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A cluster of adverse events following immunization (AEFI) represents a stress test for an immunization program. The community can suspect on vaccine-related reaction leading to mistrust on the immunization program. An immunization anxiety-related reaction is one of the hypotheses to be tested and can be reasonably accepted when the vaccine-related and immunization error-related reactions are ruled out and no coincidental events can explain the cases. Immunization program approaches widely accepted to understand and respond to adverse events are root-cause analysis and systems analysis. Psychiatric cognitive frame will support the root-cause analysis assigning a causal relationship to individual temporary disorders of the affected vaccinees. Communication will focus on vaccine safety and absence of errors in the immunization program. Systems analysis addresses the whole context considering the fear spread as a systemic threat. Socio-psychological frame offers a broader opportunity to understand and respond to a specific community. Management is based on communication to change community belief in misperceptions of vaccine risks and support the idea of immunization as a causal factor, different from the vaccine. Communities can consider use of psychiatric labels, Mass Psychogenic Illness or Mass Hysteria, as an act of inconsiderateness. Labels like immunization anxiety-related reactions in clusters or collective immunization anxiety-related reactions are recommended to bridge the causal perception of the community with the result of the scientific investigation of the cases.

Ricardo Palacios, Clinical Research and Development ManagerDivision of Clinical Trials and PharmacovigilanceInstituto ButantanSão Paulo, Brazil

Clinical Research and Development Manager
Division of Clinical Trials and Pharmacovigilance
Instituto Butantan, São Paulo, Brazil


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Received 2014-10-02
Accepted 2014-10-02
Published 2024-06-20