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Children's Vaccines Health Center

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Report: Vaccines Generally Safe, Cause Few Health Problems

Vaccine Safety Analysis Rules Out Links to Autism, Diabetes; Confirms Links to Some Side Effects

Vaccine Side Effects: Report Details continued...

The panel did find some links between vaccines and serious side effects.

"Several vaccines do cause anaphylaxis," Clayton says. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction that can occur within seconds or minutes after exposure to the allergen.

"Among them," she says, "are MMR, varicella, influenza, hepatitis B, tetanus toxoid, and meningococcus."

When these vaccines are given, it's common practice to instruct the patient to wait in the office for a few minutes, Clayton tells WebMD. Typically, the anaphylaxis reaction occurs quickly, she says, and treatment can be given.

Clayton says another possible serious side effect of the MMR vaccine is a type of seizure called a febrile seizure, triggered by fevers. "That's been known for two decades. As a mother and a pediatrician, it's scary."

However, she says, there are almost never long-term consequences of febrile seizures.

Children with compromised immune systems, such as those receiving chemotherapy for cancer, can suffer a variety of side effects from vaccines, Clayton says.

Vaccine Safety: Perspectives

The report has some inconsistencies, says Lyn Redwood, RN, vice president of the Coalition for SafeMinds. The organization is devoted to eradicating autism and other health problems it believes to be caused by mercury and other toxins.

"To me, it is inconsistent that the report says while we acknowledge an association between seizure and inflammation and certain vaccines, we don't acknowledge an association between vaccines and autism," she says.

She cites research that finds children and adults with autism or autism spectrum disorder may have an ongoing brain inflammation. "An all-out effort is needed to better understand why some children are harmed by vaccines and what can be done to make them safer," she says.

"It is equally unacceptable for a child to be harmed by a vaccine-preventable disease as it is for a child to be harmed by a vaccine," she says.

Neal Halsey, MD, director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, served as an independent reviewer of the report but did not make recommendations or conclusions.

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