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Letter: Risks from vaccines are miniscule

Expert offers tips on how to calm kids

Expert offers tips on how to calm kids before immunizations. (Sept. 11, 2007) Credit: Getty Images

The recent letter "Vaccine court protects 'big pharma' " [March 26] represents a severe distortion of vaccines and their risks. It's true that vaccines can cause serious side effects. What the author neglects to mention is the extreme rarity.

The chance that a child will have a severe allergic reaction or encephalitis from the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine is about 1 in 1 million.

The benefits of being immunized from life-threatening diseases greatly outweighs the tiny risk of a serious side effect. In 2013 alone, 145,700 people died worldwide from measles. In the United States, where vaccinations are now common, no one died from measles in 2013.

It's also true that vaccines are not 100 percent effective, because people's immune systems vary. There is a small chance that a person who was vaccinated can still develop the disease and transfer it to others. However, if enough other people are vaccinated, the chances of that person getting the disease are extremely low.

We do not have to place "blind trust" in big companies, as the author suggests. All vaccines must past through years of rigorous safety testing at the Food and Drug Administration. Once the vaccines are on the market, the FDA and other agencies continue to monitor their safety.

Daniel Elton, Stony Brook

Editor's note: The writer is a doctoral candidate in physics at Stony Brook University.