Conflicts of interest in vaccine safety research

Account Res. 2012;19(2):65-88. doi: 10.1080/08989621.2012.660073.


Conflicts of interest (COIs) cloud vaccine safety research. Sponsors of research have competing interests that may impede the objective study of vaccine side effects. Vaccine manufacturers, health officials, and medical journals may have financial and bureaucratic reasons for not wanting to acknowledge the risks of vaccines. Conversely, some advocacy groups may have legislative and financial reasons to sponsor research that finds risks in vaccines. Using the vaccine-autism debate as an illustration, this article details the conflicts of interest each of these groups faces, outlines the current state of vaccine safety research, and suggests remedies to address COIs. Minimizing COIs in vaccine safety research could reduce research bias and restore greater trust in the vaccine program.

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems / ethics
  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems / organization & administration
  • Biomedical Research / ethics
  • Biomedical Research / organization & administration*
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. / organization & administration
  • Conflict of Interest*
  • Drug Industry / ethics
  • Drug Industry / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Active
  • Patient Safety*
  • Politics
  • Trust
  • Truth Disclosure
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration / ethics
  • United States Food and Drug Administration / organization & administration
  • Vaccines / adverse effects*


  • Vaccines