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A Call for Civility

As most healthcare providers and many parents have come to realize, this issue is a highly polarizing one. People on both sides of the debate have passionate opinions and beliefs, and often view the other side as being uninformed.
 
Parents are desperate to find a cause for autism and to make some sense of this debilitating and confusing disease. Healthcare providers, who are taught to make decisions based on the available medical evidence, are frustrated that so many parents are ignoring the evidence by choosing not to vaccinate, leaving many children unprotected from measles, mumps, and rubella.
 
In addition, many healthcare providers -- as well as many parents -- fear that the debate about autism and the MMR vaccine is distracting everyone from searching for the real causes of this disorder.
 
Those who are pro-vaccine should try to realize that parents of children with autism, as well as those who choose not to vaccinate out of fear of autism, are often quite well-informed and have usually made their decisions about vaccination with great care.
 
Those who are anti-vaccine should try to put aside conspiracy theories to understand that most healthcare providers and public health officials are truly well-meaning and are simply trying to protect children from the devastating effects of measles, mumps, and rubella.
 
Making matters even more controversial, many states require that children receive the MMR vaccine, except in certain circumstances when exceptions can be granted. The benefits of mandated vaccination for public health must be weighed against the individual liberty to choose what is best (or what is thought to be best) for one's own family.
 
All parents should try to respect the vaccine decisions made by other parents without dismissing them as being uninformed, ignorant, or irresponsible.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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