Study: Vaccines are safe |

Study: Vaccines are safe

Dr. Gwen Wurm, director of community pediatrics for the University of Miami's Jackson Children's Hospital, holds four-month-old Avi Simon while he is given a shot that will prevent meningitis. (Chuck Fadely/Miami Herald/MCT)

Written by Leslie Postal
Orlando Sentinel


Vaccines are "one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th Century" but their use is "suboptimal" because some parents, worried about their safety, refuse them for their children. Vaccines, however, are safe and adverse reactions "extremely rare," says a new medical study out last week.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, sought to allay fears and boost vaccination rates, noting that "parental refusal of vaccines" has led to outbreaks of diseases such as measles and pertussis. Vaccines eradicated smallpox and controlled measles, polio and other infectious diseases, the study's authors wrote, and their continued use "remains critical for population health."

Worries about vaccine safety, as we reported five years ago, have led some parents to delay or avoid vaccinations, even those required for entry into public school.

It's been a trend that has worried many doctors and public-health officials.

"Despite the public health triumphs of vaccines or perhaps because the triumphs have created an environment where the ravages of vaccine-preventable disease have been forgotten, confidence in vaccines has decreased in the 21st century, and the number of parents who hesitate to immunize their children is increasing," wrote Carrie Byington of the University of Utah's department of pediatrics, in an editorial that was published alongside the study.

For the "health of the nation" that needs to change, she added.

The study was a review of 67 other studies of vaccines. Like other previous studies, it found no evidence the measles/mumps/rubella vaccine (MMR) was linked to autism in children, and no evidence vaccines caused childhood leukemia.

There were "extremely rare" cases where vaccines were tied to an intestinal problem or other health issues, but the study found "absolute risk is low."

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