Can the vaccine adverse event reporting system be used to increase vaccine acceptance and trust?
Vaccine refusal has an impact on public health, and the human pappillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is particularly underutilized. Research suggests that it may be difficult to change vaccine-related attitudes, and there is currently no good evidence to recommend any particular intervention strategy. One reason for vaccine hesitancy is lack of trust that vaccine harms are adequately documented and reported, yet few communication strategies have explicitly attempted to improve this trust. This study tested the possibility that data from the vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) can be used to increase trust that vaccine harms are adequately researched and that potential harms are disclosed to the public, and thereby improve perceptions of vaccines. In the study, participants were randomly assigned to one of three communication interventions. All participants read the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) vaccine information statement (VIS) for the HPV vaccine. Two other groups were exposed to additional information about VAERS, either summary data or full detailed reports of serious adverse events from 2013. Results showed that the CDC's VIS alone significantly increased perceptions of vaccine benefits and decreased perceived risks.