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Vaccines are safe and effective. Like any product - medications, food, personal care products even - there are risks of harm, such as an unknown allergy. Vaccines have an excellent safety record, and scientists and researchers devote their careers to ensuring safety through continued study of vaccines and recipients of vaccines.

But vaccine safety remains one of the biggest concerns for people, and fear of a side effect is often cited in research, surveys, and anecdotes as a reason for refusing a vaccine. Nurses should be familiar with the research and development processes for vaccines, the safety and efficacy data that comes out of those processes, the actual risk/benefit scenarios for vaccination, and should be prepared to answer questions about vaccine safety.

In order to secure confidence in vaccines, there is a continuous effort to study, understand, and resolve any safety problems in a transparent manner.

While this does not guarantee that vaccines will never cause harm or that problems with vaccines will never occur, but it does help to minimize these events so that they happen only in the rarest of cases.

Journal Articles

  • We are in the midst of  collecting practical, clinical, and programmatic articles related to vaccines and the field of nursing. If you find an immunization article with a nursing focus that you would like to add to the list, please e-mail the citation to
  • Doyle, J. et al. (2019).  Interim Estimates of 2018-2019 Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness-United States, February 2019. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 68(6), 135-139.

Related resources

  • Vaccine Safety Thimerosal in Vaccines
    Background on the use of Thimerosal as vaccine preservative, studies on safety and effectiveness of Thimerosal, and a table of the Thimerosal Content of Vaccines Routinely Recommended for Children 6 Years of Age and Younger. Source U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
  • Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)
    The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national vaccine safety surveillance program co-sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). VAERS is a post-marketing safety surveillance program, collecting information about adverse events (possible side effects) that occur after the administration of vaccines licensed for use in the United States.


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