and child care, medical exemptions are allowed in all states, and almost all states allow immunization exemptions for people who have religious beliefs against them. Furthermore, 20 states permit exemptions for those who object to immunizations because of personal, moral, or other beliefs.

THE COMMITTEE

The National Vaccine Program Office (NVPO) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to convene a committee of experts in pediatrics, neurology, medical ethics, immunology, statistics, epidemiology, and public health to identify feasible study designs to explore the safety of the U.S. childhood immunization schedule. A 14-member committee was assembled to address the statement of task. The committee’s charge is independent of the charges for previous IOM vaccine studies, and committee members were selected to avoid any real or perceived biases or conflicts. Strict criteria for membership prevented members from having financial ties to vaccine manufacturers or their parent companies, previous service on federal vaccine advisory committees, or having delivered expert testimony or written publications on vaccine safety. The committee’s charge is detailed in Box S-1.

COMMITTEE PROCESS

To complete its charge, the committee held three information-gathering meetings in two locations. Before the first meeting and throughout the committee’s deliberations, the committee gathered information on public

BOX S-1
Statement of Task

The Institute of Medicine will convene an expert committee to

  1. Review scientific findings and stakeholder concerns related to the safety of the recommended childhood immunization schedule.
  2. Identify potential research approaches, methodologies, and study designs that could inform this question, including an assessment of the potential strengths and limitations of each approach, methodology and design, as well as the financial and ethical feasibility of doing them.
  3. Issue a report summarizing their findings.


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