If people could rationally think through all the consequences, and work through the mumbo-jumbo, they might not have panicked. It was not as if the MMR caused death. It was a fear of contracting autism. There was no direct causal link between the MMR and autism. Anecdotes do not prove anything! How can you say that autism did not exist before such-and-such had happened?
What is autism? I wonder if anyone has even come up with a good answer for that. Autism is such a vague term, used to describe practically every learning disability, besides dyslexia. In reality, it is a neuro-developmental disorder, which manifests in many different ways. There seems to be a real autism ‘culture‘ nowadays, so anyone deviating from the exact norm gets classified as autistic.
Unfortunately, the autism society would like to do everything to keep autism in the limelight. They strike fear into every parent’s heart with the idea that certain things will cause autism. (I suppose it is the same kind of reaction people used to have to Down’s Syndrome.) But once people learn to cope with the condition, they will understand that it is not a life-or-death situation. Unfortunately, measles can be a deadly infection.