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Background mortality rates key to accurate reporting of vaccine safety risks
Date:6/11/2013

San Diego, CA, June 11, 2013 In a study using the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), investigators analyzed four years of data and determined that background mortality rates (rates of death irrespective of cause) are crucial in interpreting the numbers of deaths following vaccination. The VSD mortality rate following immunization is lower than the general US population mortality rate, and the causes of death are similar. These background rates can be used in communications to the public about vaccine safety risks, reports the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Public concern about deaths and other adverse events following immunization can disrupt immunization programs and lead to an increase in vaccine-preventable disease.

"Determining the baseline mortality rate in a vaccinated population is necessary to be able to identify any unusual increases in deaths following vaccine administration," says lead investigator Natalie L. McCarthy, MPH, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). VSD mortality rates demonstrate a healthy vaccinee effect where rates were lowest in the days immediately following vaccination, most apparent in the older age groups. The healthy vaccinee effect suggests an avoidance or delay of vaccination when an individual is sick, leading to lower background rates of illness or mortality immediately following vaccination.

"Although there is currently no evidence to support a causal relationship between vaccinations and death, this study provides background mortality rates following vaccination to be used as a baseline when examining the safety profiles of new vaccines and during mass immunization campaigns," adds McCarthy.

Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ten healthcare organizations (sites) that conduct vaccine safety research and surveillance, report on background mortality rates, describe causes of death following vaccinati
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Contact: Brianna Lee
eAJPM@ucsd.edu
858-534-9407
Elsevier Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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