As debate rages on, advocacy group urges parents to vaccinate their children

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The advocacy group, Autism Speaks, is reiterating to parents to vaccinate their children. One local parent, who has a son with autism, feels the way vaccination is done could be safer.

"I am pro-vaccine," said Steve Passer, "I think it's a very important thing to do, however, I don`t think there is anything wrong with us saying, 'hey, let`s make sure we have safe vaccines.'"

Passer has two children. Both have had all their vaccinations. His son has regressive autism, which means he appeared to be developing normally and regressed.

"There are risks with taking vaccines, these are very young, developing children, let`s do everything we can to make sure that when they get their vaccines and how they get their vaccines, that it`s going to cause as little problems as possible," Passer said.

Dr. Deborah Antovoni is a physician and mother and also has a child with autism.

"Especially since I am a parent of a special needs kid, you rack your brain night and day trying to figure out what was the thing," Dr. Antovoni said, "Did I cause it? Did something else cause it?"

Dr. Antovoni says the rate of diagnosis of autism is the same for children who are vaccinated versus those who are not. She says we're probably just hearing of more cases of autistic spectrum disorder more often than in years past:

"It`s probably a combination of more knowledge about what it entails," said Dr. Antovoni.

While Passer is not against vaccines, he believes there could be many variables that contribute to a child getting autism, and believes the way vaccines are currently administered could be one of those variables.

"Whether or not you agree with the scientific research that says there is no connection between a vaccine and some neurological disorder, whether it`s autism or something else, we know there are safety concerns with vaccines," Passer added.

"It`s really easy to have a celebrity and come on a talk show about how their child was completely normal at one year of age, and they got a vaccine, and then they were absolutely, profoundly autistic," said Dr. Antovoni.

A now-debunked 1998 study linked the MMR vaccine, which protects against Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, to autism.

"We don`t need to have three vaccines in one, let`s have the measles vaccine, then at a later time have the mumps vaccine, and at a later time the rubella vaccine, what`s wrong with splitting them up?" Passer asked.

But doctors say there's no evidence that vaccines should be split up.

According to Autism Speaks, a measles outbreak has already reached 14 states and infected 102 people last month.

Dr. Antovoni says if the vaccination rate falls below 90%, that's when you're likely to see the recurrence of the disease more widespread.

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