Better to Keep Vaccine Adverse Event Reports Secret, Concludes Study | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national vaccine safety reporting system that collects information about possible side effects that may occur after inoculation. Developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and available online, anyone can report possible adverse reactions to vaccines for any reason, making it a rich source of information about possible vaccine harms. Recently, University of Missouri researchers proposed that open communication about VAERS could improve public trust that vaccines are safe, thereby increasing vaccine acceptance. 


"One of the issues in vaccine acceptance is trust," said Laura Scherer, associate professor of psychological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science. "Individuals, parents and vaccine opponents lack trust that doctors and the government have done sufficient research to validate the safety of vaccines. By educating participants about the VAERS system, we thought that this might increase trust that the Centers for Disease Control are doing everything that they can to research and document vaccine harms."

Using data on serious adverse events reported for the Human Papillomavirus vaccine in VAERS in 2013, the researchers surveyed more than 1,200 participants' reactions to the VAERS reports.

 

"We thought that by having people read the actual reports, they would see that there are very few reported serious events, and that the vaccine may not have even caused the event. Taken together, we felt this might make participants feel more assured that vaccines are safe -- but in fact, what we found was the opposite."

Exposure to detailed incident reports significantly reduced vaccine acceptance and trust in the CDC's declaration that vaccines are safe.

"When participants read the incident reports, there was a marked reduction in their willingness to vaccinate -- even though most participants believed the vaccines caused few or even none of the deaths," Scherer said.

The study, "Can the vaccine adverse event reporting system be used to increase vaccine acceptance and trust?" recently was published in the journal Vaccine. Scherer co-authored the study with Victoria Shaffer, associate professor of psychological sciences at MU and an assistant professor of health sciences in the MU School of Health Professions.