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IOM report details strategy for monitoring safety of childhood immunization schedule
Date:1/16/2013

WASHINGTON -- A review of the available evidence underscores the safety of the federal childhood immunization schedule, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine. Should signals indicate the need for investigation of the schedule, however, the report offers a framework for conducting safety research using existing or new data collection systems.

Roughly 90 percent of American children receive most childhood vaccines advised by the federal immunization schedule by the time they enter kindergarten, noted the committee that wrote the report. However, some parents choose to spread out their children's immunizations over a different time frame than recommended by the schedule and a small fraction object to having their children immunized at all. Their concerns arise in part from the number of doses that children receive; the schedule entails 24 immunizations by age 2 given in amounts ranging from one to five injections during a pediatric visit. Some critics of immunization policies have called for studies comparing health outcomes among vaccinated and unvaccinated children and for research to determine if subgroups exist that are predisposed to experiencing harmful health effects from the vaccines.

Studies have repeatedly shown the health benefits associated with the recommended schedule, including fewer illnesses, deaths, and hospital stays, the report notes. Every new vaccine is tested for safety and evaluated in the context of the entire schedule before it is added. And the systems designed to detect possible harmful effects of immunization have worked well at discovering occasional problems with individual vaccines, such as a rare intestinal disorder linked to a now-discontinued rotavirus vaccine. However, the elements of the schedule -- the number, frequency, timing, order, and age at which vaccines are given -- are not well-defined in existing research and should be improved.

Until newer and bigger data collection
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Contact: Christine Stencel
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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