Feature

US government website for collecting adverse events after vaccination is inaccessible to most users

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j2449 (Published 19 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2449
  1. Peter Doshi, associate editor, The BMJ

Peter Doshi asks why no one seems to have noticed that the website isn’t working properly and what it says about the state of pharmacovigilance

For over three weeks, the website of the US government Vaccination Adverse Reporting System (VAERS) has been inaccessible to most users. The website address, www.vaers.hhs.gov, is printed on the vaccine information statements (VISs), short documents listing the benefits and risks of vaccines that are required by law to be distributed with every vaccine dose administered in the US.1

But the website link leads anybody using the web browsers Chrome, Firefox, and some versions of Internet Explorer to a warning page. “Your connection is not private,” it says in large font on my screen (fig 1). “Attackers might be trying to steal your information from www.vaers.hhs.gov (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards).” The only browser that seems to consistently connect properly is Safari, used by only around a quarter of people accessing …

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