Modern science has given us a vaccine against Lyme disease. But we don’t use it.
Introduced in 1998, the vaccine sold well at first. But then opponents spoke out: self-described ‘vaccine victims’ — perhaps similar to people today who claim the MMR vaccine causes autism. Back then, they said that the Lyme vaccine gave them arthritis.
“And this sort of got into popular lore,” Poland recalls. “It got on the Internet. There were a number of East Coast lawyers who started putting together class-action lawsuits. There were anti-vaccine advocacy groups that were formed.”
The clinical data did not back up any of this. The trials had not shown such side effects. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control looked into the claims, and then continued to recommended that people exposed to tick-infested areas get the vaccine.
But it was too late. Sales had plummeted. Four years after offering people immunity against Lyme, SmithKline Beecham stopped making the vaccine. The second vaccine-maker, Pasteur Mérieux Connaught, saw what had happened and never put out its own product.”