My Patients Ask — Just how safe are vaccines in general?

I’ve pointed out for years that routine vaccines are by far one of the safest and most effective public-health lifesaving interventions in the history of medicine and science. And, if more proof of the safety of vaccines is needed, a new study delivers fresh evidence that they carry massive benefits and very, very few potential risks for children, adults, and pregnant women.

“This in-depth analysis found no evidence of increased risk of serious adverse events following vaccines, apart from a few — previously known — associations,” Susanne Hempel, director of the Southern California Evidence Review Center at the University of Southern California, told HealthDay News.

The researchers analyzed 338 studies of vaccines for diseases such as influenza, measles, mumps, shingles, whooping cough, tetanus, and human papillomavirus (HPV). COVID-19 vaccines weren’t among the vaccines reviewed in the study.

The investigators found strong evidence that the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine (MMR) does not increase the risk of autism in children. The vaccine was associated with an increased, but still low, risk of febrile seizures, which virtually never have long-term consequences.

There was no evidence of increased risk for serious side effects among children and teens who received newer vaccines such as the HPV vaccine (which prevents infections that trigger cervical and other types of cancers) and meningococcal vaccines (which prevent a type of bacterial meningitis).

There was also no evidence of increased risk for serious side effects among adults who receive the new shingles vaccine, the hepatitis B vaccine, and newer flu vaccines such as the one recommended for older adults.

And no increased risk for serious side effects, including stillbirth, was seen among pregnant women following tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccination.

“These findings support decisions to vaccinate to protect ourselves and our communities from a variety of diseases,” said study author Dr. Courtney Gidengil, a senior physician policy researcher at the RAND Corp. RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision-making through research and analysis.

“This research is an important reminder that vaccines are safe and any risk they may pose is far outweighed by their ability to protect against diseases,” Gidengil said in a RAND news release.

The study was published in the journal VaccineThe full story is at HealthDay News. Also, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more on vaccines.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2021. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.


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