US vaccination schedule is safe and effective, says Institute of Medicine

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 23 January 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f516
  1. Bob Roehr
  1. 1Washington, DC

The schedule of recommended childhood vaccinations prepared by the US Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is safe and effective, concludes a review of the evidence conducted by a committee of the Institute of Medicine.1

The review was the first to focus on the overall schedule of vaccinations rather than on individual vaccines within the series. It was released at a 16 January teleconference.

Alfred O Berg, a member of the institute’s committee and a professor of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said, “Our committee found no evidence that the childhood immunization schedule is not safe.”

The review found no evidence indicating a link between the schedule of immunizations and “autoimmune diseases, asthma, hypersensitivity, seizures, child development disorders, learning or developmental disorders, or attention deficit or disruptive disorders.”

Berg said, “The evidence repeatedly points to the health benefits of the recommended schedule, including protecting children and the community from serious and life threatening diseases.”

The committee made recommendations on standardizing definitions and measures to be used in future research studies so that studies might be better compared and data integrated for extended analysis.

The claim that a mercury based preservative used in some vaccines caused autism, since debunked, has led many parents to question the wisdom of vaccination.

Berg told the BMJ that his committee did not specifically look at how public attitudes had changed over the course of those events. However, the experience did heighten the committee’s awareness of the importance of public perceptions of vaccination.

It prompted the committee to recommend that “stakeholder concerns should be systematically assessed and used to help set priorities for future research,” along with evidence generated by safety surveillance, epidemiologic studies, and biological plausibility.

Evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of a modified schedule of administration that would limit the number of vaccines delivered at a single time and spread them over an extended period is currently under way.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f516