"Vaccines should be available as a preventive health care option for all who voluntarily want to use them," she said. But people should not be required to vaccinate their children, she added.
But Clayton countered that it's important to remember what the vaccination of children and adults has achieved.
People who are critical of vaccines "don't remember the diseases that vaccines prevent such as polio, measles and chickenpox," Clayton said. And on the other hand, "a lot of the things that people worry about either don't happen, or there is not enough evidence to make a conclusion," she said.
Another infectious disease expert agreed. Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University, New York City, said that "current vaccines are safe and the benefits of protecting against the diseases way outweigh the risk of the vaccines."
Siegel also noted that vaccines not only protect an individual, but also protect the general population through what is called "herd immunity."
Research is needed to clarify how many vaccines should be given over what period of time and "if they are all necessary," Siegel said. "That's something that needs to be considered," he added.
For more information on vaccine safety, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Copyright © 2011 HealthDay. All rights reserved.