Vaccine consensus, where to find it?
In this piece Richard Green, a past contributor to the blog, looks for the consensus on vaccine safety.
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I’ve gone down this road before. Rather than review the massive amount of studies myself, I was hoping I could find well respected organizations that have already reviewed the material. My first thought was that I could collect statements from scientific groups like the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). While organizations like these publish scientific studies, news, and other information about vaccines, policy statements were few and far between. I might have some ideas on why that is what I found (or didn’t find).
The practice and science of immunization is hundreds of years old. These practices began well before we knew that infectious diseases were caused by viruses and bacteria. The science has only gotten better over the years.
While communities dipping below the 95% threshold for herd immunity in the US seem to be responsible for recent outbreaks, vaccine compliance across the nation is relatively high. Most people vaccinate.
I would guess that with hundreds of years of practical application and science, coupled with most people getting vaccinated, the groups focusing only on science haven’t seen the need for publishing statements. From their perspective, the science is clear.
But all was not lost. There are science based groups around the globe that use evidence to evaluate vaccines. Public health and medical organizations are responsible for keeping their people safe from disease. These would be the organizations where I could find statements on vaccines.
World Health Organization (WHO):
“Vaccination is one of the most cost-effective health interventions available, saving millions of people from illness, disability and death each year. Effective and safe vaccines, which protect against more than 20 serious diseases, are available and many promising new vaccines are being developed.”
“Vaccination – making people immune to diseases caused by viruses or bacteria – is unquestionably one of the most cost-effective public health measures available. Wide-spread vaccination has eradicated smallpox and made Europe polio-free.”
National Health Service -UK:
“All medicines have side effects. However, vaccines are among the safest and the benefits of vaccinations far outweigh the risk of side effects.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“The United States’ long-standing vaccine safety system ensures that vaccines are as safe as possible. In fact, currently, the United States has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in its history.
Safety monitoring begins with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who ensures the safety, effectiveness, and availability of vaccines for the United States. Before a vaccine is approved by the FDA for use by the public, results of studies on safety and effectiveness of the vaccine are evaluated by highly trained FDA scientists and doctors. FDA also inspects the sites where vaccines are made to make sure they follow strict manufacturing guidelines.”
American Academy of Pediatrics:
“Vaccines work, plain and simple. Vaccines are one of the safest, most effective and most important medical innovations of our time. Pediatricians partner with parents to provide what is best for their child, and what is best is for children to be fully vaccinated.”
“Vaccines are safe, with huge benefits to children’s health – all through their lives. Most vaccine side effects are minor and self-limited, lasting only a few days and not disrupting daily activities. Serious allergic reactions from vaccines are extremely rare and are reported immediately to the Public Health Agency of Canada so that any problems can be dealt with quickly.”
Australian Public Health Agency:
“Immunisation is one of the best ways to protect yourself, your children and safeguard the health of future generations.
Immunisation remains the safest and most effective way to stop the spread of many of the world’s most infectious diseases. Before the major vaccination campaigns of the 1960s and ’70s, diseases like tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis) killed thousands of young children each year. Today, deaths from these diseases are extremely rare in Australia, and the rest of the developed world.”
China’s Ministry of Health with WHO, CDC:
WHO: “The mission of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) in China is to support the Chinese Government’s efforts to control and prevent vaccine-preventable diseases through timely vaccination, effective surveillance, and strengthening China’s routine immunization programme.”
CDC: “The CDC works with Chinese public health officials to eradicate, eliminate, or control vaccine preventable diseases through immunization efforts.”
CDC Around the World:
“Global Immunization: CDC’s Global Immunization Division (GID) is a diverse group of people dedicated to the mission of creating a world without the diseases, disabilities, and death that could be prevented with vaccines.”
If this list seems small, that is because I didn’t want to be seen as padding the list. I decided to use national/multi-national organizations. Had I wanted to, I could have included the public health organizations from each state in the US, each province in Canada, and each country in the EU. I also wanted to keep my list clear of charitable organizations as well. They can sometimes be contentious, even though they provide reliable information. Many such organizations can be found on the WHO website in various languages.
Further evidence of the wide spread acceptance of vaccines across the globe can also be found in the immunization schedules published by the WHO. Vaccine programs large and small are in place from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
Not only do these public health organizations around the world endorse vaccines, but the world’s major religions also have no objections to immunization.
The consensus is clear. Vaccines are safe, effective, and one of the greatest public health advances mankind has ever made.
Image Credit: Pixabay