Health Care

Japan, Ukraine most likely to doubt safety of vaccines

Japan, Ukraine most likely to doubt safety of vaccines”

In France, when asked how much they trust that vaccines are safe, 47% of respondents said that "yes" they trust vaccines or have "some" belief that they are safe, while 33% said that they have "no" or "not much" trust that vaccines are safe.

In contrast to high-income nations, underdeveloped countries like Bangladesh and Rwanda have the highest levels of confidence in vaccines, with nearly 100% survey participants in both countries agreeing that immunization is safe, important and effective for children.

France was also the only country in the survey where most people believed science and technology would reduce jobs.

Worldwide 92% of parents say their children have been vaccinated, and 6% who say their children are unvaccinated, representing a potential 188 million parents globally, according to the report.

That finding, which comes from the Gallup World Poll 2018, funded by the Wellcome Global Monitor, makes France the country with the largest percentage of apparent vaccine skeptics in the world. There are pockets across the world where trust in vaccines is of concern, therefore we can not be complacent.

It found that people living in high-income countries have the lowest confidence in vaccines, a result that ties in to the rise of the anti-vaccination movement, in which people refuse to believe in the benefits of vaccinations or claim that the treatment is risky. Only 72 percent of people in North America and 73 percent in Northern Europe agree that vaccines are safe.

The US has also been experiencing its own measles outbreak - the biggest to hit the country in decades, with more than 980 confirmed cases in 26 states in 2019 to date.

If enough people are vaccinated, it stops the disease from spreading through a population - something experts call "herd immunity".

"Perhaps what you see is the people in those countries can see what happens if you don't vaccinate", he said, adding that the health attitudes are different in more developed countries where, "if you don't get vaccinated, you're still less likely to catch that infection, and if you do get infected, you might not become as unwell or might not die, because we've got quite good healthcare systems in place". Khan attributed this to the "complacency effect".

"And in some of these regions, greater scientific knowledge or levels of education is actually associated with less confidence in vaccines", the report says.

It found that vaccine confidence is particularly low in some countries experiencing ongoing measles outbreaks, as a lack of confidence in vaccines could lead to lower vaccination rates and therefore, an easier spread of the disease.

In Ukraine, which reported the highest number of measles cases in Europe previous year (53,218 in total) - only 50pc of people agreed vaccines were effective.

The highest number was in South Asia, where 95pc of people agreed, followed by Eastern Africa, where the figure was 92pc.

Bangladesh and Rwanda had almost universal agreement about the safety and effectiveness and have achieved very high immunisation rates despite many challenges in physically getting vaccines to people.

The Wellcome report does not explore all of the reasons behind low confidence but researchers say there are likely to be many factors involved.

Despite some scepticism, however, worldwide levels of trust in vaccines are high, with 81 percent of those surveyed agreeing that vaccines are safe and 92 percent of parents saying their children had received a vaccine.

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