By: Elijah Kirksey
Man receiving a vaccine shot. Photo Courtesy of GWPAF.
As the coronavirus has persisted for over 2 years now, vaccines have become more prevalent. While many people are eager to get the jab, others are hesitant. Some of this hesitancy may stem from misinformation regarding the impact that vaccines have on our bodies, specifically Black children’s bodies.
In a recent poll from 2016, 77% of parents admitted to having concerns about vaccines and vaccinations in their children. A third of these parents directly stated that they refused vaccines for their children due to safety concerns and were hesitant due to the speculation revolving around vaccinations. One of the most common speculations is that the vaccine, specifically the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, has an increased risk of developing autism in the youth that take the shot.
The origin of this claim is directly linked to the studies of Brian S. Hooker from Simpson University in 2003 as he tested the connection between the MMR vaccine and autism developing in young African-American boys. This study concludes with a statement saying that African American males who received the MMR vaccine prior to 36 months of age are more likely to receive an autism diagnosis. This caused an uproar among the black community but not many know that his work was extensively researched and no reputable evidence could be found to confirm his study.
On the contrary, many well-designed studies have said the exact opposite and that there is no link between the MMR vaccine and autism developing in the vaccinated person. Furthermore, the original study from Brian S. Hooker actually got retracted by the Lancer, which is the publication that originally published the study.
It’s likely that this misconception persists because of the coincidence of timing between early childhood vaccinations and the first appearance of symptoms of autism. Due to this misconception though, the vaccination rates of African-Americans since 2003 have plummeted and still remain relatively low.