Vaccine safety signals – What are they and what to do when you find one

Helen Petousis-Harris, BSc, PGDipSci (Dist), PhD

Vaccine safety signals are essential to stimulate questions about the potential relationship between a vaccine and an adverse event. However, it is crucial to follow a sequence of steps and conduct confirmatory studies before concluding a causal relationship between the vaccine and the adverse event exists. Good communication and appropriately designed association studies are critical steps in validating a safety signal.

Unravelling the genetics of adverse events following immunisation

Bruce Carleton, B.Pharm, Pharm.D, FCP, FISPE

Any adverse outcome from vaccine use is a concern to everyone, from vaccine manufacturers to the people who experience them. Vaccines in a way are like cars – incredibly safe and effective, but not without some risk. We don’t worry as much about collisions in automobiles as we should, and driver inattention is a significant contributor. In both cases, the risk of vaccine adverse events and collisions are to be expected and need to be understood. One of the purposes of the work of the GVDN is to find out, when an adverse event occurs, what the reason for it is and what the risk is, compared with no vaccine. My work in GVDN is to ask this same question but find out what genetic factors contribute to adverse events. 

We are all 99.9% genetically identical, but this still means there are millions of genetic differences between us.

How vaccine safety data is constantly misused and what you can do

Helen Petousis-Harris, BSc, PGDipSci (Dist), PhD

Given the breadth and magnitude of vaccine safety activities, it is surprising how wide the belief is that the world relies on voluntary reports of adverse events, even among health professionals. That this science is so misunderstood provides fertile ground for anti-vaccine messages to propagate. Here is some information to help challenge the misconceptions.