Vaccine hesitancy is defined by WHO as a delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines despite the availability of vaccination services and has been reported in more than 90% of countries worldwide. Vaccine hesitancy is on the WHO’s top 10 list for threats to global health.
Vaccine hesitancy is complex and context-specific varying across time, place, and vaccines. It is influenced by factors such as complacency, convenience, and confidence in many areas. The impact of vaccine hesitancy can be seen with the decrease in immunisation for measles, a vaccine-preventable disease that was largely eliminated following widespread use of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine. Demand for the vaccine has decreased to less than the 95% threshold set by WHO that is required for herd immunity.
Dr Anthony Fauci, US director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases, told a hearing at the US Congress in February 2020, the main issue with vaccine hesitancy is misinformation. Vaccine-hesitant parents are usually more active in searching for information online than vaccine-compliant parents and are susceptible to unverified reports of adverse effects of vaccination and scare tactics promoted by anti-vaccination campaigners.
According to WHO, health workers, especially those in communities, remain the most trusted advisors and influencers of vaccination decisions, and they must be supported to provide trusted, credible information on vaccines.
There is widespread concern in public health that many people globally are hesitant to take a vaccine for COVID-19 when it becomes available. At one stage only 50% of Americans and 50% of Britons said they would get the vaccine.
Infectious Disease Vaccines