Immunisation Doubters: I don’t believe what I C

5. October 2015
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The medical journal "Vaccine" devoted itself recently to the topic of immunisation scepticism in a special edition on the theme. The WHO experts call for immunisation programs to systematically deal with voices critical of immunisation – and right from the start.

The current special edition of “Vaccine” presents the case that immunisation is not only worthy of mention when a child has already fallen into a well and the ensuing crisis has run its course. Experts bring to light, for example,what sort of role immunisation scepticism plays in limiting the immunisation rates.

“Vaccines can only improve health and prevent deaths if they are also used as such”, declares Dr. Philippe Duclos, senior health advisor of the WHO and guest editor of the special issue. “Immunisation programs need to achieve and retain high vaccination coverage rates. Vaccination scepticism is an aspect whose influence is becoming increasingly important to national immunisation programs”. Yet the aim of the special edition it is not just to grasp the scale of the problem, but rather to find solutions.

WHO strategy: prevention rather than treatment

In the preface to the “Vaccine” special issue the authors summarise which measures are necessary in their opinion in order to address the problem of vaccination scepticism:

  • Proactive preparation and quick responses by recognising, assessing and addressing “hot spot” areas in vaccination scepticism;
  • Permanent involvement of social actors (media, opinion leaders) who influence the public perception of risk and the safety of vaccines;
  • Predefined roles, resources and crisis management plans provided in advance, which can be triggered in order to address rumours and misinformation, before they affect immunisation rates.

“As the recent Ebola crisis tragically showed, the pivotal point of success in health care is to engage communities and to convince individuals to change their habits and their behaviour”, the authors of the foreword say. “The same applies to the fight against vaccination scepticism”.

The three Cs of vaccination scepticism

The question of the safety of vaccines can indeed play an important role in vaccination scepticism according to the view of the WHO experts, but it is not at all the only influencing factor. One popular model for investigating the reasons for vaccination scepticism is the Three-C model: Here the possible reasons for vaccination scepticism can be assigned to one of three categories: confidence. complacency and convenience. Confidence means to not only have confidence in the safety and efficacy of a vaccine, but also in the health care system and its staff, as well as in the decision makers who make judgement on the necessary vaccines.

Complacency exists when the presumed risk of getting the diseases which are prevented via vaccination is low and vaccination is considered an unnecessary protection measure. Successful vaccination programs in themselves may lead to increased laxity in vaccinating as individuals weigh the risks of a vaccine against the risk of developing a disease which is no longer common.

Convenience is in turn influenced by various factors, for example availability, affordability, accessibility, and how great the willingness to pay for the vaccine is. The quality of performance as well as the time, place and cultural context in which a vaccination is administered has an effect on the decision to vaccinate and can thus lead to vaccination scepticism.

Rock in the flood of information

Since the reasons for vaccination scepticism are diverse, there is no silver bullet against the phenomenon. However, effective communication is a key measure in reducing fears, in addressing concerns and in increasing the acceptance of vaccination. The fact that the medical profession plays a crucial role in this case is made clear at a glance of the BZgA’s (Germany’s federal centre for health education) 2011-published parent survey on “vaccination in childhood” in Germany. In this nationwide representative survey of parents with children aged 0 to 13 years, 35% of parents had rejected specific vaccinations due to reservations (“vaccination sceptical attitude”). The main source of information for parents were doctors (93%). Further information sources included print media such as brochures and flyers (63%), talking with other parents (41%) or with a health professional (40%). Only 26% at the time gave the Internet as a source of information – the proportion expected today, 5 years later, would be significantly higher.

But pieces of information can only have an effect when they are heard. The problem is that the BZgA’s infection prevention study has shown that people who generally have a more negative attitude towards vaccination as a majority (94%) are not interested in obtaining further information on the subject. Nevertheless, to relinquish this field of battle to vaccine opponents without a contest can not and ought not be a solution.

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2 comments:

Dr Anthony Murawski
Dr Anthony Murawski

There is a very good reason for lack of confidence. For instance, the flu vaccine is ineffective for the vast majority of people who are vaccinated year after year. The CDC — which shares patent rights and profits from the vaccines — brazenly claims during the flu season that the vaccine is effective, and then sometimes admits it was wrong afterwards.

We are not even permitted to know how much profit the manufacturers and “regulatory” agencies make from the vaccines, under the pretext of “trade secret” protection.

This isn’t a conspiracy theory. It is mandated by federal law.
15 USC § 3710a. Cooperative research and development agreements
15 USC § 3710c. Distribution of royalties received by Federal agencies

Cochrane Reviews routinely publish studies about the inefficacy of the flu vaccines. The British Medical Journal has also published studies with the same conclusions as Cochrane Reviews.

When regulatory agencies have a direct conflict-of-interest with vaccine manufacturers, and make enormous profits from vaccines, they are one of the least trustworthy sources out there about the efficacy and risks of vaccines.

Anthony Murawski

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Doctor Susan Lowe
Doctor Susan Lowe

certain types of immunisation yes, others are a travesty in the annals of medicine and will never use or recommend….

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