LONDON (Reuters) – Trust in vaccines, one of the most effective and used medical products in the world, is highest in poorer countries but weaker in richer countries, where skepticism has allowed outbreaks of diseases such as measles to persist, a global study has found. this Wednesday.
France has the lowest confidence of any country in the world in the safety and efficacy of vaccines, with a third believing that vaccines are not safe, according to the study.
While most parents choose to vaccinate their children, varying levels of confidence expose vulnerabilities in some countries to potential disease outbreaks, the study authors said, recommending that scientists need to ensure that people have access to robust information from people in whom trust
Public health experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) say vaccines save up to 3 million lives every year in the world, and decades of research evidence consistently show that they are safe and effective.
But to achieve "flock immunity" to protect entire populations, immunization coverage rates should generally be above 90% or 95%, and vaccine mistrust can quickly reduce such protection.
"In the last century, vaccines have made many devastating infectious diseases a distant memory," said Charlie Weller, vaccine chief at the Wellcome Trust health care charity, which led the Wellcome Global Monitor study.
"It's reassuring that almost every parent in the world is vaccinating their children. However, there are pockets of less confidence in vaccines around the world. "
The spread of measles, including large outbreaks in the United States, Philippines and Ukraine, is just one of the health risks associated with less confidence in vaccines.
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, false rumors that polio vaccines are part of a Western conspiracy have in recent years hampered global efforts to eliminate disabling disease.
The study, led by Wellcome and the research firm Gallup, covered 140,000 people in more than 140 countries.
He found that 6% of parents around the world – equivalent to 188 million – say their children are not vaccinated. The highest totals were in China, with 9%, Austria with 8%, and Japan with 7%.
Seth Berkley, chief executive of GAVI's non-profit vaccine alliance, said the report shows a "troubling number of people" questioning vaccine safety. But by focusing on the "vocal minority" who refused to vaccinate, it was easy to forget that the vast majority relied on vaccines and the science behind them.
The study also found that three-quarters of the world's people rely more on doctors and nurses than any other health council, and that in most of the world, more education and greater reliance on health systems, governments and scientists is also a of the vaccine.
In some regions of high income, however, confidence is weaker. Only 72% of people in North America and 73% in northern Europe agree that vaccines are safe. In Eastern Europe, it is only 50%.
Heidi Larson, director of the vaccine trust project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, worked with researchers in this study. She said it "exposes the paradox of Europe," which, despite being a region with the highest levels of income and education, also has the world's highest levels of vaccine skepticism.
In the poorest regions, confidence levels tend to be much higher, with 95% in South Asia and 92% in East Africa, confident that vaccines are safe and effective.Report of Kate Kelland; editing by John Stonestreet