This week two different articles entered my inbox that dealt with the same issue: childhood immunizations. After reading both, I’m trying to figure out the extent to which the one has to do with the other.

The first is a CDC report that provides data on the immunization completion rates among all 50 states for children between 19-35 months of age. While Georgia traditionally has fared well compared to national standards in this area of children’s health outcomes, we’ve slipped in recent years. In fact, according to this report, Georgia now ranks 43rd in the nation in immunization coverage for children.

The second article from The Wall Street Journal is one of many stories published this week both in the U.S. and in other countries to highlight a major retraction within the Birtish medical journal, the Lancet. The Lancet published the study that first suggested a link between vaccines and autism in children. While a partial retraction was published in 2004, a complete retraction recently was published after an independent regulator concluded last week that the study was flawed and that there were concerns of unethical treatment as well.

So the question I now pose is whether the recent downturn in immunization rates results in large part from the fear generated by the prior study’s conclusions linking vaccines to autism? And if so, with new findings that debunk this causal link, will parents once again make vaccinating children a priority?

To pull a quote from The Wall Street Journal article, unfortunately “[i]t’s very easy to scare people; it’s very hard to unscare them.”