Vaccine Watch: Parent Confusion

Any news report on vaccine-related issues is bound to generate a lot of public comment. That includes our report from a few weeks back on questions about conflicts of interest. One related question that some parents have asked is: what's the safest way to immunize my child? It's the subject of much debate in the medical and scientific community.

As our Medical Correspondent, Dr. Jon LaPook recently reported, some groups of parents and medical professionals are now promoting the idea of spreading out or delaying some vaccinations. Government and public health care officials largely oppose that idea. Most on both sides of the issue would likely agree that not all of the answers are known. Parents considering when and whether to vaccinate their children against various diseases should be aware that numerous regulatory agencies and healthcare organizations throughout the world have taken the position that the body of epidemiological studies do not favor a causal relationship between vaccines and autism. These include the Institute of Medicine, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and the European Medicines Agency.

So, while there is not unanimity among medical experts on the question of which vaccines to administer and when to adminster them, the weight of authority favors the protocol currently followed by most pediatricians. As a parent, it can be tough to wade through all the information, recommendations and scientific studies-- many of which are contradictory on the topic. Some pediatricians are offering pragmatic options. Some parents are demanding them. Others insist the safest thing to do is stick to the current government recommendations.

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    Sharyl Attkisson is a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington.