Vaccines have been shown to be overwhelmingly safe and effective, and challenges to them are an ill-conceived risk-benefit calculation ["Anti-Vaccine moms speak out amid backlash," News, Feb. 23].

Anti-vaxxers say they are concerned with potentially harmful side effects. They frame the "risk" as a potential side effect from the vaccine, and the "reward" as protecting their child's health. In reality, the risk of not vaccinating is contraction or transmission of a potentially life-threatening disease, with no reward to be reaped.

Side effects associated with the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine include a fever or mild rash; consequences of contracting the measles include deafness, lifelong brain damage and death. It is clear that the consequences of non-vaccination are much more severe, and underscore the importance of vaccination.

Alyse Marotta

Chelsea Tollner

Catherine Asaro

Stony Brook

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Editor's note: The writers are masters of public health candidates at Stony Brook University.