Q: Are vaccines safe and effective?
A: Every vaccine that the CDC recommends has been carefully researched and proven to be safe and effective by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as required by law.
The schedule of recommended vaccines from the CDC has been approved by many separate groups of scientists and doctors who work independently. Some of these groups include the American Academy for Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), and the Indiana State Department of Health.
Q: How is a vaccine determined “safe”?
A: Before vaccines are allowed to be used, the FDA makes sure they go through extensive safety testing. This whole process can take a long time, even up to 10 years or more.
Once a vaccine is being used, both the CDC and the FDA keep a close watch on any possible side effects. They do this using a system called the “Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)” and another tool called the Vaccine Safety Data Link. If there’s ever an issue with a vaccine, the CDC and FDA dive deeper to investigate. For more details about VAERS, you can check out www.vaers.hhs.gov or give a call to 800-822-7967.
Q: Is it safe to vaccinate my child?
A: In most situations, vaccines work well and don’t cause any side effects or just bring about minor reactions, like a bit of fever or soreness where the shot was given.
It’s uncommon for people to have more serious reactions, such as allergies. These severe reactions to vaccines happen very rarely, making it hard to predict the risk.
Make sure you let your healthcare provider know if your child has health issues or allergies to medicines or food. If, in very rare cases, a child is harmed by a vaccine, there’s a program called the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) that might help. You can learn more about this program at www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation or call 800-338-2382.
Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if your child has health problems or known allergies to medications or food. In the rare event that a child is injured by a vaccine, he or she may be compensated through the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). Contact www.hrsa.gov/vaccinecompensation or call 800-338-2382 for more information about this program.