This has been a wrenching issue for many families who are convinced that measles (MMR vaccine) or other vaccines have caused their children to develop autism. Many of them have sought redress in the court system or in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation System (VICP), which was established to compensate individuals who have been harmed by vaccines without formal litigation. As rare as these autism-vaccine associations are, they have been widely reported in the press and generate understandable sympathy from the public.
At this point, there is no scientific evidence that any vaccine causes autism. Indeed, the VICP, which requires a lower standard of proof than in a traditional courtroom, recently ruled in 3 cases that the vaccines were innocent. While current medical knowledge is never the last word, for now we must rely upon science to govern our decisions.
Every physician and health care expert in this country and beyond recommends measles vaccinations in the strongest terms. Measles is highly contagious and can lead to deafness, seizures and permanent brain injury. It is a preventable disease.
It is particularly critical that international travelers are up-to-date on measles vaccines and other routine travel vaccinations as there have been several measles outbreaks this year all over the world. In addition, if a traveler contracts measles abroad, then he can transmit it to others at home when he returns. Consult with a travel doctor before departure to determine if you need a booster shot.
While every vaccine, including measles, has potential side-effects, these are rare events. Health experts strongly advise that the risks of harm from routine vaccinations are much less than the risks of not having immunity to various communicable diseases.
Autism is a mysterious and serious illness. We all hope that medical research will lead to understanding the cause of this disease. So far, the verdict on the measles vaccine in the case of MMR vs Autism is not guilty.