Anti-vaccine movement could have deadly consequences in the event of an attack

The recent anti-vaccine movement, meant to combat the theory that childhood immunizations could be linked to autism, could seriously raise the dangers of the United States' response to potential acts of bioterror, an expert has recently announced.

Tevi Troy, the former deputy secretary of Health and Human Services who has advised companies regarding domestic preparedness, has questioned the anti-vaccine movement's effect on bioterror response in an article in The Daily Caller.

A link between vaccines and autism was first proposed by Andrew Wakefield in a paper in The Lancet, which a just-released Polish study has roundly refuted. The Polish study found that there was no evidence that children who were administered measles vaccinations were more likely to contract autism. The Lancet recently officially retracted Wakefield's 1998 article.

The paper, however, has caused widespread questioning of vaccines, leading public health officials to struggle against a skeptical public in their efforts to show the importance of vaccines.

According to Troy, the Centers for Disease Control, during his tenure, routinely had to fight the stigma of vaccines, leading senior officials, including the secretary of Health and Human Services, to spend their time fighting the anti-vaccine messages.

As a result of this backlash against vaccines, which has grown from just childhood vaccinations to vaccines in general, the very vaccines meant to combat biological terror threats are now questioned by a large portion of the public.

"These anti-vaccine sentiments are not classifiable in any one ideological category, but they have all been enabled, to some degree, by the anti-vaccine skepticism initiated by the Wakefield study in The Lancet," Troy said in the Daily Caller. "And this damage, once done, cannot be easily undone. As Paul Offit, chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, put it, 'It’s hard to unring the bell.' In the years ahead, U.S. planners charged with protecting our nation against biothreats will have to try to unring that bell if they are going to protect us from the worst our enemies have in store for us."