An Institute of Medicine committee has found convincing evidence that some common vaccines – varicella zoster; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); influenza, hepatitis B, meningococcal and tetanus – may in rare cases cause 14 adverse health effects, according to an influential report released Thursday.
However, the 667-page report said the 16-member committee found no or insufficient evidence to link the MMR vaccine with autism or type I diabetes, nor did it connect the tetanus vaccine with type I diabetes, or the inactivated influenza vaccine with Bell's palsy or exacerbation of asthma or reactive airway disease. The committee reviewed more than 1,000 research articles to draw its conclusions.
"The MMR vaccine does not cause autism, and the MMR and the DPT or diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis vaccines do not cause type I diabetes and killed flu vaccine or the flu shot does not cause Bell's palsy and does not trigger episodes of asthma," Ellen Wright Clayton, M.D., director of the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said in a news briefing to release the report.
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"It is important to note that just because something bad happened after getting a vaccine, or a drug for that matter, it does not mean that the vaccine or drug actually caused that. It could have been just a coincidence or it could be that the health problem was caused by something else," she said.
The committee placed vaccines into one of four categories: evidence convincingly supports a causal relationship, evidence favors acceptance of a causal relationship but is not firm enough to be convincing, evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship and evidence is inadequate to accept or reject a causal relationship.