Health Administration/Organization; Vaccines
A potential link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism was dismissed by a federal vaccine court in February 2009. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said the findings demonstrate a lack of medical evidence for any association, while Autism Speaks, a patient advocacy group, said questions remain about potential risks for certain subgroups.
Other legal actions are pending as the scientific and patient advocacy communities debate the need to conduct further research on the vaccine-autism link. Meanwhile, public health advocates worry that continuing concerns about the safety of vaccines may depress the population immunization rate. A small rise in reported measles cases may be linked to exemptions that allow families to opt out of vaccine mandates.
This paper reviews the scientific research on vaccines and autism, the legal decisions to date, and the importance of continued attention
Stewart, A. (2009). Vaccines and autism: The evidence and the law. Washington, D.C.: George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services, Rapid Public Health Policy Response Project.