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Immunization Safety Review: Multiple Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction Immunization Safety Review: Multiple Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction Immunization to protect infants and children from vaccine-preventable diseases is one of the greatest achievements of public health. Immunization is not without risks, however. It is well established, for example, that the oral polio vaccine can on rare occasion cause paralytic polio, that some influenza vaccines have been associated with a risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome, and that vaccines sometimes produce anaphylactic shock. Thus public concern about the safety of immunizations has increased. A recent survey suggests that a substantial minority of parents (23–25%) believes that getting too many immunizations weakens a child’s immune system and that children get more immunizations than are good for them (Gellin et al., 2000). Given the widespread use of vaccines, state mandates requiring vaccination of children for entry into school or day care, and the importance of ensuring that trust in immunization programs is justified, it is essential that safety concerns receive assiduous attention. The Immunization Safety Review Committee was established by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to evaluate the evidence on possible causal associations between immunizations and certain adverse outcomes, and to then present conclusions and recommendations. The committee’s mandate also includes assessing the broader significance for society of these immunization safety issues. In this report, the committee examines the hypothesis that receipt of multiple immunizations, as recommended by public health authorities, adversely affects the developing immune system.
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