Immunization Issues

IOM Reports

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) is a nonprofit organization part of the National Academies of Sciences.

The National Academy of Sciences was created by Congress to be an adviser to the federal government on scientific and technological matters. However, the Academy and its associated organizations (e.g., the Institute of Medicine) are private, non-governmental organizations.

The IOM provides science-based advice on matters of biomedical science, medicine, and health. The IOM's mission is to serve as adviser to the nation to improve health.

The IOM's Committee on Immunization Safety Review was convened in the fall of 2000 to provide an independent review and assessment of increasingly prominent vaccine safety concerns. The 15 Committee members have expertise in pediatrics, internal medicine, immunology, neurology, infectious diseases, epidemiology, biostatistics, public health, risk perception, decision analysis, nursing, genetics, ethics, and health communications.

To prevent any perception of conflict of interest, anyone with financial ties to vaccine manufacturers or their parent companies, and anyone who had served on vaccine advisory committees, provided expert testimony, or published papers on issues of vaccine safety have been excluded from participating as members of the Committee. (See also Frequently Asked Questions about the IOM)

For each hypothesis to be examined, the committee assesses both the scientific evidence and the significance of the issue for society.

  • The scientific assessment has two components: an examination of the epidemiological and clinical evidence regarding a possible causal relationship between the immunization and the possible adverse event, and an examination of experimental evidence for any biological mechanism(s) relevant to the hypothesis.
  • The significance assessment addresses such considerations as the burden of the health risks associated with the vaccine-preventable disease and with the adverse event in question, as well as the level of public concern about the safety issue.

The reports from the IOM's Committee on Immunization Safety Review are technical and sometimes hard to read. However, they are considered to be the most authoritative and reliable documents on vaccine safety currently available. The following are some of the reports issued by the committee:


Influenza Vaccines and Neurological Complications

The Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Immunization Safety Review found no evidence to accept or reject a causal relationship between influenza vaccines and neurological problems in humans.

Updated: April 28, 2004 | Read full article...

IOM Report on Vaccines and Autism

The Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Immunization Safety Review rejected a causal relationship between the MMR vaccine and autism as well as a causal relationship between thimerosal-containing vaccines and autism.

Updated: September 20, 2004 | Read full article...

Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine and Autism

The IOM concluded that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism spectrum disorder, commonly known as autism.

Updated: April 7, 2004 | Read full article...

Multiple Immunizations and Immune Dysfunction

The Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Immunization Safety Review  rejected the hypothesis that too many immunizations could overwhelm an infant’s immune system.

Updated: April 21, 2004 | Read full article...

SV40 Contamination of Polio Vaccine and Cancer

The Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Immunization Safety Review considered that the available data was inadequate to conclude whether or not the polio vaccine contaminated with SV40 may have caused cancer.

Updated: January 24, 2005 | Read full article...

Vaccinations and Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy

The IOM concluded that the evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship between vaccines and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), which most frequently occurs in infants between two and four months of age (a period when many immunizations are given).

Updated: April 6, 2004 | Read full article...

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