Investigations by Sunday Times journalist Brian Deer reported that Andrew Wakefield, the author of the original research paper, had multiple undeclared conflicts of interest, had manipulated evidence, and had broken other ethical codes. The Lancet paper was partially retracted in 2004, and fully retracted in 2010, when The Lancet's editor-in-chief Richard Horton described it as "utterly false" and said that the journal had been "deceived." Wakefield was found guilty by the General Medical Council of serious professional misconduct in May 2010 and was struck off the Medical Register, meaning he could no longer practice as a doctor in the UK. In 2011, Deer provided further information on Wakefield's improper research practices to the British medical journal, BMJ, which in a signed editorial described the original paper as fraudulent. The scientific consensus is the MMR vaccine has no link to the development of autism, and that this vaccine's benefits greatly outweigh its risks.
Evidence surrounding vaccination shows that prevented suffering and death from infectious diseases outweigh any adverse effects. Despite this, vaccine controversies have raged since almost 80 years before the terms vaccine and vaccination were introduced, and continue to this day. Opponents question the effectiveness, safety, and necessity of recommended vaccines. They also argue that mandatory vaccination violate individual rights to medical decisions and religious principles. These arguments have reduced vaccination rates in certain communities, resulting in outbreaks and deaths from preventable childhood diseases.
Immunization programs depend on public confidence to be effective. Safety concerns often follow a pattern: a potential adverse effect is hypothesized; a premature announcement is made; the initial study is not reproduced; and finally, it takes several years to regain public confidence in the vaccine. A recent and notable example involved Andrew Wakefield's discredited claims of MMR vaccines causing autism.