Vaccines and Diabetes

Do vaccines cause diabetes?

The relationship between vaccines and diabetes has been the subject of several excellent studies.

The hypothesis that the timing of vaccines either causes or prevents diabetes was tested in 21,421 children who received the Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) conjugate vaccine between 1988 and 1990 in the United States. These children were followed for 10 years after receiving the Hib vaccine. The risk of diabetes was indistinguishable from a group of 22,557 children who did not receive the Hib vaccine.

Another excellent study evaluating the relationship between vaccines and diabetes was performed using data from the Vaccine Safety DataLink. Four large health management organizations (HMOs) were used to identify children with diabetes born between 1988 and 1997. All four HMOs maintained registries of children with diabetes and cases were confirmed by means of medical records. Investigators compared 252 cases of diabetes with 768 matched controls. Children who received whole-cell pertussis, MMR, Hib, hepatitis B or varicella vaccines were not at greater risk for diabetes than children who did not receive those vaccines. In accord with the Vaccine Safety DataLink study, several other well-controlled retrospective studies found that immunizations were not associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes.

In 2011 the Institute of Medicine reviewed studies of adverse events related to vaccines. One of the associations studied was whether the tetanus component of the DTaP vaccine caused type 1 diabetes. The committee concluded that development of type 1 diabetes was not caused by receipt of this vaccine. In another study, investigators followed individuals born in 1974 for 20 years who had or had not received the BCG vaccine and found that receipt of vaccine did not increase the risk of diabetes.

Therefore, the best available evidence does not support the hypothesis that vaccines cause diabetes.


Black SB, Lewis E, Shinefield H, et al. Lack of association between receipt of conjugate Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine (HbOC) in infancy and risk of type 1 (juvenile onset) diabetes: long term follow-up of the HbOC efficacy trial cohort. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2002;21:568-569.

DeStefano F, Mullooly JP, Okoro CA, et al. Childhood vaccinations, vaccination timing, and risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus. Pediatrics. 2001;108:(6).

Graves PM, Barriga KJ, Norris JM, et al. Lack of association between early childhood immunizations and b-cell autoimmunity. Diabetes Care. 1999;22:1694-1697.

Heijbel H, Chen RT, Dahlquist G. Cumulative incidence of childhood-onset IDDM is unaffected by pertussis immunization. Diabetes Care. 1997;20:173-175.

Hummel M, Fuchtenbusch M, Schenker M, et al. No major association between breast-feeding, vaccinations, and childhood viral diseases with early islet autoimmunity in the German BABYDIAB study. Diabetes Care. 2000;23:969-974.

Institute for Vaccine Safety Diabetes Workshop Panel. Childhood immunizations and type 1 diabetes: summary of an Institute for Vaccine Safety Workshop. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 1999;18:217-222.

Rousseau MC, El-Zein M, Conus F, Legault L, Parent ME. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) Vaccination in Infancy and Risk of Childhood Diabetes. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2016;30(2):141-148.

Reviewed by Paul A. Offit, MD, Lori Handy, MD, MSCE on February 08, 2018

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Vaccine Education Center staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

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