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Study: Childhood Vaccines Generally Safe, Severe Side Effects Rare

Childhood vaccines are generally safe, and the risk of severe side effects is very rare, according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics, the AP/San Francisco Chronicle reports.

In addition, the study did not find any evidence that childhood vaccines cause autism or childhood leukemia (Stobbe, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 6/30).

For example, there still is no evidence the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism. Nor is there any proof vaccines cause childhood leukemia. 

For the study, researchers from RAND and Boston Children's Hospital examined 67 medical studies of vaccinations (Szabo, USA Today, 7/1). The data, taken from research conducted since 2011, mirror an Institute of Medicine report that concluded that serious side effects from vaccines are very rare.

While the risk for severe side effects is low, the report found:

  • A link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and fever-triggered seizures;
  • Flu shots can cause fevers that trigger seizures; and
  • Vaccines for rotavirus, a diarrheal disease in children, can increase the risk of bowel blockage.

Study co-author Courtney Gidengil noted, "I don't think this report, alone, will convince parents that vaccines are safe." However, it might convince their family doctors, whom parents trust, some experts noted. The researchers added that physicians and parents can discuss the risks and benefits of vaccines (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 7/1).

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