Jerry Moore: Vaccinating children best way to keep them healthy

Jerry Moore

In an article published online earlier this year, actress Jenny McCarthy struck right at the heart of one issue with the title of her post: “In the vaccine-autism debate, what can parents believe?”

None of my acquaintances has a child with autism. So it’s difficult for me to identify with this perplexing disease as closely as does McCarthy. Her son Evan was diagnosed with autism in 2005, and she has used her celebrity status to raise awareness about the condition.

McCarthy held a news conference May 27 at the Westin Hotel in Lombard, Ill., with Dr. Doreen Granpeesheh, founder of the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, during the Autism One/Generation Rescue Conference. They promoted a program developed by Granpeesheh called Skills, which purports to “assess, treat, track and help recover children from autism.”

Such a proclamation can be welcome news to those who wrestle with the consequences of autism. Having a loved one with this mysterious condition must be incredibly harrowing, particularly because so little is known about it.

McCarthy is among those who believe the MMR vaccine is a likely cause of autism. This shot combines treatments for measles, mumps and rubella.

Some parents, including McCarthy, said their children began showing signs of autism shortly after being inoculated. Suggestions of such a link caused a decline in MMR vaccinations and an increase in certain diseases, more dramatically in Great Britain than in the United States.

This claim against the MMR vaccine, though, is not supported by scientific evidence. I can understand why parents might accept this idea, because they report watching their children regress shortly after being treated.

Given that a connection between the vaccine and autism has not yet been demonstrated, many parents remain caught in McCarthy’s rhetorical dilemma about what to believe. Would they rather accept the risk of seeing their children develop autism with the shot or catching a potentially deadly condition without it?

While more research is needed, the lack of evidence makes the choice clear. Preventing children from being inoculated is a much surer way of their catching and spreading preventable diseases. Until more is known about autism, vaccinating them is the only reasonable option.

Jerry Moore is the opinions editor for Suburban Life Publications. Contact him at (630) 368-8930 or jmoore@mysuburbanlife.com.