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How Safe Are Vaccines? | Print |

 

Vaccines are held to the highest standard of safety. The United States currently has the safest, most effective vaccine supply in history. Years of testing are required by law before a vaccine can be licensed. Once in use, vaccines are continually monitored for safety and efficacy.

Before vaccines are licensed, the FDA requires testing to ensure safety. This process can take 10 years or longer. Once a vaccine is in use, the CDC and FDA monitor its side effects through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). Any hint of a problem with a vaccine prompts further investigations by the CDC and FDA. If researchers find a vaccine may be causing a side effect, the CDC and FDA will initiate actions appropriate to the nature of the problem. This may include the changing of vaccine labels or packaging, distributing safety alerts, inspecting manufacturers’ facilities and records, withdrawing recommendations for the use of the vaccine, or revoking the vaccine’s license. For more information about VAERS, visit vaers.hhs.gov or call the toll-free VAERS information line at 1-800-822-7967.

Some people should not get certain vaccines or should wait to get them. For instance, children with compromised immune systems, as occurs with cancer patients, often need to wait to be vaccinated. Similarly, if a person has had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine, a subsequent dose is not recommended. However, a person with a mild, common illness, such as a cold with a low-grade fever, does not have to wait to be vaccinated. Ask your health care provider for more information.

If someone has a reaction to a vaccine:

  • Call a doctor. If the person is having a severe reaction get him or her to a doctor immediately.
  • After any reaction, tell your doctor what happened, the date and time it happened, and when the vaccination was given.
  • Ask your doctor, nurse, or health department to file a VAERS form, or call VAERS yourself at 1-800-822-7967.
 
 

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