A young boy receives an immunization shot at a health...

A young boy receives an immunization shot at a health center in this file photo. Autism risk isn't increased by the use of recommended childhood vaccines, U.S. health officials found in a study addressing parent concerns that too many immunizations may cause the disorder. (Sept. 11, 2007) Credit: Getty Images

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

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