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Vaccine and autism debate masks real problem
Date:8/22/2012

EAST LANSING, Mich. The bitter debate over whether vaccines cause autism is masking real problems with the modern inoculation schedule and encouraging a growing number of parents to refuse recommended vaccines for their children, argues a Michigan State University scholar.

In his new book "Vaccine: The Debate in Modern America," Mark Largent writes that extremists for and against vaccinations have clouded the issues for parents seeking to make the best possible decisions for their children's health.

On one hand, there is no scientific evidence that vaccinations cause autism, Largent said, adding that vaccines are "one of the most effective tools in the public health arsenal."

On the other hand, Largent said some shots raise serious concerns among many parents, such as the vaccines against chickenpox and hepatitis B, which is typically given within the first days of life. Further, he said pediatricians and health officials have created an all-or-nothing approach to vaccinations that gives the false impression that all inoculations are equally important.

"It's a signal to parents that the vaccine schedule is an all-or-nothing affair that you either accept that the mandated vaccines are all equally valuable and comply with the entire schedule or reject it in its entirety," said Largent, associate professor in MSU's James Madison College. "As a result, parents who find some vaccines unnecessary are encouraged to question the entire vaccine schedule."

Fueled by celebrity activists, public anxieties over vaccines have emerged during the past 20 years, Largent noted. On one side of the debate is actress Jenny McCarthy, who believes her son's vaccinations triggered a series of seizures that led to his eventual diagnosis on the autism spectrum. On the other side are vaccine proponents such as actress Amanda Peet, who publicly supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended vaccination schedule and
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Contact: Andy Henion
henion@msu.edu
517-355-3294
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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