Institute of Medicine Finds No Link Between Immunizations, Autism
The report was requested by the federal Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which pays damages to people determined by experts to have been injured by vaccines (AP/Washington Post, 8/25). An IOM panel reviewed more than 1,000 studies for the report (Fox, National Journal, 8/25).
Disproving Previous Claims
The report disproves claims made by Andrew Wakefield, a British physician who in 1998 associated the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine with autism.
His claims prompted some parents to stop vaccinating their children. The U.K.'s General Medical Council last year revoked Wakefield's license to practice medicineÂ (Pecquet, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/25).
Main Findings, Implications
Along with disproving the link the between vaccines and autism, the report also found no evidence that the MMR vaccine causes Type 1 diabetes or that the influenza vaccine causes Bell's palsy or worsens asthma (National Journal, 8/25).
Ellen Wright Clayton, chair of the IOM committee, said, "With the start of the new school year, it's time to ensure that children are up to date on their immunizations, making this report's findings about the safety or these eight vaccines particularly timely." She added, "The findings should be reassuring to parents that few health problems are clearly connected to immunizations, and these effects occur relatively rarely. And repeated study has made clear that some health problems are not caused by vaccines."
Report Finds Adverse Effects in Rare Occasions
The IOM report found "convincing evidence" linking certain vaccines to 14 adverse effects -- such as seizures, brain inflammation and fainting -- but only in rare cases ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/25).
For example, the report found that individuals who receive the chickenpox vaccine can develop pneumonia, meningitis or hepatitis years later, if an unrelated health problem triggers the virus used in the vaccine (New York Times, 8/25).
In addition, IOM found "indicative though less clear data" linking certain vaccines with four other adverse effects, such as allergic reactions and temporary joint pain ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 8/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.