Citing vaccine hesitancy as one of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) top 10 threats to global health, the agency did not mince words when it reiterated its continued confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the MMR vaccine, and all vaccines in general.
“We cannot state strongly enough – the overwhelming scientific evidence shows that vaccines are among the most effective and safest interventions to both prevent individual illness and protect public health,” Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA‘s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in a statement. “Just to be clear, the FDA has determined that the MMR vaccine is both safe and effective in preventing these diseases.”
“And we have 50 years of experience and evidence supporting that fact,” he added.
Yet, the agency noted the increasing number of measles outbreaks across the U.S., including New York, New Jersey, Washington, California, and Michigan, mainly due to unvaccinated U.S. residents traveling abroad to areas where “the vaccine is not as readily available.”
“It’s an urgent public health priority to monitor these diseases and raise awareness of the importance of timely immunizations, especially as outbreaks are taking hold among unvaccinated populations in this country,” Marks said.
The FDA also addressed the continued, disproven accusations that the MMR vaccine is linked to autism in children, stating that “large well-designed studies … have demonstrated that administration of the vaccine is not associated with the development of autism.”
According to the CDC, two doses of MMR vaccine beginning at age 12 months are 97% effective against measles, 88% effective against mumps, and 97% effective against rubella, the FDA said. The agency recommended that parents with concerns about vaccination side effects speak to a healthcare provider about the benefits and risk of vaccines, as well as “potential consequences of not vaccinating against diseases.”
“We do not take lightly our responsibility to ensure the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, and work diligently to assess safety and effectiveness of all licensed vaccines for their intended uses,” Marks said.