Category: Vaccine Safety

Do Vaccines Cause Food Allergies?

Why do some folks think that vaccines can cause food allergies?

It’s likely for the same reason that they think that vaccines can cause eczema and reflux.

Many infants develop the first signs of food allergies around the same time that they are getting their first vaccines

Do Vaccines Cause Food Allergies?

To be clear, vaccines can be associated with food allergies, including:

  • eggs – most children with an egg allergy can get the flu shot, although the yellow fever vaccine could still be an issue
  • gelatin – some vaccines use gelatin, like in Jell-O, as a stabilizer
  • yeast – although they aren’t thought to be an issue for kids with yeast allergies, a few vaccines can have residual amounts of yeast in them
  • milk – very rarely and mainly based on scattered case reports, it is thought that residual casein proteins in DTaP/Tdap vaccines could trigger allergic reactions in some kids with severe milk allergies

But vaccines don’t cause these food allergies.

What about peanut allergies? Peanut oil is not actually a component of vaccines and vaccines have not caused a peanut allergy epidemic.

And FPIES?

“Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) is a type of non-IgE mediated food allergy that can present with severe vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration.”

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES)

It is important to note that having FPIES is not a contraindication to getting vaccinated.

And that’s not surprising, as there is no biologically plausible mechanism for any association between FPIES and vaccines!

What about the rotavirus vaccines? Could they be causing FPIES?

FPIES was recognized in the mid-1970s. We didn’t have a rotavirus vaccine back then.

Could it have been the oral polio virus, which we were using in the 1970s?

“Some researchers have speculated that T cells play a central role in the development of the localized inflammation in the intestinal tract that characterizes FPIES, but this theory has not been confirmed.”

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome

If it was, then why didn’t FPIES go away when we stopped using the oral polio vaccine in 2000. Or when we used neither OPV nor a rotavirus vaccine, from 2000 to 2007?

“The reviewed epidemiological evidence indicates that, although possibly not contributing to optimal stimulation of the immune system in infancy, current infant vaccines do not cause allergic diseases.”

Koppen et al on No epidemiological evidence for infant vaccinations to cause allergic disease.

There is also no evidence that vaccines are causing other types of food allergies.

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and are obviously necessary.

As you wait for your child to hopefully outgrow their food allergy, don’t unnecessarily skip or delay their vaccines and leave them at risk to get a vaccine preventable disease.

Vaccines and Food Allergies

Side Effects and Adverse Events Following Immunizations

Vaccines are safe, but they do have some side effects, mostly mild, and they rarely cause some serious and severe adverse reactions.

Vaccine adverse events can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.
Vaccine adverse events can be reported to VAERS online or using a downloadable form.

To help keep our vaccines safe, it is important that all “clinically important adverse events that occur after vaccination of adults and children” be reported to VAERS, not just the ones that are known to be side effects.

Wait.

Isn’t an adverse event the same as a side effect?

Adverse Events Following Immunizations

To better understand that, let’s first look at how we define an adverse event following immunization (AEFI):

“An Adverse event following immunization (AEFI) is any untoward medical occurrence which follows immunization and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine. The adverse event may be any unfavourable or unintended sign, abnormal laboratory finding, symptom or disease.”

Classification of AEFIs

So it should be clear that not all adverse events are actually caused by vaccines.

Many are coincidental events that simply occur after a vaccine is given.

What’s the Difference Between Side Effects and Adverse Events Following Immunizations?

Others are true vaccine reactions though, including fever, pain, fainting, and allergic reactions, etc.

“A side effect is any health problem shown by studies to be caused by a vaccine. Like any medication, vaccines can cause side effects. Usually vaccine side effects are minor (for example, a sore arm where a shot was given or a low-grade fever after a vaccine) and go away on their own within a few days.”

Understanding Side Effects and Adverse Events

These are the reactions that we call side effects or adverse reactions of the vaccine.

Still, just because a sign or symptom can be a side effect of a vaccine doesn’t mean that it always will be.

