Vaccine Safety Resource

Aug 17, 2022.  Generations before us were all too aware of the devastating and sometimes deadly impact of once common contagious diseases like measles, mumps, and pertussis (whooping cough) that spread quickly through families and communities.  Those of us who live in the United States have been most fortunate to have decades-long access to vaccines to help prevent illness and suffering from these diseases.  However, news stories about measles outbreaks and polio being detected in waste water treatment systems serve as important reminders that the viruses and bacteria that cause these diseases are still very much present.  Also, pandemic measures in recent years may have caused families to fall behind on childhood vaccinations needed for school.  Many have also experienced understandable confusion about the advent of emergency use authorization COVID vaccines. 

Assuring that new vaccines are both safe and effective can be challenging for all of us.

Thankfully, the US Food & Drug Administration is tasked with assuring that vaccines, like all drugs, are safe and effective before they may be given to the general public.  The scrutiny for vaccines is a stringent series of checks and balances done in phases with review and approval required to advance through each step (MA DPH):


Phase One: Small groups of people receive the trial vaccine.

Phase Two: The vaccine is given to specific groups of people (for example, people of a certain age, race, or physical health).

Phase Three: The vaccine is given to tens of thousands of people and tested for effectiveness and safety.

Phase Four: The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices looks at the data to see if the vaccine works and is safe, 

    They give advice to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Phase Five: The FDA looks at the data and the advice from the Advisory Committee and decides whether to approve the vaccine.

Parents may find that the FDA Guide for Parents and Caregivers is a helpful resource when considering vaccinations for their children.  As always, your child's pediatrician is a great resource for discussing questions about certain vaccinations.  Finally, if you are seeking COVID vaccinations or boosters or, are seeking Influenza vaccines, we encourage you to contact your pediatrician, local pharmacy, or our friends at the Northampton Health Department to schedule an appointment.

Best wishes to all families for a healthy and safe school year.