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Reverse Global Vaccine Dissent

Heidi Larson, Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project in the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and William Schulz, affiliated researcher at the Vaccine Confidence Project, wrote this recent editorial on how vaccine hesitancy and refusal has become such a major risk in recent times. Below is an excerpt from the article.

This year, the World Health Organization named vaccine hesitancy as one of the top 10 global health threats, alongside threats as grave as climate change, antimicrobial resistance, Ebola virus, and the next influenza pandemic. What happened? How did vaccine reluctance and refusal become such a major risk?

The concerns driving antivaccine sentiment today are diverse. For example, from 2003 to 2004, a vaccine boycott in Nigeria’s Kano State sparked the retransmission of polio across multiple countries as far as Indonesia. Rumors of vaccine contamination with antifertility agents contributed to distrust and reinforced the boycott, costing the Global Polio Eradication Initiative over U.S. $500 million to regain the progress that was lost. In Japan, vaccination against human papilloma virus plummeted to almost zero after young women complained of movement disorders and chronic pain, causing the government to suspend proactive recommendation of the vaccine nearly 6 years ago. Similar episodes occurred in Denmark, Ireland, and Colombia as YouTube videos of the girls’ symptoms spread anxiety, despite evidence of the vaccine’s safety.

Read the full editorial in Science.

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