Vaccinations are useful preventative measures against deadly childhood illnesses. However, some groups have claimed that vaccinations cause autism. Parents may feel caught between doctors’ recommendations to vaccinate and these claims.
In February of this year, a special federal court sided with the doctors. The court heard three suits for compensation filed by parents who claimed that vaccines had caused their children’s autism.
Special masters assigned to the case clearly sympathized with the parents, but stated that their decision was based on the evidence, not feelings. A special master assigned to the cases said that the evidence of a link between vaccines and autism was “weak, contradictory, and unpersuasive.”
More than 5,500 suits for compensation claiming a link between autism and vaccines have been filed. The court will hear some of the suits that argue a slightly different theory later.
The first claim of a link between vaccines and autism was made in 1998 in a paper published by a British physician. His paper has since been discredited, and he is under investigation for professional misconduct. Since that time, numerous scientific studies have been conducted specifically looking for a link between vaccines and autism. No link has been found.
The Department of Health and Human Services hopes that the court’s ruling will reassure parents about the safety of vaccinations. Infectious disease expert Dr. Paul Offit points out that diseases preventable with vaccines have recently flared up in several outbreaks. These outbreaks may be related to some parents’ decisions not to vaccinate their children.
For more information:
Court says vaccines don’t cause autism