Published: February 12, 2009 at NYTimes.com
A special federal vaccine court issued three devastating verdicts on Thursday that should help demolish lingering fears that childhood vaccines can and have caused autism. The verdicts won’t satisfy die-hard adherents of the theory that the medical establishment is recklessly harming their children. But the vast majority of parents ought to accept the verdicts as persuasive evidence that no child need forgo vaccinations against dangerous diseases out of fear that the vaccines might cause autism.A slew of major health organizations and scientific studies long ago concluded that there was no link between vaccines and autism, a condition whose victims lack social skills, can’t communicate well and engage in repetitive behaviors. But thousands of parents are seeking federal compensation for alleged vaccine injuries and pinning their hopes on a special court in Washington to find merit in their claims.