More parents are refusing immunizations for their children, raising fears among the medical community of disease outbreaks

Dr. John Snyder, examining 4-month-old Jacob at Amherst Pediatrics, is fighting to convince parents that their children need to be vaccinated.
Dr. John Snyder, examining 4-month-old Jacob at Amherst Pediatrics, is fighting to convince parents that their children need to be vaccinated.Credit: Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe

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Ever since a British doctor published a study in 1998 suggesting that some vaccines may contribute to autism, a growing number of parents have refused vaccines for their children or demanded an ‘alternative’ immunization schedule.

And even though that paper has since been discredited, and scores of peer-reviewed studies have failed to find any link between vaccines and autism, the suspicion that vaccines are dangerous has stuck.

“I never really liked how many vaccinations a baby was getting,” said Anna Popp, an Easthampton librarian who allowed her 5-year-old daughter to get some of the recommended vaccines, but not all.

Popp lives in Western Massachusetts, where the percentage of parents choosing not to vaccinate their children is well above the state average.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others, have vouched for the safety of today’s vaccine regimen, and insist vaccines are neither toxic at the doses given nor taxing to normal immune systems.

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