We know that anti-vaccination hysteria has caused some parents to refuse shots for their children because they fear vaccinations somehow cause autism. That link has never been established, but the misinformation is hard to contain and some celebrities continue using their platforms to spread doubts about the efficacy of vaccines.
I never realized how deep the damage went, though.
A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics finds that children already diagnosed with autism are less likely to get all the shots they need because their parents (wrongly) fear the first shots caused the autism, therefore they should avoid the remainder of them.
The researchers, which include representatives from Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concluded that kids with autism as well as their non-autistic siblings may be at risk of not having the protection they need because their parents exhibit “vaccine hesitancy.”
This large multisite study found that children with ASD and their younger siblings were undervaccinated compared with the general population, suggesting that they are at increased risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. Although we do not know all factors contributing to undervaccination among children with ASD, the results of our study suggest that parental vaccine refusal could have a role. Previous studies reported that a large proportion of parents of children with ASD consider that vaccines contributed to their child’s ASD, and consequently they either changed or discontinued vaccination, suggesting that current strategies to address vaccine hesitancy have not been effective for parents of children with ASD.
Remember: There is no scientific link — none — between vaccines and autism. So when these parents prevent their kids from getting the proper shots, in the proper time frame, they’re not just putting those kids at risk of catching a disease, they’re putting the entire community at risk by weakening the herd immunity.
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