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Study adds to evidence of vaccine safety


5 Star

Study adds to evidence of vaccine safety

Our Review Summary

The story does a reasonable job in describing the study as published in Pediatrics.  Although there are some lapses in the story, the report provides an adequate review of the study and its relative importance.  Although thimerosal has been reduced or removed in pediatric vaccines, the issue of autism and vaccines remains in the public memory.

The results of this study are reassuring from the view that they indicate that the levels of thimerosal which had previously been used in vaccines do not play a role in the development of autism. 

 Parents make decisions on the use of vaccines on an ongoing basis.  Although experts in infectious disease would argue there are really no options, parents do resist and refuse to appropriately vaccinate their children based on an unfounded fear of autism. 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

The story was about thimerosal being reduced or eliminated from vaccines, so cost is not an issue in this context. 

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Applicable

The benefit of the pediatric vaccines was not the central issue of the story but rather the risks associated with their use. 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The study was intended to determine if a causal relationship could be attributed to the use of thimerosal in pediatric vaccines.  As such the theoretical harms of the vaccine are described correctly.  However, an important element missing in the story is the downside of not immunizing children.  The story would have been enhanced with a brief comment about the negative impact of avoiding immunization (including the use of influenza vaccine). 

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story correctly describes the study design and the relative uniqueness of the methods used.  The conclusions of the study are appropriately noted in the report. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story did not engage in overt disease mongering.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


Two individuals with expertise in vaccines and with no connection to this study were interviewed as part of this story.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story provided little or no information about decisions beyond simple ‘yes’ and ‘no’ concerning vaccination. 

This story reported on a study of two vaccines against the same disease with different levels of thimerosal.  So, for example, are there ever choices to be made about levels of other preservatives in vaccines?  The story did not provide information about the benefits or harms associated with vaccination in general.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story was about a study that compared outcomes in youngsters who had received vaccines with different levels of thimerosal.  The story correctly points out that since 2001, thimerosal has not been used as a preservative in pediatric vaccines in the US other than flu vccine. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story was about two vaccines for whooping cough with different levels of the preservative thimerosal.  The story also reported that the preservative thimerosal is no longer used in vaccines in the US.  Therefore, this story is about a treatment that is not available.  


Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Does not appear to rely on a press release.

Total Score: 7 of 8 Satisfactory


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