A report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services helped guide the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which provides a pool of money to take care of children who experience side effects from vaccines, federal scientists say.
The report, issued on Thursday by the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Sciences, is the first comprehensive report on vaccine side effects since 1994.
Fears that vaccines might cause autism or other health problems have led some parents to skip vaccinating their children, despite repeated reassurances from health authorities.
We looked at more than 1,000 articles evaluating the epidemiological and biological evidence about whether vaccines cause side effects, said committee chair Ellen Wright Clayton, professor of pediatrics and law, and director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
The concerns have also forced costly reformulations of many vaccines.
The big take-home message is that we found only a few cases in which vaccines can cause adverse side effects, and the vast majority of those are short-term and self-limiting, she said in a telephone interview.
The report was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help guide the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which provides a pool of money to take care of children who experience side effects from vaccines.
The panel looked at eight common vaccines: the combination measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), the diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP), varicella for chickenpox, influenza, hepatitis B, meningococcal, tetanus-containing vaccines, and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
These vaccines protect against a host of diseases, including measles, mumps, whooping cough, hepatitis, diphtheria, tetanus, chickenpox, meningitis and pneumococcal disease and cervical cancer.