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These stories have spurred hopes that a Zika virus vaccine will be available to prevent this infection, and its secondary effects, such as abnormal fetal development. But, even with pre-clinical and early stage clinical trials underway, we still may not see a Zika vaccine licensed and approved for use in humans for years.

I am a scientist who studies how vaccines are used, and a large part of my academic and teaching interest is focused on how we use evidence to make policy and regulatory decisions about vaccines.

Developing a vaccine requires hitting just the right sweet spot on a number of conditions, including organism strain, vaccine type, dosage and best age to vaccinate, through pre-clinical and clinical testing, licensing and approval. This process can take a lot of time, often up to 10-15 years.

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