Vaccine Schedules Are Safe (Pass It On)

Paul A. Offit, MD


February 01, 2013

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Hi. My name is Paul Offit. I am talking to you today from the Vaccination Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I would like to talk about a report[1] from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), published on January 16, 2013, looking at the safety of vaccines and the vaccine schedule. The IOM tried to answer the questions, "Is this vaccine schedule, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics, reasonable? Has it been well tested? Is it safe?"

The advantage of the IOM is that they are part of the National Academies, which don't receive funding from pharmaceutical companies or the federal government. This panel, for the most part, is made up of individuals who have never done research specifically in vaccines. They haven't done clinical studies on vaccines, reviewed biological license applications, or participated on data and safety monitoring boards for vaccine research. This is a group that has expertise in other areas of medicine, and they brought that expertise to looking at the safety of vaccines.

They looked at voluminous amounts of data, including data from so-called "concomitant use studies," in which investigators aim to prove that a vaccine, when it is added to the schedule, doesn't interfere with the safety or immunogenicity profiles of existing vaccines, and vice-versa. Hundreds of such studies have been conducted, and anyone who looks at these data closely will come to the same conclusions that the IOM came to, which is that the vaccine schedule is well-tested and safe.

Hopefully, for some patients in your practice, this review by a group of independent investigators will be convincing. I suspect that some patients, no matter what the data show, will still choose not to get vaccines. This is unfortunate because then we simply have to keep our fingers crossed and hope that children don't suffer as a result of that choice, whereas we wouldn't have to keep our fingers crossed and depend on luck if people simply got vaccines. I hope the IOM study will help.

Thank you for your attention.