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ADA: Let CDC review vaccines for safety and effectiveness

April 10, 2017

By Jennifer Garvin

Washington — The ADA has asked President Trump to delegate the task of reviewing the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

In an April 7 letter, ADA President Gary L. Roberts and Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin stressed that administering vaccines “is one of the most effective methods of preventing infectious diseases,” noting that the widespread use of vaccines has eradicated smallpox and significantly reduced incidences of polio, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus and a host of other preventable diseases.

“Over time, vaccinations have saved countless lives and billions of dollars in medical costs,” Drs. Roberts and O’Loughlin wrote. “Unfortunately, American adults are less likely today than they were in 2001 to say vaccines are extremely important.”

The safety and effectiveness of childhood vaccines were in the news in January, when Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an antivaccine activist, said that he was asked to chair a presidential commission to look into the safety of vaccines. However, a Trump spokesperson said that no decision has been made about setting up a vaccine commission or appointing Mr. Kennedy to chair it.

Drs. Roberts and O’Loughlin noted that credible science is more important than ever, as 9 percent of Americans believe vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they were designed to prevent — according to a 2015 Gallup poll on vaccines. This is due, they said, to “years of shoddy research, naïve media reporting, proclamations from celebrities and politicians with no medical or scientific background and an abundance of misinformation on the Internet.

“People need to know that the medical advice they are receiving is from a trustworthy source,” Drs. Roberts and O’Loughlin wrote. “From a scientific perspective, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is well-suited to judge the integrity of vaccine studies and make recommendations about their use.

The CDC created the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to examine the safety and effectiveness of vaccines and develop recommendations for their use. It comprises experts in vaccinology, immunology, pediatrics, internal medicine, nursing, family medicine, virology, public health, infectious diseases and preventive medicine. The members also go through a complex vetting process to avoid potential conflicts of interest and the likelihood of bias in decision making.

“ACIP is the best-qualified group to scrutinize the scientific literature on vaccines, put the results in context and provide unbiased recommendations to you, your administration and the American public,” Drs. Roberts and O’Loughlin concluded. “For that reason, we urge you to delegate the task of reviewing and making any policy recommendations about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines to ACIP.”

In February, the ADA and more than 350 national and state organizations asked President Trump for a meeting to discuss “the robust, extensive scientific evidence supporting vaccine safety and effectiveness.”

Follow all of the ADA advocacy efforts at ADA.org/Advocacy.