01:00am Wednesday 03 June 2020

Study finds serious reactions to MMR vaccine uncommon

In Ontario, during the time period of the study, the MMR vaccine was administered at age 12 months, with a booster at 18 months. In a new study conducted at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI), there were elevated risks of emergency room visits approximately one to two weeks following the 12 and 18 month vaccination.
“It’s important for parents to know that these rare reactions can occur after the MMR vaccine; they are expected and are part and parcel of the vaccine and immune system working. However, they may be scary to patients and parents and may be contributing to the anxiety and unfounded concerns about the vaccine,” says Dr. Kumanan Wilson, lead author, adjunct scientist at ICES and scientist at Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

The study of all Ontario children born between April 1st 2006 and March 31st 2009 found:
• Four to 12 days after the 12-month vaccination, for every 168 children vaccinated one child was seen at a hospital with symptoms that were related to the vaccine.
• Ten to 12 days after the 18-month vaccination the figure was one in every 730 children vaccinated.
• The primary reason for increased events was elevations in emergency room visits.
• There was one additional febrile seizure for every 5,000 vaccinated at age 12 months. 
• There was no impact on deaths.

“In Europe this year, there have been more than 26,000 cases of measles and 9 deaths. In Quebec, there have been 750 cases, and under-vaccination of children is believed to be responsible. The fear of a rare adverse effect should not deter parents from having their children vaccinated against completely preventable diseases,” says Wilson.

Author block: Kumanan Wilson, Steven Hawken, Jeffrey C Kwong, Shelley Deeks, Natasha S Crowcroft, Carl Van Walraven, Beth K Potter, Pranesh Chakraborty, Jennifer Keelan, Michael Pluscauskas, Doug Manuel.

The study “Adverse events following 12 and 18 month vaccinations – a population based self controlled case series analysis” is in the December 12, 2011 issue of PLoS One.

More detailed study findings on the ICES website:  www.ices.on.ca

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produce knowledge on a broad range of health care issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting health care needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.


Deborah Creatura
Media Advisor, ICES
[email protected]
(o) 416-480-4780 or (c) 416-904-4547

Share on:

MORE FROM Public Health and Safety

Health news