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A decade ago, the possibility of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism hit the media. Fear of the vaccine spread rapidly and, despite an almost unanimous consensus that the claim was unfounded, still persists today. In this free course, The MMR vaccine: Public health, private fears, we'll examine why this controversy took on such a life of its own and why parents still agonise about the vaccine.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand more of the scientific factors that relate to the dispute about the safety of the MMR vaccine in the UK
- assess the strength of arguments for and against the use of the MMR vaccine
- show how issues of risk, trust, communication and media representation of science and medicine have a strong bearing on public perception of the MMR vaccine
- explain why there is such a strong consensus amongst the medical profession testifying to the safety of the MMR vaccine.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 The MMR controversy
- 2 Background to the controversy
- 3 Risk perception
- 4 Single vaccines – the middle way?
- 5 MMR and the media
- 6 Everyone's interests
- 7 Concluding remarks
- 8 Reading 1: The Lancet Paper
- 9 Reading 2: Communication and miscommunication of risk: understanding UK parents' attitudes to combined MMR vaccination
- 10 Reading 3: Towards a better map: Science, the public and the media
- 10.1 Media coverage of the MMR controversy
- 10.2 Media coverage of cloning and genetic medical research
- 10.3 The media and the public understanding of science
- 10.4 Trust
- 10.5 Overall levels of scientific understanding
- 10.6 What did we learn from media coverage between April and October?
- 10.7 The media and public understanding of climate change
- 10.8 The media and public understanding of the MMR controversy
- 10.9 The media and public understanding of cloning and genetic medical research
- 10.10 Conclusions
- 11 Reading 4: The lessons of MMR
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
The MMR vaccine: Public health, private fears
The MMR dispute is of enormous public significance and this course helps unravel why this has been an area of such dispute.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of postgraduate study in.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Health Sciences courses or view the range of currently available OU Health Sciences courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 2nd March 2016
Last updated on: Wednesday, 2nd March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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