Vaccines and Fear of Autism

Vaccine being administered to a person via injection.

As explained in the previous chapter, an increasing number of American parents have their children abstain from taking the government-recommended vaccines. The reason for this is that parents fear that vaccines sometimes produce severely debilitating side-effects such as seizures, autism and overall developmental disorders. Causing the fear are droves of parental reports of children regressing soon after taking shots, with a few of the parents reporting on adverse reactions, quite notably, being celebrities.

CDC giving assurances

One of the celebrities who has publicly revealed complications after her child took vaccines is actor Jenny McCarthy, whose son was diagnosed with autism around the time he received scheduled shots. McCarthy, furthermore, has been vocal in raising awareness about vaccines as potential triggering factors for autism, a public debate in which the MMR shot and the preservative ingredient thimerosal are particularly vilified. However, contrasting claims that vaccines may be linked to developmental disorders, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many American doctors assert that no reliable research show any such causational relationship. The parental reports of children regressing after taking vaccines, consequently, according to much of the medical establishment, could presumably be explained by natural negative developmental variation in young children coinciding with them coming in for their vaccine appointments.

Opting out becoming difficult

The assurances of vaccines being safe on the part of the CDC and medical doctors notwithstanding, a significant minority of American parents still don’t allow their children to be vaccinated. This, as explained in the previous chapter, could lead to herd immunity breaking down, creating frustration among those who fear diseases spreading out of control. The same fear of large disease outbreaks is also what has prompted states like California to drastically limit the possibility to opt out of taking vaccines, and counties like Rockland, New York, to ban unvaccinated children from visiting schools and other public places altogether. Even so, the measures have not made those who call for more testing and safer vaccines go away, with well-known activist Robert F Kennedy Jr, among others, going so far as calling the CDC’s interpretation of the vaccine research fraudulent.