Making sure a vaccine is safe doesn’t stop once the immunization is put into regular use. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continually monitor the vaccine and its side effects through four different systems, including VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) — a national vaccine safety surveillance program co-sponsored by the CDC and the FDA that’s designed to track reports of side effects or suspected injuries following vaccination.
How vaccines are made to be safe
If there is any suspicion of a problem with a vaccine, health agencies will take quick steps to remedy the problem and help ensure that the vaccine is safe.
Courses of action can include changing the vaccine’s labeling or packaging, putting out safety alerts, inspecting the manufacturer’s facilities and records, revoking a vaccine’s license or even withdrawing recommendations for the use of the vaccine.
If you think your child has a vaccine-related illness, injury or side effect, tell your pediatrician. You or your doctor can then report the problem to VAERS.
Since 1990, VAERS has received approximately 30,000 reports each year, most of them describing mild side effects such as fever, arm soreness, crying or mild irritability.
Even if you’re not sure if there’s a connection between an illness or side effect and a vaccine your child just had, you should still talk to your pediatrician (who will contact VAERS).
If the symptoms your child is experiencing appear to be unrelated to the vaccine, your doctor may be able to ease your concerns and help with treatments for your little one.
For more information about VAERS, call 800.822.7967 or go online to www.vaers.hhs.gov.