About VSN

Vaccine Safety Net

Vaccine Safety Net

Last update: 20 March 2018

School girl smilingThe Vaccine Safety Net is a global network of websites, evaluated by the World Health Organization, that provide reliable information on vaccine safety. 

Due to the success of immunization, some diseases are no longer perceived as a threat. Certain groups have even questioned the utility of vaccination in spite of its proven success in controlling disease. In recent years, a number of web sites providing unbalanced, misleading and alarming vaccine safety information have been established, which can lead to undue fears, particularly among parents and patients.

Acknowledging the above-mentioned issues and urged by governments, key non-governmental organizations and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), WHO initiated, in 2003, the Vaccine Safety Net Project (VSN).

The VSN is a network of a diverse group of digital information resources (websites and social media), VSN members, located in countries around the world and providing scientifically based information on vaccine safety in various languages.

A key player in the Project is the Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS), established by WHO in 1999, to respond promptly, efficiently, and with scientific rigour to vaccine safety issues of potential global importance. See GACVS webpage

At the outset of the Project, GACVS developed four categories of criteria for good information practices - regarding credibility, content, accessibility and design to which digital resources providing information on vaccine safety should adhere. WHO evaluates those electronic resources for their adherence to these criteria.

VSN mission, vision and goals

VSN mission

The Vaccine Safety Net is a WHO initiative aiming to help internet users find reliable information on vaccine safety.

VSN vision

The Vaccine Safety Net strives to ensure that reliable, understandable, evidence-based information on the safety of vaccines is available on the web and readily found by all.

VSN goals

  • To facilitate easy access to reliable, understandable, evidence-based information on the safety of vaccines for internet users, regardless of their geographic location and language.
  • To collaborate at an international level to increase awareness about vaccines, reduce vaccine hesitancy and strengthen confidence in vaccines by:
    • seeking to better understand internet users’ needs, behaviours and preferences;
    • providing reliable information tailored to users’ needs;
    • communicating vaccine safety information through a diversity of digital channels.