Epidemiological designs for vaccine safety assessment: Methods and pitfalls

Statistics Modelling and Economics Department, Health Protection Services, Health Protection Agency, 61 Colindale Avenue, London, NW9 5EQ, UK.
Biologicals (Impact Factor: 1.21). 10/2011; 40(5):389-92. DOI: 10.1016/j.biologicals.2011.08.010
Source: PubMed


Three commonly used designs for vaccine safety assessment post licensure are cohort, case-control and self-controlled case series. These methods are often used with routine health databases and immunisation registries. This paper considers the issues that may arise when designing an epidemiological study, such as understanding the vaccine safety question, case definition and finding, limitations of data sources, uncontrolled confounding, and pitfalls that apply to the individual designs. The example of MMR and autism, where all three designs have been used, is presented to help consider these issues.

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