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Assessing Vaccine Safety Communication with Healthcare Providers in a Large Urban County

D Meranus, A Stergachis, J Arnold, and J Duchin (2012)
Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 21(3):269-275.

PURPOSE: Vaccination is the primary public health tool for influenza control. Rapid assessment of the safety of any widely disseminated pandemic influenza vaccine is a public health priority. This study identifies practices, strengths, and weaknesses of vaccine-associated adverse event (AE) reporting to inform public health systems improvement. METHODS: A survey was developed with local and state health agencies' input. After pre-testing, the survey was distributed online and via mail to a random sample of King County, WA, healthcare professionals, composed of 60 commercial vaccinator employees and school health nurses, 500 physicians, and 300 pharmacists. RESULTS: The response rate was 36%. Results indicate that if an AE was suspected, 17% of respondents would not know how to report it, with 61% of respondents citing unclear definitions of a reportable AE as a barrier and 18% of respondents unaware of whose responsibility it is to report an AE. CONCLUSION: Healthcare professionals who provide immunizations need additional information on their role in vaccine safety and AE reporting. Strengthening both passive and active reporting systems can enhance surveillance efforts during real-time events, such as mass immunization during a pandemic and other large-scale emergency countermeasure distribution programs.

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