Vaccine safety is a critical issue. There are many contradictory opinions.
A good question to ask is who can you trust?

If you are just getting to know us, a legitimate question is if this is a group that is worthy of your trust. The question of whether or not a vaccine has a favorable safety record in terms of great benefit with minimal associated risk is a critical one, and there are lots and lots of contradictory opinions concerning the safety of vaccines.

Each decision maker in the immunization process, from the manufacturer to the regulator to the distributor to the leader of a global health organization to the physician to the concerned parent, needs trustworthy information concerning the effectiveness and safety of vaccines.

If you are the parent of a child you want to know that what your child is receiving will benefit him or her and not harm them. If you are the regulator responsible for licensing vaccines for entire populations you need information you can trust. If you are an official of an international health organization, you want immunization safety information you can trust as you make your decisions of where to allocate resources. If you are a vaccine manufacturer, your long-term success depends on you delivering the safest possible effective vaccines. You need safety information you can trust.

But the challenge in assessing safety of vaccines is considerable. The biggest challenge is that to prove how safe something is, you need to prove the absence of a harmful effect. This is actually a very challenging thing to do scientifically. Added to this problem is that vaccines are given to whole populations, so problems that occur in small proportions are truly problematic when we are dealing with millions of people. Making this problem even more dramatic is the 24 hour, international news cycle that will create a big story out of an isolated event making it, exaggerating the danger of a given vaccine and engendering fear without ever knowing scientifically the exact cause of an adverse effect. In other words, fear creates the perception rather than a rational evaluation.

And the manufacturers have a huge profit incentive and imperative to get a return on the investment of millions of dollars in the creation of a given vaccine. Given the pressure to succeed, it can be challenging to maintain an objective stance on the relative safety of a vaccine.

In fact every stakeholder in the immunization process has their particular bias that could potentially sway their judgment and undermine a scientific evaluation answering the question: How safe is this vaccine actually? Each person who is concerned about vaccine safety for their particular reasons needs information they can trust from an organization they can trust.

Answer these three questions to know you can trust an organization and the vaccine safety information they generate:

1. Who pays the bills? 

It is difficult to be objective when your funders have a direct stake in your findings. For this reason Brighton takes no direct money from individual vaccine manufacturers. Our funding comes from institutional donors and charitable foundations and from private donors like you.

2. What scientific methodology is being used to determine safety findings?

Even if a group has the best of intentions when it comes to scientifically evaluating the safety of vaccines there are very specific challenges to overcome to paint a clear picture about a given vaccine. 

The three biggest 3 obstacles to producing accurate, objective, authoritative, trustworthy information on vaccine safety are:

a. comparability of data
b. study sizes
c. built in bias

Brighton Collaboration utilizes rigourous scientific methodology to determine safety, protecting vigorously against the possibility of bias, making sure that the data being analyzed is of suffiicient quality and size. 

3. Are there conflicts of interests or biases among the researchers?

Rigorous scientific procedure is designed, in part, to protect against biases and stringent methodology is what the Brighton Collaboration is pursuing. We deal with conflict of interest in two ways. One, we aim to balance interest and for a confluence of interests towards the safest possible and effective vaccines. We also have a transparency policy for declararion of conflicts of interest so that the mix of interests in a given working group or project can be transparently assesed.

We have structured our organization, our way of getting funding and most importantly our methodology with one thing in mind; to be a trustworthy authority and resource on vaccine safety. The result is vaccines you can trust through better science.