Q. How can I be sure that the vaccines my child gets are safe and effective?
A. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires rigorous testing of vaccine manufacturers. Each vaccine undergoes years of testing before it's ever made available to the public. And when a vaccine does go on the market, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA track reactions.
Despite these measures, experts will tell you that no vaccine is absolutely 100 percent safe or effective for every single child. But it is reassuring to know that the FDA continues its monitoring even after a vaccine is approved. In August 1998, for example, a new vaccine called the Rotashield was introduced to protect against rotavirus, an illness that causes severe diarrhea and vomiting in infants. Just a few months later, a rare, but potentially deadly side effect was discovered: Of the one million children who were vaccinated, about one in 10,000 developed severe intestinal blockage. The FDA immediately pulled the Rotashield off the market.
Maureen Connolly is the coauthor of The Essential C-Section Guide (Broadway Books).
Originally published in American Baby magazine, February 2004.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.