In a special issue of the journal Vaccine published by the WHO recently, the health organisation makes an effort to understand the statistics and the reasons behind the mindset of the people who delay or refuse vaccines. According to the WHO observations, influenced by factors such as misinformation, complacency, convenience and confidence, the issue if complex, and entrenched in different places, varying across time, place, and vaccines.
People who delay or refuse vaccines for themselves or their children are presenting a growing challenge for countries seeking to close the immunization gap. Globally, 1 in 5 children still do not receive routine life-saving immunizations, and an estimated 1.5 million children still die each year of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines that already exist, according to WHO.
The authors of the editorial of the journal note, “As the recent Ebola crisis tragically brought to light, engaging with communities and persuading individuals to change their habits and behaviors is a lynchpin of public health success. Addressing vaccine hesitancy is no different.”
Citing reasons such as negative beliefs based on myths, e.g. that vaccination of women leads to infertility; misinformation; the WHO implies that there is a strong need to bridge the information gap between the primary health authorities, and the ignorance of people. A need to bridge the trust deficit between the health care professional or health care system; the role of influential leaders; costs; geographic barriers and concerns about vaccine safety, are few of the common information parameters which need to be seeded in the minds of the people.