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Childhood vaccines are safe. Seriously.

Los Angeles Free Clinic

Children should get vaccinated against preventable and potentially deadly diseases. Period.

That’s what a review of more than 20,000 scientific studies on childhood vaccines concludes this week. The review appears in the latest edition of the medical journal Pediatrics.

The evidence strongly suggests that side effects from vaccines are incredibly rare, the study authors said. They found no ties between vaccines and the rising number of children with autism, as a small but vocal group of anti-vaccine activists, including actors Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey, have said.

The review also found no link between vaccines and childhood leukemia, something that was suggested in earlier studies.

The researchers found that some vaccines did cause a few adverse effects but it was only for a tiny fraction of the population.

There was evidence that the meningococcal vaccine can lead to anaphylaxis — a severe, whole-body allergic reaction — in children allergic to ingredients in the vaccine. A study of the polio vaccine found that children with atopic dermatitis and a family history of allergies did have a higher chance of developing sensitivity to food allergens. Other studies found the MMR vaccine was linked to seizures.

“Vaccines, like any other medication, aren’t 100% risk free,” said Dr. Ari Brown an Austin, Texas-based pediatrician and author of the popular book “Baby 411,” who was not involved with the study.

“You have a sore arm, redness at the injection site. Those are the things we see commonly. Fortunately the serious adverse effects is extremely rare.”

Brown said parents ask her how safe vaccines are all the time. Some patients also ask if they should delay or stagger the vaccinations. She counsels against that practice. She said the younger the child, the more danger these diseases present.

“By delaying the vaccines you’re putting your child at risk,” Brown said.

The positive effects of vaccines dramatically outweigh the bad, experts said.

An editorial accompanying the study calls vaccines “one of the most successful public health achievements of the 20th century.”

Because of vaccines, many diseases that plagued children for centuries have all but been eliminated.

“There were good reasons that these diseases were targeted for vaccine development since they are so life-threatening,” said Dr. Carrie Byington, vice-chair for research in the University of Utah’s pediatrics department, and the new chair for the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases.

Millions of Americans live longer on average because of the protection vaccines provide. Life expectancy has gone up in the United States by more than 30 years. Infant mortality decreased from 100 deaths per 1000 to 7 between the 1900s and 2000.

A vaccine for smallpox led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to declare the disease eradicated in 1978. Prior to a vaccination for diphtheria, it was one of the most common causes of illness and death among children. Now it is rarely reported in the United States.

Yet research shows there is still doubt among some medical residents about the effectiveness of vaccinations.

“That is particularly concerning for me,” Byington said. “Young residents may be in the same position as young parents who have trained at a time, or lived at a time, when these diseases were extremely rare, and they may not have ever seen how serious a vaccine-preventable infection can be.”

An increasing number of parents over the years have opted out of getting their children vaccinated. And that may be having a negative impact on the community’s health.

A study found that large clusters of children who had not been vaccinated were close to the large clusters of whooping cough cases in the 2010 California epidemic. While California typically has higher vaccination rates than the rest of the country, that state is dealing with yet another whooping cough epidemic.

This spring also saw an 18-year high number of measles cases in the United States. The largest outbreak was in Ohio where the virus spread quickly among the Amish, who are mostly unvaccinated. This outbreak was a real surprise to health officials who thought that the infectious disease was thought to have been eliminated from the United States in 2000.

The editorial accompanying this latest study suggests doctors, who parents typically trust to tell the truth about medical information, need to use this study to speak with confidence about the importance of vaccinating children.

“Looking at all these mounds of data — there is still no data that show an association that shows vaccine and autism,” said Brown. “I would love it to close this chapter and move on. I don’t think it will. But the more research, the more we learns about autism, the more we can reassure parents that there are no links here.”

6 comments

  • scars

    99.9% of the time vaccines are safe. However, having suffered a bad allergic reaction to a flu shot a couple of years ago that has led to some immune system problems, it stinks if you are in that .1% where things go wrong. And if you are in that .1%, it can be hard to trust that the next vaccine isn’t going to injure you …

  • Kim

    I don’t care what this article says, vaccines are NOT safe. It’s already been proven that the MMR shot for babies/small children can cause autism and doctors will tell you anything to keep the pharmaceutical companies in business. I can’t tell you how many articles I have read from reputable sites that have said vaccines contain ingredients such as formaldehyde and mercury, both of which are highly poisonous and who knows what else is in them that we DON’T know about. I refuse to get anymore shots and definitely will be refusing them for my son in the future as well.

    • pop

      Your body produces and uses formaldehyde naturally and you consume mercury most of the time you eat fish. Even if it’s present in vaccines, it’s not enough to cause harm.

      Not vaccinating your child is literally putting his life at risk as well as every person he comes in contact with. Especially those who are allergic to vaccines or are to young to receive all of them yet.

      The articles you read from a google search will never trump the advice of a doctor who more than likely vaccinates his kids too. You would take a prescription from him if you are sick, so why not take preventative measures for more serious diseases? And no, healthy living isn’t going to protect you from a disease your immune system doesn’t know how to fight.

      Even if vaccines did cause autism, you really want to sit here and say that you’d rather risk death or permanent disabilities from a preventable disease than risk him getting autism, a condition that a lot of people live normal lives with? I’m sorry, but I’d rather have a healthy autistic child than watch my child go through a near death experience.

      if you’re that weary, don’t Google anything. Call a doctor and talk to them about it. Don’t put the lives of people in jeopardy.

      • mojorisin73

        I agree with Kim, I wouldn’t trust any doctor that works for the World Health Organization and the Pharma backed American Medical Association either. There’re other natural ways to prevent diseases that the multi-billion dollar pharma industry that don’t want people to know that there’s actually cures out there. All they’re doing now is trying to make themselves look good because over the past decade a lot of people are waking up and realizing that the companies that make these vaccines could careless about curing and preventing diseases and will stop at nothing to keep people away from the real cures because sick and dying people mean big profits to them. The World Health Organization and Big Pharma Industries are the ones that run the American Medical Association that spends billions in lobbying politicians and putting ads on the mainstream media to put their propaganda out there.

  • lt

    i have three kids and any vaccine sounds good to me. Knock on wood but my kids rarely need a doc. except stitches or physicals. And those outspoken Hollywood people are autistic (different/unique) themselves. It’s most likely genetic.

  • wonder woman

    I have four children and one with Autism. My child with autism had several vaccinations at once. He was behind in his vaccinations and the Dr suggested to just get them over with. As I recall be received about 7 or 8 that day. He was my only child to get do many at once and diagnosed with autism. Had I known it wasn’t healthy to get so many in one day I wouldn’t have.

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