Although an alarmingly increasing population in the United States is shunning the recommended vaccination schedule provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scientists at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently announced that evidence is lacking that following the recommended schedule causes developmental or health problems like autism or asthma in children.
As discussed in the IOM report, repeated studies have proven the health benefits of following the recommended childhood vaccination schedule. Health benefits associated with vaccines include fewer illnesses, milder illness, fewer hospitalizations, and fewer deaths.
Furthermore, every new vaccine developed for use in children is thoroughly tested for safety and then evaluated in the context of the entire vaccination schedule before the new vaccine is added to the timeline. In the rare case that a problem with a vaccine is discovered — such as the rare intestinal disorder linked to a now-discontinued rotavirus vaccine — systems are in place that work well to detect occasional problems with individual vaccines. No vaccine is 100% safe, but the overall safety of vaccines in general outweighs any theoretical risks.
The present study by IOM began in response to lingering concerns some people have about the vaccines, especially the number of vaccines that babies and toddlers receive. The current recommended vaccine schedule includes a total of 24 immunizations by age 2. Depending on the age of the child, up to five vaccines will be given at a single well-baby check-up.
Despite the large number of vaccines given to children under the age of 2, the IOM review concludes that all existing research indicates the safety of the recommended vaccination schedule. As Dr. Pauline Thomas, an IOM adviser and a professor at New Jersey Medical School in Newark, explains, “The message is that the schedule is safe by all existing data.”
Currently, approximately 90% of children in the United States receive the majority of vaccines recommended by the CDC by kindergarten. Unfortunately, a growing number of parents are choosing to forgo the recommended schedule and are instead opting for an alternative schedule, schedules that lack the research for effectiveness. Furthermore, about 1% of the population refuses vaccines altogether, a practice that puts both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals at an increased risk for disease and complications from disease including death. Undervaccinated individuals, such as those who follow alternative vaccination schedules, also reduce the effectiveness of the herd immunity offered by vaccines, further putting everyone at an increased risk.
The message of the IOM review is clear: The current recommendation vaccination schedule for children is safe. Not following the timetable, however, unnecessarily puts everyone at risk.
Do you follow the recommended vaccination schedule for your children?
Assessment of studies of health outcomes related to the recommended childhood immunization schedule: http://www.iom.edu/Activities/PublicHealth/ChildhoodImmunization.aspx
Vaccine schedule is safe for children, experts say: http://www.inquisitr.com/484177/vaccine-schedule-is-safe-for-children-experts-say/
Vaccine timetable for children is safe, experts say: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/16/us-usa-children-vaccines-idUSBRE90F15B20130116
Nurse Vaccinating a Child: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vaccination.jpg