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Vaccine Safety Forum: Summaries of Two Workshops
Such efforts are intended to increase the reporting rate to VAERS by conveying to physicians the value and usefulness of the reports that they submit.
To help raise adverse event reporting rates by physicians further, a consumer representative suggested that a course on vaccine risks and benefits, adverse event reporting, and educating parents be introduced into medical and nursing school curricula. The speaker also suggested using funds from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create a public education campaign designed to educate physicians and the public about the importance of monitoring children after vaccination, reporting adverse events following vaccination to the government, and screening children for factors that would place them at higher risk of experiencing adverse events following vaccination. (However, specific risk factors for most adverse events are not known.) CDC is working with several universities to develop materials for both physicians and parents that the explain adverse events that may occur after vaccination and how to report them. It was also suggested that more efforts be made to educate adult vaccines about the possible adverse effects of vaccines. A vaccine researcher noted that physicians have vaccine information statements that they can give to the parents of children being vaccinated, but that such statements for adults about to be vaccinated are less common and not as readily available.
More easily accessible means for reporting adverse events to VAERS were also suggested. A consumer representative suggested that, in addition to existing toll-free telephone numbers,10 an Internet address or World Wide Web site could be instituted to allow physicians, parents, and patients to report adverse events easily and quickly; issues of confidentiality, however, would have to be addressed before such a procedure could be implemented. The Internet contains a vaccine safety information sharing system for people who are actively involved in vaccine research. It is not available to the general public, however, but functions as an alerting mechanism containing, among other things, press reports of vaccine safety issues, newly published research, and study results presented at conferences or meetings, so that researchers are informed and able to respond to the inquiries that they receive.
Noting that most pediatricians lack the time to fill out long forms, a physician suggested that the number of reports to VAERS could be increased by placing the burden of such reporting on the parents of vaccinated children. He suggested that parents be given two cards at the time of vaccination, one for reporting acute reactions to the vaccine and the other for reporting chronic reactions.
The toll-free telephone number for the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program is (800) 338-2382. The number for the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System is (800) 822-7967.