Understanding Package Inserts

Despite what anti-vaccine activists say, vaccine package inserts are not hidden, but are  available for anyone to request from their doctor or pharmacist, and can be found online  by a simple internet search.

It is important to understand that the package inserts are a legal doccument, not a medical one. The inserts are intended to protect the manufacturer from a lawsuit resulting from someone giving a vaccine incorrectly. 

Included in the inserts are a list of adverse reactions. These are anything that happened after a person had a vaccine during the clinical trials and during post-marketing survelliance, regardless of if it was caused by the vaccine or not. For example, the Gardasil vaccine package insert includes 9 deaths in car accidents and one death from a gunshot wound during this time. Clearly the vaccine was not driving the car or holding the gun!

Also included is a list of side effects, which have happened to some people, caused by vaccine. It is important to note that side effects vary from person to person and just because a side effect is known to happen to some people, doesn’t mean it will happen to all. The list of side effects is not a list of things that are going to happen, it is a list of things that might happen to some people. 

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have a helpful list of vaccines with links to their full package inserts here.