Vaccine Safety Net
VSN objective and general information
The objective of the Vaccine Safety Net is to facilitate the access of public health authorities, health professionals and the public to reliable information on vaccine safety via the internet.
Due to the success of immunization, some diseases are no longer perceived as a threat. Certain groups have even questioned the utility of vaccination in spite of its proven success in controlling disease. In recent years, a number of web sites providing unbalanced, misleading and alarming vaccine safety information have been established, which can lead to undue fears, particularly among parents and patients. Acknowledging the above-mentioned issues and urged by governments, key non-governmental organizations and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), WHO initiated, in 2003, the Vaccine Safety Net Project (VSN).
A key player in the Project is the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS), established by WHO in 1999, to respond promptly, efficiently, and with scientific rigour to vaccine safety issues of potential global importance.
At the outset of the Project, GACVS developed four categories of criteria for good information practices - regarding credibility, content, accessibility and design to which sites providing information on vaccine safety should adhere. WHO evaluates websites for their adherence to these criteria.