Statement on Vaccines

Vaccines Continue to be Tested and Proven Safe

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2017). American Academy of Pediatrics Emphasizes Safety and Importance of Vaccines. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/American-Academy-of-Pediatrics-Emphasizes-Safety-and-Importance-of-Vaccines.aspx

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016). Infant Immunizations FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/parent-questions.html

Institute of Medicine. (2004). Immunization Safety Review: Vaccines and Autism. Retrieved from https://www.nap.edu/catalog/10997/immunization-safety-review-vaccines-and-autism

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2015).  Thimerosal in Vaccines: Questions and Answers. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/BiologicsBloodVaccines/Vaccines/QuestionsaboutVaccines/UCM070430#q5

In light of recent claims by politicians or appointees that vaccines are linked to autism, or are unsafe when administered according to the recommended schedule, or contain dangerous products like Thimerosal, the public health community and the Delaware Academy of Medicine/Delaware Public Health Association continue to come down on the side of science.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research is responsible for regulating vaccines in the United States.  Before a vaccine can be licensed for public use, it must be tested for safety in the laboratory, in animals, and in human clinical trials.  Human clinical trials include looking for common adverse events in a few participants (phase 1), several hundred volunteers looking for local reactions and general side effects like fever (phase 2), and establishing the effectiveness of the vaccine and determining less common side effects with thousands of participants (phase 3).  If a vaccine is to be given at the same time as another vaccine, the two vaccines are tested together (FDA, 2015).  If a dangerous effect is found, that vaccine is not licensed for public use.

Vaccines are continuously monitored following licensure by the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is run by both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  The VAERS is a national system that collects all reports of adverse events following vaccination.  Phase 4 clinical studies are also conducted to further evaluate the new vaccine, and population based studies are conducted through the use of databases like the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) for the lifetime of the use of the vaccine (FDA, 2015).

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) Immunization Safety Review Committee “favors rejection of a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism” (IOM, 2004).  Despite this finding, “all vaccines routinely recommended for children 6 years of age or younger and marketed in the U.S. contain no thimerosal or only trace amounts” (FDA, 2015).

“Infants and young children who follow immunization schedules that spread out shots – or leave out shots – are at risk of developing diseases during the time that shots are delayed” (CDC, 2016). Vaccines “keep communities healthy, and protect some of the most vulnerable in our society” (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2017).  The Delaware Academy of Medicine will continue to advocate for vaccines and vaccine use in the state of Delaware and the United States.