Childhood vaccines are safe, according to the latest analysis by researchers. The vaccines don’t cause measles, mumps or autism, and there’s no evidence that they cause childhood leukemia. The latest assessment updates a 2011 report on whether they are safe after the U.S. Institute of Medicine suggested certain side effects.
The vaccines need to be balanced against the benefits, according to Dr. Courtney Gidengil, a RAND Corp. researcher. “I don’t think this report, alone, will convince parents that vaccines are safe,” Gidengil, who did the report for federal health officials, said. Experts say that vaccines prevent millions of illnesses and thousands of deaths annually.
However, that message about vaccines don’t convince some parents. A small but growing numbers of parents have tried to get their children exempted from school attendance vaccination requirements. And one recent study found safety messages actually reduced some parents’ willingness to participate.
Dr. Gidengil hopes that the latest study will at least influence their family doctors. “Many parents look to their physicians as the ultimate sources of information,” said Dr. Walter Orenstein, associate director of Emory University’s Vaccine Center, told the Associated Press, adding “now it’s up to them.”
The new analysis looked at dozens of medical studies completed on vaccines since the 2011 report. It echoes some of those findings and included vaccines that report hadn’t addressed. The journal Pediatrics found it important to publish the report online Tuesday.
Some findings suggest a link between measles-mumps-rebella vaccines and fever triggered seizures. The seizures rarely cause long-term health problems, but can be frightening for parents who are concerned with any vaccine. Apparently, flu shots can also spur fevers that can trigger seizures.
Newer vaccines against rotavirus, a severe diarrheal disease in children, slightly raise the risk of a rare bowel blockage.
The risks of serious side effects were deemed very low. For example, the rotavirus vaccines were linked to no more than five extra cases of the blockage for every 100,000 kids vaccinated.
Jenny McCarthy has always taken a controversial stance against the shots, but did say that every child is different. In April, she wrote a Chiacgo Sun-Times column explaining more about her position. Her son Evan has autism, which she has argued for years that certain early shots have been linked to the developmental disorder in children.