The charge to the Committee on the Assessment of Studies of Health Outcomes Related to the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule was to (1) review scientific findings and stakeholder concerns related to the safety of the recommended childhood immunization schedule and (2) identify potential research approaches, methodologies, and study designs that could inform this question, considering strengths, weaknesses, as well as the ethical and financial feasibility of each approach. As reviewed by prior Institute of Medicine studies, a substantial literature exists on adverse effects of individual vaccines, but few studies have focused on elements of or the recommended childhood immunization schedule as a whole. The lack of conclusive evidence linking adverse events to multiple immunizations or other “schedule” exposures suggests that the recommended schedule is safe. There are concerns from some stakeholders that merit exploration through research if epidemiological signals are detected and an indication of biological plausibility is available. However, the committee concludes that it is not ethical to implement any study requiring that some children receive fewer vaccines than recommended as part of the childhood immunization schedule because this would needlessly endanger children’s lives. The committee concludes that data from existing surveillance systems, such as the Vaccine Safety Datalink, could be used and offer the best means for ongoing research efforts regarding the safety of the schedule. In recognition of this, future federal research approaches should

  • collect and assess evidence regarding public confidence in and concerns about the entire childhood immunization schedule, with the goal to improve communication with health care professionals, and between health care professionals and the public regarding safety;

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