Should Parents Worry About Vaccinating Their Children?

Has the fear of harm caused by vaccines led to the resurgence of some diseases?

ByABC News
February 21, 2007, 1:11 PM

Feb. 22, 2007— -- When we worry, we worry the most about our children. Everyone wants to keep them safe.

When politicians want us to fall in line, they always talk about saving the children. And our feelings about kids have created very intense emotions about vaccines. Some people say vaccines are dangerous. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that they have "poisoned an entire generation of American children."

Kennedy has added his voice to the chorus of angry parents who are convinced that mercury in vaccines causes harm to children.

"It's causing IQ loss, mental retardation, speech delay, language delay, ADD, hyperactivity," he said.

Barbara Loe Fisher, who heads the Vaccine Information Center, goes on television to alert parents about the dangers of vaccines.

On the "Today Show," she said, "We need to find out why so many of our highly vaccinated children are so sick."

The biggest worry today is autism. Before kids received so many vaccines, says Fisher, "you didn't see autistic children. Autism was so rare. Most people had never heard of it."

And the protestors blame the vaccines.

Dr Paul Offit is the chief of infectious diseases at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He's also in the vaccine business. He developed and patented the rotavirus vaccine.

"I think that it's perfectly reasonable to be skeptical about anything you put into your body, including vaccines," said Offit. "And vaccines do have side effects. But vaccines don't cause autism."

Offit can say that with confidence because the National Academy of Sciences recently reviewed the science. They concluded that 19 major studies, tracking thousands of kids, all show no link between vaccines and autism.