The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get two dozen vaccinations before age 2. Some parents have worried the rapid pace of vaccinations could overwhelm a baby's immune system and cause lasting damage. Others are concerned about claims of an autism-vaccination link.
Research continues to find no meaningful foundation for those fears — particularly the autism claim, which has been rebutted several times. Now a committee of the Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit that advises the government on health and science issues, has reviewed research regarding traditional and alternative schedules for vaccinations and concluded no health problems were associated with the traditional schedule, which involves providing as many as five vaccines at a time.
On the other hand, the impact of not vaccinating children isn't disputed. Anti-vaccine attitudes are one reason whooping cough and measles have increased in recent years even though vaccines are available for both. We hope the institute's work will reassure parents worried by the claims of anti-vaccination advocates and that more children will be immunized.
In some states, more than one in 20 public school kindergarten students haven't had recommended vaccinations, prompting public health concerns. Fortunately, the number of Oklahoma children opted out of vaccinations by their parents is only around 1 percent, reducing such problems locally.
Scientists are advancing autism treatment, and new avenues to help those individuals and potential remedies are being continually explored. While much remains unknown about autism, that's becoming less true with each passing day. But one thing research has continually reaffirmed is that the condition isn't caused by vaccines, while the threat represented by non-vaccination is not in doubt.
It would be tragic if unfounded parental fear of one medical condition left children more likely to suffer other diseases as a result.