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Vaccines are the best defense we have against serious, preventable, and sometimes deadly contagious diseases. Vaccines are some of the safest medical products available, but like any other medical product, there may be risks. Accurate information about the value of vaccines as well as their possible side-effects helps people to make informed decisions about vaccination.

Federal law requires that Vaccine Information Statements explaining vaccine benefits and risks be provided when certain vaccinations are administered (before each dose). Vaccine Information Statements are available in Spanish and many different languages. In addition, more detailed information describing the benefits and risks of vaccines is available in the Licensed Vaccine List from the Food and Drug Administration.

The following sections answer common questions asked about vaccines and how vaccines are tested and monitored to ensure they are safe and effective. 

Last reviewed: April 2015