Like car seats, vaccines are essential to keeping children safe from harm. Fortunately, most parents in the U.S. vaccinate their children on time. However, there are some communities of under-vaccinated children, which put infants and other vulnerable people at risk of deadly yet preventable diseases.

It’s not hard to understand where some parents are misguided about vaccinating their child—especially when many of the diseases we are vaccinating against are no longer seen in the U.S. Unfortunately, recent outbreaks remind us that vaccine-preventable diseases are still out there and can cause serious illness or death. In fact, the most recent U.S. measles outbreak was a direct result of people not being fully vaccinated. It is critical for parents to realize that vaccines are safe for children and save lives. When it comes to vaccines, the biggest risk is being misinformed.

Do vaccines cause autism?

No. This fear began in 1998 when British researcher Andrew Wakefield published results from his study of only 12 children in the medical journal, The Lancet. Scientists and public health officials around the world took this concern very seriously and conducted dozens of large studies.

"Recent outbreaks remind us that vaccine-preventable diseases are still out there and can cause serious illness or death."

However, no link has ever been found between vaccines and autism or other neurological disorders. It was later determined that the original research data was falsified, leading to the retraction of the study by The Lancet and the loss of Wakefield’s medical license.

Should I delay?

Delaying vaccines only increases the period of time in which your child could get sick from a vaccine-preventable disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended immunization schedule was developed to protect children as early as possible from life-threatening diseases. The schedule is also tested to determine which vaccines can safely and effectively be given at the same time. No “alternative immunization schedule” has ever been studied for safety.

Are there dangerous ingredients inside?

No. Vaccines are held to the highest standards of safety because they are given to healthy children. They contain ingredients that cause the body to develop immunity, along with very small amounts of other ingredients, which are also commonly found in foods, water and breast milk, to ensure the final vaccines are safe and effective.