Since 1990, the number of mandated vaccines has increased dramatically. Today, a fully vaccinated child will have received nearly three dozen vaccinations between birth and age six. Along with the increase in number has come a growing wave of concern among parents about the unintended side effects of vaccines. In Vaccine, Mark A. Largent explains the history of the debate and identifies issues that parents, pediatricians, politicians, and public health officials must address.
Nearly 40% of American parents report that they delay or refuse a recommended vaccine for their children. Despite assurances from every mainstream scientific and medical institution, parents continue to be haunted by the question of whether vaccines cause autism. In response, health officials herald vaccines as both safe and vital to the public's health and put programs and regulations in place to encourage parents to follow the recommended vaccine schedule.
For Largent, the vaccine-autism debate obscures a constellation of concerns held by many parents, including anxiety about the number of vaccines required (including some for diseases that children are unlikely ever to encounter), unhappiness about the rigorous schedule of vaccines during well-baby visits, and fear of potential side effects, some of them serious and even life-threatening. This book disentangles competing claims, opens the controversy for critical reflection, and provides recommendations for moving forward.