Wednesday, 5 October 2016

ARTICLE: European region is the most sceptical on vaccine safety

The State of Vaccine Confidence 2016: Global Insights Through a 67-Country Survey
Heidi J Larson, Alexandre de Figueiredo, Zhao Xiahong, William S Schulz, Pierre Verger, Iain G Johnston, Alex R Cook, Nick S Jones
EBioMedicine 12, 295-301 (2016)
  • How people view vaccines has a direct influence on the spread and impact of diseases; we use the largest-ever global survey of vaccine opinions to explore where and why people have issues with immunisation programmes.
Monitoring trust in immunisation programmes is essential if we are to identify areas and socioeconomic groups that are prone to vaccine-scepticism, and also if we are to forecast these levels of mistrust. Identification of vaccine-sceptic groups is especially important as clustering of non-vaccinators in social networks can serve to disproportionately lower the required vaccination levels for collective (or herd) immunity. To investigate these regions and socioeconomic groups, we performed a large-scale, data-driven study on attitudes towards vaccination. The survey — which we believe to be the largest on attitudes to vaccinations to date with responses from 67,000 people from 67 countries — was conducted by WIN Gallup International Association and probed respondents’ vaccine views by asking them to rate their agreement with the following statements: “vaccines are important for children to have”; “overall I think vaccines are safe”; “overall I think vaccines are effective”; and “vaccines are compatible with my religious beliefs”.

Our results show that attitudes vary by country, socioeconomic group, and between survey questions (where respondents are more likely to agree that vaccines are important than safe). Vaccine-safety related sentiment is particularly low in the European region, which has seven of the ten least confident countries, including France, where 41% of respondents disagree that vaccines are safe. Interestingly, the oldest age group — who may have been more exposed to the havoc that vaccine-preventable diseases can cause — hold more positive views on vaccines than the young, highlighting the association between perceived danger and pro-vaccine views. Education also plays a role. Individuals with higher levels of education are more likely to view vaccines as important and effective, but higher levels of education appear not to influence views on vaccine safety.

Our study, "The State of Vaccine Confidence 2016: Global Insights Through a 67-Country Survey" can be read for free in the journal EBioMedicine with a commentary here. You can find other treatments in Science magazine, New Scientist, Financial Times, Le Monde and Scientific American. Sadly our work also appeared in the Daily Mail. Alex, Iain, and Nick.

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