Public tolerance of adverse reactions related to products given to healthy persons, especially healthy infants and children, is substantially lower than for reactions to products administered to persons who are already sick.
Adding to public concern about vaccines is the fact that immunization is mandated by many state and local school entry requirements.
Because of this widespread use, safety problems with vaccines can have a potential impact on large numbers of persons.
Close monitoring and timely assessment of suspected vaccine adverse events can distinguish true vaccine reactions from coincidental unrelated events and help to maintain public confidence in immunizations.
A higher standard of safety is generally expected of vaccines than of other medical interventions because in contrast to most pharmaceutical products, which are administered to ill persons for curative purposes, vaccines are generally given to healthy persons to prevent disease.
The Health and Medicine Division (HMD) of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine (IOM)) is an independent, nonprofit organization that works outside of government to provide unbiased and authoritative advice to decision makers and the public. Below are summaries of IOM reports relating to vaccine safety.