Commentary: Stephen Buka

Report reassures parents about kids’ shots

January 17, 2013  |  Media Contact: David Orenstein |  401-863-1862
New parents quickly learn that their kids have years of vaccinations ahead of them. The vast majority of parents keep up with the schedule but some parents diverge from the recommended timeline, and a small minority object to the vaccines overall. A new report from the Institute of Medicine should reassure parents.

Stephen Buka“The goal is to improve public health benefit while minimizing personal risk.”Stephen Buka
“The goal is to improve public health benefit while minimizing personal risk.”
Stephen Buka, professor and chair of epidemiology at Brown University, served on a 13-member committee of doctors and researchers charged by the Institute of Medicine to study the safety of the pediatric vaccine schedule and to identify new opportunities for research. The committee shared its findings recently in a new report that offers parents assurance, both that the vaccines are safe and effective, and that there is a framework for future research on the issue. Buka talked about the report with David Orenstein.

“This report highlights the overwhelming public health benefits of the current childhood vaccination schedule and resulting reductions in serious infectious diseases. At the same time, the committee heard real and important concerns voiced by parents, advocacy groups and others about the challenges that have resulted from the growing number of shots and complexity of the schedule. As with all medical treatments, vaccines are not risk-free, and children certainly experience rare and severe adverse reactions. The goal is to improve public health benefit while minimizing personal risk, and our report highlights a variety of research strategies for this purpose.”

The Institute of Medicine’s news release links to the full report, which can be read online or purchased as a book.

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