does not cause brain damage.

And we now know about Dravet syndrome.

And that many, if not all of Thompson’s claims were false or misleading.

Her claims that countries that stopped giving the DPT vaccine didn’t see a resurgence of pertussis are false.

In Japan for instance, “Pertussis coverage for infants fell from nearly 80% in 1974 to 10% in 1976. A pertussis epidemic occurred in 1979 with more than 13 000 cases and 41 deaths. Japan began replacing whole-cell with acellular pertussis vaccines in 1981, and a striking fall in pertussis incidence followed.”

In the UK, “Although health authorities resisted pressure to withdraw the vaccine, loss of confidence in it led to a sharp reduction in coverage. Pertussis epidemics followed. Confidence was restored after publication of a national reassessment of vaccine efficacy that showed “outstanding value in preventing serious disease”.”

In the Russian Federation, “Parents and physicians lost confidence in vaccines, and chose not to immunise children. DTP coverage fell by 30%, setting the stage for diphtheria and pertussis epidemics. Along with perhaps the largest postwar diphtheria outbreak, The Russian Federation has reported one of the highest incidences of pertussis in the developed world.”

There were similar reports in Ireland, Italy, the former West Germany, and Australia, all “countries where immunisation was disrupted by antivaccine movements.”

On the other hand, we didn’t see the same types of pertussis outbreaks where high DPT vaccination rates were maintained, including Hungary, the former East Germany, Poland, and the USA.

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