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Vaccine Injuries

Vaccines are often described as one of the greatest public health achievements of the 20th century.

“The evidence for the safety and effectiveness of vaccines routinely given to children and adults in the Unites States is overwhelmingly favorable.”

Miller et al on Deaths following vaccination: What does the evidence show?

There is no doubt of for most people that vaccines work and have prevented millions of deaths from vaccine-preventable diseases.

Since vaccines are also safe, that great benefit also leaves no doubt for most people that getting vaccinated and fully protected far outweigh the very small risk of a vaccine injury.

Vaccine Injuries vs Vaccine Side Effects

Vaccines can certainly have side effects and reactions.

Fever, pain at the injection site, and redness and swelling where the shot was given are all common, mild problems that can be associated with almost any vaccine.

Some vaccines might also commonly cause fussiness, tiredness or poor appetite, and vomiting within 1 to 3 days of getting the vaccine. Others can cause a rash, headache, or muscle and joint pain for a few days.

Even syncope or fainting can commonly occur within 15 minutes getting a vaccine, especially in teenagers.

Other vaccine side effects can include persistent crying, nodules at the injection site, limb swelling, and febrile seizures, etc.

These are well known vaccine side effects that are minor and temporary though. They are not the much more rare type of serious vaccine side effects that might be classified as a vaccine injury.

Types of Vaccine Injuries

In addition to the more common mild side effects, vaccines can very rarely cause these types of vaccine injuries (most are table injuries):

  • life threatening allergic reactions
  • brachial neuritis (shoulder pain and then weakness) following a tetanus containing vaccine
  • encephalopathy/encephalitis following a measles, mumps, or rubella, or pertussis containing vaccine
  • chronic arthritis following a rubella containing vaccine
  • thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) following a measles containing vaccine
  • vaccine-strain measles viral infection in an immunodeficient recipient following a measles containing vaccine
  • intussusception – following a rotavirus vaccine

Still, while vaccines are associated with some serious adverse events, the research is clear that vaccines are not associated with autism, SIDS, shaken baby syndrome, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease, etc.

In this 2011 report, the IOM concluded that few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines.
In this 2011 report, the IOM concluded that few health problems are caused by or clearly associated with vaccines.

And simply being in a VAERS report doesn’t necessarily mean that the vaccine was the cause of the ‘injury.’ Surprisingly, neither does being listed on the vaccine injury table or getting compensated by the Vaccine Court. Many of these cases are settled and “cannot be characterized as a decision by HHS or by the Court that the vaccine caused an injury.”

For example, even though encephalopathy or encephalitis after DTaP is still listed as a table injury,  a Canadian study of encephalopathy related to pertussis vaccine found only 7 cases of encephalopathy beginning within 7 days of receiving a pertussis containing vaccine out of over 6.5 million doses of vaccines given between 1993 and 2002. And all 7 cases had a more likely cause than the vaccine! The final diagnosis for these children’s encephalopathy included herpes simplex encephalitis, influenza A encephalopathy (3 patients), parainfluenza encephalopathy, a probable gastrointestinal infection, and adrenal insufficiency in a child with previous episodes of hypoglycemia.

It is also important to keep in mind that vaccines do not cause many of the things that are portrayed in vaccine injury videos and stories that scare parents.

What to Know About Vaccine Injuries

While vaccines can rarely cause some serious reactions or vaccine injuries, most of things portrayed in vaccine injury videos are not actually caused by vaccines.

More on Vaccine Injuries

Updated January 31, 2018

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