Despite anti-vax fears, vaccines are safe

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Credit: UNICEF/Aidroos Alaidroos

A review of 58 different changes to labels on vaccines made between 1996 and 2015 has shown very few dangers in vaccination, and changes that were made were mostly to ensure people vulnerable to side effects or allergies were protected, they found.

“These data highlight the robustness of the vaccine approval and postmarketing surveillance processes and confirm population vaccination as a major public health strategy,” the team at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center wrote in their report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Vaccine experts worry about a small but vocal group of vaccine skeptics who have cast doubt on the safety of vaccines.

The only vaccine that was withdrawn for safety reasons, the rotavirus vaccine RotaShield, was taken off the market less than a year after it was initially marketed. It was linked to a rare condition called intussusception, which can causes the intestines to tangle in infants. It can be fatal.

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“The safety issue that triggered the only vaccine withdrawal was swiftly identified by the existing post marketing surveillance program,” the researchers said.

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The average amount of time between vaccine approval and a safety modification was five years, and the number of safety modifications that occur each year has remained stable, the researchers said.

“With such an impressive track record, vaccines are rightly considered as one of the greatest achievements of biomedical science and public health,” they wrote.

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