As a scientist with epidemiologic training, it has long been clear to me that the benefits of vaccines outweigh the risks, both on the individual and on the societal level. Both of my children are fully immunized on the standard schedule. Many of my friends’ children are not. When my 8-year-old was a toddler, I once noted that he was the only child in a playgroup who had received all of his vaccines on time. I felt connected in this group for other reasons; for example, I got helpful advice from other mothers about gently weaning a child at an age when most children have already stopped breastfeeding.

Vaccines can be a difficult topic in such circles. When asked, I recommend that my friends and family talk to their child’s doctor or other health care provider about their questions. However, as a parent and a scientist in the field of...

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