IOM confirms safety of childhood vaccine schedule

Despite scientific evidence and confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that childhood vaccines help rather than hurt, some parents still harbor doubts about immunizing their kids. A recent study from the Institute of Medicine further underscores the safety of the federal childhood immunization schedule.

The support should help the global pediatric vaccine market, which will likely hit a value of more than $23 billion by 2015, a market analysis shows. From 2005 to 2011, pediatric vaccines doubled their market share.

The National Vaccine Program Office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked the Institute of Medicine to explore the safety of the U.S. childhood immunization schedule. The report indicates that 90% of American children stick to the federal immunization schedule, receiving the necessary shots by the time they enter kindergarten. But it's estimated that up to 40% of parents choose to spread the immunizations over a different time frame than recommended. A small number of children--fewer than 1%--don't receive immunizations at all.

The federal schedule includes 24 immunizations by age 2. IOM found concerns voiced by parents about the number, frequency and timing of vaccines recommended for children were not mirrored by clinicians, public health personnel or policymakers.

"Among the latter groups, the childhood immunization schedule is considered to be among the most effective and safe of the public interventions available to prevent serious disease and death," the committee wrote.

Pfizer's ($PFE) Prevnar 7 and Prevnar 13, GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) Rotarix and Merck's ($MRK) Rotateq contribute to much of the growth in the childhood vaccines industry. Vaccines are available for 20 different diseases, 10 of which are recommended for use in children in the U.S.

- read the committee recommendations