Vaccine Safety Conference Outlines Research Gaps

An international meeting was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica Jan. 3-7, 2011 to discuss current vaccine science and policy safety concerns. Delegates from around the world included senior scientists and physicians, editors of scientific journals, experts in vaccine regulation, social science and health policy, consumer child health advocates, legal experts and members of the media.

The meeting was held in response to acknowledged significant increases in immune and inflammatory diseases in children and adults ranging from asthma and neurodevelopmental disorders to the emergence of previously rare but serious autoimmune health conditions during the past three decades. The concern of delegates paralleled those of 89 percent of recently polled parents in the U.S., who place vaccine safety as their number one medical research priority, while health consumers in other developed countries are also questioning vaccine science and policy.

Delegates affirmed an urgent need for methodologically sound vaccine science to address eroding public confidence in national vaccine policies. Information was presented from the peer reviewed scientific literature that raised serious concerns about gaps in scientific knowledge about:

-- biological mechanisms and genetic and biological high risk factors for vaccine induced brain and immune dysfunction, including lack of adequate safety data, particularly for delayed or chronic health outcomes;

-- vaccine additives such as aluminum adjuvants (immune stimulating agents) and mercury preservatives;

-- multiple vaccine exposures;

-- bias in reporting of vaccine risks and benefits; and

-- novel vaccine-associated autoimmune diseases.

The need to identify research priorities and conduct bench science and clinical studies to identify how and why certain individuals may be at increased risk of vaccine induced chronic health problems or death was stressed. The need to minimize undue commercial and political influence on academic institutions, medical journals and lay press was also discussed as a factor that impedes open, unbiased scientific inquiry into important outstanding questions about vaccine science and policy.

Representatives of federal agencies responsible for vaccine regulation, promotion, and safety were invited to present but declined.

Referenced presentations, peer reviewed materials and video excerpts from the meeting will be posted on the web in spring 2011.

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