As vaccine-preventable diseases become less common, concerns about possible adverse effects of vaccines take on greater prominence. Often it is assumed that because an event has been noted to follow vaccination, it is due to the vaccine. This may lead to a 'vaccine scare' followed by a reduction in uptake and resurgence of disease. Yet when the situation is examined properly, it is usually found that there is no causal connection between the vaccine and the adverse event. In this article, we describe how vaccine safety is assured and some of the scares that have arisen in the past. © 2002 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
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