Parents to Be Informed of Common Side Effects of Childhood Vaccines

Committee decides to adopt the practice of several Western states not notifying of side effects that occur in fewer than one case out of 100,000.

Dan Even
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Dan Even

The Health Ministry will notify parents of the most common side effects caused by childhood vaccinations, but not of extremely rare side effects, for fear of deterring them from innoculating their children.

The Health Ministry's Advisory Committee on Infectious Diseases and Vaccinations recently decided to issue uniform reports on the side effects of childhood vaccinations to parents at well-baby clinics and in leaflets distributed to the public.

A draft issued this year about the Hepatitis B vaccination, a first dose of which is administered to newborns before leaving hospital, included a list of dozens of side effects detailed by the manufacturer, in a way that could deter parents from innoculating their children.

The committee decided to adopt the practice of several Western states and especially Britain, where parents are not notified of side effects that occur in fewer than one case out of 100,000 and in which no causal link can be established between the vaccine and the effect.

Parents will receive information regarding each vaccination in accordance with the reports of known health authorities such as the World Health Organization, the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC ) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC ).

Before publication, the list will be sent to the pediatricians, gynecologists and family doctors' associations for perusal, the committee decided.

The ministry will also provide an Internet link to the manufacturer's leaflet, which gives detailed information about all the side effects observed in the course of research on the vaccine.

Parents who cannot read will be briefed about the side effects orally.

Recent court verdicts in Israel have emphasized the legal obligation to report side effects caused by vaccinations as well as significant risks involved in medical treatments.

"The nurses at well-baby centers have always given information sheets about vaccinations before administering them and answered questions about them," said Prof. Shmuel Rishpon, head of the advisory committee and head of the ministry's Haifa District. "We want to improve the information the nurses give out in maternity wards and well-baby clinics so it serves the purpose better."

In 1989 a law to compensate people harmed by vaccinations was enacted. After discussing dozens of compensation suits over the past 20 years, the committee has not established even one causal link between any childhood vaccination and medical damage.

However, some of the suits ended in compromise, most of them including compensation ranging from NIS 50,000 to NIS 200,000.

The main fears in the Western world and Israel in recent years focus on whooping cough vaccine, which studies have associated with a number of cases of brain damage. Later studies have ruled out this link. Also, in 2010 the medical journal Lancet recalled a study it had released in 1998 suggesting a connection between autism and the combined vaccine for measles, rubella and mumps.