Good News For Vaccines

After receiving a lot of bad press in 1998 and 1999, vaccines received mostly positive attention in 2000. The safety of hepatitis B virus (HBV) vaccine was questioned in 1999 because of a possible link with neonatal death in the United States. However, a review of reports received by the US national Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) provided reassurance that HBV vaccine is not associated with an increased risk of unexplained neonatal death.786:2 The HBV school vaccination programme was suspended in France in 1998 amidst concerns over a possible link with the onset or reactivation of multiple sclerosis or other demyelinating diseases. However, results of a Canadian study published in February 2000 showed no evidence of an association between HBV vaccine and multiple sclerosis or post-infectious encephalomyelitis.789:4

Concerns over a potential link between measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) virus vaccine and inflammatory bowel disease and autism were first raised in 1998, but were subsequently refuted by the UK Department of Health. In 2000, the potential links were refuted again by the American Academy of Pediatrics, by Britain's Medical Research Council,798:2 and by a study conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.823:3

In June, the UK Department of Health urged parents to continue to have their children immunised with the meningococcal group C conjugate vaccine, despite reports about adverse reactions, such as blackouts, seizures and headaches, that appeared in the UK media.808:2 The department stated that the benefits of the vaccine are "overwhelming" and that the vaccine is "very safe". Also, in August, the UK CSM and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation issued a "Dear Doctor" letter in the United Kingdom stating that the balance of risk and benefit associated with the meningococcal group C conjugate vaccine is "overwhelmingly favourable".8182

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