UN health agency recognizes 23 websites for providing reliable information on vaccine safety
With the success of vaccinations leading to a dramatic drop in fatalities but an increase in the number of alarmist and misleading websites threatening to counter that accomplishment, the United Nations health agency today welcomed 23 non-commercial Internet pages to its Vaccine Safety Net.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said, “Vaccines are one of the greatest achievements in medicine and public health. They prevent suffering, disability and more than 2 million deaths per year (by 2003).”
That success, however, had produced detractors, in spite of the need to control disease, it said.
WHO started its Vaccine Safety Net Project in 2003 at the urging of Governments, major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), having relied on the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) since 1999 “to respond promptly, efficiently, and with scientific rigour to vaccine safety issues of potential global importance.”
To be admitted to the Vaccine Safety Net, websites must observe GACVS’s criteria for good information practices on credibility, content, accessibility and design, it said. Websites must not be commercial and must clearly indicate their purpose, ownership, information sources and the identities of their sponsors.
They must also provide contact information, have a data protection policy and provide quality information in sufficient quantity in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish.
“The listing of a site does not indicate endorsement by WHO of the site’s content,” it added.