“A vaccine reaction is an individual’s response to the inherent properties of the vaccine, even when the vaccine has been prepared, handled and administered correctly.”

Vaccine reactions – WHO Vaccine Safety Basics

Here are some other definitions:

  • adverse event – Medical occurrence temporally associated with the use of a medicinal product, but not necessarily causally related.
  • adverse reaction/side effect – A response to a drug which is noxious and unintended, and which occurs at doses normally used in man for the prophylaxis, diagnosis, or therapy of disease, or for the modifications of physiological function.
  • unexpected adverse reaction – Not consistent with applicable product information or characteristics of drug.
  • severe adverse event or reaction – are rarely life-threatening and usually do not result in long-term problems
  • serious adverse event or reaction – Any untoward medical occurrence that at any dose is life-threatening, results in death, requires inpatient hospitalization or prolongation of existing hospitalization, or results in persistent of significant disability or incapacity

Does understanding those definitions make it easier to see why you should be skeptical when folks try to scare you with VAERS reports and data from package inserts?

“Reports of all possible associations between vaccines and adverse events (possible side effects) are filed in VAERS. Therefore, VAERS collects data on any adverse event following vaccination, be it coincidental or truly caused by a vaccine. The report of an adverse event to VAERS is not documentation that a vaccine caused the event.”

Guide to Interpreting VAERS Data

They both can include reports about adverse events, not just side effects. So they both include events that can very well be coincidental, and not caused by a vaccine.

So when doing your research about vaccines, focus on real side effects, or things that are known to be caused by vaccines. You will find that most vaccine side effects are mild and that more serious or severe side effects are very rare.

More on Side Effects and Adverse Events

Are There Any Long-Term Studies On Vaccine Safety?

Vaccines are evaluated for safety in studies when they get approved.

Is that enough?

“I would like to see us do more long-term safety research studies on these large groups of children, so then we can determine that they are safe in the long-term.”

Bob Sears

Apparently not for everyone…

Are There Any Long-Term Studies On Vaccine Safety?

Of course, vaccines continue to be evaluated for safety after they approved, using passive and active vaccine safety systems and long-term post-marketing safety studies.

“We learn about a vaccine’s safety during clinical trials before it is licensed, and monitor it continually as millions of doses are administered after it is licensed. We also know there is not a plausible biologic reason to believe vaccines would cause any serious long-term effects. Based on more than 50 years of experience with vaccines, we can say that the likelihood that a vaccine will cause unanticipated long-term problems is extremely low.”

Parents’ Guide to Childhood Immunizations

These long term studies on vaccine safety have looked at:

Have you heard about these studies before?

When they talk about SV40, do anti-vaccine folks mention this long-term study?
When they talk about SV40, do anti-vaccine folks mention this long-term study?

Probably not.

Anti-vaccine folks either aren’t aware of, or just don’t want you to know about these types of long-term studies.

It’s easier to scare you away from vaccinating and protecting your kids if they make you believe that vaccines aren’t tested together, aren’t tested with placebos, aren’t tested vs unvaccinated kids, and aren’t tested for long periods of time.

They are!

More on Long-Term Studies On Vaccine Safety

More Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated Studies

Anti-vaccine folks continue to call for vaccinated vs unvaccinated studies.

A vaccinated vs unvaccinated study that anti-vaccine folks don't talk about...
A vaccinated vs unvaccinated study that anti-vaccine folks don’t talk about…

Not surprisingly, they ignore all of the studies that have already been done.

More Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated Studies

Listening to these anti-vaccine folks, you would actually think that the only vaccinated vs unvaccinated “study” that has ever been done is the survey about homeschoolers that they always talk about

That leaves out a lot of other vaccinated vs unvaccinated studies, including:

Do we need even more studies on vaccinated vs unvaccinated children?

We already know that unvaccinated kids get sick more and they have more severe disease. Who is going to approve of or want to do a study that only puts kids at risk to get a vaccine-preventable disease?

Vaccines are safe, with few risks, and they are obviously necessary.

More on Vaccinated vs Unvaccinated Studies