A recent survey has revealed how high-income countries have low confidence in vaccines. About 20% of Europeans either plainly disagreeing or being unsure of their safety.
A UK medical research charity asked over 140,000 people (15 and older) in more than 140 countries how they felt about the vaccines.
Globally, 8 in 10 people (79%) agree that vaccines are safe. And 9 in 10 worldwide said their children have been vaccinated. However, there were pockets of mistrust in vaccines for some.
The survey was conducted by Wellcome Trust. Jeremy Farrar, the director, says “Vaccines, for example, are one of our most powerful public health tools. We need people to have confidence in them if they are to be most effective.”
Measles, a once eradicated epidemic has been making a comeback, even in the United States. This is mostly due to the backlash against immunization. Along with poor health infrastructure, social media has made it easier for vaccine opponents to operate.
France More Skeptical About Vaccines
The survey also found Bangladesh and Rwanda had the strongest confidence in vaccines. Almost all individuals interviewed agree that they are safe, effective and important for children.
72% of people living in North America agree that vaccines are safe. In Western Europe, however, the figure is less at, 59%, and Eastern Europe at 40%.
“And in some of these regions, greater scientific knowledge or levels of education is actually associated with less confidence in vaccines,” the report says. “This suggests that putting out more scientific information will not be enough to change people’s minds on this issue.”
The report singled out France as having the lowest confidence and mistrust in vaccines. 1/3 of its residents agree that it is not safe. One-tenth do not agree that they are important for the children’s health.
It adds that more research is needed into the role that social media and misinformation campaigns have played in generating skepticism around vaccination.
“Anxieties and public concerns about the safety of vaccines have always existed, but the rise of social media has allowed the spread of what UNICEF calls the ‘real infection of misinformation’ to a much wider audience,” the report says.