Vaccines always will involve some risk, and risk always involves some public concern. Although the benefits of routine vaccination greatly outweigh any adverse effects, our consumer society seeks to eliminate all risk. The balance of risk and benefit appears to falter by the very success of preventing disease: in the immediate absence of the disease, the resolve to vaccinate waivers. We cannot expect the public to think in terms of the decision analyst and carefully weigh probability, risk, and benefit in a numerical fashion. In fact, the public's approach toward vaccination is varied and unscientific. Recognizing these challenges, we propose a program of continued vigilance by increasing our scientific base and methodology, improving vaccine safety communication through research and resources, maintaining a tolerance of conscientious objection as a safety valve for mandated routine vaccination in civilians, and calling for more research funding for the development of new vaccines.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Microbiology (medical)