Safety of Vaccinations

The pharmaceutical industry is responsible for generating a huge number of drugs and vaccines every year, and new therapies are constantly being developed. There are a number of organisations that have been founded to ensure that these products are all subject to careful scrutiny, thereby ensuring the safety and health of the public. In the USA the Federal Drugs Authority (FDA) is responsible for monitoring drugs before and after their release, and in the UK the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) is the organisation responsible for those tasks.

Who are the MHRA and what do they do?

The MHRA are an independent regulatory organisation founded in 2003 as a result of a merger between two other regulatory bodies. The result is a government agency dedicated to testing and regulating medical products including vaccines. The MHRA comes under the remit of the Department of Health, and is responsible for actively investigating the safety of all manner of medical products.

The MHRA aims to protect public health by making sure that only products with a proven safety profile and an acceptable risk-benefit profile make their way into widespread use. Part of their role is to also inform the public of both the benefits and risks of these products to ensure that everyone can make an informed decision about their treatment. Finally the MHRA also aims to encourage the development of better products so that healthcare in the UK is always moving forward and improving.

The MHRA achieves these goals through a number of different avenues, including the Yellow Card Scheme which will be discussed later on in this article. This government body assesses safety information provided by companies and ensures that every vaccine and other medical product developed is rigorously tested to the appropriate standards. Furthermore the MHRA conducts surveillance on existing and test drugs, including important products and those sold by Internet providers, to prevent dangerous and counterfeit drugs from making their way into the UK. The MHRA also aims to ensure that information is readily available to the public and to medical staff so that the best possible informed choices can be made.

What is the Yellow Card Scheme?

The Yellow Card Scheme is an initiative operated by the MHRA that has an important role in ensuring that vaccines being used by the NHS are safe. It is an important part of the system of licensing of drugs in the UK. Licenses are not given until the benefit-risk profile of a drug leans heavily in favour of the former, and an important part of assessing the risk posed by drugs is to understand its effects once in use. Even after a drug has been licensed it needs to be monitored to ensure its safety, and the Yellow Card Scheme is a means by which patients and doctors can record adverse effects once a drug or vaccine has entered widespread use. This allows for an accurate, on-going assessment of safety.

Through the Yellow Card Scheme any drugs or vaccines which begin to exhibit more side effects once in the general population can be quickly repealed and re-evaluated. This is an invaluable method of keeping the public safe from any faulty products.

As far as vaccinations are concerned the Yellow Card Scheme both ensures their safety and gives an accurate idea of what kind of side effects to expect when receiving the vaccination. It also gives an idea of how often these side effects occur, and all this information can be used to develop new vaccines with fewer side effects in the future.

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