Date of Award


Document Type

Independent Study

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Research has shown that the avoidance or delay of immunizations can lead to significant outbreaks of diseases previously thought eradicated. Recent outbreaks of diseases, such as measles, have emphasized the need for immunizations to protect each child, which in turn protects the population as a whole. Although research has not substantiated a link between the occurrence of autism and thimerosal , a preservative used in many vaccines since 1930, many parents continue to avoid immunizations out of fear that those containing thimerosal may cause autism in their child. Educating parents on the evidence related to thimerosal as a preservative in vaccinations is crucial to aid in the parental decision making process for childhood immunizations

A comprehensive literature review on the need for immunizations, reasons parents avoid immunizations, the link between immunizations and thimerosal, prevalence of autism, and the causes of autism was conducted. Information gathered was used to educate parents on the importance of immunizations, research findings on the link between thimerosal and autism, and potential causes of autism. A presentation was presented to a group of parents and health care professionals working with high-risk children

The implications from this project include the need for further research into the causes of autism. Nursing policy needs to be developed at a community level in order to effectively educate the public on the evidence behind the immunization and autism debate