Claiborne Johnston, MD, a member of the committee and director of the Neurovascular Disease and Stroke Center at the University of Califorina San Francisco, acknowledged that the committee did not quantify the number of adverse events likely to stem from administration of any of these vaccines.
"You think about an apple. Can an apple cause choking?" he asked. "Our task was to determine whether an apple could cause choking, it was not to say how frequently does choking occur or to ask whether the benefits of an apple are outweighed by the rarity of choking."
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However, he added, "if you look at the safety issues that we did identify, where there was significant evidence you have some serious adverse events associated with these vaccines, particularly the live vaccines, those are rare, and almost always the vaccines are preventing more of the event that they're causing. So it looks like the net benefit for any given parent or kid is clearly positive."
Many adverse events are time-limited, such as fainting, and very controllable, he said.
He said committee members expect that the report will be more useful to clinicians than the public, and that providers "will use it to inform parents about vaccinating their kids."