do we know that vaccinations do not cause autism and are they safe?

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Answered by: Jennifer, An Expert in the Vaccinations and Prevention Category
Vaccinations are not only proven safe and reliable, they are necessary for any responsible parent. False claims by celebrities and pseudo-scientists have resulted in the decline of children receiving these necessary vaccinations to prevent childhood illnesses. Parents with little or no knowledge on the subject are making decisions for not only their children, but these decisions will affect the US population as a whole.

It has been proven that vaccinations do not cause autism, despite claims to the contrary. The paper on this topic, published in 1997 by Andrew Wakefield, has been disproved due to procedural errors and ethical violations. His medical license was revoked. Further studies were then conducted and not a single one found a link between vaccinations and autism. Signs of autism have been noted in children who have not received vaccines and more research has emerged that indicates that signs of autism can be noted in utero, before the child is even born providing further evidence that vaccinations do not cause autism.

It was thought that thimerosal (the ethymercury containing element found in vaccinations) was a possible cause of autism, and even though that was disproved, the word mercury was alarming to parents deciding whether or not to vaccinate. Ethylmercury is actually proven not to cause harm to the human body, but nevertheless, it was taken out of childhood vaccinations in 2001. Influenza vaccinations are available in thimerosal containing and thimerosal-free versions. Additionally, the use of formaldehyde is considered safe in vaccinations due to only trace amounts of the chemical used. These chemicals used in vaccinations are simply not a cause for worry; they preserve the vaccine and prevent bacterial growth that could cause infection.

Many children and adults are not able to receive vaccinations due to allergies or illnesses such as cancer. This population of patients was protected against vaccine-preventable diseases by something called herd immunity. Herd immunity exists when the majority of a population is vaccinated against illnesses. The result is that people who are unable to receive the vaccinations are still protected because the infections can't spread with so many people resistant. Unfortunately, in the United States more and more people are deciding not to vaccinate their children. Herd immunity is therefore diminishing and that is why were are seeing more and more outbreaks of measles, pertussis, mumps, and chicken pox. This is extremely dangerous for certain patient populations. These illnesses could be deadly for children too young to receive vaccines, people with diminished immune systems, due to HIV or AIDS or those receiving chemotherapy. Without herd immunity, outbreaks will be more and more prevalent in our country.

This country has enjoyed a long reprieve from illnesses such as polio, measles, mumps, and rubella. Our generation has a false sense of security in regard to these diseases. We do not know what it was like when these illnesses were prevalent and this makes us more complacent about the decline in vaccination use. We will not be able to enjoy this complacency much longer. These diseases are making a comeback and soon herd immunity will cease to exist altogether.

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