The topic of vaccinations and autism seems to pop up in conversation every now and then. Since I'm a graduate student in biochemistry, people sometimes think I have more general medical knowledge than I do, and are interested in my opinion. I'm not an expert on immunology, and I know almost nothing about autism. The only advantage I might have is that I have to read many articles from science journals. Therefore, I'm comfortable reading studies published on topics unrelated to my research (if I come across something I don't understand, I have lots of practice searching for information and figuring it out).
We have kids, so obviously I was aware of vaccines and the concerns about a possible link between autism and the mercury compound used as a preservative in some vaccines. I did a little bit of reading at the time Gilly was having her first vaccinations, and also asked for opinions from others who likely knew more about the subject than I did. There really didn't seem to be a link between the vaccines and autism, and I was comfortable having our kids vaccinated.
I still haven't read much more about the topic, but I've seen nothing to change my mind. The data linking vaccines and autism appear to be weak, at best. Vaccines protect us from many dangerous diseases, and it just seems like a bad idea to avoid vaccinations. If you're worried about vaccines and autism, I STRONGLY encourage you to read the articles posted at the following links:
1) A very informative site, from the Vaccine Education Center, at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (click)
2) A blog post from the Discover Magazine website, illustrating the dangers of withholding vaccinations. Also links to some other sites (including #1, above). (click)