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Childhood vaccines are safe. Seriously.

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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 Carey, 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.”


  • Mary

    I consider it a shame that Fox would even include the article above on their website. It is so one-sided and biased toward the pharmaceutical companies and the medical profession in general that I’m inclined to think maybe Fox agrees with it?
    For one thing, it should be noted that there have been hundreds of studies done by non-biased, alternative organizations regarding safety and effectiveness of vaccines. Yet the article fails to mention any of the alternative data, including the fact that many children who have been vaccinated still contract the disease that they were vaccinated against. Besides, if you look at it from a different perspective, e.g. the medical profession/scientists insist that adverse side effects are “extremely rare”….as if to say that there’s nothing to worry about because the probability is that no one will be adversely affected. What absolute tommy rot that claim is!!! There is already a government vaccine injury court that has paid out millions to families whose children have been injured by vaccines.
    Pharmaceutical companies were really sly when they got our government to pass a law that exempts them from public law suits against them. The only recourse a parent has is to go through the vaccine injury court and hope their claim is resolved.
    The way I like to approach the subject of vaccinations is this: If there is supposedly only a mere 1% chance that a person will suffer an adverse effect from taking a vaccine, and you happen to be the person…or the child.. who receives said vaccine and winds up suffering a bad reaction from it. The the risk factor then for you or the child was NOT 1%, but rather 100%. Furthermore, a child has no control over the decision made in these cases.
    NO ONE knows ahead of time if they are going to suffer an adverse reaction, so the public has been misled into believing that vaccines are perfectly safe… can they be safe when there’s a risk factor that goes with them??? Sometimes the risk factor means lifetime incapacitation or even death!!! Everyone should consider this! And every adult ought to read a description of the list of ingredients before agreeing to accept the vaccine. It’s on the package label where the toxic ingredients are plainly seen. Most people have an idea of what is in their food and often read the labels….so why not read vaccine labels of ingredients that are going directly into your blood stream?
    Btw, there’s plenty of information about this all over the internet on various natural health websites. Also go onto the CDC website to read some information. But don’t take someone else’s word as gospel… your own homework.
    Okay….I just wanted to get this off my chest. Thanks!

  • Bart

    Where did you get your degree and what type of degree was it that allows you to authoritatively comment on vaccines, Mary?

    If you look at any percentage of ill effect as a reason to not do something, you must be home-bound, room-bound and stink to high heaven from not cleaning yourself. The bathroom is such a dangerous place. Trees eventually fall and are launching platforms for ticks. Traffic accidents can be fatal. A baseball can fly into the stands. Life is just so full of chances of ill.

    I find it abhorent that you might actually be in charge of children. If so, I hope that changes for the betterment of the children.

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