Media Advisory

Editorial by NNii Executive Director and Steering Committee member published in the New England Journal of Medicine


Carrie Schum, (202) 973-5800
Diana Olson, (703) 299-0201

February 1, 2001

Who: National Network for Immunization Information (NNii) Bruce G. Gellin, MD, MPH, Executive Director William Schaffner, MD, Steering Committee member Drs. Gellin and Schaffner are members of the Department of Preventative Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN

What: ‘The Risk of Vaccination — The Importance of ‘Negative’ Studies” An editorial in the February 1, 2001 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Drs. Gellin and Schaffner wrote the editorial, which accompanies two major studies that examine the relationship between vaccines and multiple sclerosis. One study found that there is no relation between use of the hepatitis B vaccine And the development of multiple sclerosis, and the other found that multiple sclerosis patients who received vaccines against hepatitis B, influenza, and tetanus did not experience any increase in the severity of their symptoms.

The editorial highlights these as examples of well-designed, well-conducted epidemiological studies that are necessary to determine which hypothetical adverse events are causally related to vaccine use, and which (as in this case) are not.

Where: A link to the editorial and the abstracts of the referenced articles is on the NNii website,

For More Information: Please call 877-341-6644 or 703-299-0201. Interviews with NNii experts are available.

The National Network for Immunization Information is dedicated to providing clear, accurate, science-based information about immunization to everyone who needs it.

References: 1) Ascherio A, Szhang, SM, Hernan MA et al. Hepatitis B vaccination and the risk of multiple sclerosis, N Engl J Med 2001; 344:327-32

2) Confavreux C, Suissa S, Saddier P, Bourdea V, Vukusic S.Vaccinations and the risk of relapse in multiple sclerosis, N Engl J Med 2001; 344:319026

3) Gellin BG, Schaffner W. The Risk of Vaccination — The Importance of ‘Negative’ Studies. N Engl. J Med 2001; 344: 372-3.