There is very little support in the scientific community for the "vaccines cause autism" fears that have grabbed the hearts and minds of many parents. But still the fears are such that many people forgo vaccinating their children. The Lafayette Journal & Courier has offered some sound editorial advice which is well worth reading:
Vaccination: Safer than the alternative
It takes less than a minute to vaccinate your child against the measles, a virus that has infected and killed thousands of children worldwide.
But some parents are unwilling to do so.
Not everyone believes the ample body of validated evidence that supports this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's assertion: Vaccinating children against measles, mumps and rubella is the safe and responsible thing to do.
The National Vaccination Information Center is a parent-led organization that aims to prevent vaccine injuries and deaths. Its Web site warns that vaccines can cause their own problems, such as autism, and details cases of children who, the NVIC claims, became violently ill or died after receiving regularly scheduled vaccinations.
Much of its evidence is anecdotal.
But repeated studies confirm the vaccinations are safe for the overwhelming majority of children.
Last week the CDC announced that the largest U.S. measles outbreak in a decade had been traced to a Clinton County girl.
The girl had not received the typical round of childhood immunizations before she traveled to Romania in 2005, federal health officials said. She returned carrying the measles virus, prompting an outbreak that infected 32 people in Indiana and one from Illinois.
Most were children. Only two had been vaccinated against the disease. Three were hospitalized. And one spent time in the intensive care unit before recovering, the CDC said.
The CDC has determined there is no convincing evidence that vaccines, such as the one that prevents measles, cause autism or other related health disorders.
What's clear is that before vaccines were available, thousands of children became sick -- and some died -- from the measles virus before the vaccine became available in 1963.
At that time, U.S. health officials documented about 450,000 measles cases and about 450 measles deaths annually. Now, as more and more children routinely receive vaccinations, the number has dramatically dropped.
Science, not fear, should be the deciding factor in how we protect our children.
Refusing to vaccinate them is a dangerous practice that could endanger their lives.