The biggest global research into attitudes on immunization recommends confidence is low in some countries.
The Wellcome Trust analysis includes responses from more than 140,000 people in over 140 countries.
The World Health Organization lists vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health. The global survey reveals the number of people who say they have little confidence or trust in vaccination. There is strong scientific proof that vaccination is the best protection against deadly and debilitating infections, like measles.
Vaccines protect billions of people around the world. They have completely got rid of one disease – smallpox – and are bringing the world close to eliminating others, such as polio.
But some other diseases, such as measles, are making a resurgence and specialists say people avoiding vaccines, fuelled by fear and misinformation, is one of the main reasons.
Dr. Ann Lindstrand, an expert in immunization at the WHO, said the current situation was very serious.
“Vaccine hesitancy has the potential, at least in some places, to really check the progress the world has made in controlling vaccine-preventable diseases,” she stated.
Countries that were close to eliminating measles have been seeing large outbreaks.
Data shows a rise in cases in almost every region of the world, with 30% more cases in 2017 than in 2016.
A decision not to vaccinate, for whatever reason, poses a risk to others as well as the individual from being infected themselves.
If enough people are vaccinated, it stops the disease from spreading through a population – something experts call “herd immunity”.
Imran Khan, from the Wellcome Trust, said: “We are really concerned at the moment because for measles, anything less than 95% coverage can lead to outbreaks and that is what we are seeing.”Some people living in several higher-income regions were among the least certain about vaccine safety.
In France – a country among several European ones now experiencing outbreaks of measles – one in three disagreed that vaccines were safe, according to the survey. That was the highest percentage for any country worldwide.
People in France were also among the most likely to disagree that vaccines were effective, at 19%, and to disagree that vaccines were important for children to have, at 10%.