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Court ruling rejecting vaccine link to autism a 'tool' for doctors

Richard Judelsohn [Medical Director, Erie County Department of Health]: "The most common question I get from parents and patients regarding vaccine safety is 'I heard on TV and read on the Internet that vaccines can damage the body. Is that true?'

The first part of my response is to explain the science, and state that studies have not established a causative link between vaccines, thimerosal and neurologic damage. So as a pediatrician and public health official, I welcome the Appeals Court upholding the lower court and Special Master's decisions that vaccines and thimerosal don't cause autism. The ruling is an important tool I can use to encourage my patients to do their utmost to prevent disease.

Secondly, I explain the risks of not vaccinating. I have found it most effective to accomplish this by showing photos of patients suffering from vaccine-preventable disease, sets of which I keep on my computer and in each examining room. A glance at the withered leg of a polio victim, or the gangrene of an arm as a result of meningococcal infection, that leads to amputation of that arm and hand, can be very persuasive.

Vaccines for children and adults - considered one of the great triumphs of 20th century public health - will continue to be a hot topic in health care for the foreseeable future. Those of us who passionately believe in vaccines and their benefits, and are on the front lines with our patients, are fortified when the legal system endorses our cause."

Opinions expressed in JURIST Commentary are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of JURIST's editors, staff, donors or the University of Pittsburgh.

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