Who is unlikely to report adverse events after vaccinations to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS)?

Vaccine. 2013 May 31;31(24):2673-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2013.04.009. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


Background: Healthcare provider (HCP) reporting to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is important to assuring the safety of U.S. licensed vaccines. HCP awareness of and practices regarding reporting of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) is understudied.

Methods: A large, nationally representative sample of U.S. office-based HCP across three occupational groups (physicians, mid-level providers [physician assistants, advanced practice nurses] and nurses) and three primary care practice areas (pediatrics, family medicine, internal medicine) were surveyed utilizing standardized methodology. We assessed HCP familiarity with VAERS, the situations under which they were likely to report an AEFI, and the methods they used and preferred for reporting. We used logistic regression to determine factors associated with HCP not reporting AEFI to VAERS.

Results: Our survey response rate was 54.9%. The percentage of HCP aware of VAERS (71%) varied by occupation and primary care practice area. About 37% of HCP had identified at least one AEFI with only 17% of these indicating that they had ever reported to VAERS. More serious events were more likely to be reported. Factors associated with HCP not reporting AEFI included: HCP not familiar versus very familiar with filing a paper VAERS report (OR=12.84; p<0.0001), primary care practice area of internal medicine versus pediatrics (OR=4.22; p=0.0005), and HCP not familiar versus very familiar with when it was required to file a VAERS report (OR=5.52; p=0.0013).

Conclusions: Specific educational interventions targeted to HCP likely to see AEFI but not currently reporting may improve vaccine safety reporting practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States
  • Vaccines / adverse effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Vaccines