How important is it?

Synthesis of experts' texts - April 2013

Topic Editor: David W. Scheifele, MD, University of British Columbia & Vaccine Evaluation Centre, Child and Family Research Institute, Canada

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF estimate that 100 million children receive at least basic immunization, saving about 2.5 million lives each year. It is estimated that complete vaccine coverage of children could save an additional 2 million lives. Moreover, immunization reduces demands on health care systems and helps avoid neurological complications associated with diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, and even chickenpox. Vaccines are given to young children during a time of rapid developmental changes. It is also in early childhood that neurological defects and behavioural syndromes are detected. Because neurological disorders are often diagnosed a short time after children receive vaccines, many parents and health professionals fear that the vaccines could be the cause of these developmental problems. This and other concerns have led to a large amount of research on the possible side effects of vaccines and also on the other causes of neurological and behavioural problems in young children. Based on this ongoing research, the purported association between vaccine and autism is now considered refuted, and it is now known that almost all neurological disorders that used to be attributed to vaccines have in fact other causes. The scientific consensus today is that vaccines are among the safest pharmacological products, that their side effects are almost always mild, and that their benefits far outweigh their potential risks.


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