On Sunday, Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director Tom Friedan said that the U.S. could be faced with a “large outbreak” of measles, according to the Washington Post. The agency reported that 102 cases of measles were confirmed in 14 states in January. Hundreds of others are being monitored for possible exposure.
The majority of the confirmed cases are among patients who have not been vaccinated, illustrating the danger posed to both individual and public health by misinformation about the safety of vaccines, which can cause some parents to skip their children’s recommended vaccinations. That debate – to the extent that there ever was one – has long been settled in favor of the safety and benefits of vaccines. The American Academy of Pediatrics has an excellent website on vaccine safety which answers many of the questions parents frequently have, including an FAQ about the debunked link between the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine and autism:
Q. Is there a link between measles vaccination and autism?
No, there is no scientifically proven link between measles vaccination and autism.
Extensive reports from both the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conclude that there is no proven association between MMR vaccine and autism.
Autism is a chronic developmental disorder, often first identified in toddlers from age 18 months to 30 months. MMR is administered just before the peak age of onset of autism symptoms. This timing leads some parents to mistakenly assume a causal relationship. There is no evidence that MMR causes autism.
Increasing evidence indicates that autism is determined while the baby is still in the womb, early in the pregnancy.
Vaccines are widely recognized as one of the most important advances in medical history. Once-devastating diseases like polio, which at its peak claimed the lives of nearly 6,000 Americans each year, have been nearly eradicated. A report issued by the CDC last April estimated that vaccines will prevent 732,000 deaths and 21 million hospitalizations among children born in the US over the past 20 years. On a global scale, the World Health Organization estimates that vaccines save 2.5 million lives every year.
For more information on CDC recommendations for childhood vaccines, please click here.