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U.S. child vaccination schedule deemed safe
January 16th, 2013
WASHINGTON – A new report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said a review of the federal childhood immunization schedule attests to its safety.
IOM said Wednesday the report shows that studies have consistently demonstrated the health benefits associated with the recommended schedule, including fewer illnesses, deaths, and hospital stays.
In addition, each new vaccine is tested for safety and evaluated in the context of the entire schedule before it's added, the report noted. The systems intended to detect possible harmful effects of vaccinations also have worked well at discovering occasional problems with certain vaccines, such as a rare intestinal disorder linked to a now-discontinued rotavirus vaccine, the review found.
About 90% of U.S. children get most childhood immunizations advised by the federal schedule by the time they enter kindergarten, according to the committee that wrote the report. Still, some parents choose to spread out their children's vaccinations over a different time frame than recommended by the schedule, and a small percentage object to having their children immunized at all.
Such concerns, the report said, come in part from the number of doses that children receive. The schedule involves 24 immunizations by age 2, administered in amounts ranging from one to five injections during a pediatric visit.
IOM said that some critics of immunization policies have called for studies comparing health outcomes among vaccinated and unvaccinated children and for research to find out if there are subgroups predisposed to experiencing harmful health effects from the vaccines.
The report from IOM, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, also offers a framework for conducting safety research using current or new data collection systems. Elements of the immunization schedule — the number, frequency, timing, order and age at which vaccines are administered — aren't well-defined in existing research and should be improved, the report concluded.