Causality assessment guidelines for adverse events following immunization with a focus on guillain– barré syndrome

Hankil Lee, Hye Young Kang, Sunghwa Cho, Seonyoung Park, Ah Young Kim, Sun Young Jung, Baik Lin Seong, Young Mock Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


South Korea operates a National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) for people who experience adverse events following immunization (AEFI). To run this program rationally, it is a prerequisite to confirm whether adverse events were caused by immunization. Guillain–Barré syndrome (GBS), a severe neurological disease with limb pain and muscle weakness as cardinal symptoms, is attracting attention as an AEFI. However, algorithm or guidelines for assessing the causality between vaccination and the incidence of GBS are lacking. We aimed to develop guidelines for causality assessment of GBS as an AEFI and suggest using these guidelines in alignment with the VICP. We systematically searched for other previously published algorithms or guidelines and found a WHO-AEFI guideline used worldwide; however, it only provides general instructions and is not tailored to specific adverse events. We translated and locally adapted the structure of this guideline and then added contents related to GBS. The GBS-specific guideline consists of four steps: case ascertainment of GBS, checklist (including (1) order of incidence, (2) temporal proximity, (3) evidence for other causes and (4) published evidence), an algorithm, and final classification. We listed key information on confirming GBS and whether any other causes of GBS were present. For real world application of the guideline along with the VICP, we collaborated with a panel of neurologists, epidemiologic investigators, and committee members from the VICP. To ensure transparency and a scientific approach, regular updates and collaboration with neurologists are essential. We expect that this guideline will contribute to logical causality assessment and compensation decisions for GBS and will provide the basic structure for causality assessment of other AEFIs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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