The New York Times
Published: August 30, 2011
A comprehensive evaluation of eight common childhood vaccines has found that any adverse effects from vaccines are very rare or very minor. The report, issued last week by a panel of experts assembled by the Institute of Medicine, said there is no evidence that childhood vaccines cause autism, diabetes, facial palsy or episodes of asthma, as some people fear.
That judgment emerges from an analysis of more than 1,000 research studies in peer-reviewed journals. The institute had been asked by the federal government to review whether the eight vaccines caused specific adverse effects as claimed by people seeking redress from a national vaccine injury compensation program. The report did not assess the effectiveness of vaccines or compare the small risks of vaccination with the far greater risk from contracting a disease that a vaccine prevents.
The panel did find convincing evidence, its highest category of proof, that in rare cases vaccines have been linked to adverse effects, including seizures and inflammation of the brain. It also found that a chickenpox vaccine could cause pneumonia, meningitis or hepatitis years later if the virus, normally suppressed by the immune system, re-emerged after the immune system had been weakened. The same problems, however, are far more likely to occur in people who have not been vaccinated and become infected with chickenpox.