This project aims to analyse the major reasons for ethical, legal and social concerns surrounding vaccine policies in research and public health. It will establish a European Multidisciplinary Network devoted to monitoring the emerging ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA) of new vaccines and vaccination policies.
Important changes have occurred in vaccinations due to new developments in molecular biology and the better understanding of the immune system which have helped overturn conventional views on vaccination. There are currently about 20 vaccines in use in addition to the six (tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, measles) of the WHO Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI), but many other different vaccines are currently being investigated.
In June 1995 the EC set up a Task Force on Vaccines and Viral Diseases which stated that "public perception of vaccines is substantially different to that of medicinal products ....since many vaccinated individuals are young and healthy, they do not perceive the benefits on social welfare and observe only adverse effects. On the other hand, the effects of medicinal products, which ameliorate pathological states, are better perceived by individuals. A successful vaccination programme requires positive attitudes and social responsibility from individuals. It is important therefore to stress the role of public health authorities in properly informing and educating the public on the advantages of vaccines." This project takes up this purpose, and will be developed in five stages:
1. workshops on: ELSA of new DNA vaccines; ELSA of vaccination policies in target groups; issues involved in international collaboration in vaccine trials; and vaccination policies and movement of citizens within and through European borders;
2. each partner will take charge of collecting and editing workshop papers. These will be circulated amongst the partners and a report which summarises the major findings of each workshop, and which delineates points of agreement and disagreement, will be prepared according to the DELPHI method;
3. exploiting both the material collected in the four workshops and the relationships established with different players, an Internet/www site will be opened, devoted to the ELSA of new vaccines and vaccination;
4. concluding conference will be convened, and on the basis of the results of stages 1,2 and 3 a formal network will be launched; and
5. the conference proceedings will be edited and published. A final report will be issued and disseminated.
All five stages will be developed and implemented in close cooperation with patients' and consumers' associations, with representatives of pharmaceutical industries, and with regulatory authorities (national and international) in each field considered.
Keywords : New Vaccines, Vaccintion Policies, Ethics, Law, Public Concern, Social Impact.