The purpose of the Institute for Vaccine Safety is to obtain and disseminate objective information on the safety of recommended immunizations. IVS:
- provides a forum for dissemination of data regarding specific issues concerning the safety of immunizations,
- investigates safety questions where insufficient data are available to provide definitive conclusions,
- conducts methodological and empirical research on post-licensure vaccine safety evaluation, and
- undertakes individual research projects to obtain specific information regarding vaccine safety when existing information about the safety of a specific vaccine is insufficient or flawed.
Background and Rationale
Vaccines have important and fundamental value, bringing enormous benefits to the health of individuals and populations as preventive interventions. With the explosion in technology in recent years there has been a boom in vaccine development. New vaccines and combination vaccines are being developed, and more manufacturers have entered the field. Vaccines are likely to play an increasingly important role in health care.
Technological advances have also opened the field to investigations regarding the safety of existing vaccines and have sometimes created a climate of concern and criticism. The information ‘super highway’ has flooded the public with information about vaccines and spurred the debate about the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Information ranges from scientific articles written for an audience of highly trained investigators to opinions and false rumors.
Several government organizations generate data and provide information and recommendations regarding vaccines, including the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Vaccine Compensation Program, the National Immunization Program, and the National Institutes of Health. However, when new information becomes available to the public regarding a vaccine safety issue, government officials are often restricted in what they can say or release and therefore are unable to provide timely opinions due to restrictions placed on them, legal concerns, or because of concern about misinterpretation of their comments.
Journalists and the public want rapid access to objective information and expertise regarding issues of vaccine safety. Vaccine manufacturers and government agencies are, by necessity, concerned about vaccine safety. As an independent academic institution, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is uniquely positioned to fill a vacuum in the current debate on vaccine safety. The Institute for Vaccine Safety will provide access to objective and accurate information in a timely fashion in a variety of ways.
Drs. Daniel Salmon, Neal Halsey, Kawsar Talaat, Matthew Dudley and Mses. Janesse Brewer and Tina Proveaux review news, publications, recommendations and other sources for relevant content to add to the IVS website. Information on our site is maintained daily and reviewed weekly; a more in-depth review and evaluation is conducted at least quarterly by IVS faculty and staff. In addition to links and comments, IVS faculty and staff, and sometimes external experts, contribute original content. All IVS web pages indicate the date of posting or latest update.
Disseminating Information: This website has been established to provide information and commentary on specific vaccine safety issues, links to other websites which offer information on relevant issues and frequent updates on issues of immediate relevance as new information and/or rumors develop regarding the safety of individual vaccines.
The Institute also provides a public forum for presentation and discussion of vaccine safety information through seminars and workshops at Johns Hopkins University.
Investigations: The Institute conducts investigations into vaccine safety issues by generating additional data and combining information from published and unpublished investigations. These studies may consist of new clinical trials, investigations into safety issues from large data sets including public and private health service providers, the vaccine adverse events reporting system, the vaccine injury compensation program, National Institutes of Health-funded studies, and other sources. When necessary, the Institute will conduct freedom-of-information investigations.