The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) stands behind the overwhelming scientific evidence that has repeatedly demonstrated the overall safety and benefit of routine childhood vaccinations. Children are far more likely to be harmed by vaccine preventable illness, such as measles, than by the vaccines that prevent such infections.
There are many choices individuals make for their own or their children’s health. However, because vaccines can both protect the individual and prevent diseases from spreading from one person to another, individual choices on vaccination not only affect the individual but also others in the community. Vaccines like the measles vaccine (MMR) are most effective when a substantial proportion of a population is immunized, reducing continued transmission of disease.
The more people in the community who are vaccinated, the greater the community benefits resulting from vaccination. In particular, for some vaccines high vaccination rates in the population can provide indirect protection for vulnerable persons who are not able to be vaccinated due to underlying medical conditions such as weakened immune systems, young age, or pregnancy. To achieve optimal levels of this community-level protection for diseases like measles and pertussis, a very high proportion of the population must be vaccinated.
IDSA supports universal immunization of children, adolescents, and adults, according to the recommendations and standards established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC). These recommendations are based on current scientific evidence and take into account all information related to disease occurrence, transmission, seriousness, vaccine efficacy and safety. Further, IDSA strongly encourages states to enact and enforce laws requiring children to be fully immunized as a requirement for school or day care. Exemptions should be allowed only for validated medical contraindications.
Public policy must reflect medical and scientific evidence. We urge parents to ensure that their children are up to date with all recommended immunizations, including with the MMR vaccine, to prevent this serious disease from causing severe disability and death.
Vaccines provide enormous value in protecting individuals and populations serious and life-threatening infections.
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