Are Combination Vaccines Safe?

Paul A. Offit, MD, explains that the safety of combination vaccines, such as the MMR and DTaP vaccines, is studied extensively before the vaccines are recommended for children.


Are Combination Vaccines Safe?

Hi, my name is Paul Offit. I'm talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I think one thing that parents are concerned about is, is when we combine vaccines are they safe?

Now in the first couple years of life, there are a few vaccines ... a couple vaccines that children get that are combined. There's the diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis, or whopping cough vaccine, called DTaP. There's the measles, mumps, rubella vaccine, or MMR. Those are the two big ones. And there are a couple other combinations as well. Now, you should be reassured that before one can combine vaccines, what you have to do is something called concomitant use studies. Which is you have to show that when you combine those vaccines, it doesn't in any way change the immunogenicity profile, or the safety profile, of what happens when you put those vaccines together. In addition, because we give several vaccines, sometimes as many as five or seven different vaccines at the same time in the first few years of life, I think parents need to be reassured that there are also studies done showing that when you give vaccines at the same time, that one vaccine doesn't interfere with another's safety profile, or immunogenicity profile. You have to do those studies before those vaccines could ever be put onto the market.

So there are studies, they're called concomitant use studies, there are about 800 of them. And I think parents can be reassured that when a vaccine gets on to the schedule and is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, and licensed by the Food and Drug Administration, that there's a mountain of evidence supporting that use.

Thank you.

Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center

Last Reviewed on Apr 20, 2015