JUN 28, 2016 10:28 AM PDT

These stories about vaccines didn't boost trust

Researchers recently proposed that open communication about a national vaccine safety reporting system could improve public trust that vaccines are safe. They thought this strategy could improve vaccine acceptance.

That doesn’t turn out to be the case.
 
Some just may never trust that vaccines are safe to use.

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) 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.

“One of the issues in vaccine acceptance is trust,” says Laura Scherer, assistant professor of psychological sciences at the University of Missouri. “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.
“Stories about vaccine harms can influence vaccine acceptance even when people don’t completely believe them.”

The first group was presented with the standard HPV vaccine statement that all patients receive prior to vaccination. The second group was given the same vaccine statement as well as information about VAERS, which included data showing that out of approximately 10 million vaccinations, 24 individuals were reported to have been disabled and seven were reported to possibly have died as a result of their vaccinations. The third group received this VAERS information and also read the detailed reports of each event.

“Since anyone can report anything to VAERS for any reason, the VAERS reports contain incidents of serious adverse events that may not have anything to do with the vaccine,” Scherer says. “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.”

Results showed that participants who were educated about the VAERS system and who were given summary data about adverse events had slightly more vaccine acceptance compared to those who received the vaccine statement alone. However, 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 says. “Stories about vaccine harms can influence vaccine acceptance even when people don’t completely believe them. This can potentially inform how people react to stories versus data about vaccine harms and provides a test of publicly available data on vaccine acceptance.

“It also means that the media should be very careful about propagating stories about vaccine harms when it is unclear that the vaccine was the cause.”

The study appears in the journal Vaccine. Scherer’s coauthor is Victoria Shaffer, associate professor of psychological sciences and an associate professor of health sciences in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions.

Source: University of Missouri

This article was originally published on futurity.org.
About the Author
  • Futurity features the latest discoveries by scientists at top research universities in the US, UK, Canada, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The nonprofit site, which launched in 2009, is supported solely by its university partners (listed below) in an effort to share research news directly with the public.
You May Also Like
AUG 17, 2021
Immunology
Does Fasting Help Protect Against Infection?
AUG 17, 2021
Does Fasting Help Protect Against Infection?
Most people feeling under the weather, especially those with a fever, tend to lose their appetites. When recovering from ...
SEP 02, 2021
Immunology
Will an Extra COVID Vaccine Shot Benefit People With Autoimmune Conditions?
SEP 02, 2021
Will an Extra COVID Vaccine Shot Benefit People With Autoimmune Conditions?
The global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has helped save countless lives during the pandemic. Studies have shown that vac ...
SEP 07, 2021
Health & Medicine
Vaccines- a Long History of Cost-Benefit Analysis
SEP 07, 2021
Vaccines- a Long History of Cost-Benefit Analysis
Vaccination and new treatments for diseases have remained topics of skepticism since their inception. When it came to an ...
SEP 08, 2021
Health & Medicine
Gene Linked to Endometriosis Could Lead to Non-Hormonal Treatment Options
SEP 08, 2021
Gene Linked to Endometriosis Could Lead to Non-Hormonal Treatment Options
Researchers from the University of Oxford found an association between neuropeptide S receptor 1 (NPSR1) gene variants a ...
SEP 23, 2021
Cardiology
Curbing Adverse Cardiovascular Outcomes Through Influenza Vaccination
SEP 23, 2021
Curbing Adverse Cardiovascular Outcomes Through Influenza Vaccination
Influenza is a severe infectious disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the H1N1 strain of ...
OCT 05, 2021
Immunology
Inflammation Overload Triggers 'Microclots' in COVID Long-Haulers
OCT 05, 2021
Inflammation Overload Triggers 'Microclots' in COVID Long-Haulers
Months after COVID symptoms have subsided, some individuals continue to grapple with the lingering effects of the infect ...
Loading Comments...