Wednesday November 13, 2019

Public mistrust of vaccines likely to cause outbreak of diseases like measles: Researchers

Europe showed the lowest level of confidence, driven largely by France where 41 percent of the population questions the safety of vaccines

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Representational Image of Scientist working on Vaccines. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Public mistrust of vaccines is causing the outbreak of diseases like measles, according to researchers.

Scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Imperial College London and the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health in Singapore questioned 66,000 people across 67 countries to discover their views on whether vaccines are important, safe, effective and compatible with their religious beliefs.

Lack of Confidence in Vaccines. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Vaccines. Wikimedia

People in southeast Asia showed the highest level of confidence in vaccines, with Africa second.

Yellow fever

The survey comes as a major yellow fever vaccination program is under way in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola.

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An outbreak of the disease has killed hundreds of people. The World Health Organization aims to vaccinate more than 15 million people in both countries.

“If everyone agrees to be vaccinated, we can eradicate yellow fever from our country,” said Mosala Mireille, one of the head doctors overseeing the program in Kinshasa.

Europe showed the lowest level of confidence, driven largely by France where 41 percent of the population questions the safety of vaccines.

Scares dent public confidence

Doctor Heidi Larson from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says recent high-profile press coverage in France of vaccine scares has dented public confidence.

“Anxieties about links between Hepatitis B [vaccines] and multiple sclerosis several years ago, scientifically deemed unlinked, but still caused anxiety,” Larson said. “There still is today concerns about side effects related to the HPV vaccine, again not scientifically confirmed.”

Mistrust in France was also driven by the response to the H1N1 flu outbreak fears in 2009, when the government spent $1.4 billion on 94 million doses of the vaccine. The majority were sold off or destroyed.

Larson fears the consequences of that mistrust.

“We will get some combination of influenza strains that will be very fatal,” Larson said. “And if we have such poor compliance with a pandemic vaccine in the future, I would be very worried about that.”

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Researchers warn that decreases in confidence can lead to people refusing vaccines, which in turn can trigger disease outbreaks. But the study found a high level of global support for vaccinating children against disease. (VOA)

  • Ayushi Gaur

    An issue to be taken seriously

Next Story

Ebola Vaccine Approved in Europe in Landmark Moment

The next step, prequalification by the World Health Organization, is expected within days

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Ebola, Vaccine, Europe
FILE - Congolese Health Ministry officials carry the first batch of experimental Ebola vaccines in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, May 16, 2018. VOA

This week the European Commission gave approval to a Ebola vaccine — an act that the World Health Organization calls landmark moment for global health and a likely game-changer in the battle against this deadly disease.

This is the first time an Ebola vaccine has been licensed anywhere in the world.  The next step, prequalification by the World Health Organization, is expected within days.

Prequalification means WHO is satisfied with the vaccine’s quality, safety and effectiveness.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier tells VOA this is an important step and a great achievement for public health.

Ebola, Vaccine, Europe
This is the first time an Ebola vaccine has been licensed anywhere in the world. Wikimedia Commons

“This will speed up any further process of getting a vaccine into a country for licensing, for manufacturing, for having more quantity of the vaccine whenever we need it or ahead of a presumed outbreak in order to vaccinate health care workers and first-line responders to have them ready for the battle against Ebola,” said Lindmeier.

The vaccine, in its experimental stage, has been and continues to be used in the ongoing Ebola epidemic in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.  It has been used to protect more than 250,000 people in the DRC’s Ituri and North Kivu provinces.

Lindmeier says WHO has developed a roadmap aimed at accelerating prequalification and licensing of the vaccine.  This will enable the agency to quickly roll out the vaccine in high risk countries in Africa.

“What does this mean right now for the Democratic Republic of Congo?  Right now, nothing will change because the vaccines as they are available will be used… But it is absolutely great news to see that this has now been approved and will be prequalified,” said Lindmeier.

Also Read- Indians Are Cooking Western Food In Their Kitchens: Survey

Lindmeier says there likely will be a higher demand for Ebola vaccine in coming years.  He says WHO is working with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the United Nations Children’s Fund and other partners to develop a Global Ebola Vaccines Security Plan to fulfill growing needs and to ensure vaccine security. (VOA)