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Public tolerance to adverse reactions is minimal. Several reporting systems have been established to monitor adverse events following immunization. The present review summarizes data on neurologic complications following vaccination, and provides evidence that indicates whether they were directly associated with the vaccines. These complications include autism (measles vaccine), multiple sclerosis (hepatitis B vaccine), meningoencephalitis (Japanese encephalitis vaccine), Guillain-Barré syndrome and giant cell arteritis (influenza vaccine), and reactions after exposure to animal rabies vaccine. Seizures and hypotonic/hyporesponsive episodes following pertussis vaccination and potential risks associated with varicella vaccination, as well as vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis following oral poliovirus vaccination, are also described. In addition, claims that complications are caused by adjuvants, preservatives and contaminants [i.e. macrophagic myofasciitis (aluminium), neurotoxicity (thimerosal), and new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (bovine-derived materials)] are discussed. Curr Opin Neurol 15:333-338. © 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.